Tidbits about the Eastern Shore.

The following came from Margaret Lilliston, and provided to this web site by Don Mapp.

The first white man on the Eastern Shore was Goivanoi Verragano who was sent out by King Francis of France to explore for a northwest passage in 1523.

He landed in Chincoteague Bay, went ashore and walked west to a great bay, which looked like a vast amount of water. He thought he had discovered the Northwest Passage that France, Spain and Great Britain were all looking for.

The next white man was Barthalow Gilbert in 1603. He was not so fortunate, as he and one of his crew was killed by Indians and the others barely made it back to their ship.

The next we hear of the Eastern Shore was from Captain John smith in 1608. He relates a group of Giant Indians that met him on the beach. This could be true, because when Margaret Lilliston and a group went on a dig several years ago they found two skeletons, which were donated to the museum of natural history in New York City. Dr. Shaprio measured them and reported that both were females and measured 7 feet tall. They were Indian with femur bones flattened from sitting cross-legged around campfires.

Captain John Smith found the Eastern Shore a most delightful land.

Some meaning of Indian names are:

· Onancock		Foggy

· Chessnix		Home of blue birds

· Wachapreague		City by the sea

· Accomack		Land across the water

The first town on the Shore was:

· Towne Fields by Cape Charles’ King Creek.

· The second town was Bridgetown.

· The third town was Pungoteague.

The first court records in the colonies was at Eastville Court House, Va from January 7, 1632.

The game of 9 pins was popular on the Eastern Shore as early as 1636.

The first Thanksgiving in America was December 4, 1619 at Berkeley Plantation on the James River.

The first Naval Battle between the colonies and the British on April 23, 1634 in American waters at the mouth of the Pocomoke River

The first mention of name Washington was September 5, 1635.

The first duel in Virginia was 1610 when Captain Epps killed Captain Stallings.

The first recorded play in America was in 1665 performed in Pungoteague at Coles Tavern. The play was “The Bear & Ye Cub”.

The original names were:

· Eastville was Peachtree.

· Onancock was Port Scarbrough Fair.

· Wachapreague was called Powelton.

· Harborton was Hoffmans Wharf.

The first record of a slave in America was 1642. Nathaniel Littleton (a Mapp ancestor) sold the slave to Garrett Anderson for 1000 lbs. of Tobacco.

· A ferry was first mentioned in 1634.

· The first surveyor mentioned was 1637.

· The first bridge was over the Pocomoke River in 1680.

· The first order for a public road was June 1659.

· The first mention of a free school was in the will of William Whellington in March 4, 1659.

· The first Clerk of the Court was Henry Bagwell.

The first Commissioners on the Eastern shore were:

· Captain William Claiborne

· Captain Rogers - gent.

· Thomas Grouse

· John Howes

· Captain Edmond Scarbrough

· Charles Harmon - gent.

Saint George’s Church, Pungoteague was built like the ace of clubs. During the Civil War the Feds used it as a horse stable and it was badly damaged. Later, the Federal Government financed repairs, but restored it as a straight building.

The last man hung in Accomack County was from a tree in saint George’s Church yard.

Oak Grove has the oldest continuos Sunday School in America, starting in the home of Mr. William Elliott. When Burton’s Chapel began, Sunday School was moved there. Burton’s Chapel was struck by lighting soon after the congregation had gotten home from services and burned to the ground. Services were then held in the barn of James T. Mapp while a new Church was being built.

James T. Mapp’s barn was on the land where Francis Mapp now lives. the barn was out near the road to the left of the house. Uncle Will Mapp had the barn moved to the back of the house.

The new church became Burton’s Oak Grove Church then was later changed to just Oak Grove.

The old Mapp home has more history. During Civil War Edward Willis Mapp saw Feds marching down the road. He was sitting on a gate post with his pet dog nearby. The Feds shot his pet dog. Margaret indicates that the last time she talked to Uncle Ned he had told her about it and that he never forgave the Feds.

George Bowdoin Mapp was Superintendent of Oak Grove Sunday School for 50 years.

A window in Oak Grove church has a window for George Bowdoin Mapp and his wife Ann. James Edmonds Mapp also has a window with his name on it on outside to right of church on the back.

The colonies had 3 rebellions:
1. Taxation without representation. March 30, 1649
2. A law passed by the British prohibiting trade with the Dutch. 1650
3. The Navigation Act of 1657.

These three rebellions led to the Revolution War of 1776.

The Margaret Academy chartered in 1756 was built near Bobtown. When it was closed Onancock School got the title in July 22, 1893.

Onancock had a Normal School and in the 1930s a military high school was created. Major Tanner was the principle and had wooden guns made to drill with. Margaret Lilliston has one of these guns.

Dr. William Ruffner was the first Superintendent of Virginia State Schools in 1810.

Accomac County first Superintendent of Schools were:
1. James S. Weaver
2. Dr. John E. Mapp
3. Goodwin G. Jones (Clerk was Will F. White)
4. Milton Sahoe
5. Henry A. Wise
6. Roscoe Doub
7. Royce C. Chesser

The Locustville Academy was founded in 1850 (still standing).

Sarah Ward Mapp attended the Academy.

Bessie Gunter had a cook book “Housewives Companion” that was the only one available for 7 decades. This is a collectors today. Cousin Fairy Mapp White had “Fool Proof Cook Book”.

All of the School Superintendents had their problems. During G.G. Joynes administration in 1902 the first Consolidated School System came into practice in Accomac County. The first school bus was an open wagon with a canvas cover if the weather gets bad.

1900-1903 High Schools came into being.

In 1652 Col. Scarbrough planned to return to England for good. He sold the following ocean going ships to William Burton of Boston, Mass.:
1. The Deliverance
2. The Mayflower
3. King David
4. The Sea Horse
5. The Holly Horse
6. The Ann Clear
7. The Artillery

The question has been asked if this Mayflower was the Mayflower of the Plymouth Rock fame?

How many know why all of the old homes had small window panes?


There was a belief that during Bacon’s Rebellion, Bacon hid for a while in a secret room, in a chimney of Scott Hall on Market Street in Onancock. The room was found when Scott Hall was moved back and a new modern home was built facing Market Street in the early 20s. However, some historians question weather Bacon was ever on the Eastern Shore.

All of the doors in Scott Hall will not stay closed at the same time.

Commodore Walley was killed in the Battle of the Barges near the end of the Revolutionary War and is buried in yard of Scott Hall near creek.

There was a big snow in 1859. The big freeze was in 1918. The Chesapeake bay froze over. Mrs. Dolly Pryor walked from Onancock to Tangier Island. No boats could get in or out of the Bay for more than two weeks.

In 1886 there was an earthquake on the Eastern shore. On august 25th all clocks stopped at 9:53pm. At Craddockville ornaments on mantles were knocked to the floor and broken.

The city of Arlington, Virginia and the National Cemetery are named for the old Custis Plantation (west of Capeville), where Martha Dandridge Custis Washington lived during her first marriage.

On August 7, 1891 the Turlington Camp Meetings began. the Negro Camp Meetings were held at Nock’s Branch on what is now Mapp Road. The Negro spiritual “Haint No Hiding Place Down Here” was written for this camp meeting.

Edward Teach better known as “Black Beard” the famous Pirate was killed by Lt. Maynard in 1718.

Francis Makemie, founder of Presbyterianism in America started the church at his home in Onancock and was licensed as a place of worship on October 9, 1699. He married Naomi Anderson at Winona, an old home in Northampton County. the home has Jacobean chimneys and is the only one besides Bacon’s Castle in Surry County, Virginia.

Who knows the original name of Saxis Island? (Sykes Island )

The Eastern shore has had one Governor, Henry A. Wise of old Only on Onancock Creek.

Return to the Eastern Shore History index page

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Barbara Cox ghotes@ix.netcom.com

Copyright © 1997 Most recent revision: February 10, 2004