Although our Stay at Home order has drastically changed our lives, we still hope that we will soon begin to attend personal celebrations. The Cottage is available for wedding, bridal party pictures, graduation, and engagement pictures for a small donation. We also have opening for rentals. If you have a last minute need for a location, please consider the “Oldest, Newest Venue” on the Virginia Beach oceanfront. The Cottage specializes in small events up to 50 inside and 150 outside. We would love to host your upcoming special occasion, ie. wedding, baby shower or reveal party, anniversary, or birthday party, graduation party, community meeting, or social club. Contact Martha Davenport, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Callie O’Neal Hen Pintail
Feb 10, 1910-June 4, 1970
Callie O’Neal grew up in North Carolina in the Nags Head area. In his teens his family moved to Churches Island, N.C. He was a commercial fisherman and farmer and a hunting guide for Russell Griggs where Callie started making decoys for the hunting club. His carving style was simple and functional. The decoys had a flat bottom, tapered tail and sloped breast. Note: The paint patterns were very basic. He used a dabbing technique with wet paint and the paint would run and leave streaks.
May and Spring have finally arrived on the calendar and April showers have encouraged many of our cottage flowers to begin blooming, to include the weeds. If you are like me and completed all your home projects and Spring checklist, I have an opportunity for you.
WHO: Anyone who is ready to get out of the house, and allowed under State Guidelines.
DATE NEEDED: Beginning Monday, May 4th at 9am – 11am (every Monday thereafter unless bad weather.) EXPERIENCE: None needed
REQUIRED TOOLS: Garden gloves or a pair can be provided.
OTHER DETAILS: Social distancing guidelines will be followed.
BENEFITS: Sunshine, exercise, nature, and sense of accomplishment.
For more information, please contact our Museum Director at (757) 286-3092
UPCOMING EVENTS & HAPPENINGS
All events are pending. We hope to confirm dates as soon as we are approved to open. Events are located at the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum/Historic de Witt Cottage, unless otherwise noted.
Friends of the AWHM,
I hope my note finds you all well in this difficult and crazy time. We are experiencing an unprecedented time in our world’s history. COVID-19 has impacted and disrupted almost every function of our daily lives. The same is to be said for the museum. Since the national emergency was declared on March 13th, we estimate a revenue loss of approximately $18,000. Should the stay at home order remain past the June 10th deadline that number will grow.
I wanted to share what steps are being taken to weather this storm.
What I have shared with you above are necessary actions. We are confident with where we sit currently and remain cautiously optimistic about the summer ahead… our “Prime Time”. After poor tourist numbers last summer, another lack luster season is not what the Virginia Beach oceanfront had hoped for. The landscape along Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Baltic will look much different once life returns to semi-normal.
These are the facts that I have to date and are able to share. Should you have questions, comments, or concerns, please reach out to Lynn or myself. Again, we are monitoring the situation closely and guiding the AWHM to smoother waters. Stay safe and well. To all the MOMs, Have A Great Day!
May 7th is National Teacher’s Day! If you have ever taken a teacher for granted you can now see during this pandemic how important their work really is to our community!
While most of you have been staying home to comply with the Virginia Governor’s Order; City of Virginia Beach Contractors have been very busy replacing the roof on the historic deWitt Cottage.
Contractors above are busy applying the new roof on the deWitt Cottage. The new metal roof is made of an alloy that will prevent the roof from rusting like the old roof. The old roof was 30 years old and suffered significant rust damage causing the roof to leak. In addition to all of that work, the iconic New Castle Hotel and the Raven Restaurant (our neighbors) have been torn down.
Here you see the New Castle Hotel as the demolition was started.
Now here you only see the vacant lot where the New Castle Hotel stood next to The deWitt Cottage.
The photograph to the left is the empty slab foundation where the Raven Restaurant stood for more than 50 years.
I drove around my little section of Virginia Beach yesterday, to two grocery stores, four pharmacies, a gas station mini-mart, and a big box store, to obtain hand sanitizer, toilet tissue, and paper towels. I found none. Not even a travel sized bottle or package. On top of that scarcity, and despite living in an area where hurricanes can keep people inside for days, the cashier at one grocery store told me that their store registered the highest one-day sales ever, this past weekend. So far, COVID-19, known as coronavirus, has not yet created a crisis in our town, but the panic certainly has set in and all we’ve been asked to do is stay home.
As I consider this unfolding national crisis, I find something else at play that’s quite remarkable: the spread of the coronavirus proves to me that as much as we might try to shut ourselves off from each other – whether by walls or border patrols or exclusive clubs or coded language or even the shield of hand sanitizer – our collective humanity is inescapable.
Witnessing how the virus can’t be contained even within a country with strict barbaric laws and a Great Wall, I began reflecting on what it means to say, “Humanity is one.” As an optimist, I am attracted to how our oneness is played out in beautiful ways, like the universal languages of love and laughter, or through art and access to education. The example of coronavirus, though, illustrates another, and equally valid side of our humanity, as we are forced to come together to devise solutions amidst our shared vulnerability.
My recent research on pandemics and communal disease tells me that there is only one common factor that each of us as individuals can control; that is opportunity. If we limit the opportunity for the disease to spread to us; we will likely survive this unfolding crisis.
“A time of crisis is not just a time of anxiety and worry. It gives a chance, an opportunity, to choose well or to choose badly.”
- Desmond Tutu
So I will close now with the recommendation that each of you stay home, stay safe, and stay well. I look forward to seeing each of you when this crisis has passed and our hope for a brighter tomorrow has arrived. Spring is already arriving as the picture here suggests.
Friends of the AWHM,
Due to the current international emergency surrounding COVID-19, the doors to our beloved de Witt Cottage are closed. We continue to monitor the situation and follow recommendations and guidelines provided by the City of Virginia Beach and Governor Northam’s Office. Please stay safe and healthy as we navigate this difficult time.
I would like to thank Mark and Margie Cromwell for their vision and support for the very successful fundraiser hosted at the museum. There generosity raised just over $16,000 for our organization as well as exposed new members of our community to our museum. Again, I send my sincere appreciation and gratitude.
All for now as we weather this storm together. As always, should you have questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Stay safe and healthy.
Nathan Cobb, Jr. market hunted and formed a salvage team with his father Nathan, Sr. and his two brothers Warren and Albert. The Cobb family owned and operated a sportsmen’s resort, the Cobb Island Hunt Club, on Cobb Island off the Eastern Shore of Virginia. While it is possible that the Cobb men carved their own decoys, it is probable that Nathan, Jr. did the carving for the whole family, identifying each decoy with the respective hunter’s initials. Carving styles reminiscent of New England and Barnegat Bay reflect Nathan, Sr.’s former residency in New Jersey and his sons’ travels along the coast. Further influence from New Jersey can be attributed to Harry Shourds of Tuckerton, NJ who sold hundreds of his decoys to the Cobbs to fulfill their needs. Cobb carved the family decoys from the masts of wrecked ships, transforming the flotsam into well-rounded hollow decoys. The seams of these two-piece lures lie just below the mid-line. Relief-carved V-shape wingtips lie over a notched V-shape tail. Lead weights are attached to the flat bottoms with brass screws. Cobb carved goose and brant necks from holly branches to create a virtually unbreakable neck. He only used glass eyes imported from Germany, but utilized the copper nails from salvaged wrecks. Bold paint patterns simplified seasonal maintenance. Minor details like the curve of a neck or the tilt of a bill make Nathan Cobb, Jr.’s decoys unique. Unfortunately, storms that ravaged the unprotected island claimed many of his fine pieces.
The classic split-tail curlew sold for $390,000 on November 8, 2006, establishing a record price paid at auction not only for Nathan Cobb, but also for a Virginia decoy.
NOTE: As a result of the October 1896 severe storm and destruction to Cobb's Island, Nathan F. Cobb's grave was removed from Cobb's Island in 1897, and reinterred in the same cemetery as his son, Albert F. Cobb (1836-1890): Cape Charles Cemetery, Cape Charles, Northampton Co., VA.
This is not the first pandemic that the Historic deWitt Cottage has seen in its 125 year history. Just over 102 years ago the deWitt family had to endure the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. The children, all ten of them, were living with their widowed mother, Cecile. Cornelius, their father had died suddenly (age 53) 5 years earlier while on a business trip to Minnesota. As the pandemic was just beginning, the United States and its allies were desperately trying to put an end to World War I. The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the deadliest in history, infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed an estimated 50 million to 100 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans.
All eleven members of the deWitt family were able to survive these horrific statistics associated with this pandemic.
The following is from an article by Rebecca Grant | Fox News Spanish flu, like coronavirus, wasn’t really a single national crisis. It was a set of hundreds of crises that played out differently in major cities, towns, states and Army and Navy World War I training camps.
Pittsburgh reeled. Indianapolis coped well. New York City, with a 1918 population of more than 4.7 million, was twice as big as Chicago in those days but kept its flu mortality rate in check. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Douglas MacArthur and Robert
Frost all caught Spanish flu. Americans in 1918 were facing a “silent foe” and a wild trajectory of new cases, just like we are. The Spanish flu strain is not the same as the coronavirus. But you’ll recognize the drastic measures taken back then.
The Spanish flu epidemic came in three major waves, with the worst being the death spike over roughly six weeks in the “second wave” from late September until early November 1918. The flu hit lungs. Victims turned blue in the face due to lack of oxygen, a condition called cyanosis. Makeshift hospitals filled and cities ran out of coffins. Response by local health officials was key as communities fought to interrupt human-to-human transmission of the Spanish flu and surge medical treatment for victims. Some places did better than others. Spanish flu first appeared in New York City in August 1918. Starting in mid-September, Dr. Royal S. Copeland created social distancing with closures, staggered business hours, and a massive public information campaign on preventing transmission. Copeland also set up 150 emergency health stations to dispatch nurses and keep track of cases. New York City hired more nurses – and more gravediggers. Copeland famously kept schools open, making each classroom a mini-clinic with teachers checking children’s health daily.
The 1918 Spanish flu also tells us what to expect next. Right now, America is watching coronavirus cases multiply and praying for the curve to bend. Health officials in 1918 were looking for that same big indicator.
Sadly, in Philadelphia, the response was not so complete. Flu deaths at the Philadelphia Naval Yard began Sept. 7, 1918. Still, officials let 200,000 assemble for a Liberty Loan parade and war bond drive on Sept. 28, 1918. By the time Philadelphia banned public gatherings, it was too late. The city was burdened with additional war workers and could not keep up. Daily flu deaths in Philadelphia passed 500 on Oct. 6 and reached 837 on Oct. 12, on the way to a total near 13,000 in that wave.
In 1918, New York City’s flu mortality rate was 582 deaths per 100,000 people. Chicago’s was 517. Philadelphia’s was 932. On average, American cities saw their flu death rates go up 300 percent to 500 percent in 1918. Philly hit the top of that range, with 490 percent more deaths over the 1915 baseline. In contrast, New York City’s faster, tougher measures held expansion to 270 percent. Chicago’s rate was 300 percent.
Worst off was Pittsburgh, where wartime steel and munitions production made officials reluctant to shut down and isolate. Pittsburgh didn’t confront the epidemic in time. As a result, Pittsburgh recorded one of America’s highest mortality rates at 1,243 deaths per 100,000 in 1918, according to a 2007 study from the St. Louis Federal Reserve.
Shutting down Army and Navy training camps was out of the question and the Spanish flu ravaged them in the fall of 1918. As with cities, the danger zone typically lasted for about four weeks before abating. One Army camp in Illinois held 40,000 men and registered 10,713 cases with 1,060 deaths – all this among a young cohort.
Then there was Wisconsin – the only state to enact aggressive, statewide measures, according to historian Steven Burg. Wisconsin State Health Officer Dr. Cornelius A. Harper closed everything down on Oct. 10, 2018. True, Wisconsin by then knew of the decimation back East. But fast steps kept flu escalation lower in Milwaukee, where City Health Commissioner Dr. George C. Ruhland roped in businessmen and doctors to set policy that even won over Socialist Mayor Daniel Hoan.
The 1918 Spanish flu also tells us what to expect next. Right now, America is watching coronavirus cases multiply and praying for the curve to bend. Health officials in 1918 were looking for that same big indicator: the plateau and decline in new Spanish flu cases. When it came, they reopened fast, with Chicago back to normal operations by Nov. 4. Astonishingly, the economic impact of the Spanish flu closures was sharp but didn’t last. From looking at the Dow you’d never know anyone was sick. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose from (don’t laugh) 74 in January 1918 to stay above 80 all during 1918 with only routine volatility.
You bet small businesses like those saloons and theaters suffered. Economic data for 1918 is patchy, but the St. Louis Federal Reserve study found retail and entertainment hard hit, with Midwest stores losing 40 percent to 70 percent of their business during the fall flu peak. Mattress and bedsprings sales soared, though.
Of course, that 1918 economy didn’t have airlines, fast-food restaurants, casinos, giant pension plans and integrated global supply chains. The pain here in 2020 is real. Still, the business lesson of the 1918 Spanish flu, if there is one, was that several weeks of public closures didn’t do lasting macroeconomic damage.