Rex Springston

Rex Springston

Rex Springston was a reporter for the Richmond News Leader and The Times-Dispatch for 36 years. He lives in Richmond and contributes reporting on history, wildlife and other topics for the Mercury.

Ban on pet box turtles takes effect in Virginia

By: - July 1, 2021

Generations of Virginians have taken box turtles from forests and yards to keep as pets. As of today, that’s illegal. Experts say the docile, colorful turtles are in decline, and new state regulations taking effect ban turning them into pets. The rules also impose tough restrictions on keeping common native reptiles and amphibians such as […]

Box turtle ban: New proposed regulations would restrict keeping of native reptiles and amphibians

By: - May 7, 2021

Virginia’s wildlife agency is proposing major restrictions on keeping native reptiles and amphibians as pets. The proposals would ban the keeping of box turtles altogether.  Box turtles are colorful, softball-sized reptiles that have been popular pets for generations of Virginians. But wildlife officials say the animals have become imperiled by people who pluck them from […]

Step aside murder hornet: How a puss caterpillar sting in Virginia took the internet by storm.

By: - October 27, 2020

A hairy mini-monster from Virginia is drawing worldwide attention. It is invading, taking over our state and making us vomit. Except that it isn’t. The 1½-inch-long venomous creature, called a puss caterpillar, can indeed hurt you, as it did a New Kent County woman on Sept. 4. But the little creeper’s threat has been magnified […]

Venomous caterpillar ‘no one has heard of’ sends New Kent woman to ER

By: - September 11, 2020

Crystal Spindel Gaston was reaching into the rear door of her Prius outside her house when she felt an excruciating pain in her right leg. “It felt exactly like a scorching-hot knife passing through the outside of my calf,” said Gaston, 55, of New Kent County. “Before I looked down to see where it came […]

‘A symbolic cacophony’: As monuments come down, the unraveling of the rebel flag continues

By: - July 28, 2020

When Confederate monuments go down, they go down fast. The rebel flag, on the other hand, has been pulled apart, thread by thread, for years. And now it’s unraveling fast. The best-known Confederate symbol, the flag is disappearing from public places — think NASCAR — and could even be endangered in contemplative settings like cemeteries […]


Washing the gray from Monument Avenue

By: - July 2, 2020

It was always about Lee. The most beloved of Confederates, Gen. Robert E. Lee, got the first and tallest statue on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, one of the most sacred places for rebel aficionados in the country. With Mayor Levar Stoney following through on his pledge to quickly remove monuments under city control, and the fate […]

‘We’re telling history now’: New Lost Cause exhibit opens at Richmond museum

By: - December 6, 2019

The White House of the Confederacy, which once told racist myths about the righteousness of the rebel cause, is setting the record straight. A new exhibit at the former Confederate shrine in downtown Richmond shows how people associated with the house helped spread a warped description of the Civil War era  — a narrative called […]

Two Hampton trees witnessed start of Virginia slavery, beginnings of freedom

By: - August 23, 2019

HAMPTON — In August 1619, enslaved Africans first arrived in Virginia. During the Civil War in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, which aimed to set millions of slaves free. Witnesses to both live among us. They are the Algernourne Oak at Fort Monroe in Hampton, which tree experts say was standing nearby […]

Much of what we’ve been told about Virginia’s 1619 first Africans is wrong

By: - August 11, 2019

You might have heard about the commemoration taking place later this month. “Four hundred years ago this month, the first African slaves arrived in North America on a ship landing at the Jamestown colony in what is today Virginia.” — PBS Newshour, Aug. 1. That 1619 event was “the first documented arrival of enslaved Africans […]


Fighting myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings about race, slavery and the Civil War

By: - May 23, 2019

Slaves were treated well. Blacks fought in large numbers for the Confederacy. The Civil War was about states’ rights. These are myths, spread to dress up the horrors of slavery and justify Confederates, historians say. Many have racist origins. Historians and others say we can never achieve racial peace in America unless we acknowledge the […]

Spare the snakes: Know these six serpents

By: - May 2, 2019

Spring is so wonderful — blooming flowers, singing birds and visits from our friends, the snakes. These reptilian Rip Van Winkles are up from their long winter naps and moving, looking for food and mates. One just might find you by mistake. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Believe it or not, Virginia’s […]


How I unlearned what I was taught about the Civil War and Virginia’s fraught racial history

By: - February 8, 2019

On a springlike winter day, my wife and I walked through Maymont, chatted there with a happy family from Guatemala, then headed to North Richmond for a late lunch. As we zipped along the Boulevard, we saw the “flaggers,” men and women who fly Confederate flags to protest … something. We live almost next door […]