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Gloucester County

A Community History

This county lies entirely in the Tidewater section. Plankatank River is on the north, York River on the south. Mobjack Bay on the east. Ware and North Rivers make in from the Chesapeake Bay. The county contains 253 square miles and is about twenty-seven miles long and eight miles wide. Population, 11,894. Gloucester was formed from York, which was one of the original shires, in 1651, and named in honor of the Duke of Gloucester, son of Charles I, or possibly after Gloucestershire, England, from which most of the early settlers came.

On the water courses the land is low and level; further back it is higher and undulating. The soil is sandy loam with rich alluvial lands. The soil and climate are admirably adapted to trucking. In addition to trucks, general farm crops are grown. Grasses grow well on both the low grounds and uplands, and attention is being given to the raising of stock. Fruit culture is receiving attention. Marketing facilities are excellent, there being daily water transportation to nearby and eastern cities. Rural road connections with the middle and northern tidewater counties are complete, connecting at Gloucester Point across York River, at Yorktown, with improved highway from Richmond and Hampton Roads port cities.

In the waters every variety of fish is found, as in the Chesapeake Bay--herring, alewives, large and small catfish, croakers, shad, rock, sea trout, sheephead and spot. The quality of Gloucester oysters ranks with the best, and the county is largely engaged in this industry.

Gloucester, the county seat, is located near the head of Ware river. It is a prosperous village, with two banks (State and National), general stores, many fine homes, and a well-equipped hotel. There are two four-year accredited high schools in the county. A State bank is located at Gloucester Point. The farmers are progressive and co-operate with a county farm demonstrator in a progressive program for agriculture. Fair grounds and equipment are located at the county seat.

This county has some of the finest estates in Virginia--new and old. Along York River there is considerable development in summer resort bungalows. During the siege of Yorktown, Gloucester, the county seat, was one of the outposts of Cornwallis. Nathaniel Bacon, the leader of Bacon's rebellion, died and was buried in this county. Tradition has it that in this county on the York River, Pocahontas, the beautiful Indian princess, saved the life of Captain John Smith.[*]


Rev. C. W. Hudson, pastor of the Union Baptist Church, is the only minister in the county who has furnished a full report on church activities. He reports that his church had a Red Cross auxiliary whose members conducted knitting circles. Mr. Hudson was chairman of the local Red Cross and later of the county chapter, and he and his members were active in all campaigns conducted by war work organizations.

The following men were in service from this church: W. H. Templeman, Howard F. Belvin, James Jenkins, Hubert L. Shackleford, W. A. Shackelford, John F. Shackelford, Marion F. Hogge, Robert F. Jenkins, James A. Templeman, Earlin L. Brown, Walter L. Brown, Lemuel R. Belvin, Clinton Jenkins, Herbert Shackelford, W. B. Thornton, Philip P. Thornton, Aubrey F. Ash, Harvey V. Williams, William M. Buck, William B. Lawson, Ira C. Brown, Ernest Shackelford, John W. Belvin, Christian Rowe, Frank West, David West, Ira N. West, Neelie C. Bonneville, Bernard F. Thomas, David E. nneville, John C. Williams, Talmage Smith, John Rowe, Thomas Jenkins, James King, Joseph Green, John Jenkins, James H. Ash, William C. Brown, George W. Shackelford, Morgan Shackelford, Samuel Jenkins, Marion King, Melvin Thomas, Bernard Hayes, Hadley Shackelford, Captain Marvin V. Healey, Luther Jenkins, Marcus Rowe, Willie Roberts, Willie West, Lawrence Smith, Voight Jenkins, Edward Brown, Luther Rowe, Willie Shackleford, Christian Rowe, Robert F. Rowe.

Severn Presbyterian Church had three men in the army and one in the navy. They were C. K. Deal, Henry Berry, Mack Bonnewell, in the army, and Thomas Sterling in the navy.[1]


The Gloucester County Draft Board was composed of George B. Field, R. A. Folkes and H. A. Tabh.[2] Out of 2,151 registrants, 253 were accepted at camp.[3]

There was a Home Guard company in Gloucester County, and an attempt was made to muster this company into the Virginia Volunteers, but it did not succeed.[4]

The following men from the county are included in Virginia's Distinguished Service roster: George E. Allen, cited by division commander; Lieutenant Irving B. Campbell, cited by division commander; Edward T. Corbell, cited by division commander; Dave B. Bonneville, cited by division commander.[5]

The Eighth Company, Virginia Coast Artillery, National Guard, was recruited from Gloucester and Mathews Counties. After being drafted into Federal service it was order to -Fortress Monroe, arrived on August 17, 1917, and was "split," one-half going with an overseas organization and the other being stationed at Fort Monroe for the duration of the war.


The report of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond shows the following figures for four of the Liberty Loans in Gloucester County, no figures having been kept for the First Loan.

Second Loan-Apportionment, $61,300; subscribed, $30,050; number subscribing, 33. Third Loan-Apportionment, $60,000; subscribed, $89,450; number subscribing, 674. Fourth Loan- Apportionment, $240,000; subscribed, $100,150; number subscribing, 392. Victory Loan-Apportionment, $90,000; subscribed, $102,850; number subscribing, 191. Total apportionment for the last four loans, $451,300; subscibed $322,500; number subscribing, 1,280.


The Gloucester County Chapter of the American Red Cross was organized on October 26, 1917, with the following officers: Rev. C. W. Hudson, chairman; Mrs. H. O. Sanders, vice-chairman; R. F. Heywood, secretary, and W. DeW. Dimock, treasurer, succeeded by Mr. Wallace Robinson, in turn, was succeeded by J.T. DuVal. When C. W. Hudson resigned, B. B. Roane was elected chairman.

The first auxiliary to be organized in the county was one formed at Achilles in the Union Baptist Church. A month later an auxiliary was organized at Gloucester with Mrs. H. O. Sanders as chairman. Mr. C. W. Hudson, Jr. was chairman of an auxiliary formed in the Cash High School. These auxiliaries were the forerunners of the chapter organization. Within the six months following, auxiliaries were formed at Cappahosic, with J. W. Orr, chairman; Wicomico, with Mrs. Preston Williams, chairman; Beechgrove, with Mrs. H. L. Carr, chairman, and Ware Neck, with Miss Lelia B. Brown, chairman.

The following were school auxiliaries: Botetourt High School, N. C. Starke, principal; Achilles High School, F. M. Bristow, principal; Hayes Store High School, H. D. Pegg, principal; Cappahosic Graded School, Miss Esther Tuttle, principal; Belroi Graded School, Miss H. S. Minor, princioak; Sign Pine Graded School, Miss Mary Wiatt, principal; Shelly Graded School, Miss Lucy Minor, principal; Severn Graded School, Mrs. D. R. Craig, principal.

Colored auxiliaries were formed as follows: Ark, Rev. J. W. Lemon, chairman; Woods Cross Roads, L. B. Wilson, chairman, Sassafras, Mrs. Emma Burrill, chairman; Clopton, Jeff Carter, chairman; Ware Neck, Mrs. Harriett Talliaferro, chairman, Bena, Rev. John Fauntleroy, chairman. At Smithfield and Dragon there were colored auxiliaries.

These organizations covered the county and had a total membership of 1,500. The chapter raised more than $1,000 in the Red Cross drive for $100,000,000.

The Achilles Auxiliary made 8 sweaters, 47 hospital shirts, 5 suits pajamas and sent two large and two small boxes of refugee garments, 5 large bags of refugee garments, 1 bag of shoes, 1 cot equipment and 20 property bags.

Mrs. T. E. Duval, chairman of the knitting committee, gives the following report for 1918: 106 sweaters, 36 pairs of socks, 73 property bags.

After May, 1918, the Ware Neck Auxiliary made 16- children's dresses and collected $91.00, $75.00 being membership dues.

This report does not cover all the work accomplished by the various auxiliaries, since some of them sent material direct to headquarters and furnished no report to the county chapter.[6]


Mrs. H. O. Sanders was secretary of the Gloucester Branch, National League for Woman's Service. The Navy League unit of this Organization made 512 sweaters, 75 pillows, 12 comfort sets, 10 pairs extra wristlets, and sent tobacco, magazines, etc., to the sailors. Mrs. R. P. Taliaferro was commander of this unit.

The Ware River unit, of which Mrs. W. C. Perrin was commander, made four dozen operating shirts, 54 pillow cases, 14 pairs bed socks, 18 tray cloths, two dozen bandages and pads and two cot equipments for the Armenian and Syrian Relief.

The North River unit, Miss L. S. Taliaferro, commander, made 32 pairs pajamas, 100 triangular bandages, 100 jug covers, 50 property bags, 25 surgeon's caps, 12 hospital shirts 8 bed wraps, 6 pairs Operating socks, 5 pairs bed socks and one emergency cot.

The Rose Hill unit, Mrs. W. B. Duncan, commander, made 20 property bags, one pair sheets, five pairs pajamas, 40 pillow cases, 36 wash rags, 25 tray covers, 13 comfort bags, 12 napkins, one convalescent home outfit.

The Court House units, Mrs. W. A. Robinson and Mrs. W. B. Lee, commanders, made garments, bandages, etc., which were not reported.

Home hygiene and first aid were taught by Mrs. F. W. McKee and Mrs. H. A. Tabb. Committees headed by Mrs. A. W. Withers and Miss Vandergrift raised $200. For wounded soldiers and sailors. Mrs. H. A. Williams conducteded a canning outfit which put up 506 cans and 72 glass jars of fruit and vegetables.

The Gloucester Branch of the League for Women's Service as- a whole entertained enlisted men and convalescents from overseas, sent 202 comfort bags to the Red Cross, sent birthday and Christmas boxes, contributed $20.00 to the War Commission and $171.00 to to the United War Work fund.

Misses Rebecca Stubbs and Emily Janney had the Junior Branch in charge. Under their direction sweaters and scarfs were knitted, comfort bags made and much work was accomplished.[7]

The Gloucester Woman's Club turned over its rooms in the summer of 1917 to the Eighth Virginia Coast Artillery to be used for recreation and as a hospital. Members of the Club served refreshments to the men once a week, and the women of the county served a home-cooked dinner once a week to the men at the club. The clubrooms were used by the various war relief Organizations for working and meeting purposes. Club members, organized as a committee, sold Liberty Bonds and nearly $2,000 worth of- War Savings and Thrift Stamps. Four club members were prominent in overseas work: Mrs. Stephen Wolcott, Mrs. Thomas Blakernan, Miss Margaret Tabb and Miss L. Nancy Benson. The club gave a dinner to the returned soldiers at which 200 people were served.[8]


  1. Report of Thomas B. Ruff, V. W. H. C. Files
  2. Virginia War Agencies, Selective Draft and Volunteers, p. 254.
  3. Adjutant General's report for 1918, p. 49
  4. Virginia War Agencies, Selective Draft and Volunteers, p. 361
  5. Virginians of Distinguished Service in the World War, p, 220, Supplement to Source Volume V.
  6. Red Cross report taken from a history of the chapter submitted by a committee of which Rev. C. W. Hudson was chairman, and approved by Mr. B. B. Roane, V. W. H. C. Files
  7. From a report by Mrs. N. T. Sanders, V. W. H. C. files.
  8. From a report by Mrs. N. T. Sanders, V. W. H. C. flies
  9. * See Virginia, published by the Department of Agriculure and Immigration, p 175.