I received great news this week! A while back I submitted a paper proposal to the Virginia Forum. The Virginia Forum is an annual conference that connects Historians, Museum Professionals, Teachers, and anyone interested in Virginia history to share research and experiences. The paper I proposed, “Colonists’ Patsy or Vainglorious Opportunist? Lord Dunmore and His War.” has been accepted. The conference will be March 3-5, 2016 in my own backyard as the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation will be our host. I’ll post more information as the conference draws near. To check out the Virginia Forum visit their website here.
Robert Carter III, a wealthy slave holder in Virginia decided to emancipate more than 500 of his slaves. On August 1, 1791 he began writing what has become known as the “Deed of Gift” and on September 5, 1791 he filed the “deed” with the Northumberland County courthouse.
On September 5, 2015, Historic Christ Church will hold a commemoration of this event. Included is a talk by Dr. Lauranett Lee the Curator of African American History at the Virginia Historical Society entitled “Seeking Sanctuary in Virginia’s Breadbasket:
Preserving a Carter Legacy”.
For more information on the event: http://www.christchurch1735.org/rciii_emancipation_2015.pdf
To learn more about Historic Christ Church: http://christchurch1735.org/
To learn more about Robert Carter III: http://nominihallslavelegacy.com/history-of-the-carter-family/robert-carter-iii
For more information on the Deed of Gift: http://nominihallslavelegacy.com/the-deed-of-gift
One of my colleagues at Colonial Williamsburg has started a new endeavor he is calling the 35/15 Photo Project. While he introduces the project better here, in a nutshell he is reshooting images of Colonial Williamsburg taken in 1935 today in 2015 (hence the 35/15). Personally I am interested in the evolution of the physical landscape of historical places over time. However, most of my experience is with Civil War battlefields (I think of William Frassanito’s Gettysburg Then & Now: Touring the Battlefield with Old Photos or Roger Linton’s Chickamauga: A Battlefield History in Images), so I was excited to hear about AJ’s project. So I encourage you to check out AJ’s blog http://historyscout.blogspot.com/ and learn more about his project from the photographer/historian himself.
For my readers who do not live in the Williamsburg / Jamestown, VA area here is a link to a story about a local historic preservation battle. Basically, Dominion (the almighty electric provider for this area of Virginia) has declared that new power lines must be run over the James River. Dominion claims that the historic view from Historic Jamestown will not be disturbed, preservationists are not so sure. Depending upon the outcome, the next time you come to visit the view may be a little different.
Day 5 consisted of driving from NJ to La Plata, MD. Of course, when we got up last Thursday morning we weren’t sure how far we would make it driving, and there was an equal chance that we would make it all the way home in one day much as we did when we drove to NJ. However, breakfast and late goodbyes got us on the road home to VA later than we left to head to NJ. Then there was traffic to contend with. Traffic, traffic, traffic. I moved out of NJ in 1996 (wow! 19 years ago…now I feel old) and couldn’t stand the traffic then, it is much worse now. We made our way down the NJ Turnpike but the Delaware Memorial Bridge surprise, surprise had a backup on it. Getting to Delaware we stopped off a Cabela’s to stretch our legs. We got back on the road after lunch but ran into lovely traffic right around Annapolis, MD. By the time we hit Waldorf, I was tired of moron drivers and needed a break. Not far down the road was the afore mentioned La Plata where a Best Western provided us refuge.
Day 6 saw us take a little detour and visit George Washington Birthplace National Monument. Part of the park rests along Pope’s Creek and another part provides access to the Potomac River. The Potomac River Beach is smallish and currently being worked on but I was more interested in exploring the historic areas.
With no picture or architectural drawings, in 1926 Congress authorized the construction of a replica of the house in which George Washington was born. At the time the site was managed by the Wakefield National Memorial Association and a generic plantation home was designed and built. The spot of the actual birthplace home was partially excavated in 1930 and fully excavated in 1936 and again in 1974. So there is a generic plantation “memorial home” to visit and an outline of the actual home discovered by archeologists in the 1930s. Overall, it is a neat place to visit and an interesting lesson on preservation and public memory (or guesswork, you decide).
So ended the Week of Wanderings as Day 7 consisted of resting up and preparing to return to work the next day for Mrs. Historian (AJ) and myself.
Day 1 found AJ and I at False Cape State Park which you have to reach, as the brochure says, “by hiking, biking, or boating through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge“. We took a tram tour through the park to the Wash Woods Historical Site.
Wash Woods was a late 1800s community of around 300 or so that had close ties to the nearby community at Knotts Island. Most of the community’s buildings have all disappeared but you can still see the steeple of the Wash Woods Methodist Church and the Cemetery Site.
Both Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park are out of the way. Think primitive – which was part of the appeal to AJ and I. So if you are really looking to find some seclusion, bring your water and your backpack and perhaps even your bike and leave everything else behind.
Found this in the Virginia Gazette – July 18, 1766
In the room below the lightning passed along a shelf covered with pewter, where it melted part of some basons [basins] and spoons, and many plates. A looking-glass on that end was broke into pieces, and some part of the frame dashed against the back of the chimney at the opposite end. The lightning also went through a cask of beer, and tore out on each side part of a stave about twelve inches long and two inches broad. The hoops were iron, and one of them was broke, but showed on particular mark of the cause. Mary Smith, wife of the above mentioned James Smith, stood ironing some clothes at a table near the end which was struck, with her back toward the chimney, and a box iron in her hand. She was knocked down and for half an hour showed no sign of life… The box iron which she was using showed no mark of lightening, but a pair of sleeve were no where to be found. James Smith himself, sitting on the work board, was struck across his thighs, but no mark appeared, He felt he says as if ham strung… A young man who was lolling on a feather bed, near the wall where the lightening struck, with his legs resting on the work board, got a pretty large mark above one of his knees, like a bruise, A boy about 12 or 13 years of age, standing near the table above mentioned sifting meal. was knocked down, and appeared lifeless for at least a quarter of an hour… He wore at the time a pair of breeches of green plains, the left thigh of which was torn into pieces by the lightening; and two metal button, which were on the waistband, were torn off and only a small part of one of them could afterwards be found; the other entirely disappeared – This day James Smith and his wife, like pious Christians, publickly returned thanks to the Supreme Being for their wonderful escape.
AJ and I went on a random drive today and discovered a great used bookstore, Oasis Books. Located in Gloucester, VA (6670 Main Street to be exact), Oasis has a wide variety of books. Their “local” section is great – and by “local” I mean Virginia, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Norfolk, Jamestown… They had several books that I was aware of but had not seen before.
Oasis also has one of the best Western Americana sections and an extensive Native American section as well. Their American Revolution and Civil War sections were the ones that I searched and came away with two (largely to a great amount of restraint as I wanted them all) selections that caught my eye.
They also have Fiction, Gardening, Religion, Biography…all selections that you would expect in a used bookstore. AJ picked up a 1908 copy of Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton.
Needless to say this is one used bookstore I’ll be checking out again and again. If you live in or are visiting Virginia anywhere in the Norfolk…Yorktown…Williamsburg area consider taking a trip over to Oasis Books. Otherwise, you can visit their website here or at http://oasisusedbooks.com/.