Back From the Future – Part 3 (With John Rolfe and Pocahontas)


I wish to thank my dear friend, retired College Lecturer, and fellow Pocahontas research enthusiast, Christine Dean, for her ongoing updates about happenings in and around her hometown of  Heacham, Norfolk, England.  From her undaunting energy and perseverance while delving into local legends about Pocahontas and John Rolfe, I am able to bring you new posts that allow us to travel back from the future and into the past based on new details and discoveries provided to me with the help of Christine in our present day.

So let’s begin Part 3 of this journey back from the future in the year 1597.  Here, we find John Rolfe, age 12, living at Heacham Hall with his mother Dorothea Mason Rolfe Redmayne, (who had been widowed in 1594 at the death of John’s father (Sir Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe), and with his stepfather,  Dr. Robert Redmayne (since his mother’s marriage to him in 1595).  Robert Redmayne had been Chancellor at Norwich Cathedral since 1588.  His chancellorship went on to span 37 years and five bishops including a family relative, Bishop William Redman (1595-1602), who chose to spell his name as it sounded. It would be only 12 years later when the U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration records would show that John Rolfe arrived in Jamestown, Virginia.  In fact, pages 15-21 of this reference include the persons aboard the Sea Venture, which left Britain in 1609 for Jamestown but was wrecked off Bermuda. And, specific names appear on pages 16 and 17, with genealogies of some of the passengers on succeeding pages.

Six years later in 1615, biographical histories have documented a visit to Heacham Hall in Norfolk County, England, by John Rolfe, his wife Pocahontas, and their infant son Thomas Rolfe.  This visit lasted nearly two years–from early June 1615 until March 1617.  Unfortunately Pocahontas died in January 1617, leaving her husband, John, a widow with their two-year-old son, Thomas.  Shortly after Pocahontas’ death, John Rolfe departed England to return to Jamestown, Virginia.  John left his son, two-year-old Thomas, in London, in the care of Sir Lewis Stukley.  Upon Sir Lew Stukley’s death in 1620, Thomas’ guardianship was transferred to John  Rolfe’s, two-years’ his junior, younger brother, Henry Rolfe, until Thomas was 21.  And in 1635, passenger and immigration records show that Thomas Powhatan Rolfe arrived in Virginia.

But Wait, Our Story in England Isn’t Yet Finished–We’re Gonna Be Talk’n ‘Trees’

The mulberry tree in the grounds of Heacham Manor (far right of building) Picture: Chris Bishop

The mulberry tree in the grounds of Heacham Manor. Picture: Chris Bishop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heacham Manor Hotel 3

Today’s luxurious Heacham Manor Hotel

A four hundred year old legend exists.  It tells of the Rolfe’s now infamous visit to Heacham Village and adds trees into the mix of our family’s history–and not branches of our ancestry tree. But, literally a living mulberry tree and its branches.  A tree that Pocahontas is said to have planted at Heacham Hall during her stay there.  And today, 400 years later, the manor and villagers say this same mulberry tree  remains and is thriving beside the Heacham Manor Hotel main entrance.  

But wait–what if this mulberry tree could talk–what might it tell us?

Palace of WhitehallPrincess Pocahontas is said to have visited Queen Anne and King James I on Twelfth Night 6th January 1617 at their Palace of Whitehall in London.  They had a garden that had nine mulberry trees and they were giving away 1000+ mulberry seeds to all their noble friends, who they encouraged to plant them to grow trees for medicine, healthy food, drink, and wine and to cultivate silkworms for spinning silk from which new shirts could be made.  So, the question remains “could the Heacham mulberry tree seeds have come from King James I’s and Queen Anne’s Buckingham Palace Gardens?”

Syon House and ParkSyon Park also in London has about 200 acres (Thames-side near Isleworth), and includes the Syon House. This estate has been owned by Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland,  and his ancestors for about 400 years. Syon House was the  home of the 9th Duke of Northumberland’s family and Earl George Percy  was a President /Governor at Jamestown in 1609-1610 and his brother ‘Wizard Earl’ alchemist expert Henry Percy.  Henry Percy remounted  Pocahontas pearl wedding earrings with  silver clasps when she visited him at the Tower of London in 1616. Syon House  has the oldest surviving mulberry tree in England dating back to 1548 and growing in the meadow where Pocahontas stayed in their two cottages close by at Brentford after she became ill in London.  Could this tree be the parent tree to the one in Heacham?

Mulberry Tree Red Lodge Country HouseAnother old mulberry tree grows on the estate of Narford Hall that is situated in the Breckland District of Norfolk County, in the garden at the  Red lodge Country House behind the wooden seat–this was the home of John Rolfe’s  stepfather’s family, the Redmayne’s.  It possibly dates back to a 1643 gift from King Charles 1.  Further, Uncle Edmund Rolfe also lived at Narford Hall with his son Henry and grandson Francis.  Princess Pocahontas’ might had picked up seeds or truncheon twigs from this tree to plant at Heacham Hall.  Princess Pocahontas probably commuted between Heacham and other England vicinities by carriages, possibly changing horses at relatives’ stables in Narford Hall.

The map of England’s Norfolk County from 1658, below, is the best I could find to try to show where the Rolfe and Redmayne farming families would have traded in their ships, horses and carriages along the yellow River Nar that flows from Kings Lynn to several major ports at Waterbeach Cambridge, Huntingdon, Peterborough, Isle of Ely, and the Royal Boston port.  The tidal water is highlighted in  grey.

Norfolk England Map 1658

Cottrell Joan

Dr. Joan Cottrell

Dr Kevn Burgess Columbus St Univ GA

Dr. Kevin Burgess

In just a few weeks, (sometime in May 2017), when the fresh mulberry leaves at the luxury country house Heacham Manor Hotel (formerly Heacham Hall) are mature enough, Dr. Joan Cottrell of the Forest Research, Northern Research Station, Roslin, Midlothian, UK, and Dr. Kevin Burgess of Columbus State University, Georgia, USA will take a six-inch branch from this tree to conduct DNA testing of it and compare it to branches from three other very old mulberry trees.  It is hoped this will lead to finding a DNA connection between the Heacham Manor Hotel’s tree and three other very old mulberry trees identified in the UK – at Buckingham Palace, Syon House in West London and Narford Hall, Swaffham, Norfolk, where it is thought Pocahontas might have visited and collected seeds from one of them.  This research could establish whether any of these three other trees are forebears of the Heacham tree–which today is still producing delectable fruit that is served on the menu at Heacham Manor.

As I understand it (in very lay persons terms), one chromosome passes from a mother tree to a child tree.  By analyzing clippings, scientists can sometimes detect a matching digital DNA barcode.  Ultimately, this process might identify and connect a species of seeds to this mulberry tree to help corroborate the story of Pocahontas’ mulberry tree planting in Heacham Village!

On This Day: April 5, 1614 – Pocahontas Marries John Rolfe


Article Details:  POCAHONTAS MARRIES JOHN ROLFE
Author:  History.com Staff
Website Name:  History.com
Year Published:  2009
Title:  Pocahontas marries John Rolfe
URL:  http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/pocahontas-marries-john-rolfe

On the 403rd Anniversary – The Story of the Marriage of My Paternal 11th Great Grandparents

Pocahontas, daughter of the chief of the Powhatan Indian confederacy, marries English tobacco planter John Rolfe in Jamestown, Virginia. The marriage ensured peace between the Jamestown settlers and the Powhatan Indians for several years.

In May 1607, about 100 English colonists settled along the James River in Virginia to found Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America. The settlers fared badly because of famine, disease, and Indian attacks, but were aided by 27-year-old English adventurer John Smith, who directed survival efforts and mapped the area. While exploring the Chickahominy River in December 1607, Smith and two colonists were captured by Powhatan warriors. At the time, the Powhatan confederacy consisted of around 30 Tidewater-area tribes led by Chief Wahunsonacock, known as Chief Powhatan to the English. Smith’s companions were killed, but he was spared and released, (according to a 1624 account by Smith) because of the dramatic intercession of Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan’s 13-year-old daughter. Her real name was Matoaka, and Pocahontas was a pet name that has been translated variously as “playful one” and “my favorite daughter.”

In 1608, Smith became president of the Jamestown colony, but the settlement continued to suffer. An accidental fire destroyed much of the town, and hunger, disease, and Indian attacks continued. During this time, Pocahontas often came to Jamestown as an emissary of her father, sometimes bearing gifts of food to help the hard-pressed settlers. She befriended the settlers and became acquainted with English ways. In 1609, Smith was injured from a fire in his gunpowder bag and was forced to return to England.

After Smith’s departure, relations with the Powhatan deteriorated and many settlers died from famine and disease in the winter of 1609-10. Jamestown was about to be abandoned by its inhabitants when Baron De La Warr (also known as Delaware) arrived in June 1610 with new supplies and rebuilt the settlement–the Delaware River and the colony of Delaware were later named after him. John Rolfe also arrived in Jamestown in 1610 and two years later cultivated the first tobacco there, introducing a successful source of livelihood that would have far-reaching importance for Virginia.

In the spring of 1613, English Captain Samuel Argall took Pocahontas hostage, hoping to use her to negotiate a permanent peace with her father. Brought to Jamestown, she was put under the custody of Sir Thomas Gates, the marshal of Virginia. Gates treated her as a guest rather than a prisoner and encouraged her to learn English customs. She converted to Christianity and was baptized Lady Rebecca. Powhatan eventually agreed to the terms for her release, but by then she had fallen in love with John Rolfe, who was about 10 years her senior. On April 5, 1614, Pocahontas and John Rolfe married with the blessing of Chief Powhatan and the governor of Virginia.

Their marriage brought a peace between the English colonists and the Powhatans, and in 1615 Pocahontas gave birth to their first child, Thomas. In 1616, the couple sailed to England. The so-called Indian Princess proved popular with the English gentry, and she was presented at the court of King James I. In March 1617, Pocahontas and Rolfe prepared to sail back to Virginia. However, the day before they were to leave, Pocahontas died, probably of smallpox, and was buried at the parish church of St. George in Gravesend, England.

John Rolfe returned to Virginia and was killed in an Indian massacre in 1622. After an education in England, their son Thomas Rolfe returned to Virginia and became a prominent citizen. John Smith returned to the New World in 1614 to explore the New England coast. On another voyage of exploration in 1614, he was captured by pirates but escaped after three months of captivity. He then returned to England, where he died in 1631.

Back From the Future – Part 2


 A Quote from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, June 2014:

Christopher Columbus never reached the shores of the North American Continent, but European explorers learned three things from him: there was someplace to go, there was a way to get there, and most importantly, there was a way to get back. Thus began the European exploration of what they referred to as the “New World”.

A Quick Recap

  • So, we left 21st Century Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in America (1607). Today, it is a living history of the 17th Century Jamestown Colony.
  • We resurrected and boarded the massive customized 300-ton English merchant sailing vessel, The Sea Venture–the same Virginia Company-owned ship that had 153 travelers and crew aboard and was to deliver the third supply to the Jamestown Colony in 1609.
  • We paused for a time to look back upon my 11th great grandfather, John Rolfe and others devastation, about 661 nautical miles short of their intended Jamestown destination.  This “tempest,” or hurricane, as we might call it today, was nearly the end of all of them.  But, they prevailed over the course of 4-days through their never-ending and tireless fight for their lives and the rescue of their ocean water-hemorrhaging ship. They finally steered the ship onto the surrounding reef to prevent its sinking then landed ashore on “Devil’s Isle.”  Bermuda, with its subtropical temperatures soon became a paradise to them and they replenished their souls and spirits.  The food, in fact, was plentiful because the island had an abundance of wild pigs, birds, and fish, tropical fruits, and even a freshwater lagoon.
  • When we last left our castaways, a year had nearly elapsed and it was springtime. Twenty-four-year-old John Rolfe’s wife, Sarah Hacker, had recently passed; his infant daughter, Bermuda, passed shortly thereafter.  Bermuda had been the first baby born there and Reverend Bucke performed the first marriage there, too. Today many go to Bermuda to marry or honeymoon.
  • I also learned that at some point before leaving Bermuda, John Rolfe may have grabbed up and secretly pocketed some tobacco seeds; possibly from an area today called Tobacco Bay on St. George’s Island, Bermuda.
  • The castaways are once again setting out to complete their voyage to Jamestown, but not before there are five separate mutiny attempts.  In general, some of the castaways questioned authority of their leaders in Bermuda and had fallen in love with the islands.  They weren’t willing to risk unknown hardships in little known Jamestown.   This time the remaining Jamestown-bound passengers and crew numbered only 138.  Eight had already left in a small boat never to be seen again; three died of natural causes; one sailor was murdered; one Indian was murdered; and one castaway, Henry Paine, was executed for sedition.  That left 138 to board the two ships they had built from salvaged steel and wood from the Sea Venture. And, these ships were named: Patience and Deliverance–How very understated yet so very appropo!
  • May 24, 1610 – Our English seafaring ancestors, headed by Sir Thomas Gates, now aboard the Patience and Deliverance, arrive at Jamestown–They find only sixty survivors of a winter famine, known as “the starving time”.

Onward to Heacham

We are journeying on, as well.  We are headed ENE, crossing further up the North Atlantic Ocean from our Bermuda latitude and longitude coordinates: 32.299507, -64.790337. Our destination once again: the time when John Rolfe’s family lived in Heacham, Norfolk, England (Latitude: 52.92 Longitude: 0.48), and where John and his father, Johannes Eustacius Rolfe, both were born–another 3,244 nautical miles.

The year is now 1585.  We have come to Heacham to learn more about John Rolfe’s family life and his early beginnings to better understand his quests.

But first, we need to learn more about the Heacham Village from which John Rolfe emerged.  Our 21st Century Heacham is a thriving village community and popular Norfolk coastal holiday resort situated three miles from Hunstanton and eight miles from Sandringham Village in Norfolk, England.  It is lit by breathtaking east coast sunsets and surrounded by glowing and aromatic purple lavender and scarlet poppy fields. Residents and visitors alike relish in Heacham’s sloping beaches and the soft rolling West Norfolk countryside, which has remained unchanged over time.  In fact, archeologists have discovered that Heacham has existed as far back as the stone age.  And that running water with fertile surrounding lands made Heacham an ideal location for early man to settle. What we know for sure is that there were inhabitants in Heacham around the 5th century when the Anglo-Saxon invaded present-day East Anglia.

lavender-and-poppy-fieldsHeacham–the home to the Rolfe family–History tells us that John Rolfe came from a farming family. For generations they farmed the land and traded on the nearby shores of the Wash.   Quite possibly, it was fields of lavender or poppies that they farmed.  Interestingly enough, Lavender is a plant rich in its own history and myth. With its roots going back to ancient herbalists, it’s properties as a disinfectant and antiseptic, lavender’s reputation grew throughout the centuries.  Lavender became known for its ability to even ward off the plague. And it’s popularity with English royalty also helped anchor it as a cosmetic herb. Queen Victoria had used it as a tonic for her nerves.

Heacham Hall before it burned down in 1941

Heacham Hall before it burned down in 1941

Sadly, Heacham Hall (the family home of the Rolfes) burned down in 1941.  My genealogical research traces the Rolfe family line back as far as 1455 when my 14th great grandfather, Robert Rolfe, also was born at Heacham Hall. But, it was October 17, 1562, when Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe, father of John Thomas Rolfe, our subject, was born there.  John Eustacius at the age of 20 married local Heacham, Dorothea (Dorothea/Dorothy) Mason on her 20th birthday, on Friday, September 24, 1582. Together they had five children in 10 years. Unfortunately, John Eustacius died two months after his 12th wedding anniversary. He was 32 at the time of his death, leaving John, age 8, and his other four siblings, with a 32 year-old widowed mother.

It is disappointing, to learn that not much more is known about John Thomas Rolfe’s childhood or education.  We do know, however, that his mother Dorothy Mason Rolfe, married a Dr. Robert Redmayne, LL.D. (Doctor of Law), on March 9, 1595, just a little over three months after John’s father’s death! Despite Robert’s preferred spelling of his last name “Redmayne,” he descends from Bishop Redman, whose family first settled in Cumberland, and then in Lancashire.  John Rolfe’s mother Dorothy, his stepfather, Robert Redmayne, and his father, John Eustacius Rolfe, are all buried in Heacham at Saint Mary the Virgin’s Church.

So, we can safely assume that John Rolfe’s skill, farming interests, and former family status in Heacham are likely the bases for his drive and desire to create a marketable crop in Jamestown.

We also know that John Rolfe, his wife Pocahontas and two-month-old son, Thomas departed Jamestown in the spring 1615 for Heacham, Norwich, England, to visit his mother now Lady Dorothea (Dorothea/Dorothy) Mason Rolfe Redmayne.

Much more history in John Rolfe’s life continues . . .

 

 

John Rolfe – Just One of My Family’s Immigrants . . .


The Early Modern Period

John Rolfe Painting 1850Over the next twenty-eight days, we will be revisiting my 11th paternal great grandfather’s story once again.  It is a story that dates back to 1585–the 585th year of the 2nd millennium, the 85th year of the 16th century, and the 6th year of the 1580s decade.  Although much has been written about John Thomas Rolfe and especially his third wife, Powhatan Princess Pocahontas, there’s still new stories and insights unfolding in our 21st century–some 400+ years later.  And, yes, he was probably among a handful of my ancestors who were among America’s first immigrants!

To put his story into greater context, Great grandfather Rolfe, in the 16th century would probably have stood only about 5’ 7” and the women of his day, just 5 feet.  From a worldwide perspective, historians say “The Early Modern Period” (in which John Rolfe was born and lived for 37 years), can best be defined by its globalizing character; i.e., the new explorations and colonizations of the Americas and the rise of new and enduring commerce between previously isolated parts of the world.  To have become a prominent figure of the times, most likely required more drive and early maturity than our 21st century youth could possibly fathom.  After all, man’s average lifespan in the 16th century was a mere 47 years–compared to today’s 74-80 years.  Many people were stricken with smallpox, measles, malaria, scarlet fever, and chickenpox due to poor sanitation and died even younger than 47.  

Greater Understanding and Appreciation

Quite honestly, until my more recent research with a fellow history enthusiast (who just happens to live in John Rolfe’s family’s hometown of Heacham, England), I really didn’t truly understand or appreciate his life in the early modern period or the extensive role this small statured young man played in England’s colonizing America and saving the people of Jamestown with his entrepreneurship and his marriage to Native American Princess Pocahontas.

This is just day one of the next 27 where we will delve more deeply into the adventure and entrepreneurship of John Rolfe (1585-1622).

John Rolfe Letter to Governor Thomas Dale, 1614


marriage-of-john-rolfe-and-pocahontas

Wedding of John Rolfe and Princess Pocahontas,  April 5, 1614

Continuing to further document and understand the lives of our earliest ancestors – emigrants from England to Jamestown, Virginia, I have included below, the 1614 letter  (transcribed and updated to today’s word usage and spellings by me–I made no changes to word choices or punctuation and kept present day English spellings).  My  11th great-grandfather, John Rolfe, (English Explorer), penned this letter to Sir Thomas Dale, then Governor of the Jamestown Colony.  In this deeply moving and revealing letter, John Rolfe asks permission to marry Princess Pocahontas, daughter of Indian Chief Powhatan, who presided over the Powhatan Empire until his death in 1618. If you would like to see the online letter with 400 year-old English words and spellings, please visit  “Virtual Jamestown’s” site .

Honourable Sir, and most worthy Governor:

When your leisure shall best serve you to peruse these lines, I trust in God, the beginning will not strike you into a greater admiration, than the end will give you good content. It is a matter of no small moment, concerning my own particular, which here I impart unto you, and which toucheth me so dearly, as the tenderness of my salvation. Howbeit I freely subject myself to your grave and mature judgment, deliberation, approbation, and determination; assuring myself of your zealous admonitions, and godly comforts, either persuading me to desist, or encouraging me to persist therein, with a religious and godly care, for which (from the very instant, that this began to root itself within the secret bosom of my breast) my daily and earnest prayers have been, still are, and ever shall be produced forth with as sincere a godly zeal as I possibly may to be directed, aided and governed in all my thoughts, words, and deeds, to the glory of God, and for my eternal consolation. To persevere wherein I never had more need, nor (til now) could ever imagine to have been moved with the like occasion.

But (my case standing as it doth) what better worldly refuge can I here seek, then to shelter myself under the safety of your favourable protection? And did not my ease proceed from an unspotted conscience, I should not dare to offer to your view and approved judgement, these passions of my troubled soul, so full of fear and trembling in hypocrisy and dissimulation. But knowing my own innocence and godly fervor, in the whole prosecution hereof, I doubt not of your benign acceptance, and clement construction. As for malicious depravers, and turbulent spirits, to whom nothing is tasteful but what pleaseth their unsavory palate, I pass not for them being well assured in my persuasion (by the often trial and proving of myself, in my holiest meditations and prayers) that I am called hereunto by the spirit of God; and it shall be sufficient for me to be protected by yourself in all virtuous and pious endeavours. And for my more happy proceeding herein, my daily oblations shall ever be addressed to bring to pass so good effects, that yourself, and all the world may truly say: This is the work of God, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

But to avoid tedious preambles, and to come nearer the matter: first suffer me with your patience, to sweep and make clean the way wherein I walk, from all suspicions and doubts, which may be covered therein, and faithfully to reveal unto you, what should move me hereunto.

Let therefore this my well advised protestation, which here I make between God and my own conscience, be a sufficient witness, at the dreadful day of judgment (when the secret of all men’s hearts shall be opened) to condemn me herein, if my chief intent and purpose be not, to strive with all my power of body and mind, in the undertaking of so mighty a matter, no way led (so far forth as man’s weakness may permit) with the unbridled desire of carnal affection: but for the good of this plantation, for the honour of our country, for the glory of God, for my own salvation, and for the converting to the true knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, an unbelieving creature, namely Pocahontas. To whom my hearty and best thoughts are, and have a long time been so entangled, and enthralled in so intricate a labyrinth, that I was even wearied to unwind myself thereout. But almighty God, who never faileth his, that truly invocate his holy name hath opened the gate, and led me by the hand that I might plainly see and discern the safe paths wherein to trade.

To you therefore (most noble Sir) the patron and Father of us in this country do I utter the effects of this settled and long continued affection (which hath made a mighty war in my meditations) and here I do truly relate, to what issue this dangerous combat is come unto, wherein I have not only examined, but thoroughly tried and pared my thoughts even to the quick, before I could end and fit wholesome and apt applications to cure so dangerous an ulcer. I never failed to offer my daily and faithful prayers to God, for his sacred and holy assistance. I forgot not to set before mine eyes the frailty of mankind, his prones to evil, his indulgence of wicked thoughts, with many other imperfections wherein man is daily ensnared, and oftentimes overthrown, and them compared to my present estate. Nor was I ignorant of the heavy displeasure which almighty God conceived against the sons of Levi and Israel for marrying strange wives, nor of the inconveniences which may thereby arise, with other the like good motions which made me look about warily and with good circumspection, into the grounds and principal agitations, which thus should provoke me to be in love with one whose education hath been rude, her manners barbarous, her generation accursed, and so discrepant in all nature from myself, that oftentimes with fear and trembling, I have ended my private controversy with this: surely these are wicked instigations, hatched by him who seeketh and delighteth in man’s destruction; and so with fervent prayers to be ever preserved from such diabolical assaults (as I took those to be) I have taken some rest.

Thus, when I had thought I had obtained my peace and quietness, behold another, but more gracious temptation hath made breaches into my holiest and strongest meditations; with which I have been put to a new trial, in a straighter manner then the former: for besides the many passions and sufferings which I have daily, hourly, yea and in my sleep endured, even awaking me to astonishment, taxing me with remissness, and carelessness, refusing and neglecting to perform the duty of a good Christian, pulling me by the ear, and crying: why dost not thou endeavour to make her a Christian? And these have happened to my greater wonder, when she hath been furthest separated from me, which in common reason (were it not an undoubted work of God) might breed forgetfulness of a far more worthy creature. Besides, I say the holy spirit of God often demanded of me, why I was created?

If not for transitory pleasures and worldly vanities, but to labour in the Lord’s vineyard, there to sow and plant, to nourish and increase the fruits thereof, daily adding with the good husband in the Gospel, somewhat to the talent, that in the end the fruits may be reaped, to the comfort of the laborer in this life, and his salvation in the world to come? And if this be, as undoubtedly this is, the service Jesus Christ requireth of his best servant: who unto him that hath these instruments of piety put into his hands and wilfully despiseth to work with them. Likewise, adding hereunto her great appearance of love to me, her desire to be taught and instructed in the knowledge of God, her capableness of understanding, her aptness and willingness to receive any good impression, and also the spiritual, besides her own incitements stirring me up hereunto.

What should I do? Shall I be of so untoward a disposition, as to refuse to lead the blind into the right way? Shall I be so unnatural, as not to give bread to the hungry or uncharitable, as not to cover the naked? Shall I despise to actuate these pious duties of a Christian? Shall the base fear of displeasing the world, overpower and withhold me from revealing unto man these spiritual works of the Lord, which in my meditations and prayers, I have daily made known unto him? God forbid. I assuredly trust He hath thus dealt with me for my eternal felicity, and for his glory; and I hope so to be guided by his heavenly grace, that in the end by my faithful pains, and christian-like labour, I shall attain to that blessed promise pronounced by that holy Prophet Daniel unto the righteous that bring many unto the knowledge of God. Namely, that they shall shine like the stars forever and ever. A sweeter comfort cannot be to a true Christian, nor a greater encouragement for him to labour all the days of his life, in the performance thereof, nor a greater gain of consolation, to be desired at the hour of death, and in the day of judgment.

Again by my reading, and conference with honest and religious persons, have I received no small encouragement, besides serena meaconscientia, the clearness of my conscience, clean from the filth of impurity, quo est instar muri chennai, which is unto me, as a brasen wall. If I should set down at large, the prohibitions and godly motions, which have striven within me, I should but make a tedious and unnecessary volume. But I doubt not these shall be sufficient both to certify you of my true intents, in discharging of my duty to God, and to yourself, to whose gracious providence I humbly submit myself, for his glory, your honour, our Country’s good, the benefit of this Plantation, and for the converting of one unregenerate, to regeneration; which I beseech God to grant, for his dear Son Christ Jesus his sake.

Now if the vulgar sort, who square all men’s actions by the base rule of their own filthiness, shall tax or taunt me in this my godly labour: let them know, it is not any hungry appetite, to gorge myself with incontinency; sure (if I would, and were so sensually inclined) I might satisfy such desire, though not without a seared conscience, yet with Christians more pleasing to the eye, and less fearful in the offense unlawfully committed. Nor am I in so desperate a state, that I regard not what becometh of me; nor am I out of hope but one day to see my Country, nor so void of friends, nor mean in birth, but there to obtain a match to my great content: nor have I ignorantly passed over my hopes there, or regardlessly seek to loose the love of my friends, by taking this course: I know them all, and have not rashly overstepped any.

But shall it please God thus to dispose of me (which I earnestly desire to fulfill my ends before set down) I will heartedly accept of it as a godly tax appointed me, and I will never cease, (God assisting me) until I have accomplished, and brought to perfection so holy a work, in which I will daily pray God to bless me, to mine, and her eternal happiness. And thus desiring no longer to live, to enjoy the blessings of God, then this my resolution doth tend to such Godly ends, as are by me before declared: not doubting of your favourable acceptance, I take my leave, beseeching Almighty God to rain down upon you, such plenitude of his heavenly graces, as your heart can wish and desire, and so I rest,

At your command most willing to be disposed of,

John Rolfe


Source:

Jameson, J, Franldin. Narratives of Early Virginia. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1907. (237-244)

America’s First Entrepreneur


Indian Princess Pocahontas and Husband, Captain John Rolfe

In today’s world, there still remains much curiosity and interest in the 17th century relationship between Indian Princess Pocahontas and Captain John Rolfe. It was John Rolfe’s courage, persistence, and relationships that helped change our world. Christine, my friend who lives in Heacham, England, reached out to me about two years ago regarding Pocahontas, John Rolfe, and the Rolfe family of England and Virginia. Since then, we have been comparing notes,documentation,relics, landmarks, and even new projects in Heacham, Jamestown, and Kippax to further honor and share information about this couple’s world,their lifestyles, and legacies.

Not only does Christine live in Heacham which has historic ties to Pocahontas (who married my paternal 11th great grandfather, John Thomas Rolfe, on April 5, 1614, in Jamestown, Virginia–the first inter-racial marriage approved by Virginia’s Governor John Dale and Chief Powhatan, Pocahontas’ father), but Christine also attends the 13th Century-built Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, where the Rolfe Family lived and worshipped. John Thomas Rolfe took his wife, Rebecca (Pocahontas),and their two-year-old son, Thomas, back to England to visit his family at Heacham Hall in 1616. They settled in Brentford. A year later, when John was preparing to return with Pocahontas to Virginia, Pocahontas became ill and died in Gravesend. She was laid to rest at St George’s parish churchyard. After Pocahontas’ death, John returned to Virginia with Tocomoco a priest-counselor to Pocahontas’ father, Chief Powhatan, who also was married to Pocahontas’ half sister, Matachanna. Samuel Argall (adventurer, naval officer, and employee of the Virginia Company), commanded the ship. John’s son, Thomas, was guarded by Lewis Stukeley and later adopted by John’s brother, Henry. John married Jane Pierce two years later. They soon had a daughter named Elizabeth. It’s believe that John lost his life in the 1622 Native American massacre near Jamestown. The Rolfe family home, Heacham Hall, burned down in 1941.

John Rolfe:  America’s First Entrepreneur

And today’s post is titled after the book “America’s First Entrepreneur,” authored by John L. Rolfe (a probable 20th generation descendant of his namesake). Here’s what the author has to say about his 2011 book America’s First Entrepreneur:

The exciting and inspiring epic adventure of America’s First Entrepreneur. A humble and astute English farmer has a vision of entrepreneurial success across the ocean in Virginia, he embarks on an epic adventure with his pregnant wife, he endures the storm of the century, the hurricane which inspired William Shakespeare to write “The Tempest,” he survives the wreck of the “Sea Venture” and is marooned on a deserted island for almost ten months when other survivors mutiny and murder, his wife gives birth to their baby on the deserted island and then the baby dies, he arrives in Jamestown to find Hell on Earth, English Cannibalism, and starvation, his English wife dies, he persists with his entrepreneurial vision and tastes success, his cash crop saves the Virginia colony financially, he converts an Indian princess to Christianity and marries her in a royal wedding, the first interracial church marriage in the Americas, his marriage saves the Virginia colony politically, and he and his Indian princess wife take a promotional tour to London as celebrities, all in just seven years. But for the contributions of America’s First Entrepreneur, the Virginia colony would have failed and the French, Spanish, and Dutch, rather than the English, would have colonized not only New Mexico, California, Florida, Canada, Delaware, and New York, but most of what is now the United States. In a very real sense, America’s First Entrepreneur is responsible for the United States being an English speaking nation, for our English common law, and for our English cultural heritage of representative government and religious freedom on which the United States of America was founded. America’s First Entrepreneur’s cash crop becomes the chief export from America for the next 150 years, and is still successful after 400 years with multi-billion dollar sales year in and year out. America’s First Entrepreneur illustrates all the important time-tested principles of entrepreneurship. America’s first entrepreneur was wildly successful within seven years using these principles after a series of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Purchasing Information

I’ve ordered my copy of this book to save to my ever-growing library.  Here’s the ordering information if you’re also interested:  http://www.bookdepository.com/Americas-First-Entrepreneur-John-Rolfe/9781467950817.

Christine also has kept me abreast of the newest DVD’s development and notified me that it was recently released by the Christian Broadcasting Network in Europe (CBNEurope.com).  Here is the the link to DOVE OF PEACE DVD online purchase page at CBN 700 Club at Jamestown.

https://www.cbn.com/special/pocahontas/pocahontas.aspx

Salty as the Sea–Sweet as Wine–Another Story from Jamestown


Back to Jamestown and Unearthing Yet Another Notable Ancestor

Because of my ancient Bolling family lineage, I have long been following anything and everything published related to Pocahontas, her marriage to Thomas Rolfe, their cultural and genealogical histories in England and Virginia.  Among the vast resources available, I also have followed the archaeological endeavors of Dr. William Kelso, director of archaeology on the Jamestown Rediscovery Project, at the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities ( APVA )–now known as Preservation Virginia.

In recent weeks. Dr. Kelso unearthed the remains of Captain Gabriel Archer, in the old church yard in Jamestown, along with three other leaders of the colony.  When I checked my ever-growing ancestral tree I saw that Captain Archer is yet another relative of mine related to me by a 2nd cousin several generations removed.  My intention was to write a post about Dr. Kelso’s recent discovery and detail Captain Archer’s life cut short in Jamestown. However, valuable information is already readily available and I see no need for me to “reinvent the wheel,”  so I am sharing a video, Gabriel Archer’s time line, and excerpts from an article by Patrick G. Duffeler, Owner and Chairman of Williamsburg Winery, who shares his connection to Captain Gabriel Archer.

The Video that Details the July 2015 Archaeological Find by Dr. Kelso and Crew (3:59):

1Time Line

  • ca. 1574 – Gabriel Archer is born in Mountnessing, Essex County, England.
  • ca. 1591 – Gabriel Archer matriculated at Saint John’s College, Cambridge University.
  • March 15, 1593 – Gabriel Archer begins studies at Gray’s Inn.
  • March 26, 1602 – An English colonizing expedition, led by Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, departs Falmouth on the ship Concord. Twenty colonists and a dozen crewmembers are aboard.
  • May 14, 1602 – The English ship Concord, commanded by Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, anchors off a peninsula that Gosnold names Cape Cod. He later names Martha’s Vineyard for his late daughter, before establishing a small colony on Cuttyhunk Island.
  • June 18, 1602 – The English ship Concord, commanded by Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, sails to England after its exploration of the New England coast.
  • Late 1606 – Gabriel Archer enrolls in the Virginia Company of London’s expedition to establish a colony in what is known as South Virginia.
  • April 26, 1607 – Jamestown colonists first drop anchor in the Chesapeake Bay, and after a brief skirmish with local Indians, begin to explore the James River.
  • May 13, 1607 – The Jamestown colonists select a marshy peninsula fifty miles up the James River on which to establish their settlement.
  • May 26, 1607 – While Christopher Newport and a party of colonists explore the James River, an alliance of five Algonquian-speaking Indian groups—the Quiyoughcohannocks, the Weyanocks, the Appamattucks, the Paspaheghs, and the Chiskiacks—attacks Jamestown, wounding ten and killing two.
  • May 28, 1607 – After an Indian attack, the settlers at Jamestown begin building a fort.
  • June 10, 1607 – Finally released from arrest, John Smith takes his seat as a member of the Council.
  • June 15, 1607 – English colonists complete construction of James Fort at Jamestown.
  • June 22, 1607 – Christopher Newport departs from Jamestown for England, carrying a letter to the Virginia Company of London that exaggerates the Virginia colony’s commercial possibilities.
  • September 10, 1607 – Council members John Ratcliffe, John Smith, and John Martin oust Edward Maria Wingfield as president, replacing him with Ratcliffe. By the end of the month, half of Jamestown’s 104 men and boys are dead, mostly from sickness.
  • January 2, 1608 – John Smith returns to Jamestown after being held captive by Powhatan. Only thirty-eight colonists survive, Smith’s seat on the Council is occupied by Gabriel Archer, and the Council accuses Smith of killing his companions. Smith is sentenced to hang, but charges are dropped when Christopher Newport arrives with the first supplies from England.
  • April 10, 1608 – Aboard the John and Francis, Christopher Newport leaves Jamestown for England. Among those with him are Gabriel Archer, Edward Maria Wingfield, and the Indian Namontack.
  • Summer 1608 – While in England, Gabriel Archer probably supplies the Virginia Company with copies of his reports of the colony at Jamestown.
  • August 11, 1609 – Four ships reach Jamestown from England: Unity, Lion, Blessing, and Falcon. Two others are en route; two more wrecked in a storm; and one, Sea Venture, was cast up on the Bermuda islands’ shoals.
  • August 31, 1609 – In his last surviving letter, Gabriel Archer describes his most recent voyage to Virginia and attacks the leadership of John Smith.
  • October 1609 – John Smith leaves Virginia. The Jamestown colony’s new leadership is less competent, and the Starving Time follows that winter.
  • November 1609 – Powhatan Indians lay siege to Jamestown, denying colonists access to outside food sources. The Starving Time begins, and by spring 160 colonists, or about 75 percent of Jamestown’s population, will be dead from hunger and disease. This action begins the First Anglo-Powhatan War (1609–1614).
  • Winter 1609–1610 – Gabriel Archer dies on an unrecorded date during the Starving Time at Jamestown.
  • 1625 – Samuel Purchas publishes Gabriel Archer’s account of Bartholomew Gosnold’s New England expedition of 1602 

Gabriel Archer Celebrated by Patrick G. Duffeler, Founder and Chairman, Williamsburg Winery – August 7, 2015:

Williamsburg Winery

Captain Gabriel Archer was born in 1575 and grew up in Mountnessing, Essex, about 25 miles from London. He attended Cambridge University and then Grays Inn, where he studied law. Archer had been part of an expedition in 1602 on the coast of “Northern Virginia”, what would later be called New England. He had written a then widely read account of that trip. He had been an enthusiastic proponent of the Virginia Colony and had been named co-captain of the Godspeed, the lead ship of three vessels that brought the men that founded the first permanent settlement in the New World in 1607. They were establishing a colony for the Virginia Company, a private venture under a Royal Charter.

Archer wanted to locate the settlement at the mouth of a creek, on a piece of land that he intended to name Archer’s Hope. “Hope” in the words of the period referred to an “opening or hollow amongst hills”.  However, Captain John Smith, overruled Archer and placed the settlement instead on “Jamestowne” Island.  The creek became known as Archer’s Hope Creek and later, College Creek, (as it finds its source behind the College of William & Mary that was chartered in 1693).

Subsequently, Archer was named as the first secretary of the colony but initially was not appointed to the governing council. He was a fierce critic of Captain John Smith and other leaders and was one of the principles involved in deposing the first president of the colony, Edward Maria Wingfield.

After Smith was sent home a few months later, Archer was one of the most important of the leaders remaining.  He returned to England in 1608 and sailed back again to Virginia a year later with the fleet that was damaged and scattered by a major hurricane in the Atlantic. He was on one of the ships that survived the crossing and arrived at Jamestown in August 1609. He died in 1609 or 1610 during the terrible Winter known as “The Starving Time”.  His burial within the church’s chancel demonstrates that his status was recognized among the settlers even during a time of great stress. He was only 35.

About 400 Years Later…

I was raised with an appreciation for history.  Our historical research had led my wife, Peggy, and I, to talk to many historians and archeologists, and we discovered the treasures of the land and its chronicle from 1607 to the twentieth century. But, in January 1982,  when we first walked on that acreage where Captain Gabriel Archer had recommended the colonists settle, it was bitterly cold. Yet, the farm grounds were beautiful and inspiring. After many visits to other farms, we decided to acquire what we later, after considerable historical research, would find was not just Jockey’s Neck Farm, as it was then called, but Archer’s Hope. In the meantime, we had named our project, our farm, Wessex Hundred…from our family’s early origins…

Wessex Hundred became home to the Williamsburg Winery in 1987 and later to its diverse operations:
Wedmore Place, a 28 room country hotel, the Café Provencal, a fine dining restaurant; and, right across from the winery itself, the Gabriel Archer Tavern, a farm-to-fork, informal, dining establishment opened in ’87 with the focus on “Delicious Simplicity”.

Gabriel Archer and his preference to place the first settlement on our farm loomed large and was, in many respects, inspiring.  So much so, in fact, that Peggy and I deeded the land that would have been “Archer’s Hope” (and can now be seen from the Colonial Parkway, a roadway between Williamsburg and Yorktown) into Conservation Easement.  We chose not to build on that land to protect the historical vista.  This site is now identified by a state historic highway marker.



In 1991, we decided to name our first “reserve” wine, a red blend of different Vinifera varietals, the “Gabriel Archer Reserve”. Descendants of Gabriel Archer living in Richmond, VA contacted us and expressed an interest in our activities both in the sense of their interest in wines, but more importantly about our research on the history of our farm.

The wine became the flagship of our product range.  Friends of the winery have written to us about how well the ’93 vintage has aged and bested some top Bordeaux first growth wines in tastings. The most recent news was that the Gabriel Archer Reserve received wonderful ratings by none other than Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Both the 2009 and 2010 received a 90 point rating.
Almost 25 years after the first vintage of the Gabriel Archer Reserve, the history of the man has come to life in a bright light.

 

Cheers to Gabriel Archer
Enjoy Life,

Patrick G. Duffeler
Founder & Chairman

 


1Quinn, D. B., the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Gabriel Archer
(ca. 1574–ca. 1610). (2015, August 10). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Archer_Gabriel_ca_1574-ca_1610.

Tobacco Warning From 17th Century (1606)


Smokers in an Inn (1650) by Mattheus van Helmont

Smokers in an Inn (1650) by Mattheus van Helmont

I find it awesomely amusing and astonishingly amazing that we as a world of people ignore history, despite evidence that had we heeded its details, we could have avoided much pain, suffering, and loss.  And, I say this, despite my lineage back to Pocahontas and her husband, John Thomas Rolfe through the marriage of their granddaughter, Jane Poythress Rolfe to Colonel Robert Bolling, my 9th great grandfather.

You see, it was John Rolfe (1585-1622) who emigrated in 1610 from England and settled in Henrico County, Virginia.  In 1612 he imported tobacco seeds from Trinidad and cultivated a new strain of mild tobacco.  He shipped part of his harvest to England in 1614, and by 1619, tobacco had become Virginia’s major money crop.

Yet, is was in 1606 that Dr Eleazar Duncon ‘s published letter revealed to medical professionals of his concerns about tobacco smoking affirmed that there were similar concerns about the issue that date back four centuries.

The following is the article as it appeared in BBC News| UK|Scotland on Saturday, September 19, 2009:

BBC News Header

Letter written by Dr Duncon

Letter written by Dr. Duncon

Doctors in the 17th Century were worried about the dangers of young people smoking, a recently unearthed letter has revealed.

The letter, written in 1606 by Dr Eleazar Duncon, said tobacco was “hurtful” to the nation’s youth.

It was found by library staff at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE).

The Scottish Parliament will this week debate new proposals to curb tobacco and cigarette sales to youngsters.

Dr Duncon’s letter reveals medical professionals were similarly concerned about the issue four centuries ago.

‘Fascinating insight’

The letter, which was published at the time by Dr Duncon’s employer, concluded that tobacco “is so hurtful and dangerous to youth that it might have the pernicious nature expressed in the name, and that it were as well known by the name of Youths-bane as by the name of tobacco”.

Professor Sir Neil Douglas, the president of the RCPE, said it gave a “fascinating insight into historical concerns” about smoking and young people.

It would be easy for politicians to think that the problems associated with tobacco have been dealt with
Professor Sir Neil Douglas
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

He added: “This letter from our library collection provides a fascinating insight into historical medical concerns about the addictive nature of smoking and young people, and shows that this issue has been of concern for over four centuries.

“The Scottish Parliament has already taken a political lead, and demonstrated its commitment to tackling the harm caused by tobacco, by introducing smoke-free legislation for public places.

“However, it would be easy for politicians to think that the problems associated with tobacco have been dealt with and to lose sight of the fact that the proposed bill includes critically important measures aimed at reducing smoking in young people.”

The professor urged MSPs of all parties to take the “historic opportunity” to back the proposed bill, which would end point of sale advertising and tobacco vending machines, which he said encouraged and influenced young people to smoke.

If it is passed by Holyrood, the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill would also introduce a registration system for tobacco retailers.

MSPs (Members of Scottish Parliament), on the health and sport committee have also urged the government to include a provision in the proposed legislation that would make it a criminal act for adults to buy tobacco for under-age youngsters.

Revisiting–Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe…My 11th Great Grandfather – Part Two


John and Pocahontas in Kippax: England and Virginia

Kippax Village England John Rolfe Painting 1850This post picks up on my blog Revisiting–Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe…My 11th Great Grandfather, dated May 6, 2015, and my efforts to expand and support Christine Dean’s (history enthusiast), work in Heacham-Norfolk, England–the Rolfe family’s hometown.  For the past 20 years she has been researching the Rolfe’s, Chief Powhatan, and Pocahontas. We first exchanged information when Chris commented in September 2014 on my post  Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe…My 11th Great Grandfather, dated May 19, 2013; and today we continue to discuss our shared interests of history and genealogy. In recent months, we have been comparing notes from the myths of the Pocahontas mulberry tree on ancient Heacham grounds, and the tree on Robert Bolling’s 17th Century Kippax Plantation in Hopewell, Virginia.

Today's Heacham Manor Hotel

Today’s Heacham Manor Hotel

Heacham Hall Heacham Hall in Heacham, Norfolk, England was home to John Rolfe’s family.  His father, John, had died when he was 9 and his mother, Dorothea Mason next married Dr. Robert Redmayne who became Mayor of Kings Lynn and Chancellor of the Diocese of Norwich. The Rolfe’s were gentlemen farmers, not nobility. They were prosperous but not wealthy like other Norfolk families, hence the attraction of the potential opportunities of the New World to John.  It was here in 1616 where John brought Pocahontas and their young son, Thomas, to visit his family. Pocahontas’ Gift of the Mulberry Tree It was during this trip that Pocahontas is said to have gifted the now infamous mulberry tree to the Rolfe family.  She may have brought it from Virginia where the black Mulberry trees grew wild or, she may have gotten it from the gardens of Syon Park where they also grew in what is now the world famous Kew Gardens. (It was King James who encouraged the planting of mulberry trees as part of his efforts to establish the silk trade in England.) However, today’s Heacham Manor Hotel (the restored 17th century manor house) continues to keep alive a legend that this same gifted now 400-year-old mulberry tree lives on its grounds and still produces mulberry fruit from which they make their “Mulberry Royale” Champagne Cocktail for their guests to enjoy:Heacham Mulberry Tree Mulberry Tree RemainsYet, Esmeralda Weatherwax on her New English Review web page reported that in 2009 the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk shared with her this picture of the fossilized remains of the Mulberry tree that Pocahontas gifted to the Rolfe’s 400 years ago. She says it is in an area of Heacham, but this area is not generally accessible to the public. [In a comment to this post today, Chris Dean stated that Oxford’s expert  dendrochronologists  said that this tree has the wrong bark markings, wood colors, is not a mulberry tree, and the diameter bole was too small to be a 400 year old tree.  So, perhaps the Hecham Manor Hotel may turn out to be the real tree??]

Kippax Plantation, Virginia

Kippax Plantation-Library of Congress 1864

circa 1864 Kippax Plantation (image from Library of Congress).

In Lauranett Lee’s 2008 book Making the American Dream Work… “Kippax was one of the first English settlements in Colonial Virginia.  It was identified as a hub of cultural interaction and economic trade between Quiyoughcohannock Indians, Africans, and Europeans. As emigrants from Heacham, Lincolnshire, England, Robert (16), and his brother Drury Bolling, first settled at Kippax Plantation, which led to a long line of Bolling’s and their relatives, the Bland’s and Poythress’s occupying the property up to 1866. According to the Hope News newspapers from the past, this residence burnt down in 1879. From 1867 until 1895 the property laid fallow.  New owners then built a two-story farmhouse. In 1917, Heretick family members resided on the nearly 10 acre parcel until their deaths in 2004/5.

Kippax Hickory Tree

Kippax Hickory Tree

Kippax Tree Plaques

Kippax Tree Plaques

It wasn’t until 1946 that The National Society of 17th Century Colonial Dames and the Virginia Conservation Commission laid three plaques at the front of the property at 1001 Bland Avenue in Hopewell (the former City Point, Virginia) and part of the parcel formerly known as Kippax Plantation.  This would leave me to believe that the myth of the Pocahontas-gifted mulberry tree in England has nothing to do with the tree that was planted in Hopewell.

Thomas Rolfe-Son of Pocahontas

Near Here Lies Thomas Rolfe-Son of Pocahontas-1615-1680

17th Century Colonial Dames Plaque

17th Century Colonial Dames Plaque

045

Near Here Lies Jane Rolfe Bolling- Daughter of Thomas Rolfe-Died 1676

However, what do we know about the tree that stands over the three plaques?  Chris and I had seen only online pictures of the plaques and only the base of the tree which stood above them.  We wanted to confirm when and where this tree came from and whether there was any legend surrounding this tree, too. So, on Thursday, April 30, 2015, after the wintry days had subsided, my husband Bob and I, with our dogs in tow, trucked 2-1/2 hours from Southern Maryland to Southeast Virginia and the City of Hopewell, in search of the Kippax Plantation, and the headstone-like plaques of Thomas Rolfe and his daughter, Jane Rolfe Bolling (granddaughter of Pocahontas). Map of Hopewell-2015We were very disappointed when we arrived.  If we hadn’t had GPS and a street address we never would have found the memorial plaques. Subdivsions now surround the property that once nearly 10 acres and known as Kippax Plantation.  The names of the streets helped keep us motivated along the way. To the right appears a 2015 street level map of the Hopewell Area. . As you can see, family names and references to earlier geography remain quite prevalent; e.g., Bolling Dr, Kippax Dr., Pocahontas and Rolfe Lns., and Heretick Ave. Transcriptions of newspaper articles of times past  also appear at the end of this post.  See especially the “eyewitness account” in the July 23, 1943 Hope News, that discusses the disinterment of Robert Bolling’s remains to Blandford Church Cemetery, and the remains of Thomas Rolfe and his daughter, Jane Rolfe Bolling, granddaughter of Pochahontas.

Tree Leaves on Plaque

Tree Leaves on Plaque

I quickly took a few pictures of the grounds and the tree and sent them to my grandson, Justin, who is knowledgeable about various types of trees. From these pictures, he quickly identified it as a hickory tree. According to dictionary.com, the origin of the word Hickory  dates back to the 1670’s, American English, from the Native American tribes (probably Powhatan); it was a shortened version of  pockerchicory or a similar name for this species of walnut.

Estimating the Height of this tree

Estimating the Height of this tree

Tree Trunk with growth on it

Tree Trunk with growth on it

When I researched how to estimate the age of a tree, I found that you can compare its height to heights of other objects or structures that you know. E.g., my husband is 5’11” tall. He was near the tree in the original photo I took. Since I could stack about 7 images of him from bottom to near the top, (71″ x 7[height x 7 images] / 12″[one foot] = my estimate shows that this tree is just about 42′ tall. USDA also provided me with the planting zone map for the area (7a), and this told me that trees grow about 2 feet per year in this zone. Two of the prevalent species in the area are Shagbark and Pignut Hickories.  Shagbark Hickory trees can grow to 150 feet at maturity; while Pignut Hickories mature at 50 to 65 feet.  Given all these computations, I would deduce that this tree is probably only 25 or so years old; i.e., planted sometime around 1990.  Perhaps, to add a clearer marking and/or protection for the plaques? In or around this period (1980-1995),The Center for Archaeological Research at The College of William and Mary, Historic Hopewell Foundation, Inc., The City of Hopewell, The Virginia Foundation for Humanities and Public Policy, and private sponsor Myra Birchett Butterworth funded a study of the Kippax Plantation .  Donald W. Linebaugh, of William and Mary, was then Co-Director of an interdisciplinary project that brought together historians, archaeologists, and architectural historians to research the evolution of Kippax’s social, economic, and political ties.  Following our recent visit to Kippax, I contacted Dr. Linebaugh who is now director of The Program for Historic Preservation at the University of Maryland to see if he had any knowledge about the tree or the plaques under it.  He very cordially shared with me a copy of his 1995 report “Kippax Plantation: Traders, Merchants, and Planters–An Exhibit Celebrating the Families of Pocahontas.” He also added that he has a book forthcoming.  I can hardly wait until it is available. While I couldn’t discover the whole story about the memorial plaques and tree at Kippax, I hope you will enjoy reading about this research and adventure.   Hopewell News Header 1939 Article from: The Hopewell News —– Friday, January 27, 1939 ABOUT THE ROLFES The unmarked graves of Jane Rolfe and her father, Thomas Rolfe, the only son of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, were visited recently by Thomas Leonard, staff member Of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration of Virginia. On an old estate, Kippax, in Prince George County, only a few crumbling pieces of stone and a slight depression in the ground mark the spot. Col. Robert Bolling (1646-1709), married Jane Rolfe. Through their one son, Major John Bolling (1675-1949), they established the prolific line that claims descent from Pocahontas.

Hopewell News Header 7-23-1943

Volume XVII, No.466 – Friday July 23, 1943

Kippax is Historic Landmark

By Thomas B. Robertson

Kippax, or Farmingdale, which was the home of Col. Robert Bolling, the first of the family to settle here, was situated on the Old City Point-Petersburg stage road, about one mile east of Cedar Level. Col. Bolling married Jane Rolfe, the daughter of Thomas Rolfe, the son of Pocahontas, the Indian Princess. Thomas Rolfe made his home near Fort Smith in Surry County up to 1650. The Rolfe home is still standing there. But, he was buried in the old graveyard at Kippax at his death about 1680. Col. Bolling owned a large area running all to the way to the Appomattox River. The original residence was burned many years ago, being a place of desolation in 1879. And the present residence was erected on part of the original site. A part of the foundation of the original building can still be seen. Col. Bolling was also buried there, but his body was taken up around 1880 and removed to the Blandford Church burial ground and a monument erected over his grave there.

Eyewitness Account

An eyewitness of this disinterment and removal gave this information to his uncle. The other bodies could not be removed so remained there, and this marks the grave of the son of Pocahontas, Thomas Rolfe. It is near the yard to the front of the present residence, now owned by Mr. Heretick. This is one of the classic spots of the City Point area and should be properly marked. Jane Rolfe, the first wife of Col. Bolling died in early life in 1676, leaving one son. She was also buried there. At present, there are no markers there, and few people are alive who know of this sacred spot. Kippax, the correct name for the place, comes from that of the Bland Family of Kippax, York County, England, into which this property passed after the death of Major John Bolling, the only son of Col. Robert Bolling.

CEDAR LEVEL

The Old Cedar Level residence is one of the most interesting of the old Colonial structures still standing. It was erected in the 17th Century by Robert Bolling 2nd, and was later the home of one of the Bland family and of the Poythress family, all kindred families. Near it, is the “Halfway House” at one time used as a tavern on the Old City Point-Petersburg stage line which passed it. It is now the home of Julius Heretick. The residence is still preserved as an example of its classic antiquity, and preserved as an example of the fine Colonial structure, with its pannelled [sic] doors, wainscoating and heavy timber of heart wood, its large chimneys, and its dormer windows. In the yard, are some of the old trees and shrubs of bygone days. Woodlawn, one of the homes of the Munt Family, stood in a grove in the community of the present Woodlawn, in the vicinity of Cedar Level. It was burned a few years ago, and only a few trees mark the spot.


ARTIcle from: The Hopewell News —– Friday, May 31, 1946

Picturesque Old Rolfe Place Again Opens Its Doors And Invites Visitors

Rolfe-Warren House[The image inserted to the left of this text appeared in the January 4, 1970 issue of the Chicago Tribune] The old brick house on the Rolfe Place on Route 31, between Surry Courthouse and the Jamestown ferry, which has been closed since December 1941 was opened to the public April 15th and will remain open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the summer and fall months. This priceless holding, which is owned and cared for by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA), is the pride of Surry County, and is the oldest house of authentic record in the State of Virginia. Court records prove beyond a doubt that the house was built in 1652 by Thomas Warren on the plantation owned by inheritance by Thomas Rolfe, son of John Rolfe and Indian Princess Pocahontas. The land being a part of that given by Chief Powhatan to John Rolfe on the occasion of his marriage to Pocahontas. Since the reopening of the house, each day has brought interested and admiring guests. The house which was repaired a few years ago is well worth visiting. It is the original house and not a reproduction with which everyone readily agrees when it is seen. The formal garden, which is a thing of beauty, has suffered some since 1941, but is being cared for and restored. For the upkeep and maintenance of the place, a small fee is charged by the hostess, who is a representative of the APVA. There still remains a fragment of the “New Fort,” which Captain John Smith built on the place in 1609, as a protection to the wary colonists against both the Indian and Spanish adversaries. Club rates prevail for parties of ten or more. Picnics may be held on the grounds.


Volume XXIV No. 198 – Monday August 22, 1955

City Point was Prosperous Seaport in Colonial Times

(Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of historical sketches of Old City Point, the third English settlement in America, founded in 1613 by Sir Thomas Dale [of the Virginia Company].) _____ During the Colonial Period, City Point was a prosperous seaport. Vessels came up the river with supplies, which were taken by oxteam to the settlements in the back country. The ships went away with tobacco and flour. At that time, Bailey’s Creek was deep enough for Captain Francis Eppes to anchor the sailing ships that he used in trading with the West Indies. In 1704, Charles City County was divided. That part south of James River became Prince George County, named in honor of Prince George, afterward King George I. At this time, the name of the town was changed from Charles City Point to City Point to avoid confusion. Although Charles City Point had been the county seat for all that part of the Charles City County south of the river, after Prince George was founded, the county seat moved. Court was sometimes held at Merchants Hope, where the first English church in America had been built. Court was also held at Blandford until Dinwiddie County was formed. Then, court was held at Virginia Heights, until a new courthouse was erected on the present site in 1810.

Theodorick BlandTheodoricK Bland

In pre-Revolutionary days, City Point was noted as the home of Theodoric Bland, one of the leaders in the movement for freedom from the crown. It was at Cawson’s, the Bland home, that his famous grandson, John Randolph, was born. That is why Hopewell has Randolph Road and where the John Randolph Hospital now stands. City Point was also the seat of the Bolling family, whose manor house, called “Mitchell’s stood on the Appomattox River just above Mansion Hills. John Rolfe married the Indian Princess Pocahontas and took her to London. They had on child, a son, names Thomas Rolfe, who cam back to the Colony with his father after Pocahontas died.

Jane Poythress RolfeJane Poythress

Thomas Rolfe married Jane Poythress, daughter of James Poythress of City Point. The old Poythress home stood approximately where the Hummel-Ross Division of the Continental Can Company now stands. Thomas Rolfe and Jane Poythress lived at “Kippax” near Cedar Level, now the home of Joseph Heretick. They had one daughter who married Captain Francis Bolling. [This newspaper article got it wrong, Jane Rolfe married Robert Bolling.] That established the Bolling Family in America and gives them their direct descent from Pocahontqas. Captain Francis Bolling [again, this person was Robert Bolling], first built a home on the side of the Appomattox, just west of Hopewell. Then he built a home on the north side, near Point of Rocks. Part of the old Bolling Cemetery is still standing there, and contains the grave of a granddaughter of Pocahontas. During the Revolution when Virginia was invaded, Benedict Arnold came up the James with a British fleet and shelled City Point. Mark of the shells can still be seen at Appomattox Manor. Later the British Phillips established his headquarters at City Point Point for a time.

Susanna Bolling

Toward the end of the Revolution, when Lord Cornwallis was marching into Virginia from North Carolina, he also established his headquarters at City Point. The story is told that several of his officers were quartered at Mitchell’s, the handsome Bolling Residence. Here, Susanna Bolling, beautiful young daughter of the house, overhead their plans. During the night she slipped out, rowed across the Appomattox River, borrowed a horse and rode to the Half-Way House still standing on the Richmond Petersburg Highway (U.S. No. 1) where General Lafayette had his headquarters. She told General Lafayette that Lord Cornwallis intended to march his army down the south side of the James to Scotland Wharf, crossover and seize Williamsburg and then camp at Yorktown. Lafayette immediately sent couriers to General Washington who saw the opportunity to trap Cornwallis and the rest is history.

Blandford Church

Blandford Church

Old Blandford CemeteryToday, within the Blandford Cemetery at the Old Blandford Church (1737) in Petersburg, Virigina, stands the Bolling Family Mausoleum. Robert Bolling (my 10th paternal grandfather) who died on July 17, 1709, was buried first on his Kippax Plantation, in Prince George Co., Virginia, where his tomb still stands. However, in 1858, his remains were removed from Kippax to the Bolling Mausoleum at Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia erected by his great grandson. This is the vault where Colonel Robert Thomas Bolling rests. It is in the north east corner of the graveyard. It is across from the cemetery office. The building itself has undergone a complete renovation with a lucite covering at the entrance.

 BRAVE NEW WORLD: JOHN SMITH


In my research on  Pocahontas, the  Rolfes, Bollings, Branches, Lewises, and Randolphs of Virginia…

I happened upon the following blog post from Life – News, articles, and information on family life and entertainment: Brave New World: John Smith. Unfortunately this Blogger website has no history, author, or contact information other than the article being posted (without any images) by “Zaman.”  I chose to add images and share this writer’s rather long but interesting December 2007 post with you anyway because it beautifully compliments and expands upon other posts that I’ve written about our families of Colonial Virginia and their histories, and I truly enjoyed the author’s style of writing:

On the threshold of American history stands one of our most controversial heroes

captain-john-smith

Captain John Smith

Although he barely had a toe hold on the New World, he has not been budged by the heaviest scholarly attacks. So enmeshed was colonial America in European folkways that we could hardly have expected an enduring hero before Plymouth Rock was settled. Yet we have Captain John Smith. One of the most fascinating American heroines, Pocahontas, comes with him.  Subjugator of nine-and-thirty kings, by his own say-so, John Smith aroused derision as easily as he made legends. “It soundeth much to the dimunition of his deeds,” Thomas Fuller wryly complained, “that he alone is the herald to publish and proclaim them.” More recently, Professor Walter Blair irreverently noted that ” Smith could hardly go for a walk without saving a beautiful damsel, or having one fall head over heels in love with him.” But Smith’s admirers have not been fazed. “To set him down as an arrant braggadocio would seem to some critics,” observed historian John Fiske, “essential to their reputation for sound sense.” A. G. Bradley found in the Smith saga “nothing to strain the credulity of anyone with a tolerable grasp of historical and social progress.” Hero or faker, Captain John Smith has held the popular imagination so firmly that he and Pocahontas are our best known colonial couple.Smith’s checkered career was distinctly susceptible of the heroic. He spent so much of his life acting the part of the swashbuckler that he came to play the role expertly. Son of a prosperous English tenant farmer, he left home in 1596 at sixteen to seek Adventure. If his own account can be trusted, he performed marvelous deeds in the Mediterranean and the Near East. He served with the Austrians against the Turks in 1602, saw duty on the Hungarian border, and was still young when he set out for the New World in 1607. After spending two and a half years in Virginia he was returned to England. Chagrined by the treatment he had received and embittered by those who had ejected him, he induced influential enemies of the men in control of Virginia to sponsor his “authentic” account of the New World. His not too ulterior motive was to prove that the actions of certain Englishmen interfered with colonial enterprise, and that the colonies prospered more under royal control than under corporate management.

Title: The Story of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith Author: E. Boyd Smith Illustrator: E. Boyd Smith

Illustrator: E. Boyd Smith

The spectacular Pocahontas rescue story (whether or not is was true) was a means of bringing the Captain back into the limelight he so enjoyed. In consequence, when Pocahontas arrived in England in 1616, she got much attention. As Lady Rebecca she cut quite a figure, and of a style the Elizabethans appreciated. In his Generall Historie ( 1624), Smith recorded that “In the utmost of many extremities Pokahontas, the great King’s daughter of Virginia, oft saved my life.” People of his day wanted to believe it; people of ours do too. Adopting a hero is basically an act of faith.The literature about the English adventurer is so extensive that it forms a separate chapter in American historiography. Although his contemporaries had some doubts about Captain John Smith’s veracity, his role as savior of the Virginia colony, and Pocahontas’s action at the execution block were widely accepted up to the midnineteenth century. In 1791 Noah Webster included Smith’s story in The Little Reader’s Assistant. “What a hero was Captain Smith! How many Turks and Indians did he slay!” Seven years after Webster’s book appeared, John Davis, an English traveler, made his first voyage to the New World to gather material for his highly laudatory books entitled Captain John Smith and Princess Pocahontas, and The First Settlers of Virginia.

Preservation of Captain John Smith by Pocahontas, 1606 by Antonio Capellano, 1825. Sandstone. U.S. Capitol Rotunda, above west door.

Preservation of Captain John Smith by Pocahontas, 1606 by Antonio Capellano, 1825. Sandstone. U.S. Capitol Rotunda, above west door.

Smith’s story, it should be noted, is immortalized in bronze on the west door of the entrance to the Capitol rotunda in Washington.

John Chapman's Baptism of Pocahontas at Jamestown, Virginia, completed in 1840, hangs in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol.

John Chapman’s Baptism of Pocahontas at Jamestown, Virginia, completed in 1840, hangs in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol.

A painting conspicuously displayed inside the building shows “The Baptism of Pocahontas at Jamestown.” No one has objected to their being there or doubted their justification.

James Kirke Paulding, Knickerbocker Poet

James Kirke Paulding, Knickerbocker Poet

Traveling through Virginia in 1817, the Knickerbocker poet James Kirke Paulding observed, “Fortitude, valor, perseverance, industry, and little Pocahontas . . . [are] tutelary deities.” George Washington Parke Custis, whose loyalty to things colonial was unsurpassed, wrote Pocahontas, a play first produced in Philadelphia in 1830. This was followed by Robert Owen Pocahontas ( 1837), John Brougham Po-ca-hon-tas, Or the Gentle Savage ( 1855), and other plays built around the Indian rescue plot. Pocahontas poems appeared in many pre-Civil War journals. Those by Mary Webster Mosby, Lydia H. Sigourney, Margaret Junkin Preston, and William Waldron were especially popular. Even William Thackeray wrote one, to the gratification of Americans who revered English literature.

By the Civil War, most Americans looked upon John Smith and Pocahontas as splendid representatives of their colonial times. If Smith, who had shown little sympathy towards Yankees (their “humorous ignorancies,” he observed, “caused the Plymouth Pilgrims to endure a wonderful deale of misery,”) found his chief admirers in the South, he at least had few defamers in the area he himself had named New England.

Henry-Adams-c.-1858

Henry Adams, Circa 1858

In 1863 a Boston merchant and historian, Charles Deane, commenced the attack on John Smith. He called the colorful captain a notorious liar and braggart who had invented his dramatic rescue after the lapse of many years. Deane insisted that none of Smith’s contemporaries knew of the Pocahontas episode and he concluded there was little truth in it. But the North and the South were then too busy fighting each other to notice Deane. Sectional bitterness still ran high when in 1867 another New Englander, youthful Henry Adams, leveled at John Smith a much more telling blow, Scion of one of America’s most tactless family of worthies, Adams had just returned from the seminars of Germany and was anxious to gain attention. His article on Smith in the North American Review ( January, 1867) set off a war of words which echoed down the corridors of the twentieth century.In his article Adams printed parallel passages from Smith’s A True Relation and his Generall Historie for textual comparison. He found the Pocahontas rescue story spurious and labeled Smith incurably vain and incompetent. The readiness with which Smith’s version had been received Adams found less remarkable than “the credulity which has left it unquestioned almost to the present day.” While the Nation doubted “if Mr. Adams’ arguments can be so much as shaken,” the Southern Review thought historians dealing in black insinuations were “little worthy of credit, especially when their oblique methods affect the character of a celebrated woman.” The Southern Review proceeded to place the Smith-Pocahontas fight on a sectional plane where it stayed for a half century: “If Pocahontas, alas! had only been born on the barren soil of New England, then would she have been as beautiful as she was brave. As it is, however, both her personal character and her personal charms are assailed by at least two knights of the New England chivalry of the present day.”The Yankee knights had only begun their attack. Noah Webster’s account for school children gave way to Peter Parley’s, which drew as a moral from Smith’s escapades “that persons, at an early age, have very wicked hearts.” Moses Tyler, John Palfrey, and Edward Channing saw in Smith more bluster than greatness.

Charles Warner

Charles Warner

In his 1881 biography of Smith, Charles D. Warner of Connecticut observed that the Captain’s memory became more vivid as he was farther removed by time and space from the events he described. Edward D. Neill Captain John Smith, Adventurer and Romancer was devastating. It discredited the Turkish adventures, pronounced Smith’s coat of arms a forgery, found the Pocahontas rescue story laughable, and called Smith’s literary works “published exaggerations.” A second study by Neill, Pocahontas and Her Companions, flatly stated that her marriage to Rolfe was a disgraceful fraud. North of the Potomac the rescue story began to be called the Pocahontas legend.

Southerners rallied to the defense of their dashing Captain-and of Southern honor. Their counter-attack was so effective that by the middle of the twentieth century Captain John Smith and Pocahontas were generally thought of as human embodiments of epic colonial heroism.

Since Smith, a figure of masculinity and firmness, made an admirable partner for the Indian Princess whose femininity and softness conquered two continents, it is not surprising that their stories were blended into one. The tyranny of historical facts crumbled before the demands of popular fancy and the literary weapons of William Wirt Henry, Wyndham Robertson, Charles Poindexter, and John Esten Cooke.

William Wirt Henry

William Wirt Henry

No one was in a better position to express regional indignation than William Wirt Henry. Patrick Henry’s grandson, he was born in 1831 on a plantation in Charlotte County, Virginia. Lawyer and historian, he served as county attorney, state legislator, president of the Virginia Historical Society, and president of the American Historical Society. To his fellow Southerners he personified the Tidewater planter-aristocrat. At the 1882 Virginia Historical Society meeting, he read a paper called “The Settlement of Jamestown, with Particular Reference to the Late Attacks upon Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, and John Rolfe.” He came directly to the point: “The more generous task of making their defense will be mine.” With care and ingenuity he evolved explanations for the questionable parts of their stories. In a flourish that honored his grandfather’s memory, Henry concluded, “We need not pursue this charge of inconsistencies further, as time would fail us to notice every inconsistency charged by the numerous and ill-informed assailants of Smith.”

To Henry there was no doubt whatsoever that the success of the Virginia Colony had depended on the Captain. “The departure of Smith changed the whole aspect of affairs. The Indians at once became hostile, and killed all that came in their way.” To the Indian Princess Pocahontas he assigned a religious role and mission. She was, in Henry’s opinion, “a guardian angel [who] watched over and preserved the infant colony which has developed into a great people, among whom her own descendants have ever been conspicuous for true nobility.” On that exalted note, the defense rested.

Wyndham RobertsonEqually qualified to fight for “Captain Jack” was Wyndham Robertson, who was raised on a plantation near Petersburg, Virginia. Educated in Richmond and Williamsburg, he became Virginia’s twentieth governor. Northern attacks on John Smith disturbed him so much that he prepared a detailed study: Pocahontas and Her Descendants. Taking the marriage of Pocahontas and Rolfe in 1614 as a focal event, Robertson traced the subsequent family to “its seventh season of fruitage.” His work was unabashedly presented as “the vindication of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas against the unfriendly strictures of modern critics.” Because Pocahontas’ descendants were so notable, so was she; this simple a posteriori argument ran through the whole book. Among those who turned out to be related to her were the Bollings, Branches, Lewises, Randolphs, and Pages — the very cream of Virginia.

How, asked Robertson, could anyone speak lowly of the Princess when the King of England and the Bishop of London were her devotees? Her natural charm had captivated Mother England. Leaders of society competed for her favor; she had a special seat when Ben Jonson Twelfth Night masque was staged at Whitehall; her portrait revealed a truly aristocratic countenance. “With festival, state, and pompe” the Lord Mayor of London feted her before death cut short her dazzling career. “History, poetry, and art,” wrote Robertson, “have vied with one another in investing her name from that day to the present with a halo of surpassing brightness.” His argument by association, like that of descent, was persuasive. To ridicule Pocahontas was to deny the importance of family and ancestry in society. Most Americans and practically every Southerner were not prepared to do so.

Charles Poindexter, a more scholarly defender of Smith, was educated at the University of Virginia; he joined the Richmond Howitzers during the Civil War. Long interested in Old Dominion heroes, he published in 1893 John Smith and His Critics. At the time he was State Librarian in Richmond. It was in a distinctly fresh light that he viewed the colonial controversy: “Smith’s History has been standard reading for 250 years, acknowledged and practically unquestioned, unless by some in these latter days. We may be a simple and uncritical people, but when our belief and judgment as to an historical character are challenged, and we are told our admiration has been wasted on a charlatan, whose boasting has deceived us, then may we raise a question as to the amount of wisdom behind the critic’s utterance.”

Poindexter explained that Smith was engaged in “a piece of work of transcendent interest and importance, as we know now-namely, the founding of the Commonwealth of Virginia.” The whole controversy could never be decided by documents and scholarship. “And yet they tell us, the legend must go; but when it goes it will be time for this people to be gone; to be driven from this fair portion of God’s earth, made sacred by that brave man’s heroism, and by the gentle pity of that Indian maid . . . Smith’s History has established itself as a tradition in the popular mind more lasting and potent than any written page or printed book.” Poindexter saw plainly that Smith had moved beyond mere documentary fact.

John Esten CookeJohn Esten Cooke, one of the South’s most popular novelists, promoted Smith vigorously. Born in Winchester, Virginia, Cooke wanted “to do for the Old Dominion what Cooper has done for the Indians, Irving for the Dutch Knickerbockers, and Hawthorne for the weird Puritan life of New England.” He buried his spurs at Appomattox when Lee surrendered–a gesture in the tradition of Captain Smith. Cooke My Lady Pokahontas ( 1885) is still the best novel about the lady. Purporting to be writing in the seventeenth century, he furnished “notes” to a True Relation of Virginia, Writ by Anas Todkill, Puritan and Pilgrim. Todkill revealed how Smith fell in love with the Virginia Princess, converted her to Christianity, and strolled hand in hand with her along the James. The lovers decided it was best that they not remain together. In England with her husband John Rolfe, later on, Pocahontas attended the Globe Theater, where William Shakespeare’s The Tempest was opening. She promptly recognized herself as Miranda.

What Cooke did in My Lady Pokahontas was to superimpose trappings of a Victorian romance on the story. It is a landmark in the literary treatment of Pocahontas and of the American Indian. In pre-Civil War America the only good Indian was a dead one. As long as the aboriginal was an active threat to settlement and progress, he was given little consideration. For Pocahontas to be a heroine this attitude had to change, and the savage had to become the vanishing American. In the generation after the Civil War this transition took place. A few years later came Helen HuntJackson Jackson’s A Century of Dishonor, which called our record in Indian relationships “a shameful one of broken treaties and unfilled promises.” Like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the book’s effect was far out of proportion to its literary merit. A Century of Dishonor and the ascendancy of the Pocahontas legend coincided.

The influence of Cooke’s interpretation of Pocahontas was both direct and indirect. Southern text books adopted his colonial romance; subsequent writers have turned to it nostalgically. Partly through his own books but more particularly through his influence, Cooke fostered the popular conception held by many today.

William Henry gave Pocahontas a religious mission; Robertson set up a patriotic affront; Poindexter put the legend above the documents; Cooke made of it a Victorian romance. Smith and Pocahontas returned to high standing.

In 1907 came the much publicized Jamestown Tercentennial. In preparing for the festivities, the Pocahontas Memorial Association undertook a program of glorification which included a poem by Paulding suggesting Pocahontas’ religious role:

“Sister of charity and love, Whose life blood was soft pity’s tide. Dear goddess of the sylvan grove Flower of the forest, nature’s pride, He is no man who does not bend the knee And she no woman who is not like thee!”

William Ordway Partridge, sculptor

William Ordway Partridge, sculptor

Jamestown Tributes and Toasts contained seven Smith-Pocahontas poems. Little had been done to commemorate the grave of ” Rebecca Wrothe, wife of Thomas Wrothe, gent, a Virginia lady born” at Gravesend, England. So the Society of Colonial Dames donated memorial windows to the tiny church in which Pocahontas was buried. At Jamestown, William Ordway Partridge’s statue of the Indian princess was erected, flanked by a bronze Captain John Smith.

Lyon G. Tyler unveiled a new Pocahontas tablet at Jamestown, and asked: “What words must I use to express my feelings on this occasion? Her memory brightens with the years and comes to us today as a soft, clear light that shines from a distant shore, where all else is shrouded in darkness.” Pocahontas statueAs he spoke, the audience gazed at the statue of the princess provided by the Pocahontas Memorial Association–her hands outstretched to aid the starving Virginia colonists, her eyes appropriately looking toward heaven.

If the preliminary plans for the 1957 celebration of the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settling of Jamestown come to fruition, Smith’s reputation will continue to rise, for he is to be the hero of the program.

Captain John Smith Statue

Captain John Smith Statue

Another, less ephemeral, multi-million dollar enterprise, only a few miles from the place where the Captain first set foot on the New World, has kept green the memory of seventeenth century things in contemporary America. This is Colonial Williamsburg. While it has not been directly concerned with promoting Smith, his renown has benefited directly and enormously therefrom. The Rockefeller fortune has salvaged reputations as well as buildings.

Williamsburg History Marker

Williamsburg History Marker

Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin, late rector of Williamsburg’s Bruton Parish Church and incidentally an admirer of John Smith, is generally credited with having persuaded John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to reconstruct the colonial capital. No restoration in history has received such elaborate and painstaking research; none in America is so frequently visited. Representing an expenditure of over $45,000,000 and a yearly operating budget of $2,000,000, Colonial Williamsburg by 1954 had a staff of 1,000 and plans for further capital outlays exceeding $15,000,000. No one could have foreseen such expansion and such influence. The restoration found itself in the position of Lord Byron’s teacher:

“She taught the child to read, and taught so well That she herself, by teaching, learn’d to spell.”

Jamestown Seawall at Fort James

Jamestown Seawall at Fort James

Rockefeller himself realized that the project would reawaken interest in those he called “great patriots of our American past.” Many of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come every season make the short pilgrimage to Jamestown, to see “the spot where the Anglo-Saxon history of America begins.” They find on the small island, which was saved from disintegration only by a seawall put up for the Jamestown Tercentennial, nothing so elaborate as Colonial Williamsburg. But they do view the statue of a handsome, dashing adventurer, whose hand rests near his sword and whose eyes look out on the vast expanses of America. They see Captain John Smith; and they carry him away in their memories as the first great American.

Though the Captain’s account does not appear to be based upon undiluted historical fact, it is not totally false. Whether or not Pocahontas really saved Smith at the execution block, and whether or not they actually fell in love, Pocahontas unquestionably visited Jamestown while he was there. These visits ceased after Smith had departed. She evidently took some interest in him and he in the girl he called “the nonpareil of Virginia.” Still, it is hard to believe that Smith, who considered the aboriginals as inferior savages that blocked Britain’s path, ultimately would have married her. His deportation (resulting from the return of Ratcliffe and Archer, who allied themselves with Smith’s enemies Percy and West) ended abruptly any ideas he might have had of a future life with Pocahontas. In his attitude towards the Indians, as in so many things, Smith revealed his English heritage. Always strongly Anglo-Saxon, Virginians have not found it difficult to give him the benefit of their doubts.

Smith’s was no crafty, subtle mind. Contemplation was not his forte; he usually acted first and thought afterwards. If he had any philosophy, it was to meet things as they came. His egocentric world was unmarred by indecision, weakness, or indifference. He saw strange seas, dreamed of empires, and lived through an epic. Whatever one thinks of some of his actions and accusations, one must admire the loyalty and enthusiasm he displayed while exploring the New World. He loved Virginia as “my wyfe, to whom I have given all.” No matter how much he exaggerated on occasions, he was telling the truth when as a dying man he wrote, “All the dangers, miseries, and incumbrances and losse of other employments while in Virginia I endured gratis.”

After his deportation from Virginia, Smith was dogged by constant failure. In 1615 he convinced Sir Ferdinando Gorges to outfit him for another try at colonizing the New World, but his two small vessels were driven back by storms. Again he set sail, with only a small barque of sixty tons at his command. This time he was captured by pirates, wrecked off La Rochelle, and returned home penniless. When he died he was a poor, weary man, leaving only eighty pounds, twenty of which (in a typical gesture) he directed to be spent on his funeral. The only relatives mentioned in his will were a cousin and the widow of his brother. London’s Great Fire of 1666 wiped out St. Sepulchre’s Church, in which his body was buried, and his epitaph with it. The last earthly trace of John Smith is gone forever.

The New World for which “Captain Jack” fought has adorned his memory with honor more enduring than all the treasure won by others on the Spanish Main. For many Americans he is today the last of the Knight-Errants, a cross between the medieval crusader and the Jacobite Cavalier. Because his pageantry seemed so incongruous in the vast wilderness of the New World, there is a Don Quixote-like pathos about him. Had he not been so earnest about his schemes of colonization, they would have been ludicrous. He never doubted, up to his dying day, that he could accomplish the impossible. His ambitions were so lofty that inability to consummate them did not destroy their appeal. With all his faults, he set the heroic pattern in colonial America.

Smith has been at the core of controversy; John Rolfe, who actually married the Indian Princess Pocahontas, has not. Little is said of this gentleman of moderate means who came to Virginia in 1609, experimented with the growing and curing of tobacco, and perfected the plant which was the foundation of Virginia’s economy. His marriage to a native brought peace at a time when the Indians might have driven the colonists into the sea. But he did not catch the popular imagination, and he did not become a hero.

That Pocahontas, an Indian girl who died at twenty-two, became a legendary figure is extraordinary. Virginias are proud to have her blood in their veins. But they would hardly admit to a drop from any other member of her race. What is it about her that has so appealed to posterity? Not the savage, but the feminine quality. She is the fairy-tale princess come to life; a flesh-and-blood Cinderella in Indian disguise. Her story is full of romance and excitement. She rescued Smith by risking her own life. After a sad separation from him, she was wooed by a white knight from overseas, John Rolfe. She brought peace to the struggling colonists. Best of all, Little Wanton went as a princess to the Mother Country, where she outshone all the celebrated English beauties. Virginia, loyal to Charles I when even England rejected him, thrilled at this. Finally, she suffered a premature and unexpected death. What more could a romantic heroine’s story contain? In November, 1952, a “Chapel of Unity” was opened to her memory at Gravesend, England. It has already become a pilgrimage spot.

Attacks on John Smith and Pocahotas have become fewer and less bitter in recent years. Dr. Charles Andrews, the New England colonial historian, supported the rescue story. The 1927 biography of Smith by E. K. Chatterton, and the 1929 book by John Gould Flecther, revealed a far greater man than earlier accounts. Admittedly “Captain Jack” was given to far-fetched phrases, and to veering off the narrow road of truth. But most of us forgive him. After all, this was his prerogative in the Age of Elizabeth. The same tendencies can be found in other colorful figures of the period –Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake, Kit Marlowe, and William Shakespeare.

The John Smith-Pocahontas story, with its epic quality and scope, has appealed to us because it re-affirms the validity of the American experience. Aided by an Indian Princess, John Smith founded a great nation, and made the dream of a permanent English colony a reality. O brave new world, that has such people in it!

Occasionally a skeptic comes forth claiming that Smith’s story (in a phrase of his contemporary Will Shakespeare) has “a very ancient and fish-like smell.” But the furor that accompanied the Deane-Adams articles has passed. In 1951 George F. Willison argued (in Behold Virginia: The Fifth Crown) that Smith’s surviving his almost incredible follies was the real miracle of his life; that the Virginia records reach “almost to the point of madness, as in Captain John Smith’s account of his exploits and accomplishments in that colony, which, so he came to believe, he had founded and sustained almost singlehandedly.” The Historical Society of Manatee County, Florida, has challenged historians to prove the truth of Pocahontas’s rescue. The story, it was suggested, was probably devised by a press agent of an earlier day. The Indian maiden Hirrihgua, who saved the life of Juan Ortiz in Manatee County, has–or should have, it would appear–a much better claim to fame.

James Branch Cabell

James Branch Cabell

Americans have ceased to worry about the absence of historical authenticity in this matter. The Captain and the Indian Princess have been accepted. No mere documents can unseat them. As James Branch Cabell contemplated them in their aloof majesty, he remarked: “And yet, to the judgment of the considerate, Captain John Smith True Relation does not in any way affect the ranking of Pocahontas in the official history of Virginia; her legend, the more thanks to Virginia’s good taste in mythology, has been made immortal.”