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Elizabeth City County was a county in southeastern Virginia from 1634 until 1952 when it was merged into the city of Hampton. Originally created in 1634 as Elizabeth River Shire, it was one of eight shires created in the Virginia Colony by order of the King Charles I. In 1636, it was subdivided, and the portion north of the harbor of Hampton Roads became known as Elizabeth City Shire. It was renamed Elizabeth City County a short time later.
Elizabeth City was originally named Kikotan (also spelled Kecoughtan and Kikowtan), presumably a word for the Native Americans living there when the English arrived in 1607. They were friendly to the English, but Sir Thomas Gates either worried about safety (including potential attack by the Spaniards and the Dutch) or coveted their corn fields after the "starving time" of the 1609–10 winter. The English seized their land while the men were out hunting, and for some reason, the natives never attacked the settlement in response.
The town of Hampton, established in 1680, became the largest city in Elizabeth City County, and was the county seat. Hampton became an independent city in 1908, though it remained the seat of Elizabeth City County and continued to share many services with the county. In 1952, Elizabeth City County and the only incorporated town in the county, Phoebus, merged with and into Hampton. This merger was the first in a series of municipal consolidations in Hampton Roads that resulted in most of the area being split into independent cities. With few exceptions, modern-day Hampton encompasses nearly all of what was Elizabeth City County.
The main exceptions are portions of Elizabeth City County that are now part of Newport News. At the time of the Peninsula Extension of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, part of the western portion of the county became part of Warwick County. This enabled the entire southern end of the extension to be in Warwick County. The City of Newport News was formed out of this portion of Warwick County, and on January 1927 the Elizabeth City County town of Kecoughtan also left the county, being annexed by the City of Newport News.
Since English settlers occupied the former Indian village of Kecoughtan in 1610, and the town at Jamestown was abandoned in 1699, the city of Hampton now claims to be the oldest continuously-settled English-speaking city in North America.
|1790-1950 Population as Elizabeth City County|
|1948||33.8% 1,617||57.3% 2,744||8.9% 427|
|1944||30.5% 1,128||69.2% 2,563||0.4% 13|
|1940||21.7% 652||77.9% 2,337||0.4% 11|
|1936||23.5% 597||75.8% 1,925||0.7% 18|
|1932||35.7% 700||62.6% 1,226||1.7% 33|
|1928||58.2% 1,122||41.8% 807|
|1924||28.3% 312||63.2% 698||8.5% 94|
|1920||38.2% 439||58.8% 675||3.0% 34|
|1916||23.6% 132||73.4% 411||3.0% 17|
|1912||9.4% 43||75.6% 347||15.0% 69|
Major communities in Elizabeth City County
- Buckroe Beach
- Fox Hill
- Langley Field
- Plum Tree Point
- Hampton (before it became an independent city)
- Aberdeen Gardens
- Pine Chapel Village