Researched by Drex Bradshaw and Lynn Rose; Written by Drex Bradshaw
The Village of Chuckatuck dates back to the early 1600s with references to its location and importance in a number of historical documents. In 1635 there was a land grant to Richard Bartlett to build the famous and long running grist mill at the head of Chuckatuck Creek, or Crooked Creek as the Indians called it. The grist mill was in operation for close to 300 years before being closed due to economic considerations in 1970.
In 1672 George Fox, founder and leader of the Quaker faith, founded a meeting place in Chuckatuck. Route 10, an old stage coach route that runs through Chuckatuck, was reported to be the first highway in Virginia. It most likely took the same path that had been used by the Indians for many years and possibly other people who may have occupied this part of the country.
There is archeological data to support the fact that mound cities, some as old as 3000 (BC), were built in North America and were spread across what is now the continental United States. It can be assumed that North America was populated prior to the American Indians as were found when the colonists came to Virginia. More information can be found by going to “Mound Cities” on the Internet. However, within recent times, due to the fires destroying the Nansemond County courthouse, it is unlikely that we will ever reconstruct just what Chuckatuck looked like in the mid 1600s to sometime in the early 1800s.
An article written by Segar Cofer Dashiell on 4/6/1983 under the title The Population tells about Chuckatuck in the 1830s. The data below comes as a quote from The Virginia Gazetteer, published in 1835, detailing descriptions and financial reports of all 111 counties and every city, town, village and post office in Virginia. “Chuckatuck Post Village, 110 miles from Richmond and 214 from Washington, can scarcely be termed a village, but is more properly a thickly populated neighborhood , embracing about one square mile; the central part of which is at the head waters of a creek bearing the same name, and which makes into James river about 8 miles from this place. It is situated on the stage road from Smithfield to Suffolk, the county seat, 10 miles distant from both places, and about 20 from Norfolk by the nearest land route. It contains 20 dwelling houses, 3 mercantile stores, 1 tavern and 1 house of public worship (Methodist). There are about 125 inhabitants, including the operatives employed in the Smithfield and Chuckatuck Cotton Manufactory, erected by a company. This establishment runs 1,000 spindles propelled by water power. It is in successful operation, and largely contributes to the business appearance and support of this place. Within this square mile is an old venerable Episcopalian farm. The population is about 300 persons; of whom 1 is a physician. The neighborhood possesses great advantages, having a level and fertile soil, fish and oysters of the finest kind in abundance, and navigation at the doors of its inhabitants.”
This bit of information would lead one to believe that most likely the Smithfield and Chuckatuck Cotton Manufactory was located adjacent to the grist mill, possibly where the ice plant was built in 1922. To suggest how Chuckatuck was laid out at the earlier times would be a guess and we will not do that, but as you read this you could let your own imagination run wild with ideas. One of those ideas which we believe has credence is that the grist mill, in operation in 1675, had to have a miller/operator who might have lived fairly close to the mill or was readily available when corn was brought to the mill for milling. Some historical evidence reveals that the Chuckatuck Creek was navigable all the way to the grist mill. A variety of wharves serving the plantations and large farms were present and some remains are still visible in strategic points along the creek. (For more information on these facilities see the chapter on 20th Century under Agriculture and Commerce).
Large boats would ply this waterway over the years as it was the only means of expeditious travel to Norfolk, Newport News and Portsmouth. The latter three cities were major shipping ports to other destinations both national and international. The fact that the Chuckatuck Creek and the Nansemond River with several of its tributaries were navigable for roughly 365 days a year bode well for the movement of agricultural and commercial products in a timely manner. All along the Chuckatuck Creek, circa late 1600s, and on, there were numerous wharves for the loading of goods onto boats for transport. The packet wharf on the upper Chuckatuck Creek served those on the northern side of Chuckatuck like Cherry Grove Road farmers and plantations not adjacent to the water including the area of Longview and Wills’ Corner. Powell’s Wharf adjacent to the Upshur land holding was used for those farms and plantations on the south and east side of Chuckatuck. (See land holding map in 20th Century under Marl section) In addition to these two wharves Cotton Plains farm along with many of the other larger land holdings up and down the creek had similar wharves for the loading and unloading of products produced or used in the production of farm crops. This waterway was and remained the primary source of transportation for goods and people until the early 1900’s when the horseless carriage came into being, bridges were built, and roads were paved to accommodate this new form of transportation. Farms and plantations then became “truck farms” since trucks were faster and more readily available for movement of products to and from their distribution points.
Many of the land grant plantations/large farms were within several miles of the grist mill. It is possible that a store or trading post was established as early as 1675 or before at the intersection in Chuckatuck to capture some of that traffic and to sell or trade with the locals. There are several references to “Merchants” of Chuckatuck as early as 1640, but it is not possible to connect them specifically with a store although it is possible that they were. In the agricultural and commerce section within the GCH area reference is made to a merchant of Chuckatuck as a possible buyer of products for shipment back to England. We believe this to be the most plausible action of a merchant in the 1600s.
Now let’s move to the time frame when there is more data to support our comments. It is interesting to note that by the early to mid 1800’s several stores were within the center of Chuckatuck as detailed by the article from the Virginia Gazetteer of 1835 listed earlier. In 1855 the Chuckatuck Male and Female Institute opened its doors in a building next to the still existing Masonic Hall in Chuckatuck. In 1857 this institute was converted to a female boarding school teaching grammar, geography and composition as well as supplemental instruction in piano, guitar, vocal music, painting, and needlework. As you can tell Chuckatuck was beginning to become an educational hub as well. There is evidence of a hotel in Chuckatuck and from discussions with several older members of the community this may have been the Crumpler home, also known as the Spady house. This may or may not be the same hotel as referenced in the agriculture and commerce section regarding the “Chuckatuck Hotel”. We have no firm data on either hotel at this time.
In the early to mid 1900s there were at least five or six “general merchandise” stores operating in the immediate area and most of them were doing well. (For more information see 20th Century chapter under Stores). Chuckatuck, being mid-way between Suffolk and Smithfield, both on the most direct route to Richmond (Route 10), and at the intersection of the only road going to and from the villages of Crittenden, Eclipse and Hobson (all three surrounded on three sides by water) placed Chuckatuck in a very strategic location.
The years of 1924, 1925, and 1927 were significant for Chuckatuck. Chuckatuck High School was built in 1924 at the location now owned by Saunders Supply Company. In 1925 Lone Star Cement Corporation bought out the Virginia Portland Cement Corp (see chapter on 20th century under Marl for more information) and Chuckatuck took on a new role as more people moved in to find work. In 1927/1928 the James River Bridge, Chuckatuck Creek Bridge, Nansemond River Bridge and “Nick Wright” Bridge (Kings Highway) were completed which improved the commercial significance of Chuckatuck. B.W. Godwin had built an ice plant and had a lumber mill that was doing well. However, the saw mill burned to the ground in 1935. It was reopened by W.G. Saunders, Jr. in July of 1936 under a two year rental agreement. Mr. Saunders was living in Everets at this time.
With the opening of the new high school there was a demand for boarding space for the many teachers that would be needed. The Moore, Chapman, Eley and Gilliam homes would become their principle place of residence for their time in Chuckatuck. As one might imagine there were some matches made in heaven with many young eligible teachers and boarders in the area. One such union was that of Katherine Thomas Beale and Mills E. Godwin, Jr. in 1940. Mills Godwin would climb the ladder of Virginia politics and be governor two separate terms, once as a Democrat and then as a Republican. Another was that of Mr. Christopher, the principal, and Miss Ames, a teacher at the high school. According to Judith Gilliam Cobb those two boarded for a time at the Ray Gilliam home when she was a senior. Mrs. Gilliam was not completely comfortable with the situation, but it worked out in the end.
As mentioned earlier there were several country stores all working closely together and each doing well until the depression of 1929. The great depression continued until the mid 1930’s to early 1940s to some extent. In the years just prior to and following 1929 some of the stores were Gwaltney’s, C. C. Johnson’s, Moore’s, Owen’s, Spady’s and Byrd’s.
There were three other local stores, Duck Taylor’s on Route 10 “on the Ridge”, Glover’s store in Gloversville (where Crittenden Road meets King’s Highway) and Albert’s at the intersection of Everets Road and Route 10 in the Oakland area that began operating circa 1940’s. These were only open for a few years and then closed their doors.
There was a hydro electric plant associated with the grist mill, started by B.W. Godwin that supplied power to the mill and several of the local community members. This plant was ultimately sold to Virginia Power circa 1970.
Times were tough and several of the stores were in and out of business or under different management during the ensuing years. As the economic conditions improved many of these same stores were still open for business having made it through the toughest of times. It should be noted here that several of these stores were built in the very early 1800’s and today one of the oldest, Gwaltney’s Store, is still standing.
In the early years of the 1900s Z.H. Powell was one of the more prominent land owners with six farms in the GCH area and one sawmill in South Carolina. The saw mill burned in a lightning storm and his attempt to rebuild caused a catastrophic loss of all of his holdings in the Chuckatuck area. One might say he was land poor. The W. G. Saunders family bought Meadow Brook and Dabney Linthicum bought Meadow Lot in 1945. The latter was also known as the “Meador Lot” for the family who once lived there. (See chapter on Agriculture for more farm information.) It should be noted that many of the farms in this area were bought for unpaid taxes following the depression.
Prior to the turn of the 19th century the number of individual homes in Chuckatuck was fairly sparse and it would be a guess to say exactly when those homes were built and how many. We do know that in 1825 there were 20 homes of which many were clustered around the intersection of Route 10 and the numerous stores, ultimately expanding down Route 125. We are sure that some homes on large farms were included in this number.
In a newspaper article on Jan 28, 1962 from the Suffolk News Herald by Mary H. Stott the following names came to light as some of the early inhabitants to the Village of Chuckatuck. Some of these names predate 1900 and some carried on up into the 1950’s. The family names she mentioned were “Webb, Pitt, Pinner, Gilliam, Godwin, Moore, Ramsey, Saunders, Butts, Upshur, Eley and Powell”. In the paragraph below and other sections of the Chapter on the 20th Century you may find references to these names, but there were many others that contributed to the Village. More families will be addressed in the section on “People of Chuckatuck”.
In an interview with Judith Gilliam Cobb who was born in the newer Gilliam home in 1918 she remembers “the open land from Powell’s (Harvey Saunders) home all the way to the end of Chuckatuck, except for a barn” on the right hand side of the road and two tenant homes just prior to the railroad tracks. On the same side as the Gilliam home was Jasper Cotten’s home and Wesley Chapel Methodist church built in 1850. In the middle to late 1920’s when Lone Star Cement Corp bought the marl company, housing on both sides of Route 125 started to fill in much of the vacant space (most of the homes listed above). B.W. Godwin built a home next to Wesley Chapel and several smaller homes as well. Lone Star built several homes toward Gloversville to house employees including Edward N. Woodward, the first Superintendent of Lone Star, and Willie Staylor, his relief. These houses will be discussed in the text below for continuity.
At this point this writer will provide a brief overview of the homes within the Chuckatuck area during the 1940’s, most of which had been constructed between 1800 and 1930. (For more information see chapter on 20th Century under Old Homes.) A rough sketch of the Chuckatuck area is attached for your use in locating these homes. For example, around the intersection we had the Godwin/Crumpler/Spady home built in the early 1800’s still standing, but in bad condition (now part of Kelly’s Nursery), the C.C. Johnson and Gwaltney homes which are relatively new. Next door to the Gwaltney home is the Eley home rebuilt in 1900 after the old home place burned. Coming back to the intersection and heading toward Suffolk beyond Dr. Eley’s we find the Howells, the J.J. Johnson’s, and then houses built by Dr. Eley along the Ridge (toward N.H. Byrd’s) which housed African Americans including Thomas “Son” Turner and the Allen’s. Next was N.H. Byrd and then Mr. White, the tent show man.
Adjacent to the new high school there were several homes built by W.G. Saunders that initially housed the Woolfords, Howells, Bounds, and Doughtys. The Bupperts lived on the farm at the very end of this lane now known as Crumpler Lane. The African American population lived along both sides of Route 10 headed out of Chuckatuck towards Suffolk forming the Oakland community
Now let’s come back to downtown Chuckatuck. Next to the C.C. Johnson store and close to where the 7 eleven is today was the C.H. Pitt home and store. Adjacent to the old C.H. Pitt home was the Willoughby home, since torn down. Then we had the Owens store and the old Pinner home just prior to the grist mill. Across the road from the grist mill was the home of Mr. Doyle, miller at the grist mill, and Matt Crumpler’s meat house. In discussions with Frank Spady he said that across from the Pinner house was a small building that might have been the first post office, but we cannot confirm that. There were several large homes built on the left side of Route 10 going out of Chuckatuck towards Smithfield including the Mathews home, built in 1916 and still lived in by Marjorie Mathews Creekmore. Next was the home of Josiah Chapman built in the late 1800’s still standing, but in poor condition. Then we have Mount Ararat, a Stallings home place, since torn down and a new home built on the lot by Howard and Judith Cobb. The last house on this side was the home of Percy Pitt now owned by Ed and Carolyn Bickham and recently remodeled.
On the right hand side leaving Chuckatuck heading toward Smithfield was the Dailey farm and house. The last home on that side of the road was the Hodsden plantation home known as “Concord” which will be addressed in the Cherry Grove Road section of the book.
Coming back to downtown we head down Route 125 (King’s Highway). On the right hand side after passing Gwaltney’s store we find a small house that may have originally been the telephone exchange but has been home to the Howells and Richardsons, ultimately being torn down circa 1955. Next to the new post office we have the Moore store and the Moore home, built in 1900, still standing and in bad condition, the Powell home built in 1780-1820, remodeled circa 1920 and still standing. It is now being sold by the Harvey Saunders’ family. Next is the home of Billy Kessinger, built by J. R. Kirk in 1925 for the new school principal, Mr. Christopher, soon to arrive. Next is Grady and Nelle Norfleet’s home and then the home of Mills E. Godwin, Jr., former Governor of Virginia for two terms, built circa 1930. The next home was that of Alex Moore, then Al Saunders, Miss Daisy Jordan, Charlie Hatch who later sold to Bobby Jones, Abner Griffin and then Al Glasscock. We believe most of these houses were there in the 1940s. There were two tenant houses just prior to the bridge over the rail road tracks.
Coming back to the C.C. Johnson store and back down Route 125 on the left hand side we find: the Meadow lot home (next door to Kitty’s Beauty Salon) built in 1820’s also known as the Cannon House, the Chapman home still being lived in and built in 1810-1830 also known then as the Howell House, the C.B Godwin home (with the large copulas) built in 1780 and lived in by Ray and Mildred Knight, sister of Mills E. Godwin, Jr., then the older Gilliam home built about the same time by Richard Claiborne Gilliam and the newer Gilliam home built in 1916 by the elder Mr. Gilliam for his son Raymond (known as Ray) , then the Bradshaw home, the Jasper Cotten/Johnson home, the Livesay home, the Saunders home/Oakland parsonage all built between 1900-1925. These last four homes were built on a lot once occupied by the home of Colonel James Jasper Phillips who may have operated a school there. This home burned in the early 1920s after Colonel Phillips had moved. Next was the Wesley Chapel Methodist Church, the B.W Godwin home and four houses built by B.W.Godwin. The first of the four houses was that of Mr. Rippey, the agriculture teacher at Chuckatuck, the next one belonged to ”Blackie” Umphlette, the next one UNKNOWN, then Ray Chapman’s house. The next houses were those of the Woodwards, Willie Staylor, Archie Fronfelter and Christensen families. These were all Lone Star employees.
There was a dirt road passing down the right side of Wesley Chapel church that went all the way to the Cox farm where the Holland family lived and farmed. There were three homes built very close to the church which were occupied by Lone Star Cement employees. One of these houses burned in the early 1950’s. (For more information see 20th Century chapter under Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department). .
Gloversville at the intersection of Route 125 and Crittenden Road was founded in 1920. It consisted of four homes and a store in the early years of 1930-1940. Only two houses remain today, one old and one new. One of those houses, the Dvorack place, was lived in by the Harvey Saunders, Sr. family and one son, Jerry Saunders, was born in that house. Not many members of the current village of Chuckatuck had any idea that the area was called Gloversville, especially this writer, until later years. The African American ball diamond was a hub of activity every Sunday during the summer as baseball teams from all over the area came to “Play Ball”. There are several members of the community like Marvin Winslow, Paul Saunders and Rev. Mark Burns who would consider themselves as living in Gloversville. Please note that when you log onto Lone Star Lakes Suffolk Virginia via the internet, you will see the name Gloversville still on the map. That is why we almost named this book “Chuckatuck – Fact or Fiction”
Continuing down Route 125 toward the King’s Highway Bridge we find three major farm houses. The first is that of Meadow Brook, home of W.G. and Edna Saunders. The next home just past St. John’s Episcopal Church on the right is that of Cedar Brook, home to the Winslow family. This was home to Mr. and Mrs. Winslow plus Jessie, Preston, Stella Mae, Lewis, Polly, Millard, Marvin, Aleck, Emily and Betty. Certainly no external farm hands were needed with this family. This farm was owned in the mid 1950s by Mrs. Ruth Smith of the Smith-Douglass Company of Norfolk and was sometimes called the “Smith and Douglass” farm. Just prior to the bridge we find Holiday Point farm, home of the Mills Godwin family. The original inhabitants of this farm spelled their name Holladay.
By the mid to late 1930s, after the depression, things were getting back on track and Chuckatuck was a hustle and bustle village doing very well. A number of members of the community were working for the Newport News Ship Building and Dry Dock Company or the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. Mass transit really started in the early 1940s as buses from Chuckatuck, Reid’s Ferry, Crittenden and Whaleyville would leave daily with a full load of men en-route to these shipyards. Not only was parking a problem, but the bus was a much easier mode of transportation and much less expensive even with gas at 20 cents per gallon. In 1941 when World War II started there was much speculation about the capability of the Germans and with this came air raid warnings and blackouts. There were people designated as Civil Patrol personnel, such as W. N. Rippey, the agricultural teacher, who during an air raid warning would ensure that all lights visible from the streets were off or blinds were down. Drex Bradshaw remembers riding on Route 10 at a very young age and when he would spot a convoy of Army vehicles, he immediately started to cry and tell his mother Dorothy that it was” war, momma, war”. At the northern end of the King’s Highway bridge there was an anti aircraft gun site set up with large spot lights to protect the bridge in case of an attack. Monogram airfield was located just across the bridge with fighter planes flying in and out on a daily basis. They could be heard flying over the area and were always doing acrobatics. There was a major accident in the Oakland area off Audubon Road when an aircraft plowed through the tree tops killing the pilot. For years the path of that airplane could be seen in the pine thicket back of Oakland Church as those trees were much shorter than the others.
Thank goodness there were no German attacks. With all of the Army men stationed at the gun site and Monogram field, Mrs. J.R. Chapman’s home in Chuckatuck became the local USO. Dances were held on Saturday nights and single ladies from the Home Telephone Company in Smithfield were invited to attend. There were often several married ladies in attendance, possibly more as a chaperone than anything else, plus they loved to dance. Herman Scott, a relative of Mrs. Chapman, never used a sheet of music and could really “tickle those ivories”. (Ivories are the white surface of piano keys for the non musical types). Teachers boarding at the local homes of the Gilliam’s, Moore’s, Chapman’s and Eley’s were welcomed guests at these events. Although this writer was only seven years old at the time he was always on site with the understanding that he would dance and dance he did. What a great learning experience for one young fellow! Mr. and Mrs. Chapman had visitors for many years after the war from all over the country that returned to Chuckatuck to thank them for their hospitality while they were away from their families. Gwaltney’s Store was also a source of dancing on many nights in a room set aside just for that purpose. Lucy Upshur would have grand dance events at her home with enough beverages for everyone. In later years Gwaltney’s got a beer and wine license, a first for the community, but the store had to install at least four bar stools which are well worn and still in the store.
In doing research for this project one particular newspaper article discussed the “Sports from Norfolk” who would come by boat to Chuckatuck to partake of that clear liquid produced with corn mash. The making of “moon shine” as it was called was prevalent throughout the area and it was not unusual to see smoke coming from the woods in the surrounding areas even as late as the early 1950’s. For sure there was at least one “moon shine still” behind Al Glasscock’s farm as it has been witnessed by several of the local young men in the community. You did not dare destroy or mess with these money making machines as the penalty to do so was much worse than a dog’s bite.
At this point it would be appropriate to have a few comments by those with long memories of Chuckatuck. This is a nice way of saying the “older members” of the community.
In conversation with Millard Winslow he mentioned that there were several “nip joints” in the area as well. Being a “novice” at such terminology we asked just what he meant by this term. His response was that in the early days not only were there some bars/speakeasies in some of the stores, but that “clear liquid” that had no taxes paid on it was consumed by the sip or nip and the place was the joint thus the name “nip joint”. Now the reason for taking only a sip was that the healthy alcohol content of this liquid would take your breath away momentarily.
Behind the old Gilliam home was a small bungalow where Miss Patty, an African American, lived. She was the housekeeper for the older Gilliam’s initially and ultimately the younger Mr. and Mrs. Ray Gilliam. Now Miss Patty was a very nice lady and loved cats. She had numerous at any one time and neutering was not in her vocabulary. Miss Patty would get very upset when under the cover of darkness one of the Byrd boys, a student at Elon College who drove a Crosley truck with a cage in the bed, would come and remove some of her cats. Seems the college was paying a premium for test animals and this was a nice supply for them and money for the deliverer. Miss Patty passed away in the late 1950s and was remembered by many in the village as a very kind and gentle woman.
Marjorie Creekmore Mathews was born in 1918 in Suffolk. She came home to the new Mathews house built in 1916 on Route 10 just beyond the grist mill and still lives there today. Marjorie recalls the old gravel road before it was improved. There was no bridge over the Chuckatuck Creek below the Mill Pond at that time. People forded the creek on foot, on horseback, by horse or mule drawn buggy, cart, or wagon and later on automobiles. Someone in the community had a horse that would wallow in the creek before he would cross it. This was amusing and funny to people in the village. Marjorie also said that the families in and around Chuckatuck always appeared to care for each other. If someone was in need, the people of the village would come together to help out. Those were most definitely the good old days.
Matsie Moore Savage had some interesting comments concerning the village sounds in the 1920’s. “Rooster’s crowing in the early morning hours. Ringing of the bell at Wesley Chapel Methodist Church on Sundays. Mrs. Lee Gilliam, Judith Cobb’s grandmother, was the bell ringer with assistance from Miss Patty. At 12 noon the whistle at B.W. Godwin’s saw mill would blow signifying “time for dinner (Lunch)”. The loud speaker in the Spady garage was the first sound of radio in the area. Last but not least was the Moore’s dinner bell. This was a hand bell which reminded all the children of meal time.”
As you read these narratives you may find reference to Miss Daisy Jordan, also known as “Shot Gun Daisy” especially in the Halloween section of Entertainment and Recreation. She had some good traits, but many of us only remember those that were interesting. So goes a discussion when Al Glasscock was doing some cleaning of ditches adjacent to his farm field and her land. Seems there was a tree on her land that was overhanging the field and creating a problem with trash and downed limbs. Al took his saw and removed that portion hanging over the line where upon Miss Daisy got hot and told him that that was her tree and he had no right to cut it down. Al looked her straight in the eye and said “I own this land from heaven above to hell below and will do with it what I want”. Miss Daisy went back into her house to mull this statement over I guess, but in the end she and Al remained good friends throughout the time she was a member of the neighborhood.
Frank Spady spoke to us about how he and Wilson, his brother, would sit out in their front yard at the intersection of Routes 10 and 125 and count the cars as they went by. There were not very many in the early days. Frank is the oldest member of Wesley Chapel having joined the church in 1922 when he was four and Mattie Godwin was his Sunday school teacher. Their classroom was the left entrance to the church, a rather small 8 foot by 8 foot space, called a Narthex.
Judith Gilliam Cobb mentioned that her grandfather, Richard Claiborne Gilliam, owned two boats that plied the Chuckatuck Creek. One was the Edvina and the other was the Guilford. Trips to the state of Maine were not uncommon in those days for the Edvina.
Sonny Chapman was given A Tribute to a “Worker” for his work with the young folks of the area. Every Saturday J.R. “Sonny” Chapman Jr. made their dreams come true by working with them from ten in the morning until late afternoon at the High School gymnasium. He organized the little boys and girls in first through the fourth grade into an enthusiastic and most promising baskeball teams. The Chuckatuck Ruritan Club and Mr. Billy Whitley were scheduled to take over the next year with “Sonny” assisting. “Our hats are off to “Sonny” who is one of many that make life a little more fun for our children” Author of this article is unknown.
In 1960 Chuckatuck Library Station had its beginning as a bookmobile. In late 1982 there was a meeting to establish a station with at least 2000 books on a rotating basis from the Morgan Memorial Library in downtown Suffolk. The community would take care of expenses for building, insurance, etc. and provide volunteers while Saunders Supply offered the community room in their building for the library. Money was donated to purchase shelving, locks, folding tables and a small table for book check out. Contributors were the Richard Bennett Trust, Junto Book Club, Chuckatuck Ruritan Club and the Village Garden Club. Instrumental in the organization and training of the volunteers were Georgia Saunders, Katherine Spady and members of the Village Garden Club. On April 23, 1983 the doors were opened and 31 patrons attended with 14 books being checked out.
On Feb. 1, 1989, the City of Suffolk leased the former CHS lunch room adjacent to Saunders Supply and on May 9, 1989 the library reopened for business. This facility was completely run by volunteers until this time. There was a part time supervisor from Morgan on site and this continued until 1996 when a full time supervisor, Chinell Sanders, was assigned to the Chuckatuck Station. Volunteers once again began providing additional part time help a few years ago.
Chuckatuck now has a full service library featuring the following:
Story Hour Volunteer since 1991 who does not receive compensation
Summer events every 5 to 6 weeks? with special programs
Summer Reading Program
Increased children’s inventory over 1000% in the past couple of years
Books on cassette, CD, MP3 for children, young adults, and adults
Inventory very up to date with bestsellers
Katherine Spady and the many volunteers within the GCH area are to be commended for a superb job in getting this valuable asset up and running in the community.
The village has changed over the years especially with the growth of the African American community toward the Oakland area. New homes and apartments have been built on both sides of Route 10, roads paved and the population continues to grow well above what it was in the 1940s. Several areas like Gloversville have taken on new life with large homes on several acres of land. Holiday Point Estates, Governor Godwin’s old home farm, also known as Bridge Point Farms, has developed over the years with numerous large homes. Closure of the King’s Highway Bridge in March 2005 has somewhat isolated this community and some say for the betterment of the neighborhood while others moved away because of the inconvenience due to the longer distance they had to drive to get to Norfolk or Portsmouth.
We believe it is safe to say that although integration was on the forefront in the 1950s and later Chuckatuck never had any problems between the whites and the negroes. We played together, worked together and never really thought anything about the difference in the color of our skin. There is the possibility that some of the older people may have harbored some other ideas, but not among the younger members of the community. In all of the interviews we have done with members of both communities there has never been any indication from either group about any racial divide or problems.
Although Chuckatuck continues to change it stays the same as a nice quiet restful place to raise your children and let them have a taste of country living before joining the whirl wind activities associated with college and adulthood. As so many have said it was a pleasure growing up in Chuckatuck and there is no other place like it.
It can be said that buildings make a village, but in reality it’s the people that make a village. When you have people like Aleck Winslow who says the most memorable thing about Chuckatuck is “helping people”, and, yes, he has done that with the Volunteer Fire Department, Meals on Wheels, and driving locals to doctor’s appointments just to name a few of his civic activities. Jerry Saunders has over 300 total years of active civic service in the Volunteer Fire Department, Boy Scouts, Ruritan Club, Police Auxiliary and support for the Nansemond Indians. Dr. Thomas has made house calls for years and at the ripe old age of 90 is still in practice. W.G. Saunders offered a helping hand to many members of the community. There is a list of individuals who have been in the community that made it what we all can remember as “The best place to grow up in”. This was so apply put in words by Paul Saunders at his dad’s memorial service on the 28th of February 2011. Paul said “anyone who thinks small town living is for the birds needs to come to Chuckatuck”.
Chuckatuck is truly a historical site, first village in Nansemond County, and it has continued to prosper and grow for over 400 years while maintaining its quaint, quiet atmosphere that we all love.