Watts Island is a small sliver of land about six miles southeast of Tangier Island in Accomac County, Virginia. The island was inhabited by working families and utilized for farming and as a home base for harvesting seafood from the mid 1600's until the early 1900's.
When the island was sold in 1908 by one of the original owning families - the Parkers - a man from New Jersey, who became known as the 'Hermit of Watts Island' came to live on the island. Charles Hardenberg was a Princeton educated lawyer who moved to the remote island to escape life in the city which had taken a toll on his health. Rumor has it that Hardenberg's family and friends made a bet that he couldn't last 10-years on the island. But after living on Watt's for 10-years he made a brief trip to the mainland and then went back offshore to live the 'island life'. Charles weathered the 1933 storms and lived out his last years on the island before passing in 1937. He had spent nearly 30 years living on the island alone on what he called "my little eden."
Land records and census data show that Watts Island and Little Watts Island once covered hundreds of acres of land. Little Watts, and the lighthouse which once stood on the island are now completely gone. Watts Island continues to wash away into Pocomoke Sound with wave action from every direction slowly eating away at the ephemeral shorelines.