New Market Virginia
A tour of historic sites in the town of New Market.
The first Europeans arrived in New Market in 1727. They flocked to the area due to an abundance of fertile land, wild game, and minerals. Many of these individuals were Germans of the Mennonite and Lutheran faiths. Later they were joined by an influx of Scotch-Irish immigrants.
Originally the community was known as Cross Roads since the main north-south and east-west roads in the area joined here. When it was established on December 14, 1796 by the General Assembly, the name was changed to New Market. This most likely reflected the growing importance of the area’s agricultural markets.
In 1806 the German immigrants, notably the Henkel family, established a printing business in the town. Over the next century this would be the country’s major German cultural publishers. Other commercial, industrial, and agricultural interests also grew and by 1835 the town boasted a population of over 700.
During the Civil War, the town was a center of activity. The presence of the Valley Pike and agricultural abundance meant the area was strategically important to both sides. On May 15, 1864, the historically significant Battle of New Market took place in which 257 cadets of Virginia Military Institute (VMI) were pressed into service by Confederate General John C. Breckinridge. This effort resulted in a Confederate victory and delayed Union efforts to march on Richmond. That battle is reenacted each year in mid-May, on the grounds of the Virginia Museum of the Civil War in New Market.
In 1972, the Town of New Market was designated a Historic District by the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission and registered as a Virginia Historic Landmark. The same year the Historic District was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places, which is maintained by the National Park Service.