The Founding of Blacksburg

In 1772, Samuel Black purchased 600 acres in the Draper’s Meadow area. In 1792, he split the land between his two sons, John and William.

In 1797, William laid out a small grid of streets, 16 blocks in all, on 38 and 3/4 of his land. William described this plot as, “...a piece of ground in a healthy climate... a fertile neighborhood with excellent springs thereon...”

Main Street, 1919. Ann Linden Collection, BMCF

The following year, Blacksburg was officially established by an act of the Virginia Legislature. The small town did not grow as quickly as William had hoped. He left with his family for Ohio shortly after founding the town.

John lived in a log cabin originally located near the edge of what is now the Drillfield, opposite Burrus Hall. His land was eventually sold to Virginia Agricultural & Mechanical College, now Virginia Tech. John and his family remained in Blacksburg and continued to play important roles in the growth of the Town and University.

Alexander Black & Family

Alexander Black.

Mary Kent Elliott Collection, BMCF

Alexander Black was born into the fifth generation of the Black family on April 30, 1857 as the great, great nephew of Blacksburg founder William Black.

Alexander entered Virginia Agricultural & Mechanical College in 1872, the year it opened. During his time at VAMC, he achieved rank of Cadet Sergeant and was President of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.


After schooling, Alexander founded many businesses in town including Black & Payne, Black & Logan, Luster-Black Hardware, Company, and A. Black, Company. He married his wife Lizzie on October 4, 1881 and had one adopted daughter, Mary Louise, who passed away in the influenza outbreak of 1918.


A. Black, Company on Main Street.
Ann Linden Collection, BMCF

Black Family. 

Mary Kent Elliott Collection, BMCF

BMCF ColorCube Small and cropped.jpg

Blacksburg Museum & Cultural Foundation

204 Draper Rd. SW

Blacksburg, VA 24060

Phone: 540-443-1600


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The Blacksburg Museum & Cultural Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization