History of Elizabeth City County

before Consolidation into the City of Hampton

and Known Fox Hill Cemeteries and location

Presented by David Routten

Member, Fox Hill Historical Society

13 July 2002


        Cities and Counties in the State of Virginia are equal in jurisdiction (courts and governmental set up. Also, may be only State to have this type of structure )

        Dr Lyons, of William and Mary College prepared a history for City of Hampton in 1952 when Elizabeth City County was incorporated into the City of Hampton. This history is referenced in the following statements.

        1607 Hampton is mentioned as Kecoughtan by the Virginia Company of the London Company, England. Old Point Comfort got the name because it gave natural comfortable docking for ships entering Hampton Roads (mouth of the Chesapeake Bay). Strawberry Banks and Kecoughtan until 1619 when a delegation decided to  change the heathen Indian name to Elizabeth Corporation for King James I daughter. In 1634 status changed from a corporation to County system. Elizabeth City County is one of the original 11 counties created. Most of our local names are of English extraction.

          A description of the native inhabitants when the English arrived goes as follows:  Upon seeing the Englishman the Indians crawled on the ground, made mournful sounds, groans, wolf hollers, and danced around. They were very hospitable toward the Englishman. The Indians were amazed at what the English brought.

          2000 to 3000 acres was reserved for the Virginia Companies own use. An unusual feature was a big cleared tract of land from Buckroe to Mill Creek no one knows  why the Indians had the cleared land or for what purpose it was used. All the surrounding area was wooded.

          The Virginia Company sent people to the new world to make a profit. Land distribution was controlled by the Corporation.

1600 acres were for common use

100 acres for glebe (church) land

50 acres were given individuals who paid their way to New World (Virginia) and

50 acres for each person who paid passage for and individual.

             1620 French people began to settle in Buckroe which is an English name.

              Buckroe was an investment. First Mulberries were planted in hopes of producing silk. Next grapevines were planted to make wine but it spoiled before reaching England. Finally, tobacco was grown and proved to be the most successful venture in crop development for a profit.

              1625 Fox Hill was first mentioned in court records.

              (Charles Elliott was researching the name Fox Hill origins before his death.  David H. Wallace stated that during World War II he had physically been in Fox Hill in England's Northwest corner. David Routten stated he had met English people from Wickham England near Fox Hill England.)

1622 Indian Massacre happened but in our area of Elizabeth City County no casualties were sustained by residents.

            The name Hampton is believed to have come from one of the Virginia Company supporters the Earl of Southampton.

            1630 is the earliest date of the town of Hampton probably used by the General Assembly.

            1887 Hampton was first incorporated as a town

            1908-1940 Hampton was a second class city a magisterial district.

            1941 map was displayed hopefully a copy can be distributed to member wanting one.

            Minutes of the Consolidation of Elizabeth City County and Hampton can be found in Book 15, page 157. Hampton official records.

            7 Aug 1861, Hampton was burned by the Local Militia, Confederate troops to keep Yankees from taking the houses and turning them over to the contraband refugees congregating at Fort Monroe. All but about 5 houses were burned to the ground.    An excellent source for additional information is Hudgins' Book 'The Old Dominion Dragoons" which describes life on the peninsula before, during, and after the Civil War. This is a very good picture of reconstruction and how difficult life was in Elizabeth City County, Virginia. The Civil War can be referred to as 'The Rebellion', 'The War of Northern Aggression', or the 'War Between the States.'  Hudgins described 7 August 1861 as a hot day. Downey Farm was located where Parklawn Cemetery is today. The troops marched past and down Pine Chapel Road into Hampton. Some went to Jefferson C. Phillips property in Fox Hill (off Fox Hill Road). Hudgins was a land owner in the area of Langley Air Force Base today (Sherwood, Lamington, and Shellbank were the names of the farms.)  Yankee activity during the Civil War and Post war restricted movement of citizens.  People living in Fox Hill were watched very closely. Another source of information is George Benjamin West story as told by Parke Rouse book 'When the Yankees Came'. Poorer families as well as Richer families buried valuables (china, silver and the like) and food but the Richer families went to Richmond and further west to Charlottesville to escape the ravages of war.  Times were very bad after the war for white men. They could not vote. Their land  was taken for taxes owed and those labeled as taking part in the rebellion were especially, targeted by the Freedman's Bureau. The Freedman's Bureau of Hampton was located near Hampton University. The farm Pumpkin Hill (where MacDonald's Nursery is today) is an example. The owner went to Richmond to pay the taxes and had the foresight to ask for a duplicate copy because no record was ever recorded in Hampton for payment of taxes. Many native Southerners had their property sold out from under them.

            1900 Phoebus was incorporated as a town and was named for Harrison Phoebus a Yankee. Phoebus was occupied mainly by carpet baggers after the Civil War.