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The Commonwealth of Virginia is divided into ninety-five counties and thirty-eight independent cities, which are considered county-equivalents for census purposes.

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City of Poquoson, Virginia

City of Poquoson Education, Geography, and HistoryPoquoson, Virginia City Police

Poquoson is an independent city located in the state of Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 12,150. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Poquoson with surrounding York county for statistical purposes.

Poquoson is located on the Virginia Peninsula, in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area.

Poquoson, which was formerly part of York County, became an incorporated town in 1952 and an independent city in 1975. (In Virginia, municipalities incorporated as independent cities are not part of any county.) However, the ties remain close. Over 30 years after Poquoson became a politically independent entity, some constitutional services such as the courts, sheriff and jail continue to be shared with neighboring York County.

Poquoson is one of the oldest continuously named cities in Virginia. It is also one of the few to retain a name which derived from the Native Americans who inhabited the area before colonization by the English began in the 17th century.

Etymology - Origin of City of Name

A pocosin, as the word is now spelled, is an upland swamp in the coastal plain of the southeastern United States.


County QuickFacts: City of Poquoson

City History

The name of the city is a Native American word which roughly translates to "great marsh" or "flat land." The term pocosin, with its varied spellings, was a term used by the area's inhabitants to describe a low, marshy, woody place covered by water in the winter, but is dry in the summer. These Native Americans were Algonquins, a tribal group affiliated through the Powhatan Confederacy, and were hostile to the early settlers. A petition to have the name of the parish and river changed was an attempt to rid the language of all vestiges of Indian terms. However, "poquoson" has survived through the centuries and has become a proper noun used to designate the present city.

The current city is a remnant of a larger area known from the first days of its settlement in the early 17th century by English colonists as the New Poquoson Parish of the Church of England. In the colonial times before separation of church and state and freedom of religion were established in Virginia and the United States, the church parish boundaries and governmental ones were often the same. In addition to the current city of Poquoson, New Poquoson Parish originally included the areas in York County known today as Poquoson, Tabb, Grafton, Dare and Seaford. This land was opened for settlement in the year 1628 and was occupied by people from the English settlement of the Virginia Colony established at Kecoughtan in 1610 by Sir Thomas Gates which eventually became part of the current City of Hampton. The first reference to the city is believed to be in Colonial records of a land grant to Christopher Calthorpe in 1631 by a court in what became the former Elizabeth City County (which consolidated with the Town of Phoebus and the City of Hampton in 1952, assuming the latter's name, and becoming a single large independent city).

In 1634, the eight original shires of Virginia were created. Poquoson was located in Charles River Shire. The name was changed to York County in 1642-43. The York River was known earlier as the Charles River, and its name was also changed about the same time.

Poquoson grew as a close-knit community of York County for the next 300 years. During the American Revolutionary War, independence as won at nearby Yorktown, a major tourist attraction of the Historic Triangle of Colonial Virginia.

Poquoson became an incorporated town in 1952, as the citizens of the community wanted more local control of the public schools. The action enabled Poquoson to establish its own public school system. The town became an independent city in 1975 in order to maintain this status. The change from incorporated town to independent city status also effectively protected Poquoson from potential annexation suits by the adjacent City of Hampton.

Poquoson, Virginia established as a post office circa 1885. [Virginia Genealogy, Sources & Resources, by Carol McGinnis, Genealogical Publishing Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1993.]

Poquoson, Virginia incorporated as a town in 1952 and incorporated as a city in 1976. Located in York County, Virginia. [Virginia Genealogy, Sources & Resources, by Carol McGinnis, Genealogical Publishing Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1993.]

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 78.4 square miles (203.1 km2), of which, 15.5 square miles (40.2 km2) of it is land and 62.9 square miles (162.9 km2) of it (80.21%) is water.

The city is a peninsula containing twenty square miles and is located between the Poquoson River on the north, Back River and Wythe Creek (the Old Poquoson River) on the south, the Chesapeake Bay on the east, and York County on the west. The city also shares a border with the City of Hampton and a water boundary across Chesapeake Bay with Northampton County.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • York County


There are no private schools or colleges in Poquoson and York County. However, there are institutions of each type close by on the Virginia Peninsula. Some of the private schools include Hampton Roads Academy, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic School, Peninsula Catholic High School, and Denbigh Baptist Christian School, all in Newport News.

Higher education is available at Thomas Nelson Community College, with campuses in Hampton and James City County, Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Hampton University in Hampton, and the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.

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