Friday, September 18, 2009
Mathews County is synonymous with water.
The coffee table book found in everyone's home, "Soil Survey, Mathews County, Virginia, Our Soil, Our Strength," (published in 1962 by the USDA) says, "The county forms a peninsula that is dissected and nearly surrounded by tidal bays, rivers and creeks. It is bounded by the Piankatank River on the north; Chesapeake Bay on the east; Mobjack Bay and the North River on the south and southwest, and Gloucester County on the west. Gwynn's Island, at the mouth of the Piankatank river, is connected to the mainland by a highway bridge."
The book "Chesapeake Bay and Tidewater," by A. Aubrey Bodine, says , "Captain's paradise, Gwynn's Island, Virginia, is a seafood center which is said to have produced more sea captains in World War II than any other Bay community. Here in 1776 Lord Dunmore, the royal governor, made his last stand against the Virginia patriots whose cannon on Cricket Hill drove his fleet away."
From "Images of America, Mathews County" by Sara E. Lewis, comes this: "More than 2,000 seagoing vessels were launched along Mathews' edge during the 1700's and 1800's. ....There were six shipyards in the East River. Others were in Blackwater Creek, Cobbs Creek, Garden Creek, Winter Harbor, Milford Haven, North River, Pepper Creek, Point Breeze, Put-in Creek, Sloop Creek and Stutts Creek. Families with surnames such as Ashberry, Billups, Gayle, Hudgins, Hunley, Miller, Smith and others were engaged in the trade."
And finally, from this week's Gazette Journal, which talks about next Saturday's festivities here in the county:
"...On Saturday the 26th the maritime past will be celebrated in the county with Mathews Maritime Foundation’s (MMF) Heritage Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Horn Harbor Marina in Port Haywood. According to MMF spokesperson Pete Hall, there will be demonstrations of crab pot making, oyster dredge net weaving, crab picking, and sculling throughout the day...."
Our maritime roots grow deep and hopefully will never be fully uprooted. Even today, there are many Ashberrys, Billupses, Gayles, Hudginses, Hunleys, Millers and Smiths in the county.
I have to say, though, that Sloop Creek is a new one on me, and I will not rest until I find it, simply because the word "sloop" makes me laugh.
With love and sloopy kisses,
-Chesapeake Bay Woman