The road to Smith's Fort

The road to Smith’s Fort

Somehow, as many times as we’ve come to Williamsburg, we have never managed to be at Smith’s fort or Bacon’s castle when it’s actually open.  Today (7/17/15), we got our opportunity.  For those who would like to visit, both sites are usually only open on the weekends, though it doesn’t hurt to check the Preservation Virginia Website for information.

When we arrived at Smith’s Fort Plantation, we had just missed the start of the tour.  This is one of the difficult things about this location–you don’t know when a tour will be.  It’s basically, wait until there’s a group, then go.  The ranger told us to go on down to the fort and then come back in about a half an hour for the tour.  So we went down to check out the site.  When we’d come in the past, we had not ventured down to the fort because the rain had made the dirt road impassably treacherous.

Marker for remains of fort:  Earthworks behind.

Marker for remains of fort: Earthworks behind

Even in nice summer weather, there were still spots we could have gotten stuck in our low riding car.  Definitely something to be aware of if you plan a trip.  We still headed out in the car, though we passed a few families who opted to take the path on foot. When we arrived at the fort, I walked past the sign out to the tree line to see where the fort was.  Walking down the path a little ways–through a spiderweb) I determined it was not the way to the fort, so I went back to read the signs.  One of the signs informed us that the only thing that remained of the fort were the two foot earthworks behind the marker.  While there’s not much to it, this site was declared the oldest English structure in Virginia.  John Smith had chosen this spot as a retreat in case they had trouble in Jamestown — it was somewhere they can fall back to. They worked on the fort from 1608 to 1609. But, we were later to learn that the rats had eaten up all the corn stored here; otherwise, there might have been more to the fort, but they abandoned it when the stores were eaten up.

John Smith Plantation

John Smith Plantation

After seeing what was left of the fort, we headed back to the house to see if it was time for the tour.  After a few minutes wait, we were ushered into the house.  The ranger informed us that the Preservation Virginia (formerly the APVA) had been formed in 1889. Since that time, they have saved over 200 historic properties. They receive no federal or state funding, but operate solely on Membership, donations, and patrons.

This area was a dowry gift to John Rolfe and Pocahontas for their marriage in 1614. Rolfe probably didn’t live here, but he farmed tobacco here, starting the tobacco industry. Rolfe had a farming background and thought he could make it work here. He initially tried the local tobacco, but it was bitter, and he knew England wouldn’t buy it.  But, he was able to blend seeds from Trinidad with native plants to produce a sweeter leaf.

Rear of the Smith Fort Plantation

Rear of the Smith Fort Plantation

John Rolfe arrived in Virginia in the Spring of 1610 after being shipwrecked in Bermuda. His ship, the Sea Venture was the flagship of a 9 vessel fleet. Seven of them arrived in Jamestown. Unfortunately, the Sea Venture took on 9 feet of water–especially unfortunate since they had the supplies for the colony.  It’s crew was pumping the water out and realized they couldn’t keep it afloat. They surrendered themselves to the care of God, expecting to die.  But, the watchman spotted land, and they were able to ground the ship in Bermuda, which was uninhibited at the time. They were stranded for nine months. Amazingly, they were able to salvage enough of the ship to build two smaller ships, aptly named The Patience and the Deliverance. The voyage to Jamestown took 11 days with 150 people on board.  One interesting thing our ranger shared is that the wreck of the Sea Venture provided the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Tempest.  I doubted that was true because John Rolfe landed in 1610 and Shakespeare died in 1616.  But, on research, it is actually possible, since the Tempest was written between 1610 and 1611, and they had heard about the wreck of the Sea Venture.

Corner cabinet with butterfly shelves

Corner cabinet with butterfly shelves

Going through the house, the ranger told us that in 1613, the colonists were having so much trouble with Indians, they decide to kidnap Pocahontas and hold her for ransom. They were trying to build a stable relationship with Powhatan. They’re plan didn’t work, though.  Powhatan let her stay with the English. She probably could have escaped, but perhaps she was as curious about the English as they were about her.  While in captivity, Reverend Alexander Whitaker taught her English, converted her to Christianity, and renamed her Rebecca. Rolfe and Pocahontas met while she was in captivity and fell in love. Rolfe wrote a four page letter explaining why he wanted to marry her. The Governor gave his permission, and on April 5, 1614, they married. One year later, they had son Thomas. The Virginia company would pay their expenses to England.  The family stayed 8 months, and by all accounts, everyone in England loved Pocahontas. They had her portrait commissioned a portrait (thought they lightened her features.) They treated her as royalty. In fact, Pocahontas was invited to attend royal events that her husband was snubbed from.

When it was time to come home, many of the Native Americans were sick.  Their immune systems were just not used to all the disease going around England at the time.  The group would board in London, but were not even down the Thames when Pocahontas was so sick she had to be carried ashore to Gravesend.

Bedroom in Smith Plantation

Bedroom in Smith Plantation

There, she died at the age of around 21.  She’s buried at St. George’s church. Thomas was left with Rolfe’s relatives in England. Rolfe never saw Thomas again. Thomas came back in 1635 to gain this property as his inheritance.  Though people currently lived on the property, they became his tenants. Thomas married Jane Jane Poythress.  They had a daughter named Jane (who incidentally married Robert Bolling, whom I was studying when I started this blog!)  By 1652, Thomas had sold the property to Thomas Warren. In fact, the first record of a dwelling on this property is by Thomas Warren. Thomas builds a 50 foot brick house–the only description in the registry. The building here is roughly 48 1/2 feet, so they originally thought this was the house. But, it is not.

King James Bible 1622 Edition

King James Bible 1622 Edition

Excavation showed the lumber used to build the house was cut between 1751-1763. So it’s not the Warren house. They also found the archaeological remains of some of the out buildings.

The building does have a lot of original material, though.  One interesting artifact was a King James Bible dated 1622–just 11 years after it was initially published.  Also, since the house was originally bought by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, it was also interesting to find some Williamsburg connections, albeit unfortunate ones.  The Faulcons, who owned the house around the 1750’s, had 5 children. One of them was termed “feeble minded” (retarded), possibly from lead poisoning. He was institutionalized in the mental hospital which is not the Dewitt Wallace Museum in Colonial Williamsburg.  He lived there for 35 years!

Antique mold with spoons made from it

Antique mold with spoons made from it

Finally, as we were in the cellar, we got to see some of the artifacts found on the property.  One of the coolest items was an 18th century antique spoon mold found in the ceiling over girls’ room.  The foundation still uses the mold to make spoons to sell in support of the foundation.  All in all, it was fascinating to walk through the house and hear about the history of it, even if Pocahontas and John Rolfe never lived here.

We had gotten the combination ticket for the Smith Fort Plantation and Bacon’s Castle, so we headed over there.  Bacon’s Castle holds the distinction of being the oldest British brick building in New World, and the only Jacobean dwelling.  The house was built by the Allen family, and actually should be known as it once was by the name “Allen’s Brick House,” especially since Nathaniel Bacon never lived here and barely visited.

Bacon's Castle

Bacon’s Castle

The Allens arrived in 1630. The house was built by Arthur Allen I, and is 5,300 square feet, making it the seventh largest in 17th century Virginia. Archaeologists have found evidence of 7 kilns, further proof that the bricks used in the house were actually made on site.  It was Arthur II (the son) who was the owner during Bacon’s Rebellion. Arthur II knew Bacon had targeted his house, so he buried his valuables and fled. Seventy of Bacon’s followers lived here for four months, which is what gives it the name Bacon’s Castle.

Initially indentured servants and then slaves helped work the 1,000 acres of tobacco planted here.  We know Allen brought three indentured servants with him from England and  his son had four slaves at the time of Bacon’s Rebellion.  Nathaniel Bacon also had support from indentured servants.  After Bacon’s rebellion, exterior quarters for indentured servants and slaves start being created to increase the separation.

Artistic detailing added by Elizabeth

Artistic detailing added by Elizabeth in the crossbeams of the ceiling

Elizabeth Allen was the longest living relative.  She was landed when she became an Allen and even had a legal note stating that she had the larger estate at the wedding, so that when her husband died, the inheritance would go to her. She was apparently a shrewd business woman and endowed a school in Smithville.  She was also apparently an amazing hostess and was incredibly hospitable.  She also lays claim to the oldest English formal garden in America.  In the 1980’s, they discovered the original garden, and the spot is now maintained by the Garden Club of Virginia.

A cool story we heard was about the names etched on windows. There is a “Louisiana” (Hankins) etched there, who apparently warned of the Civil War. She worried about the house and its safety.

Her son James also has his name there.  He survived Civil War and came home, only to die in a duel in 1866. He is buried on the property.

WWII Dogtags found on the Bacon's Castle site

WWII Dogtags found on the Bacon’s Castle site

One curious artifact among those found at Bacon’s castle was a WW II dog tag soldier from Minnesota. The Museum keeps it on display in hopes of one day finding the owner so they can return it.  I’ve posted a picture here to see if anyone has information on it.

All in all, it was an incredible house to see, but it is also evident that it is in need of restoration.  Since 2015 is the 350 anniversary of the house, the foundation has a goal to raise $350,000 for renovations to the site, including a roof, security items, and restoring the brickwork.  To donate, you can click on the Preservation Virginia website here.

Tomorrow, we head for home by way of Patrick Henry’s estate.  We’ll see what mischief we can get into there.

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Remembering

Remembering

While I still have a few blogs to catch up on, I wanted to take a break and wrestle through a concept I dealt with on the way home from an incredible week of connections. In the past week, I have been able to spend time with a group of amazing Lilly fellows (those who got the same grant that prompted me to begin this blog). This time, I got to be a part of a group of writers. Through a few short days of sharing our stories, I made incredible new friends that I hope to maintain connections with for a long time. At the end of the same week, I attended a youth group reunion where I was able to re-connect with some amazing people who were a vital part of my journey–some of whom I haven’t seen in at least 20 years. With both of these experiences in the same week, I was driving home just thinking about the connections we make in life.

Youth in the 80's--I'm on the left

Youth in the 80’s–I’m on the left

One of the things that bothered me about the reunion was the pictures of myself where I couldn’t remember what we were doing in the picture. And it bugged me–relentlessly. I have wanted to freeze frame so many moments in my life–to hold on to those connections so they will never be lost. And yet here were moments of deep significance in my journey, and they were gone. As I continued thinking, I started wrestling with why I have this urge to remember–or more importantly, why it bugged me so much to forget. I teach history, I have kept a journal for 25 years, and I blog, I love antiques, I care about people’s stories. Why? Because I don’t want to forget.

As I delved further, I came to another connection–It’s not just that I don’t want to forget. It’s that I don’t want to be forgotten. By remembering others, there comes the hope that someone will be remembering us.

Antiques of Lucy Maude Montgomery

Antiques of Lucy Maude Montgomery

None of us wants to be forgotten. As I traverse graves and look at antique stores, I don’t see what’s there–I see the people behind them. I know they have a story. They loved and lost. They had hard times–some they overcame and some overcame them. But, the bottom line is they lived. And because they lived, they should be remembered. And yet, these grave stones, bits of linens, jewelry and hats, are forgotten pieces of their stories, things that no longer meant anything, so they were cast aside. I think that’s why I hold on to so many things–a note, a picture, a piece of furniture–they help me remember. And I WANT to remember.

Why do I feel that way? I think a friend at lunch today explained that better than I could. “I want my life to count. I don’t want to just be ordinary. I want to make my mark. I want to leave a legacy.” I smiled–In short, she wants to be remembered. She longs that something she does in that dash between birth and death will “count”–that it will be worth remembering. I think we all want that.

Items found on the grounds of Robert Bolling's Chellowe

Items found on the grounds of Robert Bolling’s Chellowe

But, I also smiled for another reason. The title of my blog is legacy hunting. It started out as trying to find out what made poets from 100 to 300 years ago who they were. What influenced their stories? I traveled to the places they lived, went to their houses, viewed their stuff–tried to get inside their head. I was in search of their legacy–the things they’ve left behind for us. But, through the years since I received the grant, it has become so much more than that. It is a collection of experiences, of people and the places they inhabited. It is the story of my life and the people and places who have contributed to it. It helps me remember. And sometime, when I have “shuffled off this mortal coil,” it will leave behind my legacy–my thoughts and feelings so future generations will understand what I experienced, should anyone try to discover “who I really was.”

Me 2014

Me 2014

I’m reminded of the line in Dead Poet’s Society–“The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will that verse be?” This world we were born in was already in motion, and unless Jesus returns, will continue after we’re gone. All we have is life in the dash–in that space between the bookends of birth and death. I think that’s why I love history. George Washington didn’t know he would be George Washington–he didn’t know what he’d mean to history. Yet, through his consistent life, he changed history forever. None of us knows how history will view us, or if we’ll be one of those unnamed masses in the “unknown” category. But, if we will love well, fight for truth and right, and stand for those who cannot, we will have a legacy–whether for one or for millions.

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.

Advertisement
Oct. 21, 1766

A bright bay horse from Chellowe strayed
Last spring and rambled (God knows where)
Whose hinder parts are white whose Head
Is decorated with a Star
He bears on his sinister Thigh
Ή is in his seventh Year
About four feet eight Inches High
With Spirit trots and draws a Chair.
Whoe’er conveys the Nag to Chellowe
I’ll well reward and make him mellow
ROBERT BOLLING

The Advertisement in the last Page
answered by Ch: May

If I cou’d find your Horse
I’d bring him soon To Chellowe;
Not, Sir, to swell my Purse–
But serve an honest Fellow.

The Road Goes Ever On!

Yesterday and today, I spent time transcribing Robert Bolling’s poems from Microfiche, reviewing his articles in the Virginia Gazette, and trying to compile the reams of information I have uncovered about Robert Bolling.  Tomorrow, I leave Williamsburg to head back to Indiana, where I will spend two weeks finishing up Robert Bolling and getting ready to leave for P.E.I., where I will undergo the same quest with Lucy Maud Montgomery.  This has definitely been a ride.  Thank you to all who have stuck with me through this phase of the journey.  As I finish poems, I will post what I can on here.  Blessings on you as you leave your legacy.

 

 This morning (6/28/11) I got an Email from the man in charge of photography at Williamsburg. One of my biggest obstacles has been how to get the people pictures I want without having to sign wavers and all of that. Jim referred me to another man who is charge of the files at Williamsburg. He was able to send me to the director of the archives there. When they learned I had received a grant and the purpose of my project, they let me look through the entire database of commissioned portraits that have been done at Williamsburg—and they waved the normal cost of procuring these prints. They also gave me permission to use my own prints as long as I am attributing the professional ones to them and mine to me. (Unfortunately, I can’t post those on the internet.) So, instead of my having to try to catch actors without modern people around in positions that supported my poems, I was able to choose posed people who met my needs for the poems. That definitely saved me a lot of time.

 

Men's shaving set

I also went on a quest to find a Colonial razor set. One of Bolling’s poems is an apology for taking so long to return a razor set to a man from whom he had borrowed a razor when he left his in Williamsburg. I asked one of the tavern curators if there was a razor set inside. When I explained what I was doing, she told me of another of Bolling’s properties in Petersburg, which I will check out tomorrow. She also let me interrupt a tour and opened the glass door to actually let me walk into the exhibit to take a closer picture of the razor.

 

The remainder of the day I spent trying to decipher microfiche. Thankfully, I know how to interpret words in context, as it’s rather like playing Outburst. I read what I think he means, then look at the words around and the words with which it’s supposed to rhyme and figure out what the most likely word is. Slow going, but I’m through about 20 pages of my 49.

 

Copy of original drawing of Cobbs

 Today (6/27/11) was a day of great exploration.  I started off trying to find Cobbs.  I went to the Chesterfield Library, where I found more information on Cobbs, including the pictures of the original building, which was burned by Federals during the Civil War.  (Yet another reason to dislike Yankees….)  I also realized why the Bolling family tree is so hard to follow. Robert Bolling (The first to come to America) married Jane Rolfe (Pocahotas’s granddaughter) and had one son, John. Jane died, and Robert remarried, starting a new strain of Bollings (Thereafter distinguished as the “White” Bollings, as opposed to the “Red” Bollings which were Pocahontas’s line.) Each Bolling side of the family had Robert Bolling’s (in honor of the ancestor)–In fact, My Robert Bolling had a brother named Robert who only lived to be four and died two years before My Robert was born—Imagine that conversation: “Yeah, your brother died, so we gave you his name…” Eventually, however, the two sides rejoined when a “red” Bolling married a “white” Bolling. Complicated!

 

Col. Bolling's Grave

After trying to keep the history straight, I found a copy of vague directions to Cobbs, including such tidbits as “Proceed 1 ¾ miles southeast on 617, thence to…” And, it included streets which no longer exist. So, once again, I was left to chance and the GPS. I managed to find a street called Cobbs Point and explored from there out. Having received information that part of Cobbs was in the middle of a park, I was able to locate the Park Ranger, who pointed me to a subdivision. Col. John Bolling (Robert’s father) is buried in the middle of a subdivision, but I found it without too much difficulty. All the houses said no trespassing, so I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to get some pictures, but I saw a man outside working on his car, so I went and asked him. Turned out, he was from England, and not only let me explore his land, but also told me that the remains of Cobbs had been removed off of the land adjoining his property. So that ended the quest for Cobbs.

 

 

Ruins of the Chimney ouside of Chellowe

I then decided to head back up to Dillwyn since I had discovered that Indian Plains had also been a part of Chellowe as well. I was able to take a few pictures around there (Ignoring another No Trespassing sign.), and I was able to capture the ruins of the chimney and some outbuildings. Then, I went back to the Buckingham County Library to see if I could locate any of Bolling’s other plantations. The Librarian sent me to the County Courthouse, designed, incidentally, by Thomas Jefferson. While there, I was able to see some of the land grants Col. Bolling received.

 

I drove down to Willis Mountain, where I had learned from the Courthouse that Robert Bolling Senior (Relative—Not sure “red” or “white” Bolling) had signed his name in a cave in 1700. I passed yet another No Trespassing sign to drive up Willis Mountain, which is now a mine. I got a few pictures, but didn’t see the cave, so I decided to stop in the mining office to see if they knew anything about it. The secretary was excited to hear all I had discovered about Robert Bolling. She promised to email the man who had bought Chellowe and owned Willis Mountain. He called me as I was driving to where I thought the other plantation was and told me that Chellowe was actually designed from Thomas Jefferson’s first plans for Monticello. I’d never heard that, but as Thomas Jefferson was Bolling’s brother-in-law, it would make sense. He mentioned that Bolling’s signature was indeed in the cave, but had been covered over with graffiti, so it wouldn’t be worth my time to drive back to see it, since they hadn’t restored it yet. We talked history for a few more minutes, and he told me I was welcome to come by anytime I was in the area (Score!) and to send him anything I found. Then, I took pictures of the Seven Islands area and drove home. So, a very full Bolling day.

Willis Mountain