Monday, October 31, 2016

Part 4 Shenandoah Valley VA to Gettysburg, PA


Day 4 began in Charlottesville, Virginia. Sorry I couldn't spend more time exploring Charlottesville. The Historic Downtown area looked interesting. I wish I had walked down to Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village at the University of Virginia.

Seeing the Albemarle Court House reminded me of  my Wray/Thurmond research. Some possible relations lived in Albemarle County.
After breakfast we headed for Shenandoah National Park for a scenic drive on the Skyline Drive. This road was mostly constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930's. The road follows the ridge of the Blue Ridge mountains during much of the drive. Unfortunately clouds obstructed our view of the valley below. I thought about my German Shenandoah Valley ancestors on this drive. We did drive near family areas on our way to Skyline Drive. It was particularly exciting seeing the Rockingham County sign. All  of my German ancestors lived in Rockingham County. Originally it was a part of Shenandoah County, before that Dunmore County. The Zirkle family first arrived in the area around 1755, when they first show up in land records. The Roush family first appears in local church records in the 1760s. Not sure when the Roller family first arrived in the Shenandoah Valley? Johannes Roller received a land grant in 1772, so I know he was there then.


Saw the New Market sign leaving Shenandoah National Park. Lewis Zirkle and Mary Magdalene Roush were buried in a New Market Cemetery.  

New Market where the Lewis Zirkle and wife a Mary are buried
Leaving Virginia on the way to Gettysburg Pennsylvania we passed many beautiful farms and cute towns.

We arrived in Gettysburg late in the afternoon. We toured the Gettysburg Civil War National Park Museum. We viewed the Cyclorama painting of Pickets charge. The circular painting comes to life with special effect lighting and sound effects. The painting was painted by a French artist in the 1880s.

After checking into our Gettysburg Hotel I took a tram to the downtown area. Interesting historic town. Lincoln stayed in town at the Willis house before dedicating the Gettysburg Military Cemetery, where delivered his Gettysburg address on November 19, 1863 (in November there is an annual procession commemorating the1863 processional from the town square to the cemetery). The Railway station is still standing where Lincoln's train arrived.


Willis House where Lincoln Stayed


Leaving Virginia behind I now begin thinking about my next visit, when I will concentrate on family locations and genealogy research. My last Virginia ancestor died during the Civil War. Jacob Roller died in Scott County, Virginia in 1862. All of my Virginia family lines ended up in the Midwest. Goodbye to Virginia until next year. Hello Pennsylvania.
Virginia Ancestors' locations. Fairly spread out 


Friday, October 28, 2016

Part 3 Richmond To Monticello

Spooky Halloween House in Charlottesville

Day 3 of the Trafalgar tour was a bit more leisurely than the beginning of my trip. We did start out early again. Leaving our bags out for 7 am pickup.  We headed from Williamsburg to Richmond after breakfast. Our destination was St. John's Episcopal Church. This charming church reminded me of a Christmas village church. The church and surrounding buildings did remind me of a Christmas village.

St. John's Church is a National Historical Landmark. Originally built by Col. Richard Randolph, great-uncle of Thomas Jefferson  It was completed in 1741. The church was altered in 1772. The original structure was integrated into the 1772 addition.

St. John's Church was an important gathering place for colonists who opposed the tyrannical rule of the British government. Solidarity with the colonists in Massachusetts after the Boston Tea Party, and the resulting British blockade of the port of Boston, led the Virginia colonial legislature to declare June 1, 1774 a day of  "Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer". The legislature was dissolved by Lord Dunmore in reaction to that resolution, which was seen as a hostile act against King George III. George Washington stated he went to church that day and fasted.

After the dissolving of the representative legislature in Virginia the house of Burgesses continued to meet in Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg. They met there on August 1, 1774 in opposition to British rule and in solidarity with colonists in Massachusetts. This was the First Virginia Convention.

The Second Virginia Convention was held at St. John's Church in Richmond in March 1775. Our visit there included a reenactment of the famous speech given by Patrick Henry, "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" (click link to see youtube performance).  Thomas Jefferson and George Washington also attended the Second Virginia Convention, along with other notable colonial citizens. The Third Convention also met at St. John's Church. These conventions established an opposition government and raised military forces.

This Weddell monument caught my eye because this surname had be
associated with our early family

Edgar Alan Poe's mother is buried at St. John's Cemetery

After spending time exploring the Cemetery we made our way back to the coach. Next stop was Monticello. The sky was overcast when we got to Monticello. It didn't rain however. I had no idea Monticello was located on the top of a mountain. You can either take a tram to the site or walk. There were so many people lined up for the trams I decided to walk through the wooded path to the site.

The first site I came up to was the Jefferson family cemetery. Lovely little cemetery.



The top of Jefferson's mountain was leveled flat to accommodate Jefferson's villa . The villa was designed by Jefferson himself. Jefferson wanted to create a uniquely American architectural style, while incorporating European architectural elements. Work began on his future villa in 1768.
I loved everything about this plantation villa. The views from the top of the mountain are beautiful. The home itself is a masterpiece. Jefferson inherited this land from his father. The isolated mountain top location suited his introverted personality. He was not comfortable in the lime light. He was not a good public speaker, according to contemporary accounts. Even this secluded location could be too overwhelming at times. He would then retreat to an even more private location.
The interior of the house is as interesting as the exterior. The first room we entered contains Jefferson's American natural history and Native American artifact collection. Really fascinating, as is the calendar clock in the room. The tour then moves to a sitting room office area, with paintings of the Jefferson family. Jefferson suffered the loss of children, and his wife in this house. The Jeffersons had 6 children. Only two survived to adulthood (Jefferson and his wife were 3rd cousins. Not sure if that had an affect on the health of their children?). The next room on the tour was his beautiful library. His book collection formed the first Library of Congress. His bedroom is next on the tour. Easy access to the library from the Jefferson bedroom as they are located side by side. His bedroom also is testament to his love of gadgets and unique design. It contains many interesting items. The tour then moves to the parlor with its grand design and d├ęcor. It has a beautiful view of the sweeping lawn and garden from large windows and bay portico glass door. A few other rooms on the first floor are on the tour, including the dining room. The second floor isn't on the daily tour, and only viewable on special tours.
Slave quarters are located below the villa terrace level. This lower level also contained utilitarian rooms such as the kitchen, wine cellar, and privy.
We passed an interesting tourist attraction to and from Monticello. Mitchie Tavern built in 1784. It's surrounded by other historical buildings including a working Mill. Sadly we didn't stop there. I Googled the name and found out the Tavern is now a restaurant which sells great looking southern fried chicken and cornbread.
Mitchie's Tavern Built 1784
After leaving Monticello we headed to the Omni hotel in Charlottesville. After checking in, and taking a short walk through the surrounding shopping district, we went out to dinner on the other side of town. We all packed into a long room at the restaurant. Learned more about our tour guide who previously worked as a white water rafting guide in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and also worked as a whale watching guide in Alaska.
Next time Shenandoah National Park and Gettysburg.