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September 06, 2007
Henry County became a county in January 1777 and was named for Patrick Henry, statesman and the first governor of Virginia. Henry lived in Henry County until his fourth term of governor. Just about everyone knows this about Henry County; however, we have calls and questions at the Historical Center concerning areas of Henry County and why they were named a certain name.

Axton was named Old Center before the post office name Axton was given to the area in which Axton Lodge was located. The post office was established in 1882. It is the only post office in the United States having this name.

Bassett was named for the John Henry Bassett family. The application for a post office was dated 23 March 1892 and the post office was named Bassetts. This was a village whose sawmilling temporarily stopped during that year before furniture making came on the scene. This community was once known as the largest manufacturer of wood furniture. There are also Bassett, Nebraska and Bassett, England.

Collinsville was named for Cap B. Collins who built a non-battery flashlight plant in 1931. An attempt was made in 1967 to incorporate the town, the petition was denied; thus, Collinsville is perhaps the largest unincorporated town in Virginia. It shares its name with towns in Texas, Alabama, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Australia.

Fieldale was built in 1919 when Marshall Field came to town with Fieldcrest Mills. It was at one time one of the three leading towel manufacturers in the United States. There is no other Fieldale, only towns named Field Creek, Fields and Fielding.

Horsepasture had no recorded name until a group of Northerners traveling South passed through this part of the county riding thin mares, undernourished and overworked. The men of this group struck bargains with the people living in the area, trading their rides for new Virginia stock?two mares for a stallion, a mare and a colt for another mare, etc.

The Yankees rode southward that Spring, but during the Fall of that same year they returned North to their homes, traveling through this very same area. The horses that they had traded were now grazing on the high quality grass of this very fertile area. The Yankees continued home, shaking their heads in disbelief as they remarked that this little area was about the best ?horse pasture? they had ever known. The name stuck and the local Horsepasture Christian Church was founded in 1832. There was a post office at Horsepasture from 1833 to 1906.

Irisburg was also known as Irishburg and was a post office from 1848-1849 and from 1852 until 1906.

Leatherwood was where Henry County?s most renowned citizen lived as Patrick Henry moved to this area in 1779 and built his home on a 10,000 acre tract of land. Leatherwood was named after a leathery-looking tree that grew along the banks of the creek on which Henry lived. It had pliant stems and yellow flowers and was abundant in that area.

Martinsville was named for Joseph Martin the pioneer Indian fighter and brigadier general of the state militia in 1793. Established in 1791, it became the county seat in 1793, it was incorporated in 1873, and became an independent city in 1928. By 1940 because of the increased population Martinsville became a city and the manager form of city government was adopted in 1949. Illinois and Indiana also have a Martinsville.

Ridgeway was named by Samuel Sheffield, a store keeper. It was formerly a tobacco market and is located near the North Carolina line. An incorporated town in the southern part of Henry County, it has a town council type of government. The town was named as a result of its crossroads location at the junction of three ridges?one leading to Martinsville, another to Eden, North Carolina and one to Madison, North Carolina. Ridgeway was a post office from 1852-68, then from 1869 through today.

Spencer was named for D.W. Spencer who owned a large plantation and slaves who worked in the tobacco manufacturing in this area. Spencer was formerly Spencer?s Store in 1870 and in 1884 the name was changed to Spencer.

Stanleytown was named for Thomas Bahnson Stanley, organizer and first president of a furniture factory, Stanley Furniture Company. Stanley served as Governor of Virginia (1954-1958).










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