The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954

Book Reviews

Virginia's Eastern Shore: A History of Northampton and Acco-
mac Counties. By Ralph T. Whitelaw. Richmond (Virginia
Historical Society), 1951. 2 vols. $17.50.
These are handsome, substantial volumes, well printed on paper
of good quality, and well bound. The end papers, cartographical
in character, are reproductions of a map of 1673. Two maps in
color, folded, make clear the layout of the land patents of the
two counties treated in the work. Illustrations are abundantly
numerous and pertain to the exteriors and interiors of houses of
historical and architectural interest, to gardens and landscaped
details of special interest, and to a few personages identified with
the district.
Mr. Whitelaw, a cultivated amateur, has a deep love for the
land and the houses and the history of the Eastern Shore. This
devotion to the place and its antiquities has flowered in the present
work, one that in the reviewer's opinion is unique. It is a history
of an area in terms of the parcelling out of the original tracts
of land, and of the successive transfers of the parcels, together
with due attention given to the houses on these plots or estates,
and with some record of the individuals who occupied them. The
work began when the author took occasional snapshots of old
houses in his countryside. "As the collection grew, the next logical
step was to secure a complete pictorial record of all of the older
houses. Then came the insatiable desire to know more about
them: what was the history of each site, who had lived there,
when were the houses built, and by whom? The result of
the research is a story of the land and its owners, rather than the
usual chronological history of its economic and social develop-
ment, but the latter is inevitably brought out in any account of
the people whose lives influenced this development."
Eight chapters compose the work. The heart of the study is
made up of two very long chapters on the two counties and their
"lands." Shorter chapters relate to the Indians, the general history
of the area, religion, education, and Virginia land patents in
Maryland. Like an encyclopedia, the volumes can be picked up,
sampled, and savored here and there at will, and always some
handful of particularized facts possessing a special interest or
attractiveness will come to attention. But readers persistent

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101152/. Accessed May 6, 2015.