~ Small Town America ~

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Comments on the new 'Eastville' page

‘bout time, right?

Sorry it has taken me so long to add the Eastville section. And, I think I’ll be adding more to it at a later time. I’ll let everyone on the mailing list know if and when.

Eastville is the visually perfect picture of a small southern town, small and cozy, quiet and peaceful. Of course, one has to go elsewhere for gas, groceries, doctors and so forth. But like other Shore towns - not too far. Every time I hear about someone campaigning to bring business and businesses into the small towns, places like Eastville come to my mind. Big deal, two miles to the highway. My thought is to keep things up on Route 13(the main through way down the middle of the peninsula), that’s already ugly! You can stroll the streets of Eastville and feel like you’ve stepped back in time. (And, at the same time, pop into Food Lion for a TV dinner? Perhaps not.) Don’t screw up the flavor of the small towns, there aren’t many of them left. One person’s opinion.

Eastville, Virginia has something that no other county seat in the nation has. Continuous, consecutive court records dating back to the early middle of the 1600s. This puts them older even then Eastville itself. I think that’s pretty neat.

Very early in the 1600s the young man, Thomas Savage came to the Shore. The natives liked him. The then leader of the natives, one Debedeavon, gave Thomas a huge (I do mean HUGE) amount of land. (see marker at top of photo page). At a point, at an extreme end away from the town (which came later), Thomas built a home. Eastville itself sits on another part of the same grant.

If you come north from the Bay Bridge Tunnel about 20 minutes worth of driving and turn right on to Willow Oak Drive you will be on the seaside of Eastville. This drive will take you past a number of comfortable set back homes. One of these is haunted by the uneasy spirit of a young confederate soldier. Yes, Eastville has its haunts.

If you continue along that road, you will come to old Eastville Station. Nothing left to prove the busy glory time of rail travel on the Shore. If you cross the tracks and keep driving, you find yourself deadending in the Northampton County Parks and Rec. Park. It doesn’t look like much but a lot goes on there. The guy in charge is Barry Randall and he does a good job keeping it ship shape and trying to accommodate everyone. And that’s not easy. The disc golf folks have their tournaments there and that has really taken off. The teams play baseball there, too. We have our Powwows there and Barry goes out of his way for us, too. On those grounds we have buried ancestors (http://www.virginiaindians.com/vapilot.htm) and we have located other old, old graves. As you look at pictures of Northampton’s park you need to realize that this piece of public park land is all that remains that is legally accessible (all else being in private hands) of the acreage (far less than Debedeavon generously gave to young Thomas Savage) that was made into the first Native reservation in the nation. The natives never even received much of what was promised and the noble settlers soon cheated them out of what they did get. You may laugh, but spirits also roam that park. Actually I’d be more surprised if they didn’t.


As you look at the photos you will see a sign for Holly Brook. If you click on it, you will go to a page of photos of that house. Interesting. It has been added to with sections of two other old homes of the same era from else where on the Shore. Very different. Its present residents are working on restoring the gardens. They are doing such a good job. The gardens were originally planned so that there would be color and interest at all times of the year. The out buildings
reminded me of the years I spent in Williamsburg. I even got a bit nostalgic. My grandson fell in love with it.

Also in that group of homes, you will see one with flags. That’s actually like a daycare center. I put that one in here because whenever I pass it I have to laugh. One night we were leaving a friend’s house very near there. It was very late and I was driving and very tired. It was pitch dark, no lights anywhere. I backed out of the driveway after looking to make sure nothing was coming. I guess you have to know what you’re looking for, though. I glanced once more in the rear view mirror and STOMPED on the brakes! There were eyes at the back of the car looking at me through the back glass. I got out and moved off a horse that had come up to see if we were going to do anything interesting. I guess I almost did! I found out later that he lived at the daycare center and at night he just let himself out and wandered around. I love the Shore. I used to have friends who would ask me, “Don’t you get bored in the country?”

To visit old town Eastville, you must retrace your steps and double back across Route 13. Here you come to Yuk Yuks, a local hangout. I like that name. Then you pass an old graveyard on the very side of the road that’s kind of neat. That’s one of the things I like about the Shore. Ancestors pop up everywhere. I’m sorry, it was raining or I would have gotten some dates. But I know they are old.

The first church you see is Bethel AME. Bethel hosted the first ordained black minister to give a sermon on the Eastern Shore. This may have been Reverend Caleb Burris, but I’m not positive. The next church, Christ Episcopal, is one of the oldest churches on the Shore. The next building photos are the Eastville Inn, built in the late 1700s, the base of the confederate monument (the obligatory monument to death in great numbers) and the original courthouse from which steps the Declaration of Independence was read in August of 1776. If you click on the monument photo, you will see the present courthouse. The next photos are of a little old shop. Debedeavon’s marker on the green and the old debtors prison. There is restoration going on as you can see. I liked the shot of the kids and the old storefront being worked on. It said something of history to me. There is a photo of the present day jail. Yes, don’t say it, they’re getting a new one.

I would like to get more photos in Eastville and I would like to get pictures of New Castle, restored, that was Thomas Savage’s home. For now I leave you to look at what there is so far. Enjoy!


Blogger bptlegion218 said...

fGreat collection of photos. I enjoyed "touring" this little town from my home 3000 miles away. Thank you.
Is the Old Courthouse preserved inside? If so, did you get any pictures?
Thanks again for posting this.

December 27, 2009 at 6:37 PM  
Blogger Tanya Johnson said...

Thank you for the write up. I am a descendant of Thomas Savage and was wondering if you ever found a photo of New Castle, restored?
Tanya Johnson

January 24, 2010 at 12:59 PM  

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