Discover Delmarva: Assateague Village

Although there aren’t many signs now, in the valley just below the Assateague Lighthouse — there used to be a thriving town called Assateague Village.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge supervisor, Michael Dixon says the village was set up in the late 18th century.

“Assateague Village had its humble beginnings in 1794 when several men purchased 163 acres behind me here from Thomas T Grove”, says Dixon.

The village blossomed over the years as more and more people called the island home.

“They had small houses, single rooms, dirt floors, very independent”, says Dixon.

Dixon says the people were self-sufficient even raising their own livestock.

“Most of the people lived off the land. They grew corn, wheat and stored their food in root cellars. In fact there’s still a root cellar in the hillside behind me”, says Dixon.

It was a unique existence according to Dixon who had the chance to speak with the island’s oldest living former resident about 10 years ago.

“He would talk about when he was a young boy and how he would get to school. He would get into a row boat, have to paddle across the channel and walk to school to Chincoteague Island”, says Dixon.

According to maps of the village, there was a one-room school house, a store and even a church in the tiny community.

However things started changing for the people on the island as the area shifted to tourism – and then a change in ownership.

“Because of the change in ownership, people actually moved some the houses over from Assateague over to Chincoteague”, says Dixon.

A few of those homes are still standing today on Chincoteague.

Historians say the villagers floated them across the channel.

Its a fact local historians point out connects the two islands.

“Though houses crumble and memories fade, the lineage and legacy of Assateague Village still lives on”, says Dixon.

Categories: Discover Delmarva, Maryland