Settlement began here in 1636, when John Chisman patented 600 acres on Crab Neck, a peninsula bounded by Chisman Creek and Back Creek, a tributary of York River. The neck then lay in Charles River Parish in York County, one of the eight original shires created in 1634. A Confederate fortification stood near the narrowest part of the neck in 1862, and during the Civil War Union troops destroyed Zion Methodist Church here. Crab Neck post office was established in 1889; its name was changed to Seaford in 1910.
Tribes of the Algonquian-speaking Indians, who were united by Chief Powhatan, thrived in this area before English settlement of their colonies in the seventeenth century. (Gleach) These tribes became known as the Powhatans to the Powhatan Confederacy, with their primary village located near Glouchester, and hundreds of other villages were located throughout the Chesapeake Bay area and the Virginia coastal plain. (Spaar) The area was a prime region for fishing and seafood. (Wiggins)
The community of Seaford was originally known as Crab Neck, Crab Rock and Calamar, and only 30 families lived there prior to the Civil War. (Quass) General John B. Magruder’s defensive lines also ran through the area, while the Confederate Ship’s Point Battery was nearby on the Poquoson River in 1862. Ship’s Point Battery contained around 16 heavy artillery guns, meant to thwart any advances by Union vessels.
During the Revolutionary War, this area was crucial to General Cornwallis’ defense of Yorktown in 1781. (Payette)
Gleach, Frederic W. Powhatan’s World and Colonial Virginia: A Conflict of Cultures. (Omaha, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 2000).
Payette, Pete. North American Forts. “Seaford Defenses.” Online at http://www.northamericanforts.com/East/vatide.html#seaford (Accessed April 12, 2012).
Quass, B. “Seaford Virginia” Online at http://www.quass.com/seafordvirginia.html (Accessed April 11, 2007).
Spaar, K. “The Potomac Appalachian trail club-short history of the Powhatan Indians”. Online at http://www.patc.net/history/native/ind_hist.html (Accessed April 11, 2007).
Historical Marker “Seaford NP-3,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.
“Chief Powhatan,” Find a Grave, www.findagrave.com (accessed May 2, 2012).
“Map of Southeastern Virginia,” Library of Congress, www.loc.gov (accessed May 2, 2012).