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Settled for over 300 years, surrounded by waters which still provide livelihood and recreation; known for ponies, wildfowl, seafood, seashore, "old salts" and decoys, And never unti now has Chincoteague's complete history been told. By Kirk Mariner
This book chronicles the often surprising story of a place named for Indians who never really lived there, settled not by fishermen but by cattlemen, so individual that it refused to follow the rest of the state into the Confederacy during the Civil War. Here is a full account of how th efamous pony penning came to be, of the boom and bust of the seafood industry, and of a hardy people who survived fire, flood and isolation to build a community that has now been visited by millions. It is the story not of one island, but of several - Chincoteague, Assateague and Wallops - and of their interplay with both the nearby Eastern Shore and with fare more distant places familiar to islanders who "went to sea" at an early age.
Among the characters in the story are an African prince sold into slavery who chose the island for his home once he was free, the man who changed the island's history by introducing the cultivation of oysters, an artist whose first big break was a series of drawings of Chincoteague, a grand dame who traveled the world after being raised on a wild goose farm, a carver who sold for $4 a dozen decoys now worth tens of thousanads of dollars, the "outlaw gunner" who stopped hunting ducks and started training them to do tricks for the stage, two brothers who became actors and opened off-Broadway in a famous musical, and even a U.S. President who caused an "elephant stampede."
Once Upon and Island is both good, sound history and a fun read for anyone who is fascinated by colorful, celebrated Chincoteague Island.
Kirm Mariner's retirement as a United Methodist minister has given him the time to become a full-time student of his native Eastern Shore of Virginia. His nine books include Off 13: The Eastern Shore of Virginia Guidebook, True Tales of the Eastern Shore, and Glimpses of a Vanished Eastern Shore.