- York County, Virginia
Infobox U.S. County
county = York County
state = Virginia
map size = 225
founded = 1634
seat = Yorktown | area_total_sq_mi = 216
area_land_sq_mi = 106
area_water_sq_mi = 110
area percentage = 50.98%
census yr = 2000
pop = 56298
web = www.yorkcounty.gov
York County is a county located on the north side of the
Virginia Peninsulain the Hampton Roadsregion of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a state of the United States. Situated on the York River and many tributaries, the county seatis the unincorporated town of Yorktown GR|6. The county shares land borders with the independent cities of Williamsburg, Newport News and Poquoson, as well as James City County, and shares it border along the York River with Gloucester County.
Formed in 1634 as one of the eight original shires (counties) of the Virginia Colony, York County is one of the oldest counties in the U.S. Yorktown is one of the three points of the Historic Triangle of Colonial Virginia, and the location where victory was accomplished in 1781 at the conclusion of the
American Revolutionary Warto gain independence from Great Britain.
In modern times, the county is home to several important U.S. military installations. There are many miles of waterfront residential and recreational areas. York County adjoins the
Busch Gardens Europe theme parkand includes within its borders the affiliated Water Country USA water park, Presidents Park, the Yorktown Riverfrontarea, Yorktown Battlefield and Visitor Centerand Yorktown Victory Center. Yorktown is linked by the National Park Service's bucolic Colonial Parkwaywith Colonial Williamsburgand the Historic Jamestowneand Jamestown Settlementattractions at Jamestown, Virginia, all helping make worldwide tourism to the Historic Triangle a major economic activity for the county.
As of 2006, the population was estimated at 61,879 and as of 2004, the median household income was $68,310 [ [http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/51/51199.html York County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau ] ] .
The area which is now York County was long inhabited by Native Americans. These were
hunter-gatherergroups during the late Woodland Period(1000 BCE to 1000 CE) and earlier.
By the late 16th century, much of the
coastal plaindraining to the Chesapeake Bayof the current Commonwealth of Virginia was called Tenakomakah("densely-inhabited Land") [http://www.wm.edu/niahd/journals/index.php?browse=entry&id=4965 "c.f." Anishinaabe language: "danakamigaa": "activity-grounds", "i.e." "land of much events [for the People] "] . There, a weroance(or chief) named Wahunsunacock(1547-1618) created a powerful empire of eastern- Algonquianlanguage-speaking people known as the Powhatan Confederacyby conquering or affiliating by agreement with approximately 30 tribes. Wahunsunacock was originally from a village near the fall lineof the James River known as "Powhatan" (located close to the Powhatan Hill neighborhood of the current City of Richmond). He was known as Chief Powhatan, and later established a second capital village in a centrally-located position in Tenakomakah which was known as Werowocomoco. It was located along the north bank of the York River in present-day Gloucester County (which was subdivided from York County in 1651). [ [http://powhatan.wm.edu/history/index.htm Werowocomoco ] ]
Chiskiacktribe of the Powhatan Confederacy lived in York County on the south side of the York River on the grounds of the present-day Naval Weapons Station Yorktownnear Yorktown until the 1630s, when escalating conflicts with the expanding English colony based at Jamestown caused them to move. The former site of the village of Chiskiack (also sometimes spelled "Kiskiack"), as well as the Cheesecake Road and Cheesecake Cemetery (names also thought to have derived from the Powhatan), remain on the military base.
Long-lost after Chief Powhatan moved his capital from there in 1609, the site believed to have been Werowocomoco near
Purtan Bayhas been under continuing archaeological study projects since the early 21st century. The discoveries and ongoing research led by the College of William and Maryhold great promise in expanding understanding of the lives of the Native Americans in the area during that era of York County's history.
In 1570, the
Ajacan Missionwas a failed attempt to establish a mission by Spanish Jesuitpriests, guided by a Native American convert to Christanity who had been christened Don Luis, and educated in Spain. However, he returned to his native life, and a few months later, led an attack in which the Europeans were slain.
About 30 years later, English colonists arrived and established Jamestown in 1607 on the opposite side of the
Virginia Peninsulain the Colony and Dominion of Virginia. In 1619, the area which is now York County was included in two of the four incorporations (or "citties") of the proprietary Virginia Company of Londonwhich were known as Elizabeth Cittie and James Cittie.
In 1634, what is now York County was formed as
Charles River Shirefor King Charles I, one of the eight original shires of Virginia. Charles River Shire took its name from the younger son of King James I. In the 21st century, it was one of the five original shires considered extant in esstentially its same political form, making it one of the oldest counties in the United States.
English Civil War, Charles River County and the Charles River (also named for the king) were changed to York County and York River, respectively. The river, county, and town of Yorktown are believed to have been named for York, a city in Northern England.
The first courthouse and jail were located near what is now Yorktown although the community, founded as a port for shipping
tobaccoto Europe, as variously called Port of York, Borough of York, York, Town of York, until Yorktown was established in 1691, when the House of Burgessesrequired each county to designate a port of entry and build warehousing. Although never formally incorporated as a town, Yorktown is the county seatof York County. The only town ever incorporated within the county's boundaries was Poquoson, which was incorporated in 1952 and became an independent cityin 1975.
It is most famous as the site of the surrender of General
Cornwallisto General George Washingtonin 1781, ending the American Revolutionary War. Yorktown also figured prominently in the American Civil Warduring the Peninsula Campaignin 1862.
Other communities, boundary changes
The small unincorporated town of Lackey and a nearnby area known as "the Reservation" were taken over by the
U.S. Navyduring World War Iin an area now part of the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown. Many of the displaced African Americanlandowners eventually relocated to Grove, located nearby along the York County-James City County border.
World War II, the sites of three other small York County towns were absorbed into U.S. government reservations. Penniman was the site of a World War Imunitions facility operated by the DuPontcompany, and was made a part of Cheatham Annex) in 1943. To the west of Penniman, which is reported to have had a peak population of 15,000, on land which is now part of Camp Peary, the smaller towns of Magruder, and Bigler's Mill were located. Much of Magruder's population and at least one church were relocated to Grove, adding to that small community's population once again.
In 1949, the county grew by convert|4|sqmi|km2|0, as land in that amount was ceded to York County by neighboring Warwick County. At the time, the move was part of a successful attempt by Warwick County to block an annexation suit brought by the City of Newport News, with whom Warwick was eventually consolidated by mutual agreement in 1958. (The reduction in size allowed Warwick County to claim an exemption from the proposed annexation at the time). In 1975, the county lost convert|15.5|sqmi|km2|1 of land as the
incorporated townof Poquoson, which had been within York County, became an independent city, although ties between the county and the new city remained close. Over 30 years later, they continued to share courts, sheriff's office, a jail, and some constitutional services. York County also adjoins another small independent city, Williamsburg, which was long located within James City County.
York County in the late 20th and early 21st centuries
From the 1980s to modern times, York County experienced a rapid transition from a rural county to an affluent bedroom community for the neighboring core cities of Hampton and Newport News, two of the
Seven Cities of Hampton Roads, the larger cities in the area which is encircled by the Hampton Roads Beltway.
In modern times, York County and Yorktown in particular are part of an important historical area of attractions known as the Historic Triangle of Colonial Virginia, which includes Yorktown, Jamestown and Williamsburg. Yorktown is the northern terminus of the scenic
Colonial Parkwayoperated by the U.S. National Park Servicewhich links the three. In 2005, the county completed Yorktown Riverfront, a successful pseudo-colonial waterfront development at Yorktown to revitalize the previously deteriorating beach and town district and complement the 2007 celebration of Jamestown.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 216
square miles (558 km²), of which, 106 square miles (274 km²) of it is land and 110 square miles (285 km²) of it (50.98%) is water. It is near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
Also, in terms of population clusters, the County is divided by the vast expanse of federal land in the mid-section of the county. The southern portion of the County is fairly dense with suburban developments and contains the majority of the county's population and growth. The northern portion is more connected with the Williamsburg community than Yorktown and, although less populous than the south, is also fairly dense. Having not seen a significant amount of growth until recently, the northern portion is now seeing the development of new communities and shopping centers.
Adjacent counties and cities
Gloucester County, Virginia(northeast, across the York River)
Mathews County, Virginia(east, water boundary only, in Chesapeake Bay)
Northampton County, Virginia(east, water boundary only, in Chesapeake Bay)
Newport News, Virginia(southwest)
James City County, Virginia(west)
Colonial National Historical Park(part)
As of the
censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 56,297 people, 20,000 households, and 15,880 families residing in the county. The population densitywas 533 people per square mile (206/km²). There were 20,701 housing units at an average density of 196 per square mile (76/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 80.00% White, 13.38% Black or African American, 0.35% Native American, 3.25% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 0.90% from other races, and 2.00% from two or more races. 2.68% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 20,000 households out of which 42.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.30% were married couples living together, 9.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.60% were non-families. 16.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the county, the population was spread out with 29.10% under the age of 18, 6.60% from 18 to 24, 30.70% from 25 to 44, 24.40% from 45 to 64, and 9.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 96.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $57,956, and the median income for a family was $64,892. Males had a median income of $42,948 versus $28,713 for females. The
per capita incomefor the county was $24,560. About 2.70% of families and 3.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.90% of those under age 18 and 3.80% of those age 65 or over.
The County is traditionally organized per Virginia Law. It is governed by a
Board of Supervisors, who are elected for four-year terms by voters from each of the county's five districts. The Board appoints a County Administrator to act as the administrative head of the county.
The county is served by the
York County School Division.
York County is home to several large and important military facilities of the United States. Located along the York River, small portions of each base extend into adjacent James City County as well.
Naval Weapons Station Yorktownwas originally established during World War Iby order of President Woodrow Wilson, and now includes the formerly separate Cheatham Annex Supply Complex. Camp Pearywas established during World War IIas a SeabeeTraining Base. As the war progressed, it became valuable to the Allied Forces to house sensitive prisoners-of-war from captured German naval vessels; it was important for Nazi authorities to be unaware of their capture, since that also meant secret code books thought lost-at sea may also have been compromised. Many of these POWs made Virginia and the United States their new homeland after the War. [Separating these two large military reservations is Queen's Creek, which originates in the western reaches of the county and drains to the York River.
York County contains some of the lost towns of Virginia including Yorke, and a large number when the military reservations were created in the first half of the 20th century. These include the original Lackey (known locally as "the Reservation"), Halstead's Point, Penniman, Bigler's Mill, and Magruder. Many relocated residents and their descendents, many of whom were farmers and watermen, now live in such places as Yorktown, Gloucester, Lee Hall, Grove, and Lightfoot.
*The lost 17th century town and port of Yorke was also located along the York River, not far from present-day Yorktown.
*York County gained territory as a gift from neighboring Warwick County in 1949 as the latter needed to reduce its size slightly to successfully qualify for an exemption from an annexation suit by the City of Newport News. (Warwick eventually became a city itself in 1952, and then merged by mutual agreement with Newport News in 1958; however, York County kept the extra land.)
*York County lost substantial territory when the Town of Poquoson became an
independent cityin 1975. This was widely seen as a defensive move against potential annexation by the city of Hampton with whom the town shared a border. In modern times, the ties between York County and the City of Poquoson remain close, including sharing a court system.
Porto Bello, the hunting lodge of Lord Dunmore, last royal governor of Virginia, still stands on the grounds of Camp Peary. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
*York county's sister city is
*McCartney, Martha W. (1977) "James City County: Keystone of the Commonwealth"; James City County, Virginia; Donning and Company; ISBN 0-89865-999-X
* [https://www.denix.osd.mil/denix/Public/ES-Programs/Conservation/Bucket/ch7.html "Cast Down Your Buckets Where You Are"] An Ethnohistorical Study of the African-American Community on the Lands of the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station 1865-1918
* [http://www.yorkcounty.gov/ York County website]
* [http://www.hreda.com/ Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance] - serving York County
Geographic Location (8-way)
Northwest = James City County
North = Gloucester County
Northeast = Mathews County
West = James City County
Centre = York County
East = Poquoson
Southwest = Newport News
Isle of Wight County
South = Hampton
Surry • Portsmouth • Norfolk
Southeast = Hampton
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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