Jamestown

We’ve been checking the weather obsessively and it looks like we should try Jamestown today. It’s supposed to rain, but I think it may just be a steady light drizzle so we’ll make sure we all have rain jackets and go! We read the Bible on the drive out there; it was about an hour’s drive.

Some history about Jamestown: In 1607 104 men and boys sailed from the Virginia Company of London to Virginia in search of goods to ship back to England. They built a fort and faced a tough year, and by September more than 60 were dead from disease and starvation. The Virginia Company sent several more shiploads of men and supplies, and at one point sent 90 unmarried women in the hopes that families would stabilize the colony. At first Powhatan helped the colonists survive the drought and conditions they weren’t used to, but by 1622 the Powhatan tribe were attacking and killing colonists. The population of Jamestown ebbed and flowed, but in the end this was the first permanent English settlement in North America.

This is the Tercentenary Monument celebrating the 300th anniversary of Jamestown. It’s 104′ tall, I’m sure to represent the 104 men and boys that started the settlement.

I listened to a talk given by an archeologist who explained that they dig in 10’x 10′ grids. Here you can see the different strata; the top layer is what is used nowadays, next down is the plow zone (where people would plow, duh!), and under that is the natural strata. They often find in natural strata soil stains that help date the findings. You can see here a long slot trench that was mentioned in one of John Smith’s letters; and inside that 4 shapes with darker color that are the rotted posts from the fort.

For many years the fort was thought to have been lost to the James River, but now 1.5 million artifacts have been excavated and are displayed at the Archaearium which is completely cantilevered over the ruins of the Statehouse.

Inside the archaearium there were cutaway so you could see the foundations.

I started looking up John Smith info and quickly found many rabbit trails to go down; he seems to have led a pretty adventurous life, though I wonder how accurate the history is. From Wikipedia he “…killed and beheaded three Turkish challengers in single-combat duels, for which he was knighted by the Prince of Transylvania and given a horse and a coat of arms showing three Turks’ heads. However, in 1602, he was wounded in a skirmish with the Tartars, captured, and sold as a slave. As Smith describes it: “we all sold for slaves, like beasts in a market”. Smith claimed that his master, a Turkish nobleman, sent him as a gift to his Greek mistress in Constantinople, who fell in love with Smith. He then was taken to the Crimea, where he escaped from Ottoman lands into Muscovy, then on to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth before traveling through Europe and North Africa, returning to England in 1604.” Wow.

While sailing to America in 1606 he was charged with mutiny, was under arrest for most of the trip and was supposed to be executed. But when they landed at Cape Henry mid-1607 they received news that he had been promoted to leader of the new colony…so no execution! Later Pocahontas saved his life from natives and settlers, and later still she saved his life from Powhatan. What a life! Here’s a placard talking about him getting stung by a stingray.

This is the memorial church built in 1907.

We saw all of Old Towne and some New Towne. On our way out we stopped at the Glasshouse, and watched a little glassblowing.

The colonists came to find goods to ship back to England and one of the things they tried was glass! When I first read that I imagined them sending big panes of glass like we have in our windows these days, but I forgot that generally back then they had many small panes in each window; those would be much easier to ship. When I asked why that would be something they couldn’t make in England the museum chick said that England was running out of trees! They needed lots of wood to get the fires hot enough to melt the sand, and also wood was needed for potash used in making glass. Interesting! But what really took off and made this settlement stick was growing tobacco and shipping it back to England.

On the way out we could see the replica ships the colonists sailed over the Atlantic. What tiny ships for such a vast ocean!

Ted found us a great place for lunch. I had fish tacos, he had a fried oyster poboy, Max had fish and chips and Jack had fried shrimp. We split an ahi tuna appetizer, and everything from here was wonderful. Even our waiter; it was such a nice change from the grouchy woman in Williamsburg.

On the way back home we talked to Grandmom; we’ll arrive the day before their birthday and are planning to go out to supper with just the adults! When we got home Ted made grilled cheese for all 3 boys, and then we played Skip-bo. After the boys were cleaned and in bed Ted and I looked around for a new reminder program for me. I really like Remember the Milk but it’s gone to $40/year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *