The Rappahannock Tribe has a rich cultural heritage along the banks of the Rappahannock River. They were officially recognized as one of the historic tribes of the Commonwealth of Virginia by an act of the General Assembly on March 25, 1983.
Captain John Smith arrived at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. In 1645, Bartholomew Hoskins patented the Tappahannock site, a port town which became a center of commerce during the 17th and 18th centuries as a crossroads, though the town was not officially established until 1692. Area colonials played a role in the repeal of the Stamp Act, Bacon's Rebellion, provided leaders in Virginia, Government and Military, and made notable contributions to the fight for Independence.
From the colonial era to the present day, the role and contributions of the African-American community in society, culture, and the economic successes of Tappahannock and Essex County has been paramount.
By the 1800’s the influence of prominent Essex statesmen and leaders spread to the state capital in Richmond and beyond, only to be brought to ruin by a devastating Civil War. The 19th century also gave rise to the era of the steamboats which plied the Rappahannock River and transported cargo and passengers to places in Virginia as well as up and down the East Coast. By 1900, the coming of the automobile and improved roads and businesses brought the first bridge across the Rappahannock, and Essex citizens responded to two World Wars.
Essex County was created April 16, 1692 from Old Rappahannock County. The only incorporated town in Essex County, Tappahannock sits on the shores of the Rappahannock River.
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