Martinsville, Virginia

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Martinsville is an independent city which is surrounded by, and the county seat of, Henry County, Virginia, United States.[3] The population was 15,416 at the 2000 census. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Martinsville with Henry County for statistical purposes. The paper clip-shaped Martinsville Speedway, the shortest track in NASCAR stock car racing [0.526 miles (0.847 km)] and also one of the first paved "speedways", being built in 1947, is located just outside the city in the town of Ridgeway.

Martinsville is the principal city of the Martinsville Micropolitan Statistical Area, a micropolitan area that covers Henry County and the city of Martinsville.[4] The micropolitan area had a combined population of 73,346 as of the 2000 census.[1]

Contents

History

Martinsville was founded by American Revolutionary War General, Indian agent and explorer Joseph Martin, born in Albemarle County,[5] whose plantation Scuffle Hill was located on the banks of the Smith River near the present-day southern city limits. General Martin and revolutionary patriot Patrick Henry, who lived briefly in Henry County and for whom the county is named, were good friends.

The city's chief industry for many early years was the manufacture of plug chewing tobacco. The Henry County area became known as the 'plug tobacco capital of the world.' In the wake of the collapse of the plantation economy following the American Civil War, the local economy had been left reeling. Stepping into the breach were several thriving plug firms which sold their merchandise across the nation beginning in the nineteenth century.

Local families were heavily involved in these companies, bestowing their names on them and reaping sizeable profits until the early twentieth century, when the tobacco monopolies created by R.J. Reynolds and James Buchanan Duke bought out most firms. (In most cases, in bold anti-competitive moves, the two tobacco titans simply shut down their acquisitions overnight.[6] The moves later prompted a U.S. government lawsuit against American Tobacco Company.[7]) Among the earliest of these firms were D.H. Spencer & Sons and Spencer Bros. Other families soon joined in founding other early firms, including the Gravelys, the Comptons, the Ruckers, the Wittens, the Lesters and the Browns.

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