How Cary St. Got Its Name
Cary St. has existed in some capacity for centuries, though it didn’t get its current name until 1927 (you can read the story of the former Westham Plank Road and how bison are involved here).
The road is currently named after Colonel Archibald Cary, who lived on the Ampthill Plantation (built by the Cary family) in Chesterfield for most of his life in the late 1700s. On Ampthill’s 14,000 acres, Cary owned hundreds of slaves, a ropery, a flour mill, and an iron forge, all of which made him one of Virginia’s wealthiest men.
Cary was a man of interesting character; he was both fiercely patriotic and fiercely intimidating. Having been a member of the House of Burgesses for 20 years prior to the Revolutionary War and serving as Virginia’s first Speaker of the Senate of Virginia, Cary was well-positioned to influence the independence movement. He was the Chairman of the 1776 Virginia Convention committee that adopted the Resolution of Independence, which was the precursor to the Declaration of Independence, and during the Revolutionary War, he was in charge of recruitment and supplies in central Virginia. He also loaned or donated nearly all of his wealth to fund the Virginia militia.
Cary wasn’t afraid to bully others, if needed. At one point during the war, the colonies were struggling to create a proper democratic government, and some thought it would be easier to name Patrick Henry dictator. Cary felt this would undermine the purpose of the War, and told Henry’s brother, “I am told your brother wishes to be dictator; tell him from me that the day of his appointment shall be the day of his death – for he shall feel my dagger in his heart before the sunset of that day.”
Today, the Ampthill Plantation House is located just off of Cary St. to the west of Carytown. It was moved there in 1929, shortly after the naming of Cary St. While the house is not open to the public, its location is signaled by a Virginia Historical Marker.
Want to learn more about Carytown’s History? Join our Carytown Food & History Tour! It’ll be the most delicious history lesson you’ll ever have!
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