Yorktown Timeline


1634: Yorke Village on Wormeley Creek (now the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center) declared a Virginia port by the House of Burgesses.

1635: Nicholas Maritiau, a French Huguenot, receives a grant for property on the York River where he built a home and a fort.

1634: Yorke and Chiskiack Parishes become Charles River Shire; York County is established.

YorktownHistoryImage0011691: Yorktown was established by the Act for Ports of 1691. Fifty acres of Nicolas Martiau’s property was surveyed and laid out for the new town on the York River. Eighty-five lots laid out in the town of York by hired architect/surveyor Lawrence Smith of Gloucester.

X – Lot #43 was designated for the Custom House.

X – Lot # 24 was designated for the Court House.


1700 – 1750: Yorktown becomes the main port for the colony of Virginia.


1720: Richard Ambler builds the Custom House, which is used to secure import and export taxes until the Revolution.




1725: Secretary Nelson’s house built.


1776: Declaration of Independence adopted by Congress. Thomas Nelson Jr. of Yorktown was one of the signers.



1781: In September and October, the combined American and French army traps Cornwallis at Yorktown. Cornwallis surrenders on October 19, 1781.








1814: A great fire in Yorktown, beginning below the hill, destroys much of Yorktown, including the second Courthouse, which was built in 1733.

1861: Virginia secedes from the Union. Beginning of the Civil War in Virginia. Confederate forces build Fort Yorktown.


1862: General George McClellan marches 120,000 troops from Ft. Monroe to Yorktown. Bolivar Sheilds, County Clerk of Court, hides the County records.


McClellan’s men march into Yorktown – May 1862

1862-1865: Approximately 56,000 Confederate troops evacuate on May 3. The ensuing Battle of Williamsburg includes fighting in York County. Union forces occupy Yorktown till the end of the war.


Union Troops and their ammunition, the largest amphibious operation seen up to that time.


Main Street and the Custom House in 1862

February 1921: Meeting of the Yorktown Branch of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.



Directress 1921-1946

1930: Colonial National Monument established, becoming Colonial National Historical Park on June 5.

1989: Excavation of Martiau property and fort.


May 2012: APVA/Preservation Virginia announces its intention to dissolve all of its local branches.

May 31, 2013: APVA/Preservation Virginia, Yorktown Branch, reforms as the Yorktown Preservation Society.

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