It was Mr. J. M. Dozier of Lee Hall, VA that purchased Penniman after World War I ended.
Thursday, after spending many hours at the York County Courthouse, I learned that Mr. Dozier bought Penniman from DuPont in April 1926, after the U. S. Army left.
J. M. Dozier and his wife Annie paid $84,375 for the whole kit and caboodle, which included 2,600 acres, and all tenements, hereditaments and appurtenances.
DuPont even financed the sale for Mr. Dozier with no money down.
The first payment of $28,125 was due in April 1927, the second payment due one year after that, and the third (and final payment) due in April 1929.
It was a pretty sweet deal.
According to an article that appeared in the January 1926 Virginia Gazette, Mr. Dozier had big plans for Penniman.
“The development of [Penniman] will entail the expenditure of a considerable sum,” said the article in the Virginia Gazette (January 15, 1926).
And yet, it never happened.
In 1926, $84,375 was a tremendous sum of money. Surely Mr. Dozier had plans to develop this 2,600-acre tract on the York River. Did something go wrong?
Did they discover that the land was uninhabitable for some reason? Or did they find a few too many buried live shells, left over from the U. S. Army?
After 1926, Penniman disappeared from the pages of the daily papers until 1938, when Dick Velz with the Richmond Times Dispatch did a retrospective piece on this “Ghost City,” which had been left largely undisturbed since the U. S. Army cleared out in the early 1920s.
Penniman is a fascinating piece of Virginia’s history but there are days (like today) when the mysteries pile up so high and so deep that I fear I may never figure out enough of its story to write a worthy tome.
If you have a theory as to what happened to Mr. Dozier’s big plans, please leave a comment.
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