Colonial Capitals of the Dominion of Virginia
by Mary L. Foster
Published by J. P. Bell, Company, Inc., Printers – Lynchburg, Virginia
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THE “ivy-mantled tower” keeps its solitary watch notwithstanding the storms of nearly three centuries. As the loop-holes in the tower suggest that probably it was built to be useful as well as ornamental by giving the first warning of an Indian attack to the lonely watcher on the inside, so now it is the first to greet. the eve of the visitor on drawing near the historic landmark of the Nation s first capital.
The island is situated on the about 40 miles from its mouth. Ralph Hamor, one of the colony’s early secretaries, gives its length about two and three-quarter miles, width about 300 yards to one and one and one quarter miles.
When the first landing was made the island was joined to the mainland by a narrow isthmus probably stretching across what is now called Sandy bay. It was probably on the mainland side of this ~isthmus, about one mile from Jamestown, that the first glass factory in America was built in 1608. It is also separated from the mainland by Back river. A bridge across this river and a cart road through a part of Powhatan’s Swamp lead to a picturesque drive of seven miles to Williamsburg. The island is approached by steamers plying daily from Richmond and Norfolk, which stop at the wharf about 450 feet from the ancient tower ruin. This end of the island, including twenty-three acres, enclosed in a wire fence, is the very generous gilt of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Barney to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. It is to this Association that we are indebted for the care of the ruins and under whose auspices recent excavations have unearthed so much of interest to the student of history. Within the last year there has been completed a massive sea wall erected by the United States Government to protect the island from further encroachments of the river. There is good reason for thinking that only about twenty acres have been washed away, chiefly west of the tower, and that this was mostly a suburb of the village city. It is the end of the island belonging to the A. P. V. A. s that abounds mostly in historic associations and hallowed memories; where each bit of soil has a story to tell of
“The past with all its passions
Its toils and wiles,
Its ancient follies, fashions,
And tears and smiles.
With thirsts and fever-rages,
And ceaseless pains,
Hoarding, as for the ages
Its little pins!”
These gains summed up through three centuries of existence have made not only a glorious inheritance for us of the present, but an example and trust as well.
A recent census of the United States shows the population to be 76,303,387. In striking contrast to this enormous figure is that of the little band of 54 gentlemen, four carpenters and 12 laborers, who on May 13, 1607, moored their boats the “Susan Constance,” “Godspeed,” and “Discovery,” to the trees on the shore where the water was six fathoms deep. The “Susan Constance” was commanded by Christopher Newport, the “Godspeed” by the former explorer, Bartholomew Gosnold, the “Discovery” by John Ratcliffe three small ships which bore across the Atlantic the founders of the America Nation.
After nearly five months on the water it must have appeared as a beautiful dream sailing those 40 miles up the “Noble James.” Those of us who have been fortunate enough to take the trip up this part of the river in May will never forget the wild beauty and coloring of the woods, where one reads history in the very landscape. Smith says, “Heaven and earth had. never agreed better to make a place for man s habitation.” The ground was spread with “sweet and delicate flowers of divers colors and kinds” and the air was redolent with their perfume. The woods on both sides of the river, as well as on the island, were thick with white and pink blossoms of dogwood, the cream of honeysuckle, and the red bloom of the Judas tree. The cherries were in full bloom and strawberries were so thick, “that it required very little time and effort to pick a basket full.” The trees were of every shade of green from that in the baby leaves of the wild grape, to the rich dark of the ancient cedars.
He gives a vivid picture of their reception by the Indians in the following extract: “At night when we were going aboard there came the salvages creeping from the Hills like Beares, with their Bowes in their mouths, charged us very desperately, hurt Captain Gabrill Archer,* in both hands, and a Sayler in two places of the body very dangerous. After they had spent their arrows and felt the sharpness of our shot, they retired into the woods with a great noise and so left us.”
The original landing planet has been submerged but was probably 1,500 feet west of the present wharf, the nearest distance to the shore 450 feet.
Having selected the spot on which to settle, the next morning they began work. The first thing done was to stretch a sail across two trees, under which the good preacher Hunt held services each morning and evening.
On the journey over the sailors had quarreled with him, because of his prayers had not kept away the storms. That he was good is clearly proven in Smith’s own words. Telling of the fire which swept away everything the next year, he says, “Good Master Hunt, our preacher, lost all his library and all he had but the cloathes on his backe; yet none never heard him repine at his losse.” It was this same “Master Hunt” who performed the first English marriage service in America, in December 1608, when John Laydon (carpenters) and Anne Burrus (maid to Mrs. Forrest) were united in marriage. The groom was 27 and the bride 14 years of age. During the next year there was performed the first Episcopal baptismal service of an English child in America, that of Virginia Laydon.
The First Two Churches
The first church was a “homely thing, like a barn, set upon crochets, covered with rafts, sedge and earth, as could neither well defend from wind nor raine.” It was burned with the rest of Jamestown about eight months after its erection. The second was built on the same site. It was in this that the wedding and baptism were celebrated. There is good reason for believing that these first two churches were built inside the first triangular fort constructed in 1607. Two corners of this fort have disappeared by the abrasions of the island. The third corner, probably located in the northwest portion of the old Confederate breast-works, is still to be seen. When these breast-works were thrown up during the Civil War, pieces of armor and weapons of the early Jamestown period were found. These entrenchments are just above the tower ruin. Seen to- day, they are composed of several mounds showing where trenches were dug. Growing over it is a tangle of wild grape vines, honeysuckle, wild cherry, persimmon, and other trees indigenous to the Virginia soil.
Lord Delaware worshiped in the second church on his arrival in May, 1610. He was attended at service by a red coated guard of honor, and sat is a velvet chair, with a cushion of the same fabric on which to kneel.
We are told that the pews, chancel, pulpit, and windows were of cedar, which wood was very plentiful on the island. The communion table was of black walnut, and the “font hewn hollow like a canoe.” The church was kept sweet and beautiful with wild flowers, freshly arranged every morning. The outer walls were plain and barn-like. Two bells in the steeple called the villagers to service morning and evening, each day in the week, for, as Smith says, “Men s affairs doe little prosper where God s service is neglected.” The Rev. Richard Buck, who came over with St. Thomas Gates, preached the sermon the day of Delaware s arrival. He made “a zealous and sorrowful prayer,” after which the governor gave a practical and interesting talk. The former was said to be a “verie good preacher.” He married the Indian princess, Pocahontas, to John Rolfe, “a highly respectable young gentleman of Jamestown” (the fourth recorder for the colony). Rolfe was a widower whose first wife had died since landing, or else in the Bermudas after the wreck of the “Sea Venture.” His infant daughter, Beruruda, had been baptised and buried on the islands by Mr. Buck. Pocahontas died in 1617, and as Rolfe was married the third time to Jane Pierce, the young daughter of the captain of the guards at Jamestown, it is very probable that he performed that ceremony also. It is most likely that the marriage of Pocahontas occurred in the second church, as the date of the ceremony was 1614, and the third church was built under Captain Argall s direction in 1617, the former building having been found in ruins on his arrival. It is commonly claimed that Pocahontas was baptised at Jamestown. An old letter written by Rev. Mr. Whitaker from Bermuda Hundreds to the Bishop of London, states that he had catechized and baptised the Indian girl under the Christian name of Rebecca.
A Struggle for Existence
The story of these first few years of the colony is that of a hard struggle for existence. Together with Indian attacks and death from fever and starvation, she came near sharing the fate of her sister colony at Roanoke.
The houses were mostly thatched cabins, very frail and affording little protection from the weather. For the first year they drank the brackish water of the river. Later a well of “excellent sweet water” was dug inside the fort. An old well, supposedly this one, has been recently unearthed. Of the terrible “starving time” Smith tells us, “Our drink was water and our lodgings castles in the air.” With a touch of irony he continues, “If we had been as free from all sins as from gluttony and drunkenness, we might have been canonized for saints.” To cap the climax, the guns were “fitter to shoot down our houses than to offend an enemie.”
When the gold fever seized the settlers, “there was no talk, no hope, no work, but dig gold, wash gold, refine gold, load gold,” until a shipload sent to England was proved to be only yellow sand.
During Dale’s rule, about 1613, flogging and irons were the punishment inflicted for laziness. A poor thief, for stealing a little oatmeal, was tied to a tree and allowed to starve to death.
It is narrated that a passport from the king for the return of a colonist to England was sewed in a garter, to insure its safe delivery.
A story is told of three thieves to whom Phillip II offered a choice of coming to Virginia or death. Two availed themselves of the opportunity of coming over, but the third preferred to hang.
The Romance of Pocahontas
The only real bit of romance which brightens the pages of history up to this period is that of the Indian maiden Matoa (Little Wanton), more familiarly know as Pocahontas, as it was a bad omen to tell her Indian name to strangers. Her friendship and love for Captain John Smith was very sweet and beautiful, and the old saying that “a friend in need is a. friend indeed” was proved time and again during her brief young life. The story of her saving his life by placing her body between his and the clubs of the Indian braves, will never grow old. Numerous are the instances of her heroism. It was not an unusual sight to see her entering the town on a sunny morning with her “wild train of Indian boys and girls” loaded with baskets of corn for the starving settlers. After John Smith was wounded by the explosion, and returned to England, her absence from the town was conspicuous. In 1612 she was bought for a brass kettle from the Indian Japazaws, whose wife she was visiting, and was brought a prisoner to Jamestown. Here she was wooed and won by the handsome young widower, John Rolfe, and ‘the wedding celebrated in the little church.
In fancy we see the plain edifice made beautiful by the loving hands of the few women in the town, with flowers and running cedar. Rev. Richard Buck begins the ceremony: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this company to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony.” He reads the beautiful marriage service of the Episcopal Church. At the question, “Who giveth this woman to be married to this man ?” Opachisto, Powatan’s brother, steps forward. Close to the altar the bride s two brothers are standing. Presently the words which join the untutored maid of the forest and the young Englishman are spoken. They pass down the aisle to “ever remain in perfect love and peace together” as long as they both shall live.
A pretty story is told of her meeting with Smith in England. It had been six years since they had seen each other, and instead of the pretty child he left, he saw a young matron of twenty, who had been introduced at court as the Lady Rebecca. There is ample reason for thinking that she believed him dead. Great was her surprise on meeting him again. Her happiness was very evident. Smith told her it was not the proper thing for her to treat him as she had done in Virginia. He was very dignified himself, whereupon she put her hands to her face, and, beginning to cry, said it was very heartless for him to treat her so, she had called him “Father” in Virginia, and she would do it now. This was their last meeting. A year later (1617) she died suddenly as she was preparing to return to America. She was buried at Gravesend, England.
Death of Smith
Smith died the 21st of June, 1631, at the age of 52, and is buried in Saint Sepulchre s Church, London.
His grave is under the church, in front of the chancel. Above it are two fiat stones. On one of them is carved his coat-of-arms, three Turk s heads. On the other stone is the inscription:
“Here lies one that hath conquered Kings,
Subdued large territories and done things,
Which to the world impossible would seem,
But that truth is held in more esteem.
Shall I report his former services done
In honor of his God and Christendon?
How that he did divide from Pagans three
Their heads and lives, types of his chivalry;
For which great service in that climate done
Brave Sigismondus, King of Hungarian,
Did give him a Coat of Arms to wear
These conquered heads got hy his sword and spear.
Or shall I tell of his adventures since
Done in Virginia, that large continent.
How that he subdued Kings unto his yoke,
And made the Heathen flee as wind doth smoke,
And made their land, being of so large a station,
All habitation for our Christian Nation;
Where God is Glorified, their wants supplied,
Which else for necessaries must have dy d.
But what avails his conquest, now he lies
Interred in earth a prey to worms and flies.
0, may his soul In sweet Elysium sleep
Until the keeper that all souls doth keep
Return to judgment, and after thence
With angels may have his recompence?*
Death of Raleigh
During the year 1618 Virginia lost another friend in Sir Walter Raleigh. He had act abiding faith in the future of the colonies and said to Gosnold when imprisoned in the Tower, “I shall yet live to soc Virginia a great Nation.” Amazing faith! Could he appear on the scene to-day, what a revelation it would be to him. Ascending the scaffold he felt the edge of the axe exclaiming, “This is a sharp medicine, but a sure cure for all diseases.”
Cultivation of Tobacco
John Rolfe was the first Englishman to cultivate tobacco in Virginia. Such a well-paying industry had it become to the colonies, that in 1617 it was planted even along the streets. It sometimes sold in London for 10 s ($2.50) a pound, quite a difference when compared to the present price of six or seven cents. Even the ladies at “James Citty” went shopping with a cart of tobacco following, with which to pay for the few things to be brought home in a basket. The first wild turkeys ever seen in England were sent from Virginia.
In 1619 a cargo of 90 English maidens was brought over. All the old bachelors
“From thirty to sixty, plain, fair, red and
Of every description all flocked to the sale”
and paid 120 pounds of tobacco for each young woman. As we linger, gazing up and down the pretty driveway along the river bank, we see through “a haze of dreams, bright maids and laughing lovers,” as they hurry to and from the church where the Rev. Mr. Buck and his assistant have been kept busy tying “the knot there s no untying.” So pleased and pleasing were the maidens, that fresh cargoes came over very shortly, and, in 1624, the Governor was obliged to pass a law threatening with punishment each fickle lass who should engage herself to more than one suitor at a time, thus proving that “feminine nature” is the same the world over, regardless of time or place.
It was these same dainty maidens whose extravagance in dress caused to be passed a law taxing the people according to their wearing apparel. We are told that even the cow-keeper at Jamestown was “accoutered in fresh flaming silk.” Evidently the old rhyme,
“Needles and pins, needles and pins
When a man marries his trouble begins”
was as true then as now.
The Third Church
In 1619 the third church was completed. It was built on the same site as that of the tower ruin. Recent excavations have unearthed two parts of the original foundations. It is composed of “a footing of cobble stones one foot thick, capped by a one brick wall.” The frail foundations testify that this church too, was a light frame structure. These foundations can be seen just inside those of the original brick church. It was in this frame church, during the first year of its completion, 1619, that Yeardley, believing the colonies should have “a handle in the government of themselves,” called together the first Legislative Assembly in America, thus laying the foundation for a representative system of government, which, beginning from a small malarial island in James river, to-day rules a country scarcely satisfied to claim the two oceans for its boundaries. The Rev. Mr. Buck, chaplain of this first Assembly, offered in his opening prayer that is would please God “to guard and sanctify all our proceedings to His own glory and the good of this plantation.”
Introduction of Slavery
During this same year (1619) a Dutch man-of-war sailed up the river, bringing twenty negroes, who were sold to the colonists.
In reading the history of our country in chronological order we find that several months before the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth (1620) there had begun on the small Island of Jamestown, the first English civilization in the new world, the first English town and capital, the first glass factory and the first Episcopal Church in America had been built, the first English marriage and baptismal services had been solemnized, slavery had been introduced, and the first Legislative Assembly in this broad land bad met.
The numerous Indian attacks to which the colony was subjected, during the first 50 years of its history, force the thought that there was more truth than poetry in the old saying, “There is no good Indian save a dead Indian.”
First Brick House
In 1639 the first brick house was built at Jamestown. It belonged to Richard Kempe* and is referred to by Governor Harvey as “the fairest that was ever known in this country for substance and importance.”
During the same year plans were made for building a brick church. It was probably completed about 1639-1644, the tower of which is the picturesque ruin of today. A part of the outer walls have been unearthed. It is the desire of the Colonial Dames of America to erect a memorial building, as a protection for the historic ruins. On the wall of the memorial church the Episcopal Church in America will place a memorial tablet to the Rev. Robert Hunt, the first minister to Jamestown. Recently, the Colonial Bell Association has been organized. Its purpose is to have made a bell which will break the solemn stillness once again as it rings out “from yonder ivy- mantled tower,” when the Colonial Dames have completed their work of restoration. An association composed of the descendants of Pocahontas has also been organized, to erect on the island a memorial to their distinguished ancestress.
It was the brick church belonging to the old tower which was fired by a torch in Bacon s hands during the rebellion in 1676, when the whole town was burned in order to keep the tyrannical old Governor, Berkeley, from returning.
The communion service* belonging to this church, presented by Frances Morrison in 1661, is in possession of Bruton Church at Williamsburg.
The tower is built of red and blue glazed bricks, the so-called English bond, formerly thought to be imported from England, but the general opinion at the present is that they were made in the colony. Among the relics preserved is an old brick with a footprint clearly imbedded in it. It was found among some ruins on the Island. The tower probably built with loop holes as a protection against Indian attacks. The entrance was through an arched doorway.
After the defeat of Opechancanough in 1644, Indian massacre was practically unknown at Jamestown. The old chief, aged and blind, was captured and imprisoned here. Greatly to his indignation he was the subject of much curiosity and comment. One of his utterances to that effect was, “Had it been my fortune to take Sir William Berkeley prisoner, I would have disdained to make a show of hint” He was fatally wounded by one of his guards. His remains were probably buried in the old graveyard.
Brick Church Rebuilt
The church was rebuilt after Bacon s Rebellion, but gradually fell into disuse and ruin about the end of the seventeenth century. Within its nave and chancel many unknown dead are interred. An ironstone tablet, with inlaid brasses missing, lies with its head to the north, thus giving rise to the theory that it is a cenotaph. The time-honored custom of Christian burials, to place the feet toward the rising sun, was formerly universally observed. To some the channeling in the stone of the head indicates a helmet. The impression made by the coat-of-arms is very distinct. It has been suggested that possibly it was in memory of Governor Sir George Yeardley. He died at Jamestown in 1627.
The tombstone of Rev. John Clough, who was minister during Bacon s Rebellion (1676), has the only legible inscription. He was a supporter of Berkeley s, was captured by Bacon and condemned to death, hut was pardoned, and died at Jamestown in January, 1683.
In excavating there was found in the chancel a skeleton six feet six inches tall.
The Old Graveyard
The old graveyard lies immediately around the church. In 1898 several skeletons were found by the caving in of a part of the bank near the river, and in completing the sea-wall in 1905 one other skeleton was brought to light, proving that “God s Acre” originally extended several hundred feet further than the present enclosure. There are signs of graves immediately outside the wall. This wall was built during the early part of the eighteenth century, from the ruined walls of the last church. That the graveyard is very ancient is proven by finding a human skeleton buried across the line of foundations of the first brick church (1639-44). As the frame building of 1618 was built on almost the same ground,, it is probably the original, burying ground.
“Beneath those rugged elms, that yew tree s shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a moldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.”
With a thought of the irony of fate we muse,
“Of high and low condition,
Just and unjust,
The patient and physician
All tuned to dust,”
Among the legible tombstone inscriptions is that of William Sherwood, who directed in his will that his body buried at the east end of the church at James City, with the walls” and “that my good friend Jeffry Jeffreys of London Esq., Do send a gravestone to be laid upon my grave with this Inscription, here lies William Sherwood, that was born in the Parish of White Chappell, near London, a great sinner waiting for a Joyfull Resurrection.” His epitaph testifies that this part of his will was carried out to the letter.
Of Mrs Hannah Ludwell it is written,
“After a most exemplary Life
Spent in Cheerful Innocence
And the continual Exercise of
Piety, Charity, and Hospitality
She Patiently Submitted
Death on the 4th Day of April 1731 in 52d Year of Her Age.”
One of the freaks of nature is noticed in an enormous old sycamore which has grown between the graves of Dr. James Blair and his wife, Sarah Blair, trying its best to cause a divorce. The graves are side by side. In the tree s effort to grow, it caught in the side of Mrs. Blair s tomb, shattering both stones to such an extent that large fragments have been broken off. In 1807, during the second centennial celebration, this sycamore was noticed as a young tree.
Dr. Blair s tombstone inscription reads:
“His sepultus est
Vir Reverendus at Hononbilis
Jacobus Blair, A.M.
In Scotia natus In Academia Edinburgensi nutritus,
Prinio Angaliam deinde Virginiam Vault:
Qua Parte Tenarum
Annos LVIII. Evangelii Preconia
GuJielmi et Mariae praesidis,
e Britanniae Principuin
urn oris venusti Deens,
ate hahn sine (?) hospitali
issizno egenis large,
Collegio bane deviorarn
ens Bibliothe cani suam
Id aleudum Theologlae studiosum
juventutum pauperioruru Inetituendem
Cal. Mali in die
is nepotibus eornznedabunt
pene marmore perenniora.”
Dr. Blair was minister at Jamestown, commissary to the Bishop of London, a member of the Council, founder of William and Mary College, its first president, and rector of Bruton Church in Williamsburg, the oldest Episcopal Church in continual use in America.
Here is buried John Ambler, Esq., a member of the Colonial Assembly, brother to Jacqueline Ambler, the “Aristotle of Virginia ;” also his brother Edward Ambler and his wife. These stones are hardly legible, but have been identified as the group in the northwest corner of the yard. Mrs. Edward Ambler was Mary Cary, Washington’s young sweetheart, and Mrs. Jacqueline Ambler, formerly Rebecca Burwell, rejected Thomas Jefferson.
Here were found fragments of the tombstone of Lady Frances Berkeley, wife of the colonial governor. Though married three times she always called herself Lady Berkeley.
Several members of the Ludwell family, Ursula Beverly, daughter of William Byrd, and Mrs. Elizabeth Drummond of Bacon’s Rebellion fame, have here their last resting place.
During the second centennial celebration in 1807 we are told that they buried in the graveyard a young man who died from heat and “the too free use of ice in cyder.” It was a t this time that steps were taken for adopting resolutions toward making the thirteenth of May an annual holiday for the state. This anniversary was celebrated by the citizens of the neighboring towns. Thirty- two sailing vessels brought the crowd, which consisted of over four hundred ladies. An eloquent prayer by Bishop Madison began the opening exercises. At its conclusion “pious tears were seen handing on many a cheek furrowed by age or adorned with youthful bloom.” Orations were delivered by Briscoe G. Baldwin and John Madison, odes by C. K. Blanchard and Leroy Anderson, students at William and Mary College.
Leaving the resting place of this “bygone generation” and passing through the Confederate fort and an open space to the next ridge, we find the largest group of foundations remaining. They have been established as the ruins of the third and fourth State Houses, three houses belonging to Philip Ludwell, and the so-called “Country House.”
The third and fourth State Houses were built on the same site (eastern end of the ruins). Their foundations indicate that it was a symmetrical building with a square porch in front facing the south and with a porch and two niches, in the back, which may have been either bay-windows or fireplaces. There is no indication of the latter in any other part. From the numerous heated discussions which took place here, by the great lights among the Nation s founders, the fireplaces were hardly necessary.
The third State House was built in 1666. It was in front of this building that Bacon drew up his little band, demanding of Governor Berkeley a commission which had been repeatedly denied and put off, that he might protect the settlers from Indian attack and massacre. rillie old Governor, his conscience smiting him and thinking that Bacon s time for revenge had come, rushed out of the State House and baring his breast to the soldiers cried dramatically, “Here, shoot me, fore God, fair niark, shoot !” “Sir,” Bacon replied, “We came here for a commission against the heathen who daily murder us and spill our brethren’s blood, and not to fight you. My sword shall rust in its scabbard before even a hair of your head is touched.”
Even then the Governor declined to grant the request and the muskets of the troops were promptly leveled at the windows from which the alarmed Burgesses fled in confusion crying, “For God s sake, hold your hands and forbear little, and you shall have what you please.” Finally the Governor was induced to give the demanded commission, but no sooner were Bacon and his men on their way to fight the Indians than he denounced them as traitors.
The next year the house was burned with the rest of the town by Bacon s men as a protection against the tyrannical Governor, though we are told that William Drummond, Bacon s friend, took the precaution to save the records in the secretary s office. It was Drummond who set fire to his own house, and whose wife, picking up a straw and breaking it said, “I fear the power of England. no more than a broken straw.” Tradition says that a year or two later he was captured and condemned to execution by Berkeley. As he was led into the room the latter exclaimed, “You are very welcome, Mr. Drummond. I am more glad to see you than any man in Virginia. You shall hang in half an hour.”
From this time until 1686 the “King s Council” met in one of the numerous taverns. A writer of that day tells us that “about a dozen families” were in the habit of “getting their livings by keeping of ordinaries, at extraordinary rates.”
A story is told of a small company of British soldiers sent to protect Berkeley. Seeing a great quantity of “Jamestown Weed” growing, and thinking it was a salad, they boiled it for a meal. It made such fools of them, that they had to be locked up for several days, until their reason returned.
The fourth State House, as before mentioned, was built about 1686 on the same site~ It continued in use until it was burned in 1698. It was never rebuilt, and the capital was moved to Williamsburg the following year.
Next to the State House are the three house ruins belonging to Philip Ludwell, the third husband of Berkeley s widow, and Governor of North Carolina. He had the contract for building the fourth State House.
All of these Ludwell houses, including the Country House, at the end of the row, show where large fireplaces of about eight feet were placed. Several of the cellars are paved and that of the third house, next to the river, contains a brick pit probably a well.
On one side of its cellar, and also to the cellar of the “Country House,” steps lead down. When excavated in 1903 several sheets of melted lead, two bombshells, fragments of exploded shells, a pipe, scissors, steel sewing thimble, copper candle-stick, ladies riding stirrup, and an old. bottle, all of very quaint and curious appearance, were found. These things are preserved under the tower ruin by the caretaker of the A. P. V. A s. The brick work is the same as that of the church.
The “Country House” was probably so called because it was owned by the Country or Colony.
Near these ruins are an old well and an ancient pear tree. About three hundred feet in the river, and on a straight from the sea-wall, an old cypress tree stands sentinel, helping the eye to better judge the extent of the Island wash away. At low tide the water around it is very shallow. original shore line was about 180 feet further out.
Along the south river bank are seen some gnarled and crooked mulberry trees, descendants perhaps of those planted in 1621 when it was made compulsory by statute in order to introduce the silk industry. Foreign workmen were imported to teach the art. In 1668 Berkeley sent a present of silk to Charles II, which was woven into a coronation robe.
Men of Note
On this western end of the Island lived a number of men of note in the Colony, among whom were Robert Beverly, the historian; Richard Lawrence, Bacon s friend and compatriot; two consecutive Philip Ludwells; Lieu. Edward Boss; and Colonel Nathaniel Bacon, Sr., second cousin to the patriot of that name. The foundations of a ruined chimney mark the site of his dwelling, just cast 0 the Confederate Fort.
The part of the Island extending east of the tower ruin for about three-eighths of a mile was built up at a little later date. It was known as “New Towne” and was probably begun under Governor Sir George Yeardley, who entered upon his administration during 1619. Very little remains to tell the story. One hundred and fifty feet from the wharf and one hundred feet from the river are traces of a house foundation. It was possibly the Bite of the first State House used in 1630. Six hundred feet further along the river bank is the site of the Turf Port, as ascertained by Mr. Young.* This was the second fort erected, and is described by ancient writers as quadrangular in plan “with something like Bastions at the four corners.” No visible traces remain.
Along the river bank was the front street Running just in front of the Jacqueline-Ambler ruin is what was known as Back street. Traces of house foundations can be seen in some places.
The Jacqueline-Ambler ruin is practically the only one east of the tower, The date of it is unknown, but mention was made of it in 1807. It was burned during the Civil War, was afterwards rebuilt, and burned again in .1896, making the picturesque and romantic ruin of to-day.
Here lived Mary Ambler, formerly Mary Cary. The story goes that when she was first addressed by the young lieutenant, George Washington, she tossed her head and said she had no idea of marrying a young lieutenant; and her father, the noted Colonel Wilson Gary, said for her, to the future “Father of His Country,” “If that is your business here, sir, I wish you to leave the house, for my daughter has been accustomed to ride in her own coach.” Her lovely face was said to be very much like that of the widow Custis.
Among the residents of this part of the town were Governor Sir George Yeardley, Coy. Sir. Francis Wyatt: Dr. Potts, “Physician General to the Colony,” Captain Ralph Hamor, secretary of State and Chronicler, George Sandys, America s first poet, Captain Roger Smith, Captain Richard Stevens, William Sherwood, Attorney General, and a number of others whose deeds and valor are written deep in the history, not only of this small Island, but in that of the whole Nation.
In 1898 the Bishops and Clergy of the Episcopal Church throughout the United States visited the Island in a body. They held impressive services near the tower ruin and erected a stone cross in commemoration of the event.
Travis Burial Ground
In a grove of trees toward the east end of the Island is the private burial ground of the Travis family. It is a forsaken and neglected spot. Most of the family were buried between 1700 and 1759. Only two legible tombstones remain. The first is carved with a skull and cross bones, and reads:
“Here lyeth in the hope of a glorious Resurrection the body of JOHN CHAMPION who was borne the 10th day of November in the year of our Lord 1660 and departed this life the 16th day of December in the year of our Lord 1700.
And likewise JOHN CHAMPION the son of John Champion who was borne the 11th day of Dec. in the year of our Lord 1695 and departed this life the 11th day of September in the years of our Lord 1700.”
The other is inscribed:
SUSANNA TAVIS wife of
Edward Champion Travis and
Daughter of John Hutchings
of the Borough of Norfolk Mercht
and Amy his Wife who departed
this life October the 28th: 1761 in the
33rd Year of her Age much Lamented
by all her Acquaintance
And leaving Issue three Sons and
Nigh this Place are also Interred
The Following Children of the said
Edward Travis and Susannah his wife
ELIZABETH who was born August
24th 1748 and Died September 22d 1749
AMY who was born October 9th 1752
and Died October 2nd 1775
JOHN who was born December 9th 1755
and Died November 25th 1759.
This small dot on the country s map, impressing one with the thought that
“Even the ghosts departed
Long years ago,”
embraces in its tiny area hallowed traditions and historical associations “which shall live and last for aye.”
Four Mile Tree House
This is the name given to a plantation originally including two thousand acres. It is situated on the opposite side (south) of James river from Jamestown, and four miles further up. On a hill near the water s edge a handsome old house overlooks the river. This house with the whole plantation, was the estate of the Brownes and remained in their family for two hundred years. The first owner, Colonel Henry Browne, was a member of Sir William Berkeley s Council in 1643. The house is exceedingly quaint both in side and out.
In a near-by garden is the second oldest tombstone in Virginia. dated January 7th, 1650. It marks the grave of Alice Miles, daughter of John Miles, of Branton, Here fordshere, and wife of Colonel George Jordan, Attorney General of Virginia in 1670. The tombstone of Colonel William Perry of Westover, who died in 1637, is the oldest in Virginia.
In a field near the house are the ruins of three adobe houses. It is most unusual to see an adobe house cast of the Mississippi river, and, consequently, there are many surmises as to the date of these. it is probable that they were put up at an early period of colonial history.
Eight miles from Williamsburg and four miles distant from Jamestown there is a large plantation known as Greenspring. It is approached by a county road from Williamsburg, and a woods road of four miles leading from Jamestown.
This estate was formerly the home of Sir William Berkeley, governor to the colony in 1642 to 1652, and. from 1660 to 1677. The governor lived luxuriously and entertained lavishly in his country home. It was a magnificent estate. The lawn was beautifully terraced. There were shade trees and flowers of every variety and numerous tropical plants flourished in hot houses. Traces of the terraces, and masses of jonquils and narcissusses are all that remain of its former beauty, while the celebrated dwelling is only a picturesque ruin. A few of the original out-houses are still to be seen, and the “very fine, green spring that is upon the land” and from which the place was named is still one of its features. It was said that the spring was “so very cold that ’tis dangerous drinking thereof in the summer time.”
After Berkeley s death, his widow and her third husband, Philip Ludwell I, made Greenspring their home. Two other Philip Ludwells owned the place, and in the latter part of his life, Hon. William Lee, who married a daughter of Philip Ludwell III, lived here. He was minister of the United States to the courts of Vienna and Berlin. Lord Culpeper, governor of the colony in 1680. rented it during his administration.
In 1676, as Bacon was on his way to Jamestown with his small army, they halted for a few hours in the fields of Greenspring. Bacon made them a short address, ending with the words, “Come on, my hearts of Gold; he that dies in the field of battle sleeps on the bed of honor.” As they proceeded to Jamestown, they captured the wives of the prominent men who sided with Berkeley, and in order to have time to erect breastworks the women were placed in front of the line as a protection against the guns of the enemy. When the latter were ready to fire, there was a line of white aprons fluttering in the breeze, and, naturally, no man wished to shoot his own wife, so Bacon s ruse was successful.
It was the next year, after the death of their valiant leader in Gloucester county, that Berkeley had Bacon s men arrested as traitors and brought to Greenspring for a pretended trial. Jamestown at that time was in ashes. The verdict in each instance was the same, death by hanging, notwithstanding the entreaty of friends and relatives. The gallant Colonel Hansford, young, bright and handsome, asked to be shot like a soldier. The Governor refused, saying, “You shall die like a rebel.” So wholesale was the slaughter that not only were the people of Virginia disgusted but the king of England and. his subjects as well. The old tyrant went over to England soon after his brutalities and met with so much coldness and discourtesy that he died of mortification a few months later.
Across a part of the lawn and in the neighboring fields are the remains of breastworks thrown up a little over a hundred years later, during the closing year of the Revolution. Cornwallis and Lafayette had a short skirmish in the. old fields. The latter was defeated and the British general pushed on to Jamestown, where he crossed the river and proceeded to Yorktown.
- Old Stage Road or Kings Highway
- Road to Greenspring and Jamestown
- Road to College Creek, leading to James River
- Road to Queens Creek, leading to York River
- Road to Yorktown
- William and Mary College, 1693
- Brafferton–formerly Indian School, 1723
- President’s House, 1732, rebuilt by Louis XVI
- Blair House
- Bruton Episcopal Church, 1715
- Wythe House
- Dunmore’s Cave
- Audrey’s House
- Palace Green
- Court House, 1769
- House in which Lafayette was entertained. (Now occupied by Mayor Warburton)
- Brick Hotel
- Powder Horn, 1714
- Baptist Church, Built in 1856 with the bricks of the Powder Horn wall for foundation
- Paradise House, about 1760
- Old House
- Ancient Masonic Temple
- Site of Old Raleigh Tavern, Burned in 1859
- Vest House (In which Lafayette’s officers were entertained)
- Clerk’s or Chancery Office. Has been added to and made a home
- Ruins of the House of Burgesses. Burned in 1832
- Site of the first Theatre in America, 1716.
- Peyton Randolph’s Home
- Tazewell Hall (Home of Edmund Randolph)
- Martha Washington’s Kitchen
- Eastern State Hospital, 1768
- Debtor’s Prison
- Bassett Hall
- Cary House — Where George Washington and George Fairfax went courting
- Custis House–In which the Colonial Governor Dinwiddie was entertained while the palace was undergoing repairs. (Now owned by Mrs. Hansford)
- Old House–Oldest part built in 1761. (Now occupied by the Misses Garrett)
- Old House–Contains an old wine cellar and very large brick fireplaces
- Old House–Said to have been the home of “Blackbeard” the pirate who was killed under Spotswood’s administration (1710-23) and thirteen of his men hung in Williamsburg.
FOR the appreciative visitor to this “village city,” Williamsburg has a five-fold interest in its unique character and atmosphere, its age, quaint architecture, historic associations, and the romantic lustre which brightens the pages in many novels of Virginia’s most talented writers.
This small city of twenty-five hundred inhabitants, boasting of a charter from royal hands, has a character at once distinctive and engaging.
Enfolded with an atmosphere of peacefulness, it forms an inviting retreat.
The town was laid out and paled in by the colonial Governor Sir John Haney in 1632 and was known as Middle Plantation. In 1698 streets were laid out by Governor Frances Nicholson, and the town named in honor of the first of the reigning sovereigns, William and Mary. After the burning of the State House at Jamestown, the seat of government was removed to Williamsburg by Governor Nicholson in 1699. From then until the capital was removed to Richmond in 1779, Williamsburg was in its pristine glory, “most families of any note having a coach, chariot, berlin or chaise.” A contemporaneous writer* tells us that “at bails and assemblies, I have seen as fine an appearance, as good diversion, and as splendid entertainment in Gov. Spotswood’s time as I have seen anywhere else.” The people, he says, “can discourse handsomely on most common subjects”; that they had the “shortest and best methods” of doing the most ordinary things, were quick and “of excellent sense.”
Of the public buildings he said, “They are justly reputed the beat in all English America, and are exceeded by few of their kind in England” By 1776, “The houses, mostly wooden, number less than one hundred.” “The streets were unpaved and dusty the soil being sandy.” The. side-walks were hard white marl until paved during the summer of 1905.
The town is situated on the elevated peninsula between the historic James and York rivers; so necessarily there was a great difference in the healthfulness of the first capital and this second one. There were no mosquitoes and the air was “serene and temperate.” Even during the summer months it was said that one could keep very comfortable, “especially if there be windows enough to draw the air.” Even as to-day, there was an “easy way of living and the heat of the summer makes some very lazy, who are then said to be climate struck.”
Not many years ago it might have been said with a good deal of truth that the people of this little town lived in the present only to dream of the past and future.
That is has a past of which it is justly proud is verified by the names of the streets, called after royal favorites of long ago., the kitchen of Martha Washington and even the elm tree said to be planted by her own hands.
The historic incidents and traditions cluster principally around Duke of Glocester and its two parallel streets, Francis and Nicholson, called after the colonial governor who laid them out. England, Scotland, Tazewell and Picadilly have a colonial association.
Duke of Gloucester, the colonial boulevard, is the main street. It is about three-fourths of a mile in length, ninety feet wide, and lined on both sides with shade trees. A student of William and Mary College, in a letter describing the town in 1804, said, “Indeed, I never saw and I think there cannot be a more elegant street anywhere than the Main street is.” The lamp posts extend down the middle of the street. At one end are the foundations of the House of Burgesses; at the other William and Mary College.
Facing the College, the road to the right is know as the old Stage Road or “King’s Highway.” It was over this road that Washington journeyed to and fro from Mt. Vernon, that Randolph, Lee, Pendleton, and numerous others traveled on their way to Philadelphia to the first Continental Congress; over this road ran the first mail route, established during Spotswood’s time. Gov. Spotswood was Postmaster General of the Colony for a number of years. It was over this road that he passed with his “Knights” on that memorable first journey across the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
The order “Knights of the Golden Horse-Shoe” established by the gallant Governor in commemoration of the event was the first purely American organization. A small gold horseshoe, set with jewels and inscribed with the motto, “Sic juvat transcendere months,” was presented to each Knight. The expedition is charmingly described in Miss Johnston s romantic novel “Audrey.” A small quaint house on Dun-more street is often pointed out to visitors to this old town, as the mythical home of Audrey, the heroine. Scratched on one of the tiny window-panes in the house are the initials
1796 Nov. 23. A Fatal day.
Spotswood established the first iron works in America, thus getting the name of “Tubal Cain” of Virginia.
The road to the left of the College loads to Jamestown and Greenspring. It is associated very closely with Audrey. Where the road forks, Washington met Lafayette for the first time. The story goes that they were both on horseback. Washington extended his hand in greeting. The youthful Frenchman was so overcome by his emotions that he leaned over and kissed the gallant American general.
William and Mary College
It seems very fitting that the triangle enclosed by these two historic roads should be occupied by the venerable College of William and Mary. The campus of green grass and old shade trees forms a pleasing setting for this second oldest institution of learning in the United States. It was founded in 1693 through the effort of Rev. James Blair, D.D., its first President and rector of the Church at Jamestown and of Bruton Church in Williamsburg.
Sir Christopher Wren, the famous English architect who introduced the pure Renaissance in England in the building of St. Paul’s Cathedral, drew the plans for this Colonial institution, though they were remodeled to suit the convenience of a new land. It is unpretentious in style, built of old red and blue glazed bricks, and presents a very ancient appearance for this new country of ours. An old letter dated from Williamsburg in 1804 and written by a very critical young man, reads, in describing the building, “The person Sir Christopher Wren, who planned it, has not manifested an exquisite taste for the beauties of architecture. Mr. Jefferson, in speaking of it, calls it rude, misshapen pile, which, but for its roof, would be taken for a common brick. kiln. It certainly is not an elegant structure, but it is easily distinguishable from a brick-kiln.” Jefferson has also said that his destiny in life was fixed while a student at William and Mary College by Dr. Small, “the illustrious professor of mathematics.”
The College charter was given by William and Mary, with the understanding “that the Church of Virginia may be furnished with a seminary of ministers of the Gospel, and that the youth may be piously educated in good letters and manners, and that the Christian religion may be propagated among the Western Indians, to the glory of Almighty God? The College was named in honor of these reigning sovereigns, and the college colors are orange and white, complimentary to the House of Orange. The charter endowed the College with “the whole and entire sum of one thousand, nine hundred and eighty-five pounds fourteen shillings and ten pence, of good and lawful money of England, that has been raised out of the quit-rents of said colony.” It was also to have a penny a pound on all tobacco exported from Virginia or Maryland. A chancellor, president or rector, and six professors composed the faculty and besides there was a board of eighteen visitors. There was only one condition attached to this liberal charter and that was that the College authorities pay annually “to us and to our successors two copies of Latin verse yearly on the fifth day of November at the House of the Governor or Lieutenant-Governor for the time being.” The Virginia Gazette contains numerous notices which testify that this condition was fulfilled to the letter. A notice in the November Gazette of 1736 states: “On this day s’en night, being the fifth day of November, the President, master and scholars of William and Mary College went, according to their annual custom, in a body to present his Honor two copies of Latin verse in obedience to their charter. Mr. President delivered the verses to his Honor, and to of the young gentlemen spoke them.”
The chapel in the rear was built at a later date, William Byrd of Westover having the contract. Its walls are lined with paintings of the distinguished men who have here perfected and given their talents to their Alama Mater, and have exerted a great influence upon the history of their country. Under the College chapel are buried Rev. James Madison, D.D., cousin to the president of the United States, bishop of the Episcopal church, and president of the College for a number of years; Sir John Randolph, and his two illustrious sons, John, attorney general of Virginia from 1755-75, and Peyton, president of the first American Congress, and a prominent member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. Peyton Randolph was buried here in 1776. Here also is the last resting place of Lord Botetourt, governor of Virginia in 1768-1770. The inscription on the monument which stands on the College campus shows how dearly he was beloved and honored by the Americans. It was erected in 1774 by the House of Burgesses and bears the following inscription:
“The Right Honorable Norborne Berkeley Baron de Botetourt, his Majesty’s late Lieutenant, and Governor-General of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia.”
(Right side) “Deeply impressed with the warmest sense of gratitude for his Excellency s, the Right Honorable Lord Botetourt s prudent and wise administration, and that the remembrance of those many public and social virtues which so eminently adorned his illustrious character might be transmitted to posterity, the General Assembly of Virginia on the XX day of July Ann. Dom. MDCCLXXI. resolved with one united voice to erect this stature to his Lordship’s memory. Let wisdom and justice preside in any country the people must and ‘will be happy.”
(Loft side) “America, behold your friend, who, leaving his native country, declined those additional honors which were there in store for him, that be might heal your wounds and restore tranquillity and happiness to this extensive continent. With what zeal and anxiety he pursued these glorious objects, Virginia thus bears her grateful testimony.”
During the Civil War the copper name-plate was taken off the coffin and carried away. It was found in a junk shop in New York in recent years and sent to the president of William and Mary College, who placed it in the curio case in the college library. Very shortly after, an old house in the town was being repaired and inside the plaster was found a Virginia Gazette of 1770 describing the funeral service which was held in Bruton Church, and the burial under the College Chapel.
After the burning of the State House at Jamestown the Burgesses met in the College for four years, until the Capitol could be built. The College was burned three times, in 1705 1859 1863- but each time was restored on the same brick walls.
William and Mary was the first College in America to have chairs of Law, Political Economy, Modern Languages, and History; the first to announce the elective and honor systems, and to introduce class lectures. The Botetourt medals were the first collegiate medals awarded. The Phi Beta Kappa Fraternity, established here in 1776, was the first Greek letter fraternity in the United States. The old minute book of the fraternity and the iron dies of the first Botetourt medal are among the relies preserved in the library. A copy of the first edition of Thomson s “Seasons” 1726-30, Livy s “Prentes in Vinnice” 1498, some of the early magazines published in 1763 by the Royal Magazine, or Gentlemen s Monthly Companion, comprise the oldest literature in the College Library. Catesby s Natural History of the Carolinas, Florida and the Bahama islands, printed with colored plates in two volumes, in London, was given by Thomas Jefferson on condition that it should never go out of the library. There arc about 10,000 books altogether, many presented by the royal governors, and embellished with coats-of-arms. Some have been given by the different presidents of the College.
Many distinguished men have had a part in the making of this grand old institution. George Washington was the first chancellor of the College after the Revolution. John Tyler, another President of the United States, was a student, and later chancellor. James Monroe and. Jefferson, presidents of the United States, were both students here, and the latter a member of the Board of Visitors. Chancellor George Wythe was a student and professor of law. His pupils, Chief Justice Marshall and Jefferson, not only reflected honor upon him, themselves, and Virginia, but the whole United States. Edmund Randolph, secretary, and governor of Virginia, and Peyton Randolph, the first president of the Continental Congress, were both among its students. Gen. Winfield Scott, and a number of eminent men of letters, not only of a later day, but of the present as well, claim with love and honor this historic and celebrated institution, for their Alma Mater.
To the left of the main building is the Brafferton, now one of the College dormitories but formerly the first permanent Indian school in America.
In 1691 both William and Mary, and Harvard colleges fell heir to the estate of Hon. Robert Boyle, who died in England. From William and Mary s share of the funds the Brafferton estate in Yorkshire, England, was bought and the rents used to establish and support the Indian school, which was kept up until the Revolution, when the rents ceased.
This school has been described by a contemporaneous writer in the following quaint style : “The Indians who are upon Mr. Boyle s foundation have now a handsome apartment for themselves and their master, built near the College. The young Indians procured from the tributary or foreign nations with much difficulty were formerly boarded or lodged in the town, where abundance of them used to die, either through sickness, change of provision, and way of life; or, as some will have it often for want of proper necessaries, and due care taken with them. Those of them that have escaped well, and have been taught to read and write, for the most part return to their home, some with, and some without, baptism, where they follow their own savage customs and heathenish rites. A few of them have lived as servants among the English, or loitered and idled away their time in laziness and mischief. But it is a great pity that more care is not taken of them after they are dismissed from school. They have admirable capacities when their humors and tempers are perfectly understood.”
A portrait of Mr. Boyle hangs on the walls of the College library.
The President’s House
Across from the Brafferton is the president s home. It is a substantial dwelling of old brick, adorned with a colonial porch and a late Renaissance roof. This house was used by Lord Cornwallis for headquarters shortly before the Yorktown campaign. It was built in 1732, was accidentally burned by the French on their way to Yorktown, and was rebuilt by Louis XVI out of his private funds, thus being the only house in Virginia, and perhaps in the United States, built by a reigning sovereign.
The Blair House
As we pass along the colonial boulevard, a long frame structure, low and dilapidated, arrests our attention. The very sharp roof and dormer windows testify to the fact that it was built when property was taxed according to the number of stories in a building. This old residence was formerly the home of the Hon. John Blair, appointed by Washington judge of the United States Supreme Court.
It is also said that John Marshall, the first Chief Justice of the United States, lived in the old house for a while. A great many characteristic anecdotes are told of this most famous of American jurists. It was always his habit to go to market every morning, carrying his own basket, and bringing home his purchases. One day he heard a very dapper young man near him swearing in extremely round terms because he had no one to take home a turkey he had just bought. The Chief Justice offered his service, which was promptly accepted, and he trudged along with the turkey, behind the young man for a number of blocks. The destination reached, Marshall refused the proffered piece of money but gave without the asking a most practical lesson on false pride.
Another time he was driving through a woods road when further progress was impeded by a fallen tree. He simply sat in his buggy until help arrived in a young negro boy who led the horse around the tree without any difficulty. Judge Marshall promised to leave a coin at the next corner store for the boy, who promptly remarked to the store keeper on its receipt, “That old man sho’ly is a gentleman, if he ain’t got much sense.”
Bruton Church in this ancient capital of Williamsburg, is more intimately associated with colonial history than any other church in Virginia, and perhaps in America. It is the successor to the mother church at Jamestown, and its historical and sacred associations should make it dear to the hearts of all patriotic Americans.
Within its walls have worshiped five presidents of the United States, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Tyler. Here on a Sabbath morn came the colonial governors and members of the House of Burgesses, Wythe, Bland, Lee, Pendleton, Mason, Marshall, and a number of other “founders and defenders of the American Nation,” some of whose names appear a number of times as vestry-men and communicants. Through its historic portals passed all the wealth, grace, beauty and genius of Virginia, to do honor to God and themselves.
The church derived its name from the parish, the latter probably named in honor of Governor Berkeley or the Ludwells, who were from Bruton, Somerset county, England.
Thomas Ludwell, Esq., is buried at the north door of the church, and his epitaph testifies to the truth of this as his birth-place. It is the oldest Episcopal church in continual use in America. The parish was founded in 1632. Very little is known of the first church except the fact that there was one before 1665, and it probably was a small frame structure.
The second church built of brick was erected in 1683. The land was given by Col. John Page. A beautiful memorial window in the east end of the church was presented in recent years by some of his descendants. The present building is in the form of a Roman cross with a tower entrance. It is built with low walls of red and blue glazed brick, over which clings tenderly the ivy of years. It was designed by Governor Alexander Spotswood and finished in 1715. His pew was raised from the floor slightly, a silk canopy draped over it, and around the top the Governor s name written in gold letters.
A writer of that day tells us that the church was “adorned as the best churches in London.” There are a number of tablets in memory of departed men of distinction. Those dating back to pre- Revolutionary day s are : a Mural Tablet to “ye honble. Daniel Parke of ye County of Essex, Esq., who was one of his Majties Counsellers and sometimes secretary of the Colony of Virga. He Died ye 6th of March Anno. 1679.”
Inscribed to the memory of
Dr. William Cocke
An English Physician, born of reputable patents
At Sudbury in Suffolk
And Educated at Queens College, Cambridge
He was learned and polite
of indisputed skill in his profession
of unbounded generosity in his practice
which mulitudes, yet alive, can testify
He was, many years, of the Colony
In the Reign of Queen Ann & of King George
He died suddenly, sitting a judge upon the bench
of the General Court in the Capitol
His Hon friend, Alexr. Spotswood, Esqr, then Govr.
with the principal Gentlemen of the Country
attended his funeral
and weeping, saw the corps interred
At the west side of the altar
In this Church”
A number of people, including the Rev. Rowland Jones, “Pastor Primus and deleetissimus,” and “The Body of Mr. Orlando Jones.” the son of Rev. Rowland Jones, the first pastor of the church on record, are buried under the chancel. The colonial governors, Francis Fauquier and Edmund Jenings, are buried under the aisle, but no tablet or monument to Fauquier s memory remains. The fact was established through an old number of the Virginia Gazette, which gave an account of the funeral service and interment. During the summer of 1905, while the work of restoration was going on, brass tacks forming the letters E. J. 1727 were found on a piece of coffin under the church. They were taken to stand for Edmund Jenings, as that was the year of his death. The fee in 1864 for burial in the chancel was 1,000 pounds of tobacco, or 5 pound sterling; in the church, 500 pounds of tobacco or 50 shillings in money.
Tradition says that the baptismal font now in use was brought from the church at Jamestown. Some romantic spirits, contrary to history and Captain John Smith, delight in the pretty sentiment that the Indian maiden Pocahontas was baptised from it. Recently, when the church windows were undergoing repairs, the negro sexton asked the rector if he was not afraid someone might break into the church and steal “Miss Pocahontas sprinkling pot.” It was ordered in 1716 “that the Men sitt on the North side of the Church, and the women on the left.” Again in 1718 the gallery in the west end was set apart “for the use of the College Youth,” and in order to give them plenty of room, a door was put to the stairs leaning up and provided with a lock and key, the latter carried by the sexton.
Among the relics of the past which are carefully preserved, is the old Parish Register. A large number of pages are torn from the front and back of the book. it now contains the records of births dating from 1739 to 1797, and of deaths from 1662 to 1761.
There are three quaint and very handsome Communion Services. The oldest consists of three pieces with the following inscription on each piece: “Mixe not holy things with profane. Ex dono franrisri Morrison Armigen, Anno Domi 1661.” It was given to the church at Jamestown by Francis Morrison, who was then acting-governor.
The second service is a handsomely embellished two-handled cup with the cover, and a small patten. The cup is engraved on one side with the Stanton arms, was left to William and Mary College by Lady Gooch, the daughter of William Stanton, Esq., but is commonly known as the Queen Anne Service.
The King George Service consists of three pieces, flagon, chalice, and alms basin. The Royal Anna are engraved on each piece between the initials G III R. with the motto, “Honi soit qui mal y pense.”
King Edward VII has recently given a bible to the church, which will be presented when the work of restoration has been completed.
In commemoration of the three hundredth anniversary of the nation s birth, President Roosevelt has presented a lectern on which the bible is to rest. Each pew is to be a memorial to individual members of the House of Burgesses and the other eminent men associated with the history of the church and the country.
From the tall brick tower the faint peals of the bell have called us to worship for nearly a century and a half. On it is engraved “The gift of James Tarply to Bruton Parish, 1761.” Notwithstanding the inscription and date a pretty story is told of the bell. Once when Queen Anne with her retinue was passing through the streets of London her attention was drawn to a crowd collected around a foundry. Upon asking what was being cast, she was told that it was a bell for one of the churches in “Her Majesty s Dominion of Virginia.” The Queen impulsively drew off her bracelets, rings and other jewelry, and threw them into the glowing mass, from which came the bell with its silvery tones.*
The high brick wall around the churchyard was built in 1754 by Samuel Spur of Williamsburg. In many parts it is overgrown with ivy. The old trees, the tangle of wild rose and honeysuckle, the antique and quaintly shaped tombstones of a bygone generation, form a pleasing and lasting impression. Among the monuments many have coat-of-arms engraved and Latin inscriptions. Some are interesting from the quaint expressions and verses which give an insight into the lives of the people of that early day.
The fee to the sexton in the early period of the church s history was ten pounds of tobacco for each grave dug.
The Custis children, Washington s step-children, are buried near the north door in the churchyard. Near Thomas Ludwell “lye the bodies of Richard Kempe, Esq., his Predecessor in ye Secretary s Office and Sir Thomas Lunsford Kt.” Richard Kempe was a member of the Virginia Council in 1642 at Jamestown and Secretary of the Colony for a number of years. He officiated as governor for three years while Berkeley was in England. It was under him that the first Thanksgiving Days in the Colony, of which there is any record, were celebrated, and during whose administration it was ordered, “That the eighteenth day of April be yearly celebrated by thanksgivings for our deliverance from the hands of the salvages.”
Sir Thomas Lunsford married Kempe s widow.
Col. Seammel, the highest officer in rank killed during the Yorktown siege, was wounded by two Hessian horsemen after lie had surrendered. He was brought to Williamsburg, where he died shortly after, and is buried in the churchyard.
His epitaph reads:
“What tho no friend could ward thine early fall
Nor guardian angel!; turn the treacherous ball,
Bless d shade besooth d thy virtues all are known
Thy fame shall last beyond this mouldering stone
Which conquering armies from their toils return d,
Rear to thy glory, while thy fate they mourned.”
In a corner near the Confederate monument, side by side, are the graves of Rev. Servant Jones and his first wife. He was a noted character of his day and as his epitaph explains, “Like the most of imperfect humanity, he was not exempt from some of its frailties, but a kinder soul seldom exempt. He possessed in his Nature a Bank of Benevolence, which secretly dispensed its varied blessings to the needy, and where the needy never faltered to repay in full confidence of affected relief. He was a zealous promoter of the Baptist cause and many a personal sacrifice did he make to advance its interests
if enemies he had they all will, now that
he is no longer In his place, do the
Justice to acknowledge He wis more
sinned against than sinning.
Time was when his cheek with life s crimson was flushed,
When cheerful his voice was, health sat on his brow
That cheek is now palsied, that voice is now hushed:
He sleeps with the dust of his first partner now.”
It is said that once when arriving at the home of Mr. Howl, a parishioner, after dinner had just been finished, he originated the following grace:
“Good Lord of love look down from above,
And bless the ‘owl who ate this fowl
And left these bones for Servant Jones.”
It is told, that on the night of his death, when the lightning was flashing, and thunder broke the awful stillness with its crashes, one of the watchers, seized with a humorous impulse, lifted the body of Mr. Jones and danced through the room with it, to the horror and dismay of the others present. lie has left a touching tribute to his first wife in the verses inscribed on her tombstone. It is said that he brought the slab to Williamsburg on top of the coach in which he and his second wife sat as they returned from their bridal trip. The verses inscribed read:
“If woman ever yet did well
If woman ever did excell
If woman husband eye adored
If woman ever loved the Lord,
If ever faith and Hope and Love
In human flesh did live and move
If all the graces ere did meet
In her, in her, they were complete.
My Ann, my all, my Angel wife
My dearest one my love my life
I cannot sigh or say farwell
But where thou dwellest I will dwell.
The long green at the rear of the church is another reminder of the days of pomp and pageant of the royal governors. Where the old palace once stood we now find the Matthew Whaley Model and Practice School of William and Mary College. A stone monument presented by Mrs. Letitia Semple, of Washington, also marks the spot.
Governor Nott, who is buried in Bruton churchyard, procured through the Assembly an act for building the palace and a appropriation of 3,000 for the same. The building is described as having been “a magnificent structure built at the public expense, finished and beautified with gates, fine gardens, offices, walks, a fine canal, orchards, etc., with a great number of the best arms, nicely posted by the ingenious contrivance of the most accomplished Col. Spottswood. This, likewise, has the ornamental addition of a good cupola or lantern, illuminating most of the town upon birth nights, and other nights of occasional rejoicing.”
The grounds contained 370 acres bordered with lindens brought from Scotland. It was over this beautiful green that the belles, gallants, and distinguished soldiers and statesmen in “His Majesty’s Colony of Virginia” passed to grace the balls and assemblies and to do honor to the colonial governors.
The Virginia Gazette, of November 17th, 1752, contains the following notice: “Friday last, being the Anniversary of his Majesty s Birth Day, in the Evening the whole City was illuminated. There was a Ball, and a very elegant Entertainment, at the Palace, where were present the Emperor and Empress of the Cherokees Nation, with their Son the young Prince, and a brilliant appearance of Ladies and Gentlemen; several beautiful Fireworks were exhibited Palace Street, by Mr. Hallam, manner of the Theatre in this City, and the Evening concluded with every demonstration of our Zeal and Loyalty.”
Dunmore was the last loyal representative to live here, and it is said that during the disturbing times preceding the Revolution, his palace was guarded by a company of negroes and later by a detachment of sailors and marines from “his Majesty’s ship Fowey.”
The Palace was accidently burned by some French troops after the surrender at Yorktown, eight years after Dunmore’s flight.
About 500 feet back of the Green is an enclosed mound of earth, overgrown with gnarled trees. In the center of this. mound is a deep hole which leads to an underground passage. “Dunmore s Cave,” as this is called, extends underground to where the Palace stood. There are several theories as to its original use, some thinking it was used as a wine cellar, others that perhaps the tricky governor kept in it his arms and ammunition, or intended it as a means of escape should he be sorely pressed in his palace.
On Palace street, near the church, and to one side of the Green, is a very old colonial residence of brick overrun with ivy and Virginia creeper. It was formerly the home of Chancellor George Wythe, a student of William and Mary College, and professor of law at that institution. He was one of the commissioners to revise the statutes of Virginia in 1776, and a member of the Virginia Convention which ratified the Federal Constitution. He devised Virginia’s seal. “It represents virtue, the tutelary goddess of the Commonwealth, draped as an Amazon, bearing in one hand a spear, and in the other a sword, trampling under foot tyranny, symbolized as a prostrate man, having near his a broken chain and a scourge, while his crown has fallen from his head. Above the figure of Virtue is the word ‘Virginia,’ and underneath the Motto–‘Sic semper tyrannis.'”
This house was sed as headquarters by Washington previous to the Yorktown campaign.
Miss Ellen Glasgow in the “Voice of the People” made the old residence the home of Judge Bassett, one of the principal characters of her novel.
Judge Wythe’s sleeping room was the large chamber over the dining room. It is said that on the eighth of every June a cold white hand appears suddenly and presses the brow of whoever occupies the room. On moonlight nights George Washington s ghost appears in the hail, and the beautiful form of Mrs. Skipwith, formerly Elizabeth Byrd of Westover, can be seen descending the broad stairs.
What is commonly known as the old “Debtor s Prison” is situated on the south side of Duke of Gloucester street and just back of the Dirickson Bank. It is a small quaint brick building, a story and a half high. Though preserved by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, its prison association is discredited by some. In a description of Williamsburg during Spotswood s time (1710-23) it was said that near the Capitol “is a strong sweet prison for criminals and on the other side of an open court another for debtor s.” This would place the “debtor’s prison” at the other end of the town.
On the next open green stands the Courthouse. It distinguished from the other buildings by its long stone columnless porch, and high belfry, from which rang out the bell to call the patriots together in Revolutionary times. This Hall of Justice was built in 1769. It is commonly supposed that Sir Christopher Wren was the architect of this building as well as the college. As this famous man died in February 1723, the writer prefers to give the honor to a later day artist for fear that its past might appear a trifle too shadowy. Regardless of who its architect was, we value it for its age and associations, and it is a fitting monument to remind us of the famous jurists and statesmen whose words and influence have been felt through more than a century and a quarter.
The Powder Horn
Across the street from the Courthouse, there is a building familiar to every antiquarian and student, as it is one of the landmarks of colonial history.
This quaint and antique structure is known as the Powder Horn, from its use and octagonal shape.
It was built by act of the House of Burgesses in 1714, in the reign of George I, and during the administration of Governor Alexander Spotswood, *ho did so much for Virginia. It is said he drew the plans for its construction with the idea in view of an armory and powder magazine. Its massive walls have a thickness of 22 inches. Surrounding it originally was a wall from 10 to 12 feet high, running parallel to the sides at a distance of 21 feet.
The events following the battle of Lexington, in which the Powder Horn figures very prominently, and which started rolling in Virginia the ball of Independence, originated to a great extent in the eloquence and acts of Patrick Henry, Pendelton, Washington, and their contemporaries. Of these guiding spirits and members of the first American Congress, Lord Chatham said, “It is doubtful if in the history of mankind any body of men equal to these has ever existed.”
A few months prior to the beginning of hostilities in Virginia, Lord Dunmore, then governor, very slyly had removed the magazine, in the middle of the night, about twenty barrels of gunpowder belonging to the colony. It was carried to the schooner, “Magdalen,” anchored at Burwell’s Ferry, in James river, four miles from the capital.
When its removal was discovered the next day, the citizens were exceedingly alarmed and indignant. A message from the mayor, alderman and council was addressed to the governor, telling him, in very strong language, their views of the matter. The governor’s verbal answer was: “Hearing of an insurrection in a neighboring county, I have removed the powder from the magazine, where I do not think it secure, to a place of perfect security, and upon my word and honour, whenever it is wanted on an insurrection, it shall be delivered in half an hour; and I have removed it in the night time to prevent any alarm.”
However, the incident caused the greatest excitement and alarm throughout the colony. A company of more than 60 minutemen in Fredericksburg prepared to march to Williamsburg, but were dissuaded by Washington and Pendleton, who urged them to wait for Congress to decide the matter. They nevertheless signed a paper, pledging themselves to defend “Virginia or any sister Colony,” and closed with the words, “God save the liberties of America.”
In the meanwhile, the patriotic and impetuous Patrick Henry, with 150 men, was making rapid marches from Hanover Courthouse to the capital and, acquiring startling additions to his small army on the way.
At the same time a detachment of sailors and marines from the British ship “Fowey” had arrived to guard the Governor s person, and a letter from the commander of the gun-boat to the president of the council, threatening to fire upon the town should the governor be molested or attacked.
Immediate bloodshed was prevented by the arbitration of Colonel Carter Braxton. Dunmore paid to Henry 330 pounds sterling for the powder. The latter, giving a receipt binding himself to turn it over to the Virginia delegates in Congress, went back to Hanover in peace.
Very shortly after, some of the citizens of ‘Williamsburg broke open the door of the magazine to examine its condition and get any arms or powder that might remain. Several barrels of powder buried under the floor seemed. antagonistic to the “word and honour” of the governor, and the wounding of a young fellow by a concealed spring gun caused such a threatening demonstration that the wily Dunmore made hasty leave-taking and sought protection on board the man-of-war “Fowey,” anchored at Yorktown. He very thoughtfully notified the Burgesses that he would discharge his functions as governor from his floating palace, but affairs seemed to run just as peacefully with the famous Committee of Safety at the helm of the Ship of State.
He then tactfully turned his “olive-branch” into a firearm and began his series of depredations along the coast.
Since those stirring events of the shadowy past, the old Powder Horn has bad a varied experience. For a number of years it rang with the fire and eloquence of the good old Baptist parson, Rev. Servant Jones. When the good people moved out, it was kept joyous with the laughter am merriment of those who trod through the giddy maze the waltz during its two years service as a dancing school. It once more resumed its original use in 1861 when under the Confederates it was again an arsenal. After the wit it was sold by the town it had guarded so faithfully. Mortifying to relate, it became a stable. It was finally purchased by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, and, as a museum, recalls to the considerate visitor only those noble and inspiring memories of which it can never again be robbed.
This old building, facing Duke of Gloucester street, with used as the District Courthouse during the Civil War, in ante-bellum days its ground floor served as a prison. In the space between it and the Powder lion, there stood until the last year or two, an old brick chimney, all that was left of the first Temple of Justice in Williamsburg. In 1706, permission was given the people of “James Citty” county by the General Assembly to build the county courthouse from the remaining brick ruins of the State House at Jamestown; so when the old brick chimney was taken down, the link connecting the State House to Williamsburg was broken, and only the vacant lot remains to show the spot on which it stood.
The high wall which formerly guarded the powder magazine was used by the Rev. Servant Jones for the foundation of the Baptist Church of Done architecture, which is near. It was built in 1856 on this historic foundation.
There are several quaint houses on both sides of Duke of Gloucester street, which belong to the pre-Revolutionary period. Among them is a little low white cottage with a sloping roof and dormer windows. It is said that a little woman well known for her piety lived here. Nevertheless, when Colonel Tarleton and his raiders marched through the town, she stood at her door and cursed them until they were out of sight.
Across the street, an old house of dark blue and red glazed bricks brings to mind the celebrated Mrs. Paradise, who in London entertained the Literary Club of Johnson, Goldsmith, and Sir Joshua Reynolds. She is mentioned several times in Boswell’s “Life of Johnson.” ‘Tis said that at an assembly in Williamsburg she met General Washington for the first time. She was so much impressed by his distinguished appearance and physique, that on returning home she beat her own husband because he was small and ugly. Her grandson, an Italian prince, was extremely impressed with the beauty of the women in the colonial capital, and exclaimed to his interpreter, “How can such angels live in such hovels?”
At the east end of the street is a large gray brick residence known as the “Vest House.” Here Lafayette s officers were quartered as they halted on their way to Yorktown.
Across from this, a small stuccoed yellow house with slanting roof and dormer windows is noticed. It was the old Chancery, or Clerk s Office, and is the only one of the government buildings remaining.
This colonial mansion is distinguished from the other old homes by the beautiful old-fashioned gardens surrounding it. The first ailanthus trees in America were planted in their gardens.
It was formerly the home of Judge Bassett, celebrated for his hospitality. Washington was a frequent guest at his inn was a large frame building of two stories with dormer windows, according to the prevailing style of architecture. A metal bust of Sir Walter Raleigh stood on a little portico over the door. The pedestal on which it rested is one of the curios in the museum of the Powder Horn.
This old hostelry has witnessed many scenes of brilliant festivity, and gayety. The Virginia Gazette contains numerous notices of entertainments and dinners. An October paper of 1768 gives a lengthy description of the arrival of the Royal Governor Botetourt, and his supping at the Tavern with his Council. Another paper, dated October 5th, 1768, gives the following quaint notice of a dinner: — “Yesterday, Peyton Randolph, Esq., our worthy representative, gave genteel dinner at the Raleigh Tavern, to the electors of this city, after which many loyal and patriotic toasts were drank, and the afternoon spent with cheerfulness and decorum.” It was during a ball at the Tavern that the future author of the Declaration of Independence was rejected by the lovely Rebecca Burwell.
The famous Apollo Room was not only the scene of revelry and mirth, but measures which have gone far towards protecting the liberties of America had their origin in the brains of the greatest men of the Revolutionary epoch, assembled in that historic room.
It was here in 1769, after the dissolving of the General Assembly by Lord Botetourt, that the members assembled and the famous Virginia “Non-Importation Agreement” was presented to the Burgesses by George Washington and drawn up by George Mason. Mounted men rode north, south, east, and west with copies of the Resolves, and everywhere the people endorsed and signed them.
It was in this Tavern that they met after being dissolved in 1774 by Dunmore. The first of June had been appointed as a day of fasting and prayer by the Burgesses. The Governor disapproved and promptly dissolved the House, whereupon they met in the Raleigh Tavern and took steps towards a general Congress. This celebrated house was burned in 1859.
The Capitol or House of Burgesses
The devastating touch of time has left only the foundations to mark the site of the first colonial capitol which took the place of the State House at Jamestown. A stone monument erected by the Washington Branch of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, on May 26, 1904, bears the names of prominent men in its history. To the people of the grand old Commonwealth no memorial is necessary to perpetuate the deeds and splendid courage of their forefathers, for they shall endure throughout the ages in the minds and hearts of all loyal Americans.
The site of this old House of Burgesses is directly opposite the College at the other end of the town.
It was “built at the cost of the late queen (Anne) by the direction of the Governor,” says an early writer, and he adds, “It is a noble, beautiful and commodious pile; in fact it is the best and most commodious pile of its kind that I have ever seen or heard of.”
For a number of years the use of fires, candles and tobacco was prohibited, probably on account of the frequent burnings of the State House and the College. Notwithstanding these precautions it was burned in 1746, rebuilt, and burned again in 1832, but as the seat of government had been moved to Richmond in 1780 the old Capitol s days of glory and usefulness had passed away and it never again rose from its ashes.
The old Speaker s chair and stove are still preserved in the State Capitol at Richmond. Both are of very quaint design and carving.
It was in this old House of Burgesses that George Washington made his debut. After his heroic passage across the Delaware and through the wilderness, prior to the beginning of hostilities in the French and Indian War, he gave the message from St. Pierre to the Speaker of the House who expressed his admiration for his young countryman of twenty-one. Washington, blushing like a school girl, arose to make his maiden attempt, but had only stammered out a few sentences when he was interrupted by the Speaker, who cried out, “Sit down! Sit down, sir! Your modesty is equal to your valor, and that surpasses the power of any language that I possess.” Only four years after the Brad-dock War Washington married the beautiful and wealthy young widow Martha Custis, whom he had met in the colonial capital. It was later, when honor and fame had crowned his brow, marching through the town at the head of his army on the way from Yorktown, that he caught a glimpse of the sweet face of Mrs. Edward Ambler, formerly Mary Gary, his youthful sweetheart. She was looking at the great general from a window in the capitol building and as he waved his handkerchief in greeting she fell back in a faint. She was said to have been very much like Mrs. Custis. Mrs. Ambler was a sister to Mrs. George Fairfax, and it was at the latter s beautiful country home “Belvoir” on the Potomac that the young surveyor became conscious for the first time in his stripling years of the charm and loveliness of this young girl. A letter written by him at the age of sixteen tells what an impression was made on his heart from the outset of their acquaintance. It was written from “Belvoir” to another sweetheart, and reads:–
‘Dear Sally : This comes to Fredericksburg fair in hopes of meeting with a speedy passage to you if you re not there, which I hope you l get shortly, altho I am almost discouraged from writing to you, as this is my fourth to you since I received any from yourself. 1 hope you ll not make the old proverb good, out of sight out of mind, as it is one of the greatest pleasures I can yet forsee of having in Fairfax, in often hearing from you, hope you’l not deny me.
I pass the time much more agreeably than I imagined I should, as there s a very agreeable young lady lives in the same house where I reside (Colonel George Fairfax s wife s sister), that in a great measure cheats my sorrow and dejectedness, tho not so as to draw my thoughts altogether from your parts. I could wish to be with you down there with all my heart but as a thing most impracticable shall rest myself where I am with hopes of shortly having some minutes of your transactions in your parts which will be very welcomely received by your. Geo. W.”
An old letter describing Washington’s mother, “the rose of Epping Forest” in her lovely girlhood, and dated “W’msburg, ye 7th of Oct., 1722,” reads, “Dear Sukey:–Madame Ball of Lancaster, and her Sweet Molly have gone Hom. Mamma thinks Molly the Comliest Maiden She know. She is about 16 yrs. Old, is taller than Me., is very sensible, Modest and Loving. Her Hair is like unto flax. Her eyes are the color of yours and her Cheeks are like May blossoms. I wish you could See Her.”
It was while George Fairfax was a member of the Assembly in 1748 that he wooed and won Miss Sarah Cary. A letter addressed to his cousin Lord Thomas Fairfax, announces the event very briefly:–“Dear Cousin Tom, While attending at the General Assembly I have had several opportunities of visiting Miss Carey, and finding her an amiable person, and to represent all the favorable reports, made of her, I addressed myself and having obtained the young lady’s and the parents’ consent we are to be married on the 17th inst.” It was with George Fairfax that George Washington surveyed.
Here in the old House of Burgesses the Committee of Correspondence originated under the leadership of the illustrious patriot Dabney Carr; here the famous Committee of Safety was organized about which Richard Lee, in a letter to Washington, humorously writes, “I am sorry to grate your ears with the truth, but must at all events assure you that the Provincial Congress of New York are angels of decision when compared with your country-men, the Committee of Safety, assembled at W’msburg. Page, Lee, Mercer, and Payne, are indeed exceptions, but from Pendleton, Bland, the Treasurer & Company, libera nos Domine.”
The first formal opposition to the Stamp Act came from Patrick Henry. The room was crowded with the Burgesses dressed in their bright-colored silks and satins, dainty ruffled shirts, knee- breeches with silver buckles, and hair nicely powdered and tied with ribbon. What a contrast to “that lazy young rascal Patrick Henry” as he stood up in his coarse clothes, yarn stockings and unpowdered hair. The members began to laugh. Then that slouching figure straightened, his eyes grew bright, and with a voice as sweet as music, he made his famous speech against tyranny. The old room rang with the burning words, “Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and George the Third ” Cries of “Treason! Treason!” interrupted him, but fixing his eyes upon the Speaker of the House he continued, “and George the Third may profit by their example. If this he treason, make the most of it.”
The members adjourned in great excitement. A man in the crowd clapped Henry on the shoulder as they pushed out and said “Stick to it, old fellow, or we are lost.” The advice was heeded, and the future governor of Virginia lived to thrill many an audience with the swat of his voice and the logic of his thought. So highly esteemed and loved did he become, that twenty-four years later, an old and feeble man, as he fell exhausted into the arms of his friends at the conclusion of his celebrated speech against forming the Union, one of the audience exclaimed, “The sun has set in all his glory.” Another, writing of his last days, has well said, “The power of the noon-day sun was gone; but setting splendors were not less beautiful and touching.”
As “young Jonny Randolph” stepped up on the platform to take the place of one recognized as America s greatest orator, an old man exclaimed, “Tut! Tut I it won t do! It s like the beating of an old tin pan after a fine church organ.” I Perhaps if the old man lived long enough, he found out that the “old tin pan” became celebrated too.
In this old Capitol on May the 15th, 1776, just one hundred years after that first strike for freedom by Bacon at Jamestown, resolutions were presented, prepared by Edmund Pendleton, declaring the colony free and independent, ai instructing the delegates in Congress to propose the same thing in that body. The resolutions were passed and read the troops assembled at Williamsburg.
It was here that the famous Virginia Resolves, embodying the principle, “No taxation without representation,” paved the way for the Bill of Rights, drawn up by George Mason on June 15, 1776, the Constitution of Virginia, and eventually the Declaration of Independence, embodying the same thought in the step toward freedom, that step which has been so far reaching upon the destiny of America.
Of the Declaration of Independence it has been said, “From beginning to end it was the work of Virginia& A Virginia planter (Mason) conceived it; a Virginia lawyer (Jefferson) drafted it; and a Virginia soldier (George Washington) defended it and made it a living reality.” It might be added that the courageous and noble patriot soldiers who maintained it by their life s blood and the strength of American arms, gave to the whole world the principles of self-government; “All men are created equal. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights. Government derives its just power from the consent of the governed. The right of the people it is to abolish or alter any form of government destructive of their rights, safety, and happiness.”
Site of Theatre
On the southeast corner of Blair Avenue, to one side of the Capitol ruins, is the site of the first theatre in America, built in 1716. The early numbers of the Virginia Gazette contain numerous notices of plays to be rendered. The Gazette of August 21, 1752, bears the notice, “We are desired to inform the Public, That as the Company of Comedians, lately from London, have obtain d his Honour the Governor s Permission, and have with great Expense, entirely altered the Play House at Williamsburg to a regular Theatre, fit for the reception of Ladies and Gentlemen, and the Execution of their own Performances, they intend to open on the first Friday in September next, with a Play called The Merchant of Venice (written by Shakespeare) and a Farce, call d The Anatomist, or Sham Doctor. The Ladies are desired to give timely Notice to Mr. Hallam, at Mr. Fisher s for their Places in the Boxes, and on the Day of Performance to send the Servants early to keep them, in order to prevent Trouble and Disappointment.”
Another time appeared, “The Emperor of the Cherokee Nation with his Empress and their Son, the young Prince attended by several of his Warriors and great Men and their Ladies, were received at the Palace by his Honour the Governor, attended by such of the Council as were in Town and several other Gentlemen, on Thursday, the 9th Instant, with the Marks of Civility and Friendship, and were that evening entertained at the Theatre, with the Play (The Tragedy of Othello) and a Pantomime Performance, which gave them great Surprise as did the fighting with naked Swords on the Stage, which occasioned the Empress to order some about her to go and prevent their killing one another.”
This London Company of Comedians which appeared in Williamsburg in 1752 was the first regular company players to come to America. Lewis Hallam, Sr was the manager. His small son of twelve made here his which amounted to a burst of tears as he rushed off the debut, which amounted to a burst of tears as he rushed off the stage, so frightened that he could not say his few lines.
In 1771 they reappeared under a new name. The youthful actor was at his best. His beautiful cousin Sarah Hallam took the leading parts. With a face “like unto Cytherea’s,” and the “form of Diana,” she charmed her distinguished audiences night after night. The diary of Washington proves that he was a very frequent attendant, and an old letter of another admirer of the drama states that after going to the play for eleven consecutive nights, Miss Hallam was “superfine.”
Mr. Peter Pelliain, “Organist of the Church in the City of Williamsburg,” rendered the musical accompaniments.
This lovely actress lived in Williamsburg for many years and had a fashionable dancing and boarding school for young ladies. Her advertisement in the Gazette of August 18, 1775, reads, “The Subscriber begs leave to acquaint the ladies and gentlemen that on Friday next, at Mr. Blovet Pasteur’s, in this city she intends to open a Dancing School, and hopes to be favored with the instruction of their daughters in that genteel accomplishment. As she is resolved to spare no pains with her scholars, she does not doubt of being able to give entire satisfaction. The days for teaching are Friday s and Saturday s, every week; and her price is 20 s at entrance, and 4 a year.
Home of Peyton Randolph
Peyton Randolph, the first president of the Continental Congress, spent most of his life in Williamsburg, and, as previously stated is buried under the college chapel. A long white house on Francis street still bears the plate–“Home of Peyton Randolph Attorney-General of Virginia, Speaker of the House of Burgesses, First President of the Continental Congress, Born 1722, Died 1775.”
This old colonial residence at the south end of England street was formerly the home of Sir John Randolph and his nephew, Edmund Randolph. The house is colonial in design. The interior is beautifully finished with hand-carved wainscoting of mahogany, and the spacious halls and rooms are delightfully inviting. Edmund Randolph was educated at William and Mary College. This distinguished man was Virginia s first attorney-general after the Revolution, and later her governor, and secretary of state. He was married in 1776, and the Virginia Gazette of that date gives the quaint announcement “Edmund Randolph, Esq., Attorney-General of Virginia, to Miss Betsey Young lady whose amiable sweetness of disposition, with the finest intellectual accomplishments, cannot fail of rendering the worthy man of her choice completely happy.
Fain would the aspiring muse attempt to sing,
The virtues of this amiable pair,
But how shall I attune the trembling string,
Or sound a note which can such worth declare.
Exalted theme! too high for common lays!
Could my weak verse with beauty be inspired In numbers smooth I d chant my Betsy s praise
And tell her how much her Randolph is admired.
To light the hymenial torch since they’ve resolved
Kind Heaven I trust will .make them truly blest,
And when the Gordian shall be dissolv’d,
Translate them to eternal peace and rest.”
The Virginia Gazette
This was the first newspaper in Virginia and among the earliest in the colonies. It was established at Williamsburg August 6th, 1736. The first copies were one sheet, 12 by 6, and sold for 15 s ($3.75) per year. According to the custom of that early day, the announcements of a wedding were nearly always accompanied by a verse. One reads–“On Sunday last, Mr. Beverly Dixon to Miss Polly Saunders, a very agreeable young lady–
Hymen, thy brightest torch prepare
Gild with light the nuptial bower
With garlands crow this lovely pair
On them thy choicest blessing shower
Here no sordid interest binds
But truest innocence and love
Combined united their spotless minds
And seal their vows above.”
Another is written–
Her’s the mixed lustre of the bloomin morn,
And his the radiance of the rising day
Long may they live, and mutually possess
A steady love and genuine happiness.
The Gazette of April 13th, 1768, states, “A hog was brought to town this week from Sussex as a show, raised by Mr. Henry Tyler there, who, though only four years old, is near 3 feet high, about 9 feet long, & it is supposed weighs near 1200 lbs. He much exceeds any animal of the kind ever raised on this continent, and indeed, we do not remember to have heard of any so large in England.”
During 1862, when the town was in possession of the Federals, the Gazette was published under the new name, “Cavalier” with the motto “The Union forever and freedom for all.” A poem published at that time, and from which we quote two verses, reads:
“The shades of night were falling fast
As through a Southern village passed,
A youth who bore not over nice
A banner with the gay device
His hair was red, his toes beneath
Peeped like an acorn from its sheath,
While with a frightened voice he sung
A burden strange to Yankee tongue
This last line sounds contradictory to the story told on Gen. Pope, who always bragged that he should never see anything but the backs of his enemies. It seemed that the Confederates gave him a surprise one night and he leave his papers and coat behind. The latter was seized by Gen. J. E. B. Stuart and sent to Richmond with the label attached, “Taken from the man who never expected to anything but to see the backs of his enemies.”
On Francis street there is a very dilapidated two-story frame house with a tiny cupola. It has the distinction of being an ancient Masonic temple. The first grand lodge of Virginia was organized within its walls.
In the Masonic rooms used at the present day there is an antique and richly carved mahogany chair presented to the lodge by the colonial governor, Lord Botetourt. It was used by Washington for his first inauguration, and by President Arthur at the presentation of the monument at Yorktown.
Eastern State Hospital
This Institution is situated on Francis street and surrounded by a beautiful park of sixteen acres.
An act passed by the House of Burgesses in November, 1769, in the tenth year of the reign of George III, “To make provision for the support and maintenance of idiots, lunatics, and other persons of unsound minds,” inaugurated one of the pioneer charities of America and the old institution for the insane on the western continent.
From a two story building of twenty-eight rooms, completed in 1773, it has been so changed and enlarged that to-day nine commodious buildings, with every modern improvement and equipment, have been substituted. The original structure was burned in June 1885.
A map of Williamsburg in the College library, dated 1780, designates the hospital as the “Mad House” or “Bedlam,” showing the popular theory concerning diseased minds at that early date. A letter in the library of William and Mary College written in 1801 gives an idea of the treatment of the insane at that time. It reads in part–
“Winchester, July 31, 1801.
My Good Friend:
For the first time I take up my pen with reluctance–as I have nothing to communicate that will afford pleasure–well knowing the anxiety of your good heart-I will attempt to give you an account of my poor Brother’s situate. Alas Madam-when I last wrote my beloved friend little did I expect to find him perfectly Insane– On my arrival in Charlestown, I found him, Oh heavens-in chains-and I am sorry to add his situation demanded the inhumane alternative-when I rode up to the House-I heard the clanking of chains-knowing it to be my Brother-you my Dr. Madam-can better delineate my feelings than 1 can describe them-He appears pleased and exults in his chains–calls himself French-and says he is one of the happiest men on earth-which I believe not knowing his situation-
He is in one of Uncle H______’s houses, in Charlestown very private–with a good attendant-his Physicians admit no one to see him but his particular friend–which–I also think highly improper- even his nearest connections ought not to seen him until the disease takes a change-he has lost one hundred and forty ozs. of blood within this ten days-and with pleasure I can inform you, it has had some happy effects-he is much more calm than usual-
The Physicians agree that Love is the sole cause of his situation-his whole conversation is on the Ladies-and he would dwell forever on me name of Mrs. ______ and wishes me to purchase her from Tom-He has been in Baltimore in this situation-and I am told nearly killed two men-run his horse thro the streets under the whip-and God only knows what he has been guilty off-My good Sister P____ never leaves him-my Dr. Parents-know nothing of his confinement-nor my sister McG–He will be better, his disease is like all others within the power of the Physicians-I have wrote to Dr. Rush and stated his disease-the cause &c-I visit him again accompanied by Dr. Conrad-Th (letter is torn here) will be as short as the Physicians think their presence rather injure than alleviate—I have not been from his side for eight days-and I cannot help indulging him-tho know it to be improper-“
Six Chimney Lot
This lot is included in the eastern portion of the Hospital park. On it there stood formerly a stately mansion occupied by Washington and his wife for a short while during their early married life. Mrs. Washington was distinguished among the belles, who graced the vice-regal courts of the colonial governors Gooch and Dinwiddie, for her beauty and intellect. Her marriage to Washington was celebrated in her home in New Kent on the Pamunkey river, in the adjoining county to James City.
The brick kitchen, also the elm tree said to he planted by Mrs. Washington’s own hands, are all that the lovers of romance have to remind them of the honeymoon spent in Williamsburg.
It is with wonder and admiration that we recall the wisdom and foresight of the illustrious men of the Old Dominion. Perhaps no other town of its sire so vividly recalls the splendid courage and attainments of our forefathers as this old colonial capital of Williamsburg.
On the banks of the James river about six miles from Williamsburg, there is a large plantation known as Carter’s Grove. This estate was originally owned by Robert Carter, familiarly known as “King Carter,” and was a part of the parish of Martin’s Hundred established in 1618. The beautiful and commodious colonial mansion on the place was built in 1722-30 by Carter Burwell, “King Carter’s” grandson. A more beautiful location for the dwelling could not be found. It is on the brow of a hill overlooking James river. The view extends into the counties of Surry and Isle of Wight on the opposite side of the James river, while Hog Island, sometimes called “Homewood,” and a point of the historic Jamestown island are easily distinguishable by the naked eye. The latter island is only six miles off and is readily reached by sail boat. It was only a short distance from Carter’s Grove, that Lord Delaware, ascending the river to Jamestown on May the 10th, 1610, met the starving settlers as they were embarking for England with Sir Thomas Gates and Admiral Somers. Delaware persuaded them to return to Jamestown with him, thus preventing the extinction of English civilization in America.
The mansion is of old blue and red glazed brick, and presents a noble appearance. It is approached by a picturesque lane bordered with ancient cedars and locust trees. The lawn in the back is well terraced and shaded with old trees.
The interior of the house is distinguished by the spaciousness of the hall and rooms, and the quaint paneling of beautiful wood, attending up to the ceiling. On the banisters of the broad staircase several sabre cuts are noticeable. They were made by Colonel Tarleton’s troopers during the Revolution, and it is said that his raiders actually rode their horses up the Steps They were so impatient for a taste of the pies for which the housewife was famous, that one of the officers ripped open the large mahogany sideboard with his sabre. This beautiful old mansion was formerly the home of the lovely and fascinating Rebecca Burwell. While Thomas Jefferson and Jacqueline Ambler were students at William and Mary College, they both became very much enamored over this charming young girl. The red-headed, sandy-haired, young Thomas Jefferson was celebrated for his “fiddling,” and perhaps the sentimental thoughts of this lovelorn youth were often sung to the lovely Belinda. Once in planning a trip to Europe he decided to build his own boat, naming it “Rebecca,” and on his voyage to sail to Italy to procure a new fiddle. It is said that almost the only verse that he ever penned was addressed to this young girl, and in a letter to his bosom friend, John Page, he wrote, “If Belinda will not accept my services they shall never be offered to another.”
It was during a ball at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg that Jefferson offered his love to Rebecca Burwell for the last time. In another letter to John Page he says, “In the most melancholy fit that ever any poor soul was, I sit down to write to you. Last night, as merry as agreeable company and dancing with Belinda in the Apollo could make me, I never could have thought the succeeding sun would have seen me so wretched as I now am! I was prepared to say a great deal. I had dressed up in my own mind, such thoughts as occurred to me in as moving language as I knew how, and expected to have performed in a tolerably creditable manner. But, good God! When I had an opportunity of venting them, a few broken sentences, uttered in great disorder, and interrupted with pauses of uncommon length, were the two visible marks of my strange confusion!”
Nevertheless the “pen of Virginia,” and the future author of the Declaration of Independence, was rejected for his more fortunate rival, Jacqueline Ambler, the “Aristotle of Virginia.”
This historic house and estate is now the home of Dr. E. G. Booth, who is celebrated for his Virginia hospitality, and when the old sideboard is subjected to a modern raid, pies as delicious as those of old are brought to view.
On the historic road to Yorktown there can be noticed a line of entrenchments through which the road cuts about a mile and a half from Williamsburg. The locality is known as Fort Magruder, in honor of the gallant general who commanded the confederates in the battle of Williamsburg fought along this road on May the 5th, 1862. The Union forces were commanded by General McClellan. The battle though short, was exceedingly bloody and was one of the most important fought during the Civil War, as the fate of Richmond, the Confederate capital, depended on the result.
A marble tablet on the walls of Bruton Church in Williamsburg bears the simple inscription:
“In memory of
who fell in the
Battle of Williamsburg
May the 5th, 1862
and of those who died of
the wounds received in
They died for us.”
A granite monument, and a number of small stone slabs in the graveyard surrounding the church, mark the graves of those who wore the gray.
About half way between Williamsburg and Yorktown a little stream known as Black Swamp has to be crossed. Tradition says that in colonial days a bridal party in a coach of four were crossing the stream when the horses got caught in the quicksand. None of the party was seen again, and it is claimed the place has been haunted ever since.
IN 1634 the colony of Virginia was divided into eight counties, and Charles River county was created. This county included a number of plantations on York river, among them Ultimaria and Bellfield. The name of this county was afterwards changed to York. Court was first held at the different large plantations; later at a place called York, established by the colonial governor, Sir John Harvey. About 1676 it convened at the “Half-way House,” on the road between Williamsburg and Yorktown.
In 1619, fifty acres of an estate on York river were bought from Benjamin Reade, and “Yorke Towne” was laid out. Here court sat in 1698, though the town was not established by law until 1705. The original seal is still preserved.
The situation of the village is on the brow of a hill overlooking a fine harbor. The view extends into Chesapeake bay, and for a number of miles across the neighboring county of Gloucester. This dilapidated village of scarcely more than one hundred and fifty inhabitants, including about twelve white families, formerly enjoyed an extensive trade with the West Indies, and other islands and countries.
A very old Custom House built in 1715, the first and oldest in the United States, is still pointed out to visitors to the historic town.
On the high bank of the river is a tiny stone-marle Episcopal church. The first church was built in 1697. Governor Francis Nicholson, who laid out the town of Williamsburg, gave 20 towards its construction. This church was destroyed by fire in 1814, but has since been rebuilt. Its old bell, bearing the inscription, “County of York, Virginia, 1725,” still calls the worshipers together, as of old.
To one side of this sacred edifice is the burial ground of the Nelsons, a family very intimately associated with the history of the town.
One of the first buildings to greet the eye, as the visitor passes down Main street, is the celebrated old Swan Tavern. The original inn was built in 1722 and burned during the Civil War. It was said to be the oldest tavern in Virginia at that time. Only the name and foundation remain to link it to the present building. An original paper of rules and regulations is in the possession of the present proprietor. After a careful notice of the rates, it ends with the following request:–“As the house is not intended to be a place of lazy, unprofitable resort, mere loungers are requested to keep away; and all who come only to idle their time at the fire in the winter, or to gulp down ice water in the summer, will be charged daily twenty-five cents each. Rude, noisy or intoxicated persons will not be tolerated on any terms.
1752 Robert Anderson.”
The Nelson House
The old Nelson House, the most prepossessing in the village, brings to mind one of the most courteous, high-minded, and patriotic men of the Revolutionary period.
The house was built in 1740-41 by President William Nelson, son of the founder of the Nelson family in Virginia, Thomas Nelson I, often known as “Scotch Tom, the emigrant.” It is said that the corner stone was laid by General Thomas Nelson of Revolutionary fame. He was a toddling baby at that time, but the brick was passed through his tiny hand.
The house is a large two-story brick building with stone trimmings, fronting the river. Surrounded with an old-fashioned garden, bordered with boxwood, it presents a very picturesque effect. The halls and rooms are very spacious and beautiful. When General Lafayette visited Yorktown the house was turned over to the committee for his entertainment. During the Civil War when Yorktown was occupied by the Confederates under General Magruder, the house was used by them for a hospital and, for sanitary reasons, the beautiful wainscoting of the interior was whitewashed. Inserted in the wainscoting of the dining room is a secret panel, and two secret rooms are connected with the garret.
It was directly in line with the range of the American guns during the siege, and was used as headquarters by Cornwallis. Three cannon balls have left impressions on the east gable. One is embedded in the brick. Another left a large open hole where it went crashing through the southeast corner, entered the dining room, tore off two panels of wainscoting, and shattered the marble mantel.
General Nelson owned another mansion on the outskirts of the town, in the direction of Temple Farm. When hostilities began, it was soon discovered that the house contained a nest of British soldiers. The General commanded the Virginia Militia of 3,200, and they naturally evinced a great reluctance to fire into the home of their commander, whereupon with great disinterestedness he offered a reward of five guineas to the man who should fire the first shot. A ball went crashing through the roof and very shortly the house was in ruins. Hardly a trace of it remains.
This most patriotic of Virginia’s sons gave liberally to the cause of freedom. His own army was fed entirely during the siege at Yorktown by the use of his own credit. When two Virginia regiments were ordered to the Carolinas, before the soldiers started, he gave them all of their back pay due, out of his own private fortune; and again, when the security of the old Commonwealth was not sufficient to borrow two million dollars with which to carry on the war, Nelson added his personal security to that of the State, and in this way a large proportion of the sum was raised. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, a member of the House of Burgesses, and Governor of Virginia, succeeding Jefferson.
A few remaining houses, bearing a liberal allowance of bullet holes, help us to realize that this dilapidated village witnessed the breaking of the last link in the chain that bound America to the mother country England, and the events which were here enacted hastened the day when a chord of love was substituted, for the betterment of both countries.
The entrenchments made by the British are still comparatively perfect, and judging from their height and solidity they bid fair to remain for many more generations. These redoubts in some places are very thickly overgrown with broom straw. The seed to this plant was said to be brought over from England in the hay, and the fields around Yorktown are very thick with its graceful stalks.
Notwithstanding Earl Cornwallis’ strategy and boast that the foolish boy, Lafayette, could not escape him, the young Frenchman had succeeded in getting the English general well hemmed up in the little town by the 27th of September, 1781. A heavy cannonade from the British ushered in the siege. The American army was encamped only a mile from Cornwallis’ lines. The French were about the same distance and to the left of the Americans.
On the 29th, several redoubts of the British on the western outskirts of the town were evacuated and occupied the next day by the investing forces. Intermittent firing continued until the completion of the American redoubts on the 9th of October. From then until through the 16th, a terrific cannonade by both armies with over three hundred pieces of artillery was kept up almost incessantly; Dr. Thatcher, a surgeon of Washington’s army, has left an interesting account of the siege. He said that during these six days the carcasses of six or seven hundred horses could be seen floating down the river every day, showing to what straits for food the British were put. A realistic picture of a bursting shell is given in the following extract-“When a shell falls, it whirls around, burrows, and excavates the earth to a considerable extent, and, bursting, makes dreadful havoc around.”
Many anecdotes are told of the solicitude of General Washington’s friends for his safety during this time. Once when a shell exploded very near, one of his aids stepped up and said, “Sir, you are too much exposed here, had you not better step a little back?” Washington replied very quickly, “Colonel Cobb, if you are afraid, you have liberty to step back.”
Another time a ball rolled almost at his feet and General Knox remonstrated, “My dear General, we can’t spare you yet.” “It is a spent ball and no harm is done,” answered Washington without moving.
One of the chaplains of the American army was a clergyman by the name of Evans. One day he was standing with the General and his staff in a very exposed position, when a ball struck the ground near and scattered some of the earth upon the clergyman’s hat. It alarmed him greatly, and he evidently showed his terror in his countenance as he turned to Washington with his hat off, saying, “See this, General!” “You had better show your hat to your wife and children,” replied the great commander. Col. Alexander Hamilton commanded a small battery and, before storming a very difficult redoubt, made a thrilling speech to the men under him~ A group of officers standing near heard every word One of them turned to another and said, “Did you ever hear such a speech?” “With such a speech I could storm carne the reply.
On the night of October 16th, Cornwallis, realizing that nothing but escape could save him, attempted to cross the river to Gloucester Point, expecting to demolish the small French force encamped there to watch Col. Tarleton’s troops, and to move off in full retreat until a junction could be formed with Sir Henry Clinton in New York. A portion of his army had crossed, and another detachment was on its way over when a terrible storm of wind and rain, springing up suddenly, nearly annihilated the whole company, obliging them to give up the attempt.
On the 17th the British sent a flag of truce which resulted in the surrender on the 19th.
A high stone monument, beautifully sculptured, stands in an open field near the river, and bears a faithful record of the events enacted around this historic town, the result of which is expressed in the sculptured words, “One destiny, one country, one constitution.” The act to erect the monument was adopted by Congress October, 29th, 1781, and approved June 7th, 1880.[sic].
On the south side of this obelisk is engraved,
“At York on October 19, 1781, after a siege of 19 days by 5500 American and 7000 French troops of the line, 3500 Virginia Militia.
Under command of General Thomas Nelson, and 36 French ships of war
Earl Cornwallis, commander of the British Forces at York
and Gloucester surrendered his army 7251 officers and men
840 seamen, 244 cannon and 24 standards.
To His Excellency George Washington
commander-in-chief of the combined forces of America and France.
To His Excellency the Comte de Rochambeau
commanding the auxiliary troops of his most Christian majesty In America.
And to His Excellency the Comte de Grasse
commanding in chief the naval reserves of France in Chesapeake.”
On the north side of the monument it is explained that–
“The provisional articles of peace concluded November 30, 1782.
And the definite treaty of Peace concluded September 3, 1783
Between the United States of America
And George III King of Great Britain and Ireland Declare
His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States Vis.-
New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states.”
In the field which joins the town on the south the surrender took place. Dr. Thatcher, the surgeon who witnessed it, has said in his account, “The French troops, in complete uniform, displayed a martial and a noble appearance; their band of music, of which the timbrel formed a part, is a delightful novelty, and produced, while marching to the ground, a most enchanting effect.” According to tradition the march rendered was, “The world’s turned upside down.” “The Americans, though not all in uniform, nor their dress so neat, yet exhibited an erect, soldierly air, and every countenance beamed with satisfaction and joy. The concourse of spectators from the country was prodigious, in point of numbers, probably equal to the military; but universal silence and order prevailed. It was about two o’clock when the captive army advanced through the line formed for their reception. Every eye was prepared to gaze on Lord Cornwallis, the object of peculiar interest and solicitude; but he disappointed our anxious expectations; pretending indisposition, he made Gen. O’Hara his substitute as the leader of his army. This officer was followed by the conquered troops in a slow and solemn step, with shouldered arms, colors cased, and drums beating a British march. Having arrived at the head of the line, Gen. O’Hara, elegantly mounted, advanced to his Excellency, the commander-in-chief, taking off his hat, and apologized for the non-appearance of Earl Cornwallis.”
The British threw down their arms very angrily until stopped by Gen. Lincoln.
After the formalities of the surrender were over, Col. Tarleton, riding a splendid animal, and in company with a number of French officers, with whom he was to dine, was halted by one of the citizens of the town and the horse he was riding demanded by its owner. The colonel was advised by one of the officers that it would be best to dismount, so he complied with the request of the animal’s owner, and greatly to his own chagrin, mounted a very ordinary beast and rejoined his companions, who promptly laughed over his discomfiture.
In recalling the events centered around this historic village, ill fancy we might rise with Benjamin Franklin and drink to his celebrated toast–“Here’s to George Washington, the Joshua of America, who commanded the sun and moon to stand still, and they stood still.”
This farm is three-quarters of a mile from Yorktown. It is chiefly noted because the terms of the surrender were drawn up and signed in the parlor of the house on the place. The building is a low, rambling, frame structure of quaint design and is frequently called the “Moore House,” after its owners at that time. It is situated on a high bluff of the river and has a beautiful lawn of some 300 yards, sloping down to the water.
Though outside of the strong redoubts, a line of entrenchments runs through a part of the farm.
The house was built in 1713, and it is claimed that it was the summer home of the colonial governor, Alexander Spotswood. Dr. W. Shield, who owned the place in 1834, in a letter to Bishop Meade,* said that in one of the old burying grounds, known as the Temple, he found several fragments of stone which, placed together, spelled the governor’s name. It is a well known fact that Spotswood died at Annapolis just as he was undertaking a long journey. Considering the wildness of the country and the danger attached to traveling at that tine, it is more reasonable to suppose that the remains were brought back by boat and interred at Temple Farm, instead of undertaking a long journey by land to the governor’s other home at Germanna on the Rapidan river.
This so-called Temple is in one of the fields, about one-fourth of a mile from the house, and on the margin of the forest.
It is entirely in ruins, but the traces remaining indicate a round edifice, surrounded a few yards distant by a wall. It is probable that it was a place of worship, a burial ground, and a defence against Indian attack, all in one. The only legible tombstone remaining is a fiat slab with the insignia of heraldry and the following inscription:
Major William Gooch,
Dyed October 29th, 1655.
Within this tomb there doth interred lie,
No shape, but substance, true nobility:
Itself though young in years, but twenty-nine,
Yet graced with nature’s Morall and divine.
The church from him did good participate,
In counsil rare, fit to adorn a state.
All around this bit of mysterious ground are traces of an ancient settlement. There is another old graveyard in a field near the house.
In the neighborhood of Yorktown there were formerly several Indian settlements, prominent among which were Chiskiack and Werowocomoco. The precise location of Werowocomoco has been the subject of much discussion by historians. It was first fixed at “Shelly,” a country home on the Gloucester side of York river. The latest and most indisputable theory is that it was on Portan bay, on the north side of York river, several miles beyond Shelly. Smith speaks of his adventures and visits to the Indian chief Powhatan quite frequently, but is never very accurate in respect to distance. “At Werowocomoco,” he says, “on the north side of the river Pamunkee (York) was his (Powhatan’s) residence, when I was delivered him prisoner, some 14 miles from James Towne, for the most part, he was resident.”
The place is chiefly noted on account of the romantic rescue of Capt. John Smith by Powhatan’s daughter Matoa, or Pocahontas. Smith tells the incident very briefly in his “General Historic.” He says “A long consultation was held, the conclusion of which was” that “two great stones were brought before Powhatan, as many as could. laid hands on him, dragged him to them, and thereon laid his head; and being ready with their clubs to beat out his brains, Pocahontas, the King’s dearest daughter, when no entreaty could prevail, got his head in her arms, laid her own upon his to save him from death; whereat the Emperor was content he should live to make him hatchets and her bells, beads, and copper; for they thought him as well of all occupations as themselves.”
Numerous incidents are told of the bravery of this Indian girl, and many times she braved the wrath of the Indian king in order to warn the white men, who came for corn and food, of treachery on the part of her father.
A great many anecdotes are told of the Indian chieftain, Powhatan. Once when he was asked to come to Jamestown to receive some presents recently received from England, he sent this reply, “This is my country and I am as great a king as your own. If you wish to see me come to my home.” So here to Werowocomoco came Newport and Smith, bringing the presents, a crown, scarlet robe, bed, basin, and pitcher. The old chieftain objected very much to bending his head to receive the crown, but was quite delighted with the other gifts. After arraying himself in the new robe, he gathered up his old clothes, and handing the bundle to Newport directed that it be sent to the king of England with his compliments.
The Indians knew very little about figures and could seldom count without the aid of their fingers or some small objects. It is told that Powhatan once sent one of his warriors over to England to bring him back the exact number of white people in that land.
At Jamestown we find the birthplace of the American Nation, at Williamsburg was sounded the prelude of liberty by the sweet voice of Patrick Henry, and at Yorktown the last chord of the Grand Finale was struck with such force by Washington and Lafayette, that it will never cease to echo liberty.