1607 - 2007
A Genealogical Project in celebration of
400 Years of Virginia History
Mulberry Island is a small peninsula located
between the James and Warwick Rivers. Its name is believed
to be derived from the native Virginia mulberry
tree (morus rubra) that once grew in abundance.
Here, the course of American history
changed. In June of 1610 when the starving colonists
abandoned Jamestown, it was at Mulberry Island that they
encountered Lord DeLaWarr's longboats. Receiving news of the
arrival of supplies and reinforcements, they turned back to
Jamestown and the Virginia Colony was saved.
Probably inhabited in the first decade of English
colonization, the "island" suffered severe losses in the
Indian massacre of 1622 and its few survivors were forced to
return to Jamestown. By 1624, however, there were 30
residents in the area.
Early experiments with silk culture were
unsuccessful but the land proved ideal for the planting of John
Rolfe's sweet scented tobacco. Rolfe, Secretary and Recorder
General of the Virginia Colony when he married Pocahontas in 1614,
was a joint owner of 1.700 acres on the island.
A defensive site throughout its history,
Mulberry Island was purchased by the Federal Government during
World War I. Today, it is the home of Fort Eustis and the
United States Army Transportation Corps.
Due to changing boundaries and names, Mulberry
Island was included in other early governmental districts before
becoming a part of Warwick in 1634. No records remain for
these earliest districts nor for the ancient Mulberry Island
Parish. Only fragments of Warwick County's records survived
the Civil War.
Early land grant records, housed in the Library
of Virginia, first mention Mulberry Island in 1614. These
documents give owners names, dates and locations, often naming
neighbors and relatives.
muster of inhabitants of Mulberry Island provides name
and age, and often adds the year of arrival and ship on which an
tax lists of 1704 and 1710 have survived and name early
residents of the county. Surrounding county courthouses for
Elizabeth City (now Hampton), York, Isle of Wight, Surry, Accomack
and also the counties around the Rappahannock River afford wills,
deeds, marriages, and references to these Warwick families.
A few surnames of the earliest
Mulberry Island families are Peirce, Smith, Barham,
Richardson, Bullock, Wood, Atkins, Gaither, Gill, Lathom, Nowell,
Harwood, Read, Baker and Aston. Histories for the families
of Cary, Mathews, Jones, Griffin, Rolfe, Bolling, Wilson,
Claiborne, Digges, Wills, Pierce, Curtis, Haynes and Powell are
among major existing works.
To be successful, this project will require the
help of many interested and willing participants. Extant
records from manuscripts, diaries, obituaries, Bibles, legal
documents, Revolutionary and Civil War papers and maps must be
searched for all available facts and documentation.
The project welcomes copies of previously
prepared histories and individual documents pertaining to all
families with Mulberry Island roots. Many To assure that all
possible Mulberry Island residents and their descendants will be
included, your assistance is needed.
This website is being initially established
with research collected by a number of people. FT.
Eustis Historical Archaeological Association's president, John
Curry, generously shared the files collected over the years by members
of that group which are housed on Mulberry Island at the Matthew
Jones house. Virginia Rollings, Newport News Family
History Center, who served as chairman of a committee formed to
collect genealogy of Mulberry Island families, also readily
shared the records collected by her committee member: Joe
Atkins, Brenda Barbian, Frederick Boelt, Gloria and Nick Rogers,
Walt Troy and Sherry Tyler. Among the data collected by this
committee were the files compiled by Arthur H. and Dorothy F.
Vollerstsen. A Special thank you goes to Sherry Tyler for
her invaluable advice and assistance in getting this project
Monday, 15 October 2001