Posts Tagged ‘Plantation’

Jamestown Road W-38

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012


The ancient road that linked Jamestown, the original colonial capital, with Middle Plantation (later Williamsburg) followed a meandering course. It departed from Jamestown Island and then turned northeast, crossing Powhatan and Mill Creeks. As it approached Middle Plantation, it traversed a branch of College Creek that by the mid-17th century was dammed to form Rick Neck plantation’s millpond, today’s Lake Matoaka. Improvements to Jamestown Road, completed in time for the Jamestown Ter-Centennial Exposition, constituted the first project completed with the assistance of the State Highway Commission, formed in 1906.

Further Research

The English colonists originally referred to what now constitutes Jamestown Road, as the “Greate Road”. The original road was a natural path that was abundantly rich in natural resources and the natives had previously used it as a hunting trail that led from the mainland to the Jamestown Forte (Grizzard and Smith, 82). Unfortunately for the colonists, this path was heavily used by the natives and since the natives were so familiar with the area, this road was a site for many sneak attacks led by the natives on the colonists.

Remnants of this ancient road still exist today and they can mostly be seen from Glasshouse Point (  Originally, the Greate Road was a route that began at James Fort and continued to travel west across the isthmus and onto the mainland near Glasshouse Point.

Since 1939, excavations have taken place on the various sections of the original Greate Road. It was discovered that the settlers would pack down the dirt and soil through the use of horses and oxen. As more traffic would begin to use the road, the colonists would expand the road another 30-35 feet and the road would be built up with sand (

Further Reading

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

“The Greate Road: An Early Highway Pre 1607-1700’s. National Park Service. (accessed March 17, 2012).

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Jamestown Road W-38,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“The Great Road,” Williamsburg, Virginia, (accessed May 2, 2012).

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources

Littletown W-48

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012


In the second quarter of the 17th-century, merchant George Menefie developed a 1,200-acre plantation just east of here he called Littletown. In March 1633, Dutch trader David DeVies observed that his two-acre garden was “full of Provence roses, apple, pear and cherry trees,… with different kinds of sweet-smelling herbs, such as rosemary, sage, marjoram, thyme.” Richard Kemp later acquired the tract and called it Rich Neck. Rich Neck was home to three generations of the Ludwell family and Ludwell’s Mill (at modern Lake Matoaka) was an important 18th-century landmark.

Further Research

Location of Rich Neck Plantation in present-day Williamsburg

The Middle Plantation is considered to be the area between the York and James Rivers. Rich Neck was a plantation started by George Menefie on July 2, 1635 (Agbe-Davies), and contained a total of 1,200 acres under it. He recieved the land by paying 24 immigrants to come into America, and he then gained another 3,000 acres by paying for the passages of 60 individuals. Menefie, however, did not live on that land. It was then sold within a year to another wealthy colonist, Richard Kemp (McFaden et al, 5-6).

This would start a pattern of this land being owned by the wealthy. The main crop that was grown was of course tobacco, and the landowners used enslaved Africans as labor. Also, all subsequent owners would live on the property (Agbe-Davies). Richard Kemp had owned the land until 1650, when he died and his estate was left to his wife. She then remarried, making the next owner Sir Thomas Lunsford. He then died three years later (McFaden, 7).

This pattern of wealthy owners would continue on, as it was then passed down in the Ludwell family until 1814. The land was then divided into seperate tracts for sale, and the 600 acre portion known as Little Neck was a private family-owned farm (McFaden et al, 5).

Further Reading

Agbe-Davies, Anna. “A Brief History of the Rich Neck Plantation.” (Accessed March 11, 2012).

McFaden, Leslie, Philip Levy, David Muraca, and Jennifer Jones. Interim Report: The Archaeology of Rich Neck Plantation. Williamsburg: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation: 1999.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Littletown W-48,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Location of Rich Neck Plantation in present-day Williamsburg,” Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery, (accessed May 2, 2012).

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources

Kingsmill W-47: Not Erected

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012


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, (accessed May 2, 2012).

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

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

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

View on Google Maps

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

Green Spring Road V-42

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012


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…” (Accessed March 12, 2012).

Photo Credits

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

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources link not available

Sir William Berkeley V-42-A

Thursday, March 29th, 2012


Oxford educated, Sir William Berkeley (1605-1677) was governor of Virginia from 1641 to 1652 and from 1600 to 1677, holding office longer than any other governor of Virginia, colonial or modern. Under his leadership, Virginia changed from a colonial outpost to a center of agriculture and commerce. His creation of the bicameral General Assembly helped establish the origins of American political self-rule. Nathaniel Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 threatened Berkeley’s legacy. After Bacon suddenly died on Oct. 26, Berkeley regained his authority as governor and ended the rebellion by January 1677. The site of Berkeley’s Green Spring House is north of here.

Further Research

Sir William Berkeley

William Berkeley was born on a wintry day in 1605 to Elizabeth and Sir Maurice Berkeley of Somerset, England.  After developing a close relationship with King Charles I, Berkeley was appointed to the titles of governor and captain-general of the colony of Virginia (Billings, 32).  On March 8th of 1641, Berkeley officially assumed his duties as governor of Virginia.  He arrived in Jamestown in the spring of 1642 and upon specific instructions from King Charles I, he was to “promote stability and patriotism and stimulate economic growth” (Grizzard and Smith, 27).

Chief Opechcancanough

In 1644, Pamunkey native Chief Opechancanough attacked the colony of Jamestown in what would  come to be known as the Indian Massacre of 1644.  Berkeley quickly assumed command of the armed forces and after about six weeks, the colonists were finally able to ward off the natives.  After a few more years of colonists and natives fighting, Governor Berkeley was able to capture Opechancanough and in October of 1646, Governor Berkeley was able to negotiate a treaty with the new Pamunkey chief, Necotowance (Grizzard and Smith, 28).  In this treaty, Governor Berkeley established a land boundaries and a peace settlement that would be understood as long as the natives stayed on their land and promised to pay an annual tribute to the Governor.

During the 1660’s, tensions had begun to rise once again between the colonists and the natives.  Colonists were having difficulties economically, mostly due to crops and in many cases these problems were being blamed on the natives.  More and more attacks and fights were occurring between the colonists and the natives and ever since the formation of the treaty the Governor had established between himself and the Pamunkey natives, Berkeley had developed a very “laissez faire” attitude.  He did not perceive smaller quarrels as being anything that would amount to a large-scale attack, so he did not react to these.  Disgruntled colonists and planters all throughout the colony were angry regarding Berkeley’s complicit attitude and in the summer of 1676, one planter was desperate to make some changes.

Nathaniel Bacon

Nathaniel Bacon was a 29-year-old planter who lived in the Jamestown settlement and harbored ill will towards the natives.  He was appalled by Berkeley’s complacency and in 1676 he led a rebellion against Governor Berkeley and his assembly.  Bacon led about 500 men into Green Spring and later Jamestown, before burning it down on September 19th (Grizzard and Smith, 29).  Embarrassed, Governor Berkeley was recalled back to England by Charles II to answer for his failure at protecting the colonists.  Governor Berkeley died on July 9, 1677 and was buried at Twickenham in Middlesex.

Policy towards Natives

“Forbid all persons whatsoever to receive into their houses the person of any Indian or to converse or trade with them” (Billings, 51). Initially, Governor Berkeley harbored no ill will towards the natives of the area and he encouraged the colonists to do the same. However, in 1667 after an attack by the natives and the consequential loss of slaves, an uprising of disgruntled planters led by Nathaniel Bacon Jr. occurred in an effort to revolt against Governor Berkeley. This skirmish that came to be known as Bacon’s Rebellion resulted in the loss of many lives and the embarrassed and shame filled governor was summoned by King Charles II to return to England and he was further reprieved of his duties (Grizzard and Smith, 29).

Bacon’s Rebellion

Bacon's Rebellion

In the mid to late 1600’s, tensions between the local natives of the Virginia colony and the colonists themselves were beginning to rise. Native attacks were occurring more frequently and they were becoming more violent as well. In 1676, natives attacked the home of Nathaniel Bacon Jr. and in doing so they stole his slaves. Being as Bacon was an established planter, slaves were the key to his trade and his livelihood, and this vicious act infuriated him. Immediately, Bacon contested to Governor Berkeley of Virginia, but with no avail as Governor Berkeley maintained a strict non-violence policy towards the natives. Outraged, Bacon commanded a rebellion against the Governor and his conformist policies towards the natives and he acted out violently, burning down various houses and other buildings. As a result, Governor William Berkeley was renounced of his position as governor of Virginia and he was forced to return to England by demand of King Charles II (Billings, 235).

Bacon’s Declaration to the People

The Declaration of the People, against Sr: Wm: Berkeley, and Present Governor’s of Virginia

For having upon specious Pretences of publick Works raised unjust Taxes, upon the Commonaltie, For advancing of Private Favourites. And other sinister Ends, but noe visibile Effect, in any Measure adequate.

Nathaniel Bacon's Declaration of the People

For having abused, and rendered Contemptable, his Maties: Justice, by advancing to Places of Judicature, Scandalous and ignorant Favourites.
For having wronged his Maties: Prorogative, and Interest, by assuming the Monopolie of the Bever Trade.

For having in that unjust Gaine, betrayed and sold, His Matie: Countrie, and the Liberties of his Loyall Subjects to the Barbarous Heathen.

For having, Protected, favoured, and Emboldened, the Indians against his Maties: most Loyall Subjects; never Contriving, requiring, or appointing any due or proper Meanes of Satisfaction; for thiere many Incusrsions, Murthers, and Robberies, Committed upon Us.

For having when the Armie of the English, was upon the Tract of the Indians, which now in all Places, burne spoile, and Murder, And when Wee might with ease, have destroyed them, Who were in open hostilitie.

For having expresslie, countermanded, and sent back, our Armie, by Passing his word, for the Peaceable demeanours of the said Indians, Who Immediately prosecuted their Evill Intentions – Committing horrid Murders and Robberies, in all Places, being Protected by the said Engagement, and Word passed by Him the said Sr: Wm: Berkeley having Ruined and made Desolate, a greate Part of his Maties: Countrie, having now drawn themselves into such obscure and remote places, and are by theire success soe Emboldened, and Confirmed, and by theire Confederates strengthened. That the Cryes of Blood, are in all Places, and the Terror, and Consternation of the People soe greate, That They are not only become difficult, but a very formidable Enemie Who might with Ease bin destroyed.

When upon the loud outcries of Blood, the Assemblie had with all Care, rasied and framed an Armie, for the Prevention of future Mischeifs, and safeguard of his Maties: Colonie.

For having only with the Privacie of a fewe favourites, without the Acquainting of the People, only by Alteration of a Figure forged a Commission, by I Know not what hand, not only without, but against the Consent of the People, for the Raising and Effecting of Civill Warr, and Destruction, which being happily and without Bloodshed prevented.

For having the second time attempted the same, thereby calling down our forces from the Defence of the frontiers, and most weakened and Exposed Places, for the prevention of Civill Mischeife, and Ruine amongst our selves; whilest the Barbarous Enemie in all places did Invade Murder and spoile us, his Maties: Loyall Subjects.

Of these the aforesaid Articles Wee accuse Sr: Wm: Berkeley as guiltie of Each and Everie of the same. As one who hath Traiterouslie attempted, Violated and Injured his Maties: Interest here, by the Loss of a greate Part of his Maties: Colonie, and many of his faithfull and Loyall Subjects, by Him betrayed in a Barbarous and shamefull Manner Exposed to the Incursion, and murder of the Heathen. And We farther declare the Ensuing Persons in this List to have bin wicked and Pernicious Councellours and Confederates, Aiders, and Assisstants against the Commonaltie in these our Civill Commotions.

Sr: Henrie Chicekly Wm.: Cole
Coll: Chritopr: Wormly Rich: Whitecar Jon: Page: Clerke
Phillip Ludwell Rich: Spencer Jon: Cuffe: Clerk
Robert Beverlie Joseph Bridges Hub: Farrill
Richard Lee Wm: Claybourne John: West
Thomas Ballard Thom: Hawkins Tho: Readmuch
Wm: Sherwood Math: Kemp

And we farther Command that the said Sr: Wm: Berkeley, with all the Persons in this List bee forthwith delivered upp, or Surrender Themselves, within foure dayes after the notice hereof, or otherwise Wee declare as followeth.

That in whatsoever place, House, or Shipp, any of the said Persons shall Reside, bee hid, or protected, Wee doe declare the Owners, Masters and Inhabitants of the said Parties, to bee Confederates, Traytors to the People and ye Estates, of them; as alsoe of all the aforesaid Persons, to be Confiscated, this Wee the Commons of Virginia doe declare.

Desiring a firme union amongst our Selves, that Wee may Joyntly and with one accord defend our selves against the Common Enimie, and lett not the faults of the Guiltie, bee the Reproach of the Innocent, or the faults and Crimes of the Oppressors, devide and sepperate Us Who have suffered, by theire oppressions.

These are therefore in his Maties: Name to Command you: forthwith to seize the Persons abovementioned, as Traytors to the King, and Countrie, and Them to bring to the Middle Plantations, and there to secure them till further Order and in Case of opposition, if yu: want any farther Assisstance, you are forthwith to demand It. In the Name of the People, in all the Counties of Virginia.

-Nathaniell Bacon Generall, by Consent of the People.
[30 July 1676]
(Grizzard and Smith, 21-22)

Interesting Facts

Governor Sir William Berkeley and Nathaniel Bacon Jr. were actually cousins by marriage.
Sir William Berkeley holds the title for the longest established governor of colonial Virginia, and any colony or state for that matter.

Further Reading

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

Carson, Jane. Bacon’s Rebellion: 1676-1976. Jamestown: The Jamestown Foundation, 1976.

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

Washburn, Wilcomb E. The Governor and the Rebel: A History of Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1957.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Sir William Berkeley V-42-A,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Sir William Berkeley,” Friends of Green Spring, (accessed May 1, 2012).

“Chief Opechcancanough,” Powhatan Museum of Indigenous Arts and Culture, (accessed May 1, 2012).

“Nathaniel Bacon,” National Park Service, (accessed May 1, 2012).

“Bacon’s Rebellion,” Friends of Green Spring, (accessed May 1, 2012).

“Nathaniel Bacon’s Declaration of Grievances,” Encyclopedia Virginia, (accessed May 1, 2012).

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources link not available

Carter’s Grove W-50

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012


During the 17th century Carter’s Grove was part of the Martin’s Hundred Plantation. In the early 1720s, Robert “King” Carter purchased it and later named the tract Carter’s Grove. Between 1750 and 1755 Carter Burwell, grandson of Robert “King” Carter, built the Carter’s Grove mansion, a famous example of colonial Virginia plantation architecture. Burwell hired brickmason David Minitree to make and lay the brick; he brought Richard Baylis, an English joiner, to Virginia to execute the interior woodword, some of the handsomest of the era. The house stood almost unaltered until 1928 when it was renovated and enlarged by the architect W. Duncan Lee.

Further Research

On April 10th of 1606, James I of England established the Virginia Company of London with the purpose of colonizing the eastern coast of North America. The first permanent English settlement, Jamestown was constructed on May 14th, 1607. As the English began to expand beyond Jamestown, Sir John Wolstenholme provided funding for the Wolstenholme Towne, located on the Martin’s hundred plantation. Established in 1620, Wolstenholme Towne at first had a population of 40 settlers and was located seven miles downstream from Jamestown.

Robert "King" Carter

The Indian Massacre of 1622 effectively decimated the new settlement, and nearly drove English settlers completely off the east coast of Virginia. The massacre killed three to four hundred settlers, and was organized by the Powhatan Confederacy’s leader ChiefOpenchakemhaque. Later on in the seventeenth century, Robert “King” Carter purchased property on the former Wolstenholme Towne. After Carter’s death, his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Nathaniel Burwell. The son of Elizabeth and Nathaniel, Carter Burwell was the first to build the now famous mansion, which stands on the property. Carter’s son Colonel Nathaniel Burwell moved to the plantation in 1771 where he farmed corn and wheat. Carter’s Grove stayed in the Burwell family until 1838. The last owner of the plantation was the wealthy Pittsburg industrialist Archibald McCrea. McCrea purchased it in 1928, but died in 1937. His widow remained at

Carter's Grove Plantation

Carter’s Grove for another twenty-five years until her death. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation purchased the property in 1969 and was responsible for the grounds until 2007. On December 19th, of 2007 the founder of CNET, Halsey Minor purchased the estate and still lives there today.


Further Reading

Hatch, Charles E., and Virginia 350th Anniversary Celebration Corporation. The First Seventeen Years, Virginia, 1607-1624. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1957.

Levy, Andrew. The First Emancipator: The Forgotten Story of Robert Carter, the Founding Father Who Freed His Slaves. Random House Digital, Inc., 2005.

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

Gleach, Frederic W. Powhatan’s World and Colonial Virginia: A Conflict of Cultures. Nebraska: U of Nebraska Press, 2000.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Carter’s Grove W-50,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Robert ‘King’ Carter,” National History Education Clearing House, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Carter’s Grove Plantation,” Virginia Runaways: Views of the Reconstructed Slave Quarter Houses at Carter’s Grove Near Williamsburg, courtesy of Tom Costa, (accessed May 2, 2012).

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources

Hot Water/Centerville V-47

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012


Royal Governor William Berkeley, owner of nearby Green Spring Plantation, purchased the land here by 1652, then known as Hot Water. After Berkeley’s death, the Hot Water tract passed to the Ludwell and Lee families. William Ludwell Lee inherited the property in 1796 and died in 1803. Lee’s will specified that his slaves be freed when they reached the age of 18. They were allowed to live on the property for ten years at no charge and “comfortable houses” were to be built upon the tract for them. Lee’s philanthropy gave rise to one of Virginia’s early free black settlements located at Centerville.

Further Research

Governor William Berkeley

Governor William Berkeley, also owner of Green Spring Plantation, purchased this tract of land, known as Hot Water, in 1652.  The land also served as the ancestral home of the Ludwells and Lees.  The Plantation itself housed many African American slaves who also took part in Bacon’s Rebellion and in the American Revolutionary War.  After Berkeley died, he passed the tract to the Ludwell and Lees.  When William Ludwell Lee inherited the estate, he had it assessed and completely tore down the aging mansion to build a new house (Cotton). After William Ludwell Lee died, he decreed that all of his slaves be freed and also made provisions for their continued support and education.  More than thirty slaves were freed and received farmsteads in the Hot Water Tract, which consisted of more than 8,000 acres.  They were allowed to live on the property for ten years at no charge in horses built on the property.

The Hot Water tract soon became a part of Centerville and served as the site for many

The final of three recreated cabins was completed in 2008 in Freedom Park. On this original tract is a purposefully established community whose inhabitants consisted of Free Blacks.

battles in the future. Because of Wiliam Ludwell Lee’s generosity to his former slaves, the descendants of those freed slaves were able to create one of the first Free Black communities in Centerville during the antebellum period.  Furthermore, Centerville also served as a hub for colonial activity as a central port for trade of tobacco and produce (Knight).




Further Reading

Cotton, Lee Pelham. Green Spring Plantation: An Historical Summary. (accessed March 7, 2012).

Knight, Priscilla. History of Centreville and Virginia Run. (accessed March 7, 2012).

African American Historic Sites Database. Green Spring Plantation and the Hot Water Tract. (accessed March 7, 2012).

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Hot Water/Centerville V-47,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Governor William Berkeley,” Historic Green Spring, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Recreated Cabin,” Freedom Park- James City County, (accessed May 2, 2012).

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources link not available