William Thomas Sutherlin, patriarch of Danville

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


William Thomas Sutherlin was born on April 7, 1822 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. He worked in tobacco on his father's farm until 1843. He then moved to Danville and embarked on a career in tobacco manufacturing. Sutherlin's ventures in the tobacco industry allowed him to become the second wealthiest man in the state of Virginia.

In 1849, Sutherlin married Jane Erwin Patrick of Greensboro, N. C. Seven years later the couple moved to their newly built country manor which has been preserved as a museum today.

Sutherlin generously supported numerous industries in his hometown and constantly strove to protect the interests of his fellow Danvillians.

In 1851, he began his illustrious career as a public servant. He served on the Danville Council from 1851-1855 and as Danville's mayor from 1855 to 1861. The year 1861 found Sutherlin expanding his political interests. He was one of Pittsylvania County's two delegates to the Virginia State Convention of that year.