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Morattico Place Names

 

Anthony's Cove: Moving east on Mulberry Creek from its mouth at Colbourne's Cove toward its head at Forest Landing, one encounters on the northern shore of the creek, Brick Kiln Cove, Raccoon Cove, and then Anthony's Cove, which is the first water visible from the road looking south as one travels from Litwalton to Morattico.
Brick Kiln Cove: On the northern shore of Mulberry Creek, less than a quarter of a mile from its mouth, Brick Kiln Cove extends in a northwesterly direction back toward Morattico Road. At high tides waters from the cove spill onto Mulberry Creek Road and even onto Morattico Road itself. During Littleton Downman Mitchell's construction of the second Morattico great house in the early 1860's, bricks for the foundation of the house were made in the area of Brick Kiln Cove. Colloquially the cove is referred to as "Brickill," and in recent times it has been occasionally called by the name "Raccoon Cove," which in the early nineteenth century actually designated the next cove upcreek from it. See reference to Raccoon Cove below.
Carpenter's Landing: On the south side of Mulberry Creek, between the mouth of the creek and the mouth of Raccoon Cove on the north side, Carpenter's Landing was used from the early nineteenth century into the early twentieth century as a boat landing. It is noted on Webb's 1835 map and referred to in Richard Thrift's "In Retrospect" (1987) . See bibliography.
Colbert Point: At the eastern end of Riverside Drive, Colbert Point is at the mouth of Mulberry Creek as it flows into Mulberry Bay. Behind Colbert Point, on its northern shore, is Colbourn's Cove or House Cove. RCV Seafood was situated on Colbert Point.
Colbourn's Cove: Until the turn of the twentieth century, at which time S. H. "Sam" Colbourn operated an oyster packing and shell grinding plant on Colbert Point, Colbourn’s Cove was known as "House Cove." See reference below.
Curlett's Point: On the north shore of the Rappahannock and the western shore of Morattico, where the waters of Morattico and Lancaster Creeks enter the river, Curlett's Point is indicated on contemporary maps by the designation "cupola," which refers to the structure atop one of the houses on the point once occupied by Jack Curlett.
Emmanuel Church: Located on Morattico Road, the first church house of the Emmanuel United Methodist Church was dedicated on September 16, 1893, at a location east of the present site. In 1897, the first church building was destroyed by fire, and another building was erected and completed east of the first building around 1898. The church bell, which may still be seen in front of the present Emmanuel Church, was donated in the year 1900.
Frog Pond: On the western side of Mulberry Creek Road is a low lying, swampy area which has been known as Frog Pond, or simply as "The Pond." An artesian well that provided water to many of the area residents from the 18th century until the mid-20th century flowed at the northeastern boundary of Frog Pond.
Frog Pond School: Facing north at the corner of Morattico Road and Mulberry Creek Road was for many years a frame schoolhouse attended by residents of Morattico in the 1930's and 1940's. The colloquial name, Frog Pond School, came from the pond at the rear of the building.
Hunter's Lodge: Originally part of the Downman estate, Hunter's Lodge is a tract of land adjoining Belle Isle.
House Cove: Situated in front of Morattico Plantation and on the north side of Colbert Point, House Cove is formed by the waters of Mulberry Creek. It is pictured on early nineteenth century maps, where it is referred to by the name "House Cove."
Ives Creek: Named for Thomas Ives, a nephew of Charles Cale, who owned land in the Norwood tract in the late seventeenth century and willed some of this land to Ives, this creek branches off of Lancaster Creek on its eastern shore, north of Curlett's Point. This creek is known now as Ivey Creek. It was the northern boundary of Morattico Plantation, purchased by Joseph Ball I. See reference below.
Ivey Creek: This creek flows into Lancaster Creek on its eastern shore, at the approximate confluence of Morattico and Lancaster Creeks, just north of Curlett's Point and the Morattico Bar. Its name, now fixed as "Ivey Creek" on contemporary maps, comes from an apparent mis-reading of the name, "Ives Creek," recorded on Webb's 1835 map. See reference to Ives Creek above.
Lancaster Creek: Originating on the south side of State Route 3, just across the road from Chinn's Mill Pond, Lancaster Creek flows approximately in a southerly direction into the Rappahannock River. Variously known as "the eastern branch of Morattico Creek" and as Moratico Creek (one "t'), Lancaster Creek is the dividing line between Lancaster and Richmond Counties.
Morattico: The name "Morattico" originated from the word "Moraughtacund," the tribe of Indians that lived on the north bank of the Rappahannock River in Lancaster counties. Their chief village, population about 300, was at the junction of the Morattico River (now the confluence of Lancaster and Morattico Creeks).
Morattico Creek: The naming of Morattico Creek is complex and still open to debate. This body of water is thought to have received its name from the second Morattico Indian habitation, which existed between 1650 and 1670 in what is now Richmond County, on the western shore of what is now known as Lancaster Creek. Early maps contain references to Moratico Creek (with one "t"), which was likely the original name of Lancaster Creek before this body of water became known as the dividing line between Lancaster and Richmond Counties. On William Webb’s 1835 map, there is a representation of "Morattico Creek" which flows in a southerly direction from Ives Creek (now Ivey Creek) around Curlett's Point, and into the Rappahannock River. Even earlier documents refer to the "Eastern Branch of Morattico Creek," which appears to refer to what is now Lancaster Creek. Contemporary maps show the waters of Morattico Creek and Lancaster Creek coming together in a small unnamed bay which flows into the Rappahannock River at the point of the "Morattico Bar."
Morattico General Store: Built in 1901 near the end and on the north side of what is now Morattico Road, the Morattico General Store is a large white, two-story frame structure with porches top and bottom overlooking the Rappahannock River. Its oiled, heart-pine floors, high ceilings, and center-of- the-store kerosene stove evoke images of an earlier era. It has remained in virtually continual operation, now for nearly a century, through a succession of nine owners. Morattico General Store, a local landmark and treasure, was closed in 2003 and is now the home of The Morattico Waterfront Museum.
Morattico Point: On early maps the point of land at the end of State Route 622, now Morattico Road, was referred to as "Morattico Point." This point became the site at the turn of the twentieth century of the Morattico Wharf, a main stop for steamboats enroute from Baltimore to Fredericksburg through the early 1930's.
Morattico Road: Morattico Road (State Route 622) originates on State Route 3, just west of Lively, Virginia. It ends on a point of land jutting into the Rappahannock River, a point referred to on nineteenth century maps as Morattico Point. At the turn of the twentieth century this was the site of "The Morattico Wharf," a main stop for steamboats traveling from Baltimore to Fredericksburg through the early 1930's.
Mud Creek: "Mud Creek" was the official designation of the United States Geological Survey of Mulberry Creek, a name that may have originated in Joseph Ball II's 1742 instructions regarding "Mud's Creek" to his nephew, Joseph Chinn. See reference to Mulberry Creek below.
Mulberry Bay: Mulberry Bay is the body of water on Morattico's southern shore. It is formed by the confluence of waters from Mulberry Creek, the Rappahannock River, and Lancaster and Morattico Creeks, as they flow around Curlett's Point into the Rappahannock.
Mulberry Creek: Mulberry Creek, referred to on Webb's 1835 map and on geological survey maps of the 1920's as Mud Creek (and even earlier by Joseph Ball II as "Mud's Creek") is a tidal stream about two and a half miles long, which enters the Rappahannock River at Colbert Point, approximately twenty-six miles above the river's mouth. Behind Colbert Point the creek broadens north and west into a small bay known as House Cove or Colbourn's Cove from which it proceeds in an east-southeasterly direction to its head at Forest Landing, where once stood a wooden footbridge. On the northern shore of the creek are Brick Kiln Cove, Raccoon Cove, and Anthony's Cove.
Norwood: A tract of land in both Lancaster and Richmond Counties that was originally part of the original Morattico Tract, once owned by Joseph Ball, Raleigh William Downman, and later by R. H. Chilton (d. 1927). By 1835 the southern boundary of the Norwood tract was Ives Creek (now Ivey Creek). The origin of the name Norwood is unknown, though it has been suggested that Norwood may have been a family name of one of the original owners.
Norwood Church: Norwood Baptist Church is located on the north side of Morattico Road, east of the village proper. It was established in 1893, and the present church was built in 1897 on a piece of property that was part of the original Norwood Tract.
Raccoon Cove: Raccoon Cove is designated on Webb's 1835 map as the cove on the north bank of Mulberry Creek that one comes to just before the creek narrows dramatically on its path toward Forest Landing, at its head. It is upcreek from Brick Kiln Cove.
Riverside Drive: Originating on Morattico Road, just before it enters the village proper, Riverside Drive, known also as "the beach road," follows the contours of Mulberry Bay, ending at Colbert Point, the former site of  RCV Seafood.
The Stream: On the northern shore of Mulberry Bay, this stream flows beneath Riverside Drive to form a tidal pond which extends northward to Morattico Road and is a haven for Ospreys, Herons, and other waterfowl.

 

For many of the details in "Morattico Place Names," thanks to Weston Conley and Cecil Bromley.

 

Morattico Bibliography

Haynie, Miriam. The Stronghold: A Story of Historic Northern Neck Virginia and Its People. Richmond: Dietz Press, 1959.
Holland, C. G. "A Northern Neck Indian Path Complex, Quarterly Bulletin: Archeological Society of Virginia, September 1988, 43, no. 3, pps. 108-121.
McKenney, Robert N. "Morattico Plantation--Lancaster County," Northern Neck Virginia Historical Magazine, December 1988, xxxviii, no. 1, pps. 4318-4336.
Miller, Mary R. Place Names of the Northern Neck of Virginia. Richmond, Va.: Virginia State Library, 1983.
Nugent, Nell Marion. Cavaliers and Pioneers. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1983.
Simmons, C. Jackson. Speaking of the Northern Neck of Virginia and its Long-Untrodden Ways During Three and a Half Centuries. 1988.
Thrift, Richard C. "Morattico--A Personal Remembrance." Unpublished manuscript in Mary Ball Washington Museum, Lancaster, Virginia.
Webb, William. "Survey Notes and Map." 1835. Unpublished map and survey notes in Mary Ball Washington Museum, Lancaster, Virginia.
Weeks, John W. [Secretary of War]. "Letter on Mulberry Creek." 68th Congress, 2nd

 

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