Lake Pelham, which was named after a Confederate soldier, will eventually have a new name.

By a 5-4 vote during its Feb. 9 meeting, the Culpeper Town Council decided to rename the lake dubbed after Alabama-native Major John Pelham. Council members in favor of the renaming included Frank Reaves Jr., Meaghan Taylor, Jamie Clancey, Billy Yowell and Pranas Rimeikis. Those opposed were Jon Russell, Keith Brown, Keith Price and Mayor Michael Olinger.

Pelham died in Culpeper stemming from injuries suffered when an exploded artillery shell struck his head during the 1863 Battle of Kelly’s Ford. A local Civil War driving tour guide explains that Robert E. Lee referred to him as the “gallant Pelham.” In addition to being noticed by Lee, the guide explains that Pelham “also attracted the attention of young ladies like Bessie Shackleford.”


An illustration of Confederate soldier John Pelham's death at the Battle of Kelly's Ford in Culpeper. 

“Pelham visited Miss Shackelford, attended a party in Col. Welby Carter’s room in the Virginia Hotel...and the next morning gaily rode toward Kelly’s Ford as word of an imminent battle reached the town. That night, his motionless body was returned to the Shackelford house where he soon died,” the guide states.

While the exact origins of the name were previously unknown and the lake was merely believed to have been named after Pelham, a Feb. 9 article in The Culpeper Star-Exponent shed light on the naming process. According to the article, newspaper staff tracked down the history by locating a 1975 story in its archives that explained the town and Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District held a “Name the Lake Contest.” The article states that Paul Hounshell won the contest by suggesting that the lake be named after John Pelham.

Before voting on the name change, Mayor Michael Olinger said the matter should go to a referendum because having nine elected officials decide for the entire population is not fair.

Councilman Pranas Rimeikis opposed the referendum, saying such an action would politicize the matter. If it was necessary, Councilman Jon Russell said he would vote for the referendum but that he would rather “just end this tonight” and keep the name.

Keith Price spoke vehemently in opposition of the name change and pondered what impact it would have on Lake Pelham Drive, Pelham Street and other roads named after Confederate soldiers.

“There are ripple effects that we have to think through before we walk down that path,” he said.

While Councilwoman Jamie Clancey understood the desire to hold a referendum, she said renaming the lake is a compromise. Right now, she said, the town is not changing road names and the council understands that would burden residents who would have to change addresses.

council clancey sorrentinos

Councilwoman Jamie Clancey looks on as Stephen Sorrentino explains why he thinks the lake's name should not be changed. 


Renaming the lake, she added, is not causing division amongst citizens. Instead, she said it is the defensiveness of some who oppose the name change that is causing division.

“A name like Pelham - who was a fighter for the Confederacy and slavery - does have an impact on the people that it does means something to,” she said.

Citing The Culpeper Star-Exponent article, Russell noted that L.B. Henretty - a prominent resident for whom the chamber of commerce’s citizen of the year award is named - was on the Soil and Water District Conservation that held the lake’s naming contest. He said sentiments that the lake’s naming “was the genesis of some racist plot” is offensive to history and a good man. The name, he added, was not decided out of spite by Culpeper citizens.

In his 30 years on the town council, Billy Yowell said he received more citizen input regarding the lake’s name than he has on any other issue. The feedback, he said, was “almost evenly split.” Yowell said a referendum should be considered so everyone has a voice in the matter, but he ultimately voted to change the name.

Earlier in the meeting, the town council also passed a resolution celebrating Black residents' contributions to Culpeper. The resolution notes that the Black community’s role in the town has been previously undervalued. It pledges that the council will work to commemorate Culpeper’s rich Black heritage. Clancey said that approving the name change is a way for the town to take responsibility for a history that perpetuated racism while living up to the resolution’s promise.

“Not changing is saying that you are not ready to listen,” she said.

Price said renaming the lake is not necessary to follow through on the promise made in the resolution, which he proudly had a role in assembling. Instead, he said the town can name other buildings or properties after notable Black residents. He noted that Pelham was not just a name, but a reminder of how the town was devastated by the Civil War.

Price added that he is “damn proud” to have Confederate soldiers in his bloodline. In addition to street names, he predicted that soon the courthouse’s Confederate monument will go away.

Then, Price said, “it’s all forgotten.”

three councilmen

From left, council members Keith Price, Keith Brown and Jon Russell. 

Clancey agreed that Pelham is not just a name, saying “you’re lucky if you can hear this conversation and think ‘oh, it’s just a name, it’s just a body of water, it doesn’t mean anything to me.’” She said the town should arrive at a name that represents the town and all of its residents “because Lake Pelham just doesn’t.” To those who are offended by items being renamed and monuments taken down, she suggested pondering how people without voices felt when those items were erected or named.

Councilman Keith Brown said he struggled in arriving at his decision to oppose the name change. His main concern was businessman Joe Daniel, who has been a strong proponent of the name change and has offered to offset any costs associated with renaming. He said money should not influence any decisions and the town should fund any costs. 


Lifelong resident and businessman Joe Daniel encourages the Culpeper Town Council to rename Lake Pelham. 

Brown also asked: “Where does it end?”

“There’s no doubt, with it being a political society that we live in, it will be the next street and the next street and the next street,” Brown said.

For something to end, Clancey said “it has to start.”

“Why not start now?” she asked.


Two supporters of the name change - Charles Jameson, a descendant of Confederate soldiers, and Uzziah Harris, NAACP-Culpeper's president - share a word after hearing from a speaker who wished to keep Lake Pelham's name. 


(33) comments

Ted Manboobs

This is getting absurd.


lets call it Lake Pelham ...............idiots lets name it after a Jewish person why leave them out oh wait a minute they owned slaves also-where does all this money come from


Are you a fan of James Joyce? Throw some punctuation in your posts bro.

America First

I applaud the decision to change the name. The Jim Crow efforts to 'white-wash' the true intentions of the confederacy need to be rectified. Many opponents cry that the liberals are now re-writing history. No, the Jim Crow adherents were re-writing history in the 1880s to 1960s, and it is right now for America to correct those false Jim Crow claims. As a military veteran, I always had a hard time accepting that my brothers in arms were willing to resign their commission from the US military, so that they could then fight and kill US military personnel. To me, that is the definition of a traitor. In response to the claims that the Confederacy was fighting for states-rights and economic disadvantages being imposed upon them from the Northern States, and minimizing the Southern States wanting to preserve slavery, I did the research and read each of the Southern states declarations for separating from the Union. They all had statements to preserve slavery as part of their justification. Yes, of course, abolishing slavery would have a huge impact economically on those states with large slave populations, but it is was the right thing to do to stop de-humanizing our fellow God-created brethren by subjecting them to slavery despite the economic cost. It was a blight on the entire United States that we introduced and accommodated slave trading and slavery in our nation for so long. We should all be ashamed, repent, and reach out for reconciliation and healing. Name changing is just one small effort to do the right thing. I would also ask those residents who have streets named after the confederacy to be willing to accept the small inconvenience it would be for them to accept their street name to be changed so that they too can stand proud of their efforts to help heal our great nation.


Did you know it’s the year 2021? I like your virtual signaling though. Make sure you copy and paste that on all your social media too. You are a hero, and an idiot in the same sense filled with the cultural Marxism that you see as your way to be on the ‘winning’ team. That team is well on there way to destroying western civilization.


Who was it that stormed Congress?

Ted Manboobs

Treasonous? You don't know the meaning of the word. Look at the definition in the Constitution and even someone with your cognitive skills will understand that was the reason there were no trials for "treason" after the war. The Confederacy's leaders were the sons of those who established independence of the United States. They were worthy successors to their fathers and grandfathers. That is the significance of this episode - people who honor their fathers, grandfathers, etc. on one side and those who don't know their heritage on the other.


Hi Ted!

I am sure you are familiar with the Constitution, a living document that establishes the Social Contract whereby people in the geographical space are afforded rights.

If I may direct you to the 14th Amendment, Section 3 it states:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

This was adopted as part of the Reconstruction Amendments.

Also, President Johnson pardoned former Confederates for treason. That is why there was no trial.

Here are the primary sources:

Let's keep this conversation going! Provide legit sources to your claims and we can take you seriously.

Ted Manboobs

You are using an amendment that was ratified after the war to characterize earlier actions. Art. III, Sec. 3 has an explicit definition of treason: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort." Note the plural.


@ Ted

You missed the part where President Johnson pardoned Confederates for treason.

Also, the Confederacy was never a sovereign state and never recognized formally on the international level.

Ted Manboobs

Your "brothers in arms" who resigned commissions in the US military and fought for the Confederacy inspired millions of real soldiers, like Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, to name just two from the 20th century. Those guys outranked you and, unlike you, won real wars. Do a search on Eisenhower talking about the portrait of Robert E. Lee in his office.

not into politics

Just think about it....The only good thing about renaming and erasing history is that certain groups will not longer have anything to complain and cry about because it never happened - we will all have to live in the present because there is no history for anyone. I guess fools who chose to rename anything never considered this.....


Removing his name does not change the fact that he fought for treasonous confederacy, so no history is rewritten. It just takes a way some of the glory from a person who probably shouldn't have been glorified in the first place.

Ted Manboobs

Nothing was treasonous about the Confederacy. Even a graduate of a public school should have the cognitive skills to understand the definition of treason in the Constitution. The Confederacy's leaders were the sons and grandsons of the men who established the United States. They were worthy successors. Today, those who claim to be supporters of the United States are mainly just dependents of the federal teat.


They literally started a war over slavery and attempted to break away from the country. Back up your craziness with facts.


When the southern states decided to secede in 1861, they weren't concerned about the North so long as they were not interfered with themselves. Davis' states were Not tyrannical and interested in identity politics. He didnt call for name changes in the North, and was not looking to cancel out the abolitionists of the North. Remember, slavery was protected under the constitution at this time.

Because of Davis' offensive urging at Fort Sumter, the civil war resulted. Ultimately, the South was therefore unable to achieve their ultimate goal.

Slavery was protected by the constitution in 1861, and this War was not premised or begun on the idea of slavery alone. This is not why the battles were fought.

Secession is protected by the Constitution present-day. It’s a call to action.

Sic Semper Tyrannis



Now, tell us how the Missouri Compromise and Kansas-Nebraska Act factored into the formation of the Confederacy and subsequent motions to leave the United States.

Lincoln even said that Secession is illegal, unlawful, and will destroy the United States in his inaugural address:

I am not going to copy/paste the entire speech but here is one of the relevant points that he made:

I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever, it being impossible to destroy it except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself.

Again: If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as acontract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it--break it, so to speak--but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that in legal contemplation the Union is perpetual confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was "to form a more perfect Union."

But if destruction of the Union by one or by a part only of the States be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.

It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, and Ishall perform it so far as practicable unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.

I am just amazed that people TODAY argue for and humanize slavery and whitewash their fairy-tale version of history.


This current administration is continuing what this current administration during was doing on the sidelines during the previous administration which is to go all out Against both the First and Second amendments in the Bill of Rights, with the 4th amendment grossly abused for at-least four decades.

A violation of the Constitution would be for any State to previously joined a Union for which it were unable to to attempt to leave that Union if and when tyranny was apparent. This violates the Constitution. Its fighting for Independence.


"I am just amazed that people TODAY argue for and humanize slavery"

This current administration argues for and humanizes slavery. The world government argues for and humanizes slavery. The vatican argues for and humanizes slavery. All communists do is argue for and humanize slavery. They dont believe in a sovereign human being. The whole idea behind communism is to change what it means to be a human. Im not arguing for and humanizing slavery, im telling you what the constitution did and did not do.



1868 Supreme Court case Texas V White:

“When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or through consent of the States.”

The idea and legality of secession was squashed by the courts long ago.


Hi friend!

Can you read? If so, you can explore and delve into a whole realm set in the past! History is the WRITTEN account of events, not placenames or statues.

Don't confuse History with Archaeology or Anthropology (though the disciplines do intersect at points).

And even in the subject of History, there are many schools of thought. My favorite is the idea that History is fluid and not stagnant; that way, as more evidence of the past comes to light, new discoveries about events can be realized. Best example the the Gulf of Tonkin incident:

For years people thought that it was the Vietnamese that fired on US Warships in the Gulf of Tonkin, sparking the Vietnam war. However, it documentation was found in the National Archives that proved that it was the US who was at fault:

It is amazing how perceptions can change when evidence comes to light after being told the wrong thing for decades.

But changing a stupid name of a town doesnt lessen the impact of a Confederate taking a cannonball to the face.


Bigfoot, You need to wake up and let go of your racist comments. This is not 1960, but 2021! You RINO's will not be the majority in a few years and you better catch up with this country and world that will no longer tolerate folks like you.


WE ARE ALL SAVED!!! The self loathing cowardly politicians changed the name of a damn lake! I never even knew it existed. What a pathetic society full of cowards and idiots alike.


So dang tired of this "woke" atmosphere taking place in this country. At which point does it stop? If someone starts digging up dirt on historical black figures/statues and comes up with something society doesn't agree with are you willing to take them down? No need to respond. We know the answer. I can understand rewriting the history books to better represent what actually happened but don't hold back on the negative things that people like Martin Luther King, Arthur Ashe and others may have done. Put it all out there for everyone and not just one side.


What is held back? It's ALL out there. It's called research. Maybe if history of these Black people was taught on the same level as others, and not confined to a single month, more of the negative things that you are so interested in would be more common knowledge.


You mean there embellished and in some cases outright fabrications? For example, Harriet Tubman rescuing thousands of enslaved people. In reality it was less than a hundred all located in Maryland. Which is still a noteworthy feat, but no where near the same historical significance as someone like Andrew Jackson.


Actually Harriet Tubman freed approx 300 slaves. If history of Black people was taught on the scale that it is for white people, you would probably have known that. Thanks for proving my point.


@swandive...haha right, and a black guy invented the light bulb too...hahahaha.


Yorktown2021, Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, Lewis Latimore (a black man) improved the design w/ a longer last filament and sold the patent to G.E. Hate to sound like a broken record, but you would know this...(you know the rest).


@swandive...did Sally Hemings author the Declaration of Independence as well?


York, instead of asking me, why dont you go look it up yourself and stop being lazy. No wonder you thought a black guy invented the are too lazy to do your own research

not into politics

So very true....


I am tired of people lamenting "woke" opinions.

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