This area was long settled by indigenous peoples; those encountered by Europeans were of the Algonquian-speaking peoples, part of loose alliance of tribes known as the Powhatan Confederacy. The Nimcock had a village on the river where Urbanna was later developed. English settlement of the area began around 1640, with the county being officially formed in 1669 from a part of Lancaster County. This settlement pushed the Nimcock upriver. The county’s only incorporated town, Urbanna, was established by the colonial Assembly in 1680 as one of 20 50-acre port towns designated for trade. It served initially as a port on the Rappahannock River for shipping agricultural products, especially the tobacco commodity crop. As the county developed, it became its commercial and governmental center.
During the American Civil War, Urbanna was planned as the point of landing for General George B. McClellan‘s 1862 Peninsula Campaign of 1862 to take Richmond. McClellan shifted to use Fort Monroe as the starting point, almost doubling the distance by land that troops had to travel to the Confederate citadel. Delays in reaching the gates of Richmond allowed the Confederates ample time to erect substantial defensive batteries, contributing to the Union failure in this campaign.
Today Urbanna is the home to several marinas, boutique shops, galleries, restaurants, and the annual oyster festival which attracts thousands from throughout Virginia and beyond. Deltaville is known as the boat building capital of the Chesapeake, a heritage seen in its multiple marinas, sail and canvas makers, sail and power boat brokers and suppliers. The Maritime Museum provides a fun outlet with concerts and an annual wooden boat building week.
Mathews County is located in the eastern tip of Virginia’s Middle Peninsula surrounded by the Rappahannock River, the York River, and the Chesapeake Bay. It was founded in 1791 and is named after Brigadier General Thomas Mathews. The Continental Navy built many of its ships in Mathews during the American Revolution and the only female confederate officer, Captain Sally Tompkins, was a resident of Mathews.
In addition to its rich history, today Mathews has thriving local merchants, art galleries, restaurants, and is the Daffodil Capital of the World. Mathews Market Days are not to be missed!
Properties vary from waterside condominiums to prominent historical plantations, cottages, and many other choices. Whether you’re looking for a slower pace or are ready to explore all that this area has to offer, Mathews County will not disappoint. Learn more.
Essex County, on the northern side of the Middle Peninsula, is bordered by the Rappahannock River on the North. It was established in 1692 and is named for either the shire or county in England or the Earl of Essex. There are 14 properties and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Essex County.
Located in Tappahannock is St. Margaret’s School, an all girls Episcopal School for grades 8-12. It was founded in 1921 to provide a high school education which was rare for girls at the time. Tappahannock has some great antique shops in their historic district adjacent to St. Margaret’s School. The housing inventory includes condominiums with views of the Rappahannock, single family, and historic plantations, farms, and farm land.