Posts Tagged ‘Jamestown’

Six-Mile Ordinary W-34

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

Six-Mile Ordinary, a popular 18th-century tavern also known as Allen’s for its proprietor Isham Allen, stood six miles from Williamsburg. On 1 July 1774, a group of free holders congregated there and drafted the James City Resolves not to import British goods. Two years later, they gathered again to declare their support for American independence. On 21 April 1781, Col. James Innes notified the governor that 500 British infantrymen, 50 horses, and 4 pieces of artillery had come ashore at Burwell’s Ferry. Because of this unexpected event, Innes and his troops retreated to Six-Mile Ordinary around midnight.

Further Research

Taproom of a Tavern

Six-Mile Ordinary was originally named based on the tavern’s distance from Williamsburg. Elizabeth D. Taylor inherited the farm that the ordinary was located on from her husband, who bought the property in 1827. The tavern stood adjacent with Old Stage Road, and Taylor managed the property until the end of the Civil War, when she became indebted to creditors. The land and building was then deeded to her son Henley L. Taylor. Later into the 19th century, Langdon T. Hankins and A.B. Tuttle acquired the deed and transformed the tavern into a merchandise exchange store.

Taproom Furnishings of an Old Tavern

Interesting Facts:

An ordinary refers to an old tavern, such as Six-Mile Ordinary and Burnt Ordinary. 

 

Further Reading

Lewis, Sara E. James City County. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2009.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Six-Mile Ordinary W-34,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

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

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

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Department of Historic Resources

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

Hickory Neck Church W-30

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

Hickory Neck Church was built about 1740. Militia opposing the British camped here on April 21, 1781. A few miles north is the foundation of an ancient stone house, dating possibly from about 1650.

 

 

Further Research

Hickory Neck Church

According to the current congregation…

“The Historic Chapel has a glorious history of survival. The northern two-thirds of the present building was built in 1774 as a transept to the original 1734 church. After the Revolutionary War, the church fell into disrepair and the original church was torn down and the southern third of the present building was added around 1825 to provide space for Hickory Neck Academy. The Academy also served various denominations as a place to worship before the Civil War. The war years were hard on Hickory Neck leaving it in near ruinous condition, but again, it was repaired and put back into service as a school. Eventually James City County erected a public school in Toano and our building was reconsecrated as an Episcopal church in 1917. “

Hickory Neck Church - Present Day

Further Reading

Hickory Neck Church. “Historic Chapel Fund.” http://www.hickoryneck.org/historic-chapel-fund/ (accessed March 17, 2012).

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Hickory Neck Church W-30,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Hickory Neck Church,” Library of Congress, www.loc.gov (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Hickory Neck Church- Present Day,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

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Department of Historic Resources

Kingsmill W-47: Not Erected

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

Kingsmill Plantation, the home of Col. Lewis Burwell, was built in the mid-1730s and consisted of a mansion, outbuildings, garden, and 1,400 acres. The house burned in 1843. Only the office and the kitchen still stand; they are among the earliest brick dependencies in Virginia. Burwell, the naval officer (colonial customs inspector) for the upper James River, built his inspection station here at Burwell’s Landing, which included a tavern, storehouse, warehouse, and ferry house. In Nov. 1775, American riflemen skirmished nearby with British naval vessels; later, the Americans built two earthen forts here that the British captured in 1781.

Further Research

One of Remaining Houses on Kingsmill Plantation

Richard Kingsmill, who was granted one of the first land grants by the Virginia Company, initially purchased the land that Kingsmill Plantation was located. In the mid-1730s, colonial customs inspector and British Colonel Lewis Burwell III purchased 1,400 acres of Kingsmill’s original plot, and constructed a plantation with several other structures. The headquarters of his inspection station (Burwell’s Landing) was also located on the property along the James River, which included a tavern, warehouse, and ferry.

Kingsmill Archaeological Site

Kingsmill Plantation saw action in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. As Patriot forces began to assemble near Williamsburg in the fall of 1775, the Colonial Governor of Virginia Lord Dunmore ordered that British ships patrol the James River to stop potential ferry crossings of these rebels. On Sunday, November 5th, militiamen from Chesterfield County began to assemble near Williamsburg with intentions to embark upon Norfolk. The British vessel the Kingfisher patrolled the river with three other supporting tenders, but failed in stopping a thousands Colonial militiamen from crossing the river. Despite this, the Kingfisher exchanged fire with a Colonial vessel at Burwell’s Ferry without any decisive action. At the end of the War in 1781, French forces under the Marquis de Lafayette utilized Burwell’s Landing as they docked and moved inland from there. Later that year in January, Colonial General Thomas Nelson and his militia foiled Benedict Arnold’s plan to land at Burwell’s Ferry.

Lord Dunmore

Many battles in the Civil War were also fought in the vicinity of Kingsmill Plantation. Union General George B. McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign engulfed the plantation, as an army of 120,000 men landed and moved inland through the area with the task of reaching Richmond. Several Confederate defensive lines also ran through the property such as the Warwick Line, and the Williamsburg Line. On May 6th of 1865, the Battle of Williamsburg was fought here where the Confederates lost 1,682 men and the Union lost 2,283.

Present Day Kingsmill Plantation

Today resorts, theme parks, a brewery, and a golf course have enveloped much of the Kingsmill land. Busch Gardens, Kingsmill Resort, and the community of Kingsmill on the James are all located on this former plantation.

 

Further Reading

Russell, David Lee. The American Revolution in the Southern Colonies. McFarland, 2000.

John S. Salmon, compiler. A Guidebook to Virginia’s Historical Markers, Revised and Expanded Edition. University Press of Virginia, 2001.

Sears, Stephen W. To The Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign. 1st ed. Mariner Books, 2001.

Photo Credits

“One of remaining houses on Kingsmill Plantation,” National Park Service, www.nps.gov (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Kingsmill archaeological site,” National Park Service, www.nps.gov (accessed May 2, 2012).

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

“Present Day Kingsmill Plantation,” Golf Williamsburg, www.golfwilliamsburg.com (accessed May 2, 2012).

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Department of Historic Resources – This marker has since been removed due to construction.

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

Patrick Napier, Colonial Surgeon W-41

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Inscription:

Nearby lived “Patrick Napier of Queenes Creek in the County of Yorke Chirurgeon,” one of the earliest surgeons of Scottish descent in Virginia. Born about 1634, and apprenticed to the surgeon general of the Scottish army defeated by Cromwell in 1650, Patrick Napier arrived here before 1655. He married Elizabeth, a daughter of Robert Booth, clerk of the York County Court and a member of the House of Burgesses. By horse and boat, Napier attended the sick, performed surgery, bled his patients, and dispensed various remedies consistent with the practice of medicine in the mid-seventeenth century. He died in 1669. He was the progenitor of most of the Napiers in America.

Further Research

Dr. Patrick Napier comes from a long lineage of Scottish Napiers, most likely a descendent of the clan of Kilmahew Napiers. Dr. Patrick Napier’s father was also a “chirugeon”, and his father worked directly for King Charles I, while he directly apprenticed for the surgeon-general of the Scottish Army, Dr. Alexander Pennycuik.  Dr. Patrick Napier was born sometime around 1610 in Scotland, and after arriving in Virginia sometime around 1650-1655, he married Elizabeth Booth (Woodson, 29).

Tools Used in Surgery

During the early colonial times, many doctors came to Virginia with the prospects of being able to practice medicine freely, with virtually no restrictions.  They provided an important service to the colonists, as the first year in Virginia was always the hardest.  On average, 1 out of every 5 immigrants died due to the “seasoning time” (the time to become adjusted to the climate and natural elements of the land) and Dr. Patrick Napier helped to provide medicine and relief to these colonists to help them (Tyler, 268).

Tool Used for Cleaning Wounds

Dr. Patrick Napier was involved in a legal matter regarding his boat.  In the early days of the settlement, the chief means of transportation were through waterways by boat since barely any roads existed. In 1660, a man named Mr. Strachey borrowed Dr. Napier’s boat without permission and Dr. Napier was unable to attend to his sick patients because of this. In return, Mr. Strachey was fined 350 pounds of tobacco due to his negligence of Dr. Napier’s belongings (Doliante, 3).

Leeches Used for Bloodletting

Dr. Patrick Napier was not the only colonial surgeon that was present in Jamestown during this time, but along with the 5-6 other physicians they are noted for helping to keep the colony alive and practicing the first bits of medicine in the New World.

 

 

 

 

Further Reading

Napier, Charlie. The Napiers of Kilmahewhttp://www.clannapier.org/klmhwnap.htm (Accessed April 12, 2012).

Doliante, Sharon. Maryland and Virginia Colonials: Genealogies of Some Colonial Families : Families of Bacon, Beall, Beasley, Cheney, Duckett, Dunbar, Ellyson, Elmore, Graves, Heydon, Howard, Jacob, Morris, Nuthall, Odell, Peerce, Reeder, Ridgley, Prather, Sprigg, Wesson, Williams, and Collateral Kin. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1991.

Tyler, Long G. Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine-Vol. 1. Richmond: Whittet and Shepperson Printers, 1920.

Woodson, H.M. Historical Genealogy of the Woodsons and their Connections. Memphis: H.M. Woodson, 1915.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Patrick Napier, Colonial Surgeon W-41,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Tools Used in Surgery,” The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, www.history.org (accessed May 1, 2012).

“Tool Used for Cleaning Wounds,” The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, www.history.org (accessed May 1, 2012).

“Leeches Used for Bloodletting,” The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, www.history.org (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