The early settlers spent much time fishing, in the rich coastal waters and rivers nearby. They also harvested huge numbers of oysters and other shellfish. Here, the technique for drying fish is demonstrated.
Tobacco was the first lucrative cash crop in North America. The Jamestown settlers acquired a taste for it from the local Indians. But the type they smoked was too bitter. So a new kind was imported from the Carribean islands. The farmers learned to grow it, and it thrived in the rich soil and temperate climate.
The King banned the weed from his court, saying that it was repugnant and unhealthy. But it caught on all over Europe, and made the Jamestown colony very profitable. And we've been dealing with it ever since.
The settlers brought boat-building skills from old England. But they also learned new ones from the Indians, who constructed dugout canoes from trees. The Indians would chop down a tree, cut out a cross-section, cut it lengthwise, then burn out the center. Finally, they would scoop out the ashes with oyster shells.
Both English and local techniques are shown here. Re-enactors gladly demonstrate how it was done and answer questions.
Re-Enactors at Jamestown demonstrate a variety of other local trades, crafts, and skills which were necessary in the new colony. Among them are cleaning clothes, forging tools, navigating on the rivers, baking, keeping records of all transactions, and governing the colony.
The soldiers kept everyone in the colony safe. These were professionals, who had trained since they were young boys. Most had seen combat in Europe. Of course, the New World offered new challenges. But the Indians' weapons were very much out-classed by the English muskets, swords, and armor.
I asked about the colonists's involvement in the English Civil War of the 1640s and 1650s. The response was that there were clashes here between Royalists and Parliamentarians. Most Jamestown settlers were pro-Royalist, while the majority in the Massachusetts Bay colony favored the Parliamentary army of Oliver Cromwell.
In any case, the troops played a vital role.
I was surpriced to see identical wooden fences, like on my picture, around all, over 500 houses in Colonial Williamsburg. It's very unique in Virginia and even in the USA where individuals fence their houses in thousands different ways.
I got to know that in this historic area there is the fence law which specify in details (6 points) the shape, size, colour etc. of the fences. The local law make many, many limitations in building anything in this area. In Colonial Williamsburg, they like to keep the fences as they looked in 1776. Mainly guides and other employees live in the historic area. They are proud of their great historical heritage and wise enugh to narrow their rights to build anything they want in historical district. In the residential areas in Williamsburg and in James City County, individuals may fence their private property the way they want to.
There is ink-powder to see, to try and to buy ($2.00) in colonial Wolliamsburg's Post Office. I got to know that they used quite different ink in the past, in 18th century colonial America than you can find in current store.
The ink was made and stored as solid ink-powder and then solluted in water before use. Natives used quill pens dipped in the ink stored in inkwells.
Keep in mind that till 1450 books were exclusively written and copied by hand - letter by letter - which made them very expensive thus not available for most. It changed since Gutenberg brought together the technologies of paper, oil-based ink and the wine-press to print books. But whereas the improvement of paper, print-ink and print-press went fast there were no key changes in hand-writing by 20th century where improved ball pens with a container for ink became popular.
I met this costumed guy playing on a fife on the main avenue of Colonial Williamsburg, in front of Raleigh Tavern. Fife is a small transverse (side-blown) flute with six finger holes and no keys. It produces a high pitch and shrill tone.
Well, it's not my favourite musical instrument (I am a fan of saxophone) but I can imagine that fife's spirited and inspirational sounds carried well on the field of battle in the past. Fifes and drums were used for command and control in battle. In America they were popular since 1750s till late 1860s. They played prominent role during the Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783) and thus become traditional symbols of the young nation and of its heritage
A typical Georgian residential house of 18th century colonial Williamsburg has either one side tall chimney or, in larger houses, two symmetrical chimneys on both side walls. But some Williamburgers broke this rule and put up chimneys in different way.
Alexander Craig House originally built in 1735 and then changed many times has two chimneys put on one side wall. Alexander Craig was a saddler who may have speculated in land.
Look at the pattern of bricks on my picture of a wall of the Tarpley's Store. Bricks in each horizontal line are laid in the way that alternately short face and long face is visible. A line below the order is the same but there is long face always below short one and oposite.
This pattern is called Flemish Brick Bond and is typical for colonial architecture in Williamsburg. Well, it's not so easy to find nowadays. Today bricks are laid quite deferent, with only long faces visible. Flemish became popular in the 18th century particularly when used as a design feature with alternate coloured bricks. Before, in 16th and 17th century, English brick bond was common: with a line of long faces visible above a line of short faces. So, the pattern of bricks can indicate approx. time of a wall building.
We had a flat tire while driving on US60. Hit something in the road and bent the rim and broke the seal and punctured the tire.
Called AAA and they sent a guy out to look at it and after we got the "doughnut" spare on, he gave us the name of the local Chevy dealer where I could go and get it fixed. The tow truck guy offered to tow us (at AAA expense, not mine) but I said that I could find the repair place and the spare tire would be okay until we got the replacement.
We got to the repair place and found out that they don't normally carry rims (neither new nor used) and would have to order one shipped in from Richmond. And the car dealer did not have facilities for changing tires but would have to refer me to a Dunlop tire store.
to make a long story, short.... after 7 hours we finally got the rim delivered to the Chevy dealer, then i had to hot foot it over to the Dunlop dealer to get it fitted and a new tire replacement.
In Rochester, NY all the car dealers of all the brand-name cars all carry a supply of parts and provide all repair services (other than body-dent repairs) right on the premises.
It appears that Williamsburg, VA does it a bit differently.
many locals have learn to use virgina's bad weather to thier advage. so your planning a trip to busch gardens but a tropical storm looks like it's going to ruin your plans, well wait it out because if when after the storm clears and the park reopens then the weather is cool and sunny and thiers hardly any people in the park! no lines, no wait, why didn't more people think of this?!
The easiest way to tell if any attraction is open is if there's a flag in front of it. In Colonial Williamsburg, the exhibit houses close at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, but each day, many of them may not be open, or have different hours. So if you see a British flag hanging in front of the buidling, it means the building's open.
I was fascinated by Bassett Hall or sometimes known as the Rockefeller home.
When you visit, you experience a video program shown in the Bassett Hall reception building that describes the beginning of the restoration of Williamsburg.
For those who do not know, John D. Rockefeller Jr. was an heir of the Standard Oil wealth. He became a wonderful philanthropist who became interested in the Reverand Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin's desire to restore all of Williamsburg. He invited Rockefeller to visit, showing him the Bassett Hall Home.
Eventually, Goodwin convinced Rockefeller to purchase the home. Rockefeller was most interested in the GreatOak, a huge tree that was over 100 years old. Bassett Hall became the Rockefellers' residence during their twice-annual trips to Williamsburg. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, John's wife, decorated Bassett Hall with folk art. (The folk art museum was developed from her folk art collection.)
The home is a simple two-story 18th -century white frame farmhouse that sits on 585 acres of woodlands, lawn, and gardens. The garden blooms in the spring and in the fall, just as it did when the Rockefellers made their seasonal visits. You can use the trails that the Rockefellers made in the woods and use an audiotape tour.
It's called Bassett Hall because Burwell Bassett purchased it around 1800; it was then acquired for Colonial Williamsburg in 1927. Rockefeller purchased it in 1936, and it stayed in the Rockefeller family until 1979 when it was bequeathed to Colonial Williamsburg. It was opened to the public in 1980, and was completely restored in 2000 (it took two years so it did not reopen until 2002.)
Unlike the rest of the Historic Area (18th century restorations), Bassett Hall appears as it did in the 1930s and the 1940s (the early days of the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg) when the Rockefellers lived here.
If you are tired of the commercial Christmas, then you might want to try to see Colonial Williamsburg during the holiday season. Williamsburg starts the celebration on the first Sunday in December with the Grand Illumination ceremony, which is their start to the Christmas season.
Williamsburg is most well known for its creative use of "natural decorating materials". The houses and public buildings are decorated with crafted arrangements of pine, boxwood, Frasier fir, magnolia leaves, holly, and fruits and berries. Guides lead tours through the historic area and describe the techniques and materials used in the making of the various decorations.
This year (2004),they were to have a conference and classes on this very topic.
I guess for some families, it's a tradition to come to Colonial Williamsburg each year...some have come as newly weds and now bring their own grandchildren! Remember, it is crowded during the holiday seasons so you have to make reservations early.
You can enjoy a candle-lit holiday feast at a Colonial tavern; take in the production of Babes in Toyland at the Kimball Theatre; take part in caroling at various locations throughout town; go to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and learn how children of the past amused themselves at "Child's Play: A Celebration of Antique Toys"; take a Christmas Decorations Walking Tour; or learn how Colonial-era enslaved Africans celebrated Christmas at "Everybody's Shoutin' at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. There is a one-man show performed by Gerald Charles Dickens, the great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens doing A Christmas Carol.