How Tightsqueeze, Virginia, Really Got Its Name

By Preston B. Moses, from The Pittsylvania Packet, Pittsylvania Historical Society, Chatham, Virginia, Spring 1995, pp. 14-15. Used with permission.
Colbert General Store

The Pittsylvania Tribune in September 1874 had this advertisement which read: "Parkers' Hair Balsom solves your hair problems — solves falling hair, grey hair, promotes new growth. It is highly perfumed, not a dye. 50 cents per bottle. Get it at W. H. Colbert General Store at Tightsqueeze."

This was 120 years ago when W. H. Colbert had a big store at the crossroads on the Chatham-Danville main highway at a place called Tightsqueeze. The highway was a narrow dirt road, mud in the winter and dust in the summer.

Let me tell you how Tightsqueeze got its rather odd name.

When Colbert built his store in 1870, he put it right up to the edge of the dirt road (so that ladies riding in carriages could step out of carriages onto the porch of the store building).

Isaiah Giles built a blacksmith-wheelwright shop right across the road directly in front of Colbert's Store, and he too built right up to the edge of the road.

Colbert voiced complaint that Giles was putting his building to the edge of the road in front of his store. Giles contended that if Colbert could put his store building to the edge of the road, he could too.

When the drivers of the buggies and wagons came galloping down the road at high speeds, they had to slow down to a walking pace to pass through the narrow passage between the two buildings.

People traveling over this section of the road began warning others to be sure to slow down for the tight squeeze at Colbert's Store … and that is how the area became known as Tightsqueeze.

Colbert's Store is no longer there, being replaced by the nearby "Tightsqueeze Shopping Plaza." The blacksmith-wheelwright shop has been replaced by two modern service stations that supply the fuel to the autos that go whizzing by over the dual lane highway.

Some 15 years ago the board of supervisors changed the name of Tightsqueeze to "Fairview." The people of the community rose up in protest, and the name of Tightsqueeze was restored. (The Board member who made the motion to replace the name of Tightsqueeze was not reelected.) Time magazine took notice of the controversy about the name change and did a feature story about Tightsqueeze.

This website is sponsored by Mitchells Publications and the Sims-Mitchell House B&B, Chatham, Virginia.