In 1865, the war ended and the old Hampton families flocked back to the ruins of their once beautiful homes. The streets and lots were marked out again and house building commenced.
The courthouse reverted to the county authorities, and the graded school for freedmen was transferred to the Lincoln School, which had been built of old hospital wards.
The few survivors of the congregation of the old church served more or less irregularly in the Odd Fellows Hall on Court Street, known as Patrick Henry Hall. The first regular rector after the war was Rev. J. B. McCarty, who had been a chaplain in the Federal army. In less than five years the church was again restored, and it has at present a flourishing congregation. A tablet on the walls gives a short history of the edifice and its ministers followed by this quotation from the psalms: "0 give thanks unto the Lord, for his mercy endureth forever. "
Among the relics of the past, which are the prized possessions of the church is the old vestry book to which reference has been made, and a cup, chalice and patten of beautiful and antique work. The communion cup is by long odds the oldest church plate in the United States. It bears the hall mark of 1617, and was given by Mrs. Mary Robinson, of London, in 1619, to the "church in Smith's Hundred in Virginia," as the inscription upon it testifies. This hundred lay on the north side of James River between Weyanoke and Sandy Point, but was wiped out by the massacre in 1622. The name of the hundred was changed, in 1619, from "Smith's Hundred," which was its title during Sir Thomas Smith's presidency of the London Company to "Southampton Hundred," when the Earl of Southampton succeeded Smith. As Hampton was named from the same great friend of Virginia, it is properly the custodian of this elegant and unique treasure.
Among the tombstones still to be seen in the church
yard, perhaps the most interesting are those of Captain George Wray, who died April 9, 1758, and Captain Henry Mowatt, of the British Navy, who in October, 1775, burned the town of Portland, Maine, because it refused to give him provisions.
The school comes next after the church in importance, and as soon as order was restored out of chaos, this question enlisted the attention of the people of Hampton. The old Hampton Academy building had perished in the fire of 1862, but the mortgage bonds in which its endowment fund of 10,000 had been invested were preserved by Col. J. C. Phillips, who took them to Richmond with him, when he refugeed there. A small school building was put up, this time of brick, which performed a valuable service for many years. In 1902 this building made way for the present handsome modern up-to-date structure. A tablet placed in the entrance hall proclaims the name of the school as the " Syms-Eaton Academy, " thus perpetuating the memory of the two noble benefactors, who considered aright that they could find no better way of attaining true glory than educating their fellow men.
In March, 1866, Captain Wilder had been succeeded by General Samuel C. Armstrong as superintendent of contrabands and officer in charge of the Freedmen's Bureau. From the beginning he took special interest in the colored schools, having charge of those in ten counties in eastern Virginia. It was his suggestion that Hampton would be a fitting spot for a permanent training school for colored teachers.
In 1870, the old Chesapeake Female College, which had been used as a hospital during the war, was purchased for the government together with the forty acres of land owned by General B. F. Butler for $50,000, as a home for disabled soldiers. The number of buildings was increased to nearly seventy and the government purchased forty-three acres of land in addition to the original forty. Three large buildings have been erected for hospital purposes and are supplied with every modern appliance for the sick. Nearly 17000 veterans have been cared for since the Home was established, and about 9000 of these rest in the National Cemetery nearby. As a result of the expenditure made by
these Federal veterans of every nationality a town between Hampton and Fort Monroe has grown up called ^'Phoebus," named in honor of Mr. Harrison Phoebus, a successful hotel man. Its population is over 3000.
During the war the old Hygeia Hotel was carted away, because it interfered with the training of guns in the Fort. After the war, the Hygeia was at once rebuilt on its later site close to the beach, but it was only a small building. In 1867, Mr. Phoebus purchased it, fitted it with all the modern conveniences and greatly enlarged it, till it had capacity enough to accommodate 1200 guests. It became a great resort for pleasure seekers, and Mr. Phoebus became very wealthy. Some years ago the Federal government decreed its removal, and as a substitute the splendid brick building known as the Chamberlin Hotel superseded, but unfortunately burned as stated elsewhere.
In keeping with the growth of the vicinity, since the war, has been the enormous development of Fort Monroe. The present fortifications embrace a parapet wall a mile and a quarter long, enclosing eighty-six acres and costing over $2,000,000. The fortress is partially washed by the waters of Hampton Roads and is separated from the mainland by a wide and deep moat. It is equipped with disappearing guns, which have a range of twelve miles or more. Some consider it next in strength to the celebrated fortress of Gibraltar, though probably the fortifications of Quebec from their natural advantages are more impregnable.
Fort Wool, on the Rip Raps opposite to Fort Monroe, has also been immensely strengthened. Like the other, it is equipped with immense disappearing guns and the latest machinery for defence in time of war.
Indeed, the whole region of what was known, in 1619, as "Elizabeth City Corporation" has greatly improved in the forty-five years since the war, and its appearance is a monument to the industry of the inhabitants. From the west end of Newport News to Old Point Comfort there is a population close on to 50,000 people compared with about 5000 in 1860. The population of Elizabeth City County is upwards of 26000 and that of Hampton very near 8000. The town has handsome paved streets and sidewalks, electric lights, electric cars,, fine stores and bank buildings, and is
connected with Richmond by one of the best railroad lines in the Union, while the wharf at Old Point is the stopping place of steamers to Norfolk, to Washington, and to Baltimore and New York. It is connected with Newport News, three and a half miles distant, by railroad and street railway service, and with Norfolk, fifteen miles distant, by a number of steamship lines and three fast ferries.
Statistics compiled by a prominent physician indicate climatic conditions in the county as equal to any found in the State. The water supply is abundant and truck farming in the immediate vicinity is extensively carried on. The manufactories consist of saw mills, iron foundries, and shoe, sash and blind, oil and crab factories. The pluck of its inhabitants exhibited under so many vicissitudes of fortune in the past has won for the town the name of the "game-cock town."