After the Warascoyak Indians, the
first person to own land in Isle of Wight County was Arthur Smith. On 10
September 1637, Arthur Smith patented 1450 acres in Isle of Wight County,
described as "a neck of land running S.E. along a creek behind the Pagan
In 1750, Arthur Smith IV had the land surveyed and laid
out as a town. Smithfield derives its name from the family of Arthur
Smith, not from John Smith, the founder of Jamestown. The town consisted
of four streets and 72 lots. The principal streets, as shown on the
original plat, are now Main Street (to Institute Street), South Church Street,
South Mason Street, and Cedar Street (between Mason Street and Church
Street). These original streets are shown in black on the maps in this
online walking tour.
Within two years after the town was established, 59 of
the 72 lots had been sold. All of the lots were sold prior to the
Revolutionary War. Each lot sold for four pounds, six shillings - roughly
the equivalent of $7 today.
Born on the banks of the Pagan River and nurtured by
the trade and commerce that sailed on its tides, Smithfield was, from its very
beginning, a "river town", and its whole life and growth have been
conditioned by the river.
Smithfield is proud that its Historic District is
designated as a Virginia State Historic Landmark and is listed on the National
|| On the walking tour of Smithfield's old towne district, you
will see an harmonious blend of 18th century Colonial, Federal, Georgian, and
Victorian period houses and buildings, side by side. Settled in 1752
primarily by British merchants and ship captains, this riverport town thrived
for more than twenty years as a British colony before the signing of the
Declaration of Independence. The town boasts fifteen houses that date to
the 18th century, ten of which pre-date the Revolutionary War. In the
early 19th century, a number of Federal period homes were built, but it was
after the Civil War, in about 1876, that the greatest building boom began.
It was in this era of steamboats and a flourishing peanut industry in Smithfield
that many of the elaborate Victorian homes were erected. Their
ostentations elegance is visibly evident - turrets, towers, stained glass
windows, and steamboat style Gothic trimmings.