Warning! This is a long post, prepare yourself!
This being the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America, I decided to take Serena to a once-in-a-lifetime event and fill in some gaps in her history education. She was only in kindergarten when we studied early American history as a family. Oh yes, the government had their official, politically correct, Indians are the good guys, settlers were murderers and rapists of the land event in May, attended by Queen Elizabeth, and including Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Al Sharpton on the panel that discussed the settlement. That was NOT the event we attended. Instead, we went to a week-long celebration (that word had been forbidden by the establishment) of the providential history of the Jamestown settlement. The point was to examine the source documents, and determine what was the real impetus for the colony, and what the participants, themselves, had to say about it. It was put on by Vision Forum, a Christian ministry that you can read more about here.
We began our trip driving as far as Staunton, VA, and staying in a motel. Since we were to be staying with friends the rest of the time, we wanted to store up a little private time. The friends in Williamsburg, the Owen family, put us up for a week, making our attendance at the conference possible by saving us hundreds in hotel bills. I realized that we would be passing close to Monticello the next day, so I asked Serena if she wanted to see it. “What’s Monticello?” she asked. To a born and bred Virginian, that settled it — we had to stop there! I, gardener that I am, braved the bright sun to stroll through the very long garden on the grounds. I actually found a perennial that I had never seen before, labeled globe lavender on the stick by the plants. Monticello sells some of their heirloom plants and seeds, but alas, not this one. The house was fascinating, with all of Jefferson’s ingenious additions and inventions contained therein. Here’s a picture of the front, which I really took for the huge and ancient tulip poplar tree to the left. We had 2 of these in our front yard growing up — typical tall straight trunks with branches high up. If I hadn’t seen the leaves, I would have thought this one was an oak!
Continuing on our way, we arrived in Charles City County in plenty of time to attend the wedding of Olivia Potter, daughter of old and dear friends who live in Williamsburg. Sarah and Lydia, you will recognize most of the Potters, but here are the rest: Behind Brandon on the left is his Russian wife, Marina, and he is holding their son. Lydia is holding her daughter, Eve, and Ellie has Lydia’s 3-month old son. On the right behind Claire is her new husband of 1 week, Sam. Sorry, I don’t remember the groom’s name.
Finally arriving at the Owen’s, we settled in and spent some time sharing pictures and discussing the schedule for the next week. I knew we wouldn’t have much time for visiting during the week, since there were different things scheduled morning, afternoon, and evening.
Our week included symposiums, mini-tours of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, a boat tour on the James River, and dramatic presentations and re-enactments, plus period music. Here are some of the titles of the Symposiums we attended (it was hard to choose, they all sounded so interesting):
Kingdom Seeds at America’s Birth (Dr. Paul Jehle) This was the most fascinating of our speakers. We heard him twice. The first time he took just the year 1606, the year the charters were written that led to both the Jamestown and the Plymouth colonies. The second session was just about 1607. It was fascinating to hear about people and events I had never heard of before, and how God wove together details and people at just the right time. Among those things I’d never learned in history was about the Popham colony, planted in what is now southern Maine in 1607. It only lasted 13 months, therefore you never hear about it.
The Panorama of Providence at Jamestown. The Coming of the Bible to America. (Did you know that because the King James Bible wasn’t published yet, that it was the Geneva Study Bible that came to Jamestown??? A Protestant, reformation Bible in the Anglican church! That’s why King James agreed to “his” Bible, because he objected to the Geneva Bible.) Refuting the Revisionists on America’s 400th Birthday. Europeans and Indians at Jamestown: Demythologizing the Story. Warfare!: The Powhatans vs. the Englishmen (taught by our old friend, Bill Potter). American Indian View of Law and Justice.
Our favorite mini-tour was that at Yorktown, led by Bill Potter. He really made the events of that crucial engagement come alive, and made us laugh with some of his stories. He had arranged for some of the Owen boys, 3 of whom are in the Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corp, to come play a few tunes during his talk. Here’s Joel, the youngest. You girls will remember him from their visit in 2005.
Thursday morning, we played hooky from lectures and left early to drive to VA Beach for the morning. Serena had brought our sand castle making kit in case she got the opportunity. Unfortunately, the morning I was willing to miss the lectures did not coincide with the best beach weather. The good news is that the beach was not crowded. In fact, it was quite deserted. I spent the first hour lying on a quilt on the leeward side of a walkway, covered by towels to keep warm and ward off the wind-driven sand and occasional drizzle. Serena, however, braved the 63 degree temperature and the wind and worked on a small sand castle for about an hour.
The cloud cover finally broke up enough to allow the sun through, and we had about 45 minutes of nicer weather before we had to leave. Serena actually went in the water a bit. She said it felt warm compared to the air temperature!
Thursday afternoon we went on the mini-tour to Jamestown, with Col. John Eidsmoe. His specialty is law, and he talked about the sources of the common law brought over from England, and the roots of American representative government in Jamestown. I had to repeat some of this later to Serena, who decided to follow the official park ranger tour, instead, to see if she skewed the story.
2-day celebration at Fort Pocahontas: Friday and Saturday were spent out in Charles City County, on the private property of the Harrison Tyler family. That’s the grandson of the 10th president of the U.S., who also happens to be a direct descendant of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. Fort Pocahontas was a Civil War Union fort, and all the earthworks are still in place. It is adjacent to the Tyler family homeplace (Sherwood Plantation), and they were able to acquire this land out of bankruptcy court from a developer who would have bulldozed it all to build houses. The mind-boggling logistics of Vision Forum’s production really became apparent at this site (not to mention the 2 conference rooms in each of 2 hotels with sound systems, recording apparatus, and powerpoint screens earlier in the week). Roads on this property are pretty much single lane dirt ones, and the parking area was about a mile away from the fields where the festivities were held. So drivers were directed to an unloading area (passengers, coolers, strollers, camp chairs, etc.), drivers drove to park, caught shuttle van back to staging area. All this took a fair amount of time, and had to be done in reverse at the end of the day. All the speeches were held under a huge tent that would have done credit to a three-ring circus. (There were over 3,000 people registered). Here it is, taken from one end to the other.
All Vision Forum’s books/tapes/resources had been moved out there from the hotel location in Wmsbg. There were food vendors, sellers of antiquarian books and objects, another field that held Rev. War camp followers and their tents, a unit of soldiers, and one of the Navy that did cannon demonstrations. They also moved the tethered balloon ride out to another field, which it shared with a long line of portable toilets, plus two toilet trailers (extra for the women). I’d never seen the like before. There were even several hand-washing stations provided. They had thought of everything, including a huge bank of tall lights in the parking area that made it as light as day when trying to find one’s car at night! (Not to mention helping me catch a large moth that Lydia did not have, to bring home to her!) When I think of the generators needed, all the sound equipment, the air-conditioned tent for mothers/babies, etc., it was flabbergasting!
Besides the speakers I have already mentioned, we heard such men as Marshall Foster, Jonathan Falwell — who came to deliver his recently deceased father’s message for us, Stephen McDowell, Peter Lillback (Pres. of Westminster Seminary), Geoffrey Botkin, Joe Morecraft, Gary DeMar, and others. We heard from Teddy Roosevelt (the man who plays him at Roosevelt’s homeplace, and who has the voice as well as the signature down cold), President Tyler, Patrick Henry, and Captain John Smith. I bought a commemorative booklet at the beginning of the week, and got the signatures of many of these men. It was fun to watch people that we knew among the re-enacters. Below are Jonathan Owen as a Revolutionary War field officer, and the next picture shows his wife, Meg, talking to Serena and her new friend, Caitlin. Sarah, I put this picture in for you. Meg is pregnant, expecting the Owen’s first grandchild. We also saw Rebecca briefly, as she came in for a wedding while we were there. Rebecca is working as a nurse.
One of the highlights, at least for Vision Forum, was the unveiling of the Jamestown Children’s Memorial. In past generations, there have been numerous markers and monuments placed at Jamestown to commemorate not only the first settlement or one of the people involved, but also in thankfulness for God’s providence in the preserving of the settlement. We saw the great 103-ft. tall Tercentenary Monument, erected by the U.S. government in 1907. One side of it bears this inscription: “Lastly and chiefly the way to prosper and achieve good success is to make yourselves all of one mind for the good of your country and your own, and to serve and fear God the giver of all goodness, for every plantation which our heavenly father hath not planted shall be rooted out.” (Advice of London council for Virginia to the Colony, 1606). This quadricentennial, no such monument was planned, so Vision Forum sought to remedy this by soliciting $1 donations from the children of America. The result was a lovely monument honoring our forefathers and the providence of God that was erected on the grounds of Fort Pocahontas. We watched the unveiling, and the placing of the time capsule which is to be opened in 100 years, containing letters from some of the fathers to their children of that future generation. Here is a picture of Harrison Tyler at the monument, with a daughter(in-law?) and grandchildren.
To understand what is happening here, you need to know that this man’s grandfather and great-grandfather attended the 1807 Jamestown Jubilee (200 yrs.). Also remember that they are direct descendants of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. His grandfather, Pres. John Tyler, gave the keynote speech at the 250th celebration — a 3 hour long remembrance and honoring of ancestors and God with stories of providence and perseverance in the Old Dominion (the nickname of Virginia). His father, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, President of the College of William and Mary, was the historian for the Tercentenary celebration in 1907. This man, Harrison Tyler, was the Grand Marshall for Vision Forum’s Quadricentennial. The presence of his grandchildren there carries on the multi-generational legacy of this remarkable family. Perhaps their children will be there for the opening of the time capsule.
On one side of the monument are the distinctive firsts for which we remembered Jamestown during this week: The bible in America, first Christian worship, first gospel conversions (Pocahontas and Chanco, among others), Scripture-based common law, republican representative government. Also, you had the first multi-cultural marriage with John Rolfe and Pocahontas. It is interesting to note that, when they went to England and “Lady Rebecca” was presented to the queen, the queen had no concern about the difference in their skin color, but that Pocahontas was nobility (an Indian princess), and John Rolfe was a commoner!
O.K., enough about the Quadricentennial! I could go on and on. By the end of Saturday, though, we were on lecture overload, and I would have been quite satisfied to go home. But there were still 4 days to go and more people to visit. Since Sarah and Lydia are both away, I’m including pictures of relatives. We stayed in Wmsbg. Sunday, going to church and visiting the Potters before leaving for Richmond and my first cousin’s house. As you will recall, Jim and his brother Dennis are the son’s of Grandma’s brother, Bob Marshall. You met them all at the Wood reunion last year. Zeny said they would have a little cookout for us, but we arrived to the tune of grilled chicken on skewers, a Filipino dish, broccoli casserole, potato casserole, potato salad, slaw, homemade rolls, watermelon, etc., plus 3 kinds of dessert! Both Jennifer and Michael were there, and Dennis’ wife, Cathy. Uncle Bob was not feeling well, so didn’t come. Here’s Jim and Dennis.
Monday morn we traveled to Lynchburg, VA, to see some Weringo relatives. We went to a nursing home to visit Aunt Dot, the wife of one of Pawpaw’s brothers, who is about to turn 102! She is still mentally aware and gets around. We last visited her when Lydia was just a baby. Then we drove over to Bobby and Joyce’s house. Bobby is pawpaw’s son from his first marriage. You should have met him at Grandma’s funeral. Both of them have diabetes, as well as the fattest cat you have ever seen. Here are Bobby and Joyce, sans cat.
Then it was on to Danville. We never did get to see Margie and Maynard, for they were in the throes of preparing for a visit from their daughter, Sandra, her husband, and her daughter and grand-daughter. Margie’s nervous condition was over the top, and she couldn’t handle any more visitors. So we went by the cemetery to visit Grandma and Pawpaw’s grave, then to hang out in the mall for a bit to stay cool while waiting for Debbie Ingram to get home. She was Ricky’s first wife (Rick and Christie’s mom), and kept us overnight. Rick came back from Charlottesville, where he was apartment hunting, just to see us. Tuesday we traveled down into North Carolina, where I actually tracked down my brother Jamie in Winston-Salem, after not hearing from him in over five years. This post is too long to give you an update on him, but here’s a picture to prove I saw him!
We spent the night with the Sullivans in Asheville, whom we used to stay with before picking up you kids at Ridge Haven, when you went to camp there. Then Wed. drove back home. Yeah! We were glad to arrive at the end of our trip. Are you as glad to arrive at the end of this post??? I hope I get some comments on this one.