Friday, June 22, 2007

VA Excursion: Day 6

(I had 271 photos in my camera when I returned to my room tonight. When you see the subject matter, you'll see why. Needless to say, I'll not be posting all of them tonight. Just showing the highlights.)

After my posting last night, I finally got to meet Nancy Webb Wood of Arkansas for the first time. We both decend from the John Pace/Ann Russell line and she has provided me with a great deal of info. Dinner was followed by a presentation about genealogical resources at the Virginia State Library, presented by Research Archivist Kelly Gilbert (whom, I hasten to point out, was not only knowledgable, but cute as all get out). After the presentation was over, Pace Society business was discussed and I learned that I had indeed been elected to the Board of Trustees along with several other individuals. Next year's annual meeting will be held in Oklahoma City (much more convenient for me), and the meeting the following year will be held in North Carolina.

After getting back to my room, I decided to snap the following photo of Richmond at night from my hotel room window. I learned later today that the top floor has a pool which should provide an even better vantage point for photos. I'll have to try it out tomorrow.

Anyway, on to today. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Virginia. After a yummy breakfast, I headed east for a day of sight-seeing. I had planned on visiting Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Pace's Paines, but I had been warned that just seeing all of Colonial Williamsburg would take the better part of two or three days, so I resigned myself to postponing a visit there to another trip. I wanted to start of with Pace's Paines, Richard Pace's plantation on the south bank of the James River, in Surry county. The most expedient way to get there involved taking a ferry from Jamestown. The ferry was much like those used between Galveston Island and Bolivar, but the ferry operators here don't seem to be quite as skilled at gently entering the slip. There was quite a bit of jostling and bouncing when we docked.

The southern (Surry County) shore of the James River. Pace's Paines is somewhere in the stretch of shoreline shown in this photo, and it was across this stretch of water that Richard Pace had to paddle (in the dead of night - I need to find out what phase the moon was in) to warn Jamestown of the impending attack.

What is that I spy over at the Jamestown Settlement? Could it be ships? Yarr!

Jamestown Island, where the actual Jamestowne archealogical dig is located.

Once across the river, I made my way to the intersection of highways 10 and 618, were an historical marker stands regarding Pace's Paines and the role Richard Pace played in warning Jamestown of the impending Powhatan Indian attack in 1621/22 (1621 Julian calendar, 1622 Gregorian: at the time, New Years Day was May 25 instead of January 1). Next, I headed north along 618 to dive into the woods of what was once the the plantation of my ancestor.

A quiet drive through the woods of Pace's Paines.

Is it sad that I drove over 1500 miles primary to see a plaque (one that I had already seen photos of at that)? Perhaps, but as I've explained, place holds a great deal of significance for me. It wasn't the plaque I was there to see. It was the woods and fields to the north of it. I kept seeing areas cleared of forest for farmland and couldn't help but wonder which of them might have originally been cleared by Richard's own hands. This is a place where one of my ancestors helped England establish a tenuous foothold on a vast, wild, and unknown continent, where the very first seeds of our nation were planted. This was a homecoming of sorts.

I found a Boy Scout camp which might be within the old boundaries of Pace's Paines, as well as a retreat named for Chanco, the name apocryphally linked to the Powhatan youth who warned Richard Pace of the impending attack. Sadly, I don't know the specific bounds for Pace's Paines. At some point, I'll have to use the metes and bounds in the land patent descriptions to try to map them out, just as I did for John Miller Martin's property in Black Fork. Unfortunately, the property descriptions used in Colonial Virginia were not based upon nice, neat, orderly rectangular grid systems, but rather references to landmarks, so it will not be a simple task.

I would have also liked to see the actual Pace's Paines archealogical dig site; but, alas, I don't know where it is, nor am I currently equipped with the information on how to secure permission to visit the site from its caretaker. (I spoke to someone this evening who has done so, so I know that it is possible.) Oh well, another excuse to return here some day....

After driving around a bit, I realized that the morning was passing quickly, and I still had a lot to see, so the next step was to take the ferry back to the north bank and visit Jamestown Settlement, a museum and recreation of the James Fort, not to be confused with Historic Jamestowne, which is the archealogical dig of the actual fort located on the neighboring Jamestown Island. (Until fairly recently, it was that that the remains of the fort had long since been claimed by the James River. Fortunately, digs in recent years have demonstrated that this is not the case.) The museum hold an impressive collection of artifacts in the indoor exhibits, including old books and maps, armor and weapons. Alas, photography of the indoor displays was not permitted.

Next it was time to head outside. I blew past the recreated Powhatan village, not because I wasn't interested, but because something a bit more impressive had caught my eye: ships! On the waterfront were functional replicas of the three ships which brought the original settlers to Jamestowne, the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. An older replica of the Discovery was also on hand, since re-christened the "Old Elizabeth" (or so was told by the interpretive historian aboard her, a very knowledgable and likable gentleman.)

A beer mug breech-loader!

A traverse board.

Needless to say, I spent quite a bit of time aboard the ships (and would have happily spent more), which only left a little time for a whirlwind tour of the reproduction of James Towne Fort, a triangular structure with cannon mounted at the bulwarks at each corner.

It was getting late in the afternoon (not enough time to visit Historic Jamestowne - another excuse to come back), and it was time for me to rush back to Richmond for my first meeting as a member of the Board of Trustees. Alas, I was late anyway. Not only had I not accounted for arriving during rush hour, but I had failed to realize that there was no exit for the street I was looking for when coming in from the east. I finally got there, and wound up volunteering to help Val Tice with monitoring the website's guestbook for spam.

After the meeting, we held our dinner for the evening, which featured a presentation by Roger and Gloria Crone of the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation on the topic "Cultures of Jamestown." They brought along a trunk of replicas of period items to illustrate the discussion. The helm, breastplate, and bandoliere of powder 'postles certainly brought back memories.

Alas, about three-quarters of the way through the presentation was when my camera ran out of juice. Oh well. I certainly had an ample number of shots for the day....

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