Union Level Ghost Town | Mecklenburg County, VA
In the years leading up to the American Revolution, the European settlement in this area was expanding quickly. By 1765, the county of Lurenburg had become so populated that a new county (Mecklenburg) was established in 1765 by the Virginia General Assembly. Tobacco farms sprang up as planters lined their coffers on the backs of an enslaved labor force.
In the early days here, farming families were spread out in the countryside and would only come ‘into town’ on Saturdays to get their supplies for the upcoming week. But this would shift in the early 1800s when a horse and carriage line came to town. Travelers needed accommodations and supplies so stores began to pop up. By 1836, there were enough regular residents in Union Level that James Bridgeforth applied to be its first postmaster and Union Level was officially on the books.
As you might imagine, the upcoming years would bring a lot of changes to this young nation and Union Level was certainly not immune from those changes. Having been a tobacco-farming region that relied on enslaved labor forces, the Emancipation of their workers would’ve obviously changed the landscape as we know it for both planter and freedman.
But things would also change for the larger industry that relied on the expansive tobacco plantations in Virginia and North Carolina. After the Civil War, investors offered Union Level farmers to buy their land for tobacco warehouses, forcing tobacco sellers to move elsewhere; namely the nearby town of South Hill.
But all wasn’t lost for Union Level yet.
In the early 1900s, the Southern Railroad came through town and the town experienced a resurgence in commerce. By 1920, there were more than 20 businesses; 4 general stores, 2 barbers, 1 pharmacy, 1 boarding house, a rail road depot, and a motorcycle dealer.