A Chesapeake Bay island
whose history is as fascinating as is its ties to the Eastern Shore of
Upon arriving on Tangier Island, you
step back in time; where everyday life is deep rooted in its
Chesapeake Bay heritage………
Inquiries about Tangier Island
Chesapeake Bay Sampler
Chesapeake Bay Bed
Tangier Island History
Tangier Island Passenger Transportation ---- Scroll Down
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information regarding Tangier Island by Clicking Here
Thomas, Crisfield, Maryland
Breeze, Reedville, Virginia
Tangier Island Restaurants
Crockett's Chesapeake House
Island Bed and Breakfasts
Crockett's Chesapeake House Bed and Breakfast
View Inn Bed and Breakfast
Inn Bed and Breakfast
about Special Group Rate
Md, Reedville, Va or
Thomas, Crisfield, Md.
Marie II, Onancock, Va.
Kaye III, Crisfield, Md.
Chesapeake Breeze, Reedville, Va
afternoon travel to Tangier Island via Crisfield, Va.
Breeze is a passenger
departing daily from Reedville, Va.
Transportation to Tangier
468 Buzzard Point Road
Reedville, Va. 22539
Phone: 804-453-BOAT (2628)
The Chesapeake Breeze leaves Reedville
10 AM and returns around 3:30 pm.
Adults ........................ $25
per person same day round trip.
$30 per person overnight round
$15. per person - one way
Children (4-12 years) ... $13
Under 4 years ............ Free
Over 25 person - $23. per person
same day round trip......
Please note that any trip to the
island may be cancelled
due to severe weather conditions or
due to a lack of participation.
To visit the island is a days event.
It takes less than one hour to arrive at Tangier Island; once there touring
can be done by walking, biking, or golf cart rentals as there are no vehicles.
Lunch on Tangier Island at any of the Tangier
Cruise from Crisfield, Maryland
of the Chesapeake Bay
Passenger Ferry from Crisfield, Maryland
Transportation to Tangier
Information and Full schdule
The cruise to
and from Tangier Island
takes about one hour and fifteen minutes.
Thomas departs from Crisfield, Maryland daily
including Sundays, beginning May 15
..... 12:30 p.m.
...... 1:45 p.m.
...... 4:00 p.m.
..... 5:15 p.m.
Round Trip Prices Below
Ask about Group Rates
$25 per person same day round trip
$30.00 per person
overnight round trip.
$15. per person
- one way.
$13 per person same day round trip and overnight
Under 4 years
Please note that
any trip to the island may be cancelled due to severe weather conditions
or due to a lack of participation.
|Watermen leave out early for a day
on the Chesapeake Bay.
"It is not an easy way of life: in fact, it is a true labor of love. Commercial
fishing and crabbing is physical and demanding", according to a Tangierman,
"but it is the love of the Bay, its wildlife and its beauty that makes
it worth all the aches and pains we live with each day. Tangier Island,
Virginia is located approximately twelve miles from the Eastern Shore of
Virginia’s mainland in the Chesapeake Bay.
information regarding Tangier Island
Available once you arrive on the
island: Chesapeake Bay and Tangier Island Eco Tours, Tangier Island Sunset
Tours, Bird-watching, Crabbing, Charter Fishing, and more. Contact
us to obtain information as to schedules
According to an Islander, "Today, life
on Tangier Island is a mixture of the old and the new, but living on the
Chesapeake Bay is, still, like none other. Your children grow with a sense
of independence that only living on an island can give you. They may leave,
but they long to come back to the Chesapeake Bay."
Tangier resident's unique manner of
speaking is much like that of beautiful Elizabethan English. This identifiable
dialect denotes a true "Tangierman".
As shown below, the history of Tangier
Island is informative and very interesting.
In the summer of 1608
John Smith started out on an exploration trip of the Chesapeake Bay. He
traveled from Cape Charles and went up the bay to the Potomac River and
went up as far as present day Washington D. C. and back down to Jamestown.
It was actually two trips for at one point he was very badly hurt by a
stingray and had to return to Jamestown to be treated. It was during these
two voyages, while looking for fresh water that he came across a group
of islands in the middle of the bay. He named them the "Russell Isles,"
for a Doctor Russell who was then on board ship with him.
This group is today what
is known as Smiths, Tangier and Watts Islands. Tangier Island is about
6 miles below the Maryland-Virginia State line and at one point all the
islands below the state line were known as the "Tangier Islands" in Virginia’s
records. These, among others, included Shanks, Old Walnut Island, Piney
Island, Queen’s Ridge, Horse Hummock, South Point, and Hog Neck. The latter
three being attached to the lower part of Smith’s Island in Maryland. The
"s" was probably lost sometime after 1880 when erosion took its toll on
these islands and the inhabitants moved to Crisfield MD, Onancock VA or
Tangier Island itself. At that time what
we now know as Tangier Island consisted of six ridges or long narrow areas
of land rising slightly above the marsh of which three are inhabited today.
Main Ridge is today the center of town. The old church was in the same
location as the present one on the northern end of this ridge and the land
south of it was called "The Field." At one time it was planted with corn.
Canton is the ridge just to the east of Main Ridge and is connected by
a bridge. It was on this ridge the first settlement was made and for a
while was more populated that Main Ridge. It is generally believed that
the homes of the early fishermen were here while the other ridges were
used for farming. West Ridge is about a mile long. In recent times a sea
wall was erected and it has a small airport or airpark on it.
Oyster Creek Ridge or
what remains of this has long been abandoned. Joshua Thomas’ son, John
ran the first store on the island here. Canaan or "The Up’ards" is about
a mile and a half above the others and although at one time it was connected
to Main Ridge by a roadway it became unreachable by land around 1923 and
has not been inhabited since 1928. East Point Ridge was a very small ridge
to the northeast of Canton. It was abandoned in approximately 1905, shortly
after the houses on it burned.
In 1670 Ambrose White
received a patent for 400 acres called an Island in the Chesapeake Bay.
the next year White assigned his patent to Charles and John West. In 1673
William Walton was granted 400 acres on the western island which was formerly
patented by White. There is a similar entry in the patent book three years
later but Scarburgh and West were the recipients instead of Walton and
in 1678 a formal patent was issued to both of them. Charles Scarburgh left
his interest to his wife Elizabeth in 1702 and John West’s interest went
to his eldest son a year later. In 1713 two patents were granted to Elizabeth
Scarburgh and Anthony West for Tangier Islands. One was for 900 acres which
included the original 400 acres and 500 acres more found within its bounds.
The other grant was for 170 acres of new land south of Tangier called "Sandy
Beach Island" which was probably the hook shaped part that is now attached
to the main of the island. This was the first time Tangier Islands was
named in the records. Although Elizabeth Scarburgh left her interest to
her daughters, some how the title went to her oldest son, Bennett. It then
passed to Henry Scarburgh and then to a Charles Scarburgh. In 1762 Charles
Scarburgh confirmed an undeeded sale of his half to Colonel Thomas Hall.
The next year Hall sold this to William Andrews as 475 acres.
Tradition states that
Tangier was first settled by a John Crockett and his eight sons in 1686,
who had come to the island to tend cattle, but nothing has been found to
verify this. The first Crockett of record on Tangier was Joseph, the son
of Sampson and the grandson of John Tyler of Smith’s Island MD. It was
this Joseph who bought 475 acres of the Andrews land in 1778. It does not
seem likely that Joseph tended cattle at all for he was left a inheritance
by his grandfather John Tyler, was bound to his uncle Thomas Tyler to be
a weaver and learn his numbers, lived on Smith’s Island MD with his uncle
until about 1744, was made constable of "Tangier Islands" in 1763 and was
given all of "South Point" by John Fish in his will of 4 April 1765. It
was not likely that a man of some means would be tending cattle. By 1799
the West part of the patent had descended down to a John West who in this
year left his interest to his son Anthony, who was to complete an unrecorded
deed for 100 acres to Joseph’s son John and the remainder was to be sold.
Joshua Thomas, who was raised on Smith’s Island, living with his cousin
David Tyler there and had married Rachel Evans, the daughter of Richard,
bought 75 acres of it.
The 1800 census of Accomack
County showed that there were 79 people on the "Tangier Islands," most
of which were Crocketts or descendants of Crocketts. Farming was their
chief occupation. By 1880 the population was 589 and by 1900 there were
1064 inhabitants. The population increased slowly between 1800 and 1850,
and then rapidly until 1900.
In 1805 an event happened
that had a great impact on the life on Tangier, the Chesapeake Bay and
Joshua Thomas in general. The number of Methodist followers had been growing
since the close of the Revolutionary War and Joshua Thomas was hired to
carry some people to a Methodist camp meeting on Pungoteague Creek. While
there, he heard Lorenzo Dow, a very powerful preacher speak and he along
with others were converted. On arriving home he arranged for a meeting
to be called. And, so, the Methodist Church was established on Tangier.
The small Methodist society, led by Thomas until he moved to Deal’s Island
MD met in homes until 1835 when the first church was built. A list of members
in 1825 includes: Henry Crockett and Sally Crockett, Priscilla Crockett,
a widow, Zachariah and Polly Crockett, Daniel and Esther Dise, Rhoda Parks,
Babel and Nancy Paul, George and Leah Pruitt, John and Elizabeth Thomas,
and John and Anna Thomas. The church grew and prospered and in 1856 the
first Sunday school was established by Henry Crockett and Kathryn Sturgis;
children and adults attended.
The War of 1812 did not
have much effect on Tangier Island until 1813 when the British extended
their excursions up the Chesapeake Bay. By March of that year the British
had traveled up the Bay for about 180 miles. shortly after, they arrived
on Tangier Island. They had set up a number of water wells on the beach
and built several houses. They threw up breastworks and mounted a cannon
on the south end of the island adjacent to Joshua Thomas’ camp meeting
grove and also had plans to erect a hospital when summer came. At one point,
about 1200 British soldiers must have been on the island. In Summer of
1813, the British disembarked for their attack on Baltimore from Tangier
Island. The commanding officer asked Joshua Thomas to speak before they
left and his sermon warned of defeat.
There have been four
epidemics on Tangier. First, in 1866, came Asian cholera. Along with this
epidemic came a religious revival with repenting and praying when the people
started to die. Bodies were quickly buried, many of them in their front
yard and without stones, for there was as many as five adults dying at
a time. Both the Death Records of Accomack County and the dates on the
graves with stones show that the island was hardest hit in the month of
October. In the early 1870’s there was both tuberculosis and a measles
epidemic and in the 1880’s there was smallpox.
Besides sickness, the
weather can be and was harsh at times. There have been many tropical storms
and hurricanes to hit the island. One such storm in 1821 "The September
Gust" swept over the island leaving great destruction. The winters can
also be especially hard. Almost once a year the Bay freezes making travel
to the mainland impossible for a few days and at least once a century the
freeze is so great that people walked on the ice to get supplies. Today
supplies are flown in.
With the advent of the
seafood market in the 1840’s the Chesapeake Bay became alive with sailing
ships that carried oysters and later crabs to major cities such as Baltimore
and New York. The people gradually stopped harvesting the land and harvested
the waters. With the coming of the railroad to Crisfield MD, their water
crop could be shipped farther and oystering and crabbing became their main
livelihood. Tangier Island today is a mixture of old and new. The people
still follow the water, and along with Smith’s Island MD and other bayside
communities, supply a great amount of the nation’s seafood. The majority
of the people still follow the Methodist Religion that Joshua Thomas brought
to the Island in 1805. And, today, like in 1800 the population is mainly
Crocketts and descendants of Crocketts.
Document used by exclusive permission of: Gail
M. Walczyk, Peter's Row, 27 Thomas St., Coram, NY