Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Jamestown Settlement vs Jamestowne Historical site & Colonial Williamsburg

On day two of our bus trip through Virginia, with Trafalgar, we started our day slowly piling out of the bus at the Jamestown Settlement (I should say coach lol. Our tour guide kept saying bus, which is a no, no. She has to pay the coach driver every time she said bus). It was a beautiful morning. I had been anticipating this particular visit for 6 months. I have a mini obsession with Jamestown, and a crush on the archeologist William Kelso. I've been reading and watching documentaries about the history, and the dig, for years. I went over some of the old material about Jamestowne in preparation for my trip.

After all the obsessing about the place I couldn't believe I was finally there. Then I had a rude surprise when I found out that I wasn't. No Jamestowne Settlement is a recreated living history site. My heart sank. We weren't going to the original settlement site. I feel like there should be some sort of explanation at the Trafalgar site regarding the fact you will not be going to the original site. I found out the original site was a mile away. I pulled our tour guide aside and said I would like to leave the group and go to the original site. She said there was no easy way of getting there from where we were. If would be a difficult 1 mile walk. I decided to follow her suggestion, and take this tour, and later get a taxi from Colonial Williamsburg to the original site. 

At Jamestown Settlement we toured a museum before going out to the recreated living history site. I didn't find the museum very interesting, honestly. The guide explained facts that most of us already knew. This museum and tour would be good for school children. We then went out to look at the Native American Village. I thought the recreated hut was interesting (I hear someone's child cried when they saw the dead animals in the hut? Maybe she's from a family of vegans?).

We then headed out to look at the replica ships, which were smaller than I expected. I thought they were very cute. We took a quick tour through one of them. Interesting to see the cramped conditions. I thought the ships were pretty to look at, but I wasn't blown away by them.

After the ships we went to the fort with it's recreated buildings. To me this was the most interesting aspect of the living history settlement. It gives you a good idea of how the earliest Jamestown settlers lived. I wouldn't recommend this settlement museum otherwise.


Tiny girl preaching from the pulpit

I wonder how many people visiting this museum settlement realize this isn't the original Jamestowne site? Our guide even seemed to dismiss the historic site as unproven?

We headed to Colonial Williamsburg after Jamestown Settlement. It was still very early since started off so early that morning. I decided to tour Williamsburg before taking a taxi to the original settlement. I loved it!

Williamsburg was relevant to the lives of our Virginia ancestors due to the fact it was the seat of Colonial government. The colonial seat moved from Jamestowne after a fire in 1698. The state house had been located in Jamestown for 92 years.

The Colonial legislative assembly, the House of Burgesses, was the first assembly made up of elected representatives in North America. Their state house was located in Williamsburg.

I first headed toward a church which was closed for a service. I looked around the interesting old cemetery, then decided to head over to the Governor's Mansion, and return to the church later.


After touring the Governor's mansion I toured one of the remaining original colonial era homes. I toured the Brush/Everhard house which was built in 1718 by John Brush. It still has many original features. Clues to it's early wallpaper and other décor have been discovered beneath many renovations.

The second owner of this home was Thomas Everard who was mayor of Williamsburg in the 1760's.

Wattle and Daub Construction used in Timber poor England
was largely replaced by wood frame clapboard siding construction
in tree rich Virginia  
Brush/Everhard House
Surprising bright green color. This is the original color, as are the bright colors at Mt Vernon

After my house tour I walked down to the state house at the other end of the settlement. Another interesting building. I enjoyed the atmosphere and other buildings on my walk over there. It was already 2 pm at that point. If I were going to make it to the original Jamestowne site before closing I would need get a taxi over there soon. I walked back from the state house a little faster. I needed to get to the other end of the settlement in order to get a taxi easily.
Even though time was running short I stopped at Bruton Church, which was now open to the public. Another of the original colonial buildings, it was built in the early 18th Century. Early Governor Francis Fauquier is buried beneath the church. The church served as a hospital during the battle of Yorktown.
I took one more look at the Governor's Mansion vista before taking a Taxi to Jamestowne.


I admired beautiful William and Mary College on my way to Jamestowne. Really scenic view going over to Jamestowne. Beautiful homes, and landscape.
On my way over to Jamestowne I still didn't know whether I was going to the place called the settlement or the place called the historic site. I told the taxi driver the I wanted to go to the settlement. When we got there I realized I needed to go to the place called the historic site, and I rerouted the taxi driver. The mile drive to the site was through very isolated country side over a bridge crossing swampy land. I enjoyed the drive tremendously. Not hard to envision what greeted the original settlers in 1607.
I have not been able to trace any of my family back to Jamestowne. I'm still working out the origins of some of my family in Virginia. I do have a connection to James River as my Revolutionary War Veteran ancestor, Benjamin Wray, stated he was born in James River, Virginia. Not sure what he meant by that?
Benjamin Wray born in James River, Virginia?
I got to the site at around 3:30. One museum closed at 5 pm. So I viewed that one first. It was small, but so much more interesting than the Settlement museum. It had many artifacts unearthed at the site.
Artifacts from the National Parks Jamestowne Museum
The view from the bridge to the historic site is primeval. Loved the views from the bridge.
The first thing to greet you on the other side of the bridge is a Tercentennial Monument. It's an obelisk, which was erected in 1907 to commemorate the 300 anniversary of settlement.
The original 1639 tower and reconstructed nave of Jamestowne's Church

1909 Statue Of Jamestowne Governor John Smith

With time marching on I headed over to the other museum on the site. This museum contained more fantastic artifacts, and some human remains found at the site.


The pipes were interesting to see knowing how important they were to dating the site.
The pipes had names carved on them. Great clues for archeologists.


Leaving the museum it was nearly closing time. I wondered if I would be able to get phone reception to call the taxi?

Sadly I got there late in the day and they weren't digging


Last view of the swamp from the bridge on my way out
I could hear many nature sounds including frog sounds
I left just as they were locking the place up. I was able to call a taxi from this isolated. I sat out in front for about 20 minutes waiting for the taxi. I worried a little because it was getting dark. A ranger leaving asked me if I was alright? I said a taxi was coming. I was hoping. The walk out of there to the civilized world was over a mile.

I was so happy to see the English style taxi finally arrive. Below I'm heading back to the civilized world.

I arrived back at Colonial Williamsburg just in time for the Fife and drum parade. I was pretty exhausted at that point after visiting 3 sites, walking practically non stop. I rejoined the tour group for a performance at a local church. Slept well that night.

Next time, part 3,  we visit Monticello and a Richmond church.

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