In the 1800s, after the lighthouse was built, a small community grew up not far from here. By the early 1900s, about 225 lived in the village, which included a school, dry goods store, and a church. The residents harvested resources from the sea, hunted waterfowl and deer, gathered wild plants, and grazed livestock.
Watermen Followed the Seasons
in the fall and winiter, watermen braved freezing temperatures and winter gales to tong for Chincoteague's prized oysters. In spring and summer, they harvested clams and scallops, In the summer, they caught crabs. They ate some of their catch and sold the rest on Chincoteague Island.
Children Learned Their ABCs
Younger children were educated in a small schoolhouse in the village. Built in 1890, the one-room schoolhouse served students in grades one through six. Older children took the boat to Chincoteague to attend school.
Women Processed the Catch
Many of the village women processed menhaden into oil and fertilizer in a fish factory located in Toms Cove. Closely related to herring and sardines, menhaden spawn in the ocean and migrate into nearby bays and estuaries to feed on algae.
What Happened to the Village?
In 1922, Dr. Samuel B. Fields of Baltimore purchased most of the Virginia portion of Assateague
Island and fenced off the land. Villagers could no longer get to Tom's Cove, cutting them off from their livelihood. They gradually moved off the island, floating their houses on barges across the channel to Chincoteague. Today, all that remains of the village are a few building foundations and a cemetery.