Assignments for Class 6: Colonial Settlement Patterns in Virginia ("Why There?")
- Paleoindian Life in the Chesapeake Region, 18,000 to 9,900 Years Ago chapter of Bay Plain and Piedmont: A Landscape History of the Chesapeake Heartland from 1.3 Billion Years Ago to 2000
- Wherever you live in Virginia today, there is an excellent chance that Native Americans walked across your yard in the last 15,000 or so years. Bands of hunters and gatherers examined every hill and valley, seeking food. If there is a scenic overlook nearby, Native Americans probably stopped to enjoy the view, and perhaps reworked some points and left flakes of stone on the ground as their ancient litter.
- If there is water and a marsh nearby, plus some flat alluvial bottomland with relatively rich soil, then Native Americans could have built a town and grown crops near where you now live or work. Remember looking at a stream in Week 3? Reconsider that site - Native Americans carried water by hand (there was no Fairfax Water or other utility piping water inside their houses..), so they lived near streams. Are there any flat places near the stream where Native Americans might have planted crops?
- The Fairfax County Park Authority uses Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to predict where archeological sites might be located, and focuses field investigations accordingly when examining sites before construction of new bridges, trails, or structures disturbs the soil. The site planned for one abutment of the Clarks Branch bridge at Riverbend Park, upstream from Great Falls National Park, turned out to be an archeological treasure trove. "[T]he area that is now Riverbend Park was inhabitated continuously from 12,500 years ago all the way until the contact period with the European settlers. American Indian sites have been discovered at Riverbend
throughout the floodplain, and on the top of the hills just above the floodplain. The county archeologist Mike Johnson said that Riverbend Park has the richest American Indian history of any site in Fairfax County."1
- Archeological sites include places associated with time periods after initial European contact with Native Americans, including colonial homesites and Civil War battlefields. "More than 3,000 Fairfax County archaeological sites have been registered with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that serves as the State Historic Preservation Office for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition, 1,000 more sites have been recorded, including archaeological sites, cemeteries and architectural resources that need additional survey. More than 870 sites have been identified on Fairfax County parkland; however, only a small percentage of archaeological sites have been subject to a comprehensive survey."2
- Before the English
- The First Communities
- The Spanish in the Chesapeake Bay
- They had 5 reasons to be there... but after the English settled Virginia in 1607, the Spanish chose diplomacy over war with England, in their efforts to control territory in the Western Hemisphere.
- The Failure of the French
- Virginia - An International Frontier
- Roanoke Colony: Prelude to Jamestown?
- Was Virginia Destined To Be English?
- The Jamestown Story (lots of material, to ensure you understand an essential part of Virginia geography...)
- Jamestown - Why There?
- Locating Jamestown so it was easily accessible by ship did not guarantee enough ships would arrive at the North American port. In Virginia today, poverty and physical threats are not unknown... but actual starvation is very unusual. If you ever watched the television show Star Trek, notice how rarely the scriptwriters put the characters into a position of real scarcity. Oh, they need dilithium crystals at times, but do you think the modern TV audience could be retained if a science fiction show presented the intergalactic equivalent of the slow death faced by the Jamestown colonists in 1609-10?
- Jamestown - The First English Capital
- History of Jamestown
- The Location at James Island
- Jamestown Fort: The First English Settlement
- "Why do you think the English built a fort? It was not to keep the Indians out, but to keep the Spaniards out." ó Keith Smith, Nansemond Tribal Member (March 4, 2004)3
- Establishing the Town
- Note that Jamestown structures were not have bark-covered huts like the houses in nearby Algonquian villages, and there were no log cabins with cedar shake roofs. (Those were introduced later by Scandinavian settlers, coming to Delaware in the 1640's.) Instead, the first Jamestown buildings had wattle-and-daub (sticks covered with mud) exterior walls and thatch (cattails or reeds from the local swamp) roofs. With fires burning all winter for warmth and cooking, is it surprising that the fort burned in January, 1608?
- Why Settle on Jamestown? (and follow links to Good Parking!, A Defensible Site, Point A (Atlantic) to Point P (Pacific), All that Glitters..., An Unoccupied Site, and Good, Sweet Water)
- John Smith and Virginia
- Henricus: A New and Improved Jamestown
- Land Hunger
- The poor and the ambitious in England migrated to Virginia during the 1600's, but by the end of the century the tobacco farmers needed to find a new source of labor. The dominant immigrants in the 1700's were slaves from Africa, brought unwillingly to the Western Hemisphere.
- Virginia Historical Society exhibit, "The Story of Virginia, an American Experience"
- "New World" Film Revives Extinct Native American Tongue (National Geographic, January 20, 2006) (read both pages)
- The "New World" film was a commercial failure, but it did stimulate interest in the Algonquian dialects. Do you think the meanings claimed in standard textbooks for words such as Quantico, Potomac, and Chesapeake are valid? Few of the first European colonists were as careful as John Smith to study the culture of different tribes and discern the meaning of Native American words. Initial conversations between English explorers and Siouan and Iroquoian tribes may have been translated through Algonquian-speaking Native Americans, muddling the meanings behind the place names west of the Fall Line or in Southeastern Virginia along the Meherrin and Nottoway rivers. Tradition says "Shenandoah" means "daughter of the stars," but there is no solid basis for that interpretation.
- Indian Land Claims
- The Contact Period
- The Anglo-Powhatan Wars
- What were the boundaries of Tsenacommacah? Remember from last week how the Fall Line shaped Powhatan's area of control.
- Paleoindian Life in the Chesapeake Region, 18,000 to 9,900 Years Ago included the statements that Chesapeake Paleoindians were nomads. They probably organized themselves into small, mobile bands of ten to fifty people ranging across territories of up to several thousand square miles.... Hunting and gathering people tend to organize themselves into small bands bound together by ties of kinship and agreement.
- As the Paleo-Indian hunting bands settled down in the Archaic and Woodland periods, establishing towns and relying upon agriculture for food suppliers, the organization of Native American society changed. When the English arrived at the eastern edge of Virginia, they encountered a society based on a paramount chiefdom, where Powhatan could command warriors and collect taxes from over 30 tribes... and outmaneuver the English until they abandoned their colony.
- Powhatan Uprising of 1622
- The story of the poisoned wine in 1623 is not often mentioned in the commemorations of Virginia heritage...
- A Brief Survey of Anglo-Indian Interactions in Virginia during the Seventeenth Century (one chapter in A Study of Virginia Indians and Jamestown: The First Century)
- Note that in 1609, John Smith's strategy to obtain food and healthy living conditions was "moving the bulk of the population out of Jamestown." Deer had been hunted heavily near Jamestown, and local Native American towns had no remaining surplus corn to trade... and by moving the colonists closer to the all Line and downstream towards the mouth of the James River, Smith could establish greater control over the river corridor. However, Powhatan was not in favor of the first expansion of English settlement...
- The winter of 1609/10 is known as the Starving Time. Smith returned to England in October, 1609 after his bag of gunpowder exploded on his thigh (perhaps an accident, but perhaps an attempted murder). When Sir Thomas Gates arrived in 1610 to take control of the colony, only 60 colonists are left alive at the capital. Gates decides to abandon Virginia; Powhatan his won his contest... but then a relief fleet under Thomas West, Lord De La Warr arrives before the "give up and go home" colonists sail out of Hampton Roads.
- Why Virginia's Cities and Towns Are Located Where They Are
- How the Fall Line Shaped Colonial Settlement in Virginia
- How Counties Got Started in Virginia
- The Fairfax Grant
- The Proclamation Line of 1763
- Exploring Land, Settling Frontiers
- Early Settlement Up the... Rappahannock?
- Web Exercises (two places to explore, plus a reading that elaborates on the original map):
- Look at John Smith's 1612 map, then compare modern maps to it at the Virtual Jamestown site. To learn more, see "A Map of Virginia, with a Description of its Commodities, People, Government, and Religion" by John Smith (1612)
- Note the statement that Virginia includes 10 degrees of latitude - and as for the west, "the limits are unknowne." Smith refers to what we now call the York River as the Pamaunke, and the next major stream to the north (today's Rappahannock River) as the Toppahanock. Within the boundaries of Virginia is the Pawtuxunt - because no colony of Maryland had been created yet.
- In his description of "5 faire and delightfull navigable rivers" on the west side of the bay, Smith fails to include the river inhabited by "a people called Sasquesahanock." He identifies it as a northern stream, but fails to note its large size compared to all the other streams.
Watch "The Shenandoah Valley" on GMU-TV streaming video
Flip through the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer pages to sail up the James River from its mouth to Richmond, following the path of Christopher Newport in 1607. Is Jamestown halfway to the Fall Line? Where is the Chickahominy River, in relation to Jamestown? On which side of the James River is Bermuda Hundred?
In comparison to the Native American scavenger hunt last week, visit a site near your home/work that commemorates a Civil War event. Describe
- why the site is important enough to be highlighted (what happened there?)
- who is responsible for managing it (National Park Service? State of Virginia? a county? a non-government organization?)
- how realistic vs. "prettified" is the representation of what happened at that historic place? (Does that Civil War site discuss how the wounded were treated or the dead were buried, or even mention slavery?)
- what place names in your neighborhood, or Virginia, are associated with the site you visited? (Were generals honored with street names, or are there modern shopping centers that draw their names from events 150 years ago?)
- finally, write a 2-paragraph interpretive marker for the site that highlights some characteristic of the place *other* than the Civil War event. What could you share with visitors about the local geology, hydrography, Native American, or colonial heritage of that location?
reconstructed Algonquian dwelling at Henricus Historical Park
1. Natural Resource Management Plan for Riverbend Park, Fairfax County Park Authority, a href="http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpsm/tempdocs/riverbendNaturalResource.pdf">http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpsm/tempdocs/riverbendNaturalResource.pdf (last checked October 1, 2011)
2. Cultural Resource Management Plan 2006-2010, Fairfax County Park Authority, p. 3 http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/GMP/CRMPFinal.pdf (last checked October 1, 2011)
3. "A Seventeenth Century Chronology Drawn from Colonial Records with Contemporary Native Perspectives," in A Study of Virginia Indians and Jamestown: The First Century, Colonial National Historical Park (National Park Service), December 2005 http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/jame1/moretti-langholtz/chap7.htm (last checked October 2, 2011)
Geography of Virginia (GGS380)