Baylake Pines is a Treasure Trove of History
After four months at sea, colonist George Percy's ship entered the Chesupioc (Chesapeake) Bay on April 26, 1607, landed, and exploration began of this new land. He was astonished by what he described as "fair meadows and goodly tall trees, with Fresh-waters running through the woods." Shortly thereafter, his group was attacked by Indians, who retreated to the reciprocal gun fire. Therein lies the beginning of the Baylake Pines story. Known in historic circles as Henrytown(e), the area is believed to be the third English settlement in Virginia. Originally occupied by the Chesapian Indians, English settlers landed at Cape Henry in 1607 and quickly moved inland to settle in Jamestown. The famine of 1609 drove settlers back south in search of fish. In 1610 documents, forts were referred to along the Chesapeake Bay in support of the settlement in Jamestown. In a letter by Virginia's Lt. Governor Samuel Argall in 1613, he sent a fishing ship to "Henries Towne" to relieve the men there. Henrytown's namesake was the Prince of Wales Henry Frederick Stuart (and Cape Charles was named after his younger brother). The Indian natives and the settlers eventually found a way to coexist through the operation of trading outposts, as evidenced by iron tools and pipe fragments dating from 1610-1660. These artifacts were unearthed during an excavation by archeologist Floyd Painter in 1955, the year the neighborhood began to be developed. Painter also found Indian tools, pottery shards, the remains of a house, and two small children's teeth. Residents regularly report finding arrowheads in their gardens or on Treasure Island.
In 1635, Adam Thoroughgood received 5350 acres of land between the Chesapeake Bay and the Lynnhaven River via the Grand Patent, issued by the Governor of Virginia as payment for providing the passage for new settlers. Thoroughgood brought indentured servants (he himself being one) to the New World and after serving him in the development of his tobacco plantations, they were later granted 50 acres each. Thoroughgood built his home on what was described to be on top of Indian Hill near a Sandy Bay and a freshwater lake (Bay Lake). According to local historian and TCC professor Susan Boland, bits of English china have been found on a lot on Battery Rd which corroborate that well to-do settlers lived in this location. Thoroughgood did not live to enjoy this fruitful location for long, passing in 1640. His wife Sarah took on two more husbands while maintaining the property until the home burned down in 1650. Their son Adam (II), supposedly rebuilt in the same location with provisions that his mother Sarah had rights to stay at this home site (see home site diagram). He named it The Grand Manor. It is described as having a cellar which is an unusual feature in this flat region. In 2007, US Army scientists reviewed the site artifacts and concluded that Henrytown is on Lake Joyce in the neighborhood of Baylake Pines.
We expect the forts or homes of Henrytown were protected (from Native Americans or possibly during the Revolution) on the South by Rampart, a broad embankment raised as a fortification or protective barrier built around a town. To the north, they utilized Lookouts to spot British warships. And to the West, the heavy guns and artillery were contained in a Battery.
Lake Joyce used to be an inlet connecting Pleasure House Creek with the Chesapeake Bay (see today's brackish pond between Baylake and Indian Hill Rds). This is where Blackbeard raises his nasty head in the early 1700s. Edward Teach and his crew supposedly cut a 500' long and 70' wide channel in the land, pushing the dirt up into what is known as Treasure Island, a hilly island inside Lake Joyce. Blackbeard built a fort on this island which allowed the pirates to have a Lookout for merchant ships passing by. Their Queen Anne's Revenge hid stealthily behind the island until the right moment to seize the merchant ships and return with their Bounty! Their loot of Sea Chests full of valuables might have been left behind when Blackbeards crew fled to the Outer Banks and their reign of terror came to an end in Ocracoke. But you must brave the abundant natural overgrowth on the island to satisfy your curiosity! Better yet, avoid the chiggers and pick up the fictional novel Treasure Island to meet the characters Ben Gunn, cook John Silver, and Squire John Trelawney! Originally published in 1882, the characters take on historic relevance in the streets named after them in Baylake Pines.
In 1954, the Baylake Pines property, then known as "The Big Farm," was acquired by developer James N. Collier and H.M. Dixon, who formed Eastern Realty Corporation and developed a neighborhood amongst the pines, live oaks, azaleas, and dogwoods. They issued historically accurate names like Indian Hill, fort references like Rampart, yet to be proved legacies of Blackbeard, and the fictional account of a classic novel. The grandson of James N. Collier still resides in the neighborhood and has enjoyed updating many of these older homes to enjoy current trends and conveniences. Original owners enjoy passing their homes down to hopeful family members and homes are regularly trading owners to fit their current life needs, just as Sarah Thoroughgood made sure her family maintained a home in Henrytown. Baylake Pines has a rich and interesting history and, occasionally, arrowheads in their gardens!