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 . . .

 

 

The Killing Spree . . . Our Ancestral Legacy


Attributing our traits to our ancestors

Some days when I look at myself in the mirror, I can see glimpses of my ancestors. My once beautifully brilliant blue eyes; I remember seeing these same eyes in my maternal grandfather, Roy (a Ford from Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina).  Unfortunately, I also get my thick midriff from either or both–my maternal grandmother, Loretta, (a Lathrop from Wyalusing, Bradford County, Pennsylvania), or my paternal grandfather, Jesse (a Boling from Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania County, Virginia).  Of course, it is a natural human instinct to attribute our traits to relatives we have known or through our family’s stories about them.  But, other similarities or differences don’t flow so naturally or with ease.  When we reflect back we tend to most often focus on the ‘good times,’ the ‘good traits,’ or happen upon a history that we’d as soon forget, or,  for fear that it might repeat itself.

Let’s look back about 150 years or so to April 9, 1865 in Appomattox, Virginia:    

After four years of conflict, General Robert E. Lee (commander of the Army of Northern Virginia), surrendered his beleaguered Confederate forces in Appomattox, Virginia, to General Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army, ending the Civil War.  (Grant in four short years would become our 18th President.)  The war bankrupted the South, left its roads, farms, and factories in ruins, and all but wiped out an entire generation of men. And this answers my family’s question about our ancient aristocratic Bolling family who had emigrated to Virginia from England, which was; “What happened to our family’s nobility–their societal standings, their wealth, and their great estates?”

As you can see from the map below, the Confederacy included 11 southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.  The North (called the Union) consisted of the remaining 25 states which were located in the north.

So . . .  This means that my ancestors were on opposite sides of the American Civil War.  I had direct relatives primarily in Pennsylvania (the Chamber’s, Lathrop’s, and Westler’s) and in Virginia and North Carolina (the Boling’s, Carpenter’s, Ford’s Morris’s, and Taylors).  Within each of these union and confederates states lived both my maternal and paternal relatives–truly brothers, uncles, cousins, and even in-laws. And, ninety percent of those men volunteered to fight for what they believed or to protect their families and livelihoods from “their enemies”.

One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania regiment at Falmouth, Va., April 24, 1863, nearly annihilated at battle of Chancellorsville, created by Andrew J. Russell, Library of Congress.

One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania regiment at Falmouth, Va., April 24, 1863, nearly annihilated at the battle of Chancellorsville, created by Andrew J. Russell, Library of Congress.

1“. . .The 141st Pennsylvania Regiment was known as the Bradford Regiment.  Most of these volunteer recruits came from Bradford County, Pennsylvania and  joined the Union Army in the summer of 1862.  Company A came from Wyalusing.  It had one of the most distinguished combat records in the Army of the Potomac, serving from the battle of Fredericksburg to the surrender at Appomattox.  In just two battles alone, from May 3 to July 2 at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, the regiment shrank due to combat casualties from 419 men and officers to 58 (56 percent casualties at Chancellorsville, and 73 percent at the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg. . . .”

I found my maternal great-great grandfather, Searle P. Lathrop, of Bradford County, at age 43, on the U.S. Civil War Draft Registrations List of 1864-1865.  His brother, Edward Lathrop, died as a member of the Union’s Company E, 171st Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteer Regiment, in New Bern, North Carolina, at the age of 38, on May 30, 1863, only two months prior to his 39th birthday.

My paternal great-great-grandfather, Lawrence T. “Larl” Boling served from 1861-1865 in the Confederate 30th Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  They organized in Fredericksburg, Virginia, June, 1861. Men of this unit came from Fredericksburg and the counties of Spotsylvania, Caroline, Stafford, and King George–all counties where my Boling family lived.

2It was assigned to General J.G. Walker’s and Corse’s Brigade, and fought with the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days’ Battles to Fredericksburg. After serving with Longstreet at Suffolk, it was on detached duty in Tennessee and North Carolina. During the spring of 1864 the 30th returned to Virginia and saw action at Drewry’s Bluff and Cold Harbor. Later it endured the hardships of the Petersburg trenches north and south of the James River and ended the war at Appomattox.

The 30th Infantry regiment reported 1 killed and 4 wounded at Malvern Hill and 39 killed and 121 wounded in the Maryland Campaign. Many were lost at Five Forks and Sayler’s Creek, and on April 9, 1865, the 30th regiment surrendered with 8 officers and 82 men.

3Battle of Chancellorsville – May 1-4 1864

Confederate Commander Robert E. Lee’s troops fought Union Commander Joseph Hooker’s forces.  Together, they had 194,760 men engaged in this bloody battle (60,892 Confederate forces and 133,868 Union forces).

At its conclusion on May 6, 1863, the Battle of Chancellorsville became the bloodiest battle in American history. The 30,764 combined casualties eclipsed the losses suffered at well-known battles such as Shiloh (23,746), Second Manassas (22,180), Antietam (22,717), and Stones River (23,515).

By far the bloodiest day of the battle was its first (May 3, 1863), when Lee’s Confederates were forced to attack a larger, now-alerted Union foe, largely positioned in prepared defenses. The aggressive fighting at places like Salem Church produced more casualties than the entire Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run).

Chancellorsville’s title of bloodiest battle in American history would be short-lived, however. From Chancellorsville, Lee began his journey towards Gettysburg and the epic fighting to come on July 1-3, 1863. Yet, at the end of the American Civil War, Chancellorsville was still ranked as the fourth bloodiest battle of the Civil War, after Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Spotsylvania Courthouse.

Battle of The Wilderness –  May 5-7, 1864

My paternal great-great grandfather, Lawrence T. “Larl” Boling (mentioned above), married Sarah Tapp, daughter of the now famous Catharine Dempsey “Widow Tapp,” (making Widow Tapp my 3rd great-grandmother).  Widow Tapp and her daughter Eliza “Phenie” Tapp had the misfortune of living on the land that became known as the “Wilderness Battlefield,” in Fredericksburg, Virginia, during the Civil War.

There, Confederate Commander Robert E. Lee’s troops went up against Union Commander Ulysses S. Grant’s troops.  Together, they had 171,920 troops (Confederate forces: 61,025  and 101,895 Union forces), in the fields of this wilderness farm.  And together, over a 3-day period they lost 25,416 men (17,666 Union and 7,750 Confederate).

Widow Tapp Farm-Phenie Tapp 1930s

Nearly as many men died in captivity during the Civil War as were killed in the whole of the Vietnam War.  Hundreds of thousands died of disease.  Roughly 2% of our “American” population, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives in the line of duty (more than any other war in American history).  Taken as a percentage of today’s population, the toll would have risen as high as 6 million.

Civil War Resources GraphicThe official Reconstruction Era (where Union soldiers occupied the 11 southern states) covered a period of twelve years from 1865-1877. Southern states rebuilt and gradually were re-admitted to the United States (July 1866-March 1870). Virginia and Texas were the last two hold out states.  They rejoined the United States in 1870.

 

So, just how similar or different are our beliefs today based upon where we live in these United States?

Let’s take a look at today’s map below from electoral-vote.com.  Here, we’re looking at the status of electoral votes post 2016 presidential campaign conventions over these past two weeks.  Setting aside the presidential runners (which is another or several other posts that I won’t be writing), you can view our similarities or differences strictly at state levels based upon electoral votes.  When we compare my relatives who today live in Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Virginia (13 electoral votes), Maryland (10 electoral votes), and North Carolina (15 electoral votes), (where my ancestors lived during the Civil War), we find that today’s generations are more alike than different and are “likely to strongly” democrat.

2016-07-31_electoral-vote

And, just how similar or different are democrats from republicans?

Comparison Chart:  Democratic vs. Republican Traits

Whether this information is comforting to all of us or not, based upon the example used, it would appear that our families have unified beliefs; that it is unlikely we would fight on opposite sides if, God forbid, the United States entered into another civil war.

However, it does seem, when compared to our ancestors of the Civil War era, that today’s generations who have more global and increased technological capabilities and therefore extended communications, may be just as uncivil to each other as those ancestors who chose to shoot at each other about 150 years ago.


1Wyalusing History Trail
2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/30th_Virginia_Infantry
3Chancellorsville Civil War Stories

 

May 13, 2017: Jamestown Colony’s 410th Anniversary


Four hundred and ten years ago today (May 13, 1607), one hundred colonists (dispatched from England by the London Company) arrived along the west bank of the James River.  The next day they founded the first permanent English settlement in what is now the Virginia, known as the”James Fort.”

As I have written in other posts on my blog, it was during the next two years that disease, starvation, and Native American attacks wiped out most of the colony.  Yet, the London Company continually sent more settlers and supplies. The colonists referred to the severe winters of 1609 to 1610, as the “starving time.” These severe winters and lack of supplies were attributed with killing most of the Jamestown colonists and the survivors to plan a return to England in the spring.

On June 10, 1610, however, Thomas West De La Warr, the newly appointed governor of Virginia, arrived with supplies and convinced the settlers to stay at Jamestown. In 1612,  John Thomas Rolfe, my 10th Paternal Great Grandfather cultivated the first tobacco at Jamestown, introducing a successful source of livelihood.  Unfortunately, on March 22, 1622, he killed in an indian massacre on the Jamestown colony.

Jamestown ChurchThis photo taken in  the 1900’s shows the fifth church in the settlement.  

In one of his books, Captain John Smith wrote of building the first structure at Jamestown that was used as a church. According to his account, the settlers stretched a sail among the boughs and used rails to build the sides of the structure. They sat on benches made of unhewn tree trunks. The altar was simply a log nailed to two neighboring trees. This was a purely temporary arrangement and is not counted as a church building.

First Church — In 1607, the settlers built the first real church inside the fort. Smith related that this was a barn-like structure, but he gave few details. The settlers worshipped in it until it was destroyed by fire in January 1608.

Second Church — The church which was built after the fire in 1608 was similar in appearance to the first church. When Lord De La Warr arrived as governor in 1610, he found that the church had fallen into a sad state of disrepair, so he had it restored and its furnishings improved. It is assumed that this is the church in which Ann Burras and John Laydon were married and their daughter, Virginia Laydon, was later baptized.

When Captain Samuel Argall came to Jamestown in 1617, he found “but five or six houses, the church down, the palisades broken, the bridge in pieces, the well of fresh water spoiled, the storehouse used for the church; the marketplace, the streets and all other spare places planted with tobacco; the savages as frequent in their homes as themselves, whereby they were to become their “experts in our arms”…the Colony dispersed all about planting Tobacco.”

Third Church — From 1617-1619, when Samuel Argall was governor, he had the inhabitants of Jamestown build a new church “50 foot long and twenty-foot broad.” It was a wooden church built on a one-foot-wide foundation of cobblestones capped by a wall one brick thick. When visiting Jamestown today, you can see these foundations under the glass on the floor of the present building. The First Assembly was held in the third church. This church is best remembered as the meeting place of the first Representative Legislative Assembly, which convened there on July 30, 1619. This church endured until 1639, when it was replaced by a brick structure.

Fourth Church — In January 1639 Governor John Harvey reported that he, the Council, the ablest planters, and some sea captains “had contributed to the building of a brick church” at Jamestown. This church was slightly larger than the third church and was built around it. It was still unfinished in November 1647 when efforts were made to complete it.  Ten years later a fifth church was functioning, probably using the walls and foundations of the fourth church. Sometime after it was finished a brick church tower was added. During Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, this church was burned.

Fifth Church —  About 10 years after the 1676 burning, the fifth church was functioning, probably using the walls and foundations of the fourth church. Sometime after it was finished a brick church tower was added. The tower is the only seventeenth-century structure still standing above ground at Jamestown.

The tower is slightly over 18 feet square and the walls are three feet thick at the base. Originally the tower was about 46 feet high (ten feet higher than the ruins) and was crowned with a wooden roof and belfry. It had two upper floors as indicated by the large beam notches on the inside. Six small openings at the top permitted light to enter and the sound of the bell or bells to carry across river and town. This church was used until the 1750s when it was abandoned. Although the tower remained intact, the building fell into ruins by the 1790s when the bricks were salvaged and used to build the present graveyard wall. Throughout the nineteenth century the tower remained a silent symbol to Americans of their early heritage. It was strengthened and preserved shortly after the APVA acquired it in the 1890s.

 

The Present Church — The Memorial Church building was constructed in 1906 by the National Society, Colonial Dames of America just outside the foundations of the earlier churches. It was dedicated May 13, 1907.

 

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


Preserved–The 435-Year-Old John Rolfe Family Bible

John Rolfe Family BibleChristine Dean, 30 year resident of Heacham, England, and I have been corresponding for the past several months, following her interesting comments that added greatly to my two-year-old blog post titled “Johannes Eustacius “John” Rolfe…My 11th Great Grandfather.”  It seems that Christine has been gathering information about John Rolfe, Chief Powhatan, and Pocahontas for about 20 years.  She recently discovered several  ‘legend clues’ including an old Heacham Map of 1600 and the John Rolfe Family (1580) Geneva Bible. Susan A. Riggs, librarian, confirmed the Rolfe Family bible is in the Special Collections Research Center of the Dr. Earl Gregg Swem Library at the William & Mary College in Williamsburg, VA.

All but forgotten today, the Geneva Bible was the most widely read and influential English Bible of the 16th and 17th centuries. It was one of the Bibles taken to America on the Mayflower.  Mary I was Queen of England and Ireland from 1553 until her death in 1558. Her executions of Protestants caused her opponents to give her the sobriquet “Bloody Mary.” It was her persecution that caused the Marian Exile which drove 800 English scholars to the European continent, where a number of them gathered in Geneva, Switzerland.

More on the Rolfe’s Family Contributions to Virginia

Rolfe Historic MarkerJohn Rolfe introduced the first commercially grown tobacco crops in Jamestown in 1609.  Prior to this, the American Indians had their own local tobacco plants growing wild in their woods and used it for special pipe smoking ceremonies  But, this tobacco was bitter. In 1612, John Rolfe brought and cultivated seeds from the islands of Trinidad and Orinoco on the Atlantic Ocean, where he had stopped for water and supplies.  From John’s new Powhatan Indian relatives he learned better ways to dry cure and export these leaves. By 1619, tobacco had become Jamestown’s major money.

400 Years Later, Tobacco Plants Used In Emerging Medical Treatments

It is interesting that 400 years later the nicotine tobacco plant leaf is being used to develop new drugs for cancer treatments and for the ZMAPP new drug that has successfully treated some doctors and nurses from USA and the UK who caught the deadly EBOLA virus from the patients they were treating in West Africa in 2014.

Starting in August 2014, the ZMAPP drug was used to treat nine patients, first with American medical missionary doctor Kent Brantly, who recovered.  Unbeknownst to Brantly, who contracted the virus doing medical work in Liberia, infectious disease researcher Gary Kobinger, of the Public Health Agency of Canada, had produced an Ebola drug called ZMAPP. But, Kobinger had only tested it successfully on monkeys. Brantly received the drug and “after two or three hours, I was actually able to get up and walk to the bathroom,” he said.

My next post picks up with last week’s follow up visit to Virginia’s former Kippax Plantation and my research efforts to support Christine in Heacham.

The Chesapeake Bay and Our Native American Heritage


Col Robert Bolling

9th Paternal Great Grandfather, Colonel Robert Thomas Bolling

This post focuses on our native american heritage who resided along the borders of the Chesapeake Bay.  Digressing just a little into my lineage, my paternal Bolling ancestors were among the first in Jamestown and my maternal Lathrop ancestors the first in New England.  My ninth great grandfather, Colonel Robert Bolling married Pocahontas’ granddaughter, Jane Poythress Rolfe, daughter of Thomas Powhatan Rolfe (the only child of Pocahontas [daughter of Powhatan and Chief of the Algonquian Nation] and John Rolfe) and his wife, Jane Poythress.

I am a native born Southern Marylander (the state named for the English Queen Henrietta Maria [1609-1669], wife of Charles I of England, and daughter of Henry IV of France).

King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria

King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria

I descend primarily from European emigrants (Great Britain [67%], Ireland [10%], and Western Europe [7%]), who helped found Jamestown, Virginia in 1607–America’s first permanent English Colony.  So, coming from Maryland and having ancient aristocratic ancestors who helped form the Commonwealth of Virginia (two states that border the Chesapeake Bay) as well as native american heritage I always have had a natural curiosity about the origin of the Chesapeake, its name,  and inhabitants along its borders.

The Chesapeake Bay At A Glance

Pictured below is the earliest map to show the existence of the Chesapeake Bay, called “Baya de Santa Maria.” Juan Vespucci was the royal pilot of Spain’s hydrographic office and nephew of Amerigo Vespucci, after whom North and South America are named. The information on this map came from a 1525 voyage by Pedro de Quexos.

Chesapeake Bay Map

Map of the World, Juan Vespucci, Seville Spain,1526

Because the Chesapeake Bay has been so important to the history of Maryland, charts have played a central role from the 17th Century forward.

From the Maryland State Archives website, I gleaned the following key points about the Chesapeake:

  • In North America, the Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary, a semi-enclosed coastal body of water with a free connection to the open sea.
  • Some 35 million years ago, a bolide, an object similar to a comet or asteroid, struck the present-day Delmarva Peninsula, creating a 55-mile-wide crater. The depression created by the crater changed the course of rivers and determined the location of the Chesapeake Bay.
  • The Bay, as we know it today, was created about 10,000 years ago when melting glaciers flooded the Susquehanna River Valley.
  • Today, fresh water from land drainage measurably dilutes seawater within the Bay. For ocean-going ships, the Bay is navigable with two outlets to the Atlantic Ocean: north through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in Cecil County, and south through the mouth of the Bay between the Virginia capes.
  • Native Americans living along its shores gave the Bay an Algonquian name. Chesepiook, meaning “great shell-fish bay,” was used to signify the abundance of Bay crabs, oysters, and clams.
  • In June 1608, Captain John Smith led two voyages throughout the Chesapeake Bay, and in its midst European settlers first landed at St. Clement’s Island, Maryland, in 1634.
  • Through the lower portion of the Bay, pirates settled and attacked ships off the coast. And, at its southernmost reaches during the Civil War, the first ironclads, the Confederate Merrimac and the Union’s Monitor, fought to a draw near Hampton Roads, Virginia, in March 1862.
  • Many shipwrecks, remains of vessels sunk by natural forces, human error, or attack, lie deep under the Chesapeake Bay.

Native American Ancestors before the Europeans Arrived

Estimates vary, but according to the National Park Service’s Chesapeake Bay Office which coordinates partnerships to develop and sustain national historic trails, it is likely that 50,000 or more people called the Chesapeake region home before the English arrived. Their ancestors had lived here for 40,000 generations—at least 10,000 years—so the ways of life of the native people were highly adapted to the geographic environment. Their economic, cultural, social, political, and spiritual systems were well established and sophisticated.

The First People of the Chesapeake

Chesepians were the Native American inhabitants of the area now known as South Hampton Roads in Virginia during the Woodland Period (1000 BCE to 1000 CE), and later prior to the arrival of the English settlers in 1607. They occupied an area which is now the Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach areas. They were divided into five provinces or kingdoms: Weapemiooc, Chawanook, Secotan, Pomouic and Newsiooc, each ruled by a king or chief. To their west were the members of the Nansemond tribe.

The main village of the Chesepians was called Skicoak, in the present independent city of Norfolk. The Chesepians also had two other towns (or villages), Apasus and Chesepioc, both near the Chesapeake Bay in what is now Virginia Beach. Of these, it is known that Chesepioc was located in the present Great Neck area. Archaeologists and other persons have found numerous Native American artifacts, such as arrowheads, stone axes, pottery, beads, and skeletons in Great Neck Point.

Politically, the area was dominated by the Virginia Peninsula-based Powhatan Confederacy. Although the Chesepians belonged to the same eastern-Algonquian speaking linguistic group as members of the Powhatan Confederacy across Hampton Roads, the archaeological evidence suggests that the original Chesepians belonged to another group, the Carolina Algonquian. Powhatan, whose real name was Wahunsunacock, was the most powerful chieftain in the Chesapeake Bay area, dominating more than 30 Algonquin-speaking tribes. The Chesepians did not belong to Powhatan’s alliance, but instead defied him.

As English writer, William Strachey (1572-1621) documents in his book The Sea Venture, the “Chesapeake People” were murdered before our European ancestors arrived.

History books tell us that in 1609 Strachey, on the ship Sea Venture, headed to Virginia looking for adventure. A hurricane caused the Sea Venture to run aground at Bermuda. In The Sea Venture he writes of his ten-month long struggle for survival. (William Shakespeare used Strachey’s  The Sea Venture book as the basis for his play The Tempest.)

The castaways, while marooned on Bermuda, built boats from their wreckage and eventually made it to Virginia and Strachey then began documenting life in the new colony. Because of his fascination with the Native American inhabitants he also compiled a dictionary of Algonquin language. (The only other known record of Algonquin words was made by John Smith.)

In talking with the natives Strachey discovered information about them that few Europeans had learned. The Indians told him about the remarkable Chesapeake tribe.

He learned that a few years before the arrival of Europeans, the Algonquin priests informed Chief Powhatan that a great danger would arise from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay– so dire that it would destroy their empire, civilization and ways of life. They told him his Confederacy of 30 tribes would be gone, their villages burned, and all of his people dead.

The Algonquin priests repeatedly pressed Powhatan to take action against this small peaceful tribe of 300-400 Chesapeakes who lived near the mouth of the Bay.  At first Powhatan resisted because his priests could not give him specifics. Unfortunately for the Chesapeake Indians, Powhatan’s priests’ visions were persistent and became more compelling. And, sometime around 1606 the Powhatans murdered the entire Chesapeake tribe.

On returning to England in 1611 Strachey published his book, The Historie of Travaile Into Virginia Britannia where he described the stories he heard from the Powhatans about their destruction of the Chesapeake (Chessiopeians) tribe:

“...not long since that his priests told him how that from the Cheaspeack Bay a nation should arise which should dissolve and give end to his empire, for which, not many yeares since (perplext with this divelish oracle, an divers understanding thereof), according to the ancyent and gentile customs, he destroyed and put to sword all such who might lye under any doubtful construccion of the said prophesie, as all the inhabitants, the wereoance and his subjects of the province, and so remaine all of the Chessiopeians at this daye, and for this cause, extinct.

During the 1970s and ’80s, archaeologists discovered the remains of 64 Chesapeake Indians during development in the Great Neck area of Virginia Beach. Those bones dated to between 800 B.C. and A.D. 1600.  In April 1997, after decades of trying to recover these Native American remains, the Nansemonds’ reburied them near the English’s First Landing site in Virginia.

And yet today, we still can see evidence of our native american roots in our counties and place names along the Chesapeake regions.  We live in Calvert County that was originally established as Patuxent County in 1654 (named after the Patuxent people) and note that its name was changed to Calvert County after Lord Calvert of Baltimore in 1658.  Just down the road from us a piece is Chesapeake Beach, named for the Chesapeake people who were an Algonquian-speaking tribe who resided in Virginia.  And fortunately for us, there are many more words and names that remain as they were known centuries ago.

About Algonquian-Speaking Tribes

In the tables below, you will see references to “Algonquian-speaking tribes.”  The word Algonquian (or Algonkian) is a general linguistic/anthropological term used to refer to not only the small Algonquin tribe but dozens of distinct Native American tribes who speak languages that are related to each other.

  Native American County Names

Native County Names

  Native American Villages, Towns, and Cities Names

Native Place Names

From www.ethnologue.com (the comprehensive reference site that catalogs all the known living languages [7,106] in the world today), I discovered the various tribes that made up the Algonquian-speaking confederacy and are included in the Algic Family language classification system–one of the largest indigenous language families of North America. It consists of 44 languages, the overwhelming majority of which (42 languages) belong to the Algonquian branch. The bulleted list below shows the Alqonquian-speaking tribes and their countries of origin (Canada or the United States).  I have highlighted in green below the 12 Eastern Alngoquian-speaking tribes who resided in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia along the Chesapeake Bay borders:

Algic (42)

Ritwan (2)

Many Algonquian languages are extremely endangered today. Only a handful of them have a significant number of speakers. Of the original 42 Algic languages, only about 27 of them are used today. The largest group is Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi with 104,000 speakers, while the largest single language is Ojibwa with some 35,000 speakers. Ten languages are already extinct, and many are on the verge of extinction. Most surviving languages are spoken by older adults who are not passing their language on to their children.

Below the double lines, I included a more complete Chesapeake Bay History Timeline that spans (according to the scientists) 35 Million Years!



A Chesapeake Bay History Timeline as Created by Chesapeakebay.net

35 Million Years Ago
35 Million Years Ago

Image courtesy Nicolle Rager-Fuller/NSF

  • A rare bolide (a comet- or asteroid-like object) hits what is now the lower tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, creating a 55-mile-wide crater. This crater influences the shape of the region’s rivers and determines the eventual location of the Chesapeake Bay. As sea levels fluctuate over the next several million years, the area that is now the Bay alternates between dry land and shallow coastal sea.
10 to 2 Million Years Ago
10 to 2 Million Years Ago

Image courtesy Wing-Chi Poon/Wikimedia Commons

  • A series of ice ages locks ocean water in massive glaciers. The mid-Atlantic coastline extends 180 miles farther than its current location.
  • In warmer periods, a glacier melts into the headwaters of the Susquehanna River, carving a valley through Pennsylvania and pushing sediment into the Coastal Plain. In colder periods, conifer forests attract deer, bears and birds to the region.
18,000 Years Ago
18,000 Years Ago

Image courtesy Twelvex/Flickr

  • Glacial sheets from the most recent Ice Age begin to retreat. The region’s climate begins to warm.
15,000 Years Ago
15,000 Years Ago

Image courtesy Nicolas T/Flickr

  • As the climate continues to warm, a landscape that was once dominated by conifers begins to change. Oak, maple, hickory and other hardwood species appear.
11,500 Years Ago
11,500 Years Ago

Image courtesy Ficusdesk/Flickr

  • Paleo-Indian people arrive in the region. Over the next thousand years, the climate becomes increasingly humid and the landscape gives way to hardwood forests and coastal wetlands. Paleo-Indians modify their hunting technology accordingly, replacing Clovis points with spear-throwing devices that can be launched over expansive terrain.
10,000 to 7,000 Years Ago
10,000 to 7,000 Years Ago

Image courtesy Dru!/Flickr

  • Ice sheets and glaciers continue to melt, flooding the Susquehanna, Potomac, James and York rivers. Water pours into the Atlantic Ocean and sea levels rise. The Chesapeake Bay’s outline begins to form.
  • Mammoths, giant beavers and other Ice Age creatures are now extinct.
5,000 Years Ago

5,000 Years Ago

  • Temperatures continue to rise. A mixed deciduous forest dominates the landscape. Acorns and other nuts become a key food source.
  • Diverse fish and shellfish populations are abundant in the region’s rivers. The first oysters colonize the Bay.
2,000 Years Ago
2,000 Years Ago

Image courtesy AerialOutline/Flickr

  • The Chesapeake Bay’s outline now resembles its current form.
  • Native American populations continue to develop more sophisticated hunting methods, including the bow and arrow.
  • The Bay’s waters are dominated by oysters, clams and fish, like bass and shad. Shellfish becomes an increasingly important food source.
1,000 Years Ago
1,000 Years Ago

Image courtesy brandoncripps/Flickr

  • Native Americans clear forests to create farmland. A reliance on agricultural crops like corn, squash, beans and tobacco leads to the creation of more permanent town villages.
1,000

Image courtesy brandoncripps/Flickr

  • The Chesapeake Bay region is home to a few thousand humans and many plants and animals, including 200 species of fish, 300 species of birds and 120 species of mammals
1500

1500

  • The Native American population reaches 24,000.
1524
1524

Image courtesy F. Allegrini/Flickr

Italian Captain Giovanni da Verrazano is the first recorded European to enter the Chesapeake Bay.

1561
1561

Image courtesy barxtux/Flickr

  • While exploring tidewater Virginia, Spanish conquistadors capture a young Native American. They name him Don Luis and bring back to Spain, where he receives a formal education.
1570

1570

  • Don Luis returns to the Chesapeake region as a guide and interpreter with the St. Mary’s Mission, a small group of Spanish Jesuits seeking to establish a religious camp. Don Luis quickly abandons the group and returns to his people. Months later, he leads a massacre against the St. Mary’s Mission, killing all but a young servant boy.
1607
1607

Image courtesy Jay I. Kislak Foundation

  • An expedition funded by The Virginia Company of London arrives in the Chesapeake Bay. They establish the first permanent English settlement in North America in Jamestown, Virginia.
1608
1608

Image courtesy National Park Service

  • Captain John Smith sets off on the first of his two voyages around the Chesapeake Bay. In his journal, he records detailed descriptions of his surroundings. In the years to follow, he draws an elaborate and remarkably accurate map of the Bay and its rivers.
1650s
1650s

Image courtesy Trevor Haldenby/Flickr

  • The tobacco industry is booming in the lower Chesapeake colonies.
  • Colonists clear land for agriculture and use hook-and-line to catch fish in the Bay’s shallow waters.
  • War and disease take their toll on Native Americans, whose population shrinks to 2,400—just 10 percent of the size it was when Europeans first arrived in the region.
1680s
1680s

Image courtesy Steve and Sara/Flickr

  • Virginia lawmakers pass legislation to prevent wasteful fishing practices on the Rappahannock River.
  • Colonists begin using hand tongs to harvest oysters.
1700s
1700s

Image courtesy Claude Moore Colonial Farm

  • English settlements grow rapidly as agriculture expands. The first signs of environmental degradation occur.
  • A patchwork of rural farming and fishing communities develops on the western and eastern shores of the Chesapeake Bay.
1750s
1750s

Image courtesy SoilScience

  • Colonists strip 20 to 30 percent of the region’s forests for settlements. As a result, shipping ports begin to fill with eroded sediment, becoming too shallow for boats to navigate.
  • Commercial fishing for species like shad and herring begins.
1770s
1770s

Image courtesy American Art Museum/Flickr

  • The colonial population exceeds 700,000.
  • Farmers begin to use plows extensively, starting a cycle of permanent tillage that prevents reforestation and leads to massive soil erosion.
1781
1781

Image courtesy John Trumbull/Wikimedia Commons

  • After eight years of fighting, the Revolutionary War ends when British Lord Charles Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, Virginia.
  • The former British colonies are on the verge of forming a new, unified nation. The Chesapeake Bay region will come to serve as a key economic and political center.
1785
1785

Image courtesy NCinDC/Flickr

  • Virginia and Maryland sign the Mount Vernon Compact, also known as the Compact of 1785. Virginia agrees to give vessels bound for Maryland free passage at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay. In return, Maryland gives citizens of both states the right to fish in the Potomac River.
1800s

1800s

  • Oyster harvests increase dramatically.
  • New England fishermen travel to the Chesapeake Bay with a device that scoops hundreds of thousands of oysters from their beds. Virginia and Maryland eventually ban this equipment.
  • Maryland legislation states that only Maryland citizens can transport oysters in the state’s waters.
1820s
1820s

Image courtesy JRiver/Flickr)

  • Railroads, canals and steamboats offer new transportation options, benefiting the coal, steel and oyster industries.
1829
1829

Image courtesy Anthony Bley/Wikimedia Commons

  • The 14-mile Chesapeake and Delaware Canal is built, linking the Chesapeake Bay with Delaware Bay and opening undeveloped land to agriculture and the harvest of timber.
1840s
1840s

Image courtesy calwest/Flickr

  • Half of the region’s forests have been cleared for agriculture, timber and fuel.
  • The first imported fertilizers are used after ships bring bird guano from Caribbean rookeries and nitrate deposits from the Chilean coast.
1850s
1850s

Image courtesy swamibu/Flickr

  • Railroads, canals and steamboats have allowed the oyster market to reach consumers outside of the Chesapeake region.
  • The number of oysters harvested from the Bay has doubled in the last 10 years, from 700,000 bushels in 1839 to more than 1.5 million in the 1850s.
1860s
1860s

Image courtesy Wayan Vota/Flickr

  • Water supply systems are constructed to transport drinking water to Baltimore and the District of Columbia.
  • Sewer systems are built to send waste and runoff into the rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Brick, stone, iron and steel replace wood as the region’s source of heat, light and building material.
1880s
1880s

Image courtesy University of Delaware Library/Flickr

  • Wooden skipjacks—or vessels that are adapted to sail on Chesapeake Bay waters—are built in response to increased demand for oysters.
  • Twenty million bushels of oysters are harvested from the Bay each year.
1890s
1890s

Image courtesy Nick Humphries/Flickr

  • Sixty to 80 percent of the forests along the Baltimore-Washington corridor have been cleared for agriculture and development.
  • Coal-burning industries spew smoke into the air and send pollutants into the region’s rivers.
  • The construction of highways links cities and suburbs.
1900s
1900s

Image courtesy accent on ecelectic/Flickr

  • The replacement of railroad ties removes an estimated 15 to 20 million acres of eastern forests.
  • A dramatic drop in oyster populations starts to affect Chesapeake Bay health, and state and federal laws move to control the industry.
  • Scientists begin questioning the impact of human behavior on the Bay.
1910s
1910s

Image courtesy ghbrett/Flickr

  • A District of Columbia law restricts the height of city buildings, causing development to expand outward.
  • Baltimore installs separate wastewater and stormwater systems to filter water before it flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
  • The Migratory Bird Treaty Act establishes hunting seasons and limits on international migratory waterfowl.
1920s
1920s

Image courtesy Cyber Insket/Flickr

  • Swamps and marshes are drained to create room for waste dumps and new development.
  • The Conowingo Hydroelectric Generating Station, also known as the Conowingo Dam, is built at the mouth of the Susquehanna River. Upon its completion, it is the second largest hydroelectric power plant in the United States.
1930s
1930s

Image courtesy Beaverton Historical Society/Flickr

  • The Great Depression spurs public works projects that repair and expand the region’s roads, bridges, parks and electrical services into rural areas, encouraging population growth.
  • An interstate conference on the Chesapeake Bay recommends treating the Bay as a single resource unit rather than separate bodies of water.
1940s
1940s

Image courtesy Virginia Institute of Marine Science

  • The “suburb” is born.
  • People begin to use synthetic fertilizers on their lawns and fields, polluting local waterways. Maryland and Virginia create water pollution control agencies.
  • The fishing industry increases its range and mobility, causing local fish populations to decline.
  • Dermo, a disease that kills oysters, is discovered in the Chesapeake Bay.
1950s
1950s

Image courtesy Radio Rover/Flickr

  • The 4.2-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge is built, opening Maryland’s Eastern Shore to development.
  • Across the region, developers drain and fill wetlands to build new houses, stores and office buildings.
  • MSX, a disease that kills oysters, is found in the lower Chesapeake Bay.
1960s
1960s

Image courtesy Barabara Rich/Flickr

  • The 17.4-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel opens, connecting Virginia Beach with Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
  • Interstates 66, 70, 83, 95, 270, 495 and 695 are completed. The personal car has become the choice mode of transportation for Americans.
1963
1963

Image courtesy Lossanjose/Flickr

  • The Clean Air Act is passed in an effort to lower air pollution.
1967
1967

Image courtesy David Clow/Flickr

1970s

1970s

1972
1972

Image courtesy Mr. T in DC/Flickr

  • The Clean Water Act is passed, establishing water quality standards and limiting the amount and kind of pollutants that can enter rivers, streams and other waterways.
1973
1973

Image courtesy Pulpolux/Flickr

  • U.S. Senator Charles Mathias tours the Chesapeake Bay shoreline and sponsors legislation that prompts the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a study on the Bay’s health. This marks the first time that the Bay’s degrading health is brought to the public’s attention.
  • The Endangered Species Act is passed, protecting endangered species and the ecosystems on which they depend.
1980s

1980s

  • The Chesapeake Bay Commission, a tri-state legislative body that represents Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, is established to coordinate policy across state lines.
  • The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay begins a first-of-its-kind program that teaches citizen volunteers how to monitor water quality.
1983

1983

  • The first Chesapeake Bay Agreement is signed by Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania; the District of Columbia; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and the Chesapeake Bay Commission. The Chesapeake Bay Program is established and the Chesapeake Executive Council is named the chief policy-making authority in the watershed.
1984

1984

  • Maryland passes the Critical Area Act to better manage continued growth. The law leads to the formation of the Maryland Nontidal Wetlands Protection Program, which works to conserve, create and monitor nontidal wetlands, slowing the loss of this critical ecosystem.
1985

1985

  • Six years after Congress passes the Emergency Striped Bass Act, Maryland imposes a moratorium on striped bass fishing. Virginia soon follows suit, in hopes that a closed fishery will help the species recover from harvest and pollution pressures.
  • A Maryland ban on phosphate-containing laundry detergent reduces the amount of phosphorous flowing from wastewater treatment plants into the Chesapeake Bay.
1987

1987

  • The 1987 Chesapeake Bay Agreement sets the first ever numeric goals to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, aiming to lower the nitrogen and phosphorous entering the Bay by 40 percent by the year 2000.
1988

1988

  • Virginia passes the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, guiding local governments to address the environmental impacts of development and pushing communities to better manage urban and suburban growth.
  • Maryland State Senator Bernie Fowler’s Patuxent River Wade-In establishes the “sneaker index” as a measure of Bay health, boosting public interest in water quality.
1989

1989

  • Maryland and Virginia lift the ban on striped bass fishing. The fish is declared a recovered species six years later.
1990s
1990s

Image courtesy Airliners.net

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Waters Program acknowledges that air pollution contributes to water pollution.
  • The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay begins to host week-long paddling trips down some of the watershed’s biggest rivers.
  • The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration begins selling“Treasure the Chesapeake” license plates, which support the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
1992
1992

Image courtesy spike55151/Flickr

  • Amendments are made to the 1987 Chesapeake Bay Agreement that aim to attack nutrients at their source: upstream tributaries that flow into the Chesapeake Bay.
  • The Clean Vessel Act establishes a grant program to fund the construction of pumpout stations at marinas across the watershed, presenting a viable alternative to the overboard disposal of sewage.
1993

1993

  • A law passed in Pennsylvania requires certain farmers to develop and implement nutrient management plans, limiting the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous that can run off of farms and into local waterways. In 1994, Virginia follows suit. In 1998, Maryland enacts similar legislation.
1994

1994

  • The Bay Program’s Riparian Forest Buffer Panel develops ground-breaking goals for the conservation and restoration of streamside forests. Federal and state incentive programs encourage landowners to install forest buffers on their properties.
1995
1995

Image courtesy adactio/Flick

  • The Local Government Partnership Initiative is signed to provide assistance to the 1,650 local governments in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
1996

1996

  • Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant begins to use nutrient removal technology to lower the amount of nitrogen it sends into the Potomac River and improve water quality.
  • Federal, state and private partners agree to restore Poplar Island using sand and sediment dredged up from the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay.
1997

1997

  • The Virginia Water Quality Improvement Act establishes a state fund that will support the prevention, reduction and control of nutrient pollution.
  • Maryland passes a package of legislation to combat suburban sprawl and direct smart growth. The initiative is praised as an innovative way to preserve natural resources and pursue sustainable development.
1998
1998

Image courtesy Joachim S. Muller/Flickr

  • The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission closes Atlantic sturgeon fishing along the East Coast. The 40-year ban is the longest fishing moratorium on record.
  • The Maryland Water Quality Improvement Act calls for the addition of a phosphorous-reducing enzyme to poultry feed, lowering nutrient levels in poultry litter.
1999

1999

  • The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation establishes the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund to help communities restore polluted rivers and streams. The fund awards $8 to $12 million each year to on-the-ground conservation.
  • The Virginia Land Conservation Act establishes a state tax credit to reward those who donate land or easements for conservation.
2000
2000

Image courtesy Brian Talbot/Flickr

  • Maryland records its lowest blue crab harvest: 20.2 million pounds.
  • Chesapeake 2000 is signed, establishing more than 100 goals to reduce pollution and restore habitats, protect living resources and promote sound land use, and engage the public in restoration.
  • The National Park Service and its partners launch the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Water Trails Network to connect people with the Bay’s places and stories.
2002

2002

  • More than 2,800 miles of forest buffers have been restored in the watershed, meeting the Bay Program’s goal for forest buffer restoration eight years ahead of schedule.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration establishes the Bay Watershed Education and Training program to fund the delivery of Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences and advance environmental education in the region.
2003

2003

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issues water quality criteria for the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries.
  • Representatives from the Bay’s headwater states join the Chesapeake Executive Council.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Blue Ribbon Panel is created to find new financing opportunities for restoration work, and the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network is established to bring grantmakers together.
2005

2005

  • The Chesapeake Executive Council adopts an animal manure management strategy to reduce nutrient pollution from livestock operations.
2006
2006

Image courtesy Jane Thomas/IAN Image Library

  • The Chesapeake Executive Council adopts new directives to expand forest cover, reduce the amount of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers and increase funding for on-farm conservation programs.
  • The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail is designated.
  • The Living Shorelines Summit furthers research on the use of living shorelines to control erosion.
2007

2007

  • The Chesapeake Executive Council signs the Forest Conservation Initiative, committing to conserve 695,000 acres of forests by 2020.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) is launched to report real-time environmental data.
  • BayStat is launched to track restoration progress.
  • The Bay blue crab harvest of 44.2 million pounds is one of the lowest recorded since 1945.
2008

2008

  • Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission issue emergency regulations on the harvest of blue crabs to help the species recover. The Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab fishery is declared a federal disaster.
  • The 2008 Farm Bill dedicates more than $180 million over the course of four years to agricultural conservation.
  • The invasive zebra mussel is found in the Maryland portion of the Susquehanna River.
2009

2009

  • President Obama signs an executive order that calls on the federal government to renew the effort to protect and restore the watershed.
  • The Chesapeake Executive Council sets two-year milestones to accelerate restoration and increase accountability.
  • Annapolis becomes the first jurisdiction in the watershed to ban phosphorous in lawn fertilizer.
2010
2010

Image courtesy Lydiat/Flickr

  • Maryland, Virginia and New York ban phosphates in dishwasher detergent to lower phosphorous pollution in local waterways.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency establishes the Total Maximum Daily Load to limit the amount of pollutants that can enter the Chesapeake Bay.
  • The Bay Program launches ChesapeakeStat to improve communication about restoration goals, progress and funding.
2011

2011

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issues a new Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Permit to the District of Columbia. It is the first of its kind to incorporate green infrastructure into its requirements, setting a national model for stormwater management.
2012

2012

  • Harris Creek becomes the first target of the oyster restoration goals set forth in the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order: to restore oyster populations in 20 Bay tributaries by 2025. In this Choptank River tributary, existing reefs will be studied, new bars will be built and spat-on-shell will be planted.
2013
2013

Image courtesy cplong11/Flickr

  • A federal judge rules that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can set pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay, thus upholding the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) that was challenged in court in 2011.
2014

2014

  • The Chesapeake Executive Council signs the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, which contains goals and outcomes that will guide conservation and restoration across the watershed. For the first time, the Bay’s headwater states commit to those goals that reach beyond water quality.

Help Save Portrait of Bolling Family Founder


Portrait of Robert Bolling (1646-1709), Oil on Canvas
Photo Courtesy of:  Muscarelle Museum of Art – Williamsburg, VA

Muscarelle Museum of Art: Portrait of Robert Bolling (1646-1709), oil on canvas

My 9th Paternal Great Grandfather

This portrait depicts Colonel Robert Bolling, founder of the Bolling family, one of the “First Families of Virginia”, where he became a wealthy landowner and an active participant in the political affairs of the colony.

He arrived from England in October 1660 and in 1675 married Jane Rolfe, the granddaughter of John Rolfe and Pocahontas (born Matoaka). The painting suffers from surface loss due to flaking. The varnish treatment and its discoloration obscure much detail in the painting.

The public voting component of the Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts program will conclude next week – on August 23, 2014. Until that time, the public is encouraged to visit the website www.vatop10artifacts.org and vote for their favorite items nominated by a wide range of collecting institutions – including museums, libraries, and historical societies from Virginia and Washington, DC. Additionally, the public may make donations directly to the participating organizations through the website to support conservation of the nominated artifacts.

Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts is a project of the Virginia Association of Museums and was originally funded through an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Connecting to Collections Statewide Implementation Grant. The Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Program raises awareness of the importance of conservation of our historic and cultural treasures. While it is not a grant-making effort, the program offers collecting institutions in Virginia and D.C. an opportunity to raise media and public awareness about the ongoing and expensive care of collections.

10,000 votes have been cast already by art lovers, history buffs, and fans of museums and historic houses from around the country. From a Kodak camera collection spanning from 1899 to 1977 to a 300 year old East India Company Atlas of Japan to a Pamunkey Chief’s Regalia, this year’s competition features 36 fascinating items – part of our collective past and culture – that are all worthy of conservation.

The artifact with the most online votes will receive the People’s Choice Award. The overall voting will be taken into consideration by an independent panel of conservators and collections care professionals who select Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts for 2014. The “Top 10” Honorees for 2014 will be announced on September 9, 2014.

Please visit www.vatop10artifacts.org for updated information and a list of nominees.

Archeologists Unearth 40 Confederate Corpses in Virginia Cemetery 154 Years Later


Like you probably, I often come across stories quite by accident that just scream out at me; “share me with other genealogical researchers!”  This is another one of those finds.  Interestingly enough, this FOX NEWS story appeared on the United Kingdom’s Mail OnLine News.  I’m very sorry that I found it two weeks after our Memorial Day Observances, but I just couldn’t hold it for another year without sharing.  And, I am quite anxiously anticipating this story will further unfold over the next few months. Please take a read…

By ALEXANDRA KLAUSNER, FOX NEWS

Ted Delaney, the assistant director of Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg Virginia, along with a team of archeologists discovered the bodies

The bodies of 40 Confederate soldiers unearthed in the last two months will have a proper memorial around 150 years after they fought during the Civil War.

Photo by Ted Delaney

Photo by Ted Delaney

Ted Delaney, the assistant director of Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg Virginia, along with a team of archeologists also found the areas where Union Soldiers were buried and then disinterred in 1866.

Delaney told reporters that his team discovered an area of the cemetery called ‘Yankee Square’ that had both red and orange squares that he deemed were Confederate soldiers’ graves.

Archeologists are hoping to identify Confederate soldiers (pictured ca. 1861-1865) around 150 years after they fought during the Civil War

Civil War Confedertes

Photo by Corbis

In early April the team dug a 45-by-10 foot trench to dig up the bodies and now face the challenge of identifying each grave and giving them the recognition they deserve.

‘Our goal is to put a marker at each grave space to identify the soldier and note when he died and his military unit,’ said Delaney

‘The undertaker’s notes are so detailed and complete,’ he added, confident that at least 80 soldiers would be properly identified.

This has been an incredible process of discovery,’ he told Fox News.  

‘It’s always been very frustrating for those descendents who come to us because they can’t find their ancestor’s grave. Now we can bring some of them closure.’

‘Yankee Square’ was originally intended to be a burial site for just Union soldiers but later included Confederate soldiers many of whom died from small pox and other diseases.

Delaney and his team have been awarded an annual grant of $2,500 from the Virginia Department of Historic Records for their work.

Delaney and his archeologists were not the only ones to discover unidentified Civil War graves during the last few years.

Sam Ricks, the graves registrar for the Sons of Confederate Veterans’, uncovered unmarked graves at Mount Mariah Cemetery along with his crew recently.

The 380 acre historic cemetery which spans from Philadelphia and Yeadon, Pennsylvania called Mount Moriah cemetery houses graves of 2,300 Marines and Navy service members dating from the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812 all the way to the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Ricks made a discovery in 2008 after being approached by a relative of a cadet from the Virginia Military Institute, Nathan Tiernon Walton a year earlier.

Walton, along with 194 cadets, fought the Battle of New Market in Virginia for the Confederate Army on May 15, 1864.

Walton later left his wife and daughter in Baltimore to find work in Atlanta and Philadelphia and became estranged from his relatives.

‘He was a recluse,’ Ricks said, ‘And no one ever knew what became of him.’

Walton’s family believed that he was buried in Baltimore along with his wife, but Walton’s great-grandson, Bill Banks, found no evidence that Walton was buried in Loudon Park Cemetary.

Fox reports that Banks continues a search started by his grandmother 100 years ago to find his great-grandfathers grave.

They later discovered that Walton died in the Great Influenza Pandemic or 1918.

In November 2008, both Ricks and Walton’s family were able to mark Walton’s grave with a large cast iron Southern Cross passed down by Walton’s daughter.

‘I’m reminded of this case every Memorial Day,’ Ricks said.

‘Walton’s daughter had handed down to generations a marker to be placed at his grave should it ever be found. And then we actually did it. We fulfilled her wish.’

The Thornton Family’s Fredericksburg Mansion – Part I


My Thornton Family History

The Thornton Family is one of Virginia’s distinguished Colonial families. A large branch in my family tree includes Thornton ancestors and spans 24 generations. My Thornton family members date back to 1314 in Bolling Hall, Bradford, Yorkshire, England when Robert DeBolling (my 16th paternal great grandfather–Generation 2) married Elizabeth DeThornton in 1337, before the two surnames were shortened to Bolling and Thornton.

Fall Hill–Home of the Thornton’s

Fall Hill and the Thorntons

Fall Hill is an early 1700s plantation located on an 8,000 acre land established and patented by Francis Thornton I (1657-1727) around 1720.  It is located near the falls on the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, Virginia.   Various members of the Thornton family lived at Fall Hill until 2003 (about 300 years). The present house was built in 1790 by Francis Thornton V (1760–1836)when he married Sally Innes and is located within the present-day town of Fredericksburg.  The architectural design supports the 1790 construction.

Fall Hill MansionThe Thornton family ran a grist mill on the Rappahannock River. Stories handed down over generations say that Francis Thornton III (1711–1749) built the house on Fall Hill to escape the heat of the original house that sat in the lower elevations near the river.

Francis Thornton III married Frances Gregory, daughter of Mildred Washington Gregory, aunt and godmother of George Washington. He served as a burgess, a trustee of Fredericksburg, and Colonel of the Spotsylvania Militia. In 1749, Fall Hill was inherited by Colonel Thornton’s son, Francis Thornton IV (1737–1794). However, he and his wife, Ann Thompson, maintained their primary residence at The Falls.

FrancisThorntonV-1767-1836

Francis Thornton V 1767-1836

Francis Thornton V was a Justice of the Peace in Spotsylvania County. Francis V was the last of the direct line of the Thorntons of Fall Hill plantation.  His son, James Innes Thornton, was born at Fall Hill. He moved to Alabama, became its third secretary of state, and established his own plantation, Thornhill. Francis Thornton V died in 1836 without a will. For nine years, until the estate was settled in 1845, Fall Hill was maintained by family slaves. Ultimately, the estate was deeded to Dr. John Roberts Taylor (1803-1884) in 1845. Dr. Taylor was the father-in-law of my 13th cousin, Butler Brayne Thornton.   It was Dr. Taylor who renovated the home in the 1840s.

Its proximity to the Rappahannock River made Fall Hill a strategic point during the Fredericksburg Campaign of the Civil War. Fortifications were built along the river at the house to protect the crossing. The breastworks were built by General Robert E. Lee’s soldiers.  According to long-time resident, Butler Franklin, at one point Lee ordered the mansion destroyed by cannon fire so he could better see the approach of the Union Army across the river. The house survived because the Union Army advance changed its direction.

In 1870 Dr. Taylor’s son, Murray Forbes Taylor, married Butler Brayne Thornton (my 13th cousin), a descendant of Francis Thornton V, which again brought Fall Hill into the Thornton family. Taylor and his wife lived with Doctor Taylor at Fall Hill from 1875 to 1877. In 1877, Murray Thornton and his wife Butler Brayne moved to California where Taylor managed the estate of Mrs. Phoebe Apperson Hearst (mother of William Randolph Hearst) at San Simeon, California. To show her gratitude to Murray Taylor when he retired from his job at San Simeon in 1908, Mrs. Hearst purchased Fall Hill for $25,000 as a gift for him. It was Mrs. Hearst’s wish that Butler Brayne Thornton Robinson Franklin inherit the estate.

Except for that period from 1845–1870, Fall Hill has been in possession of the Thornton family. Butler Franklin, who died in 2003 at the age of 104, was the last of the Thorntons to own the property.  Fall Hill was added to the National Register of Historic Places in June 1973.

Resources:

http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/va/Spotsylvania/state.html/
http://www.Virginiadescendants.com/john-roberts-taylor/

Bi-racial Relationships of the 60’s–the 1860’s!


The Year 1868

Last week my genealogical research took me back to my second paternal great grandfather, Lawrence T. “Larl” Boling.  I already knew that Larl married Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Tapp in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but when I looked more closely I found that their wedding took place just one week before Christmas 1868–that was the Christmas day when our 17th President, President Andrew Johnson, President Andrew Johnsongranted unconditional pardons for all persons involved in the Southern rebellion (Civil War). And just ten months earlier on February 24, 1868, he was impeached by the House of Representatives.  The Senate tried the case in a trial that lasted from March to May 1868. In the end, the Senate voted to acquit President Andrew Johnson by a margin of 35 guilty to 19 not guilty – one vote short of the two-thirds needed to convict him for breaching the Tenure of Office Act by removing Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, from his cabinet.

1864

WildernessWounded1864It was also only about four years earlier in May 1864 in Spotsylvania, Virginia, on land known as the Wilderness Field, where Sarah’s mother, “The Widow Tapp,” lived with her family when the “Battle of the Wilderness,” (Grant vs Lee) was fought, killing more than 50,000 men.  This battle became known as “The Crossroads of the Civil War.”

In glades they meet skull after skull
Where pine cones lay – the rusted gun,
Green shoes full of bones, the mouldering coat
And cuddled up skeleton;
And scores of such. Some start as in dreams,
And comrades lost bemoan;
By the edge of those wilds Stonewall had charged-
But the year and the Man were gone.
Herman Melville – (from “The Armies of the Wilderness”)

The remains of the carnage were still visible in the Wilderness years after the battle. Photo by Geroge Bell circa 1866. Courtesy LOC

Machymap

Machywap Taptico: Photo courtesy of Smithsonian National Archives

Despite their country’s severe turmoil, near the end of 1868, Larl (30) and Bettie (25) started their lives together.  He was from the ancient English aristocratic Bolling family and Bettie’s paternal lineage revealed she was Native American. Somewhat unimaginable for me, when at a time, brothers were fighting brothers over the issues of slavery and the rights of people of color!

The 1600’s

An on-demand book (Wicocomico Indian Nation of the Powhatan Empire – the Tapp Family Native American Heritage) that I am ordering traces the Native American Taptico/Tapp lineage back seven generations to 1678.  My own research has taken me back to my ninth great grandfather, Machywap Thomas Taptico (1630-1689) and tribes that lived along the Chesapeake Bay, the Rappahannock, and Potomac Rivers in the states of Maryland and Virginia. Machywap was the last Chief of the Chicacoan Tribe before it was merged with Wicocomico Tribes in Virginia in 1655-56.  He was selected as Chief of these merged tribes by the English because they thought he was a friend to them and could be easily managed. And, according to the Wicocomico Indian Nation, the English’s selection of Machywap didn’t set well with the Wicocomico and when threats on his life became serious, the English had to provide him protection from his own tribesmen.

And the irony within all of these periods of time, the stories about power, rights, and freedom–the discussion, confusion, and hypocrisy still remain–not only within North America but throughout the world.  Add to all of these facts that archeological studies spanning hundreds of years still indicate that the first people who arrived in North America were Paleoindians and that their presence dates back about 14,000 years–No, it wasn’t Amerigo Vespucci, Columbus, or the puritans that arrived here first and settled the Americas–rather it was indigenous natives. You can look it up for yourself, archaeologists call this period of North American history Paleoindian, meaning ancient Indian.  So this story became much more than one of a young bi-racial couple surviving during the American Civil War era and the legacies they left us. Thus, this story is far from over… 

150th Anniversary–Battle of the Wilderness


My second great grandfather, Lawrence T. “Larl” Boling married Sarah Tapp, daughter of the now famous Catharine Dempsey “Widow Tapp,” (making her my 3rd great grandmother) because she had the misfortune of living on the land that became known as the “Wilderness Battlefield,” in Fredericksburg, Virginia, during the Civil War.

On Friday May 2, through Sunday, May 4, Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield (FoWB) in collaboration with the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park (FRSP) and in commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of the Wilderness will offer Programs and Events as included at the end of this post. Please come join them in this commemorative event.

The Wilderness is the name given to a dense forest, with thick undergrowth, located about ten miles west of Fredericksburg, Virginia. It runs roughly 15 miles along the south bank of the Rapidan River and stretches approximately 10 miles to the south. During the Civil War, this dense forest was the location of two major battles that occurred almost exactly a year apart. 

 

In the first battle, “Chancellorsville” (April 30 thru May 6, 1863), Confederate General Robert E. Lee faced Union General “Fighting” Joe Hooker. It was during the Chancellorsville battle that, after his Corps had flanked the Union army and almost destroyed it, Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson was mortally wounded by his own men.

Widow Tapp’s field

Catharine DempseyMuch of the Battle of the Wilderness was fought on the lands that Catharine Dempsey Tapp rented from Major James Horace Lacy, who lived at Ellwood, two miles to the northeast. Her husband, Vincent Tapp died before 1860, leaving her to raise the family. Catharine was the daughter of Daniel and Betsey Dempsey of Orange County, Virginia.  Few families of modest means became so famous. “Widow Tapp, as she was known” (my third great grandmother), with other family members eked out an existence from the poor soil. The Tapps occupied a lopsided log cabin where seven people lived in a space perhaps 30 by 20 feet. A corncrib, log stable, and a few fruit trees surrounded the house. Four milk cows and seven pigs wandered the property.

Catharine Tapp’s net worth barely exceeded 100 dollars. She owned no land; she owned no slaves. A kitchen garden and small patches of corn, potatoes, and wheat likely provided much of the family’s food. The war that so devastated others in Spotsylvania County could do little to diminish the Tapps; they had little to lose.

“Eliza “Phenie” Tapp (my 2nd great aunt) was just four at the time of the battle, but in the 1930’s she described her childhood memories to National Park Service historian Ralph Happel. She remembered that as her family fled their home bullets struck the dirt around them, kicking up dust like the first raindrops of a coming storm.”

Phenie Tapp Interview

Photo of Phenie Tapp being interviewed by National Park Service historian. This is from a marker at the site of Widow Tapp’s farm in Spotsylvania County. (Site of the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1863.)

 

Phenie Ta[[

Phenie Tapp is the granddaughter of Catharine Dempsey Tapp better known as “Widow Tapp” from the farm where much of the Battle of The Wilderness was fought.

The 1864 Overland Campaign Begins with

the Battle of the Wilderness

Friends of Wilderness Battlefield (FoWB) in collaboration with the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park (FRSP) and commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of the Wilderness will offer Programs and Events beginning on Friday, May 2 through Sunday, May 4.In early spring of 1864 while headquartered in Culpeper, Virginia, General U.S. Grant, USA devised a historic plan to end the American Civil War; it became known as the Overland Campaign. Though it would take the better part of a year and the massing of casualties in the hundreds of thousands to reach its goal, it would begin with the horrific two-day battle at the Wilderness on May 5 and 6 of 1864.

Battle of the WildernessWith casualties reaching nearly 30, 000 during the two days of fighting, it is our duty and responsibility to keep their stories alive. “It is not so much a need to relive the past as it is an obligation to honor our ancestors be they military or civilian, black or white, Confederate or Union. At the very least, we owe them that,” said Zann Nelson, President of Friends of Wilderness Battlefield. Beginning on Saturday, April 26 and running through August 17, Ellwood Manor will be open seven (7) days a week from 10 am to 5 pm. After August 17th, the Ellwood house hours of operation will resume the Sat., Sunday and holiday schedule through October. There is never a fee to enter Ellwood or participate in any of the events offered on the grounds, though donations are always welcomed. For more detail visit  www.fowb.org. Upcoming Schedule of events: May 2-3: 2-Day Wilderness Battlefield Bus Tour: Guide: Gordon Rhea … SOLD OUTMay 3 and 4: “Living History at Ellwood Manor” ongoing 10-5 May 4: “Tours of Historic Ellwood” will be extended until 7 PM

Special Commemorative Programs at Ellwood Manor will include: 
  • Military Hospitals during Battle: With nearly 3,000 Union soldiers killed and an 12,000 more wounded, the Battle of the Wilderness was one of the fiercest battles of the Civil War and one of the busiest for their doctors. Come listen to surgeons explain how the wounded were transported off the field to the hospitals. They will also go into detail about how the sick and wounded we’re cared for once they arrived at the various hospitals set up around the region. Presented by “Doc” Duvall and John Pelletier, well-known authorities on the subject of military medicine. 
  • Union Staff Officer: Bob Broadwater, seasoned historical presenter will interact with visitors about the role and duties of the staff officer to such commanders as Generals Grant, Meade, or Warren. 
  • The Heritage Tent: Sponsored by FoWB’s Heritage Program. Visitors will hear the stories and view photos of the men and women who were residents of the Wilderness area and the soldiers who fought in the Battle of the Wilderness. Descendants are encouraged to visit the tent to share their stories. Visitors are welcome to come with information to see if their ancestor may qualify for the Heritage Program. Staff will be on hand to answer questions and help visitors with their ancestry quest. 
  • Wet Plate Photographer: Sunday May 4 only: John Milleker, Jr., professional photographer and skilled “wet plate” artisan of Baltimore, MD, will show and explain the process of Civil War era photography used to chronicle the events of the four years of struggle. Mr. Milleker’s art work will be available for purchase in either the wet plate format or digital photographs of you and your family in a historic setting.
  • Sketch Artist: Local artist David Mitchell will explain the role of the Civil War era sketch artists such as Alfred Waud in reporting the stories of battle to the home front newspapers and magazines. David will be offering personal sketches of visitors for a small fee.

In addition, to these programs the National Park Service is sponsoring the following activities on the Ellwood Manor Grounds: Children’s Activity Tent (Saturday and Sunday)Military Living History Encampment (Friday, Sat. Sunday and Monday)Two hour Guided Walking Tour (1:30 PM on Sat. May 3)One hour presentation on the Impact of the War on Civilians (3:30 pm on Sat. May 3)Campfire Program: 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM on Sunday, May 4. Please see http://www.nps.gov/frsp/special.htm for further details. Ellwood Manor is a circa 1790 house within Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.  The cemetery has the grave of Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson’s amputated arm from the Battle of Chancellorsville, and the house was a Federal headquarters during the Battle of the Wilderness.  Friends of Wilderness Battlefield stewards the property in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS).  For directions and more information visit www.fowb.org.

Friends of Wilderness Battlefield
parkdayregistration@fowb.org | http://www.fowb.org
P.O. Box 576
Locust Grove, VA 22508