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Monkey Island  Club - June 2004

Many years ago, before the sportsmen hunters arrived, Monkey Island had been inhabited by the Pumonkey tribe of Indians.  On the northern end of the island is the remains of the Indian burial ground.  Ownership records of the island date back to 1886 when Samuel McHorney sold the property to Benjamin Simmons for $15.00  The island was bought and sold several times after that, and on August 7, 1919, the Monkey Island Gunning Club, Inc. was issued a charter by the state of Virginia.  The property consisted of some 1,000 acres and the membership stock was priced at $5,000 per share.  Listed in the charter were L.W. Davis, Norfolk, president; W.H. Nicholson, Littleton, N.C., vice-president; and W.A. Davis, Norfolk, secretary/treasurer.  The charter was changed in September 1919 and the name was changed to the Monkey Island Club.  In 1927 Charles A. Penn, vice-president of The American Tobacco Company became a member of the club.  In 1931 Penn acquired the stock of the remaining members.  The club was owned by the Penn family until 1974 when it was sold to the Monkey Island Investment Venture Corp. for three million dollars.  At this time the property consisted of about two miles of ocean frontage, Monkey Island, Mary Island, Raccoon Island, and Lungreen Island.  Before 1974 the Monkey Island Club had been operated as a private club, now with new owners the club was opened to the public for waterfowl hunting.  Travis Morris was employed as manager.  Others employed at this time were Gene and Shirley Austin, Ambrose Twiford, and Jack and Sylvia Jarvis.  The 8-bedroom clubhouse has a large club room, kitchen, dining room, gun room, and two and a half bathrooms on the first floor.  On the second floor are quarters for servants.  Adjacent to the clubhouse is a 3-bedroom cottage for the caretaker.  In the early years a boathouse was on the eastern side of the island in front of the clubhouse.  The clubhouse is believed to have been built in the 1880's.  Today the Monkey Island property is owned by the Nature Conservancy.

Photographs are the property of Norman & Sandi Roberts and kindly submitted by Ben BatemanNo part of this document may be used for any commercial purposes. However, please feel free to copy any of this material for your own personal use and family research.