Posts Tagged ‘James City County’

Burnt Ordinary W-33

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

First called John Lewis’ Ordinary and then Fox’s. Burnt Ordinary received its name in Jan. 1780 when, according to the Virginia Gazette, Fox’s Ordinary burned to the ground. Later, in Oct. 1781, when the French army’s wagon train passed by, Alexander Berthier wrote that “two old chimneys” stood here in the fork of the road. Also in 1781, Samuel Dewitt, George Washington’s cartographer, noted the site of the “Burnt Brick Ordinary”, on one of his maps. Elements of Lafayette’s army camped two miles south of here at Chickahominy Church after the Battle of Green Spring on 6 July 1781.

Further Research

Marquis de Lafayette

On January 19th of 1863, about a mile from Burnt Ordinary, the Third battalion of the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry began a mission to scout the roadways in between Richmond and Williamsburg. Captain Cameron commanded two companies of the battalion, and ordered Lieutenant Vezin to advance with eighteen men. Of these men, Vezin ordered Sergeant Anderson to advance another two hundred yards with six of the original eighteen men. During their advance, seventy rebel cavalrymen appeared who formed a line to block the intentions of Anderson. As the small party of men turned to rejoin Lieutenant Vezin, another group of twenty rebel cavalrymen rode out to form a line in their rear. In an effort to escape their entrapment, Anderson charged the twenty rebels to reach the safety of Vezin’s larger group. Only Anderson broke through the twenty rebels, as they captured his other six men. In response, Vezin ordered a charge on these twenty rebels, and was successful as he recaptured all but one of his men. In addition the Union cavalrymen also captured four rebel soldiers and five of their horses.

Further Reading

Bracekett, Albert, and Gallatin Bracekett Albert Gallatin Bracekett. History of the United States Cavalry. Applewood Books, 2009.

The Tribune Almanac. New York Tribune, 1868.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Burnt Ordinary W-33,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Marquis de Lafayette,” New World Encyclopedia, www.newworldencyclopedia.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources

James City County Z-266

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

One of the original shires formed in 1634, and named for Jamestown, the first settlement in Virginia, 1607. Williamsburg is in this county.

 

 

 

Further Research

Map of the 8 Original Shires

James City county was one of the eight original shires that were formed in 1634 in the state of Virginia. The first claim to land was made in 1619, where it was proclaimed by the Governor Samuel Argall:

“To all to whom these presents shall come, I Samuel Argall, Esq., and principal Governor of Virginia, do by these presents testify, and upon my certain Knowledge hereby do make manifest the bounds and limits of Jamestown how far it doth extend every way that is to say the whole island, with part of the main land lying on the East side of Argall town, and adjoining upon the said Island, also the neck of land on the north part, and so to the further part of Archer* ‘s Hope ; also Hog Island ; and from thence to the four mile Tree on the south, usually called by the name of Tappahannock, in all which several places of ground I hereby give, leave and license for the inhabitants of Jamestown to plant as members of the corporation and parish of the same. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand the 28 the day of March [0. S.] in the year of our Lord 1619, and on the 12 the year of the plantation” (Brown, 287-288).

Portrait of Samuel Argall

This was then passed on to the General Assembly, which set up the then-final placement of James City County borders. According to the census, there were approximately 886 people living there at this time (Foley, VI-VII). Prior to its division by the royal crown, Virginia had been settling Jamestown in 1607. They were a business venture that had gone poorly within the first set of years, developing diseases and disorders, such as malaria or intestinal issues. It was not until 1619 that a government had sprung up into the area, but five years later, the charter was revoked and the crown owned all of Virginia (Lewis, 9).

Further Reading

Brown, Alexander. The First Republic in America. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1898.

Foley, Louise Pledge Heath. Early Virginia Families Along the James River. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1990.

Lewis, Sarah. James City County. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2009.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “James City County Z-266,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Map of the 8 Original Shires,” Original Shires of Virginia, http://lawsondna.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Sir Samuel Argall,” Find a Grave, www.findagrave.com (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources

This marker and James City County Z-145 share the same marker inscription and information.  Please click here for James City County Z-145.

Green Spring W-36

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

On this road, five miles south, is Green Spring, home of Governor Sir William Berkeley. Bacon the Rebel occupied it in 1676. Cornwallis, after moving from Williamsburg by this road on July 4, 1781, was attacked by Lafayette near Green Spring on July 6, 1781. Anthony Wayne was the hero of this fight.

 

Further Research

Historic Green Spring

 Green Spring was the land given to Governor Sir William Berkeley in 1643. It was under a total of 1,000 acres, and he had borders to the North, South, and East. Should he want to expand his territory, though, the West was full of unclaimed land. There was high ground, drinkable water, timber, and water accesses scattered all across his land. He then built a house relatively close to the spring. This has been considered one of the “largest stately mansions of the day” (Billings, 59-60). By 1660, the amount of acreage had more than doubled, and an additional 3,000 acres had been set-aside as “Governor’s Land” (Cotton).

Marquis de Lafayette

 During the Revolutionary War on July 6, 1781, Green Spring was the site of an important military skirmish between the British and American troops. Both the Marquis de Lafayette and General Cornwallis were in Williamsburg. An attack from either side was near certain. Marshland surrounded the Green Spring plantation, and was hard to travel through. Upon the beginning of battle, the American forces began to push back the British into a near retreat. That would change; as it then came to light the General Cornwallis had set up a trap. It would end with the Americans in an organized retreat after some cool thinking and quick planning of Brigadier General Anthony Wayne under Lafayette. The final count of deaths as well as retreats would lead this battle to be considered a British victory. The final casualty numbers for the Americans and British were 140 and 75, respectively. (Clary, 311). Green Spring had been used to house the American Wayne and the Frenchman Lafayette, and to be a marshaling point for their troops (Cotton).

General Cornwallis

 Another thing present at Green Spring was Berkeley’s interest in horticulture. He used his land as an experimental farm for the production of unique crops. Some of the included plants would be the usual tobacco, as well as hemp, flax, cotton, rice, and fruits such as grapes and apricots (Cotton).

Further Reading

Billings, Warren M. Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004.

Clary, David A. Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship that Saved the Revolution. New York: Bantam Books, 2007.

Cotton, Lee Peltham. Green Spring Plantation: A Historical Summaryhttp://www.historicgreenspring.org/plantation_history.php (Accessed April 12, 2012).

Photo Credits

“General Cornwallis,” The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, www.history.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Historic Green Spring,” Historic Green Spring, www.historicgreenspring.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

Historical Marker “Green Spring W-36,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Marquis de Lafayette,” New World Encyclopedia, www.newworldencyclopedia.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources

Green Spring Road V-42

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

The 17th century road to Green Spring, home of Governor Sir William Berkeley, was the eastern part of the Great Road, the earliest-developed English thoroughfare in Virginia. The Great Road ran from Jamestown Island toward the falls of the James River. The road was an important thoroughfare used to transport goods and forward communications between settlements. Originally, the Green Spring Road followed close to the James River, linking Jamestown to Green Spring. On 6 July 1781, the Revolutionary War Battle of Green Spring was fought in the fields flanking this road. By this time, the lower portion of the road (a part of present day Rte. 614) had shifted eastward.

Further Research
Green Spring was known for numerous events in American history, such as a point in Nathaniel Bacon’s Rebellion as well as for the Battle of Green Spring during the Revolutionary War. The Battle of Green Spring was fought between the forces of the Marquis de Lafayette and General Charles Cornwallis on July 6, 1781. It ended in a rout of the Revolutionary troops, but was not a total defeat as General Cornwallis did not pursue the fleeing Americans (Clary, 311).

On that day, there were a number of Americans who recorded what they had seen firsthand. With the many viewpoints, the personal accounts range from strictly military to more personal views with biases. The first comes from Captain John Davis of the 1st Pennsylvania regiment, where he describes the events of July 6, 1781 with a strategic approach. He lists the numbers of units and casualties of that battle.

“At sun rise we took up the line of march for Jamestown; which place the enemy lay  at.   The Ist  Batt” was detached with some riflemen, which brought on a scattering fire that continued many  hours, when the  2nd  &  3rd  Batt’ with one  of  Infantry arrived in sight;  we formed & brought on  a  Gen’ Action.  Our advances regular at a  charge, till we got  within 8o  yds.  of their main body, under a heavy fire of  Grape shot,  at  which   distance we opened our musquettry at their line;  3 of  our artillery horses being wounded;  & then their right flanking our  left, rendered a retreat necessary, with the loss of  2  pieces of Artillery.” (Davis, 2).

William McDowell of the same regiment included more of a look on the aftermath of the battle, including the lists of those wounded and some of the events post-retreat (Rees, 6).

The most interesting accounts comes from the leading officer of the Advance Guard, Major William Galvan. His retelling is the only known detailed narrative of the battle by an American. He writes not only about the general statistics of Green Spring, but also about the battle from his own point of view. It is a good portrayal of the struggle from a commanding officer of a group of units when forced to retreat or forced into any tight position (Rees, 7-8).

Of the troops available to General George Washington before and after this battle, 542 of 830 soldiers remained as fit for duty (Rees, 9).

 

Further Reading

Clary, David A. Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship that Saved the Revolution. New York: Bantam Books, 2007.

Davis, John. “Diary of Captain John Davis, of the Pennsylvania Line.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 1, No. 1. July, 1893.

Rees, John U. “A Smart firing commenc’d from both parties…” http://revwar75.com/library/rees/pdfs/Virginia.pdf (Accessed March 12, 2012).

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Green Spring Road V-42,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.


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Department of Historic Resources link not available

Quarterpath Road W-42

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

James Bray owned land nearby in Middle Plantation by the 1650s, and Quarterpath Road probably began as a horse path to one of Bray’s quarters or farm units. Over the years, the road was improved; it extended to Col. Lewis Burwell’s landing on the James River by the early eighteenth century. As Williamsburg grew, Quarterpath Road became one of the principal routes by which travelers and trade goods were brought into the colonial capital.

Further Research

Field school students excavating near a brick chimney foundation at the Quarterpath Road site

Very little remains in Williamsburg in regard to defenses during the Civil War. Quarterpath Road shows the placement of a Confederate line, however (Konstam, 91). It was located within site of one confederate fort named Fort Magruder. It was a highly defensible point which also had a view over the point where York and Hampton Roads met. The Confederate troops had set up earthworks of a sort to aid in defense, but the area had revolutionary works still remaining from years past. There were issues, though, such as the possibility of Williamsburg being completely bypassed via the James River (Dubbs, 69).

Depiction of a fight at Fort Magruder

General Magruder, of the fort, had requested for both reinforcements and a blockade of the James River with sunken ships. The second request did not happen, but Magruder and the Confederates did gain some reinforcements, as did the Federal troops under McClellan. Over the course of one month, the numbers of the Confederate and Union troops would increase to roughly 54,000 and 112,000 men, respectively. A series of small skirmishes would take place over the entirety of the Hampton Roads and Yorktown areas (Dubbs, 69-87). It was more or less a Union victory.

Middle Plantation was also an important place, though not for the same reasons. With the burning down of Jamestown when Nathaniel Bacon and his followers left, Virginia’s General Assembly met several times at the Middle Plantation. Of the members, one was James Bray whom served as a councilor that died in 1692. Two other major things that came about in Middle Plantation include the Bruton Parish Church, as well as the College of William and Mary (Morgan, 24).

Further Reading

Dubbs, Carol K. Defend This Old Town: Williamsburg During the Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Press, 2002.

Konstam, Angus. Fair Oaks 1862. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2003.

Morgan, Timothy E. Williamsburg: A City That History Made. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.

Photo Credits

“Depiction of a fight at Fort Magruder,” CWDG Online, http://cwdgonline.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Field school students excavating near a brick chimney foundation at the Quarterpath Road site,” The African Diaspora Archaeology Network, www.diaspora.uiuc.edu (accessed May 2, 2012).

Historical Marker “Quarterpath Road W-42,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

 

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Department of Historic Resources

New Kent Road W-26

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

By the 1720s, several taverns stood on New Kent Road (also called the Old Stage Road) between Williamsburg and New Kent Court House. During two wars, the road served opposing armies as well as travelers. In June 1781, near the end of the Revolution, British commander Gen. Charles Cornwallis marched his army from Richmond to Williamsburg on the road, with the Marquis de Lafayette and his army in cautious pursuit. During the Civil War, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate army withdrew west on the road toward Richmond after the Battle of Williamsburg on 5 May 1862; Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac slowly followed.

Further Research

Old Stage Coach

New Kent Road has been an important pathway in both the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars. It had previously been known as the “Old Stage Coach Road.”

Around the later portion of the American Revolutionary War, General Cornwallis of the British army had used this road to move his troops between Williamsburg and Richmond in June of 1781. The Marquis de Lafayette had cautiously followed. Upon watching, Lafayette had a tactic of keeping a solid defense in the case of Cornwallis turning around and launching an attack against his pursuers. This was a focus on maneuvering and complete abstinence of any general engagement (Johnston, 54).

Bottom's Bridge

The exact date in which Cornwallis had passed along this road was on June 24, 1781, and a day later he passed by the American reconnaissance group at Bottom’s Bridge. Lafayette, who arrived two weeks prior and lied in wait for the British troops to pass by, had beaten him there. The primary reason for this surveillance tactic was to enable the General Washington to know if a surprise attack would be launched against the American troops (Harris, 19).

“My Dear Sir,
By the time you receive this you must have accounts from the enemy. Should they be near us, this would be the good time for the night attack; but I am afraid we shall not have the opportunity. Whatever road the enemy take, you will please to proceed in that route, and, if opportunity offers; to attack them. You will do for the best.
Yours,
Lafayette”
(Johnston, 54)

Along the way, General Cornwallis had destroyed American goods. Some of the goods included tobacco, food, uniforms, flour, and muskets (Russell, 261)

Further Reading

Harris, Malcolm Hart. Old New Kent CountyVol. 1. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2006.

Johnston, Henry Phelps. The Yorktown Campaign and the Surrender of Cornwallis, 1781. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1881.

McClellan, George B. Letter of the Secretary of War Transmitting Report on the Organization of the Army of the Potomac and of Its Campaigns in Virginia and Maryland Under the Command of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan from July 26, 1861 to November 7, 1862. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1864.

Rafuse, Ethan Sapp. McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.

Russell, David Lee. The American Revolution in the Southern Colonies. New York: AS Barnes, 1877.

Symonds, Craig L. Joseph E. Johnston: A Civil War Biography. New York: WW Norton and Company, 1992.

Photo Credits

“Bottom’s Bridge,” The National Archives, http://arcweb.archives.gov (accessed May 2, 2012).

Earle, Alice Morse, “Old Stage Coach,” The Project Gutenberg. Stage Coach and Tavern Days. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1900 www.gutenberg.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

Historical Marker “New Kent Road W-26,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

Department of Historic Resources

White Hall Tavern W-27

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

This was a station on the Old Stage Road between Williamsburg and Richmond, before 1860.

 

 

 

 

Further Research

Original White Hall House

The original White Hall Tavern was built in 1805 by William Geddy, who was an upper middle class planter and blacksmith.  He built the home for his son who was a silversmith, James Geddy and the purpose of the home was to represent “the improving quality of housing for all Virginians during the early Republican period.” Tax records have indicated that because William Geddy was a wealthy planter, he most likely possessed a number of adult slaves as well.

During the mid-1800s in the midst of the United States Civil War, the plantation home served as a site crucial to the Confederate Army. Due to its convenient location within a somewhat close proximity to Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, it was a site that provided important intelligence gathering and distribution of information pertinent to the South’s advancement in the war.

The 200 acres of surrounding land has been in the family since the 1760’s and remains in the Geddy family’s possession still today; however, the United States Department of the Interior declared it a national historical landmark in 2007.  It is now referred to as White Hall Plantation, and it is located in Toano, James City County, Virginia at the intersection of routes US 60 and US 30.

Further Reading

“History at Whitehall.” http://www.whitehallwilliamsburg.blogspot.com/. (Accessed April 4, 2012).

United States Department of Interior National Park Service. “National Register of Historic Places Registration Form.” http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/registers/Counties/JamesCity/0470041_Whitehall_2007_NRfinal.pdf (accessed April 4, 2012).

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “White Hall Tavern W-27,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“White Hall Tavern,” White Hall,  www.whitehallwilliamsburg.blogspot.com (accessed May 1, 2012).

 

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Department of Historic Resources

Paspahegh Indians V-50

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

Located nearby was the main town of the Paspahegh Indians, tributaries to paramount chief Powhatan. When Jamestown was built in their territory, the Paspahegh consistently resisted the English settlement. In Aug. 1610, George Percy, on orders from Gov. De La Warr (Delaware), destroyed the Paspahegh town and its crops, killing 16 people and capturing the wife and children of chief Wowinchapuncke. On their return to Delaware’s ship, the English threw the children overboard and then shot them in the head, and later executed the chief’s wife-actions that changed the nature of warfare for the Virginia Indians. Wowinchapuncke was killed in a later skirmish near Jamestown. The remaining Paspahegh left the area by 1611.

Further Research

Paspahegh Native with a Colonist

The Paspahegh natives were an Algonquian-speaking nation that originally resided where the location of Jamestown was founded (Bridenbaugh, 10). They were closely associated with the Powhatan tribe, along with many other native tribes in the area, including the Pamunkey and the Chickahominy. By the time the English had first arrived in the Chesapeake Bay area in 1607, the Paspahegh natives had already taken proactive precautions and moved their village further up the James River to Sandy Point, in hopes of keeping a safe distance from the white intruders (Grizzard and Smith, 163).

Despite the Paspahegh tribes’ attempts to maintain a safe distance from the settlers, on May 26th, 1607, the Paspahegh attacked the settlers and this surprise attack led to a violent skirmish that resulted in about 10 to 12 men wounded, 1 to 2 Englishmen dead, and the capture of the Paspahegh chief, Wowinchapuncke. The Chief escaped, however his wife and children were later captured.

George Percy

On August 9th, 1610, the Paspahegh tribe was attacked by a siege of over seventy Englishmen whose primary objective from the governor was to destroy the village of the Paspahegh. George Percy led the combatants in killing and decapitating almost twenty natives, along with destroying the tribe’s crops and retaining the tribal queen and her children into custody. While their lives were spared initially, after arriving back at James Fort, the queen and her children were executed (Grizzard and Smith, 165). After this brutal conflict, the Paspahegh natives ceased to be a threat to the colonists.

 

 

Further Reading

Bridenbaugh, Carl. Jamestown: 1544-1699. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Feest, Christian F. Indians of North America: The Powhatan Tribes. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1990.

Grizzard, Jr. Frank E. and D. Boyd Smith. Jamestown Colony: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2007.

Photo Credits:

Historical Marker “Paspahegh Indians V-50,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Paspahegh Native with a Colonist,” Charles City County: State Historical Markers, www.charlescity.org (accessed April 29, 2012).

“George Percy,” The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, www.history.org (accessed April 29, 2012).

 

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Department of Historic Resources link not available

First Poles Arrive: not erected

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

Skilled craftsmen of Polish origin recruited by the Virginia Company began arriving in Jamestown aboard the Mary and Margaret about 1 Oct. 1608. Poles contributed to the development of a glass factory and the production of potash, naval stores, and wood products. Soon samples of their work were shipped back to England. The workers were so highly prized that they were assigned apprentices so that their skill “shall no dye with them.” Capt. John Smith praised their work ethic in his writings. Court records indicate that as a result of a dispute, Poles were granted full voting rights on 21 July 1619.

Further Research

Depiction of 17th Century Glassblowing

When the Virginia colony was first forming, it was crucial to its survival to maintain propaganda and to establish firm governmental support and adequate financial backing.  To help establish this, a lawyer named Richard Haklyut wrote “Inducements to the Liking of the Voyage Intended Towards Virginia.”  In this treatise, he stated “Men skilful in burning of Sope ashes, and in making of Pitch, and Tarre, and Rozen, to be fetched out of Prussia and Poland, which are thence to be had for small wages, being there in maner of slaves” (Barbour, 77).

Captain Christopher Newport

According to Captain John Smith, “there are no better workers than Poles.” (Grizzard and Smith, 171)  Polish craftsmen were originally brought to the Virginia colony of Jamestown a the urging of Captain John Smith.  He had observed their work before and was impressed at the skills they possessed with their trade.  On October 1, 1608, famous Sea Captain Christopher Newport embarked on another journey to the Jamestown, this time bringing with him “8 Dutchmen and Poles” (Barbour, 78).  After arriving in the colony, these Dutch and Polish workers were responsible for creating a glass house, which would be the factory in which glass would be produced.  They were also responsible for making pitch and tar and soap ashe.  The Polish workers were also responsible for cutting down the timber for their woodworking projects, and they frequently would send examples of their work back to England.  These Polish workers can be seen as the first creators of American industry (Barbour, 81).

On Strike

In 1619, after years of Polish men working in Virginia, the Governor declared the first election of a legislative body for the people, but only those who were born on English soil would be allowed to vote in the election.  Outraged, the Polish workers began the first strike in American history and they refused to do anymore work until they were allowed to vote.  On July 21, 1619, the court record of the Virginia Company stated:

“Upon some dispute of the Polonians resident in Virginia, it was now agreed (notwithstanding any former order to the contrary) that they shalbe enfranchized, and made as free as any inhabitant there whatsoever: and because their skill in making pitch and tarr and sope-ashees shall not dye with them, it is agreed that some young men, shalbe put unto them to learne their skill and knowledge therein for the benefitt of the Country hereafter.” Basically, the courts determined that the Polish workers had the right to vote as well.

Interesting Facts

The refusal to work by the Polish laborers has been referred to as “the first labor strike in American history.”

There were actually two men by the name of Richard Haklyut that were involved in the process of colonizing Virginia.  One was a preacher and worked in conjunction with Sir Walter Raleigh; the other was a lawyer who wrote “Inducements to the Liking of the Voyage Intended Towards Virginia.”

Captain Christopher Newport was one of the original members of the group of colonists to arrive in Jamestown in 1607.  He sailed back to England shortly after arriving in Virginia and then made a second trip back in 1608, this time bringing with him the Polish and Dutch workers.

 

Further Reading

Barbour, Philip L. “The Identity of the First Poles in America.” William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 21 (1964).

Grizzard, Jr. Frank E. and D. Boyd Smith. Jamestown Colony: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2007.

“The First Polish Settlers,” Polish American Cultural Center Museum, www.polishamericancenter.org (accessed April 29, 2012).

Photo Credits

“Depiction of 17th Century Glassblowing,” The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, www.history.org (accessed April 28, 2012).

“Christopher Newport,” Encylopedia: Christopher Newport, www.encyclopedia.com (accessed April 28, 2012).

“On Strike,” First Polish Settlers, www.polishamericancenter.org (accessed April 28, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources link not available



First Germans at Jamestown WT-2

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Inscription:

The first Germans to land in Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in Virginia, arrived aboard the vessel Mary and Margaret about 1 October 1608. These Germans were glassmakers and carpenters. In 1620, German mineral specialists and saw-millwrights followed, to work and settle in the Virginia Colony. These pioneers and skilled craftsmen were the forerunners of the many millions of Germans who settled in America and became the single largest national group to populate the United States.

Further Research

Glassblower in Colonial Jamestown

Various tradesmen constituted the labor force of the Jamestown colony, including blacksmiths, bricklayers and even jewelers and perfumers.  However, the most prominent skilled laborers mentioned in the history of Jamestown are the Dutch, German and Polish glassmakers and carpenters (Grizzard and Smith, 226).  The first group of these men arrived in the colony around October of 1608 as a small portion of Captain Newport’s crew aboard the ship the Mary and Margaret.  Out of a total number of about 70 passengers, only 8 of them were Dutch, German or Polish workers.  Known for their glassmaking abilities and craftsmanship, Captain Newport acquired these men from Prussia and Poland before setting sail for Jamestown (Wust, 3).

Upon arriving in the colony, the craftsmen got to work constructing various buildings and fabricating glass and other commodities for the colony.  It is important to note that when the Germans arrived, they had to build everything they needed from scratch in order to blow the glass, including the ovens that were used (Graasl, ).

Map Showing a Glassblowing Building

Because of their impressive skills at their trade, Captain John Smith assigned them a task to build a house for Chief Powhatan.  The chief requested a home that would be similar in architectural style as the German homes commonly seen in the colony.  Captain Smith however, had different motives.  Smith was making an effort to build a better bond and relationship with the natives because the winter months were fast approaching and food was becoming scarce for the colonists.  He proposed that the Germans and Dutch could build the house for the chief and in return, they could trade precious commodities such as corn.  Unfortunately for Smith, his plan backfired and the German workers traded their loyalties with the colonists for sanctuary with the natives.  The Germans preferred to be allied with Powhatan’s people and they stole weapons from the colonists to give to the natives in return for their alliance (Grizzard and Smith, 226).

Further Reading

Grassl, Gary C. First Germans at Jamestown. Washington D.C. : German Heritage Society of Greater Washington, 1997.

Grizzard, Jr. Frank E. and D. Boyd Smith. Jamestown Colony: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2007.

Schuricht, Herrmann. History of the German Element in Virginia. Baltimore: Theo. Kroh & Sons, 1898.

Wust, Klaus. The Virginia Germans. Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1969.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “First Germans at Jamestown WT-2,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Jamestown Glassblower at Work,” National Park Service, www.nps.gov (accessed April 29, 2012).

“Map Showing a Glassblowing Building,” Glassmaking at Jamestown, www.artslice.blogspot.com (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources