A Brief History of the Great Dismal Swamp
(1) Trout, W. E. II. 2000. ed. The Great Dismal Swamp Atlas.
Published by the Virginia Canals and Navigations Society.
(2) Rose, Robert K. 2000. ed. The Natural History of the Great Dismal Swamp.
Izaak Walton. League of America, Inc. Suffolk-Nansemond Chapter.
(3) Kirk, Paul W. Jr. 1979. ed. The Great Dismal Swamp.
University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
- 1665 - Governor William Drummond of N.C., was lost while hunting and came upon the lake.(3)
Drummond died duing Bacon's Rebellion (1675-76) (3)
- 1728 - William Byrd II surveyed area - wanted to drain swamp-farm hemp(3)
- Byrd went around while surveying crew went through the swamp with much difficulty(3)
- Byrd describes swamp as a "horrible dessert" (3)
- 1770's - plantation 6 mi SE of Suffolk produced rice & corn - 10,000 lbs during best years
- economic downturns & loss of British trade (West Indies) caused the plantation to close(3)
- 1775-1781 - American Revolutionary War - distracted owners from development
- 1779 - British destroyed Suffolk and several plantations. (3)
- 1730 - 1772-shingles from Norfolk from 500,000 to 8 million- by 1850 - up to 35-47 million(3)
- just prior to Civil War, DS Land Company 6-7 million shingles/yr(3)
- 1784 - a royal grant to 1 of the original 12 owners - transferred to a new grant(2)
- G. Washington was one of the original 12 (2)
- land granted to two brothers named Nelson - sons of the holder of royal grant (2)
- Dismal Swamp Land Company - unincorporated syndicate by 12 owners
- aka Adventurers for Draining the Dismal Swamp (3)
- not to be confused with the Dismal Swamp Canal Company later (2)
- 1786 - Nelsons held 1 share each and deeded shares to 10 individuals - Washington included(2)
- 1796 - Washington was going to sell his share to "Light Horse" Harry Lee (Robert E. Lee's father),
however, Lee was unable to make payments so share returned to Washington (2)
- 1799 - Washington dies (2)
- 1812 - by the time war broke out the plantation industry in the Swamp locale had fallen (3)
- 1825 - Washington's executors sell his share to Judge Bushrod Washington (one of the executors)
- share was manipulated as it passed to his descendents (2)
- 1830's - The Dismal Swamp Land Company planted Mulbery trees to support silk worms - 1812 -
by the time war broke out the plantation industry in the Swamp locale had fallen (3)
- 1850's - Land Company switches from Cedar (then called Juniper) to Cypress for shingles (3)
- 1861 Juniper (Cedar) shingles = 1 million, cypress shingles = 6 million (3)
- 1877 - all of the original G. Washington share was acquired by the Dismal Swamp Land Company
- during late 1800' - early 1900's farming increased in the surrounding areas and farmers drained
lowlands reducing the size of the swamp (3)
- 1899 - 1901 - the original 40,000 acres sold to William N. Camp for $76,500 (2)
- William N. Camp part of Camp manufacturing Company(2)
- harvesting shifted from shingles to general lumber using railways(3)
- 1909 - William N. Camp gives property to the Camp manufacturing Company(2)
- 1956 - Union Bag Camp Paper Corp = Union Camp Corp (Union Bag and Paper Co.+Camp Mfctg Co.(2)
- title included the bottom of the lake, not its water which belonged to the Dismal Swamp
Canal Company & later U. S. Corps of Engineers (2)
- 1964 - Virginia Department of Conservation and Economic Development recommends acquiring
50,000 acres (approx $1,250,000) with an Interpretive/educational center near route 17.
Virginia was unable to get its act together to secure a refuge. (2)
- 1972, 9 October - Public Law 92-478 to evaluate federal acquisition with hearings held in 1974.(2)
- 1974, 30 August - President Gerald Ford signed a bill which established the Great Dismal Swamp
National Wildlife Refuge which included 40,000 acres donated by Union Camp. (2)
Aboriginal/Indigenous Peoples - Nansemond Indians of Powhatan Confederation - bola weights found(3)
Copyright © 2003 Michael H. Mitchell – All Rights Reserved