Touring Jamestown Virginia

I’m going to toss a couple days into this update because Tuesday 9/24/13 we didn’t do a bunch. We had a leisurely morning and then took a drive up the street and visited the Heritage Golf Course on our way to a huge outlet mall we happened across the other day.

Once again after walking around for a couple hours bouncing from shop to shop we both walked away empty handed LOL!!! In one hand it’s pretty sad but in the other hand it’s PERFECT!!! We just don’t need anything.

 After the outlet mall we headed home, did some laundry, chatted with a few fellow campers, took a walk on a nature trail around the park that’s about a mile long and killed the rest of the day. We like to spread out our activities a little it seems. And we knew we would have a pretty full day Wednesday.

The trailhead to the nature trail here at the RV park

The trailhead to the nature trail here at the RV park

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And when Wednesday 9/25/13 rolled around we rolled out of the sack at 6:30 and got ready to drive to Jamestown. It takes us a while to get ready in the mornings with Jack and all. But we were on our way by 8:30.

Jamestown is the site of the first permanent English settlement in America. In 1607, 13 years before the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth Rock, a group of 105 Englishmen headed out on 3 ships to begin a settlement on the banks of Virginia’s James River.

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The Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery departed from England in December 1606 and reached the Virginia coast in late April 1607.  The expedition was led by Captain Christopher Newport.  On May 13, after two weeks of exploration, the ships arrived at a site on the James River selected for its deep water anchorage and good defensive position. The passengers came ashore the next day, and work began on the settlement.  Initially, the colony was governed by a council of seven, with one member serving as president.

A look at how the fort would have been laid out.

A look at how the fort would have been laid out.

Serious problems soon emerged in the small English outpost, which was located in the midst of about 14,000 Algonquian-speaking Indians ruled by the powerful leader Powhatan.  Relations with the Powhatan Indians were iffy, although trading opportunities were established.  An unfamiliar climate, as well as poor water supply and lack of food, conditions possibly aggravated by a prolonged drought, led to disease and death.  Many of the original colonists were upper-class Englishmen, and the colony lacked sufficient laborers and skilled farmers. They didn’t think ahead very well when picking the crew it seems.

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Captain John Smith became the colony’s leader in September 1608 – the fourth in a succession of council presidents – and established a “no work, no food” policy.  I’m sure that shook up the aristocrats that came over on the boats LOL!! Smith had been instrumental in trading with the Powhatan Indians for food.  However, in the fall of 1609 he was injured by burning gunpowder and left for England.  Smith never returned to Virginia, but promoted colonization of North America until his death in 1631

Captain John Smith

Captain John Smith

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Smith’s departure was followed by the “starving time,” a period of warfare between the colonists and Indians and the deaths of many English men and women from starvation and disease.

While taking our guided archeological tour we were told signs of cannibalism were found in the fort. Probably during the Starving Time as it’s called.  Just when the colonists decided to abandon Jamestown in spring 1610, settlers with supplies arrived from England, eager to find wealth in Virginia.  This group of new settlers arrived under the second charter issued by King James I.  This charter provided for stronger leadership under a governor who served with a group of advisors, and the introduction of a period of military law that carried harsh punishments for those who did not obey.

They were doing dig's while we were there. It's a very active area for finding stuff.

They were doing dig’s while we were there. It’s a very active area for finding stuff.

In order to make a profit for the Virginia Company, settlers tried a number of small industries, including glassmaking, wood production, and pitch and tar and potash manufacture.  However, until the introduction of tobacco as a cash crop about 1613 by colonist John Rolfe, who later married Powhatan’s daughter Pocahontas, none of the colonists’ efforts to establish profitable enterprises were successful.  Tobacco cultivation required large amounts of land and labor and stimulated the rapid growth of the Virginia colony.  Settlers moved onto the lands occupied by the Powhatan Indians, and increased numbers of indentured servants came to Virginia.

Pocahontas

Pocahontas

The foundation of this church dates back to 1617

The foundation of this church dates back to 1617

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The first documented Africans in Virginia arrived in 1619.  They were from the kingdom of Ndongo in Angola, West Central Africa, and had been captured during war with the Portuguese.  While these first Africans may have been treated as indentured servants, the customary practice of owning Africans as slaves for life appeared by mid-century.  The number of African slaves increased significantly in the second half of the 17th century, replacing indentured servants as the primary source of labor.

We spent about 4 hours in Jamestown touring the visitor center, watching a short film and taking the guided tour. Once again our heads were overflowing with information by the time we left.

It was interesting watching archeologists actually working while we were there. In fact they uncovered a spearhead and a pipe right before our tour walked up.

The guided tour and the museum were pretty good but I’ll admit that this type of place isn’t my cup tea. I can only walk around and read walls and boards filled with information in front of a empty space so long before I lose interest. Diane on the other hand is like the Energizer Bunny!! She just reads and reads and reads LOL!!! But to me Colonial Williamsburg was much better. But obviously I’m happy we visited Jamestown while in the area.

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We spent so much time in the actual Jamestown that we didn’t have a chance to get over to the area called the Settlement. So we will venture back out there on Thursday to tour that area. They say it’s a better place for the kids because they have built up simulations of the town and have mock ups of the boats they came over on. Kids heck,,, I think it’s more my speed LOL!!!

We drove the Parkway back to Williamsburg from Jamestown. A nice mellow road with lots of tree's and views of the river.

We drove the Parkway back to Williamsburg from Jamestown. A nice mellow road with lots of tree’s and views of the river.

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2 Responses to Touring Jamestown Virginia

  1. lar says:

    Jamestown sounds very interesting, kind of like here in Boston, you can only soad up so much and you need to find a pub. We have had some great dinning experiences, great lobster all over, and we are just getting started. Yesterday we ate in a Mafia type Italin place in “Little Italy” , down y the wharf, as good as we have had anywhere and very reasonbly priced. We felt like we were in Italy. One more day here then on up the coast into Maine.
    lar

  2. Dave & Diane says:

    I bet you guys are having a great time!!! Wish we could have joined you all. We are looking forward to the next time we all can get together for a beer.

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