On Oct. 15, Lancaster County's only black delegate to be honored with highway marker and official day

Watchful Eye

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Armistead Stokalas NickensCourtesy of Lancaster County & Lancaster Virginia Historical Society

In Lancaster County history, there has been only one black delegate to serve in the Virginia legislature—Armistead Stokalas Nickens—who was sworn in on December 6, 1871 and served two terms.

Tomorrow, October 15, a Historical Highway Marker will be unveiled recognizing Nickens.’ That marker will be located near Rt. 3 and 621 Kamps Mill Rd., a short distance from the Town of Kilmarnock.

Lancaster County Board of Supervisors also passed a resolution officially making October 15, 2022 Armistead Stokalas Nickens Day in the county.

The Lancaster County resolution outlines the legacy of Nickens, noting that Nickens was born into a family of free people of color. At least 12 of them were veterans of the Revolutionary War.

Nickens was a local agent of the Freedman’s Bureau before he became a delegate. A significant property owner, Nickens donated land and helped build one of the first schools for African-Americans in Lancaster. By 1906, he had amassed over 150 acres of land.

Nickens was an early advocate of what would later become the Downing Bridge, which connects the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck, or more specifically, the Town of Tappahannock and Richmond County.

On February 24, 1990, a portrait of Nickens was presented to Lancaster County and received by the order of the Circuit Court Judge Joseph E. Spruill, Jr. in commemoration at the Black Achievement Program.

The “Historical Highway Marker is being erected to celebrate the local, regional, and state-wide historical achievements of the Honorable Armistead S. Nickens and his lifetime commitment to education, public affairs and civic duties for all citizens,” the Lancaster County Resolution states.

After the highway marker is unveiled, there will be a community celebration hosted at the Lancaster Virginia Historical Society located at 8346 Mary Ball Rd. in Lancaster.

In addition to the outdoor activities, those who attend the event will have the opportunity to enjoy displays, museum tours, and to view the portrait of Nickens that was donated to the county. It is on loan to the Historical Society until October 17.

In addition to the outdoor activities, those who attend the event will have the opportunity to enjoy displays, museum tours, and view the portrait of Nickens that was donated to the county. It is on loan to the Historical Society until October 17.

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