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A Vanished Island We also know that some people began leaving the island in the early years of the 20th centur y. Capt. Parks lists 41 homes, suggesting a population of perhaps 225. But what year does his list depict? He says he left Hollands Island when his family moved to Cambridge in 1918. He also says, “I was 18 years old when I left from there but still went back in the spring and summer for 17 years.” Others say that in 1910 there were 360 people on the island and 60 homes. Karen Kelly says she has counted 51 households in the 1910 census. But how could Capt. Irving omit one-third of the homes? He was there in 1910 and stayed on for another eight years. Was he describing the island after some 20 houses had been moved off or washed away? Perhaps, though I believe he would have mentioned such gaps. Since we can’t resolve the discrepancy, let’s just say the population topped out about 50 homes and around 250 people. What we do know, for certain, is that by the 1890s the Bay was rapidly eroding the western shorelines of all the Bay islands. Sharp’s Island was losing a hundred feet each winter. Poplar and Tilghman’s islands lost hundreds of acres. According to Steve White, concern on Hollands Island became so great that they bought stone from quarries near the

mouth of the Susquehanna River. “Five barge loads were brought to the Island and the arduous task of placing the stone by hand, along one-and-three- quar ter miles of shoreline, tested their w ill and stamina.” We can only imagine the effort that would have taken in the days before power excavators. The remedy was only temporary, however. They didn’t know that unless mesh of some sort is placed under the rocks, wave action will scour under them until they sink into the mud. Waves soon began coming over the rock barrier. The exact chronology of events is unclear. People began to leave, some took their homes with them, others abandoned them where they stood. I have good reason to believe that Jacob Bain Bradshaw and his family left in 1902. Senator Earl Bennett recalled that his father, William C. Bennett, and their family cleared out i n 19 04 . Bot h t hei r home s stood on Bay Shore Ridge, the more threatened west side. It is reasonable to assume, t herefore, t hat people began moving off the west side early and eventually that part of the island was lost altogether. According to Capt. Irving Parks, his family didn’t move off until 1918. Their home was on the more secure east side. But that too was going fast, for Steve White writes, “By 1922, most of the residents of Holland Island were forced to leave.” The community was gone, but

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July 2015 ttimes web magazine  
July 2015 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times july 2015