Library History

Blackwater Regional Library, a regional system comprising 9 branches and a bookmobile, originated from a single library facility: The Walter Cecil Rawls Library and Museum. On June 13, 1958, the facility was dedicated for the use of the people of Southampton County and nearby communities.

Mr. Walter Cecil Rawls and Mr. Junius W. Pulley, childhood friends, grew up on neighboring farms in the community of Ivor, in Southampton County, Virginia. Neither could claim good health as a plus in life. Mr. Rawls had suffered polio early in childhood, and had been confined to a wheelchair for years. Mr. Pulley had to deal with a chronic asthmatic condition that kept him in the hospital or confined to his home for days at a time. Now successful in their chosen walks of life, they often dropped in on each other to chat for awhile. It was during one of these times that Mr. Rawls revealed to Mr. Pulley a portion of his will that stated at his death a gift of $5,000. would be earmarked, for the town of Ivor, to establish a library. Mr. Pulley made several suggestions and proposed another plan, that he enlarge his gift, include the entire county, and place the library in Courtland. He also suggested to Mr. Rawls that this deed be done in his lifetime so he could see the results.

Opposition and skepticism from some almost defeated the effort before the project could even be officially offered. However, Mr. Pulley who took command of the project, had the patience and the fortitude to handle people and situations and steered Mr. Rawls’s gift into a reality.

For more in-depth history there is a book written by Katherine K. Futrell, The Walter Cecil Rawls Library & Museum available at our Courtland, Franklin, Carrollton, Smithfield and Waverly branches.

Read about the branch histories below: