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I'm reprinting a newspaper article which appeared 23 years ago in the Daily Press & Times Herald and written by Segar Cofer Dashiell, one of the best historians from Smithfield, Virginia and Isle of Wight County. It's a 1988 article she wrote about the body of water that surrounds to western boundary of the Gatling Pointe community which our company started development on that year.
Gatling Pointe is a 500 home waterfront community located where the James and Pagan Rivers meet adjacent to the historic town of Smithfield (which was incorporated in 1750 as a town). Moone Creek, mistakenly named on navigation charts sometime in the 1950's, separates the neighborhood from the town and is located in the County.
Having had a family member research our family history to Robert Edwards and Ann Edwards, who came to Jamestown in 1619 and settled in Isle of Wight County, I was most interested to read about the origin of the naming of Moone Creek. We now live in Gatling Pointe on a lot that backs up to the creek. Below is the 1988 article that Segar Cofer Dashiell wrote in the Daily Press newspaper.
MOONE CREEK Name came from CAPTAIN JOHN MOONE
Reprinted from the Daily Press & Times Herald January, 1988
By Sig Dashiell
Replying to recent inquiries from concerned citizens, and to keep the record straight, we can state unequivocally that there has never been a “Morris” Creek between Smithfield and Battery Park. The narrow tidal stream that separates Moonefield and Gatling’s Point has, since the 17th century, borne the name “Moone Creek”. (My boys, Will and Tyler are seen below fishing on Moone Creek in our canoe)
The confusion apparently occurred when the name Moone was misprinted as Morris on a fairly recent navigational chart, and once anything, no matter how mistaken, gets into print, it is automatically accepted as fact and becomes extremely difficult to correct.
Helen Haverty King, an authority on our country history, has consulted the United States Board on Geographic Names and has been assured that Moone (Moon) Creek is correct, and that the Board will do everything in it’s power to correct the error on all future charts, maps and markers.
It is altogether right and proper that this small stream should continue to bear the name of Capt. John Moone who was one of the earliest settlers, largest landowners and worthiest citizens of our country.
Having first patented land here in 1633, he ultimately owned 2250 acres for having brought into the Colony his wife, Susan, and 40 other persons.He may well have been the same Capt. John Moone who commanded the “Swallow” in the expedition in `1620.He was a member of the House of Burgesses 1652-54.
His property encompassed what is now Moonefield, the whole of Pagan Point, Red Point and Pagan Pines areas to the Battery Park Road, and along the north side of that road for several miles.
Evidence indicates Capt. Moone’s dwelling stood about 100 yards from the high bluff that provides a deep-water landing on Moon Creek.Many small artifacts of glass, pottery and iron have been found there, and broken bricks and mortar are scattered over the area.
Among the more interesting artifacts are a number of odd-looking little articles that Williamsburg and Jamestown authorities identified as gentlemen’s wig curlers.It would appear that the house was still occupied during the early 18th century after it had become fashionable for gentlemen to wear great curly wigs.
Capt. Moone died in 1655.In his will he states that he was born “at Berry, near Gosport, in ye parish of Stoak in Hampshire”. Gosport is on the English Channel, just across the Solent from the Isle of Wight, so it may be that he had something to do with the changing the name of this county from Warrosquoyacke to Isle of Wight.
He left his real estate to his three daughters, Sarah, Susanna, and Mary and having no sons, the name died with him. Mary Moone is known to have married Thomas Green and had several children, and is believed to have many descendants.His will shows him to have been sympathetically concerned for the poor and needy of the county, and to be one of Isle of Wight County’s first philanthropists.As he states in Page 3 ofhis will: “I give and bequeath four female cattle to remain for a Stock forever for poor Fatherless Children that have nothing left to bring them up and for Old People past their labour or Lame People that are Destitute in this lower parish of Isle of Wight County”.
He would undoubtedly be pleased to know that the citizens of Isle of Wight still care about “Old People past their Labours” and have provided them with the comfortable Smithfield Convalescent Center, built on land that was owned by Capt. Moone more than 300 years ago.
The oldest whole silver spoon to be found in Virginia was unearthed a few years ago by Harry Dashiell, Jr., while disking the field in which Capt. Moon’s house once stood.It has been studied by experts in Williamsburg and Jamestown, at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Art at Winston-Salem, N. C. and at Winterthur Museum and in London.It is believed to have been made about 1660 by Joseph Arden, a silversmith in Sherborne, England, which is close to Gosport where Capt.Moone lived before coming to Virginia.
Part of his property now known as Moonefield was owned by his descendants for a generation or two, and has since changed hands a number of times.It has belonged to Thomas King, Thomas Purdie, George James Purdie, Robert DeFord, Willis Wilson, Augustus Bunkley, F. R. Berryman and from 1920 until 1965 to the late Harry G. Dashiell.It is now incorporated into – and Moone Creek marks the eastern boundary of the Town of Smithfield.
The Gatling Pointe Yacht Club is located on the Pagan River...Moone Creek can be seen surrounding the Commodore Pointe section of the community. Below is another Daily Press article from 1999 that gives a little more history about the Gatling Pointe property.
Watching The Land Grow 'From The Ground Up'
By Laurie Koch Thrower The Daily Press 1999
Decades before parents started raving about the benefits of raising families in the Gatling Pointe subdivision, Edwin Gatling knew that the shore of the Pagan River was a great place to be a kid. Gatling was born and raised on the land that now makes up the 266 residential lots of Gatling Pointe. (Gatling Pointe grew to 510 single family homes with the addition of Gatling Pointe South). To hear him tell of his childhood, though, he spent about as much time on the Pagan and James rivers as on land. He and his siblings started sailing as soon as they were "knee-high," Gatling said. In high school shop, he and a brother built a round-bottom dinghay - a prelude to the shipbuilding business they later founded. "We just had boating in our blood," he said. In 1988, Gatling and his two living siblings sold the family property to East West Partners, the developers who built Gatling Pointe. Even before it came into the Gatling family, the land had a long association with significant happenings and people in Isle of Wight County history.
Mallory Todd's son, John R. Todd, later took over the ham business. He owned the area now known as Battery Park, including the Gatling Pointe land. In added dated Dec. 13, 1851, he and his wife, Eliza Todd, deeded the Gatling Pointe land to Robinson A. Todd. The deed doesn't state how Robinson A. Todd was related to the couple but it does state that the land was changing hands, "in consideration of natural love and affection" - and because Robinson A. Todd paid $1 for it. Sometime during this period, a brick making factory operated from the banks of the Pagan River where the Gatling Pointe Yacht Club is now. The land there is lower than the rest of the community, presumably from having the clay scooped out of the shore of the Pagan River to make bricks.
At low tide, bricks are visible on the shore of Moone Creek, said Mark Edwards, an East West vice president. Gatling said history is a little sketchy on how the land passed from the Todd family to his. He knows that his father, Langley Taylor Gatling, inherited the land in 1917. At that time, it was known as Oyster Shell Neck Farm. Langley Gatling set up his homestead on a scenic spot overlooking the Pagan River. There were five Gatling children in all, including Edwin and his twin brother, James, who were born May 14, 1926. Edwin and James eventually took their love of all things nautical on the job, founding Gatling Brothers Shipyard in Hampton. Their venture was cut short in 1951, when James died.
Edwin Gatling eventually went to work for Newport News Shipbuilding. In the 1950s, he and his wife, Dorothy, moved to the Gatling property. He used timber hewn from the property to build a single-story ranch house. "I was building from the ground up," Gatling joked. Keeping the land up was a lot of work, Gatling said. He regretted the amount of time he logged on the John Deere cutting fields of grass while friends zoomed by in boats on the river: "I'd say to myself, I was 'kind of dumb to stay there cutting grass when they're out there on the river having fun.'" So he sold the land to East West in June of 1988, and he and Dorothy moved away from the Gatling land, but not away from the water. They live in Newport News in condominiums overlooking the James River. "I just was determined," Gatling said, "to stay on the water." Gatling drives through the neighborhood every now and then to see how Gatling Pointe is coming along. He was thrilled that East West wanted to name the subdivision after the Gatling family. "Really," he said, "I was honored for them to do it."
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