THE HISTORY of FOX HILL

1625

First documented instance where the Fox Hill name first was used to describe the area.  Recorded Land Grant Mary Flint.

1632

 Settlers in the Harris Creek part of Fox Hill Included: Elias La Guard 100 acres, Nicholas Roe 43 acres, Elmer Phillips 100 acres, William Hampton 100 acres, Thomas Normaxton 250 acres, Thomas Beanstead 50 acres, John Chandler 1000 acres, Humphrey Tabb 150 acres, Christopher Dawey 50 acres, John Ingrame 150 acres, Anthony Elliott 300 acres, Christopher Copeland 220 acres, Henry Copeland 220 acres.

1635

First historical reference to a major hurricane to hit VA Coast

 Indian Stone was referenced in a land grant.  The stones were used to cook deer meat? The location is the south line of Edmund’s property on Hall Road.

1667

Sept 6 Hurricane caused the Bay to rise 12 feet above normal.

1749

Tremendous hurricane causing the Chesapeake to rise 15 feet

1776

John Cary was appointed manager of a salt works located between Fox Hill and Buckroe, an area known today as Salt Ponds.

1778

HMS Otter did damage to Norfolk, Portsmouth, Gosport, Suffolk and even raided Fox Hill. Local patriots burned her tender. 

1791

Methodism becomes the prominent religion in the Fox Hill area

1800

During the early 1800’s John Oldfield of Fox Hill worked at Fort Monroe as a powder taster.  By putting a small amount of powder tasters could tell if the proper amount of ingredients were in the gunpowder.

1803

Elmer Phillips owned a windmill which was 12 feet off the ground on what is currently Windmill Point Road.  Mr. Chambers surveyed the land and cited stone markers that are still said to be there.

1806

August 23 Called the Great Coastal Hurricane of 1806.

Thomas Fern, a Revolutionary War soldier, owned land that was partly on the Harris Creek side of the Harris Creek and partly on the Fox Hill side of the Creek.  He had 9 slaves and he left his farm to those slaves.  Mariah Finn was one of those slaves and she inherited the Fox Hill side making her the first black to own land in Fox Hill.

1810

Census of Elizabeth City County – 354 names were recorded and many names are still found in Fox Hill  Elmer Phillips owned a windmill which was 12 feet off the ground on what is currently Windmill Point Road.  Mr. Chambers surveyed the land and cited stone markers that are still said to be there.

1811

Meeting House was constructed. Methodist minister arrived in 1813.

1812

Two English sailors jumped ship and landed at Bells Island. They brought a sea chest with the ship’s log and sailing entries. It is unknown if they were pirates or deserters.

1813

Hampton was attacked and raided by British Troops.

1814

 Men from Fox Hill were recruited into the 115th Virginia Regiment from Elizabeth City County.  William Guy, William Ironmonger, Smith Drummond, Robert Drummond, George Drummond, Samuel Guy, John Guy, William Lewis, Matthew Wallace, George Melson and William Clark all served from July 1814 to September 1814.

William Johnson settled in Fox Hill He is the ancestor of all the Johnsons who live in Fox Hill. There is speculation that he deserted the British Navy and changed his name to Johnson.

1815

Large influx of boat builders and fishermen from Maryland and the Eastern Shore began settling in Fox Hill

1821

 “Tickle Me Quickly,” a schooner, was listed as belonging to William and Richard Tennis and Edward Ironmonger .

September 3 called the Norfolk-Long Island Hurricane 10 foot storm surge.

1826

Presson Watson sold 4 acres of land to the US Government to build a lighthouse.

1829

Back River Lighthouse bid and constructed by Winslow Lewis. First keeper was William Jett until 1852. The land cost $100 and the lighthouse cost $5,000 to build.  It was 33 ft. tall and could be seen from a distance of 3 miles.  It was in steady operation for over 100 years.

Small shipyards were located on Harris Creek, Back River and Wallace Creek. Thomas Dobbins one of the first boat builders based in Fox Hill built some of the first schooners from 1829 to 1835: George Washington, Hannibal, John Ranolph, Sherwood, Perseverance, Lafayette, Rob Roy,  Black Hawk, General Gratiot, Jame Cronick, Skipjack, and Lookout built by William Stores.

1830

First mention of a private school was located in the Harris Creek Meeting House.

1835

The temperature was recorded at -15 degrees F. The Chesapeake Bay was frozen over all the way to the Virginia Capes.

1837

The Fox Hill Academy was established.

1839

Joseph Phillips gave land for the Fox Hill Academy to be built.

1840

In the days of no radio, television, or computers, the menfolk of Fox Hill were very active in their various lodges, such as the “Sons of Temperance,” “Order of the Red Men,” and the “Old Fellows”. 

1841

March brought 30” snow in Hampton Roads area

1844

First Methodist Church, the oldest and the mother church of the Fox Hill community, was established. It was built on the corner of Hall and Beach Road on a parcel of land given by Mr. Henry Guy and his mother,

1845

Hawkins Pond, formerly called Floyd’s Bay was sold Horace Jett who inturn sold 25 acres to Mathew Lewis for $25. Lewis dug a ditch to Grundland Creek about 800 feet long and 100 feet wide.

1850

There were 40 farms in Fox Hill.

1850

A public school system was established in Elizabeth City County. School taxes were about $4 per family.

1858

An August storm hit Fox Hill hard. Cattle were drowned.

Clark Cemetery was founded by John Henry Clark. Its maintenance was a major project of the Fox Hill Woman’s Club for many years. 4.5 Acres

1862

During the Civil War, the First Methodist Curch was torn or burned down. It was rebuilt in 1866. The original building served the community until 1878, when it was demolished to make room for a larger building

1878

 J.S. Darling bought out Mr. Stem who had a 10 year lease of $20 a year on 10 acres of land for the meal pressing facility at Factory Point

1888

Map of Elizabeth City County.  Surveyed and Compiled by E.A Semple. (See map under the timeline)

1889

April Nor’easter with winds 75 mph.  Tides 4’ above flood stage level

1890

First record of an organized baseball team in Fox Hill

1891

Mrs. Lancer built the Grandview Hotel on 75 acres. She next bought land from Bloxom next to the hotel.

1892

Fox Hill residents built the Rip Rap Post Office. The first postmaster was James C. Wallace.

1895

Wallace Memorial Methodist Church was erected on land donated by Wm. P. Wallace. The deed restriction was “that no instrument of music of any character shall be allowed in said church.”

The Fox Hill baseball team which belonged to the Lower Peninsula League won the “McMenamin Cup of Hampton. McMenamin was a seafood company. 

1900

William Holston runs a much needed Black Smith shop. It was located close to Asbury. He made metal equipment for farmers, watermen, and households.

1902

 The first telephone in Fox Hill. It belonged to David Johnson, who was the treasurer of Elizabeth City County at the time.

1906

The Commonwealth of Virginia began requiring smallpox vaccinations, triggering the creation of the private Fox Hill Antivacination School. The principal of the public school quit and became the principal of the new school, which held classes in the old Red Men’s Hall on Beach Road

1910

The First Automobile drives through Fox Hill. It was owned by Dr. Harry Howe of Hampton. There was no reverse gear. He had to park so he could make a large turn or get out and push the car backwards.

Fox Hill had a population of 350 people. It has 8 general stores. The stores were on the same street and within a mile of each other.

R. E. Johnson & Son store built.

1914

Electricity comes to Fox Hill. This was a big improvement over oil lamps and candles. Usually, it was a simple short wire with a lamp socket attached to the end that held a light bulb. It was hanging from the ceiling.

R.E. Johnson & Son store expanded.

William Wallace donated land to build the Wallace Memorial Methodist Church.

1915

The first school was located at 188 and 190 Beach Road.  Later a new school was built at 140 Beach Road.  Children living in the Harris Creek area traveled by boat across Harris Creek to attend Francis Asbury.

1916

RipRap Post Office closed and mail was sent to Buckroe.

Beatrice and Gerard Chambers Jr. went to divide Bloxom Estate (Watson Land) heirs: George Copeland Martha Copeland, Nannie B. Weber, Elizabeth Schwab, Louisa Peak drew slips A-E out of a hat to divide the Watson Estate.

1917

Streetlights were first placed on Beach Road. Virginia Johnson cut them on and off each day by turning a switch on her porch. She was paid for the task.

1918

Joyce Lawrence’s great uncle, Charles Elliott was the first casualty of the 1918 flu epidemic in Elizabeth City county.

Spanish Flu Epidemic killed 135 people in the county. Fox Hill has some of the first Cases. Schools were closed. Area churches were used as hospitals. Many of the dead were buried at Clark Cemetery. 

1922

Ernest Rowe and 4 other fishermen were mending  nets on the Beach. They witness the huge AirShip Roma fly over while testing a new engine. It was flying toward Norfolk, hit high tension wires and burst into a big ball of flames. That was the end of Roma.

An amusement park and dance pavilion were built on the land between what is now the fishing pier and Beach Road.

1923

Beach Road was paved. Prior to that it was made up of oyster shells. The county bought oyster shells from Fox Hill oystermen to maintain the road and fill in the pot holes.

1927

The First Organized Volunteer Fire Department was created. To build the first building to house the equipment, funds were by the sale of Cook Books and Cakes.  The Bank of Fox Hill owned the land.  This building is still standing today at 602 Beach Road. 

1930

Back River Lighthouse was the site where Dr. Kane was charged with the murder of his wife. He was found innocent. The trial gained national attention.

Fox Hill  proudly claimed a thirty-two piece brass band. It was made up and sponsored by Wallace Methodist Church men. Mr. Dillsworth, the band leader and the band played at Ball games and other places like tent meetings.

1933

September 16  Hurricane of 33. The tide was 8.3 feet above MLLW—much damage in Fox Hill. The dance pavilion an amusements were destrpyed

1934

Fox Hill house was almost demolished by the impact of a plane that collided with another in flight. Seven people were in the home, no one was injured. The daughter was to be married on this day. A new location and dress had to be found.  

1940’s

Fire Station was built in the 1940’s by Elizabeth City County and since that time the Fire Company has grown and has two modern fire trucks.  The present station dates from the 1970’s. 

1940

Clifton Routten owns and operates a garage on Beach Road near the fire station. He also owns a 1935 Ford truck for a wrecker. He was said to be an amazing mechanic and could work on anything with an engine.

 Close to the end of Dandy Point Road Joseph Wallace built a small one room building for community social events and dances. 

1941

“Barber” Herbert David Jones built his barber shop at 196 Beach Road. It later became Rhonda’s Little Hair Shop

1948

A much larger dance pavilion was built north of the fishing pier near Beach Road.  Many famous bands of the day played here:  Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Jimmy Dorsey.  This pavilion was damaged by Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and was later torn down.

 

1952

Fox Hill became part of the city of Hampton when Elizabeth City County was annexed.

1953

Hurricane Barbara

1954

October Hurricane Hazel wind gusted to 130 mph

A Nike Ajax missile site was installed near the beach on Grundland Creek Road. The controls were on Windmill Road. They operated the site until 1960 and then the National Guard took over until 1955. The city currently owns the property. 

J.W. Atwell brought in a dredge to cut two canals where houses make up Grandview Shores.  A third canal was started and a canal was dredged going from the bridge over Beach Road to Back River.  

1956

April Nor’easter with winds 40-70 mph for 30 hours.  Tides 4-6 feet above normal.

 Hurricane Flossy brought down what remained of the Back River Lighthouse.

1957

Vito Morlino built the Grandview Fishing Pier. The pier was built on the grounds of a fish camp. It was the longest pier on the East Coast at the time. Campgrounds were later added.  Vito was a noted swimmer and built one of the first shopping centers in Norfolk.

1958

Wallace Bait and Tackle Established after the channel was dredged in Back River to Dandy Point

1959

Hurricane Gracie Norfolk.

1960

Fox Hill FastPitch was played under many names. One night 4,500 tickets were sold. Fans would come 2 hours early and line up 5 deep in the outfield behind the fence as well as climbing trees. Fox Hill FastPitch were champions and all Fox Hill was proud.

Hurricane Donna 

1962

 March Ash Wednesday storm.  Battered the coast for several days doing approximately $4M wind and flood damage in Hampton.

1964

Hurricane Cleo September 1  11.4 inches of rain the most since records began in 1871.

Part of Asbury burned due to an electrical fire in the cafeteria.  The newest part of the school (at that time) was the two story section which is still used today.  The original building had to be torn down and rebuilt. 

1966

Hamilton Howard Evans organized the Peninsula Committee for Parks and Planning. She worked to have the City Purchase the properties from the Stieffen Estate and formed the Hampton Nature Preserve.  At the time, there was talk of putting an amusement park on-site.

City obtains the first of five properties that make up the Hampton Nature Preserve (additional purchases were three properties in 1971 and one more in 1991.

1985

Clark Cemetery Perpetual Care Association was established.

1986

Grandview pier catches fire at 2:00 am.  The fire was hard to fight due to high winds and creosote timbers. The fire was underneath and hard to reach. US Coast Guard with their utility boats were called to help.

1989

Fox Hill Civic League reactivates. Principals were Lennie Routten, Vince Behm, and Katherine Glass. Ricky Routten later became President.

1986

Grandview pier catches fire at 2:00 am.  The fire was hard to fight due to high winds and creosote timbers. The fire was underneath and hard to reach. US Coast Guard with their utility boats were called to help.

1994

Community Presbyterian Church realized there was a need for quality education for Fox Hill preschoolers. The devoted staff opened their doors with loving arms to welcome thousands of young students to provide the best education around and remains that way today.

2001

Meetings to discuss Fox Hill history. The Fox Hill Historical Society was formed.

2002

Fox Hill Historical Society published Fox Hill The Beginning and Before the Beginning.

2003

Hurricane Isabel hit Hampton on September 18. With a 7.9’ high tide much of Hampton was flooded.

2004

Hurricane Alex August 3rd

Hurricane Charlie August 14 

Hurricane Gaston August 30

Hurricane Francis September 8

Hurricane Ivan September 17

2005

There was a loud boom that riddled windows. Fox Hillians open their doors to see what happened They immediately saw a Flickering Green sky in that night’s low cloud cover. Some yell it might be aliens!   Some people put their families in the car fled area. The substation had blown up 16,000 were without power on this cold night.

Feral Turkeys invaded Fox Hill. Their increased numbers for over 10 years brought health issues and  aggressive behavior due to humans feeding them. Citizens talked “Turkey” to the City Council and they agreed.Wild life management stepped in.

Hurricane Cindy July 7-8

2006 

Hurricane Ernesto September 1

2008

Hurricane Hanna September 6

2011

Hurricane Irene August 27

2008

Hurricane Sandy August 29-30

2013

Coyotes first noticed on Langley Air Force Base now confirmed in Fox Hill. Their effect on the local ecosystems is difficult to predict.

2014

January 11th around 3:50 an EF-0  Tornado with winds up to 80 miles per hour touched down. Winds snapped trees, blew off shingles, roofs, car windows and destroyed the FHAA building. It ends in marshes of GVI. 

2015

Fox Hill gets new water works, large pipes and pumps. The aged landmark Fox Hill water tower comes down piece by piece. Metal is sold for scrap. 

2016

City Council appropriated funds to build a new center for Fox Hill

Hurricane Hermine September 2-4

Hurricane Matthew October 8-9

2017

Businessman Emil T. Skins donates a gift of 72 acres adjacent to the existing Nature Preserve at Grandview. It creates an invaluable area for natural plants, birds and animals.

2021

Fox Hill Neighborhood Center Opens with Ribbon Cutting by Mayor Donnie Tuck.