Who was the rascal?

Published 5:09 pm Monday, December 31, 2018

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I’ve always been fascinated by old maps, which can teach us a tremendous amount of local history. The location of old roads, wharves, family seats: You name it. Somebody, sometime has included it on a map.

One of my favorites is the Federal Army’s map of Isle of Wight County drawn during the Civil War. It was compiled by the Army’s Topographic Department under an A.H. Campbell’s supervision. While it contains a number of what we would now consider misspellings, it also contains names that are rarely seen today. Among them, Rascoe Neck.

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I’ve heard the name all my life, but reading it afresh on Campbell’s map, I wanted to learn more. And the most important tidbit I learned is that Rascoe Neck was involved in an early boundary change.

It seems strange now, but when the boundaries of Warrosquoyacke (Isle of Wight) and Nansemond counties were drawn in the 1630s, a significant portion of what we know as Carrollton ended up in Nansemond.

It would seem today that Chuckatuck Creek, the current dividing line between the two, would have been the logical line always, but for some reason it was not. The reason is lost to history, but might well have had something to do with who owned what land at the time.

What is known is that the handful of people who lived in that corner of the county petitioned the court as early as 1656 to have the area ceded to Isle of Wight. The petitioners identified themselves as residents of Ragged Island and Terrascoe Neck.

For some reason — probably the historic jealousy of local governments to protect their boundaries — it was more than a century later — 1769 — when the area was added to Isle of Wight. Equally fascinating to me is who — or what — was Terrascoe.

The name Terrascoe Neck shows up in Boddie’s “Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County” at least five times, but always as a location, never as a surname.

And the name persists into the 20th century, but not as Terrascoe. Folks, it seems, never could quite agree on what the area was called. At some point, it was changed to Rascoe, also spelled Rascow, and one variation or the other persists until today among older residents.

There’s one more variation of the name, though, and it’s my favorite — Rascal’s Neck. What, or who, prompted that name is also lost to history, but I’ll bet it would make a great story.

Most local place names have been associated with property owners. Among them are Day’s Neck, Todd’s (Battery Park), Brewer’s Neck, Smith’s Neck, Benn’s Church, Logan’s Factory, Scott’s Factory as well as Wrenn’s and Crumpler’s Mills.

Another name that has changed in the Carrollton area is Cooper’s Creek, which divides Ragged Island from the land west of it. It was originally Cowper’s Creek, named for a prominent family with holdings on its western shore.