Chesepians were the Native American (American Indian) people living in the area now known as South Hampton Roads in Virginia during the time the English settlers came in 1607. They lived in an area which is now the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.
The Chesepians had two other towns (or villages),
Chesepioc. Both were near the Chesapeake Bay in what is now Virginia Beach. Archaeologists and other people have found many Native American artifacts, for example arrowheads, stone axes, pottery, beads, and skeletons in the area.
First landing, Adam Thoroughgood
Cape Henry from the air, facing ESE
In 1607, after traveling by ocean for 144 days, three ships headed by Captain
Christopher Newport came to land where the Atlantic Ocean meets the southern mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. This point is in the northeastern part of the city. They named it
Cape Henry, after Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, the oldest son of King James I of England. They then left the area to find a place farther inland where ships from other European countries would not find them. They created their first settlement at Jamestown.
Adam Thoroughgood (1604-1640) of Norfolk, England is one of the first Englishmen to settle in the area which became Virginia Beach.
In 1634, the Colony was divided into shires. They were soon renamed counties. It is said that Thoroughgood used the name of his home in England when helping name
New Norfolk County in 1637. The following year, New Norfolk County was split into
Upper Norfolk County (soon renamed
Nansemond County) and
Lower Norfolk County. Thoroughgood chose to live along the
Lynnhaven River, also named for his home in England. Lower Norfolk County was very big. It stretched all the way from the Atlantic Ocean west past the
Elizabeth River. It included the entire area that is now the cities of Portsmouth, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach.
Princess Anne County: 1691-1963
In 1691, Lower Norfolk County was divided to form
Norfolk County to the west and
Princess Anne County to the east. Princess Anne included all the area from North Carolina border to Cape Henry at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay along the Atlantic Ocean. Princess Anne County existed from 1691 to 1963, over 250 years.
Virginia Beach: growth of a resort
The small resort area of Virginia Beach began to grow in Princess Anne County in the late 19th century. This growth was helped in 1888 when rail service and electricity started in the area.
The resort was dependent upon railroad and
electric trolley service at first. The concrete
Virginia Beach Boulevard from Norfolk to the Oceanfront was completed in 1922. It let people get to the oceanfront in automobiles, buses, and trucks. The resort of Virginia Beach became an
incorporated town in 1906. Over the next 45 years, Virginia Beach became more popular as a summer
vacation spot. Virginia Beach became a small
independent city in 1952. It was politically independent from Princess Anne County. In 1963, Virginia Beach and Princess Anne county merged into a new, much larger
independent city keeping the name of the Virginia Beach resort.