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History of flampton 


Elizabeth City County 
V irginia 



The Boara of Supervisors of Elizabetn City County 

iTainpton, Virginia 




mmnr of coNQp^rse 


^he Confederate Veterans 

of the Peninsula, who gave up homes and all for the 
cause of their State, for four long years on battle- 
fields of fame served the land they loved to 
the best of their great ability and then 
returned to find their homes in ruins 
and ashes, this little volume is 
dedicated as a tribute of in- 
effable remembrance. 

Composed 1912 for the Retail Merchants Association 
by Lyon G. Tyler, M. A., LL. D., and now published 
in pamphlet form by the Board of Supervisors of 
Elizabeth City County, Virginia, November, 1922. 


Dear old Hampton, with its colonial, Eevolutionary, 
1812, and Civil War memories, has endured and survived 
much. We of the present Hampton, we who love this old 
place either because it is our home by inheritance or adop- 
tion must carry on and remember that we are its guardians 
and makers and that the Hampton of the future will be the 
sort of place we are making it today. 

With a deep and abiding love for the place of his birth 
and a keen interest in her welfare the first steps were taken 
by Hunter R. Booker, youngest son of Major and Mrs. 
George Booker, of Sherwood estate, now Langley Field, 
Elizabeth City County, who brought to the attention of his 
fellow towns and countrymen his wish that a history of 
Hampton be compiled as a matter of civic concern. 

In accord with this viewpoint the Eetail Merchants As- 
sociation of Hampton gave the money for this project and 
the history was written by Dr. Lyon G. Tyler, eminent Vir- 
ginia genealogist and former President of the College of 
William and Mary. 

With commendable public spirit the Board of Super- 
visors of Elizabeth City County made up of Messrs. W. R. 
Rawlins, A. L. Dixon, Hunter R. Booker, as members, and 
H. H. Holt, clerk, made an appropriation for the publica- 
tion of this history. 

In 1896 the Association for the Preservation of Vir- 
ginia Antiquities put upon the old light house at Cape 
Henry a bronze tablet with these words upon it: ''Near 
this spot landed April 26, 1607, Capt. Gabriell Archer, Hon. 
George S. Percy, Christopher Newport, Bartholomew Gos- 
nold, Edward Maria Wingfield, with 25 others, who calling 
the place Cape Henry, planted a cross April 29, 1607. ' ' 

That same evening, toward dusk, while attempting to 
enter James River the colonists struck what is now known 
as Willoughby Spit, the eastern end of Hampton Roads, 
where ''they found shallow water for a great way." 

The next day April 30, they rowed to a point of land 

Page five 

on the opposite side of Hampton Roads where they found a 
channel 'Svhich put us in good comfort. Therefore we 
named that point of land Cape Comfort (present Old Point 
Comfort)." Upon the invitation of some friendly Indians 
to come ashore to their town called by them Kecoughtan, 
Captain John Smith says: ''Wee coasted to their town 
running over a river running into the main where these 
savages swam over with their bowes and arrows in their 
mouths." "Kecoughtan," continues the doughty Captain, 
' ' has a convenient harbor for fisheries, boats or small boats, 
that so conveniently turneth itself into Bayes and Creeks 
that make that place very pleasant to inhabit, their corn- 
fields being girded thereon as peninsulars. " " The abound- 
ance of fish, fowls, and deer" was noted. 

To such a goodly place some of the colonists returned 
after three years, from Jamestown, in 1610, making a perm- 
anent settlement at Kecoughtan. Thus it is that the present 
Hampton occupying a place near the site of the Indian vil- 
lage is the oldest English settlement in the United States in 
continuous existence. Hampton may well be proud of this 
priority and others. The Church came with the colonists 
and the first church was probably erected in Kecoughtan 
in 1620. The walls of the present St. John's Church have 
stood since 1728. The three old pieces of communion silver 
now in use in St. John's Church bear the "hallmark" of 
1618. This plate has been in use in America longer than 
any English Church plate now known to be in existence. 
These pieces "were given by Miss Mary Eobinson of Lon- 
don to a church endowed by her in Smith 's hundred in Vir- 
ginia which lay in the point between the Chickahominy and 
the James rivers. This church was endowed especially 
with the hope of converting the Indians; but the settle- 
ment was almost destroyed by them in the great massacre 
of 1622. At this time these vessels were carried by Gov- 
ernor Yeardley to Jamestown. Years afterwards they 
were given to the parish of Elizabeth City." The present 
Syms-Eaton School is a continuation of the oldest free 
school in America, there having been no break in its history 
since its establishment in 1634, by Benj. Syms and Thos. 

We, of Virginia, are justly proud that no matter what 
services were rendered in raising the superstructure of our 

Page six 

present national government, the foundation-stone of con- 
stitutional liberty for the English speaking race was laid 
firmly and irremovably at Jamestown. The House of Bur- 
gesses convened there from 1619 to 1698. In 1698 the seat 
of government was moved from Jamestown to Middle Plan- 
tation (Williamsburg) which lies half in James City and 
half in York County. Many of us in the peninsular counties 
had forebears who sat in this august assemblage. Repre- 
senting Kecoughtan at this first Legislative Assembly held 
in the New World at Jamestown in 1619, were William 
Tucker, and William Capps. These gentlemen were com- 
missioned to ask the House of Burgesses for a change of 
name for Kecoughtan. Says an old chronicle concerning 
that event: "Some people, in pious frame of mind, took a 
spite at Kecoughtan name and said a name so heathen 
should not be for a people so pious as we, and suggesting 
some other names, they made their grudges to old King 
James, and so the King a new name found, for this fine sec- 
tion and all around." 

The name Kecoughtan does not appear regularly in 
legal documents from 1619. The new name, Elizabeth City, 
was called after the daughter of King James I. The cor- 
poration of Elizabeth City developed into Elizabeth City 
County in 1634. In 1705 the town of Hampton was founded 
by an act of the Legislature. The name was in honor of the 
English Earl of Southampton. 

The American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the 
War Between the States left their impress on old Hampton. 
In 1812 and again in 1861, the "Gamecock Town" was 
burned. Attesting their loyalty to and love for the cause 
of the Confederacy, the inhabitants, in August, 1861, set 
fire to their own homes rather than have them fall into the 
hands of the Federal troops who were approaching. Gen- 
eral Macgruder commanded the Confederates. 

"Furl that Banner! True, 'tis gory, 
Yet 'tis wreathed around with glory. 
And 'twill live in song and story. 
Though its folds are in the dust." 

The loyalty of Hampton to the Union has been tried 
and proved in the Spanish-American, and World Wars. 
Side by side the descendants of the followers of Lee and 

Page seven 

those of the followers of Grant clad in khaki, a blend of 
the blue and the gray, battled for the same principle, the 
same cause, and a common country. 

Dear old Hampton! For you, indeed, does love make 
memory eternal. Blessed memories are yours — '^ memories 
of images and precious thoughts that shall not die, and can- 
not be effaced." 

To new Hampton, God bless her. 

Hark forward! Carry on! 


Page eight 


Old Kecoughtan, 1607-1619 

THERE are few more picturesque regions in the world 
than the Peninsula on which the town of Hampton is sit- 
uated. The wealth of water scenery is of mingled advantage 
and beauty. On the east, parallel to the coast line of the 
ocean, stretches the noble basin of the Chesapeake Bay 
twenty miles wide. On the north are the blue waters of the 
magnificent York Eiver, and on the south is the great bay 
called Hampton Roads, into which the rushing James pours 
its yellow tide. The land is a fertile, sandy, alluvial and 
remarkably level, and the landscape is beautiful with the 
silvery windings of Back River, Hampton River, Mill Creek 
and Harris' Creek. 

At the arrival of the first white settlers the conditions 
in this favored region were quite different from conditions 
elsewhere. While in the rest of Virginia the land was most- 
ly covered with great forests of oak, gum, poplar, hickory 
and chestnut, here was an open field of two thousand or 
three thousand acres or more, quite ready for extensive 
agricultural operations. The waters around swarmed with 
crabs and vEAuable fish, and on the beds beneath the sheet 
of liquid blue lay great quantities of oysters, clams and 
mussels. Thus, the means of subsistence were abundant, 
and we are not surprised to hear that, some years before 
the English arrived, the region was sometimes the seat of 
as many as a thousand Indians and 300 wigwams. On ac- 
count of their numbers the Indians were called Kecoughtans 
meaning the inhabitants of the ' ' great town, ' ' but the name 
Kecoughtan applied more to a region than a collection of 
buildings. As a region, Kecoughtan was pretty near identi- 
cal with the modern Elizabeth City and Warwick Counties. 
It extended perhaps northward along the James as far as 
Skiffe 's Creek and along the York as far as Pocoson River, 
averaging from East to West about fifteen miles, and from 
North to South, between the two rivers five miles. 

Page nine 

These Indians were members of a Confederacy of about 
34 tribes occupying Tidewater Virginia, of which Powhatan 
was war-chief or headwerowance. They belonged to the 
Algonquin race, and were far less barbarous than the wild 
inhabitants of the Mississippi region. Like the other tribes 
of the Powhatan Confederacy, they had a territory defined 
by natural bounds and their villages had a permanent char- 
acter and place. They were composed of houses oval in 
shape made of bark set upon a frame-work of bent saplings. 

On account of their strength, Powhatan regarded the 
Kecoughtan tribe with suspicion, which was much increas- 
ed by the warnings of his medicine men. It is said by Stra- 
chey' that Powhatan was informed by them that "from 
the Chesapeake Bay a nation would arise that should dis- 
solve and give end to his empire." Powhatan bided his 
time, and while things were in confusion by reason of the 
death of the old Kecoughtan werowance, he suddenly in- 
vaded the territory, killed the new chief and most of his 
people and settled the survivors in the remote region of the 
Pianketank. And it was not the Kecaughtans only that he 
involved in slaughter, but the Chesapeakes also who in- 
habited on the south side of the bay, and, therefore, "lay 
under the suspicion of the same phophecy." In the room 
of the former inhabitants Powhatan placed at these places 
some of his own people on whom he could rely. At Kecough- 
tan he made his son Pochins werowance, but the new comers 
there did not exceed over thirty warriors or 150 men, women 
and children. 

This was the condition of things in the Bay region on 
April 26, 1607, when the famous fleet consisting of the Sarah 
Constant, the Goodspeed and the Discovery, under com- 
mand of Captain Christopher Newport, sailed with the 
founders of the Nation through the broad water gateway be- 
tween Cape Charles and Cape Henry into Chesapeake Bay. 
Anchoring three days off Cape Henry, they broke the seal 
of the box which contained the names of the council, ex- 
plored the Country, and subsequently set up a cross, taking 
possession in the name of King James of England. On 
April 30th, they came with their ships to a long, sandy point 
of land which they called Cape Comfort, because of the 
deep water, which was found there, and which put the navi- 

' William Strachey, Travaile into Virginia Brittannia. 
Page ten 

gators in ''good comfort" of being able to pass into the 
safe harbor beyond. Here Captain Newport caused the 
shallop to be manned and rowed to the mainland, where he 
saw an Indian village of eighteen wigwams. Captain 
George Percy, brother of the Earl of Northumberland, 
gives us this account of this first meeting of the white men 
and the savages: 

* ' When we came first a land they made a doleful noise, 
laying their faces to the ground, scratching the earth with 
their nails. We did thinke they had beene at their Idola- 
try. When they had ended their Ceremonies, they went 
into their houses and brought out mats and laid upon the 
ground : The chief est of them sate all in a rank ; the mean- 
est sort brought us such dainties as they had, and of their 
bread which they make of their Maiz or Gennea wheat. 
They would not suffer us to eat unless we sate down, which 
we did on a mat right against them. After we were well 
satisfied they gave us of their tobacco, which they tooke in 
a pipe made artificially of earth as ours are, but far bigger, 
with the bowle fashioned together with a piece of fine cop- 
per. After they had feasted us, they showed us, in wel- 
come, their manner of dancing, which was in this fashion. 
One of the savages standing in the midst singing, beating 
one hand against another, all the rest dancing about him, 
shouting, howling, and stamping against the ground, with 
many Anticke tricks and faces, making noise like so many 
Wolves or Devils. One thing of them I observed; when 
they were in their dance they kept stroke with their feet 
just one with another, but with their hands, heads, faces 
and bodies, every one of them had a severall gesture; so 
they continued for the space of halfe an houre. When they 
had ended their dance, the Captain gave them Beades and 
other trifling Jewells. ' ' 

The curious antics of the Indians described in the 
above paragraph had probably a deeper meaning than 
Percy suspected. The religion of the Powhatan Indians 
consisted in a belief in a great number of devils, who were 
to be warded off by pow-wows and conjurations, and they 
were inclined to believe that Percy and his friends, if not 
devils, were messengers sent by devils. The pipes display- 
ed were probably the peace pipes, which were often of very 
large dimensions and curiously carved. 

Page eleven 

The map of Captain John Smith and other contempor- 
ary evidence show that the site of the Indian village was 
very near the spot on which the present Soldiers' Home 
is located. 

The settlers on this visit did not stay long, but sailed 
up the river and established themselves May 14th, on the 
Island of Jamestown. In doing this they made a great 
mistake, for the Island was very unhealthful, very accessi- 
ble to Indian attacks, and was covered with morasses and 
huge trees centuries old. As Dr. Philip Alexander Bruce 
observes : ' ' The proper site for the colony was the modern 
Hampton." The action of the settlers was dictated by the 
London Company, who were afraid of the Spaniards, but 
as subsequent events proved, a nearer settlement to the sea- 
shore would have resulted in no real danger. The Spanish 
Kingdom had lost power, and the open country of Kecough- 
tan would have promoted health and enabled the colonists 
to go to work at once in providing adequate sustenance; 
moreover the settlement protected by wide stretches of 
water, could have been readily defended against Indian 
attacks. In the midst of such abundance as the place 
afforded there could have been no Starving Time as at 
Jamestown in 1610. It is true that a settlement at Kecough- 
tan however would have involved a speedy conflict with the 
savages, which the London Company deprecated, but this 
the colonists did not avoid by placing their settlement at 
Jamestown. They were attacked almost immediately. 

In December, 1607, Captain John Smith paid a visit 
to these Indians of Kecoughtan for trade, and returned to 
Jamestown with a good supply of fish, oysters, corn and deer 
meat, which he obtained from them for a few glass beads. 
Smith stopped here again when he returned in July, 1608, 
after his exploration of Chesapeake Bay. The gallant cap- 
tain at this time was suffering from a wound inflicted by a 
stingray, and one of his men had his shins bruised; and we 
are told that the Indians surmised that they had had a 
bloody battle experience. The captain fell in with their 
humor, and soon the report spread far and wide, that Cap- 
tain Smith had badly beaten the Massawomekes, the invet- 
erate enemies of the Powhatans. On his departing from 
Jamestown for his second exploration of the Bay not long 
after, Smith made another stop of two or three days at 

Page twelve 

Kecoughtan, where lie was ** feasted with much mirth." 
The next year a party, including Captain Francis West, 
Captain George Percy and Captain Smith spent Christmas 
week among these savages. Their own account was: ^'We 
were never more merry nor fed on more plentie of good 
oysters, fish, flesh, and wild fowle and good breade, nor 
never had better fires in England than in the dry smoky 
houses of Kecoughtan." 

Fort Algemoume 

Kecoughtan was recognized as a strategic situation, 
and after Captain Smith's departure for England, in Octo- 
ber, 1609, George Percy, the President, sent Captain John 
Ratcliffe down to the mouth of the river to build a fort. He 
chose the present site of Fort Monroe, and called his stock- 
ade ''Algernourne Fort," in honor of President Percy's 
ancestor William Algernourne de Percy, who came to Eng- 
land with William the Conqueror. Soon after began the 
Starving Time at Jamestown, during which most of the 
settlers died. Captain Ratcliffe, while on a trading voyage 
to the York, was betrayed and killed by the savages, and 
his place at Point Comfort was supplied by Captain James 
Davis. Only some sixty wretched survivors were at James- 
town when the Spring of 1610 arrived, and these would have 
perished but for the almost miraculous arrival of Sir 
Thomas Gates and the passengers of the Sea Venture, who 
had been wrecked for forty weeks on the Bermuda Islands. 
They reached Point Comfort May 21, 1610, and through 
Captain Davis, Governor Gates was first made acquainted 
with the terrible condition of things at Jamestown. 

Here again was the stopping place two weeks later of 
Sir Thomas West, Lord Delaware, who arrived just in time 
to prevent the desertion of Virginia by Gates. There was 
then waiting at Point Comfort, a little pinnace called the 
<< Virginia," built on the coast of Maine, and the only pro- 
duct of the colony sent out, to that region in 1607 by the 
Plymouth Company. It had been sent down from James- 
town by Governor Gates to take on Captain Davis and his 
guard; and the colonists at Jamestown were momentarily 
expected. Delaware at once dispatched the Virginia up the 
river, and the ships from Jamestown were met off Mulberry 

Page thirteen 

Island. Under orders the departing ships tacked about and 
sailed back to the old place of settlement, and, in the even- 
ing of June 8th, 1610, the colonists again took possession of 
their forlorn habitations. 

Forts Henry and Charles 

Not long after their return, a white man named Humph- 
rey Blunt, who had strayed off to himself, was killed by 
some Kecoughtan Indians, near the point on James River 
which bears his name. To punish the murderers Sir 
Thomas Gates took a squad of men, and on July 9th, 1610, 
drove the werowance Pochins and his tribe away from their 
village ; and built near the shore two stockades, called Forts 
Henry and Charles, "a musket shot apart from one 
another." William Box, one of the first settlers, described 
these small defences as named in honor of ' ' our most noble 
Prince (Henry), and his hopeful brother (Charles)." ''They 
stand upon a pleasant plaine, and neare a little Revilet 
they called Southampton River; in a wholsom aire, having 
plentie of Springs of sweet water; they command a great 
circuit of ground, containing wood, pasture and marsh, 
with apt places for vines, come, and Gardens; in which 
Fort it is resolved, that all those that come out of England, 
shall be at their first landing quartered, that the wearisom- 
nesse of the Sea may be refreshed in this pleasing part of 
the country." In this opinion of the attractiveness of 
Kecoughtan, William Strachey, Gate's Secretary concur- 
red: "It is an ample and faire countrie indeed ****** and 
is a delicate and necessary seate for a citty or chief fortifi- 

Southampton River, now known as Hampton River, 
was named in honor of Henry Wriothesley, Earl of South- 
ampton, President of the Virginia Company of London 
from 1620 to 1625, and his name was also given to the splen- 
did body of water into which the rivulet entered "South- 
ampton (Hampton) Roads." In the autumn following 
(1610) Delaware withdrew the guards at these two forts, 
and sent the men on a fruitless expedition to the falls of 
James River to search for gold, but after his depaurture 
in 1611, from Virginia, Sir Thomas Dale restored the settle- 

Fort Henry probably occupied the site of the Kecough- 
Page fourteen 

tan village that stood in a field of 100 acres on the ''Straw- 
berry Bank," having John's Creek as its eastern boundary. 
Its situation was thus identical with that of the present 
Soldiers' Home. A mile further east was Fort Charles. 
Each of these forts, in 1613, had fifteen soldiers, but no 
ordnance; and, in 1614, Captain George Webb was the 
principal commander of both. In the latter year, Hamor 
describes them as ''goodly seats and much corn about 
them, abounding with the commodities of fish, fowle, Deere 
and fruits, whereby the men lived there with halfe that 
maintenance out of the store which in other places is al- 
lowed." In 1616, John Rolfe reported that there were at 
Kecoughtan twenty-one men including Captain Webb, and 
of the number Mr. William Mease was minister and eleven 
were farmers, who maintained themselves. 

The year 1619 saw great changes made in the govern- 
ment of Virginia. Hitherto the settlers were only soldiers 
and martial law prevailed. Now the free laws of England 
were proclaimed, and to every man was assigned a certain 
area of land. On July 30, a general assembly met at James- 
town, according to the summons of the governor, in which 
William Tucker and William Capps, prominent colonists, 
were the representatives for Kecoughtan. Four corpora- 
tions were established to include all the settlements. The 
region from the bay on both sides of the river, to Chucka- 
tuck on the south side and to Skiffe's Creek on the North 
side constituted Elizabeth City Corporation, a name pre- 
ferred by the inhabitants to the heathen name of Kecough- 
tan and bestowed in honor of King James ' daughter Eliza- 
beth, the Queen of Bohemia. In pursuance of the command 
of the London Company to set aside certain areas in each 
corporation for public uses, the government appropriated 
for Elizabeth City the land from the mouth of Hampton 
River to the Bay. Three thousand acres were reserved for 
the Company's own use; 1500 acres for the common use, 
and 100 acres for a glebe. Tenants were placed upon these 
lands for the public benefit. Of this stretch of country the 
portion from Hampton River to the beginning of the modern 
Mill Creek was called "Strawberry Bank," a name sug- 
gestive of the abundant growth of a luscious berry well 
known to a Virginia table ; and the portion along Mill Creek 

Page fifteen 

300 acres, was known as ' ' Buck Roe, ' ' after a place in Eng- 
land of that name. 

In 1620, the company sent some Frenchmen to Buck 
Eoe to teach the colonists how to plant mulberry trees and 
grape vines, raise silkworms, and make wine. They were 
selected by John Bonnell, silkworm raiser to the King at 
Oakland, from Languedock in France, and among them 
were Anthony BonnelF, Elias La Guard', James Bonnell, 
Peter Arundell and David Poole. 

In 1621, Capt. Thomas Newce from Newce's Town in 
Ireland came over as manager of the Company's lands in 
the different corporations, was made a member of the Vir- 
ginia council, and given six hundred acres at Fort Henry 
for his support. 

At this time one of the ministers of Elizabeth City was 
Jonas Stockton, son of William Stockton, parson of Barkes- 
well, County Warwick, England; and in May, 1621, he wrote 
a letter regarding the treacherous character of the Indians 
and the futility of any attempt to convert them till "their 
Priests and Ancients" were put to death. He appears to 
have been the earliest exponent of the doctrine that ^'the 
only good Indian is a dead Indian. ' ' March 22, 1622 occurred 
the massacre at which time 346 settlers out of a total of 
1240 were slaughtered; and the warning of Mr. Stockton 
may have served the people of Elizabeth City to good pur- 
pose, for no one was killed there. 

After the first news Captain Newce called all his neigh- 
bors together at his home, which he defended with three 
cannon, and took measure not only for their relief, but built 
two houses and a *'faire well of water mantled with brick" 
for the reception of immigrants daily expected from Eng- 
land ; and, f orseeing the famine that must necessarily ensue, 
caused a large crop of corn to be planted around the fort. 
We are told that in all these works the captain acted the 
part of a sawyer, carpenter and laborer, but met with many 
difficulties. In the latter part of June Governor Wyatt, ac- 
companied by his council and many other gentlemen, spent 
three or four days with him and ate up the crop of corn 
near the fort, before the ears were half grown. However, 
Captain Newce, sick and weak as he was, never tired of well 

' Subsequently anglicised to "Bonny". ' Subsequently anglicised 

Page sixteen 

doing; but when all was spent and the colonists had to live 
on crabs and oysters, he distributed among them, as he saw 
occasion, a little milk and rice which he still had left, and 
behaved with such ' ' tenderness and care ' ' that he obtained 
the reputation of being the best commander in Virginia. 

September 9, 1922, his men were attacked at their 
labors by the Indians, which was their first assault since the 
massacre; and four men were slain. The Captain, though 
extremely sick, sallied forth, but the Indians hid in the corn- 
fields at night and escaped without any loss. About this 
time Samuel Collier, who had come, as a boy, to Virginia 
and was very useful as Indian interpreter, was accidently 
killed by a sentinel; and in the general neglect of agricul- 
ture that ensued the vineyards at Buck Roe were greatly 
^'bruised" by the deer. Captain Newce died the next year 
(1623) and he was preceded to the grave by his brother Sir 
William Newce, who had come a very short time before as 
high marshal to Virginia. It was from these two Newce 
brothers that Newport News (Newport Newce) obtained its 
name, its early title being Point Hope, as appears from 
Smith's map of Virginia. 

The Development of Elizabeth City 

Captain William Tucker, a London merchant, succeed- 
ed Captain Newce as commander of Elizabeth City and as 
a member of the council of State, and in the revenge taken 
upon the savages by the government he played an import- 
ant part in leading expeditions against them. 

In February 1624, a census was taken of the inhabi- 
tants of the colony according to which it appeared that Eliz- 
abeth City Corporation had a population of 349. In June, 
the charter of the London Company was revoked, but 
though great fears were entertained, no attempt was made 
by the King to interfere with the plan of government estab- 
lished by the Company for the colony. 

In 1625 another census of the colony was taken, and 
among the inhabitants of Elizabeth City Corporation the 
following may be mentioned: Residing at Newport News 
on a tract of 1300 acres, with his 19 servants was Mr. Daniel 
Gookin, who came like the Newces from Newce town in Ire- 
land. On Hampton River and in its neighborhood were 

Page seventeen 

Commander William Tucker, Captain Francis West, brother 
of Lord Delaware, John Downman, John Powell, Michael 
Willcox, Cornelius May, William Julian, Lieut. Thomas 
Purifoy, Ensign Thomas Willoughby, George Keith min- 
ister, Captain Nicholas Martian, Mr. Eobert Salford, 
Francis Mason, Pharaoh Flinton, Lieutenant John Chisman, 
Mr. Edward Waters, Captain Francis Chamberlayne, Rev. 
Jonas Stockton, Mr. William Gany, Thomas Flint and 
Anthony Bonell. 

In 1627, Rev. Mr. Stockton had the lease of 50 acres on 
the east side of Hampton River River ''within the Com- 
pany's land at Elizabeth City," at the Indian House 
Thicket. It appears the irony of fate that an Indian school, 
the Hampton Institute, should now be seen near where once 
was an "Indian thicket," and the prophetic Stockton an- 
nounced his conviction of the original depravity of the 

As a result of the massacre, the Indians were driven 
far away from the settlements, and the colony, relieved from 
their presence, in a few years again put on a prosperous 
appearance. In 1628, we are told that there was a great 
plenty of everything in the colony and "peaches in abund- 
ance at Elizabeth City." 

About 1630, Col. William Claiborne set up on the very 
site of the present town of Hampton a storehouse for trade 
with the Indians up Chesapeake Bay, and here he resided 
after being driven out of Kent Island by Lord Baltimore. 
He removed to West Point about 1661. 

In 1632, the French vignerons at Buck Roe incurred 
the resentment of the general assembly by dropping into 
tobacco raising, and a law was passed inhibiting them from 
so doing on penalty of forfeiting their leases and having 
to quit the colony. 

In February, 1634, Leonard Calvert and his immigrants 
stopped here on their way to found the great State of Mary- 
land at St. Mary's. 

The same year (1634) the colony was divided into eight 
counties, and ' ' Elizabeth City ' ' was given to one extending 
on both sides of Hampton Roads, but, in 1637, the south side 
was cut off and made into New Norfolk County, after which 
the limits of Elizabeth City County were pretty nearly as 
they exist at the present day. Till very recently however, 

Page eighteen 

Newport News, which now lies wholly in Warwick Count)^ 
lay partly in Elizabeth City County and partly in Warwick 

The Strawberry Bank 

When, in 1637, Fort Henry was abandoned, the field 
of a hundred acres in which it stood, called ''Fort Field," 
was granted to Captain Francis Hooke, Esq., of the Royal 
Navy, commander at Point Comfort and one of the 
council of State. It was described as ' ' lying on the Straw- 
berry Bank beginning at a well, known by the name of 
Plackett well, which is upon the Creek side, which runneth 
up by the Gate house west, and so to a place where a house 
stood where one Powell lived and from there directly to a 
spring in the banke of the creek right against the house of 
one Thomas Oldis east. ' ' A grant in 1648 to Major Richard 
Moryson, brother-in-law of Lucius Cary, Lord Falkland, 
and one of Captain Hooke 's successors in command at Point 
Comfort, is more definite. The land is here described as 
''lying south upon the Main River from the mouth of a 
creek commonly called Hooke 's Creek alias John's Creek 
unto Sandy Point, bounded on the west side from the Sandy 
Point with a creek that parteth the land of Thomas Conier 
and the Glebe land from this land, bounded on the north 
with the land late belonging to Thomas Oldis gent, by 
marked trees to a tree near the bridge that leadeth to the 
dwelling house of said Oldis from (sic) to the mouth of said 
John's Creek, on the east side." 

On the east of John's Creek was a tract of one hundred 
acres granted formerly to Captain Grayes for his personal 
adventure as "an ancient planter" and assigned by him in 
1635 to Lieut. Thomas Purifoy, one of the council of State 
and a representative of the Purifoys, of Drayton, in Leices- 
tershire; and by Purifoy, about 1667, assigned to Captain 
Francis Hooke. It became later the property of Thomas 
Oldis, a member of the House of Burgesses, who owned 
another tract of fifty acres adjoining easterly, which in 
1622 appears to have been owned by Christopher Calthorpe, 
who came to Virginia that year. This last was second son 
of Christopher Calthorpe, Esq., of Norfolk County, Eng- 
land, and grandson of Sir Thomas Calthorpe and Barbara 
Bacon his wife. In 1691, the whole 150 acres was devised 

Page nineteen 

to Jacob Walker and George Walker, Jr., his brother, by 
Thomas Oldis, grandson of Sir Thomas Oldis. 

In the grant of Purif oy, his land is described as ' * lying 
on a small creek dividing the same from the field called 
Fort Henry." In the grant to Capt. Hooke in 1637, the 
same land is described as ''situated upon the Strawberry 
Bank, northward upon a creek next to the Fort Field, south 
upon the Main River, east upon Thomas Oldis his land and 
north-east upon John Neale his land." 

Next to the lot, formerly Christopher Calthorpe's and 
afterwards Thomas Oldis, on the ''Strawberry Bank," was 
a tract of fifty acres, leased in 1627 to Doctoris Christmas, 
assigned by him in 1628 to Lionel Rowleston, and assigned 
by Rowleston in 1630 to John Neale, merchant. At the east 
side of this land, on the shore about 100 poles or 500 yards 
east of John's Creek, was in 1648 the cedar stump of the 
"lookout-tree," where a sentinel watched the distant capes 
for approaching vessels. And near by was the "round mill" 
after which Mill Creek was named, its earlier title being 
Point Comfort Creek'. 

In 1628, Lieut. Edward Waters, whose romantic career 
had begun in 1609, with the wreck of the "Sea Venture," 
and his discovery shortly after on the Bermuda Islands of 
a vast piece of ambergris worth three million dollars leased 
100 acres adjoining westerly John Neale 's tract. These two 
tracts, making 150 acres, or 165 acres as the surveys 
showed, became vested in George Downes and were long 
known as Downes' Field. On the east side was a marsh or 
gut called Thomas' Creek, still to be seen to the east of 
"Roseland," a residence, near the town of Phoebus. 

This land is more than ordinarily interesting, because 
of a great ejectment suit, which started in 1699. It is stated 
that Downes' Field being deserted vested in the Colony, 
and it was, thereupon, in 1642, granted to Major Richard 
Moryson, one of Hooke 's successors as commander of Point 
Comfort. A few years later the government granted to Mrs. 
Elizabeth Claiborne, wife of Col .William Claiborne, then 
treasurer of Virginia, seven hundred acres, extending along 
the water side four hundred poles, or two hundred chains,' 

^ William and Mary College Quarterly, IX, 90. 
^ The chain at this period was only two rods or poles; i. e. 31 

Page twenty 

embracing Dowiies' Field, and bounded on its west side by 
Thomas Oldis land, on its east side by Buck Roe and the 
land of Rev. William Wilkinson, who afterwards emigrated 
to Maryland and was the second Protestant minister of that 
province. Major Moryson's title descended to Samuel Sel- 
den, a lawyer, who came from England to Elizabeth City in 
1699; and Mrs. Claiborne's right had at that time vested in 
Bertrand Servant, a prominent French immigrant. Suit 
was entered and continued for half a century involving suc- 
cessive claimants, including Col. Robert Beverley, James 
Gait, John George and other prominent citizens of Eliza- 
beth City. 

In 1622, James Nott, of Accomac, planter, patented at 
the mouth of Hampton River fifty acres of land, ^'bounded 
southerly by a creek, which parteth the same from the lands 
of Captain Francis West, and northerly upon the Glebe 
land, together with the house commonly called the Great 
Howse and all other howses." The purpose of Mr. Nott is 
expressed in the patent to be ''to keep a howse of enter- 
tainment, whereby strangers and others may be well accom- 
modated, with great ease to the inhabitants in those parts. ' ' 

''Fox Hill," and "Little England" 

Fox Hill is mentioned as early as 1625, when Captain 
Raleigh Croshaw had five hundred acres between that place 
and York River. Harris' Creek is a very old name in the 
records, and so is Back River, meaning the river on the 
back of the plantations first settled. The old Pocosin, as 
its name signifies, meant in the Indian tongue, the low, 
marshy country on the York River between Back River and 
Pocosin River. 

The point now known as "Little England" was pat- 
ented about 1634 by William Capps, a prominent settler, 
and for over one hundred years was known as Capps' Point. 
By William Capps, King Charles sent over the memorable 
instructions in 1627 allowing a general assembly, which 
had been discontinued since the revocation of the charter 
in 1624. To Capps was also given the privilege of erecting 
salt works. 

Page twenty-one 

The First Glebe and Church 

At the head of John's Creek was the Glebe land, lying 
on the north side of the present trolley car line from Hamp- 
ton to the town of Phoebus. A grant to Robert Partin, in 
1637, locates his lease of 40 acres as ''south on the Fort 
field, and north towards the church, ' ' and this was the same 
land as Thomas Conier's, which was described in the patent 
to Major Richard Moryson for Fort Field, as parted from 
the Glebe Land by a creek making in from Sandy Point 
(Soldier's Home Point.) It was in this church, in January, 
1637, that Sir John Harvey, who had been expelled from the 
government, read his commission to be governor for the 
second time. There is an old graveyard on the property 
of the late Col. Thomas Tabb, which has been restored, in- 
closed and re-dedicated as the site of this original church'. 

The Free Schools 

Four years before John Harvard bequeathed his estate 
to the college near Boston, Benjamin Syms, of Virginia, 
left the first legacy by a resident of the American Planta- 
tion for the promotion of education. By his will, made Feb- 
ruary 12, 1634- '35, he gave two hundred acres on the Pi>quo- 
sin, a small river which enters the Chesapeake Bay, a mile 
or less below the mouth of York River, with the milk and 
increase of eight cows, for the education and instruction of 
the children of the adjoining parishes of Elizabeth City 
and Kiquotan, "from Mary's Mount downward to the 
Poquosin river. ' ' The money arising from the first increase 
of the cattle was to be used to build a schoolhouse, and the 
profits from the subsequent sales of cattle to support the 
teacher. This Benjamin Syms was born in 1590, and in 
1623 was living at "Basse's Choice," in what was subse- 
quently known as Isle of Wight county. In 1624, at this 
point, died a Margaret Syms. In 1629 Thomas Warnet, a 
leading merchant of Jamestown, bequeathed Benjamin 
Syms a weeding hoe. Syms was evidently an honest, religi- 
ous, and childless planter. 

' Tyler, Cradle of the Republic, 248. Recent excavations con- 
firm this conjecture. They disclosed the foundations of a building in 
the graveyard, which were of cobblestone shovdng that the superstruc- 
ture was of wood. 

Page twenty-two 

In March 1642- '43 the Virginia Assembly gave a solemn 
sanction to Syms' will in the following words: ''Be it 
enacted and confirmed, upon consideration had of the godly 
disposition and good intent of Benjamin Syms deceased, in 
founding by his last will and testament a free school in 
Elizabeth county, for the encouragement of all other in like 
pious performances, that the said will and testament with 
all donations therein contained concerning the free school 
and the situation thereof in the said county, and the land 
appertaining to the same, shall be confirmed according to 
the godly intent of the said testator, without any alienation 
or conversion thereof to any place or county." In 1647, a 
few years later, we hear from an early writer that the school 
was in operation and the number of kine greatly increased : 
' * I may not forget to tell you, ' ' he writes, ' ' we have a free 
school, with two hundred acres of land, a fine house upon it, 
forty milch kine and other accommodations. The bene- 
factor deserveth perpetual mention, Mr. Benjamin Syms, 
worthy to be chronicled. Other petty schools we have."' 

On June 5th, 1638, Thomas Eaton patented 600 acres 
of land the west side of the head of Back River. By his 
deed, dated September 19, 1659, he conveyed 500 acres of 
this land with all the houses upon it, two negroes, 12 cows 
and two bulls, twenty hogs, and some household furniture, 
for the maintenance of an able schoolmaster to educate and 
teach the children born within the county of Elizabeth 

We have seen that after Captain Ratcliffe's death, 
Captain James Davis had command of Algernourne Fort, 
and in 1614 the fort was described as a stockade ''without 
stone or brick," containing 50 persons, men, women and 
boys, and protected by seven pieces of artillery; two of 
thirty-five "quintales," and the other thirty, twenty and 
eighteen all of iron. 

After Percy's departure for England, in April, 1612, 
the name Algernourne Fort was discontinued; and the 
place, for many years afterwards, was referred to as " Point 
Comfort Fort." 

In 1632, the fort having fallen in disuse, was rebuilt by 
Captain Samuel Mathews, afterwards governor, and fur- 

' William and Mary College Quarterly, VI, 73. 
'Ibid VI., 74; XI., 19. 

Page twenty-three 

nished with a guard of eight men; and Captain Francis 
Pott, brother of Governor John Pott, of the ancient family 
of the Potts of Harrop, in Yorkshire, was made commander, 
and continued such till he was removed by Sir John Harvey 
in 1635. 

In that year (1635) Francis Hooke, of the Eoyal Navy, 
' * an old servant of King Charles, ' ' was put in command. 

He died in 1637, and Captain Christopher Wormley, 
who had been governor of Tortugas, was for a short time 
in charge. 

Then, in 1639, succeeded Richard Moryson, son of Sir 
Richard Moryson, and brother-in-law of the noble cavalier, 
Lucius Cary, Lord Falkland, who married Letitia Moryson. 

In 1641, he returned to England, and left his brother. 
Lieutenant Robert Moryson, in charge of the fort. 

In 1649, Major Francis Moryson, another brother, who 
had served King Charles in the wars with the Parliament 
and came to Virginia with Colonel Henry Norwood, Colonel 
Mainwaring Hammond and other cavaliers was appointed 
by Sir William Berkley, captain of the fort. After Major 
Moryson, his nephew. Colonel Charles Moryson, son of Rich- 
ard Moryson, about 1664, succeeded to the command. 

For the support of the Captain, what were known as 
^'castle duties" were stablished in 1632, consisting, at first 
of ''a barrel of powder and ten iron shot" required of 
every ship; and the Captain kept a register of all arrivals. 

By 1665, the fort was entirely out of repair, and the 
general assembly in obedience to orders from the king ap- 
pointed Captain William Bassett to build a new fort, but 
the council constituted Col. Miles Cary and his son Thomas, 
as Bassette lived too remote. Before the work was finished, 
however, the great storm of 1667 washed away the very 
foundations, and Col. Cary lost his life fighting the Dutch, 
who made an attack the same year, and burnt the English 
shipping at the mouth of the river. Then the king sent new 
orders to restore the fort, but the assembly, who had very 
reluctantly obeyed in the first instance, now instead of doing 
what the king required, ordered five forts to be built at five 
other places, viz: Nansemond, Jamestown, Tindall's Point, 
Corotoman and Yeocomoco. As an excuse of this action 
they asserted in the preamble to their act the inefficiency 
of a fort at Point Comfort and the great difficulty of getting 

Page twenty-four 

material to build a fort there. Of course, when the Dutch 
came in 1673, there was nothing to prevent their operations 
at the mouth of the river, and the shipping had the mis- 
fortune of 1667 repeated upon them. 

The fort seems to have been discontinued for many 
years after this. 

The Second Church, 1667 

About 1667, a new church was built on the west of 
Hampton (at a place lately known as ** Pembroke Farm"), 
and that year a burial took place in the ''old church" at 
Kecoughtan, and another at the ''new church"'. This sec- 
ond church like the first, has long since disappeared, but its 
foundations may be traced and the site with the adjoining 
land consisting of nine acres still belongs to the parish. Here 
are a few tombstones of black marble, which still retain their 
position over the graves. They designate the resting places 
of John Neville, Vice-Admiral in the British Navy, who 
died August 17, 1697, aged 53 years; Thomas Curie, of 
Sussex County, England, who died May 30, 1700, aged 60 
years; Peter Heyman, Collector of his Majesty's customs, 
who died April 29, 1700, and Rev. Andrew Thompson, born 
at Stoneblue, Scotland, and died September 1, 1719, aged 

The list of ministers who preached at Elizabeth City, 
during the 18th Century, as far as preserved, is as follows: 
William Mease, 1610-1620; George Keith, 1624; James Fen- 
ton, died Sept. 5, 1624; Jonas Stockton, 1624; William Wil- 
kinson, 1644; Philip Mallory, 1644-1661; Eev. Justinian 
Aylmer, 1667; Jeremiah Taylor, 1677; John Page, 1677- 
1687; James Wallace, 1692-1712. 

The First Court House 

Probably the first Court House for Elizabeth City 
County was near the site of the first church, and in 1699 
Walter Bayley was paid 400 pounds of tobacco ' ' for pulling 
down the old church and setting up benches in the Court 
House." The church at Pembroke farm now became the 
exclusive church for Elizabeth Citv Parish. 

^ Meade, Old Churches, Ministers and families of Virginia, I., 

Page twenty-five 

The Schools of Syms and Eaton 

In 1670, James Ranson, of the county of Gloucester, 
gent., deeded to Abraham Savoy 50 acres on Old Poquoson 
River, ''extending its breadth upon the school land (Sym's) 
on one side." 

The schools of Syms and Eaton were undoubtedly in 
operation at the time when Berkeley uttered his much- 
quoted remark, in 1971, about free schools in Virginia. 

In the oldest record book of the county now preserved 
(1689- '99) there are the following references to the schools 
of Benjamin Syms and Thomas Eaton, 19 Xber, 1692. — 
Whereas Mr. Ebenezer Taylor, late schoolmaster of Eaton's 
free-school, his time being expired & having had ye Benefitt 
& pquisetts thereof, it is thought reasonable yt a negroe 
woman belonging to ye sd school should be cloathed at ye 
charges of ye sd schoolmaster, she being almost naked. It 
is therefore ordered yt ye said Taylor doe wthin fourteen 
days next pride and deliver unto Mr. Henry Royall, one of 
ye ffeoffees, one new cotton wastcoate and pettycoate, 3 
yards of good new canvis for a shift, one pare of new shoes 
& stockings & alsoe 3 Barrels of sound Indian Corn for ye 
said negroes use wth costs als exon. ' ' 

Nov. 20, 1693.— 'at is ordered yt Robert Crook School- 
master of Symmes School be allowed and paid for his 
charges in repairing ye school House two old cowes in lieu 

May 20, 1695. — "It is ordered that a negroe Joan be- 
longing to Eaton's free school by reason of age for ye future 
be free from paying Levyes and what crops she makes of 
Corne, Tobacco or Pulse, yt shee keepe ye same to her owne 
use for her maintenance." 

18 Nov. 1697.— "Mr. George Eland with consent of this 
court is elected Schoolmaster of Eaton's free school & he to 
continue in place as he shall be approved of from year to 
year Teaching all such children in English and grammar 
learnings as shall be sent to him yt are belonging to this 
county, and he to have all such pquisites as is belonging to 
ye sd schoole." 

19 June, 1699. — "Upon ye petition of William Williams 
wee doe hereby give, grant, possess, and confirm unto the 
said Williams & his heirs &c all that plantation or tract of 

Page twenty-six 

land whereon John Tarns lately lived, belonging to Eaton 's 
free-school land, being part thereof, beginning from Tony 
Kings along ye Dam side & extending in breadth Eastward 
as far as the next swamp or branch of ye sd dams and soe 
into ye woods as far as ye head lyne (the term is stated to 
be 21 years and the consideration that Williams should 
build or cause to be built one substantial thirty-foot dwell- 
ing house, and plant one hundred apple trees at usual dis- 
tances, and keep the same well trimmed and fenced, and pay 
yearly 200 lbs. of tobacco ''unto such pson as the same in 
right shall belong or apptayn, and at ye expiracon of ye 
sd time the said Williams should deliver up the said plan- 
tation and houses tenantable.") 

Officers, 1680-1699. 

In 1680, the following gentlemen were justices of the 
county court : Col. Charles Moryson, Capt. Anthony Armis- 
tead, Mr. Bertrand Servant, Mr. Thomas Hollier, Mr. Bald- 
win Sheppard, Mr. Edward Myhill, Major Matthew Wake- 
lin, Mr. Thomas Jarvis, Mr. Augustine Moore, Mr. Thomas 
Wythe, Mr. William Wilson. During the same year the 
officers in the militia were: Col. Charles Moryson, Major 
Matthew Wakelin, Capt. Anthony Armistead (horse). 

The following composed the county bench in 1699: 
William Wilson, Anthony Armistead, Pasco Curie, William 
Lowry, Thomas Harwood, Augustine Moore, Coleman 
Brough, Thomas Curie, Mathew Watts, John Minson, Wal- 
ter Bayley. Charles Jenings was clerk this year and Cole- 
man Brough was sheriff. 

The following is a partial list of the members of the 
House of Burgesses elected from Elizabeth City County dur- 
ing th 17th century : 1619, Captain William Tucker, William 
Capps; 1623- '24, William Tucker, Jaboz Whittaker; 1629, 
Lieutenant George Thompson, William English; 1629- '30, 
the upper parts of Elizabeth City, Capt. Thomas Will- 
oughby, William Kempe, Thomas Hayrick; the lower part 
of Elizabeth City, Capt. Thomas Purifoy, Adam Thorough- 
good, Lancelot Barnes; 1631- '32, Waters' Creek and upper 
part of Elizabeth City, Capt. Thomas Willoughby; the lower 
part of Elizabeth City, George Downes ; 1632, the upper par- 
ish of Elizabeth City, Capt. Thomas Willoughby, (absent) 

Page twenty-seven 

Henry Seawell, John Sipsey; the lower part of Elizabeth 
City, Adam Thoroughgood, William English, George 
Downes; 1632- '33, the upper parts of Elizabeth City, "Will- 
iam English, John Arundel; the lower parts of Elizabeth 
City, William English, John Arundel; 1639, Elizabeth City 
County, Thomas Oldis, Mr. Straff erton; 1641, Mr. John 
Branch, Mr. Flo. Payne; 1642, John Neale, Edward Hill; 
1642- '43, John Branch, John Hoddin; 1644, Lieutenant Will- 
iam Worlich, John Hoddin; 1644- '45, Capt. Leonard Yeo, 
Capt. Christopher Caulthropp, Arthur Price; 1645, Capt. 
Leonard Yeo, John Chandler; 1646, John Eobbins, Hen. 
Batt; 1652, Peter Eansone, John Sheppard; 1653, John 
Sheppard, Thomas Thornbury, Major William Worlich, 
1655- '56, Peter Ashton; 1657- '58, Major William (Worlich), 
John Powell; 1658- '59, William Batte, Florentine Payne; 
1659- '60, Lt. Col. Wm. Worlich, Capt. John Powell; 1663, 
Capt. John Powell, Colonel Leonard Yeo ; 1666, Col. Leonard 
Yeo, Captain John Powell; 1676- '77, Betrand Servant, An- 
thony Armistead; 1685, William Wilson; 1688, William 
Wilson, Thomas Allamby; 1692- '93, Capt. Willis Wilson, 
Capt. William Armistead; 1696, Capt. Anthony Armistead, 
William Wilson, Matthew Watts. 

Founding" of Hampton, 1680 

We have seen that in 1630 Col. Claiborne obtained a 
patent for 150 acres at the present site of Hampton. In 
1680, this land had become the property of a ship captain 
named Thomas Jarvis, who married Elizabeth Duke. She 
was the daughter of Sir Edward Duke and widow of Nath- 
aniel Bacon, Jr., who has lent his name to one of the most 
romantic rebellions in history. The same year (1680) the 
General Assembly passed an act condemning fifty acres, in 
each of the counties, for towns, to be centers of trade and 
sole places of import and export. For Elizabeth City, the 
area selected was a part of Captain Thomas Jarvis' prop- 
erty, which was vested in trustees or feoffees, and divided 
into half acre lots. The limitations of the act, however, 
were distasteful to both merchants in England and planters 
in Virginia, and the act was soon suspended by the govern- 
ment, though several persons bought lots and built houses 
at the new town. 

In 1691, the act was revived, and the town for Eliza- 
Page twenty-eight 

beth City County was decreed to be built on ' ' the west side 
of Hampton Eiver, on the land of Mr. William Wilson, 
lately belonging unto Mr. Thomas Jarvis, deceased, the 
plantation where he late lived, and the place appointed by 
a former law and several dwelling houses and warehouses 
already built." Under this act the trustees or feoffees for 
the sale of lots were Thomas Allamby, William Marshall 
and Pascho Curie. 

Again the limitations caused the suspension of the act, 
but in 1699 another act revived the law so far as it applied 
to the sale of lots and the soundness of their tenure. 

In 1694, the trustees sold a half-acre lot for 178 pounds 
of tobacco to Thomas Waterson with the usual condition of 
building, and the same year, one of the lots, which had been 
previously disposed of, was transferred to a purchaser for 
7 pounds sterling. It had been presumably built upon, for 
in 1696, when Henry Royal sold to George Walker one of 
the lots for 6 pds. sterling, the price was cut down from 6 
pds. to 5 pds. 15 shillings, because the condition of build- 
ing had not been fulfilled properly. In this year no less 
than five persons — John Knox, William Hudson, Thomas 
Skinner, John Bright and Coleman Brough — were granted 
licenses to keep ordinary at Hampton Town. 

Twenty-six lots were soon sold, and in 1698 Hampton 
was a place of sufficient importance to require the appoint- 
ment of a special constable. The main street was known as 
Queen Street. It was made the residence of the pilots for 
James River and the headquarters of the custom district, 
known as the lower District of James River. In 1695 John 
Minson was commissioned pilot and about the same time 
Peter Heyman, grandson of Sir Peter Heyman, of Summer- 
field, County York, England, was commissioned collector. 

These were royal times for pirate vessels, which scoured 
the coast and rendered sea voyages very hazardous. In 
1700 one of the pirates ventured within the capes and en- 
gaged in a battle with the fifth class man-of-war Shoreham. 
The pirate was beaten, but among the killed was Peter Hey- 
man, the collector, who was shot down on the quarter deck 
of the Shoreman by the side of Col. Francis Nicholson, the 
governor. Heyman was buried in the churchyard at the 
Pembroke Farm, and a stone was placed over his grave at 

Page twenty-nine 

the expense of the governor. In 1710 George Luke was col- 
lector, and in 1722, Thomas Michell. 

In 1704, Hampton received a visit from the celebrated 
preacher, George Keith, who was, it is believed, a grandson 
of the former minister of that name for Elizabeth City 
County. He was a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, a Master 
of Arts, and had held high position among the Quakers of 
Pennsylvania. Factional strife broke out among them, be- 
cause of his extreme views on the doctrine of Quaker pass- 
ivity, and, being finally deserted by his friends, he broke 
with his faith and returned to the church of England. In 
1702, he was sent to America as a missionary from "The 
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. ' ' After spend- 
ing two years in the northern colonies, where he converted 
many Quakers, he visited Hampton with another minister, 
Mr. Talbot. There is this entry in his Journal: "Mr. Tal- 
bot preached at Kirketan; we stayed there about ten 
days at my daughter's house at Kirketan, by James Eiver; 
she is fully come off from the Quakers, and is a zealous 
member of the church of England, and brings up her chil- 
dren, so many of them as are capable through age, in the 
Christian religion, praised be God for it." The daughter 
referred to in this extract was Amie Keith, wife of George 
Walker, the pilot for James River, who lived on the ' ' Straw- 
berry Bank" near Mill Creek. She was grandmother of the 
celebrated Jurist and Statesman, George Wythe. 

In 1705, Hampton had a visit from another prominent 
Pennsylvania Quaker, Thomas Story, famous for his erudi- 
tion and ability as a lawyer. In his Journal may be read 
the following item: "On the 29th (April) we went to Kic- 
quotan, where we had a meeting at our friend, George 
Walker's house, to which came Col. Brown, one of the pro- 
vincial council and several commanders of ships and others 
of note, who were generally well satisfied with the meeting. 
George Walker's wife is one of George Keith's daughters 
and follows him in his apostacy and enmity. ' ' 

Domestic difficulties arose between George Walker and 
his wife, and in 1708 she appealed to the Council of State, 
complaining that "George Walker, her husband, violently 
restrained her and her children from going to church to 
attend the worship of God according to the established re- 
ligion." After hearing both sides, the Council ordered: 

Page thirty 

"That she, the said Anne, ought to enjoy the free exercise 
of her religion, and that her husband ought not to restrain 
her from going to church ; and as to that part of the petition 
relating to the children, it not appearing of what age these 
children are, nor how far they are capable of choosing a 
religion for themselves, this board do not think proper to 
determine anything in that matter at this time." In this 
case the Quaker, whose sect preached freedom of religion 
and the government, which usually restricted it, seemed to 
change sides. 

July 1, 1715, permission was granted by Alexander 
Spottswood, the governor, for the justices to remove their 
old court house and build a new one for Hampton Town, 
and land was purchased from Captain William Boswell for 
the purpose. At this time Governor Spottswood wrote the 
following letter: 

Williamsburgh, July the 1st, 1715. 
Mr. John Holloway this Day applyed to me in Behalfe 
of the justices of Elizabeth City County for leave to build 
Their new Court House att Hampton,! Doe approve of the 
Removall and shall accordingly order the Sheriff to attend 
the Court there so soon as the House shall be fitt for the 
Reception of the Justices. 

A. Spottswood. 
Recorded by order of Court. 

Teste Cha. Jenings, CI. Cur. 

When John Fontaine visited Hampton in 1716, it was 
a place of 100 houses and had the greatest business in Vir- 
ginia. All the men-of-war lay before this arm of the river, 
and the inhabitants drove a great trade with New York and 

Pirates still infested the coast and one Edward Teach, 
otherwise known as Blackbeard, was notorious. He had his 
headquarters in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina, from 
which he sailed from time to time on piratic expeditions. 
In 1717, Governor Spotswood sent Captain Henry Maynard 
from Hampton after him, with two small sloops. On Nov- 
ember 21, a bloody battle was fought, and Blackbeard was 
shot down by Maynard, and fourteen of his confederates 
were captured. Maynard returned in triumph to Hampton, 

Page thirty-one 

swinging Blackbeard's head from his bowsprit. He set it 
up at the mouth of Hampton River, and the point is still 
known as Blackbeard's Point. Maynard's prisoners were 
tried and hanged at Williamsburg. 

Among the prominent citizens of Hampton and Eliza- 
beth City, about 1720, were Anthony Armistead, Thomas 
Wythe, Joshua Curie, Samuel Sweeney, Joseph Bannister, 
John Selden, Joseph Selden, James Ricketts, Simon Hollier, 
John Lowry, Thomas Tabb, John Brodie, Alexander Mc- 
Kenzie, Wilson Cary, James Wallace, and John Smith. The 
latter (John Smith) died in 1723, and his inventory is par- 
ticularly rich. Among other items is the following: 

''Five thousand of English brick at 12 shillings per 
thousand. ' ' It appears that there were two kinds of build- 
ing brick made in the colony — brick made of the size pre- 
scribed in English statute, called " English brick" and brick 
made according to the Dutch statute, called ' ' Dutch brick. ' ' 
Very little brick was imported into the colony, except as 
ballast and there is no evidence that any houses in Virginia 
were built of imported brick. 

The Third Church 

About this time the church at Pembroke Farm had be- 
come ruinous, and, on June 17, 1727, Mr. Jacob Walker and 
Mr. John Lowry were appointed by the court of Elizabeth 
City to lay off and value an acre and a half of ground on 
Queen's Street, joining upon Mr. Boswell's lots, for build- 
ing the church thereon. The same day, Mr. Henry Cary, 
by order of the minister, church wardens and the court, was 
permitted to take wood, "at the rate of six pence per load 
to burn bricks for the church, from the School land. ' ' But 
it seems that a portion of the people of the parish did not 
desire to remove from the old quarters, and they appealed 
the matter to the governor and council. They heard the 
complaint and decided, October 27, 1727, that "the new 
church should be built in Hampton Town as the most con- 
venient place in the said parish." 

In 1728, Samuel Bownas, a Quaker preacher, told of a 
visit to Hampton in the following language: "George 
Walker was very kind, invited us to stay at his house which 
we did four nights, and had a meeting or two in his house, 

Page thirty-two 

his wife being more loving than I expected. She was George 
Keith's daughter, and in her younger days showed great 
dissatisfaction with Friends, but after her father's death 
the edge of that bitterness abated, and her husband was 
very loving and hearty to Friends, frequently having meet- 
ings at his house." Bownas stayed at Hampton eleven 
day, and left there May 29, 1728. 

In 1727, Mr. William Hopkins was deputy attorney for 
the King. In 1728, Mr. John Markland was recommended 
to be the King's deputy attorney. The same year Alex- 
ander McKenzie was commissioned to be lieutenant colonel 
of the militia, and Wilson Gary, major. 

Learning in Elizabeth City County 

More than the usual attention was paid to learning in 
Elizabeth City. The court and vestry were particularly 
vigilant in seeing that all poor children were bound to use- 
ful trades and taught by their employers to read and write. 
The following may be given as examples: 

16 June 1725. Upon the petition of Ann Grove setting 
forth that James Servant had not learned her son, Armis- 
teal House, to read, write and cipher according to his agree- 
ment when he took him by Indenture, The court are of 
opinion that the said Indenture is void and of no effect and 
it is, therefore, considered that the said Armistead House 
be discharged from the service of his late master James 

17 Nov. 1723. Thomas Wilson and Mary Randall came 
into Court and made oath that Thomas Davis was 14 years 
of age the 24th October Last who not having Estate suffi- 
cient to maintain him. It is Ordered that he be bound an 
apprentice to Nicholson Parker till he attain the age of 
twenty-one years, who is to teach him the trade of Shoe- 
maker as also to have him taught to read and write. It is 
further ordered that they sign Indentures before any justice 
of this county. 

15 Dec. 1725. Francis Berry is bound apprentice to 
Mathew Small til he is of Age ; the said Small obliges him- 
self to learn him the trade of a Taylor and to read and 
write. The Boy is eleven years of age. 

Page thirty-three 

16 Febry 1725. John Hicks apprenticed to George 
Minson to learn to read & write & the trade of a carpenter. 


The succession of ministers were as follows: After the 
death of Kev. James Wallace, in 1702, Andrew Thompson 
became rector of Elizabeth City parish and continued till 
his death in 1714. He was succeeded by Rev. James Fal- 
coner, who came to Virginia in 1718. His report to the 
Bishop of London, in 1724, is that ''his parish is fifty miles 
in circumference with three hundred and fifty families; 
that the owners were careful to instruct the young negro 
children and bring them to baptism; that service is per- 
formed every Sunday and that most of the parishioners 
attend; that there are about one hundred communicants; 
that his salary was about sixty-five pounds ; that there were 
two public schools in the parish, whereof John Mason and 
Abram Paris are teachers, and a good private school kept 
by Mr. William Fife, in which besides reading, arithmetic 
and writing, Latin and Greek were taught. 

The Free Schools in 1720-1776 

The following notice appears in regard to the free 
schools of Syms and Eaton: 

Aug. 17, 1720. — Upon complt made by Henry Irvin gent 
agt Jno Curie about Eaton's free schoole land of waste 
made of the timbers, it is ordered that the Clk. bring sd 
Eaton's will and Deed to next court concerning the prem- 
ises and a copy of the vestry ordr whereby Curie hath the 
land granted to him. 

Nov. 17, 1725. — Upon the motion of William Tucker 
setting forth that he is willing to take the school land and 
provide a schoolmaster, it is ordered that the said Tucker 
have possession of the said land with this provisio and con- 
dition, that he constantly keep and provide a schoolmaster 
to teach children in said land. 

Dec. 18, 1728. — Ordered that the quit rents due for the 
school land according to the rent rolls thereof be paid out 
of the money arising from the sale of wood from the said 
land to Henry Cary. 

Page thirty-four 

It appears that in course of time much pecuniary loss 
befell both schools from trespassers, who cut down the tim- 
ber, and from tenants who failed to pay rents. 

To put Eaton's school on a better footing, the General 
Assembly thought proper, in 1730, to give authority for 
leasing the land in parcels, and when by reason of the trus- 
tees not being incorporated by the act, some doubt was 
again started as to the validity of their authority to punish 
trespassers and delinquents and called arrearages of rent, 
the Legislature incorporated the trustees of both schools, 
under the name, in the one case (1759), of "The Trustees 
and Governors of Eaton's Charity School," and in the other 
(1753), under that of "The Trustees and Governors of 
Syms' Free School." 

The trustees were empowered to have perpetual suc- 
cession; to use a corporate seal; to select and remove the 
master, who, before selection, was to be approved by the 
minister and by the government; to visit the school; to 
order, reform, and redress all abuses; and to lease the school 
lands and the cattle thereon for a period not exceeding 
twenty-one years. 

In 1765 there was a lease of tract No. 1, surveyed by 
Robert Lucas in 1759, and containing 75 acres, the consid- 
eration being an annual rent of 4 pounds 10s., the building 
a dwelling 28 feet long by 16 feet broad, pitch 9 feet, to be 
covered with good heart pine or cypress and two rooms 
above and two below, ,lathed and plastered, and doors 
floors and windows of good plank, as also an orchard of 
100 Grixon (?) apple trees, which is to be kept fenced and 
secure against all damage. 

By an advertisement in the Virginia Gazette we learn 
that in 1752 the perquisites of Syms' school was 31 pounds 
annually. The act of 1759 testified to the good work per- 
formed by the Eaton school, to which, in addition to the 
proper objects of charity, "a great number of children" 
had been admitted free "who were able to pay for their 
own education." 

Page thirty-five 


The number of tithables in Elizabeth City County, in 
1748, was 1078, which was more than double what it was at 
the close of the preceding century. In 1759, the number 
was 1428, which showed a population of 4284. 

In 1752 the list of the military officers for Elizabeth City 
County was as follows: Wilson Cary, County Lieutenant, 
John Hunter, Colonel, John Tabb, Major of Horse, Robert 
Armistead, Major of Foot. The whole militia consisted of 
one company of foot and two troops of horse. The captains 
according to the dates of their commissions were Cary Sel- 
den, captain of 100 men, Charles King, captain of a troop 
of 66 men, Westwood Armistead, captain of a troop of 60 

The Fort at Point Comfort, 1727-1749 

We have seen that the fort at Old Point Comfort was 
discontinued after 1667. In 1706 the whole point of land, 
containing about 120 acres being deserted, was patented 
by Robert Beverley. Five years later Governor Spotswood 
advised that the fort be rebuilt to afford a retreat for ships, 
when pursued by privateers in time of war, or by pirates in 
time of peace ; but it was not until 1727 that the Assembly 
seriously took up the proposition. When finished, which 
was not till after several years, it was mounted by twenty- 
two guns, and about 1736 Governor Gooch reported that: 
'*no ship could pass it without running great risk." It was 
named Fort George, and was made of brick, each nine 
inches long by four wide and three thick. The exterior wall 
was sixteen feet distant from the interior one, and the for- 
mer was twenty-seven inches thick and the latter sixteen 
inches. Then the two walls were connected by counter walls 
ten or twelve feet apart, forming cribs, which were prob- 
ably filled with sand. During this time the fort was under 
the control of George Walker, ''gunner and storekeeper." 

It seems that the government built the work without 
asking the consent of the owner of the land, but in 1744 
this difficulty was quieted by their giving William Bever- 
ley, son of Robert Beverley, then deceased, 165 pounds for 
his rights. Five years later another and more fatal diffi- 
culty assailed the fort. 

In 1749, a hurricane, which has been described as most 

Page thirty-six 

terrific and disastrous, visited Virginia. The officer in 
command at Point Comfort was Captain Samuel Barron, 
ancestor of a line of naval heroes distinguished in three 
wars. The barracks in which he stayed were a long row of 
wooden buildings with brick chimneys, running up through 
the center of the roofs, and Captain Barron caused all his 
family with the officers and soldiers of the garrison, to 
muster on the second floor with all the weighty articles they 
could find; which, it was supposed, kept the houses firm on 
their foundations, and so preserved the lives of all con- 
cerned. The hurricane, however, entirely destroyed the 
walls of Fort George, and Captain Barron removed with 
his family to the upper part of Mill Creek, not far off, 
where he resided during the remainder of his life." 

In 1756, Governor Dinwiddle, commenting on the fort, 
observed: ''It was built on a Sandy Bank; no care to drive 
the piles to make a Foundation; the Sea and wind beating 
against it has quite undermined it and dismantled all the 
Guns which now lie buried in the Sand. ' ' There is no evi- 
dence that the fort was ever restored, but as late as 1847 
parts of its walls were seen and described. 

The customs district, of which Hampton was the sole 
port of entry, included, on the north side of James River, 
all of the rivers and creeks from Hampton River to Arch- 
er's Hope Creek at Jamestown, and on the south side alj^.;^ 
the rivers and creeks from Cape Henry to Hog Island. The 
amount of shipping on the two sides was, however, very 
unequal, and the inhabitants of Norfolk complained, in 
1735, that whereas the north side had only three ships, 
owned by Virginians, and no other vessels trading there, 
they of the south side had neither a collector nor a deputy 
collector, though that region swarmed with vessels owned 
by Virginians and West India and English merchants. 

In 1769, died at Hampton Gabriel Cay, collector of 
customs. At this time Wilson Cary was naval collector. 
The residence of the latter was at ''Ceeleys" midway be- 
tween Hampton and Newport News. 

^ Fort George, Virginia Hist. Register I., 23. 

Page thirty-seven 

The Church Steeple and Bell 

In 1760, Alexander Kennedy devised land to the poor 
of Elizabeth City County, and the sum of 40 pds. sterling 
towards purchasing out of England a bell for the church 
of Elizabeth City Parish, provided ' ' the vestry and church 
wardens will undertake a belfry within twelve months after 
my decease. ' ' A vestry book tells of the contracts awarded 
for building and painting the Belfry, and no doubt the bell 
was procured. It would seem as if the church had no bell 
previous to this time. 

We continue the succession of ministers. In 1727, Rev. 
Mr. Falconer became a minister of Charles Parish in York 
County, whereupon, Rev. Thomas Peader "took the oath 
to his majesty's governor and signed the test." Not long 
after he was succeeded by Rev. William Fife, who taught 
the private school, already referred to. He continued min- 
ister till 1756, when he was succeeded by Rev. Thomas War- 
rington, who died in 1770. The Rev. William Selden, a 
graduate of William and Mary College, followed and con- 
tinued until 1783. 

List of the Burgesses from 1700-1776 

The following is a partial list of the members of the 
House of Burgesses from Hampton and Elizabeth City 
County from 1702 to 1776; 1702, William Wilson, William 
Armistead; 1710-1712, Nicholas Curie, William Armistead; 
1714, William Armistead, Robert Armistead; 1718, Henry 
Jenkins, Thomas Wythe; 1720-1722, James Rickets, 
Anthony Armistead; 1723, James Rickets, Thomas Wythe; 
1726, Robert Armistead, Thomas Wythe; 1736, 1738, 1740, 
1742,1745,1747,1748,1749, 1752, 1753, 1754, 1755, 1756, 1757, 
1758, William Westwood, Merritt Sweeney; 1758-1761, Wil- 
liam Wager, John Tabb; 1761-1765, George Wythe, William 
Wager; 1765, 1766, 1768, 1769, George Wythe, Wilson 
Miles Cary; 1769-1771, James Wallace, Wilson Miles Cary; 
1772-1774,^ 1775-1776, Henry King, Worlich Westwood. 

Page thirty-eight 

Hampton in the Revolution 

At the time of the American Eevolution the population 
of Hampton was probably about one thousand people. 
Tiiere, as elsewhere, the spirit of patriotic resistance had 
its home, and the following gentlemen chosen 23 of Nov- 
ember, 1775, constituted the Committee of Safety for Eliza- 
beth City and the town of Hampton: William Eoscow Wil- 
son Curie, Chairman, John Tabb, George Wray, John 
Allen, Miles King, Augustine Moore, Edward Cooper, Wil- 
son Miles Cary, Westwood Armistead, George Booker, 
James Wallace Bayley, John Parsons, Henry King, Jacob 
Wray, John Jones, John King, Joseph Cooper, William 
Mallory, Simon Hollier, John Cary, Moseley Armistead. 
Robert Bright, Clerk. 

The following gentlemen were members of the differ- 
ent revolutionary conventions: Conventions of March 20, 
1775, July 17, 1775, Dec. 1, 1775, Henry King, Worlich West- 
wood; Convention of May 6, 1776, Wilson Miles Cary, 
Henry King. 

After the rupture of Lord Dunmore, the last royal gov- 
ernor of Virginia, with the House of Burgesses, the former 
retired to Norfolk, which he made his headquarters for 
military operations. Hampton became the scene of the first 
real collision in Virginia. Runaway slaves resorted to Lord 
Dunmore 's ships and the British sailors created annoyance 
by landing on the shores at night and carrying off sheep 
and other live stock belonging to the inhabitants near the 
water. On the second of September, 1775, a sloop com- 
manded by Captain Mathew Squires, who was charged with 
being a prime instigator in these robberies, was driven by a 
storm on the shore near Hampton. The officers and sailors 
barely escaped with their lives, and some of them were 
entertained at the house of one Finn, to whom they pre- 
sented the vessel and damaged stores as a reward for his 
hospitality. Captain Squires was separated from his peo- 
ple and wandered about all night in the storm, but man- 
aged to escape in the morning to the friendly protection of 
Lord Dunmore 's fleet. On the 10th Captain Squires made 
a demand on the committee of the town of Hampton for the 
return of the stores, which was answered by a promise to 
return the same if he would deliver up a negro slave belong- 

Page thirty-nine 

ing to Mr. Henry King and cease his nocturnal depredations. 
Captain Squires threatened violence, and his threat reach- 
ing Williamsburg, one hundred men under the command of 
James Innis, Captain of the Williamsburg Guard, marched 
from that place to the protection of Hampton. 

Captain Squires, however, did not immediately at- 
tempt to execute his threat, and Captain Innis and his 
troops after receiving the thanks of the Hampton Com- 
mittee, soon returned to Williamsburg, but it was thought 
proper to replace them soon after by a like number of men 
under the command of Major Francis Eppes. 

Captain Squires, however, did not relinquish his desire 
for revenge, and on October 24 appeared in Hampton River 
with six armed tenders sent by Dunmore, and a message 
was received at Hampton that he would that day land and 
burn the town. The Virginia troops, who were then in the 
vicinity, consisting of a company of regulars under Captain 
George Nicholas, a company of minute men, and a small 
body of militia, made the best disposition they could to pre- 
vent their landing. 

The British, accordingly, attempted to land, but were 
retarded by some boats sunk across the channel for that 

Squires then commanded a furious cannonade, and 
under that cover sent armed men in boats to make a land- 
ing, but the Virginians sent so many death shots that the 
boats were obliged to return. In the morning. Col. William 
Woodford arrived from Williamsburg with reinforcements, 
and when the enemy resumed their cannonade of the town, 
his men replied with a hot fire, which soon spread terror 
among the British. Unable to withstand such a valiant 
attack, the British commander ordered the cables to be 
slipped and the vessels to retreat, but before the fleet could 
get away, two of the vessels were captured. The victory 
was complete. Not a single Virginian was killed. 

Many of the buildings in Hampton, including the 
church, were injured by the fire of the British, and one 
house, Mr. George Cooper's, was burned. Not long after 
this incident, when the Declaration of Independence was 
promulgated, it is said that lightning struck the steeple of 
the church and hurled to the ground the insignia of royalty 
which adorned it. 

Page forty 

The Heroes of Hampton Town 

During this war several of the inhabitants of Hamp- 
ton acquired credit and renown. Prominent among these 
in political life was George Wythe, son of Thomas "Wythe 
and Margaret Walker, who attained almost equal distinc- 
tion as a statesman, a jurist, and as an interpreter of the 
law, being the preceptor of both Jeiferson and Marshall. 
The brick house in which he was born, on Back River, is 
still standing. /William Roscow Wilson Curie was not only 
chairman of the County Committee of Safety, and Colonel 
of the County Militia, but one of the first judges of the Ad- 
miralty Court of the new Commonwealth. /Miles King, 
afterwards mayor of Norfolk, also perforined important 
military services. As a resort for seafaring men, it fur- 
nished both sailors and officers to the gallant State Navy. 
Among the most famous of these was Captain Joseph Mere- 
dith, who commanded the privateer La Fayette, George 
Hope, who superintended the construction of gunboats at 
Warwick near Richmond, Capt. William Cunningham, who 
was first lieutenant of the schooner Liberty, and afterwards 
prominent in procuring munitions of war from the West 
Indies, and Captain Richard Barron and Captain James 
Barron, sons of Captain Samuel Barron, who commanded 
Fort George in 1749. 

Virginia had, at one period of the war, as many as 
seventy vessels including frigates, brigs, brigantines, 
schooners, sloops, galleys, armed pilot boats and barges; 
and they rendered great service to the American cause. 
They not only effectually prevented the incursions of bands 
of plundering Tories on the bay, but were useful in making 
prizes of British merchantmen and in exporting tobacco 
and other produce, and exchanging their cargoes in the 
West Indies for arms and military stores. Smollet, in his 
continuation of Hume's History of England, says that, "by 
the export of tobacco from the Chesapeake the credit of the 
colonies was chiefly, if not wholly supported," and by the 
inland navigation of that bay, large quantities of provis- 
ions were conveyed to the middle colonies for the subsist- 
ence of the American armies." 

Many of these small vessels were built at South Quay, 
Hampton, which became headquarters of the Virginia Navy. 

Page forty-one 

It was controlled by a board of naval commissioners, of 
whom Col. Thomas Whiting, of Hampton, was president. 
The largest ships carried thirty-two guns each, and one of 
them — the Gloucester — was a prison ship and was moored 
near Hampton on Elizabeth River. Only one of the Virginia 
ships survived the war — the famous Liberty — which fig- 
ured in twenty gallant encounters.' 

Undoubtedly the most distinguished of the naval offic- 
ers was James Barron. He was the son of Captain Samuel 
Barron, and his wife, Jane Cooper, daughter of Philip 
Cooper. He was born at Fort George in 1749, and began 
sea life at a very early age. He was sent to sea at ten years 
in charge of Captain Barrington, who sailed in a fine ship 
belonging to London, a constant trader to James River. 
His first commission was over a small vessel belonging to 
Col. John Hunter, of Hampton, called the ''Kickotan," in 
which he sailed for some time. On attaining his maturity 
he was made commander of a fine ship owned by Samuel 
Guest, a merchant of London. At the first dawn of the 
Revolution he was captain of a military company composed 
of the young sailors of Hampton, who were numerous at 
that time, and was engaged in the action with Captain 
Squires' party when he attacked the place in 1775. 

After the navy of Virginia was organized, James Bar- 
ron and his brother, Richard had commands at different 
times of the ships Liberty and Patriot. 

In 1779, James Barron became senior officer and was 
placed in command of all the naval forces of the common- 
wealth. He performed many gallant naval exploits, but 
possibly nothing that he did was more important to the 
cause of the Revolution than his interception of a boat sent 
by Lord Dunmore in April, 1776, to Annapolis with dis- 
patches for Governor Eden from Lord Dartmouth, the 
English Secretary of State, regarding the proposed expe- 
dition against the City of Charleston. James Barron then 
cruising in the Chesapeake, captured the boat and conveyed 
tke papers, which discovered the whole plan of British oper- 
ations to Williamsburg. The Charlestonians had warning 
in advance, and had time to concert a defence which foiled 
completely the formidable British attack under Sir Henry 

' The Virginian Navv of the Revolution. — Southern Literary- 
Messenger, Richmond, Va., XXIV, I, 104, 210, 273. 

Page forty-two 

Clinton and Sir Peter Parker. After the peace he continued 
in command of the only two vessels retained in the service 
for the protection of the revenue until the year 1787, when 
he died, leaving the services he had rendered to his country 
to survive after him/ 

After the repulse of Captain Squires' force in 1775, 
there was no other attack made upon Hampton during the 
Revolution, but the waters and country in the vicinity were 
the scenes of conflict at each invasion of the British. In 
December, 1780, a fleet commanded by Benedict Arnold, 
sailed through the capes and captured some small vessels 
of the Virginia navy in Hampton Eoads. 

During their stay the shores of Elizabeth City and 
Warwick County were repeatedly visited by small parties 
of British troops bent on plunder and forage, who had 
skirmishes with the local militia. In these encounters. Col. 
Francis Mallory and his brother Edward, of Hampton, bore 
a conspicuous part. In March, 1781, Arnold sent Col. Dun- 
das around to the York River with 200 men to surprise the 
American post at the Halfway House between Hampton and 
Yorktown. The post was deserted, however, and Dundas 
continued his march to Newport News, where he was to 
join the ships again. On the way he fell in with forty of 
the militia, commanded by Col. W. R. W. Curie and Col. 
Francis Mallory. They made a brave resistance, but were 
overwhelmed by numbers. Curie was taken prisoner, and 
Mallory fell pierced by numerous musket balls and bayonet 

In the summer of 1781 Lord Cornwallis took up his 
position at Portsmouth and his transports stationed in the 
Roads repeated their annoying depredations. When later 
in the j^ear he removed to Yorktown, the Elizabeth City 
County militia participated in his capture, much to their 
own satisfaction and that of their friends and neighbors, 
who had been so tormented by him. 

' A Biographical Notice of Commodore Barron of the Navy of 
Virginia, The Virginia Hist. Register I, 23. 

Page forty-three 

The Later Barrens 

Hampton, like all the seaports of Virginia, suffered 
very much from the results of American Independence. 
Its trade with the West Indies was cut off and the town 
made little advance for many years after the Revolution. 
It remained, however, the headquarters of the pilots of 
James River, who disbursed considerable money. It con- 
tinued to give naval heroes to History, and among them 
may be mentioned the two sons of James Barron of the 
Revolution — James, the younger and Samuel, who both be- 
came commodores in the United States Navy and were con- 
spicuous for their bravery and executive ability. 

Samuel Barron, the oldest son, was born in the town 
of Hampton, September 25, 1765. He studied at a gram- 
mar school in Petersburg and at the Grammar school at 
William and Mary College. At fifteen years of age he went 
as midshipman on Board the frigate Dragon commanded 
by Captain Markham, and during the rest of the war, 
shared in both sea and land duty and was raised to the rank 
of captain. After the peace he was in the revenue service 
of the State until the adoption of the Federal constitution 
in 1788. He then engaged in the merchant service, but was 
soon employed by the government and in 1804 had com- 
mand of the Mediterranean fleet sent to the relief of com- 
modore Bainbridge and his companion then prisoners in 
Tripoli. He was taken ill, and was compelled to turn over 
his command to Commodore Rogers and returned to Vir- 
ginia. He was put in command of the navy yard at Gos- 
port, where he died Nov. 10, 1810.' His son, Samuel Bar- 
ron, was born in 1802, and served also with great distinc- 
tion in the United States Navy in all grades to captain; 
but, when the war broke out in 1861, he joined the Confed- 
erates, and was made Commodore, in which position he 
gave a good account of himself till the war was over and 
he returned to his home. 

His brother, James Barron, was born in Hampton in 
the year 1768. He was too young to take any part in the 
Revolution, but after the peace was employed like his 
brother and father in the revenue service of the State. He 

' Commodore Samuel Barron, Virginia Historical Register III, 

Page forty-four 

subsequently followed the merchant line until the organiza- 
tion of the United States Navy when he entered the public 
service as lieutenant. In this grade he served with credit 
under Commodore Barry in the short war with the French 
Republic, on board the frigate United States, in which 
Stephen Decatur was midshipman. On account of his effici- 
ency, he was raised to the rank of captain and given the 
command of that war ship. During Mr. Jefferson's admin- 
istration the navy was placed on a peace establishment and 
most of the officers were discharged, but James Barron and 
his brother, Samuel, were two of the few retained. In 1804 
he commanded the frigate Essex, one of the squadron of ten 
vessels sent to Tripoli under the command of his elder 
brother, Commodore Samuel Barron. In this service and 
various other commands he won much honor till a shadow 
was cast over his career by the affair, in 1808, of the 
Leopard and Chesapeake, when he was courtmartialed and 
relieved from command for five years for ''neglecting on 
the probability of an engagement to clear his ship for act- 
ion." This decision was a most unjust one, as the fault 
was not with Barron, but with the Navy department. 

After the war of 1812 he was restored to the navy, over 
the protest of Stephen Decatur, who spoke of him in dis- 
paraging terms, which led, in 1820, to a challenge resulting 
in the death of Decatur and the wounding of Barron. After 
this Barron was in command of the Philadelphia Navy 
Yard and had the honor of receiving General La Fayette 
when he visited that place in 1824. He held command next 
at the Gosport Navy Yard and the naval asylum at Phila- 
delphia, but at last on account of old age resigned and re- 
tired to Norfolk, where he died April 21, 1851, in the 83rd 
year of his age. His eldest daughter, Jane, married Wilton 
Hope and was mother of James Barron Hope, a disting- 
uished Virginia poet and literateur. 

Lewis Warrington 

Another of the naval heroes of Virginia was Commo- 
dore Lewis Warrington, who was the grandson of Rev. 
Thomas Warrington, minister of Hampton Church in 1770. 
He entered the United States navy in 1800 and served with 
great distinction. His most brilliant performance occurred 

Page forty-five 

during the war of 1812, when commanding the Peacock, he 
engaged the British sloop of war Epervier, convoying a 
fleet of merchantmen. In the battle which ensued the 
Epervier was badly injured and her crew surrendered. On 
board of her there was found the sum of 118,000 pounds in 
specie. The Epervier was sent into Savannah under com- 
mand of J. B. Nicholson and the Peacock continued on her 
voyage until the end of October, when she arrived at New 
York, having captured, principally in the Bay of Biscay, 
14 British merchantmen. 

Hampton in the War of 1812 

In this second war with Great Britain, Hampton suf- 
fered more severely than in the first. Under Admiral Cock- 
bum, the British made an attack on Craney Island at the 
mouth of Elizabeth River. That place was defended by six 
hundred Virginia militia, recently called into service. With 
no other aid than a half-finished redoubt, and the co-opera- 
tion of a few volunteers from the shipping in port, they 
beat back the British, though numbering three thousand 
men. Foiled in this first attack, the British turned to glut 
their vengeance on the little hamlet of Hampton, situated 
on the north side of James River. 

On the 25th of June, 1813, he landed a force of 2500 
men at what is now '* Indian River," and with a small 
squadron sailed to the mouth of Hampton Creek, from 
whence he shelled the town. The place was defended by 
450 Virginia militia under Col. Crutchfield stationed at 
"Little England" with seven small cannon. Taken in the 
flank by the British land force, the small garrison had to 
abandon the place and retreat up the peninsula. The Brit- 
ish occupation was attended with barbarous circumstances, 
the responsibility of which they afterwards ascribed to 
some French prisoners, who constituted a part of the Brit- 
ish force. 

Governor Barbour in his message to the Legislature 
spoke of the private houses that were plundered, the gray 
hairs that were exposed to wanton insult, the sick man that 
was murdered in his bed under circumstances of peculiar 
aggravation, the females that were publicly borne off to 
suffer the last degree of unutterable violence, and the house 
of God given over to sacrilegious outrage. 

Page forty-six 

Eeligion was at a low ebb in Virginia for many years 
after the Eevolution. The spread of rationalistic ideas and 
the breaking up of the old establishment affected even the 
new sects of Baptists and Methodists, while it almost de- 
stroyed the Episcopal church. The small congregation, 
which assembled in the old church in the parish, hobbled 
along under the ministrations of Eev. William Nixon, Rev. 
Henry Skyren, who died in 1795, Rev. John Jones Spooner, 
who died in 1799, Rev. Benjamin Brown, who died January 
17, 1806, and Rev. George Halson, who officiated till the war 
of 1812. It was probably by performing the duties of 
teachers of the Hampton Academy that these ministers 
managed to obtain a livelihood. 

During the interval between Parson Brown and the 
war of 1812, the frame work of the tower which stood on 
the west side of the church became so decayed that the bell 
had to be taken down and was placed in the angle made by 
the church and the tower. From that position it was re- 
moved by order of Major Crutchfield to the guardhouse of 
the American Encampment at "Little England," and soon 
the tongue fell out, and the hours were struck by an ax, till 
the bell cracked. After the capture of Hampton by the 
British soon after, the churchyard was used by them for a 
slaughter pen and the church itself for a barracks,' 

Hampton After the War of 1812 

After the conclusion of the war, religion among the 
people was too feeble to permit much interest to be taken 
in the church, and the churchj^ard was used by the public 
as a grazing ground for cattle, horses and hogs. Soon not 
a vestige remained of the doors, windows, floors or furni- 
ture. The general religious awakening began in Virginia 
under Rt. Rev. Bishop Moore about 1824, and in that year 
Mrs. Jane Hope, eldest daughter of Commodore James Bar- 
ron, and Mr. Richard B. Servant started subscriptions for 
repairing the church walls. 

Shortly after a vestry was elected, and money was 
raised to restore and furnish the church. Then a minister, 
Rev. Mark A. Chevers, was named, and the old vestry book 
was dragged from its hiding place. 

' Meade, Bishop William, Old Churches, Ministers and Families 
of Virginia, 2 Vols., 1878. 

Page forty-seven 

After the destruction of Fort George, in 1749, nothing 
was done for many years to restore the fort at Point Com- 
fort. During the war of the Revolution the French threw 
up some slight fortifications there. The experiences of the 
war of 1812 advised that it should be made a permanent 
stronghold. The present Fort Monroe was commenced by 
the Federal government in 1819, and about 1830 the work 
began of sinking rocks on the Eip Raps opposite, and after- 
wards a fort was erected called Fort Calhoun, and subse- 
quently Fort Wool. Fort Monroe became a frequent resort 
of visitors, and for their accommodation a hotel called the 
Hygeia was built which was in later years moved from the 
first site, near where the Fort Y. M. C. A. now stands to a 
location on the beach, on the East side of the street leading 
to the wharf. Immediately opposite The Chamberlin Hotel 
was completed in 1893. It was a hostelry of great magni- 
cence but was burned to the ground on March 7, 1920. The 
Hygeia was razed by order of the War Department. The 
Sherwood Inn, another hotel remains, but has been taken 
over by purchase by the Government. 

The commercial and religious interests of Elizabeth 
City County were not the only ones which suffered by war. 
After peace was made in 1783, the ancient schools of Syms 
and Eaton were much neglected, for, under the changed 
state of affairs, the ministers and churchwardens fo Eliza- 
beth City parish, and even the justices, doubted their true 
succession as incorporators. Thus the lands were again 
wasted, and the schools much impaired. At length, in 
1805, by virtue of an Act of the Legislature, the two schools 
were incorporated in one as the ' ' Hampton Academy, ' ' and, 
aided by new contributions, continued for many years as a 
prosperous institution for the benefit of the children of 
Elizabeth City and of Poquoson Parish, York County, The 
following list of teachers was furnished by the late Col. 
John B. Cary, of Richmond, who was the last teacher of the 
school previous to its union with the general public school 
system; Prior to 1826, Parson Halstead; 1826-1829, John 
Page; 1829-1832, C. J. D. Pryor; 1832-1835, George Cooper; 
1837-1840, C. J. D. Pryor; 1840-1847, John A. Getty; 1847- 
1852, John B. Cary. 

In the year 1846 the General Assembly adopted the 
present public school system for the State, but its operation 

Page forty-eight 

was left in the cities and towns to the council and in the 
counties to a popular vote. Elizabeth City was one of those 
counties which decided favorably for the school system. In 
1851 it was divided into school districts and Hampton was 
comprised in District No. 3. In 1852 the Hampton Academy 
was associated with the school system and its treasurer, 
William S. Slater, appeared before the Board of school com- 
missioners for the county and reported the fund belonging 
to the school to amount to $10,706.55. At a meeting of the 
commissioners held January 6, 1855, it was resolved that 
the commissioners of District No. 3 be authorized to take 
charge of Hampton Academy as the district school house. 

While the school system was not at this time adopted 
by all the counties of Virginia, its operation in Elizabeth 
City is well worthy of consideration. In his annual report 
for the year 1854 the county superintendent says: "The 
free school system, taking into consideration the sparse- 
ness of our population in some parts of the county, and the 
consequent increased size of some of the districts, appears 
to be working remarkably well. I think it is realizing the 
expectation of some of its most sanguine friends and rapid- 
ly securing favor among its former opponents." 

In another report he advances some ideas as to school 
architecture, which have been put forward anew in recent 
days and approved by the public. He has hopes ''that for 
the future, in the erection of school houses, the wretched 
plan of school architecture, which now so generally obtains 
in Virginia, will be rejected, and that ornament as well as 
comfort will be consulted in their structure." 

During the era of improved public education, John B. 
Cary, the last teacher of the old Hampton Academy, estab- 
lished a military school of his own, which was attended by 
young men from all parts of Virginia, and other Southern 
States. Among his pupils were Captain James Barron 
Hope, of Norfolk, who attained much distinction as a poet, 
Capt. W. Gordon McCabe, of Richmond, former President 
of the Virginia Historical Society, and the late Col. Thomas 
Tabb, of Hampton, one of the most distinguished lawyers 
of Virginia.' 

Mr. Cary was an enthusiastic teacher and had excellent 
courses in Latin and Greek as well as music and mathe- 

' Armstrong, Syms-Eaton Academy, 1902. 

Page forty-nine 

matics. His discipline was strict, and the motto of the 
school was: "Order is Heaven's first law." The young 
men had a literary society called "The Old Boys," which 
was addressed by eminent men on suitable occasions. In 
1859, the orator was Ex-President John Tyler, who for sev- 
eral years before the war passed the summer in a villa 
which he caused to be erected on a point of land opposite 
to the town, on the east side of Hampton River, and called 
the "Villa Margaret." 

Still another school advanced the educational condi- 
tion of the county. In 1854, Rev. Martin Forey, a Baptist 
minister, erected near Hampton the Chesapeake Female 
College, which in 1859 appears to have been converted into 
a boy's school. 

Between 1850 and 1860 Eastern Virginia greatly im- 
proved under the new system of farming introduced by 
Edmund Ruffin, which restored the fertility of the over- 
worked soil. Millions of dollars were added to the value 
of the lands. Hampton and Elizabeth City County shared 
in the prosperity, and there were fewer places in the United 
States where the people lived in greater comfort. From 
the plantations were obtained abundant crops of corn and 
wheat and from the gardens almost all of the best vege- 
tables. From the waters of the running creeks and inlets 
were taken the most delicious fish and oysters; and wild 
ducks and geese not infrequentl)'' contributed to the de- 
lights of the table. 

There were all kinds of amusements, such as fishing in 
the creeks, sailing on the rivers, fox-hunting, card-playing 
and dancing. Yearly the town was paraded by a numerous 
troop of masked riders, who attired in all kinds of quaint 
disguises, moved quietly down the streets at night to dis- 
appear no one seemed to know where. 

The Hotels at Old Point Comfort were frequent resorts 
of visitors, and the band at the fort not only discoursed 
sweet music to the troops, but was used by the officers in 
serenades and to furnish music at the military balls. 

The population of Elizabeth City County in 1791 was 
3450, of whom 1876 were negro slaves, 18 were free negroes, 
and 1556 were white people. In 1800 the population was 
only 2778, of whom 1522 were negro slaves, 18 were free 
negroes, and 1238 were white people. In 1810 the popula- 

Page fifty 

tion made up more than its losses, and was 3598, of whom 
1734 were negro slaves, 75 were free negroes, and 1789 were 
whites. In 1820 the population was 3789 and in 1830, 5033. 
In the last year (1830) the population of Hampton was 
1120. It contained at that time about 130 dwelling houses, 
two Baptist churches, one Methodist and an Episcopal 
church, one Academy and one private school, six dry goods 
stores, ten grocery stores, two taverns and three castor oil 
manufactories. The principal mechanical pursuits were 
shoemaking, blacksmith's work, house carpentering and 
ship building. It enjoyed a considerable emolument from 
the money circulated by the Federal government in the 
building and maintenance of Fort Monroe and the Rip- 
Raps. There were two lawyers resident in the town and 
four physicians. In 1840 the population of Elizabeth City 
County was 3706, of whom 1708 were negro slaves, 44 were 
free negroes, and 1954 were white people. In 1860 the pop- 
ulation of Elizabeth City County was 5798, of whom 2417 
were negro slaves, 201 were free negroes, and 3180 were 
white people. The population of Hampton the same year 
was 1848, of w hom 782 were negro slaves, 73 were free 
negroes, and 993 were white people. 

Hampton During the War of 1861-1865 

In the war for Southern Independence, the people of 
Hampton were warmly for the Confederate cause, but their 
close proximity to the most powerful fort of the United 
States rendered their position a most unhappy one. The 
first regular battle of the war occurred in their vicinity at 
Big Bethel near the place where Colonel Mallory was killed 
during the American Revolution. Nearly all the families 
abandoned the town, and on August, 1862, the place was 
fired by order of General Magruder. The soldiers selected 
to do this were property owners in the town, who approved 
the policy, and the few remaining residents, not over twenty 
in all, were notified in advance. This drastic and perhaps 
useless action was taken because of a dispatch from General 
Butler, which fell into General Magruder 's hands that the 
houses would be used for military purposes. In the general 
conflagration the church also was consumed, with the excep- 
tion of the massive walls which remained standing. Only 

Page fifty-one 

five houses were left, and the citizens by thus yielding to 
the flames, property worth $200,000 demonstrated ''their 
intensive devotion to the cause they had espoused and for 
which they considered no sacrifice too great." 

At the breaking out of the war, John B. Gary, principal 
of the Hampton Military Institute, was commissioned by 
General Lee, Major of all the Hampton troops and after the 
battle of Bethel, in which he took part, he was promoted 
Lieutenant Colonel of the Thirty-second Virginia Regi- 
ment, commanded by Colonel Ewell, President of William 
and Mary College. It was on the occasion of a visit paid by 
Colonel Cary to General Butler under a flag of truce that the 
latter originated the expression ''contraband," as applied 
to the negroes. Colonel Cary demanded the return of some 
negroes on the ground that they were private property, but 
General Butler declared that they were "contraband of 
war," and refused to give them up. After the war was 
over Colonel Cary settled in Richmond, where he was for 
some time superintendent of schools and amassed a fortune 
through his great business ability. 

During the war the possession of Fort Monroe by the 
Federal authorities was a factor of great value to them in 
eventually achieving success. It became the starting point 
of great naval and land expeditions against the South, a 
great depot for prisoners and armaments, and a place of 
refuge from disaster. It was formidable guns of Fort Mon- 
roe that probably saved the Federal fleet in 1862 from entire 
destruction by the Merrimac. It was here that Jefferson 
Davis, the President of the Confederacy, was confined after 
one of the most gallant resistances ever put up by any peo- 
ple in defence of self-government. The cell in which he 
was shackeled, like an ordinary criminal, is pointed out, 
but it conveys no pleasant ideas of the magnanimity of his 

During this period the country between Fort Monroe 
and the present grounds of the Hampton Institute was occu- 
pied by a wilderness of tents called Camp Hamilton. The 
old Chesapeake Female Institute was used as a Hospital. 
This was connected by a bridge with Hampton Hospital, the 
great receiving place for sick and wounded soldiers of the 
Federal army in Virginia. This last building occupied the 
site of the present Hampton Institute. 

Page fifty-two 

The neighborhood was the refuge place of hundreds of 
negroes, and the burned section, where Hampton once stood, 
was filled with their rude shelters propped up against the 
brick chimneys, which survived the fire. 

Hampton After the War of 1865-1910 

In 1865, the war ended and the old Hampton families 
flocked back to the ruins of their once beautiful homes. The 
streets and lots were marked out again and house building 

The courthouse reverted to the county authorities, and 
the graded school for freedmen was transferred to the Lin- 
coln School, which had been built of old hospital wards. 

The few survivors of the congregation of the old church 
served more or less irregularly in the Odd Fellows Hall on 
Court Street, known as Patrick Henry Hall. The first regu- 
lar rector after the war was Eev. J. B. McCarty, who had 
been a chaplain in the Federal army. In less than five years 
the church was again restored, and it has at present a 
flourishing congregation. A tablet on the walls gives a 
short history of the edifice and its ministers followed by 
this quotation from the psalms: *'0 give thanks unto the 
Lord, for his mercy endureth forever. ' ' 

Among the relics of the past, which are the prized pos- 
sessions of the church is the old vestry book to which refer- 
ence has been made, and a cup, chalice and patten of beauti- 
ful and antique work. The communion cup is by long odds 
the oldest church plate in the United States. It bears the 
hall mark of 1617, and was given by Mrs. Mary Eobinson, 
of London, in 1619, to the "church in Smith's Hundred in 
Virginia," as the inscription upon it testifies. This hun- 
dred lay on the north side of James Eiver between Weya- 
noke and Sandy Point, but was wiped out by the massacre 
in 1622. The name of the hundred was changed, in 1619, 
from ''Smith's Hundred," which was its title during Sir 
Thomas Smith's presidency of the London Company to 
''Southampton Hundred," when the Earl of Southampton 
succeeded Smith. As Hampton was named from the same 
great friend of Virginia, it is properly the custodian of this 
elegant and unique treasure. 

Among the tombstones still to be seen in the church- 
Page fifty-three 

yard, perhaps the most interesting are those of Captain 
George Wray, who died April 9, 1758, and Captain Henry 
Mowatt, of the British Navy, who in October, 1775, burned 
the town of Portland, Maine, because it refused to give him 

The school comes next after the church in importance, 
and as soon as order was restored out of chaos, this question 
enlisted the attention of the people of Hampton. The old 
Hampton Academy building had perished in the fire of 1862, 
but the mortgage bonds in which its endowment fund of 
10,000 had been invested were preserved by Col. J. C. Phil- 
lips, who took them to Richmond with him, when he re- 
fugeed there. A small school building was put up, this time 
of brick, which performed a valuable service for many 
years. In 1902 this building made way for the present 
handsome modern up-to-date structure. A tablet placed in 
the entrance hall proclaims the name of the school as the 
' ' Syms-Eaton Academy, ' ' thus perpetuating the memory of 
the two noble benefactors, who considered aright that they 
could find no better way of attaining true glory than edu- 
cating their fellow men. 

In March, 1866, Captain Wilder had been succeeded by 
General Samuel C. Armstrong as superintendent of contra- 
bands and ofiicer in charge of the Freedmen's Bureau. From 
the beginning he took special interest in the colored 
schools, having charge of those in ten counties in eastern 
Virginia. It was his suggestion that Hampton would be a 
fitting spot for a permanent training school for colored 

In 1870, the old Chesapeake Female College, which had 
been used as a hospital during the war, was purchased for 
the government together with the forty acres of land owned 
by General B. F. Butler for $50,000, as a home for disabled 
soldiers. The number of buildings was increased to nearly 
seventy and the government purchased forty-three acres of 
land in addition to the original forty. Three large build- 
ings have been erected for hospital purposes and are sup- 
plied with every modern appliance for the sick. Nearly 
17000 veterans have been cared for since the Home was 
established, and about 9000 of these rest in the National 
Cemetery nearby. As a result of the expenditure made by 

Page fifty-four 

these Federal veterans of every nationality a town between 
Hampton and Fort Monroe has grown up called ''Phoebus," 
named in honor of Mr. Harrison Phoebus, a successful 
hotel man. Its population is over 3000. 

During the war the old Hygeia Hotel was carted away, 
because it interfered with the training of guns in the Fort. 
After the war, the Hygeia was at once rebuilt on its later 
site close to the beach, but it was only a small building. In 
1867, Mr. Phoebus purchased it, fitted it with all the modern 
conveniences and greatly enlarged it, till it had capacity 
enough to accommodate 1200 guests. It became a great 
resort for pleasure seekers, and Mr. Phoebus became very 
wealthy. Some years ago the Federal government decreed 
its removal, and as a substitute the splendid brick building 
known as the Chamberlin Hotel superseded, but unfortu- 
nately burned as stated elsewhere. 

In keeping with the growth of the vicinity, since the 
war, has been the enormous development of Fort Monroe. 
The present fortifications embrace a parapet wall a mile 
and a quarter long, enclosing eighty-six acres and costing 
over $2,000,000. The fortress is partially washed by the 
waters of Hampton Roads and is separated from the main- 
land by a wide and deep moat. It is equipped with disap- 
pearing guns, which have a range of twelve miles or more. 
Some consider it next in strength to the celebrated fortress 
of Gibraltar, though probably the fortifications of Quebec 
from their natural advantages are more impregnable. 

Fort Wool, on the Rip Raps opposite to Fort Monroe, 
has also been immensely strengthened. Like the other, it 
is equipped with immense disappearing guns and the latest 
machinery for defence in time of war. 

Indeed, the whole region of what was known, in 1619, 
as "Elizabeth City Corporation" has greatly improved 
in the forty-five years since the war, and its appearance is 
a monument to the industry of the inhabitants. From the 
west end of Newport News to Old Point Comfort there is a 
population close on to 50,000 people compared with about 
5000 in 1860. The population of Elizabeth City County is 
upwards of 26000 and that of Hampton very near 8000. The 
town has handsome paved streets and sidewalks, electric 
lights, electric cars,, fine stores and bank buildings, and is 

Page fifty-five 

connected with Richmond by one of the best railroad lines 
in the Union, while the wharf at Old Point is the stopping 
place of steamers to Norfolk, to Washington, and to Balti- 
more and New York. It is connected with Newport News, 
three and a half miles distant, by railroad and street rail- 
way service, and with Norfolk, fifteen miles distant, by a 
number of steamship lines and three fast ferries. 

Statistics compiled by a prominent physician indicate 
climatic conditions in the county as equal to any found in 
the State. The water supply is abundant and truck farm- 
ing in the immediate vicinity is extensively carried on. 
The manufactories consist of saw mills, iron foundries, and 
shoe, sash and blind, oil and crab factories. The pluck of 
its inhabitants exhibited under so many vicissitudes of for- 
tune in the past has won for the town the name of the 
"game-cock town." 

Page fifty-six 


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