A Vanished Island Nearly everyone has seen pictures of the “Last House,” as it slowly became entirely isolated by the Bay, standing as a solitary monument to the entire lost community. Stories have been written about it across A merica. It is a fascinating but heart-wrenching story. The plight of t he L ast House certainly wrenched the heart of Stephen L. White. He bought the property and desperately tried to save it, as a tribute to those who had lived and died there over the years. (See http://www.savehollandisland.com/wildlife.html) Today, Hollands Island is virtually gone. Only a marsh remains. Kate Livie, the education director for the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, has on her blog Beautiful Swimmers an article entitled “Holland Island, Against the Tide.” She describes the island’s long struggle and includes some dramatic present-day photos by David Harp.(See http://beautifulswimmers.tumblr.com/search/ holland+island) But more than the loss of the island or the struggle to save the Last House, it is the fate of the Hollands Island community that most captures my imagination. When did it all begin? What sort of community did they build out there, and how did it evolve? What was their reaction to the erosion problem? When they finally pulled out, did they go family
by family, or in groups? I wonder who was the last to leave? And, of course, where did they all go? The answers to many of these questions still elude me, though much source material has turned up. But deadlines loom and editors must move forward. So, unashamedly, I offer some reasonable guesses. Perhaps readers of the Tidewater Times will help to correct this sketch. Here goes.
The island was first granted to Thomas Courtney in 1667, two years before the founding of Dorchester C ou nt y. L ater it wa s ow ned by