Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gwynn's Island, Pre-Civil War

This view is from Gwynn's Island looking towards the Piankatank River, with Hallieford (home of Sandpiper Reef Restaurant where Chesapeake Bay Woman is the emergency, back-up, last resort bouncer) to the left and Deltaville (home of Taylor's Restaurant and its legendary seafood buffet that alas is now just a distant memory, one filled with hushpuppies, steamed shrimp and fried fish) to the right.

The Gwynns Island Museum has put together a number of incredibly informative books about the island, one of which is "Chimes from the Chesapeake: Life on Gwynn's Island Before the Civil War" by May Evergreen (pen name for Elizabeth Ellen Hill). Her family, originally from New Hampshire, bought 350 acres on the southeastern end of the island in the mid 1800s, on what was then known as Buckschase.

A quote from her articles written in the 1850s pretty well summarizes the island even today. The following is from page 1 of the book:

"...Having too much faith in humanity to fear a rude repulse from the friends of past days, I have bethought me that some few chimes from the Chesapeake might not be entirely without interest to those who are somewhat unfamiliar with this powerful daughter of old ocean.

Chesapeake, signifying "mother of the waters" according to Indian lore, is a name well befitting the broad and magnificent bay, all bright and beautiful in its tranquility, but wild and fearfully awful when the "winds are all abroad" and are working wrath and mischief upon the waters.

Turbulent and tempestuous as she may be at times, this "mother of waters" casts her arms most protectingly around our fair islet resting as a bright jewel upon her bosom.

Gwynn's Island! How many are there who never heard the name; and among those too who are reckoned the wise ones of the earth, there are very many who have ever been utterly ignorant of this locality.

To those who are fond of the minutia in detail I would say, this gem of an island stands 37 1/2 degrees north of the equator, is in Mathews County, Virginia, is separated from the main by Milford Haven, a lovely and lively limb of the Chesapeake, not more than half a mile at its narrowest portion, and is one of the prettiest sheets of water that ever sparkled in the sunbeams, or danced the tempest to the music of the wild winds."

And to that Chesapeake Bay Woman says, some 150+ years later, "Why can't Taylors bring back the seafood buffet?" "Amen."


nativedevil said...

seafood buffet. By the time I got to try Taylors in the late 90's, it was already downhill.
But, alas, all is not lost. Thursday night I am going to my favorite seafood buffet, Capt. Georges in Williamsburg. Haven't been for a couple of years, really looking forward to it.

heartfeltcynic said...

I love your photos and the stories behind them. Got here via Daryl (on the m104), btw. :)

Grandma J said...

I love the history laced with good memories and folklore.

Someday there will be a book all about wild women, geese and fiddler crabs and the influx of crazies in July....and people will wonder what the heck is a JJ?

Ann Marie said...

I know another great place for seafood... heheheheheheeheheh

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

Amen indeed!

Mental P Mama said...

We can go over to Re's for some seafood. And devilled eggs;) Cannot wait!

Jamie said...

Woke up this morning to find my car broken into and my purse gone. However, seeing pictures and reading about Gwynn's island brightened my day. Except now I'm hungry for hushpuppies and shrimp

Daryl said...

Those clouds are floating on the water .. exquisite .. and I love history especially history you share!

WV puplvit ... well if the puplvit who am I to argue

foolery said...

Apropos of nothing . . . I'm pretty sure that BlogFest activities on Saturday need to include a Blister's Kissing Booth at the farmer's market, to raise wine funds. Grandma J can serve her shift and mine concurrently.

But I really did read the post, really! And now I am missing Gwynn's Island. And pretty much everything.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

Well thank the good Lord for Ann Marie's!

Mrs F with 4 said...

I could just float away on that picture of calm..... had a nice massage this morning, then came back to an absent plumber, a leaky ceiling, a decorator dismembering my hallway, Dog puking up... whoknowswhat, TWO message from school (neither of them nice), dust-bunnies rounding up the children, who all have snotty noses, and probably a partridge in a pear tree if I look out of the window.

Can I borrow Gustav?

wv: pection - see: Gustav.

Country Girl said...

I'm sorry. I was about to leave a very heartfelt comment here but was shocked by the headline below stating that Gustav has friends. I must go now to see this phenomenon.