John D. Bridgers M.D.
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Shaggy Dog Chronicles
Chapter 2, Part 1 - More about beavers


More About Beavers
Concerning the Lineage of
David Jordan and Henrietta Sutton Whichard


By my best recollection it was about a week after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor when I first heard of the finger of land jutting from the south shore of The Chesapeake Bay called Willoughby Spit.

As shown on the map of the Norfolk area at the end of Chapter ONE it's seen that Willoughby Spit extends westward along the shoreline of The Bay and encompasses another modest bay between itself and the southern main land;  to wit:  Willoughby Bay.

At the lower rim of this smaller cove was then, and still is, located the Norfolk Naval Base and thereon the U. S. Naval Air Station.

In the stir created by the Pearl Harbor attack, all service personnel away from their assigned stations had been abruptly ordered back to duty -- as one learned in service it was the usual business of "hurry up and wait."

I had been on leave at home in Greenville, North Carolina having just finished flight training in Miami, Florida, and was bound for Advance Carrier Training Command in Norfolk for fleet training after receiving my wings and being commissioned an Ensign in the Naval Reserve.

We were then flying from the small original Norfolk airfield -- I believed called Chambers Field.  East Field, a much larger facility was nearing completion at Breezy Point, as the Norfolk facilities were being notably enlarged and readied for war, long threatened and suddenly a reality.

In any event, on our first flight from this smaller field, extending out into the water, we were told to enter the air traffic pattern by flying westward along Willoughby Spit. 

Little did I then realize that Willoughby Spit had long connection with my family.

My uncle, David Julian Whichard, -- beloved "Big Dave" to those in our immediate and extended Greenville tribe -- first introduced me to the Virginia heritage of the Whichard family.

He, in turn, had obviously learned much from his parents and from the papers left by his cousin, Rogers Day Whichard, which were published in 1954.

More recently these writings have been revised and up-dated by Joseph Howard Whichard and his son Eddy Howard Whichard of Virginia Beach and re-published in 1991.

These compilations, are indeed, "labors of love" and more an exhaustive family-tree type collection than the narrative of our particular geneal stream, which is my aim;  but my annals are totally indebted to the sources mentioned.

Most of the older families in eastern North Carolina came to that state from "The Tidewater Hearth" of southeastern Virginia, the Whichards among them, as similarly had trekked the Bridgers family as traced in the preceding chapter.

Interestingly enough, despite the proximity of their beginnings, my searches have revealed no earlier connection between these old Virginia/North Carolina families until my parents met and married.

For those more interested in the wide branches from our roots rather than the tributaries to our lineage, the writings of Rogers Day Whichard and Joseph Howard Whichard and son are available.

Singularly enough, their families in more recent generations had migrated back to the Tidewater from the Coastal Plain of North Carolina to whence earlier generations had moved from colonial Virginia.

So taking a larger view, the peregrinations of the Whichards has been more of a circulation than simply a dispersal.

Our colonial American forebears were no great sticklers for consistent spelling, and indeed, satisfied themselves with all sorts of phonetic variations.

Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, a shy history professor before he became a military immortal in The Civil War, is said to have noted:  "I have little use for those who can only spell a word one way!"

Our languages tend to garner permanence in structure and usage as a literature develops.  The lack of the same in earlier days, as well as the Southerner's propensity for colloquialisms, undoubtedly helped account for the linguistic inconsistency of our ancestors and ourselves.

However, no words mutated more in spelling than did surnames and what we now spell as Whichard, which in days gone by had meta-morphed between Wysard, Wishard, Wichard, Wisart and others.

In general the Wishart group stayed in Virginia and eventually disappeared, whereas the Whichards oscillated between "The Old Dominion" and "The Old North State," and generation-by-generation became more dispersed, although there seems a more durable pocket of these folk in eastern North Carolina than elsewhere.

According to Rogers Day Whichard, in the fullness of time a group, whose ancestors settled in The Tidewater between 1607 and 1620, decreed that such folk could declare themselves among "The First Families of Virginia."

In this account we shall refer to several ancestors in our collateral lines for whom such honor can be claimed; to wit, Thomas Savage, Francis Mason and perhaps others who were on hand early, but who fit better into our narrative at a later time.

Thomas Savage figured in the settling of Jamestown.

Francis Mason settled in 1613 along a small stream which flows into Willoughby Bay, a rill first known as "Mr. Mason's Creek," but on modern maps simply as Mason's Creek.

Capt. Thomas Willoughby came upon the scene in 1611 and in 1643 received patent for another 1500 acres along the bayside stretch in Lower Norfolk County which would thereafter bear his name, Willoughby Spit.

About a decade later in 1654 he would be granted an additional 1400 acres adjoining his original homestead and abutting the land of Francis Mason.

This second plot was granted as an award for his having transported 28 people from The British Isles to Virginia as new settlers.

He received 50 acres for each passage for which he stood, and each such newcomer repaid this indebtedness by becoming an indentured servant to the Willoughby family for the next seven years.

Among these "headrights" was listed James Wishard, our first immigrant ancestor in whom is rooted our maternal branch and today's family name of Whichard.

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