Governor’s Palace

Today (3/29/17), we had planned to do another tour of historic Jamestown with the woman who was giving the Roads Scholars’ tour, but when we called Jamestowne, we were told her tour wouldn’t be until 3 (Turns out, it was a miscommunication and she wasn’t giving a tour today.)  So, with our initial plans out the window, we were left to explore new territory.

We spent the morning running errands and trying to obtain contact information for the new man in charge of Colonial Williamsburg.  As long time guests, we believe he’s making some major mistakes in direction and wanted to address them before it’s too late.  While his schedule wouldn’t allow us to meet this week, I received assurances that his chief of staff would contact me.  We’ll see.

Freedom Park cabins

So, we had time to kill before our 5:30 lecture on George Washington.  Last night, I had Googled a “Must see” list for the area to see what we had missed in our devotion to our favorites.  One area that caught my eye was Freedom Park.  While it is known for its hiking and biking trails and zip lining, it also is the site of one of the oldest free black settlements.

Reconstruction of a cabin like John Jackson’s.

The place got its start when William Ludwell Lee of Green Spring Farm not only freed his slaves in his will, but also made provisions for comfortable homes to be built for them. His executor saw to the project which allowed the former slaves to live rent free for ten years.  One of the homes represents the home of John Jackson (with his wife Nancy and two children.)  Jackson was able to purchase and develop his own property, and his descendants still live in the area!

The park guide also references an 18th century cemetery, and though there were archaeological digs on the grounds and bodies were found, they were reinterred after research was completed.  Unfortunately, there are no markers nor clues to the information archaeologists found, and the area is simply blocked off by rail fences.

Botanical Gardens

The park does, however, have a visitor center which displays a small collection of artifacts and information.  My favorite piece was a map from the Civil War simply listing the area as “Free Negro Settlement.”  There aren’t any houses marked or details, indicating the artist didn’t explore the area. I wished I’d gotten a picture of it, but alas,  I didn’t.

There is a beautiful botanical garden as well, which is run by volunteers.  Though I don’t expect Freedom Park to become a new favorite, it is definitely worth visiting, and since it’s only about five years old and a county park, I’m sure it will continue to improve.  It will be fun to see the changes that occur.

A sampling of period clothes

We left Freedom Park to head back to Colonial Williamsburg for a lecture in the building formerly known as the Dewitt Wallace–now the Art Museums of Williamsburg.  Being a reenactor and a seamstress, I wanted to check out their collection of Colonial Fashion, now on display.  There was a beautiful exhibition of clothes and quilts–well worth visiting, even though I didn’t have much time before the lecture.

The lecture by Professor Peter Henriques was entitled I cannot tell a lie. Myths about George Washington that should be discarded. In his discussion, he gave twelve myths and his reasons why they’re “fake news.”  I’ll recount them here.

Washington’s false teeth

Myth #1:  He had wooden teeth.  Actually,  Washington’s false teeth were a combination of human, ivory, and animal.  In fact, he even bought teeth from his slaves!

Myth #2:  He threw a silver dollar across the Potomac. First, silver dollars hadn’t been invented, and Washington wouldn’t have thrown money away if they had.

CW not GW

Myth #3:  He cut down his father’s cherry tree and said,  “I cannot tell a lie…” This myth was popularized in the book by Mason Locke Weems called The Life of Washington, but, though it appears in the book, it wasn’t added til 5-6 edition. There is some background, though. A vase in Germany (1770-1790) depicts Washington cutting down a tree with GW over his head. Unfortunately, on this case, “Washington” is a grown man, and the initials?  CW.

Myth #4:  Washington prayed on his knees at Valley Forge. While there is nothing implausible about Washington praying. He was a very private man, not given to such ostentatious displays. The story only was added by Weems in the 17th edition of his book. Additionally, the description of the man who supposedly witnessed this differs in accounts.  One has Potts as a Quaker encouraged by the event while others portray him as a Tory disheartened by the event.  In either case, he didn’t buy the farm in Valley Forge until after war was over, so could not have witnessed Washington there.

Myth #5:   Washington was a great curser. The reference to this comes from an account of his clash with Lee in 1778 at the Battle of Monmouth. Lee had turned his troops, and Washington had to rush in to save the day.  A quote by Colonel Charles Scott says, “He swore til the leaves shook the trees.” First of all, Scott wasn’t there, and recounted the story many years later. Also disputing this character portrayal, Alexander Hamilton said Washington never cursed. Charles Lee himself said in his testimony that Washington’s manner was stronger than his language. Finally, Washington prided himself on self- mastery and disdained use of profanity.   All of these are good reasons to doubt the account.

IMG_6472

Sculpture of Washington

Myth # 6:   He was cold and aloof.  Apparently, his friend Gouverneur Morris said he was remote. This stems from a story circulated that Morris had told Hamilton he thought Washington quite genial.  Hamilton apparently bet him dinner and wine if Morris would put his hand on Washington’s shoulder and say, “General!  How happy I am to see you looking so well.”  Supposedly, Morris did it, and Washington removed his hand from his shoulder and glared at Morris until he left.  As with the other myths, there is no contemporary evidence. First, the record is third hand gossip 80 years after the event. Additionally, the story is out of character for both men. Delegates who served with Washington said, “He is sensible, amiable, virtuous, modest, and brave.” To publicly embarrass someone would go against his rules of civility; therefore, it’s safe to assume the incident never happened.

Myth #7:  He had no sense of humor.  James Madison said Washington “enjoyed good humor and hilarity, though he takes little part in them.”  Additionally, Washington’s bad teeth might have given credence to this rumor as well, since most people don’t like smiling and laughing if they’re self conscious–and self-mastery was extremely important to him.

Myth #8:  Washington had a child with his slave.  This rumor has two sources.  The first was letters put out by the British during the war trying to slander Washington’s character.  The other comes from West Ford, who was the son of George Washington’s brother John’s wife’s slave.  The Ford family gave oral tradition that he was Washington’s son.  A number of facts dispute this, however.  First, West didn’t come to Mount Vernon until three years after Washington died. Additionally, there is incredible difficulty with putting Venus (West’s mom) and Washington together.  Since West was born during the war when we have very credible evidence where Washington was, the only possibility would be when John’s family visits Mount Vernon. There’s no plausible reason why Washington–a happily married man who valued duty and self discipline above most else–would do that. West is most likely the son of one of Washington’s nephews.  Doctors now think that Washington was most likely sterile. This doesn’t necessarily disprove the Fords story of having Washington DNA.  The Fords may be directly related to Washington without being directly descended from him.

Myth #9:  Washington struggled about whether to be a king. In actuality, he was fundamentally a believer in republican values. The origins of this belief may be because of a letter from a French officer suggesting it may be better for America to have a king (strong leadership in tumultuous times.). George responded with a blistering letter contradicting that view and even went as far as to have witnesses sign that he sent it. It would have caused him to be viewed as a traitor if he abandoned his republican principles.

Myth #10:  Washington added “So help me God” to his presidential oath.  First, there isn’t contemporary evidence to this.  A letter from the French ambassador which spells out the whole scene of the inauguration in vivid detail doesn’t include it.  But, 65 years later, it appears in a book. It seems out of character for Washington to tamper with the constitutional text when he’s such a stickler for the Constitution being taken literally. The tradition may come from the fact that he’d said it in other oaths.

Myth #11:  Washington is a front man for Alexander Hamilton.  This myth had its origin with Jefferson who immensely disliked Hamilton.  Unfortunately, Washington tends to side with Hamilton’s perspective more than Jefferson’s.  Jefferson’s answer to this frustration is that Washington is deceived by Hamilton, since he cannot consider Washington evil like he considers Hamilton.

Myth #12:  Washington originated the 2 term tradition. It’s important to understand the factors here.  First, Washington steps down from a combination of fatigue and a desire to establish a transition of power. He was not opposed to the idea of serving a number of terms. In fact, in a letter to Lafayette, he said that he saw no problem with serving multiple terms, and thought limiting terms stifled the voice of the people, who might desire a particular person to serve longer (or be in circumstances that would make it easier or better for a leader to continue.)

All in all, it was a fascinating evening, and I see why his lectures are so popular and well attended.

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Morning time

We decided to run over to Colonial Williamsburg to take the walking tour with Thomas Jefferson today (7/13/16).  When we went by the Lombard House to get tickets, we discovered the tour was full. We were bitterly disappointed, but decided to stay and see if we could just tag along.  I’m glad we did!

Making candles

While we were waiting to sneak in on the tour, we visited the candle makers, which was fascinating.  With an additional paid ticket, kids can make their own hand dipped candles.  But, just listening to the candle maker taught me a great deal.  First, there were three types of candles colonists would make: tallow (animal fat), beeswax, or bayberry. Additionally, whale oil lamps were used which burned 10-12 hours compared to 4 hours for the others. Candles were dipped with around 50 wicks per bracket. So, a candle maker could make 400 candles in about 3 hours. Molded or gauged molded only allowed about 28 at a time. Unlike today, they didn’t use dyes or scents–candles were practical, not decorative.

Shoemaking

Our next stop was to the shoemaker.  This is always one of my favorite shops.  Here we learned that a pair of shoes takes between 3 and 7 hours to make. Boots take about 40 hours. As far as fixing shoes goes, repairing shoes costs about 1/5 of the price of a new pair and is just not worth the cost of the shoemaker. For those trying to save a bit, the saddle maker might fix your shoes for you or you could try a cobbler. But, a shoemaker was a 7 year apprenticeship while a Cobbler had no training, which gave rise to the expression “Cobbled together.” About half of the population just threw their shoes out when they wore out.  Most people owned 6 or 7 pairs and bought about 4 a year. The most common shoe was made from beef leather, so there was a lot to use. Sole leather was taken from the back of an ox or steer. Inner soles were made from the shoulder. Leather was curried with fish oil. They also made shoes out of goat leather, but these were usually slippers because the leather stretches too much. Turned shoes were sown inside out and turned which made them much more flexible for dancing, and as the saying goes, “Virginians must dance or die.”  A finer shoe simply meant there were more stitches per inch. About Shakespeare’s time, shoe makers stopped making right and left shoes because heels came into fashion, but within about 20 minutes of wearing shoe, the leather will mold to your foot, making your own individually tailored left and right shoes.

Grazing sheep

After leaving the showmakers, we went over to pet the sheep for a bit, then headed down to see if we could join the Thomas Jefferson tour.  Though they do collect tickets, the tour is entirely outside, so if you’re willing to stay on the fringes, you can share the experience.  Ticketed or no, this tour is a gold mine, and one I highly recommend.  So, I went on the tour while mom and Corban hunted for shells to take back to the family.

Bill Barker as Thomas Jefferson

Bill Barker has presented Thomas Jefferson for 32 years! (Check out his site here:)  He is as close as anyone can come to the real man with a knowledge of Thomas Jefferson that is unparalleled.  He began the tour with some information about Jefferson’s plantation, sharing that it took 2,000 yards of material to clothe his slaves.  When you consider that Cotton takes about 40 hours for seed removal and 60 hours to finish processing it to produce one pound of cotton which made 1 yard of fabric, the time commitment is huge!

Jefferson (as I will hereafter refer to Bill) shared often that Williamsburg was considered the capital of good manners–a key component of education. Though one of ten children, Thomas was given the privilege of an education.  Despite having three younger brothers, he himself was the oldest son who inherited the property. Yet, he often said the greatest legacy his father gave him–despite his inheritance of 700 acres and over 100 slaves–was education.

“Manners make the man”

Jefferson’s dad died at 49 when Thomas was just 14, which I’m sure affected him. He had initially been sent to James Murray Academy and later enrolled in The College of William and Mary (The first law school in America.)  While there, he worked with Dr. Small whom he said had gentlemanly manners.  Dr. Small said each student was a new mind. He realized that the educated mind always remained open to new ideas. Like Socretes, who believed “The unexamined life is not worth living,” Small would teach with questions.  He encouraged his students to “Go out and improve society because you are educated.” Small seems to have been a quite remarkable man who pushed for universal education while having the happy talent of teaching with humor.  Jefferson stated, “It was perhaps Dr. Small who more than anyone else shaped my destiny.”  Quite the compliment!

The men who shaped America

Jefferson’s journey continued under the tutelage of Mr. Wythe, who helped to form Thomas’s idea of how one should behave.  “In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.”  Jefferson studied law for 3 years with Mr. Wythe, who only took one student at a time!   Other notable students of Mr. Wythe’s include John Marshall (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) and Henry Clay (The “Great Compromiser” who was considered a role model by Abraham Lincoln.)   Wythe’s manner of teaching law returned to Roman law under the Justinian Code stressing the principle that All men are born free–a lesson that clearly impacted Jefferson enough to put the concept in the Declaration of Independence. Initially, Roman slaves were voluntary apprenticeships to learn trades. Scribes and monks transcribed laws, but these laws were considered living and breathing with reasoning as the foundation of law. This helped set the model for our Constitution which gives the law of the land, but which may also be changed through amendment, giving rise to the idea that “Good manners dictate resolution and compromise.”

Other major influences on Jefferson include his mother’s uncle (mother’s father’s brother.)  Jefferson’s great grand parents had settled at Turkey Island. They modeled that it’s not aristocracy but meritocracy that matters. William and Mary Randolph were considered the Adam and Eve of Virginia. Their son Sir John Randolph was the only man the colonies to have been knighted. His son John II (who was his second son) inherited the title Attorney General. Payton Randolph, the first son of John Sr., became the president of the Continental Congress. Though both influential, John and Payton couldn’t have been more opposite, especially regarding the American Revolution.  Payton Randolph (considered an icon of fairness who listened to all sides) was strongly in favor of the new nation and, when he died, had the largest funeral until Ben Franklin’s. John, however, was a loyalist who returned to England where he later died. In an interesting twist, John’s son Edmund Randolph became first Attorney General in Washington’s cabinet.  Jefferson often said he learned how to act by following the example of these incredible men.

The Raleigh Tavern

He then launched into a discussion of the Declaration of Independence.  This incredible document was first printed on the printing press here in Williamsburg. It was read three times on July 26 from Raleigh Tavern.  One of the events leading to the need for this document was that Governor Nicholson disbanded assembly because they requested a day of fasting and prayer on June 1 over the closing of Boston port. (Of course, if you were fasting and praying, no work could be done, but still…)  It was the governor’s custom to declare religious observances, so he felt the assembly overstepped their bounds.  The Colonists, however, called for a Congress to be held in Philadelphia. Philadelphia had been proven progressive by offering the first free public school and the first free society for slaves. Jefferson was invited and wanted to attend but got sick. In his stead, he sent a printed document on law and called for abolition of slaves, but first called for a lack of importation. Though Jefferson was not at the First Continental Congress, he gained a lot of attention as an author because of his pamphlet.  I’m certain this reputation is part of what led to the choice to ask him to draft the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson did attend the Second Continental Congress, but in reality, his involvement in politics goes back much earlier to his time in Williamsburg. As a boy, Jefferson had attended Raleigh Tavern with his dad. Another fun fact is that in card game, his dad won 1,000 acres in Goochland County. The deed of land states it was traded for one bowl of Arrack punch. One of mountains on that land Jefferson went on to inherit is Monticello, meaning “Little Mountain” in Italian.

Monticello

Monticello itself played a dramatic role in our nation’s history.  Williamsburg was made the capital in 1699. Though the Capital building was burned in 1740, the records were saved and afterwards moved to a public records building. To protect against fire, they made the walls double thick and designed them to be burn proof. When they moved the capital to Richmond in 1780, Jefferson oversaw the moving of historic documents. However, when the war broke out, Jefferson moved the public records to Monticello, thinking no one would ever look for them there. Later in the war, Tarleton was sent to capture Jefferson. (If you don’t remember Banastre Tarleton, he’s the villain in The Patriot.  The movie portrayed him fairly accurately–He killed men who surrendered and was nicknamed “The Butcher” for his brutality.)  To have him coming after Jefferson was not good!  Thankfully, a boy warned him, and Jefferson buried the documents under the floorboards at Monticello. Jefferson himself fled.  His servant Martin Hennings was asked to give Tarleton information. He said that everything of value had already been taken from the house. Tarleton burned the barns and tobacco fields but didn’t burn house. Later in France, Jefferson met him and asked why he had spared the house. He said it was because of the civility with which the Americans treated the Hessian prisoners of war. Because of good manners, that cardinal value of Jefferson, his house was spared as were the documents.

The “Special” shells

When asked about Jefferson’s impact on laws, he referred to the printed body of Virginia Law  Jefferson drafted with William Hennings. It introduced 126 revisals, especially to the penal code. He made it so part of the punishment was that criminals had to serve time in the penitentiary (designed to make a person penitent or sorry for their crime.)  He also helped end the importation of slavery in 1783. Another step against slavery was allowing that a slave who showed meritorious service could be freed (1785). There was, however, a $25 bond placed on slave to be freed before law. He also drafted the Religious Freedom Bill as well.  Free education, though Jefferson’s idea, did not occur until 30 years after his death.  One thing I especially appreciated is that Jefferson deemed History the most important course according to the bill. So why didn’t Jefferson free his slaves?  Initially, he was in France  when the bill came out.  Then, he was in debt so  he couldn’t.  Still, he did a great deal towards equality and preserving our freedom.

All in all, it was an incredible tour.  I returned to find mom and Corban, who had acquired a great number of shells, and we headed home to pack.  All in all, it was an incredible experience!

Market Place Construction

Market Place Construction

Colonial Williamsburg has long been one of our favorite places, so today (7/15/15) we decided to head back to see what has changed.  One of the first things we noticed that was different was the new construction!  Archaeologists have discovered the foundation of a market square where Colonists would buy and sell goods.  And currently, Colonial Williamsburg is reconstructing the Market Place and the Standards House for the weights and measures.  These are located right by the Magazine.  It will be a little while before it’s completed, but something to look forward to and see the progress of–I remember when they were doing the archaeological dig and then building the coffee house!  What fun to watch Williamsburg grow again!

Kids and parents at

Kids and parents at “The Dig”

And speaking of digs, this is one of the new exciting things we discovered at Williamsburg.  Now, there is a new program called “Dig! Kids, Dirt, and Discovery.” It’s a hands on excavation opportunity where kids actually get to do real archaeology!  I think this is the most fascinating idea ever!  It allows kids to be a real part of archaeology while helping the museum because the public actually is doing the real thing–not some “seeded sandbox.”  According to one of the receptionists as we were leaving, this has been one of the most successful additions to Colonial Williamsburg.  It’s also an investment in the future.  Imagine these kids somewhere down the road being able to take their kids to see a new building for which they excavated the foundation, or an item in the museum they found.  It definitely puts “Skin in the game” for guests and gives a real sense of ownership to those who come.  A great decision indeed!

RevQuest bandanna and info

RevQuest Info packet

But, it’s not the only way they are reaching out to kids.  RevQuest, which was added a few years ago,has a different “spy mission” every year.  This year’s involves a great deal of real spy work:  ciphering.  RevQuest participants receive a blue bandanna and a packet of instructions, including a pencil, a map, and a ciphering key.  But, along the way, as they text information to “headquarters,” they will receive tokens from a variety of people they will have to meet with.  I absolutely love this idea!  It engages kids in history in such an interactive and suspenseful way–they will never forget.

“Bayonet” face off

Another unforgettable addition is the military camp.  I’d previously seen kids being recruited to join the militia, but at the military camp, they get to train with stick guns, learn commands, and run a small obstacle type course to practice their skills against the British.  It was amazing to watch young children running around, ducking behind bushes, popping out and yelling, “Boom!” or running to a British soldier cut out, throwing something, and running back to hide.  You could hear the laughter (and Booms!) from down the road.  What an awesome experience!

Street ball Colonial style

Street ball Colonial style

Then, as we were heading to check out one of the stores, I noticed a pick up game in the middle of a street.  A costumed reenactor had a gaggle of boys and girls in the street around him.  He had a small flat bat, and on the street, there was a base that the batter would strike to launch the ball in the air so the batter could hit it with the bat.  When a child got a good hit, the others would try to catch the ball wherever it flew.  In addition to street ball, there were sticks and hoops children could play with.  Another reenactor was sitting with a “Close the box” game playing with children.  I love that children are being involved in so many aspects of colonial life.

Bill Barker as Thomas Jefferson

Bill Barker as Thomas Jefferson

We then went to hear Thomas Jefferson speak.  Having come here for years, we have heard Jefferson speak many times, and it is never the same.  As a teacher, I know the hours of preparation that go into giving a lecture, and Bill Barker is an incredible speaker.  Having played Thomas for over thirty years, he truly knows so much about this incredible man that he is able to quote extensively from Jefferson’s letters and the texts he read from.  In this presentation, he reminded us that the purpose of the revolution was to secure the individual rights of man.  He addressed self-governance and the need of each person to control him or herself.  And yet, he discussed that Americans had never been more free to disagree.  But, a difference of opinion ought never to be a difference of principle.  He then turned to the subject of public education and discussed that he was willing to pay for his neighbor’s schooling because an educated society is a well-protected society since those who read for themselves and can compare differing opinions to discover the best, can also think for themselves.  Listening to his words while living in a world that is increasingly government governed instead of self-governed, where relationships between different opinions are often volatile, and where education budgets are being cut left and right (my own public school lost 1/4 of our staff this year due to budget cuts) his words ring true.

Firing the Cannon

Firing the Cannon

We finished our day watching the fifes and drums lead the group of “New recruits” in a military march from the capital down to the courthouse where they were presented to General Washington.  There was a military demonstration which involved musket firing and cannon firing.  One thing that interested me is the fact that they let a child from the audience actually fire the cannon.  I’ve seen the “fake set up” at Yorktown, but this child actually lit the fuse!  It was truly a remarkable experience.

As we were walking to the car, we got into a conversation with a family visiting from Switzerland.  Since we had been to Switzerland, we discussed how much we loved their country, and they shared how they were finding ours (via a camper!)  I was reminded again how people from all over the world come to Colonial Williamsburg.  I’m so glad they are continuing to grow to embrace a new generation of visitors!

Williamsburg in the rain

Williamsburg in the rain

Thursday, 6/12/14, dawned gray and rainy. We had planned to spend the day in Colonial Williamsburg and were hoping against hope that Thomas Jefferson would still speak as advertised. (For those who have never visited Colonial Williamsburg, they publish a weekly schedule of events Sunday through Saturday, so you can choose which specific events you want to attend.) Thankfully, the rain cleared up, and we were told Jefferson would come on as scheduled. We were excited because Jen most wanted to see him, having already seen Patrick Henry and George Washington. But, we weren’t the only ones excited to hear Thomas Jefferson. We ended up sitting next to a young woman who was related to Thomas Jefferson. Even though this particular actor (Bill Barker) is not the “real” Thomas Jefferson, he has been playing Thomas Jefferson for thirty years in a variety of capacities. His knowledge is unparalleled, and he is truly fascinating to listen to.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

One of my favorite things Thomas Jefferson does is his interaction with the audience. As only someone who has studied a source for thirty years can do, Barker answers questions with information gleaned from first hand letters and speeches. Yet, this time, he gave an illustration that was unforgettable. A young boy asked him a question about his intent in the Declaration of Independence. In response, Jefferson called him up. He gave him two items to hold, both his sword and a feather pen. He challenged him with the phrase, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Through a masterful presentation, he explained how ideas changed the world and how we fought to have a voice. While fighting is sometimes necessary, ideas are the things that last to be considered and analyzed by generations to come. He challenged the young man to stand up for what he believed in and not to let his voice be silenced. And he let him keep the feather.

Jefferson

Jefferson

After the presentation, we went up to speak to Thomas Jefferson, who it seems is a big fan of Civil War history as well. We talked about our upcoming trip to Petersburg, and he stepped out of character long enough to tell us to check out a little restaurant in Petersburg where Edgar Allan Poe spent his honeymoon. We said we would.

From there, we headed to the Dewitt Wallace Museum to hear a different Martha Washington, who also had an incredible deal of experience. She was more sober than Martha Washington at Mount Vernon, but brought out a number of human incidents in Washington’s life as well. In addition to hosting speakers, the Dewitt Wallace Museum sports consistent exhibits of ceramics, guns, instruments, art, and money, but they also have a variety of rotating exhibits which are also well worth seeing. This time, there was a collection of Colonial furniture which demonstrates an artistry unparalleled in today’s society.

By the time we finished in the museum, it was raining pretty steadily, so we decided to go home for dinner and to dry off before our evening Ghosts Among Us Tour. This tour is a fascinating one to take because it draws on actual historical reportings from the time. We met our guide at the Lumber House ticket office (Across from the Palace Green.) At our first stop, we filed into a parlor area where we were greeted by a lovely young woman who explained a chilling story of a murder case. An older man who was described as being “touched” had killed a young boy because he saw Satan in him. The young woman described going to visit him in jail, hearing him talking to someone, and seeing a demon. Having personally witnessed exorcisms, I can say with confidence she was spot on for mimicking someone who is possessed. Definitely a creepy one. It’s creepier still to learn that the murder really took place, the man really used the defense of trying to get Satan from the boy, and the judges deliberated for a LONG time, and didn’t really come to a decision on how to charge him.

From there, we progressed to another house where we learned the story (also loosely based in truth) of a woman who killed her sister (and her husband’s first wife) in order to marry her husband. Most of the accounts, while including the account of the husband marrying his dead wife’s sister, also tell of the first wife dying peacefully, not breaking her neck falling down stairs. There are apparently legends, though, that lead thrill seekers to try to hear the footsteps on the stairs at odd hours of the night.

Governor's Palace

Governor’s Palace

We ended our tour in the Governor’s palace. We learned that this building had been used as a hospital during the war after the Battle of Yorktown, and they had actually found a large number of graves behind the palace that dated back to that time period. In this presentation, the actor represented one of the soldiers killed. In one of the graves, archaeologists had found a jaws harp in with the soldier. What led someone to bury it with this young man? Speculations on this man’s story led the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to create this presentation to honor so many unknown soldiers whose stories we will never know. Definitely an incredible glimpse into the lives of so many soldiers. That concluded our ghost tour. Another wonderful day at Colonial Williamsburg.