Becoming Hampton: Dates to remember

Sept. 12, 1570

Spanish Jesuits stop at Indian village of Kecoughtan en route to establishing settlement on the York River.



Chief Powhatan's warriors seize Kecoughtan and install his son Pochins as chief.


April 30, 1607


settlers land at Kecoughtan en route to establishing settlement at



Dec. 29, 1608

English settlers led by

Capt. John Smith

seek shelter from nor'easter at Kecoughtan village, observing the first recorded Christmas in English America.

Oct. 11, 1609

English settlers establish Fort Algernourne at Old Point Comfort.

July 9, 1610 Sir


Thomas Gates drives Indians from Kecoughtan, followed by the construction of Forts Henry and Charles at the mouth of the



July 30, 1619

The "ancient borough" of Kecoughtan is renamed

Elizabeth City


Aug. 20, 1619

First recorded Africans in


land at Old Point Comfort.

Jan. 3, 1624

William Tucker is born in Elizabeth City, becoming the first African-American child born in America.


Elizabeth City becomes one of the 8 original Virginia counties.

Feb. 10, 1634

Benjamin Syms bequeaths property to establish 1st free school in nation.

Aug. 27, 1667

Great hurricane strikes Elizabeth City County with 12-foot storm surge.

October 1692

Trustees lay out a new town on the Hampton River after the ports and towns act establishes a town, port of entry and customs house.

October 1706

Hampton is named for Earl of



Jan. 3, 1719

An expedition led by Royal Navy Lt. Robert Maynard returns from defeating

Blackbeard the Pirate


North Carolina

and places his head on a pike at the mouth of the Hampton River.

June 17, 1727

Builder Henry Cary Jr. begins work on what is now St. John's Episcopal Church.

Oct. 19, 1749

Great hurricane destroys Fort George at Old Point Comfort.

March 2, 1755

Elements of British Gen. Edward Braddock's expedition arrive in Hampton for the French & Indian War.

Oct. 25, 1775

British naval forces bombard Hampton, damaging St. John's Church and other buildings.

June 25, 1813

British forces under Adm George Cockburn sack Hampton, sparking national outrage and a cry for improved coastal defenses.

March 1819

Construction begins on

Fort Monroe


Jan. 17, 1822

Investors win approval to build the Hygeia Hotel at Old Point Comfort near Fort Monroe.

April 5, 1825

U.S. Army

establishes the Artillery School of Practice at Fort Monroe.

July 6, 1829

President Andrew Jackson

makes first of many visits to the Rip Rips, now Fort Wool.

May 7, 1831

Army engineer Lt. Robert E. Lee reports for duty supervising construction of the moat at Fort Monroe.

March 10, 1840

Baltimore Steam Packet Company begins daily steamship service to Old Point Comfort.

July 3, 1844

President John Tyler

and his wife Julia Gardiner Tyler visit Old Point Comfort during their honeymoon.

Sept. 17, 1849

Edgar Allan Poe

presented his last public reading of his poetry on the veranda of the Hygeia Hotel.

May 2, 1861


ratifies Virginia's decision to secede from the Union.

May 24, 1861

Union Maj. Gen.

Benjamin Franklin

Butler refuses to return fugitive slaves, using their status as "contraband of war" to make Fort Monroe a sanctuary for runaways.

June 10, 1861

Union and Confederate forces meet in first clash of Civil War at Battle of Big Bethel.

Aug. 7, 1861

Confederate soldiers led by Hampton resident J. C. Phillips burn town to prevent it from being used by Union soldiers or contraband slaves.

Sept. 17, 1861

Mary Peake, a free-born African-American resident of Hampton, begins teaching "contraband" slaves to read.

March 9, 1862

U.S.S. Monitor

steams out to meet

C.S.S. Virginia

in first battle between ironclad warships.

May 6, 1862

President Abraham Lincoln

arrives at Fort Monroe to witness taking of



Jan. 1, 1863

First Virginia reading of Emancipation Proclamation takes place under what is now known as the

Emancipation Oak


May 19, 1865

Captured Confederate president

Jefferson Davis

brought to Fort Monroe for imprisonment.

April 6, 1868

Hampton Normal & Agricultural Institute, now

Hampton University

, opens as a training school for emancipated slaves.

July 10, 1876

Harrison Phoebus buys Hygeia Hotel and builds nationally known resort.


Seafood pioneer James McMenamin opens first crab processing plant on Hampton River, putting the crab in "Crabtown."


J.S. Darling & Son opens on the Hampton River, quickly becoming the largest oyster processor in the world.

April 9, 1884

Fire devastates the Queen Street business district in Hampton.

April 4, 1896

First Hotel Chamberlin opens at Old Point Comfort.

June 20, 1897


Beach Hotel opens with a dance pavilion and soon-to-be famous amusement park.

April 1, 1900

Phoebus, formerly

Chesapeake City

, is named for hotelier Harrison Phoebus and incorporated into a town.

Aug. 7, 1917

Named in honor of aviation pioneer Samuel Pierpont Langley, Langley Field opens as joint project of the Army Signal Corps and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

March 7, 1920

Fire destroys the first Hotel Chamberlin at Old Point Comfort.

July 11, 1920

Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory is dedicated as the home of NACA.

Sept. 23, 1921

Army bombers led by Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell leave Langley Field to destroy the obsolete battleship U.S.S.


off the Virginia capes, demonstrating military value of air power.

Feb. 11, 1929

Second Chamberlin Hotel opens.

Aug. 23, 1933

Hurricane devastates Buckroe Beach, Langley Field, Old Point Comfort and Hampton.

March 1, 1935

Langley Field becomes center of tactical aviation for U.S. Army.

April 21, 1938

First Lady

Eleanor Roosevelt

dedicates Aberdeen Gardens black housing project.

Feb. 2, 1943

Army completes Military Highway, now Mercury Boulevard.

July 1, 1952

Hampton consolidates with Elizabeth City County and the Town of



Nov. 1, 1957


Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel


Oct. 1, 1958

The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics becomes the

National Aeronautics and Space Administration


April 27, 1959

First seven astronauts begin training at NASA Langley for the Mercury program.

Dec. 30, 1959

Old Bay Line Steamer "City of


" makes final call at Old Point Comfort.

March 6, 1962

Ash Wednesday

storm causes extensive flooding in coastal Hampton.

June 30, 1965

NASA Langley opens Lunar Landing Research Facility to train Apollo astronauts to land on the moon.

Jan. 31, 1970

Hampton Coliseum

dedicated with performance by

Jack Benny


Sept. 18, 2003

Hurricane Isabel cause severe damage across Hampton.

Compiled by Mark St. John Erickson