Preserved–The 435-Year-Old John Rolfe Family Bible
Christine Dean, 30 year resident of Heacham, England, and I have been corresponding for the past several months, following her interesting comments that added greatly to my two-year-old blog post titled “Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe…My 11th Great Grandfather.” It seems that Christine has been gathering information about John Rolfe, Chief Powhatan, and Pocahontas for about 20 years. She recently discovered several ‘legend clues’ including an old Heacham Map of 1600 and the John Rolfe Family (1580) Geneva Bible. Susan A. Riggs, librarian, confirmed the Rolfe Family bible is in the Special Collections Research Center of the Dr. Earl Gregg Swem Library at the William & Mary College in Williamsburg, VA.
All but forgotten today, the Geneva Bible was the most widely read and influential English Bible of the 16th and 17th centuries. It was one of the Bibles taken to America on the Mayflower. Mary I was Queen of England and Ireland from 1553 until her death in 1558. Her executions of Protestants caused her opponents to give her the sobriquet “Bloody Mary.” It was her persecution that caused the Marian Exile which drove 800 English scholars to the European continent, where a number of them gathered in Geneva, Switzerland.
More on the Rolfe’s Family Contributions to Virginia
John Rolfe introduced the first commercially grown tobacco crops in Jamestown in 1609. Prior to this, the American Indians had their own local tobacco plants growing wild in their woods and used it for special pipe smoking ceremonies But, this tobacco was bitter. In 1612, John Rolfe brought and cultivated seeds from the islands of Trinidad and Orinoco on the Atlantic Ocean, where he had stopped for water and supplies. From John’s new Powhatan Indian relatives he learned better ways to dry cure and export these leaves. By 1619, tobacco had become Jamestown’s major money.
400 Years Later, Tobacco Plants Used In Emerging Medical Treatments
It is interesting that 400 years later the nicotine tobacco plant leaf is being used to develop new drugs for cancer treatments and for the ZMAPP new drug that has successfully treated some doctors and nurses from USA and the UK who caught the deadly EBOLA virus from the patients they were treating in West Africa in 2014.
Starting in August 2014, the ZMAPP drug was used to treat nine patients, first with American medical missionary doctor Kent Brantly, who recovered. Unbeknownst to Brantly, who contracted the virus doing medical work in Liberia, infectious disease researcher Gary Kobinger, of the Public Health Agency of Canada, had produced an Ebola drug called ZMAPP. But, Kobinger had only tested it successfully on monkeys. Brantly received the drug and “after two or three hours, I was actually able to get up and walk to the bathroom,” he said.
My next post picks up with last week’s follow up visit to Virginia’s former Kippax Plantation and my research efforts to support Christine in Heacham.