With an estimated population around 233,000, Chesapeake is Virginia’s third-most populous city behind Virginia Beach and Norfolk.
Technically, it’s also one of the area’s newest cities. In 1963, residents voted to consolidate South Norfolk and land that used to be known as Norfolk County, giving birth to Chesapeake proper in the process. But Chesapeake’s history goes back way before that.
When America Was Still English, Our Nation Was Born In Chesapeake
In fact, the land on which the city rests was one of the first regions colonized by the English in the late-16th century.
While Jamestown would be the settlers’ first official colony, they certainly passed Chesapeake first in their sail up the James River.
Norfolk County was eventually settled around 1620. With its close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, the area that would turn into Chesapeake quickly became a major trade hub for colonizers pushing further west. Chesapeake, however, wasn’t the region’s economic powerhouse. That title was reserved for the lands surrounding the Chesapeake Bay, whose waters enriched the growing tobacco plantations that would soon serve as the financial engine of America’s first colony.
Overshadowed In History Books, Chesapeake’s Crucial Role In Revolution
Residents of the Chesapeake area would be some of the first to expel British power from their home during the Revolutionary War. In late-1775, a large battle was fought in the area of Chesapeake that’s now known as Great Bridge. It was a resounding victory for our fledgling nation, but one that’s largely been forgotten in favor of those first shots fired in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. While those early skirmishes certainly predate the Battle of Great Bridge, neither were as decisive.
After the Revolution, the original Virginia territory would be split up into West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and even portions of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Earlier, the entire East Coast of the US was referred to as “Virginia” by the English.
Chesapeake Enters The 20th Century
Until the turn of the 20th century, the Chesapeake area remained largely rural, a patchwork of locally-owned farms. None of these plots, however, were used to cultivate tobacco, which had moved further west by this time.
Rather than work in Chesapeake, most residents commuted from their homes to nearby Virginia Beach or Norfolk. Economic growth would only increase opportunities in Chesapeake during the early 1990s, but the surge in jobs proved so significant that much of the area’s infrastructure was strained to the breaking point.
Today, Chesapeake remains true to its roots as a “bedroom community,” and many residents compare it more to an expansive suburban area than a city.
A City Bound To Nature
Chesapeake is home to one of the most distinctively-named wildlife refuges in America: the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1974, this little sister to the Everglades was created to protect the area’s diverse wildlife and unique vegetation.
Having seen the swamp with our own eyes (many times), we can say it’s beautiful, maybe a little melancholy, but anything but dismal.
Dismal Swamp is known for its morning fog and nightly fox fire, an eery light given off by decaying fungi. Displaced by the English colonizers, Chesapeake’s indigenous population settled the Swamp back in the 1600s. One hundreds years later, as the developing slave economy grew, resistant African Americans would make the Swamp their home, too.
Adoption Help In Chesapeake, VA
Chesapeake is home to a number of valuable resources for expectant parents considering their options, and some of Virginia’s best adoption agencies.
Get A Free Pregnancy Test
Not sure if you’re pregnant? Visit the Virginia Department of Health’s Chesapeake office, where women can receive free, confidential pregnancy tests on:
- Mondays between 1 pm and 3 pm
- Tuesdays between 8:30 am and 10:30 am
They do testing on a walk-in basis, and make sure to bring your ID. Their professionals can also refer you for prenatal care and will be able to help you find low- or no-cost options if you need them.
Finding Prenatal Care To Stay Healthy
Uninsured or need help paying for prenatal care? There’s nothing more important than keeping you and your baby safe, and Virginia recognizes that. The state’s version of Medicaid for pregnant women is called the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security Plan MOMS, or FAMIS MOMS for short.
Applying for FAMIS MOMS is pretty easy, and once you’ve been approved, you’ll get comprehensive health care (including dental) for the length of your pregnancy and then two months after.
FAMIS works through a network of primary care providers and specialists. There’s no monthly premium that you have to pay before your insurance coverage kicks in. Plus, there isn’t even a co-pay for pregnancy-related services.
Staying Healthy Outside The Doctor’s Office
There are many government-run programs that help people find and pay for healthy foods, but none are as important as WIC – Women, Infants & Children.
WIC helps pregnant and breastfeeding women figure out which foods are best for them and their babies and provides packages of supplemental nutritious foods at no cost.
There are two WIC offices in Chesapeake:
- Chesapeake City Health Center
748 Battlefield Boulevard, North
- South Norfolk Health Center
490 Liberty Street
WIC can also help with vitamins that pregnant women should take, like folic acid, which can reduce the risk for certain birth defects.
Adoption Agencies In Chesapeake
While we’re proud to offer our full range of adoption services to clients throughout Virginia, Adoptions From The Heart calls Chesapeake home. Our office is located at 1407 Stephanie Way, Suite #H, minutes off Interstate 64:
In a warm, caring environment, our adoption professionals provide counseling services to expectant parents, which are always offered free of charge. Our help is always free, whether you not you ultimately decide to place your child for adoption through us. Our goal is to help pregnant women and expectant fathers make the choice that’s right for them – not anyone else.
You can speak with us today by calling our Chesapeake adoption agency at (757) 361-0008.