Monday, June 25, 2007

400 Year Anniversary

Many people consider the Pilgrims’ landing at Massachusetts as the most important event in our history, but thirteen years earlier, a group of 104 men and boys left Blackwell docks in London and made the torturous four and a half month journey to the New World. They sailed up a river they would later call The James after James I of England, their monarch.

I have had the privilege of standing in the docks of London near where the three small ships, the Susan Constant, Discovery and the Godspeed departed on that December day in 1607, and also visiting the Jamestown Settlement where those ships landed. There was something special about standing on the actual place where those doomed men landed and built their fort. Most were ill equipped to cope with the environment, Native Indians and mosquitoes. A few returned to their homeland but most perished. It is here that Pocahontas visited the settlers and later married John Rolfe. Ironic to think that after being presented to King James in London, she succumbed to smallpox and is buried at Gravesend, Kent, England.

Excavations of the site at Jamestown have produced wonderful artifacts that are displayed in the museum. Whole skeletal remains (replicas) show how an individual died because of a musket ball embedded in the lower leg. A deeply dug well on the site was excavated and produced a whole suit of armor, shoes, tankards, and other domestic objects. The site, museum and grounds are well worth a visit as are the towns of Williamsburg, Yorktown and Norfolk. I highly recommend visitors stay in the Colonial Williamsburg area rather than Norfolk because although the journey from Norfolk to Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg looks relatively short, the traffic on Interstate 64 over the Hampton Roads Bridge - Tunnel can be horrendous at times.