Tales of Virginia – The Commons

Poquoson is a small peninsula jutting into the Chesapeake Bay. Located on a patch of land between Seaford and Yorktown, it exists as the oldest continuously named town in Virginia. It derives its names from the Algonquin Indian word “pocosin”, which means a swampy or dismal place. Surrounded by water and resting by the Plum Tree island National Wildlife Refuge. According to local environmental news sources, much of Poquoson is approximately seven feet above sea level – and up to 90 percent of Poquoson lies in the floodplain.

The first mention of Poquoson was recorded in an English land patent issued to Captain Christopher Cal­thorpe on April 26, 1631. Since Colonial times, Poquoson has been the home of rugged and closely knit clans of watermen. Manu current families can date their ancestors in the area back hundreds of years. For eons, residents owning cattle let their animals roam freely in lush, marshy regions known locally as The Commons. According to local legend about The Commons, an older woman by the name of Dolly Messick went out into the fields to fetch her cows before a bad winter storm. Dolly’s three children refused to help. Tales of folklore say that Dolly drowned due to flooding. Eternally angry about her children’s lack of help, Dolly began to haunt her lazy children – her daughters would allegedly wake up screaming in the middle of the night with their hair tied to the bedposts. The daughters claimed to be haunted their whole lives.

Local legend also tells a story of a Woman in White. The legend states the apparition of a woman dressed only in a night gown wanders the public street for help. The ghostly woman is commonly seen at the site of an old morgue – however, the woman is known for interacting with the living. The Woman in White has approached the living asking for help, she needs a phone to call her husband. When led back to someone’s house to make her call she will disappear before the front door is reached.

 

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