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The year 1650 marks the first land grant issued on Chincoteague Island, for 1,500 acres (6.1 km2). Daniel Jenifer became the first English landowner. In 1671, settlers came to the island, and by 1672 there were large farms by Bishops, Bowdens, Jesters and Tarrs. By 1838, there were 36 houses on the island, and in 1861 the island voted 132-2 not to secede from the Union and against slavery. The town saw minor action in the war via the Battle of Cockle Creek fought in the bay in 1861. The Native American name for the island is Gingoteague, and the name of the town "Chincoteague" first appeared in the Decisions of the United States Board on Geographical Names in 1943. In 1962, a major nor'easter winter storm, the Ash Wednesday Storm, struck the coast. The town was completely underwater, and went for days without electricity. The storm destroyed almost all structures on Assateague Island, where development was just beginning. Following this, most of the island was preserved from development as Assateague Island National Seashore in 1965. The Assateague Lighthouse and Captain Timothy Hill House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Legend has it that the feral ponies on Assateague are descendants of survivors of a Spanish galleon that sank on its way to Spain during a storm in 1750 off the east coast, but the likelihood is that they are actually descended from domesticated stock, brought to the island by Eastern Shore farmers in the 17th century to avoid fencing requirements and taxation. In the Pony Penning, which has been held annually since 1925, horses swim across the shallow water between the islands. If any animal is too small or weak to make the swim, they are placed on a barge and ferried over. All the horses are herded into large pens after running through the middle of town and down Main Street. Pony Penning takes place on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July. The actual swim occurs on Wednesday, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company auctions that year's foals on Thursday, and on Friday the remaining ponies swim back to Assateague.
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Last Modified: Fri Jul 29 2016 09:10:20.