A Short History of Suffolk, Virginia

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This informative article is brought to you by the abuse lawyers in Suffolk. Explore the city of Suffolk and learn about its early history.

Brief History of Suffolk

As an independent city in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, Suffolk is part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Before it was settled by the Virginia colonists, the area was inhabited by the indigenous Nansemond people. In 1742, the settlement of Suffolk was established as a port town on the Nansemond River. Originally named Constant's Warehouse after one of its founding members, the area was later renamed Suffolk after the home country of Royal Governor of Virginia Sir William Gooch.

English colonists living in Suffolk began developing the region by using enslaved labor to cultivate tobacco as a cash crop before moving over to mixed farming. The area later became a land transportation gateway to the areas in South Hampton Roads. In 1750, Suffolk was designated as Nansemond County's county seat. In 1808, it was incorporated as a town. One hundred and two years later, the town was incorporated as a city and separated from Nansemond County. In 1974, the independent cities of Nansemond and Suffolk merged into one under the name Suffolk. As of the 2010 census, the city has a population of 84,585 people.

Since the 1900s, the major agricultural industry for Suffolk is peanuts. In 1912, the American snack food company Planters' Peanuts was established in the city. The advertising logo and mascot of the company, Mr. Peanut, was born there. Today, the city is a major peanut processing center and railroad and highway transportation hub.


The local public school system that serves the city is the Suffolk City Public Schools System. It operates:

  • 12 elementary schools
  • Four middle schools
  • Three high schools
  • One alternative school

Other than the public schools in Suffolk City, the private college preparatory school Nansemond-Suffolk Academy also caters to students living in the area. Located on Pruden Blvd., the school was founded in 1966 as a segregation academy. It features two campuses that offer educational spaces for students from pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade. The academy has an enrollment of around 874 students.


Because of its early colonial history, the city of Suffolk offers many historical attractions for visitors to check out. These attractions include the Driver Historic District, Great Dismal Swamp, Nansemond County Training School (a historic Rosenwald school for African American students), Phoenix Bank of Nansemond, the historic home of Riddick's Folly, St. John's Church, Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, and Suffolk Historic District.

Another notable attraction of the city is the Seaboard Station Railroad Museum. Located on North Main St., it is housed in a historic Seaboard Coast Line station. The museum is open year-round and offers free admission. Visitors have an opportunity to see railroad memorabilia and a model train layout of Suffolk.

Learn more: Newport News, VA, Through the Centuries

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