I had a pretty unusual upbringing as I lived in 14 places before I was 12 years old including a stop in Petersburg, Virginia. While I was too young to really notice I guess it was safe to say that my folks were “Adventurers”, and during these moves, where we often stayed for less than a year, we took the time to explore some of the areas around us including a short trip to Jamestown which was the first English settlement in the Americas in 1607.
Two personalities are usually associated with Jamestown; John Smith, who is depicted above in a statue at Jamestown, and Pocahontas who supposedly saved Smith’s life after he was captured by the Native Americans.
How much of that story is true is up for debate but it’s safe to say that things were a bit different in 1607 than what was depicted in the popular ’90’s Disney movie.
The history of the settlement was a bit different than the Disney version. Here is an overview from Wikipedia of some of this early history:
Late in 1606, English colonizers set sail with a charter from the London Company to establish a colony in the New World. The expedition made landfall on April 26, 1607 at a place which they named Cape Henry.
Captain Edward Maria Wingfield was elected president of the governing council on April 25, 1607. On May 14, he selected a piece of land on a large peninsula some 40 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean as a prime location for a fortified settlement. The river channel was a defensible strategic point due to a curve in the river, and it was close to the land, making it navigable and offering enough land for piers or wharves to be built in the future. Perhaps the most favorable fact about the location was that it was not inhabited by nearby Virginia Indian tribes, who regarded the site as too poor and remote for agriculture. The island was swampy and isolated, and it offered limited space, was plagued by mosquitoes, and afforded only brackish tidal river water unsuitable for drinking.
I have to confess that I have bragged about this story many times, but the first President of the first English settlement in America was a Wingfield (one that I share a pretty remarkable likeness too as well). Edward Maria was a soldier, member of Parliament, and I guess the ultimate adventurer. I mean, what type of person leaves the comfort of a good life in England to risk your life by captaining a small sail boat across uncharted waters to a place that no one is even sure exists?
Also from Wikapedia:
Captain John Smith wrote that from 1602 to 1603 Wingfield was one of the early and prime movers and organizers in “showing great charge and industry” in getting the Virginia Venture moving: he was one of the four incorporators for the London Virginia Company in the Virginia Charter of 1606 and one of its biggest financial backers. He recruited (with his cousin, Captain Bartholomew Gosnold) about forty of the 104 would-be colonists, and was the only shareholder to sail. In the first election in the New World, he was elected by his peers as the President of the governing council for one year beginning 13 May 1607, of what became the first successful, English-speaking colony in the New World at Jamestown, Virginia.
So if you like History, make it to this area of the country as it is fascinating. From Washington DC to the Carolina’s you will a treasure trove of things and places to explore.