Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Day 5 -Berkeley Plantation

October 2016 - Williamsburg VA

We decided to head out to a plantation with lunch on the way. Would you believe in a 40 km drive we did not pass one restaurant before arriving at the plantation. We had protein bars in the car so that was lunch.

Click here for our tour of Jamestown.

We got our tickets, $11 each. the plantation is privately owned and funded. It is very definitely worth the price. We saw other plantations where it was $10 each just to view the grounds. The tour guide, Melissa was excellent.

Saw this t-shirt in the gift shop, more about that later.

No photography allowed in the house or museum.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the following information.

We started the tour on the patio behind the original guesthouse, now the shop.

Among the many American "firsts" that occurred at Berkeley Plantation are:
  1. The first official Thanksgiving: 4 December 1619
  2. First time Army bugle call "Taps" played: July 1862, by bugler Oliver W. Norton; the melody was written at Harrison's Landing, the plantation's old wharf, by Norton and then General Daniel Butterfield.
  3. Bourbon whiskey was originally distilled at Berkeley Plantation in 1620.

We then moved on to the laundry and kitchen building. This building is not open to the public as it has not been repaired.

This is a cannon ball but not the original. It was found on the grounds and fit the hole perfectly however.

On December 4, 1619, a group of 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred, about 8,000 acres (32 km2) on the north bank of the James River near Herring Creek in an area then known as Charles Cittie (sic). It was named for one of the original founders, Richard Berkeley,[citation needed] a member of the Berkeley family of Gloucestershire, England. It was about 20 miles upstream from Jamestown, where the first permanent settlement of the Colony of Virginia was established on May 14, 1607.

The view if you arrived by road.

When the patent was applied for George Yeardley (saw his house yesterday), then Governor of Virginia and one of the partners in the venture, called Berkeley “a very good and convenient” place to start a settlement. It was truly a site well situated to grow crops and begin commercial ventures. The settlers at Jamestown had not been very successful in growing crops. Berkeley was much better situated for the growing of crops.

The view if arriving by boat.

Using bricks fired on the Berkeley plantation, Benjamin Harrison IV built a Georgian-style three-story brick mansion on a hill overlooking the James River in 1726. Berkeley would later earn a distinction shared only with Peacefield in Quincy, Massachusetts as the ancestral home for two United States Presidents. Harrison's son, Benjamin Harrison V, a signer of the American Declaration of Independence and a Governor of Virginia, was born at Berkeley Plantation, as was his son William Henry Harrison, a war hero in the Battle of Tippecanoe, governor of Indiana Territory, and ninth President of the United States.

We then attended a ten minute film in the basement museum.

There is a tunnel connecting the laundry cook house to the main house. When the Jamieson family bought the house it was bricked up at both ends. The likely reason was that the basement was used as a jail during the American Civil War,

Union troops occupied Berkeley Plantation, and President Abraham Lincoln twice visited there in the summer of 1862 to confer with Gen. George B. McClellan. The Harrisons were not able to regain possession of the plantation after the war, and it passed through several owners' hands and fell into disrepair.

The date of the building and the initials of the owners, Benjamin Harrison IV and his wife, Anne, appear in a datestone over a side door. The mansion is said to be the oldest 3-story brick house in Virginia and the first with a pediment roof. The handsome Adam woodwork and the double arches of the 'Great Rooms’ were installed by Benjamin Harrison VI at the direction of Thomas Jefferson. The outside walls are 36 inches thick. The roof is slate and a spacious hall divides the building. There are three floors above the basement, four great rooms on a floor.

In 1745, he and his "two youngest daughters" (one of which was very likely Hannah) were killed when lightning struck his house.

According to our guide he was closing the middle window when he was struck.

I did find a photo of the inside online. That's Benjamin over the fireplace, at nineteen he had to raise his 11 siblings after his father died.

Berkeley’s gardens and lawn extend a full quarter–mile from the front door of the mansion to the river banks. The 100 year old Boxwood garden gracing Berkeley’s buildings and 10 acres of formal gardens are one of the most extensive in Virginia.

After the tour of the house we headed down to the Thanksgiving Memorial.

One of the men, John Smyth of Nibley, was Historian of the Berkeley family and of Berkeley Castle in England. This was not the same John Smith of Jamestown and Pocahontas fame. As part of his duties, he recorded the settlement of Virginia from 1609 to 1622 through a collection of 38 papers and documents known as the Nibley Papers. These papers are the only known documents that chronicle the Berkeley expedition, as well as the orders for the prayerful enactment of the first Thanksgiving. They currently reside at the New York Public Library and their contents were discovered by Dr. Lyon Tyler, retired president of William and Mary College. Dr. Tyler was the son of President John Tyler. In addition to residing at the New York Public Library, transcripts of the Nibley Papers were published by the library in 1899 and by the Library of Congress in 1906.

It wasn’t until the late 19th century that the papers were discovered, unread and unresearched. Dr. Tyler was the first known scholar to have studied, examined and researched them and wrote an article about his discovery, which was published in The Richmond News Leader on April 3, 1931. This is probably the first time Virginians knew about this important historical event, which occurred in their state.

Dr. Tyler also made his discovery known to his young neighbor, Malcolm Jamieson, who had taken up residence at Berkeley Plantation some 4 or 5 years earlier. If it had not been for this discovery by Dr. Tyler the historical significance of this may never have been known.

Taps was composed in July 1862 at Harrison's Landing in Virginia,
If anyone can be said to have composed 'Taps,' it was Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield, Commander of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, V Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, during the American Civil War. Dissatisfied with the customary firing of three rifle volleys at the conclusion of burials during battle and also wanting a less harsh bugle call for ceremonially signaling the end of a soldier's day, he likely altered an older piece known as "Tattoo," a French bugle call used to signal "lights out," into the call we now know as 'Taps.'


Summoning his brigade's bugler, Private Oliver Willcox Norton, to his tent one evening in July 1862, Butterfield (whether he wrote 'Taps' straight from the cuff or improvised something new by rearranging an older work) worked with the bugler to transform the melody into its present form.

In 1907, Berkeley Plantation was bought by John Jamieson, a Scotsman who had served as a drummer boy in the Union army during the Civil War. His son, Malcolm Jamieson (who bought out the interests of other heirs after John's death), and Malcolm's wife, Grace, restored the manor, which had been in deteriorating condition.

The architecture is original, and the house has been filled with antique furniture and furnishings that date from the period when it was built. The grounds, too, have been restored, and cuttings from the boxwood gardens are available as living souvenirs for its visitors.

There is a small building containing the restrooms and a small museum.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Day 4 - Jamestown

October 2016 - Jamestown VA

We decided to do Jamestown today, the Settlement and the Historic area. We chose to buy the Triangle ticket, 5 sites 7 days for $90 each. This way we can see all we want and revisit if we miss something or take our time.

Created for the 350th anniversary celebration in 1957 as Jamestown Festival Park, today Jamestown Settlement includes a recreation of the James Fort ca. 1610 to 1614, and a Powhatan Indian Village, indoor and outdoor displays, and replicas of the original settler's ships, the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and the Discovery.

We started with the movie which was an excellent overview.

After the film we stepped outside to begin the tour.

The Powhatan (also spelled Powatan) are a Native American people in Virginia. It may also refer to the leader of those tribes, commonly referred to as Powtitianna. It is estimated that there were about 14,000–21,000 Powhatan people in eastern Virginia when the English settled Jamestown in 1607.They were also known as Virginia Algonquians, as they spoke an eastern-Algonquian language known as Powhatan or Virginia Algonquian.

In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, a mamanatowick (paramount chief) named Wahunsunacawh (a.k.a. Powhatan), created a powerful organization by affiliating 30 tributary peoples, whose territory was much of eastern Virginia. They called this area Tsenacommacah ("densely inhabited Land"). Wahunsunacawh came to be known by the English as "Powhatan". Each of the tribes within this organization had its own weroance (chief), but all paid tribute to Powhatan.

Next the ships.

Susan Constant, captained by Christopher Newport, was the largest of three ships of the English Virginia Company (the others being Discovery and Godspeed) on the 1606 - 1607 voyage that resulted in the founding of Jamestown in the new Colony of Virginia.

Godspeed, under Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, was one of the three ships (along with the Susan Constant and the Discovery) on the 1606-1607 voyage to the New World for the English Virginia Company of London. we'll hear more of Gosnold later today.

Discovery was the smallest of three ships that were led by Captain Christopher Newport on the voyage that resulted in the founding of Jamestown in the new Colony of Virginia in 1607. When Captain Newport returned to London, England, he left Discovery behind for the use of the colonists.

She took part in six expeditions in search of the Northwest Passage. During the 1610-1611 expedition in the Canadian arctic, the crew of Discovery mutinied, and set their captain Henry Hudson adrift in a small boat; he was not seen again, and the crew returned to England.

Inside the triangular wooden palisade of the re-created 1610-14 fort are wattle-and-daub structures topped with thatch roofs depicting dwellings, as well as an Anglican church, a court of guard, a storehouse, a cape merchant’s office and a governor’s house.

Fit for the highest ranking official in the Virginia colony, the grandest dwelling in Jamestown Settlement’s re-created 1610-14 fort is open to visitors. Based on archaeological and documentary research, the Jamestown Settlement building is furnished and interpreted as the colonial governor’s house.

The 66- by 18-foot, two-and-a-half-story building has a cobblestone foundation, walls of wattle and daub, wood plank floors, and a thatch roof. Entering through one of six doors, two on opposite sides that open into small “lobbies,” visitors can explore all four rooms on the first floor of the new building. The second story, not accessible for public viewing, is likely to have served in the original building as sleeping space for servants and for storage.

The first-floor hall, or main public room, has a table with a distinctive armchair at its head for the governor. The adjacent parlor, interpreted as a space where the governor may have entertained guests, features a smaller table and chairs, clothes press and cupboard.

 On opposite ends of the house are bedchambers – one for the governor, the other for members of his household, which might include his physician and secretary. Two chimneys with back-to-back fireplaces provide a hearth in each of the four rooms.

After a quick lunch we headed to Historic Jamestowne.

Historic Jamestowne is the cultural heritage site that was the location of the 1607 James Fort and the later 17th century city of Jamestown.

Jamestown, first established on May 13, 1607, was the site of the first permanent English settlement in North America. Jamestown was the capital of the Virginia Colony, and saw Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, when the statehouse was burned. After a second burning in 1698, the capital was relocated to higher ground at Middle Plantation in 1699, which was then renamed Williamsburg.

The world of Pocahontas changed dramatically during her lifetime. At her birth, her father, Wahunsenacawh, had expanded his political leadership across 8,000 square miles from the banks of the James River north to the Potomac River, covering more than 30 communities that included nearly 15,000 people. The English who came to Jamestown Island in 1607 resisted his wish that they become another subject community. Pocahontas was directly involved in the relationship between the English and the Powhatan Indians that whipsawed between friendly trade of food and open warfare and kidnapping. She herself was kidnapped from a village on the Potomac River and held in captivity for a year before she announced to Chief Powhatan her conversion to Christianity and her desire to marry English tobacco grower John Rolfe.

She chose to take an English name, “Rebecca,” that means “mother of two peoples,” and they married in the large church inside James Fort on April 5, 1614. They had a son. They traveled to England to promote the colony to investors, and Rebecca was celebrated in the highest London society. But as the Rolfes began their return to Virginia, she took ill and died in Gravesend, England. The Powhatan Indian confederacy rapidly declined after her uncle’s attack in 1622 failed to stop English colonization.

During his two years in America, Smith was principally responsible for the survival of England’s first permanent colony in the New World. His bold leadership, military experience, and determination brought a measure of discipline to the dissolute colonists; his negotiations with the Indians prevented starvation; and his dispersal of the colony from unhealthy Jamestown lowered mortality. After his return to England, his promotional writings contributed significantly to English efforts for an American empire.

Officially named the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium, the Voorhees Archaearium is a museum with excavated artifacts and exhibits about Jamestowne. The building is located over the excavated remains of the last Statehouse in Jamestown, which visitors can see.

Once we completed the museum we drove the loop around the island and made a stop at the glassblowing house before heading back. I'll cover these elsewhere.
We walked 4 miles today.