Posts Tagged ‘genealogy’

Researching Historic Wellington House In “The Eastern Shore Room” At The Public Library In Accomac, Virginia

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

The Wellington House, A Historic Home For Sale

I had been doing  a little research for a customer  who is interested in an amazing  historic home Blue Heron Realty Co. has listed,  the main portion of which is believed to have been built in Colonial times,  possibly as early as the mid- 1700’s.  Named Wellington House, it’s a  beautiful historic brick home, very well preserved,  Flemish bond construction,  located on a wide saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay near Nassawadox, Virginia.  ( For more info,  click on the Historic Homes listings on )  The goal of the research was to glean additional detail  about its origins and history,  possibly even locate a very old photo, ( although a photo is always a lot to hope for) .     As part of the research process,  a trip to the  “Eastern Shore Room”  at the Accomac (main) branch of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Public Library system seemed in order.

The " Eastern Shore Room" At The Public Library In Accomac, Virginia

For anyone doing detailed research on the many historic homes and buildings located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore as well as general research and genealogical research,  the  “Eastern Shore Room”  is a treasure trove indeed.  A great many very old photos have been donated to the library,  including a collection of fine shots of historic buildings taken in the late 1800’s by Griffin Calahan,  most of  which  have been digitized so that  the  tap-tap of  a mouse will yield a copy to take home with you, no charge.  The library is also  the recipient of the papers from six of the main persons who have done genealogical abstracts here and it contains  all the Eastern Shore abstracts that have been complied as well.  Its  collection of  issues of  local newspapers stretches all the way back to 1881.   The “Eastern Shore Room'” as a separate space to house their burgeoning collections was established in 1976 and is the acknowledged best source,  possibly other than the Library of Virginia or the Library of Congress,  to research topics related to the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  A number of  singular items can be found here including  rare photos,  a very rare 1st edition of Sterling’s  “History of  Hog Island'”  and an original  map of   Cape Charles dating back to the time the town was founded, 1886.

Dr. Miles Barnes, Editor, "The Seashore Chronicles"

The curator of all these valuable and unique  papers is Dr. Miles Barnes.  I asked Dr. Barnes how long he had been with the library and was surprised to hear  “36 years” ,   as he looks so young.  ( I’m guessing his parents never had to wonder what he was going to be when he grew up,  having started at the library part time as a mere boy ! )  In partnership with the University of Virginia,  Dr. Barnes has published a fascinating project on  railroads and how they  transformed the Eastern Shore.   He  is also an editor of  a book about  the Virginia off-shore Barrier Islands entitled “The Seashore Chronicles”,  which I highly recommend as most interesting reading.  (  In fact,  it was so interesting I bought a copy as a gift for Eldest Daughter, who also loves historical books,  and asked him to sign it  for her. )   The library’s collection of Eastern Shore items has grown so substantially they can no longer be housed in the one room.  Like the Lone Ranger,  a  local bank,  Shore Bank , has come to the rescue of the library, ( whose current building is now over 45 years old ),  with the donation of five acres of land  adjacent to Shore Bank’s headquarters in Onley, a prime location.   Funds to construct  the planned new 30,000 sq. ft. building will be raised from private donations, grants and  from foundations.  ( Funds can be donated now to the Eastern Shore Public Library Foundation . )  Obviously this is an exciting time for Dr. Barnes and the “Eastern Shore Room” .  Because of  current space constraints,  parts of the collections are scattered now in five different locations within the library but can  be all pulled together in the new facility.  Then,  having talked his ear off and also having  been lucky enough to locate  a photo of  Wellington House taken in the late 1800’s  in the archives of the Calahan Collection,  ( which Dr. Barnes kindly not only printed but  copied the file to  a CD for me ),   it was goodbye,  you’re awesome,  see you again soon,  to the “Eastern Shore Room”.