Caleb McCusker
3 min readNov 1, 2022

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Deeply Rooted in Rustburg

This sign explains the history of Rustburg.
The original Campbell County Courthouse is now a museum.
The Campbell County Training School still stands today.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” George Santayana, a Spanish-American philosopher, once said. You may have also heard Winston Churchill’s paraphrased version of the quote, which uses the word “history” instead of “past”.

Understanding history is an important part of life. Everybody wants to learn the history of things they are passionate about. Some want to learn the history of their family and ancestors, others want to learn the history of their favorite football team and how many championships they might have won before they were born.

Regardless, understanding history is a vital part to learning how things became what they are. That also includes history of places and towns. Look no further than Campbell County to find a place full of rich historic value.

Campbell County was formed in 1781, the first Virginia county formed after the American Revolution. The county was named in honor of General William Campbell, a hero of the battle of the King’s Mountain in the Revolutionary War. Campbell County was also the last home and burial place to Patrick Henry, who was a famous orator, statesman and five-time governor of Virginia.

In 1784, Rustburg was named as the county seat for Campbell County. The city was named after Jeremiah Rust, who patented land there in 1780.

There are many historic landmarks in Rustburg, one of them being the Campbell County courthouse, which was in use from 1848–1962, and has since been transformed into a museum.

Another one of these landmarks is the Campbell County Training School, which was built in the early 1900s. It was the first post-elementary facility for African-Americans in Campbell County and was part of Booker T. Washington’s philosophy of education.

The training school is unique for multiple reasons, mostly because of the relatively good condition of the building which is still standing. Many citizens may not know the true value their city holds. Even Rustburg teenager Ryder Johnson didn’t know the true treasures his city holds.

“I didn’t even know (there was a courthouse) if I’m going to be completely honest,” Johnson said. Despite not quite knowing all of the historic landmarks in his city, Johnson still wisely recognizes the importance of knowing how things became the way they are.

“It’s important to know the history of your area because it helps you understand how your community has developed and evolved, the way they’ve come together during times of need,” Johnson said. “What started as something so simple has now become such a wide-spread thing that’s the foundation of this area.”

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots,” Marcus Garvey once said. The citizens of Rustburg stay rooted within their community.

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