Jamestowne, Virginia

After walking and learning from the Jamestown Settlement. My companions and I headed south to the Colonial Parkway and to the real site. In front was the visitor center where we were welcomed by the friendly old folks. Being in the military, and also the area was a National Park we were given free entrance. Beside the pay counter was an exhibit dedicated to Jamestown and it’s colorful history, which we mostly read on the other museum so we head out. We walked in the wooden bridge crossing the tar and swamp of the area.

Tercentennial Monument

At the back was a wooden sidewalk on top of the swamps. The first sight to behold us was the “Tercentennial Monument” with a brief description from their website.

“The tall monument that looks like the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital was placed on Jamestown Island by the United States government in 1907 for the 300th anniversary of the settlement. It cost $50,000, stands 103 feet tall, and is made of New Hampshire granite. The steps at the base were covered with dirt when first visitors center was built in 1957, but now the platform provides many visitors a shaded resting spot on hot summer days.”  While the exact text as engrave in the monument  stated this:

Tercentennial Monument







It was a nice site to see but on the other hand it does greatly remind me and my friends of the Washington Monument which for me was kind of loss its authenticity. From there we headed east as stated in the map that we have got from the entrance.   As we walk to the old Jamestown, information was seen. Here is a history where it all started according to their official website.

In June of 1606, King James I granted a charter to a group of London entrepreneurs, the Virginia Company, to establish an English settlement in the Chesapeake region of North America. In December of that year, 104 settlers sailed from London with Company instructions to build a secure settlement, find gold, and seek a water route to the Pacific. Captain Bartholomew Gosnold and many of the artisans, craftsmen, and laborers who accompanied the gentlemen leaders made every effort to build a successful colony.

Detailed carving

On May 14, 1607, the Virginia Company settlers landed on Jamestown Island to establish an English colony 60 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Discovery of the exact location of the first fort indicates its site was in a secure place, where Spanish ships could not fire point blank into the fort. Within days of landing, the colonists were attacked by Powhatan Indians. The newcomers spent the next few weeks working to “beare and plant palisadoes” for a wooden fort. Three contemporary accounts and a sketch of the fort agree that its walls formed a triangle around a storehouse, church, and a number of houses. Bulwarks (raised platforms) for cannons were built at the three corners to defend against a possible Spanish attack.

The Virginia Company tried to intensify the focus on money-making industry with The First Supply to Jamestown. But disease, famine, and sporadic attacks from the neighboring Powhatan Indians took a tremendous toll on the population of the settlement. There were also times when trade with the Powhatan revived the colony with food in exchange for glass beads, copper, and iron implements. Captain John Smith was particularly good at this trade. But his strict leadership made enemies within and without the fort, and a mysterious gunpowder explosion badly injured him and sent him back to England in October 1609.

Map of Jamestowne

What followed was Jamestown’s darkest hour, the “starving time” winter of 1609-10. About 300 settlers crowded into James Fort when the Indians set up a siege, and only 60 settlers survived to the next spring. The survivors decided to bury the fort’s ordinance and abandon the town. It was only the arrival of the new governor, Lord De La Ware, and his supply ships that brought the colonists back to the fort and set the colony back on its feet. Some years of peace and prosperity followed the 1614 wedding of Pocahontas, the favored daughter of Chief Powhatan, to tobacco grower John Rolfe.

Fort James and the church

We continued walking and came across the iron gate which resembles a gate in a residential house. Inside was the original Fort James or what was left of it there were plenty of archaeological diggings going through the area. Some of the sites that can be seen in the area are the following.

  • Fort James Site
  • Jamestowne Churches
  • Statue of Pocahontas
  • Statue of John Smith
  • The Barracks
  • Chancel Burials
  • Councillor’s Row
  • Storehouse and First Well

There were plenty of information about the fort that I decided to put them into a different blog. Here is the link to that blog –

After walking around Fort James, we went to the other side of the park where the New Town was located. With the growing population of the fort they need to branch out and here is the the story behind it.

After the establishment of James Fort, the settlers quickly spread eastward into a small area called “New Towne.” Jamestown was the focal point of the Virginia colony and developed into a thriving port town. Thousands of colonists would arrive and depart as tobacco fueled the quickly-expanding population.


In the 1620s, representative government took hold, and the town grew into “James Cittie,” where legislative business demanded infrastructure such as inns and taverns. Surveyor William Claiborne mapped out the area east of the fort, and colonists built more substantial homes and large shoreline warehouses there. Even as the colony grew beyond Jamestown, many of the wealthy plantation owners retained property in the town. Although portions of the town were burned during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, Jamestown remained the capital until another fire led to its move in 1699 to Middle Plantation, known today as Williamsburg.

The town gradually consolidated into single landholders such as the Ambler family, whose plantation house stood in the center of the town. Houses were pulled town as the island gradually converted to farmland. In 1861 Confederate forces graded more of the town’s remains to build an earthen fort for a cannon battery. Just after the Civil War, the Ambler House burned.

There were plenty of markers to tell us the stories of the buildings that used to stand on this town. Most of them lie in ruins, but still it’s nice to imagine when it was a bustling with people running about their daily lives.

Jamestown Warehouse

“Jamestown’s waterfront property was prime real estate. Governor Harvey wrote “that there was not one foote of ground for half a mile together by the Rivers side on James Towne but was taken up and undertaken to be built…” As the colony’s official port of entry, Jamestown needed warehouses for imported cargoes.

After 1633, when the Virginia General Assembly made, Jamestown one of five inspection points for examining and grading tobacco, warehouses also served planters ready to ship their crop to English markets.

Historic records suggest that, around 1638, merchant William Parry built a warehouse on this lot. By the 1660s, John Bland II operated a warehouse at this location.”

Colonial Highway

Colonial Highway

“The James River was a lifeline. Ships from England brought tools, seeds, cloth, food, more settlers – and hope. The colonists sent back timber, tobacco, pitch, potash, furs, iron ore – and stories. By 1650, wharves reached out to the river channel. An iron weight of 1300 pounds, capable of driving piles for a pier, was found not far from here.”

A Campsite pre-1607

“The human history of Jamestown Island begins much earlier than 1607. The first native inhabitants walked this site 10,000 years ago. At that time, the James River was nearly 100 feet lower, a fast moving stream at the bottom of a narrow ravine. Sea levels gradually rose, flooding the Jamestown site and creating a brackish marsh. Native hunting and fishing parties from nearby towns visited the island. Fire-cracked rock, native pottery shreds, oyster shell, stone tools, and projectile points found along the river’s edge suggest this was a campsite during the late Woodland period, 1,100-400 years ago.

Old Well

Although Jamestown Island appeared to be uninhabited when the colonists arrived, the island lay within the territory of Paspahegh tribe, part of Powhatan Paramount, Chiefdom. In 1610, Jamestown colonists attacked and destroyed the principal community of the Pasahegh located six miles up river. Surviving Paspahegh left their homes to live elsewhere, possibly with other tribes.”

Row Houses

“Several Jamestown families lived in row houses. This row of three houses was occupied at least from 1650 through 1720. Elaborate iron work found were suggested that the row was handsomely furnished. Perhaps the row was home to the government officials and merchants who prospered in the colonial times.

There are Fig bushes in the town which were imported in the Mediterranean. Besides that there are also 200 cattle as many as goats and hogs all over the woods of town. Fences are required to keep the free-roaming livestock out of the edible harvest.”

Jackson House 1620s

“Protection was of the utmost importance in the early years of Virginia. Gunsmiths like Jamestown resident, assemblyman and churchwarden John Jackson, were invaluable members of the community. Fine artifacts like window glass, an ivory cribbage board, and curtain rings discovered here, on the site of Jackson’s house, indicate that he and his family enjoyed a high standard of living.

Site of Jackson House

Jackson appears in Virginia records as early as 1623 when he patented a 3/8 acre waterfront lot in New Towne. Archaeologists believe this where Jackson lived and plied his trade. They recovered gunsmithing artifacts – lead, gun lints, scrap metal, iron oreslug, and lead shot – from inside the two-room dwelling and from a well and refuse pits in the yard.”

May-Hartwell Site (1660-1699)

“Evidence from wills, deeds, land plats, patents, and court cases helps to identify structures excavated by archaeologists. When historians digitalized two 17th-century land plats and superimposed them on a modern map of Jamestown, they matched a framed structure that stood here, the home of William May n the 1660s and Henry Hartwell after 1688.

Hartwell House

Land records also revealed a pattern of landownership common in Virginia. Many colonists, particularly government officials, invested in town lots and speculated in undeveloped land elsewhere in tidewater Virginia. William May, an attorney and vestryman, purchased other Jamestown lots in addition to this property. Similarly, Henry Hartwell, an attorney, clerk of the court, and burgess also owned tracts of land in Charles City County and Surry County.”

An Upper-Class Neighborhood (1630s-1699)

“From the 1630s to the end of the 17th century, this area along Backstreete boasted some of the finest dwellings in Jamestown. Governors, councilmen, burgesses, and lawyers all made this neighborhood home.

Richard Kemp, an ardent supporter of Governor Harvey, secretary to the colony, and councilman, built Virginia’s first all-brick house here in 1638-39. Walter Chiles, a merchant and burgess, purchased the “Brick house formerly Mr. Secry Kemps.” in 1649 and lived her with his family into the 1670s.

Instructions from King Charles I in 1639 directed Governor Francis Wyatt to build a “convenient house for the meetings of the council…” This structure, called the “country house,” was used both for official business and as a residence. It stood to the east of Kemp’s house.

After 1676, lawyer William Sherwood built two houses to replace these earlier structures. Sherwood most likely lived in a fine brick house to the east. The high-status home to the west included one room with ornate plasterwork, highly unusual in 17th-century Virginia. Lord Howard of Effingham, a Virginia governor, apparently lodged here, and he and later governors regularly met here with the council until the capital moved to Williamsburg in 1699.”

The Ambler House

“The Ambler House was built by the Ambler family in the 1750s as the centerpiece of a fine plantation estate. A refined Georgian-style home, it was comparable to the elegant George Wythe House in Williamsburg. The house was burned in two wars, and after a third fire in 1895, was abandoned.

As we walked across the “New Town” there were signs that pits were around town producing varying qualities of mortar and plaster, filled with oyster shells and moistened lime. Just like the pots there are dozen of open ditches around Jamestown. The ditch and mound could mark a property boundary, usually line the edge of the road or drain swampy soil. Ditches are also as handy trash dumps.”

Efforts to Build a Town (1660-1699)

The foundations of the multi-dwelling structure that stood here match the dimensions called for a legislation passed by the General Assembly in September 1662.

Old Town

This row house was standing by September 1668 when the justices of James City County asked permission to use “one of the Countrie Brock houses” as a prison. A man’s pelvis and left leg excavated from an abandoned well just north of “that house where the goale kept,” may be a gruesome evidence of a drawn-and-quartered lawbreaker.


The two eastern units, badly damaged during Bacon’s Rebellion and “lyeing in ruins,” were repaired and altered shortly after 1680. George Lee and his wife Sarah occupied a unit at the east end and provided accommodations to committees of the assembly, the General Court, and delegations of Virginia Indians in town on official business. The row was abandoned soon after the capital moved to Williamsburg in 1699.

Tradesmen on Governor’s Harvey’s Lot (1630s)

“Despite the success of tobacco, the crown instructed Virginia’s governors to diversify and encourage trades in the colony. Governor Sir John Harvey supported this endeavor. During the 1630s, he employed a variety of tradesmen on this property including: potters; apothecaries; brewers; tanners; tile, lime, and brickmakers; and iron smelters. Harvey sent samples of rape seed (a source of oil), saltpeter, pot-ashes, and iron ore to England, proving that he took the instructions seriously.

Marker for Harvey’s Lot

Evidence suggests that much of the activity on this property stopped when Harvey left Virginia. But other lime and brick kilns, scattered throughout the townsite, indicate that tradesmen continued to provide for the town’s needs.

Foundations at Jamestown

“The remains of Jamestown now lie buried beneath the ground. Archeologists have unearthed some of the known town site, but the original foundations of structures would erode quickly if left exposed to wind, weather and acid rain. The foundations have been reburied. The bricks you see here today are modern reproductions of the original foundations underneath.”

John Smith

“In 1934 the National Park Service acquired most of Jamestown Island, and the New Towne area became the focus of archaeological excavations by J. C. Harrington and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Archaeologists unearthed many of the brick foundations of the town and developed new ways to envision the past. Before Jamestown’s 350th anniversary, NPS archaeologist John Cotter led another dig in New Towne, with large-scale trenching and open area excavations. When finished, he preserved his finds by covering them, and brick walls were built to mark the original foundations.”

After exploring the whole town we went back to where we came from. The Tercentennial Monument, then from then on we went back to the Visitor Center. We went to the gift shop and bought some souvenirs to remind us of the colorful history of this place. As we exit we passed by the Glasshouse where everything started and so as we came to the close of our journey to this place here is a tour of the Glasshouse.


We first went in the ruins of the original glasshouse, where it was sheltered with roof and walls, and a history of glassmaking. The only thing remained of the original structure was the foundations of the brick walls.

In 1931, Jesse Dimmick found a piece of slag near where you are standing and excavated three stone structures and glass fragments, evindence of the early glassmaking industry. The National Park Service cinducted additional excavations in 1948.

The story of the first industry attempted in the English colony was one that needed to be told. For the 350th anniversary of Jamestown in 1957, a shed over the original Glasshouse ruins, a glassblowing facility, and a circular trail paved with crushed oyster shells were constructed at Glass House Point. 

Glass was in demand in 17th-century England, and its manufacture required highly skilled craftsmen. In 1608, German glassmakers (referred to as Dutchmen by John Smith) arrived in the Second Supply and successfully completed a “tryle of glass at James Fort. This success led to the construction of a glasshouse “neare a myle from James Towne,” where there was plenty of sand for making glass and timber for fueling the furnaces. The glasshouse measured approximately 37×50 feet and sheltered three furnaces and one kiln built of river cobbles. 

Glasshouse replica

We went to the replica and look at a craftsman during his presentation of glassmaking. It was interesting to see one even though I saw plenty of them on other old towns. There were a couple of people watching it and as we watch here is how the Glasshouse got its own roof.

“The Glass Packaging Institute contributed to the erection of this replica of the Glasshouse. The first exhibit structure constructed by the Jamestown Glasshouse Foundation was destroyed by fire in October 1974 and has been replaced by this building on May 8, 1976.


We didn’t find anything to buy on the gift shop then we went to the Jamestown Settlement Museum where we learn more about Jamestown.

So that’s what happened at the beginning then after the settlement museum we went to the Jamestown archaeological site. After all this tour we got hungry and looked for a good place to take a snack which eventually will become dinner.


Samuel H. Yonge, Civil Engineer (1843-1935)Near this location in 1901, Samuel H. Yongee, a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, spearheaded the design and construction of a seawall/revetment that halted the rapid erosion and loss into the James River of the most-historic part of Jamestown Island. His efforts saved large portions of the island including Jamestown Fort, making possible continued significant archaeological finds at Jamestown. Yonge located, unearthed, and published many of his findings on the island. Another one of his achievements included the dredging of the James River from Richmond to Norfolk. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

Jamestown RoadThe ancient road that linked Jamestown, the original colonial capital, with Middle Plantation(later Williamsburg) followed a meandering course. It departed from Jamestown Island and then turned northeast, crossing Powhatan and Mill Creeks. As it approached Middle Plantation, it traversed a branch of College Creek that by the mid-17th century was dammed to form Rick Neck plantation’s millpond, today’s Lake Matoaka. Improvements to Jamestown Road, completed in time for the Jamestown Ter-Centennial Exposition, constituted the first project completed with the assistance of the State Highway Commission, formed in 1906.

First Germans at JamestownThe first Germans to land in Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in Virginia, arrived aboard the vessel Mary and Margaret about 1 October 1608. These Germans were glassmakers and carpenters. In 1620, German mineral specialists and saw-millwrights followed, to work and settle in the Virginia Colony. These pioneers and skilled craftsmen were the forerunners of the many millions of Germans who settled in America and became the single largest national group to populate the United States.

First Africans in JamestownThe first documented Africans in mainland English America arrived at Point Comfort (in present-day Hampton) late in Aug. 1619. Colonial officials traded food for these “20 and odd” Africans, who had been seized from a Portuguese slave ship en route to Spanish America. Some of the Africans were transported to Jamestown shortly thereafter. By 1625 at least nine African men and women lived here. Many of the colony’s early Africans were held as slaves, but some individuals became free. A legal framework for hereditary, lifelong slavery evolved in Virginia during the 1600s. The United States abolished slavery in 1865.

Jamestown – Nearby to the east is Jamestown, the original site of the first permanent English colony in North America. On 14 May 1607, a group of just over 100 men and boys recruited by the Virginia Company of London came ashore and established a settlement at Jamestown Island. They constructed a palisaded fort there within the territory of the Paspahegh Indians, who with other Virginia Indians had frequent contact with the English. In 1619 the first English representative legislative body in North America met there, and the first documented Africans arrived. Jamestown served as the capital of the Virginia colony from 1607 to 1699. Historic Jamestowne preserves this original site and the archaeological remains.

First Poles Arrive – Skilled craftsmen of Polish origin recruited by the Virginia Company began arriving in Jamestown aboard the Mary and Margaret about 1 Oct. 1608. Poles contributed to the development of a glass factory and the production of potash, naval stores, and wood products. Soon samples of their work were shipped back to England. The workers were so highly prized that they were assigned apprentices so that their skill “shall not dye with them.” Capt. John Smith praised their work ethic in his writings. Court records indicate that as a result of a labor dispute, Poles were granted full voting rights on 21 July 1619.

Pocahontas Matoaka, nicknamed Pocahontas (“mischievous one”), the daughter of Powhatan, was born about 1597. She served as an emissary for her father and came to Jamestown often in 1608. In 1613, Samuel Argall kidnapped Pocahontas while she visited the Patawomecks on the Potomac River. Argall hoped to exchange her for English prisoners and brought her to Jamestown. During lengthy negotiations, Pocahontas married John Rolfe in 1614, credited with developing Virginia’s first marketable tobacco crop. Pocahontas took the baptismal name Rebecca. In 1616, she traveled with Rolfe and their son, Thomas, to England where King James I and Queen Anne received her. She died at Gravesend, England, in March 1617.

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