Poquoson, Virginia

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Poquoson (pronounced /pəˈkoʊsən/) is an independent city located on the Virginia Peninsula, in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area of the U.S. state of Virginia. The population was 11,566 at the 2000 census. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Poquoson with surrounding York county for statistical purposes.

Poquoson, which was formerly part of York County, became an incorporated town in 1952 and an independent city in 1975. (In Virginia, municipalities incorporated as independent cities are not part of any county.) However, the ties remain close. Over 30 years after Poquoson became a politically independent entity, some constitutional services such as the courts, sheriff and jail continue to be shared with neighboring York County.

Poquoson is one of the oldest continuously named cities in Virginia. It is also one of the few to retain a name which derived from the Native Americans who inhabited the area before colonization by the English began in the 17th century.

Contents

History

The name of the city is a Native American word which roughly translates to "great marsh" or "flat land." The term pocosin, with its varied spellings, was a term used by the area's inhabitants to describe a low, marshy, woody place covered by water in the winter, but is dry in the summer. These Native Americans were Algonquins, a tribal group affiliated through the Powhatan Confederacy, and were hostile to the early settlers. A petition to have the name of the parish and river changed was an attempt to rid the language of all vestiges of Indian terms. However, "poquoson" has survived through the centuries and has become a proper noun used to designate the present city.

The current city is a remnant of a larger area known from the first days of its settlement in the early 17th century by English colonists as the New Poquoson Parish of the Church of England. In the colonial times before separation of church and state and freedom of religion were established in Virginia and the United States, the church parish boundaries and governmental ones were often the same. In addition to the current city of Poquoson, New Poquoson Parish originally included the areas in York County known today as Poquoson, Tabb, Grafton, Dare and Seaford. This land was opened for settlement in the year 1628 and was occupied by people from the English settlement of the Virginia Colony established at Kecoughtan in 1610 by Sir Thomas Gates which eventually became part of the current City of Hampton. The first reference to the city is believed to be in Colonial records of a land grant to Christopher Calthorpe in 1631 by a court in what became the former Elizabeth City County (which consolidated with the Town of Phoebus and the City of Hampton in 1952, assuming the latter's name, and becoming a single large independent city).[3]

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