Algernon Sidney Buford
in Chatham, Virginia

By Henry H. Mitchell

Buford drawing

Algernon Sidney Buford is best known for his presidency of the Richmond and Danville Railroad during its massive postwar expansion into the Southern Railway system (now the Norfolk and Southern). Long before that, Buford spent a number of years as a young professional in Chatham.

Buford was a graduate of the University of Virginia, and apparently came to Chatham in order to enter the practice of law. His choice was understandable, since, as Maud Carter Clement records on page 5 of her book A Page from the Past (1946), several illustrious attorneys had established practices in the town, including George H. Gilmer, John Gilmer, James M. Whittle, Whitmell P. Tunstall, and Joseph M. Terry. Interestingly, Tunstall was creator of the Richmond and Danville Railroad, which Buford later headed, and Whittle was a major investor and promoter of the line from Lynchburg through Chatham to Danville, which was later absorbed into the system to become part of the Southern's Main Line.

Mrs. Clement notes in her Abbreviated History of Pittsylvania County (1952) that Buford also taught at the academy which was located near the Poindexter/Martin home Oak Hall. She records in her History of Pittsylvania County (1929) that Buford represented Pittsylvania County in the Virginia House of Delegates during 1853-1854, and that he was owner and editor of the Danville Register newspaper.

Buford also married locally. His bride was Emily Winifred Townes, daughter of George Townes and Eliza Barker Tunstall. Eliza was the older sister of Whitmell P. Tunstall, and had reared him after the death of their mother. So, A. S. Buford was Whitmell Tunstall's nephew-in-law (although in a manner of speaking his brother-in-law), as well as his eventual successor as railroad president.

Algernon Sidney Buford is honored by the naming of the thoroughfare Buford Road in Bon Air, Virginia. Buford personally (as well as through the Richmond and Danville Railroad) was much involved in the development of Brown's Summit (renamed Grand Summit, then Bon Air): he was among the first investors and officers in the Bon Air Land and Improvement Company.

He is also honored in the name of the city of Buford, Georgia. Present-day Canton, North Carolina was previously named for him.


Related Books

(Available from the sponsor.)

History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia

Clement: History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia

Pittsylvania: Homes and People of the Past

Fitzgerald: Pittsylvania: Homes and People of the Past

This website is sponsored by Mitchells Publications and the Sims-Mitchell House.