Grant


Winter Quarters at Valley Forge

I started out my morning (7/15/17) with a quick trip through Valley Forge.  I have wanted to visit here for a while, and I intentionally chose a hotel in the vicinity so I could visit.  Because of the rain the past two days, I waited til this morning so I could get good pictures for use in class power points.

One of the things I was immediately struck with is how great a role Washington played in his men’s morale.  Trying to understand him for writing a book makes me focus more on his personal character than just the events.  We all have learned in school about the conditions at Valley Forge–freezing, disease, lack of clothing and supplies–but think about who had to keep those men willing to endure those things.  George Washington.  Additionally, I’d never looked at the fact that he brought Baron von Steuben in as a morale booster.  But, when you read von Steuben’s military experience, that had to give the men some hope and a reason to continue to press on.  Private Joseph Plumb Martin may had summed it up best when he stated, “We had engaged in the defense of our injured country and were willing, nay we were determined to persevere.”

The lay of the land

Another side of the war we don’t normally consider is its affect on the townspeople living there.  A picture display in one of the cabins explains that soldiers took down farmer’s fences to use the wood for construction.  They also demanded livestock of the people for food, and the encampment made such a mess of things, the townspeople couldn’t even plant crops after the army had left, the fields were so deep in mud and trampled from drilling.  I’m sure that made for two hard winters for the people who lived here–both while the army was here and after they’d left.  Apparently, George Washington visited later after fields were able to be plowed and planted, and–a farmer at heart–was pleased to see the agriculture up and running again.

While I’m sure there was much more I didn’t have a chance to explore–especially the reenactment areas–I needed to head to the Old Barracks.

The Old Barracks Museum

The Old Barracks is a fascinating Museum and the only remaining one of its kind.  It contains both original and reconstructed portions.  They do tours every hour, and it is well worth the price of admission!

Our tour guide, David, gave an amazing tour lasting over an hour (I had to leave to get to Gettysburg).  He started by explaining the reasons behind the creation of the barracks.  There had been a movement in parliament to expand the British empire. As a result, England sent 20,000 soldiers–the single largest investment of soldiers–to the colonies to help secure the lands to the west.  Problems arose because the British army had to be treated differently than the colonial militia.  Usually militias served 9-12 months as needed in a crisis (often going home for the winter when they disbanded to be formed again as needed.) But, British soldiers needed to be housed, as they obviously weren’t going home for the winter. Later, in order to handle this situation, Britain passed the first quartering act:  The Mutiny Act of 1765.  Under this law, British soldiers had to occupy barracks, then public houses (taverns). If none of those were available, then they moved to private homes or rented warehouses.

The Tour begins

During the French Indian War, New Jersey didn’t have anything to accommodate troops. The Population was only 1,000, and 250 British soldiers were sent. With no places to put them, they had to be quartered in homes.  Contrary to popular belief, you did have right to refuse to house soldiers, but you got paid for quartering troops, so many people accepted the offer.  However, the citizens of New Jersey began to complain that they were not paid as much as they were owed.

Additionally, though the British sent the largest number of troops they ever had, they were not winning the French Indian War. One by one, states stop raising armies to support the cause.  Then, in 1758, William Pitt became Prime Minister in Britain, instituting many new policies. First, he fired the old commander and instead of demanding things from the colonies, he started formally requesting what he desired.  He also made the colonists a deal:  He offered $100,000 lbs in gold specie–as much as you spend for the crown, you’ll get a portion of that back in specie. Since specie was hard to get in the colonies, this spurred many colonies to help out the crown.  New Jersey voted to erect 5 barracks to house soldiers. This is the only one still standing. Within two years of William Pitt’s leadership, France surrendered.

Soldiers’ quarters

The rooms in the barracks are 15 feet square, designed to house 12 men.  Men were divided in 6 man mess groups which shared camp (mess) equipment. The barracks was designed to house 300 soldiers. When a tent is 7 feet square at base, this is a real improvement–especially when the building usually only occupied 200-250 men.

The winter quarters were designed to conserve the soldiers’ health. Drilling usually started back up again in March. So, in the winter months, soldiers really didn’t have much responsibility  other than once a month guard duty.

External of officers’ quarters

David also gave insight into the lives of officers.  He reminded us that Officers had to be gentlemen. Because of that, most soldiers never aspired to leadership. Basically, commissions recognized individuals already in place in society. Otherwise, you had to purchase commissions (which cost about 4 years’ salary). Additionally, because officers were gentlemen, they were expected to pay for themselves–uniforms, the trip over, etc.
Initially, Benjamin Franklin turned down a commission because he was still a printer (gentleman didn’t work with hands). Later when he sold his business, he accepted the title of Colonel. While attached to the barracks, the Officers’ house was tacked onto end of building (no doubt the idea of 300 leaderless men left to their own devices was the motivation for this.)  While guests were illegal for enlisted men, the officers’ quarters were designed to bring visitors in. The Officers’ house was designed for 12 officers, though there likely was only 8-10.

Prussian Blue

Inside the quarters also gives insight.  The Spanish Brown paint used in the office area is the cheapest paint available, and corner fireplaces were more practical but less elegant.  On the opposite side of the house, the long room is painted in Prussian Blue–the most expensive paint. This room was used for entertaining. When you understand that a Captain could draw 7 times what a soldier’s ration was–and they had the option to get the equivalent cash price, most took the cash, then bought their own food.  Understanding this context of both officers and soldiers helped me understand Washington’s role, and the fact that he had no possibility of becoming an officer under the British standards.  In fact, he even resigned his commission in the French-Indian War and served as an aid because a non-ranking officer (Washington) could not hold leadership over a commissioned officer.

David concluded the tour with information on George Washington’s role in the American Revolution and the uses of the barracks after the war.  But, I needed to head to Gettysburg and towards home.  This concludes leg one of the Washington grant studies.  Stay tuned for the Western Pennsylvania installments!

 

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McLean Farmhouse

McLean Farmhouse

On Friday, 6/13/14, we decided to head into Appomattox Courthouse for the day. Jen had never been there, so it was a good opportunity being so close. The McLean House is significant for being both the beginning and the ending of the Civil War. When the first shots were fired at Manassas Junction (First Bull Run), Wilmer McLean’s house was chosen as Beauregard’s Headquarters. When a cannon ball came down their chimney, he decided it would be better for business to seek lodging elsewhere. He chose the sleepy town of Appomattox Courthouse. Little did he know, the war would end in his parlor.

Visitor Center at Appomattox Courthouse

Visitor Center at Appomattox Courthouse

We started off in the Visitor center. The Visitor center offers movies on the hour and half hour, in addition to a small museum. They also offer a variety of tours, including two character tours: a woman who gives more of the home and civilian side of the story, and a soldier who gives the military perspective. I have been on each of the tours, and they are both excellent, offering very different information.

The Tour Guides

The Tour Guides

We took the tour with the soldier, whom we later learned was a fellow reenactor and not just a reenactor here. He explained the military aspect of the surrender and the way it affected those who were here. At the conclusion of his tour, he took us to the printing office. Here, we were able to get paroles printed on the same printing press as the originals. Very cool! One thing I learned that seemed out of place is that the paroles were actually printed on lined paper–and if you check out the originals in the display cabinet, they really were. I don’t know why I think of lined paper as a fairly new invention, but it apparently wasn’t. The paroles were given to allow these men to get home without being attacked by the enemy or court martialed by their own men.
Printing Paroles

Printing Paroles

It granted them both transportation and provisions. Still, it must have been a hard road to travel.

We also visited the book shop, which in addition to offering an incredible selection of merchandise, also offered a resource in the form of it’s manager. The young man behind the counter was a recent graduate with a degree in history. He was able to discuss with authority a number of books in the store and explain what he loved about certain events. Definitely an added bonus!

Where the last shots were fired before Lee surrendered

Where the last shots were fired before Lee surrendered

Since first discovering the audio tour podcasts at Civil War Traveler, we have thoroughly enjoyed the information they provide. I’ve always liked the “behind the scenes” view, and these podcasts are the golden ticket. At Appomattox, we especially wanted to see the spot where Chamberlain and Gordon saluted one another. This was my third time at Appomattox, and I had yet to see it. The podcast walked us out, not just to the surrender spot, but also to the location where the last shots were fired. Because this is a bit of a haul, most people probably don’t walk out this far, but it is well worth it. We first lingered at Peers Farm–the spot where the the Civil War essentially ended. It was fascinating to read the accounts written in the final days of the war. For many who had survived thus far, their deepest fear was to be killed in the final hours of the conflict. Sadly, there were many who were.

Spot of the Mutual Salute

Spot of the Mutual Salute

From this spot, we continued around the bend to the spot of the mutual salute. Here also, we were able to hear many interesting stories. There aren’t many Northern generals I admire, but Chamberlain is definitely one of them. I had heard the story of him ordering his men to salute the surrendering Confederates while I was in high school, and now, here we were. Chamberlain’s men lined the dirt road while brigade after brigade made the long walk to surrender their arms and, often more emotionally, their colors–the battle flags so many had given their lives to defend. Some burned their own flags rather than surrender them.
Confederate Cemetery

Confederate Cemetery

Perhaps to lighten the mood or solemnize the occasion, Chamberlain’s men called out “Three cheers for the last brigade,” when the last bedraggled group of men came down the road. Throughout the march, Chamberlain (N) had ordered his men to shoulder arms–the way military men saluted one another. Gordon (S) ordered his men to do the same. It was a recognition that the South was outnumbered, not outfought–a way to restore some dignity to men who had given up so much.

We finished our trip with a visit to the Confederate cemetery. This is a peaceful spot where there is a marker erected in honor of those who fought on the Confederate side. Interestingly enough, there is one Union soldier in the small cemetery. It’s definitely a surreal experience to sit in full view of the McLean House and contemplate the struggle that claimed so many lives.

Confederate Battery 5

Confederate Battery 5

Today (6/10/14) finds myself, my mom, and Jen, a fellow blogger friend back in Virginia for a much needed vacation. Jen and I left the day after graduation to join mom back in my favorite Williamsburg. Since mom and I come often, we wanted to visit some sites that Jen hadn’t seen. Our first stop today was Petersburg.

I had first been introduced to Petersburg by Larry Potts, a fellow Civil War buff. Petersburg isn’t traditionally covered in most classes except by virtue of being a 9 1/2 month siege, so I didn’t know a whole lot about it until he showed me around. It has since become one of my favorite battlefields.

Tall Grasses represent Union Troops

Tall Grasses represent Union Troops

For those of you who also don’t know much about Petersburg, it was indeed a siege, but there’s so much more to it than that. It’s not a siege the way we tend to imagine them: an army surrounds a city and starves them out. The lines of troops around Petersburg would stretch over thirty miles long, and the armies would engage in trench warfare, conduct raids, and go on supply runs. Grant wanted Petersburg because it was the supply source of Richmond, but he had expected it to be a quick defeat, not an almost ten month siege. Obviously, there’s a ton to see in this area!

"The Dictator"

“The Dictator”

We began our tour at the Visitor Center. After a brief film on the battle and browsing around the museum and gift shop (and refraining from hitting a teenager who was talking about how he thought Sherman was “cool” because he tore everything up), we headed out to Confederate Battery 5. During the Siege, this was one of the strongest Confederate defenses, and visitors can see cannons and earthworks here. While the trail with steps from the upper earthworks sends visitors to see “the Dictator,” a mortar (Like a huge cannon) used to shell Confederate batteries, visitors who want a shorter walk should take the trail to the right before going up to the earthworks. This way, you can see ‘The Dictator,” while avoiding the steps and a bulk of the walking.

Siege Works

Siege Works

From there, we headed past stop 2 on the trail, which seemed not to have as much to offer, and pulled off at Confederate Battery 9. It has amazing examples of siege works, as well as examples of the winter quarters of the troops. The program describes the path like this: “A trail leads to a wayside on Meade Station, in important supply and hospital depot on the U.S. Military Railroad built during the siege. It is a 10-minute walk.” This is a bold faced lie. Every time I have gone on this trail, we end up walking on trails hither and yon for about an hour trying to find our way out of the forbidden forest. Apparently, there is something cool to see and some strategic way to do it, but I’ve never figured it out. A full hour later, we finally emerged back at the siege works, hot, sweaty, and exhausted. I don’t even recall seeing a railroad, but Jen assures me I did. I think I could see it just as well from the crater.

Ruins of the Taylor House

Ruins of the Taylor House

Though weary, we meandered around a few smaller areas before arriving at stop 7, Fort Morton. Here, a brief journey takes the visitor out to the ruins of the Taylor house. It’s an incredible place to walk around, and especially interesting to look down at the crater and realize how far troops stretched in this action.

The crater, however, remains my favorite place on this tour. Jen had introduced me to the Civil War Traveler podcast tours, which we had stumbled upon at Gettysburg. If you’re ever visiting a Civil War Battlefield, I’d highly recommend you utilize this website: http://www.civilwartraveler.com/audio/podcasts.html# We’ve usually just taken a smart phone and walked around with it, but this time, Jen brought her tablet so we could all listen. The major things I appreciate the most about these podcasts are that they always feature historians and battle guides who offer reliable information about the actual battles, but also share vignettes, point out key locations and troop positions, and always give insider information. They truly make the battles come to life. The Crater tour is no exception.

Opening to the mine shaft dug to blast "The Crater"

Opening to the mine shaft dug to blast “The Crater”

The Crater is truly the “must see” of Petersburg. The story of the crater is an incredible one. Grant was trying to figure out an easy way to take Petersburg without a lengthy siege. Lt. Col Henry Pleasants, one of Burnside’s men, offered the perfect solution. Pleasants led the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. A number of his men had been coal miners back in Pennsylvania. Now, they had the opportunity to put their pre-war experience to wartime use. These men built a 500 yard shaft underneath the Confederate Fort. The Confederates figured they were mining, and even sent out some of their own miners to try to discover the location, but unfortunately, they didn’t dig deeply enough.
Monument to Colored Troops

Monument to Colored Troops

So, on the morning of July 30, 8,000 pounds of gunpowder, buried under the confederate earthworks, was detonated. Originally, the spliced fuse sputtered out (Grant proposed making the assault anyway), but it was re-lit, and at 4:44 AM it exploded, spraying a huge pile of earth, cannons, men, and debris, and creating a crater 170 feet long, 60-80 feet wide, and 30 feet deep. Burnside had trained his untested-by-battle colored troops to lead the assault, but Grant changed this order last minute, siding with Meade and trying to avoid the criticism of being a butcher for sending black troops to their deaths. The top generals drew straws, and Ledlie drew the short straw. His white troops, who essentially led themselves since Ledlie was off drinking, were not trained how to maneuver the crater as the black troops had been.
The Crater

The Crater

Instead of marching parallel to the crater (Burnside’s plan for the colored regiments), they marched directly into the newly blown crater, creating a “fish in the barrel” scenario for the Confederates, and ruining Grant’s hopes for capturing the city. When Mahone’s men came to support the South, Burnside sent another division in, who would also go in the crater, seeing it as a better alternative to the flanking fire they were receiving. Finally, the colored troops saw their first action, and headed into the crater as well, only to be shot, sometimes by members of their own side who did not want to surrender together, and sometimes by the enemy who granted little quarter. This was the first time many Southerners would fight against colored troops. Grant had had the perfect opportunity, deftly executed, only to be botched in the aftermath. He would call it, “The saddest affair of the war.”

Eppe's Home at Appomattox Plantation

Eppe’s Home at Appomattox Plantation

From the crater, we headed to Appomattox Plantation–Grant’s headquarters for most of the siege. Jen had found this in another favorite companion for walking around battlefields: Jeff Shaara’s Civil War Battlefields. None of us had ever been there before, and it sounded neat. It is definitely a Civil War jewel! It isn’t well advertised, and the directions are difficult to follow, but we managed to find it between a combination of signs and map skills. This was Grant’s headquarters during the siege. You may have seen it in the classic photos of Grant in front of what looks like a striped background. You can see a recreation of the cabin on site–made with 5% original material, due to the fact that previous showings of the original led to its demise.

Grant's Headquarters

Grant’s Headquarters

Our curator Emanuel Dabney has been working at Appomattox plantation for 13 years. In addition to sharing stories about Dr. Eppes and family, he also shared about the lives of the slaves there. Two in particular were the slaves Madison and Harriet. Through his stories of this couple, he was able to give an incredible picture of the lives of slaves at this time. Madison was described as the “gardener, etc,” implying that he didn’t just handle the landscaping, but a great deal of other things around the house. His wife Harriet was the household manager. There were a number of interesting things Emanuel shared with us. First, he explained that Dr. Eppes did a number of things to try to keep order with his slaves. He tried threatening them, he whipped a lot (though Madison and Harriet were exempt, but their children weren’t), he shortened food rations, denied travelling papers to visit family on other plantation–basically, he tried to rule through an iron hand, even describing times he had whipped a slave until he (Eppes) was worn out. Interestingly enough, slaves had their own ways of getting even. They would sabotage equipment, lose or break tools, steal boats to go visit their family members, despite having no papers, take food rations even when they were denied–essentially, they would do what they wanted. One of the things that was the most interesting to me is that when the family deserted the plantation, they didn’t take Madison and Harriet with them to Petersburg in 1862, though they took several other slaves with them. When the Union troops came through, Madison and Harriet were the first to abandon the estate. They were, however, also the first to return after the war, though now as paid employees.

"Madison's" Grave

“Madison’s” Grave

Because Emanuel had worked at Appomattox Plantation for so long (which he lovingly calls “My park”) and had been to so many Civil War events, I asked him what his favorite story was of the place. He shared the fact that Madison was actually buried in St. John’s Episcopal church down the road (Hopewell). Not only is it unique for a slave to be buried in a traditional (white) graveyard, but he also was buried (intentionally by his own desires) near his former master. But, that’s not all. On his grave, his name is listed as James Madison Ruffin. It’s the only place his whole name is listed–and his whole name is the same as the man who wrote the majority of the Constitution–the same document that gave this James Madison Ruffin his freedom. (We went to see the church cemetery after we left.)

Lovely Landscaping

Lovely Landscaping

On our way out, we met Sandy who had come to lock up, but graciously allowed us a “behind the scenes” look at Grant’s Cabin. Unlike the general public, we were able to go inside. She shared about the park’s recent break-in, and explained the reason the cabin is only 5% original. Additionally, the police drove over the remains of the chimney on the original building while they were coming to investigate the break-in. Sandy, who has done the landscape at Appomattox Plantation for 26 years and is the only full time employee, shared how much she loves the peacefulness of the grounds. For her, it is truly a labor of love, demonstrated by her willingness to stay with us and show us around long after the park closed.

Westover Plantation

Westover Plantation

We set out early this morning (3/24/14) for the library in Charles City County, hoping to dig up some information on our Peebles connections there. As we set out, we discovered that we would arrive an hour before the library opened, so we decided to detour by some of the plantations along the way.

The first place we stopped was Westover, built in 1730 by William Byrd II, founder of Richmond. The house is not opened to the public, but the grounds are available for viewing with an “honor system” payment outside the gate of up to $5.00, depending on age, military standing, etc. The grounds are beautiful and peaceful, though it feels a bit odd walking around someone’s yard and seeing things like basketball hoops. It also makes it a bit confusing to know where you can and cannot go. Still, the architectural features are amazing, it was well worth the experience. I’d love to explore a little more when the weather is nicer.

Berkeley Plantation

Berkeley Plantation

After Westover, we headed down to Berkeley Plantation. Berkeley is simply steeped in history. The building itself dates back to 1726, but the history of the plantation starts long before that. On December 4, 1619, early settlers came ashore here and observed the official first Thanksgiving. If you walk down to the river, there is a small monument to the event. I was a bit disappointed by the fact that it is really just a picture and a plaque inside the archway–a bit scant for such a momentous event.

Taps Monument Berkeley

Taps Monument Berkeley

In addition to its Colonial history, Berkeley also has a great deal of Civil War history. Union troops were encamped here in 1862 under the leadership of McClellan (This is the plantation he was trying to get to when he left wounded men at the Shirley Plantation.) In fact, Abraham Lincoln himself visited McClellan at Berkeley two times during the summer of 1862. But, that’s not the end of the Civil War history of the house. First, between the house and the river, there is a monument to Taps. It sounds weird, I know, but the music we know as “Taps” was composed and first played on Berkeley land during the Civil War. General Daniel Butterfield composed this variation of an earlier bugle call. Apparently, Butterfield whistled it for his bugler, who helped him work out the rhythm and notes. This monument, as well, is small, but boasts an audio explanation of the story of “Taps.”

Benjamin Harrison's Grave Berkeley

Benjamin Harrison’s Grave Berkeley

The last Civil War connection comes in 1907. Unable to regain it after the Civil War, the Harrison Family (Declaration of Independence Signer Benjamin Harrison inherited it from his father who built it, and William Henry Harrison was born here) lost the house to others. After a series of owners allowed it to fall into disrepair, the house was purchased by John Jamieson, who incidentally had been a drummer in the Union Army during the Civil War. His children would restore the plantation to its former glory. It’s an incredible site (though we had to pay $7.00 to tour the grounds, while admission to the house and grounds is only $9.00.) Yet, one could easily spend many hours exploring here.

Charles City County Courthouse

Charles City County Courthouse

But, we were now an hour late (instead of an hour early) for the opening of the library, so we set off. We first went to the Charles City County Visitor Center and Courthouse. This Courthouse is the third oldest courthouse in the country, so it was fun to be able to see. When we went in the Heritage Library, however, we quickly discovered it was not what we were looking for. They had only two books that were genealogical in nature, though patrons were able to access computer data only available at this location. But, they kindly directed us to the Charles City County Center for Local History right down the road.

Robert Bolling Court Case

Robert Bolling Court Case

We walked into a room lined with records and knew we were in the right place. Those on duty were very helpful to bring us a number of books to go through. While I didn’t find much on our immediate ancestors, I hit the Robert Bolling Jackpot. Despite being away from my project on Robert Bolling for almost two years, I still have a fondness for him, so seeing his name in writing gave me another trail to go down. I think my favorite thing about seeing his name was that in almost every case, it said, “Witness: Robert Bolling.” Obviously, having studied him, I knew he was often in court as a member of the House of Burgesses, but to see how many cases he was involved in was incredible. In addition to witnessing a number of cases, he was involved in a few disputes of his own which made the ledgers. The first was a suit against Owen Gilmore for a debt Gilmore owed. The suit read, “Suit of Robert Bolling, Gent., vs Owen Gilmore for debt. Gilmore absconded. Bolling to recover from estate of Gilmore in the hands of Thomas Williams.” The second case was even more interesting. This one stated, “Francis Epes claims 200 lbs tobacco for taking up two runaway negro women belonging to Robert Bolling of this county.” I hadn’t really concentrated on the fact that Bolling had slaves. It brought a whole slough of questions. What job did they do for him? How did he treat them when they were returned–after all, he’d had to pay 200 lbs of tobacco to get them back? Additionally, the family had more trouble involving slaves. Apparently, Robert’s son sued his brother-in-law over slaves that were taken which should have been part of the estate. (The entry is in the picture above) Fascinating new information to consider.

Lee's nephew's Prince George Map

Lee’s nephew’s Prince George Map

The Historical Society directed us to the Prince George County Regional Heritage Center. There, we met Carol and hit the jackpot. Not only is she living in Aberdeen, next door to Bon Accord, which was part of our Peebles connection, but she also was incredibly helpful with information. So, we spent the next few hours looking up information about some of our ancestors. The Prince George County also houses a small museum of their own. One of the coolest things for me to see was a map of Prince George County carried by Robert E. Lee’s nephew as he fought in the war. After the Civil War, maps were so rare that he sent it back to Prince George County. Looking at it, you can still see where he had folded the map to transport it. The museum also has a court ledger from the early 1700’s–the full versions of the summaries I had previously looked at in which Bolling played such a prominent role. This book also was a gift from afar, as it had turned up in someone’s attic in Ohio, and they graciously sent it back to the town. A wonderful treasure trove of history.

New Flowerdew

New Flowerdew

At last, we headed out of town. We swung through Shirley Plantation again to get some pictures in the sun, since yesterday had been such a dreary day. Then, we made the quest for Flowerdew Hundred. It’s a hard place to find, as it’s located in James River National Wildlife Refuge, but if you stay on Flowerdew Hundred Road, you can’t miss it. Flowerdew was a land grant of Governor George Yeardley (of Jamestowne) in 1618, named in honor of his wife (Thankfully, that was her maiden name–her first name was Temperance. So, he quite possibly named it for her wealthy father.) In addition to being another of the oldest plantations, Flowerdew played a part in the Civil War as well. It was here that the Union army under the command of Ulysses S. Grant camped before making the Seige of Petersburg in 1864. They had crossed over the James River on a pontoon boat bridge which, though constructed in one night, would hold the record as the longest pontoon boat bridge until World War II. Unfortunately, the original house is no longer on the property, and the mansion there was built in the late 1990’s and is not open to the public. Neat to see, regardless.

Bacon's Castle

Bacon’s Castle

We ended our day with a trip to Bacon’s Castle. While the house is only open on the weekends (admission $8.00), we knew that this weekend is supposed to be rainy, so we wanted to get some pictures on a nice day. Bacon’s castle is not only one of only three houses of the high-style Jacobean structures in the Western hemisphere, but it is also the oldest datable brick building. The name, however, is deceiving. Not only did the house not belong to Nathaniel Bacon (famous for Bacon’s rebellion), it is doubtful he even went there. The house derives its name due to the fact that when Bacon and his men rebelled, Nathaniel sent his men across the river to establish a stronghold in Surrey County. They chose Major Arthur “Allen’s Brick House,” as it was previously known, as their headquarters. They apparently made themselves quite at home in Major Allen’s house, the major himself having fled since he supported the Governor instead of Bacon. They ate his cattle, drank his wine, and generally destroyed his property. Apparently, it was bad enough that he sued the men for the damages!

Finally, we headed back across the ferry and home to curl up for a potentially yucky day tomorrow.

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Colonial Williamsburg

A year ago, I was leaving for Williamsburg to embark on Stage One of my study of Robert Bowling, the Virginia based Colonial Poet. I was able to go due to the generosity of a grant from the Lilly Endowment.

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PEI Coastline

After that, my mom, two nieces, and I headed to PEI to study Lucy Maud Montgomery’s life. This summer, I am right now in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to study another stage of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Life and filming sites from both the Anne of Green Gables and Road to Avonlea Series. Then, I will be heading back to the Virginia area taking some students on a history tour. So, stay tuned. The adventure continues.

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Our home base in Oro-Medonte (near Toronto)

Last Sunday, I had the amazing opportunity to attend a dinner hosted by the Lilly Endowment, the organization that funded my trip to Virginia and PEI. It was an amazing opportunity to present my project to other recipients and see what others experienced. From dancing in Peru, to illustrating children’s books, to writing a ghost story of three beheadings, to running mini marathons in a number of states, each story was a precious adventure and a life changing experience for the recipient.

As this blog is titled Legacy Hunting, and my goal was to study the lives of two individuals who made a profound impact on literature and their day, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Lillys. They recognized that the people who often give the most–pastors, teachers, artists–are seldom acknowedged for their contributions. They realized how tiring it is to continually give and give and give. And they did something about it. This endowment has continued to seek out individuals for the sole purpose of blessing and encouraging them. When I think of a legacy I’d like to leave, I can’t think of a better one than that. So thank you, Lilly Endowment, not just for your generosity, but for your foresight. I am eternally grateful for you and the legacy you continue to leave.