Tasley Fair and the Onancock Riot of 1907

1905 PW adIn Accomack County, Virginia, the Tasley Fair was an African American fair known throughout the East Coast for its harness racing and entertainment.  The fair closed in the late 1950s.

Note the two names listed in this 1905 advertisement for the fair.  Samuel L. Burton and James D. Uzzle were from Onancock, Virginia.   Burton owned a store in Onancock.  James Uzzle was a principal of the black public school in Onancock and the editor of the Peninsula Times.  During the race 1901 08 03 PE Tasley Fair adriot of Onancock in 1907, the black neighborhood of town was terrorized by a mob; Burton’s store and Uzzle’s printing shop were burned to the ground.   The riot is detailed in “The Onancock Race Riot of 1907,” in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, July, 1987, by Brooks Miles Barnes.  The 1907 Tasley Fair almost did not happen due to racial tensions in the county, but the fair did go on without interference.

The 1909 pictorial book of Accomack County, by Tom Badger and Curtis Badger, includes two photographs of the fair.  The two ads are from the Peninsula Enterprise.

— Linda Duyer

Accomack Co book

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