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Jamestown Rediscovery and Smithsonian Partner to Reveal Identities of Four Lost Founders of Early English America

A team of archaeologists and scientists from the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation at Historic Jamestowne and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History  has identified the remains of four men buried in a church discovered recently at Jamestown dating to 1608. This church is also where Pocahontas married John Rolfe. The identification of the men – The Rev. Robert Hunt, Captain Gabriel Archer, Sir Ferdinando Wainman, and Captain William West – reveals new information about the leaders of Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent and successful English colony in America, and sheds new light on the role of religion in the colony. A team of archaeologists and scientists from the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation at Historic Jamestowne and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History  has identified the remains of four men buried in a church discovered recently at Jamestown dating to 1608. This church is also where Pocahontas married John Rolfe. The identification of the men – The Rev. Robert Hunt, Captain Gabriel Archer, Sir Ferdinando Wainman, and Captain William West – reveals new information about the leaders of Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent and successful English colony in America, and sheds new light on the role of religion in the colony.

· The Reverend Robert Hunt was the first Anglican (Church of England) minister at Jamestown. He arrived with the first settlers and was responsible for providing religious services to the men as well as for preaching to local Indian peoples.

· Captain Gabriel Archer, a vociferous critic and rival of Captain John Smith, was one of the most important of the early leaders, involved in much of the in-fighting that characterized the colony’s first few years.  Resting on top of Archer’s coffin, the team discovered a small, silver box, which was found to contain shards of bone and a tiny lead ampulla that would have held holy water, oil, or even blood.  The presence of the reliquary, a sacred object normally (but not exclusively) associated with Catholicism may suggest Archer was a secret Catholic.  Alternatively, it is possible the object had significant meaning in the founding of the established church, the Church of England, in the New World.

· Sir Ferdinando Wainman was a kinsman of the governor, Lord De La Warr, and a high ranking officer who was appointed master of ordnance (artillery) and placed in charge of the colony’s horse troops. 

· Captain William West was also a relative of Lord De La Warr and was killed in fighting against elite Indian warriors in the fall or winter 1610.

“Other than in the graves of the wealthy and well-born, it is extremely rare to find artifacts in English burials of this period,” said Dr. William Kelso, Director of Archaeology at Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation.  “The presence of the artifacts and the location of the graves in the church’s most sacred space, the chancel, both indicate the high status of the four men and their importance to the early history of the Jamestown venture.” 

Archaeologists investigated the four burials in November 2013, and then joined with Smithsonian forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley and his colleagues to determine the identities of the men. The research has been ongoing since.

“With the discovery of four burials in the chancel of the church, we looked forward to the challenge of identifying these individuals by name,” said Owsley, division head of physical anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History. “The skeletons of these men help fill out the stories of their lives and contribute to existing knowledge about the early years at Jamestown.”

Adopting multiple lines of evidence, including forensic analyses of the remains, rigorous examination of artifacts found in the graves, sophisticated CT scans, 3D-technology, and archival research, the names of four leaders were singled out from several dozen high status men who were present in the colony from 1608 through 1617 when the church fell into disrepair. 

“This is an extraordinary discovery, one of the most important of recent times,” said James Horn, President of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation. “These men were among the first founders of English America. They lived and died at a critical time in the history of the settlement – when Jamestown was on the brink of failure owing to food shortages, disease, and conflict with powerful local Indian peoples, the Powhatans.”  

Historic Jamestowne, the archaeology site where these discoveries were made, is open to the public and provides visitors with chances to talk to the archeologists who were part of this remarkable discovery and to learn more about the earliest days at Jamestown.

The Smithsonian’s 3D Digitization Program Office in collaboration with Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists conducted detailed scans of the burial sites. Users can download or interact with 3-D models of the chancel burial ground, the four graves and Archer’s silver box, look at a vast collection of high-resolution field photos and videos or take 360-degree tours of the site. This information is available on Jamestown Rediscovery’s site www.historicjamestowne.org.

Future research will involve genetic testing to learn more about the identities of the four men and to better understand the familial relationship between Wainman and West.  Further work is also underway to discover additional information about the men’s English backgrounds and experiences before arriving in Virginia, to learn more about the significance and sacred meaning of the silver box, and to explore Anglicanism and Catholicism in early Jamestown.

Several additional partners assisted in this process, including GE and Cornell University who generously provided access to their CT scanning facilities, expert staff, and imaging collaborator ZEISS Microscopy, and Micro Photonics who scanned and modeled the contents of the silver box.  Ancestry.com provided invaluable genealogical research support. 

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Free Admission to National Parks January 14-16, 2012

All 397 national parks across the country (including, of course, Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown Battlefield) will offer free admission from January 14 through 16 to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

A national park can also help you keep that New Year’s resolution, whether it is to get more exercise, spend quality time with family a nd friends, try a new sport, learn some history, expand your horizons, or enjoy the natural world. A list of activities at parks can be found at the Park Service website

The National Park Service will also waive admission fees on 14 other days in 2012 – National Park Week (April 21 to 29), Get Outdoors Day (June 9), National Public Lands Day (September 29), and the weekend of Veterans Day (November 10 to 12).

Party On The Pier At Jamestown 6/25/2011

Party on the Pier at Jamestown Settlement 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. BBQ dinner. Featured band “Slapwater”. Proceeds benefit Jamestown-Yorktown, Inc. www.historyisfun.org/partyonthepier. Tickets sold on June 25, 2011 will be $25.

Buy tickets online here

Free Admission to Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown Battlefield

National Park ServiceThe National Park Service is waiving entrance fees at all national parks on today through Monday  ( January 15-17th, 2011 )

Locally in  the Williamsburg VA area both Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown Battlefield are  included in the FEE FREE WEEKEND.

If you can’t make it in this weekend there are couple more dates in 2011 so plan ahead.

  • April 16-24, National Park Week;
  • June 21, first day of summer;
  • Sept. 24, National Public Lands Day; and
  • Nov. 11-13, Veterans Day

Explore other National Parks in Virginia here

Did you know that Seniors 62+ can obtain a Lifetime Pass to our National Parks  for only $10 ? This has to be one of the best senior travel bargains anywhere.

Senior passSenior Pass Eligibility
As part of the American the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass program, U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are at least 62 years old can purchase a Senior Pass for a one-time processing fee of $10. This Senior Pass to national parks and lands offers benefits to you and your traveling companions.

Senior Pass to National Parks Benefits

  • In National Parks that charge an entrance or standard amenity fee, the Senior Pass admits you and the passengers in your car or other private vehicle.
  • In National Parks where a "per person" entrance fee is charged, the Senior Pass admits you plus three other adults (who need not be seniors). This is an especially good deal if you are also traveling with grandchildren, because children under 16 have free admission.
  • The lifetime national parks Senior Pass also gives seniors a 50 percent discount on federal use fees charged for camping, swimming, boat launching, parking and tours.
  • In some cases where use fees are charged, only the person named on the Senior Pass will be given the 50 percent discount.
  • The senior pass is non-transferable and does not cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or concession fees charged by private companies.

How to Buy a National Parks Lifetime Senior Pass
The Senior Pass to national parks cannot be purchased by mail or online. It must be purchased in person at a federal area where entrance fees are charged, or at regional offices of the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Proof of age, such as a valid driver’s license, is required at the time you purchase your senior pass.

For more information about the National Parks Lifetime Senior Pass, call the National Park Service at 1-888-ASK-USGS

Shindig at Jamestown Settlement

shindig at the settlement

More info here

Presented by Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc.

Rain or Shine

Pets are not allowed

Chairs and blankets are welcome, but please – no coolers

In appreciation of their support, John Rolfe Club members
and above will receive two complimentary tickets.

To reserve your tickets today, call (757) 253-4572.
Learn how your gifts can help bring history to life
at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.

 

Directions to Jamestown Settlement:

From Hampton Roads:  follow I-64 West to Exit 242A (Route 199 West). Turn left at fourth traffic light onto Jamestown Road (Route 31 South).  Drive four miles on Jamestown Road, and turn left at the Jamestown Settlement sign onto Route 359.  Visitor parking is on the right.

From Richmond:  follow I-64 East to Exit 234b (Lightfoot).  Turn right onto Route 199 East.  Follow Route 199 East for eight miles and turn right and the second traffic light onto Jamestown Road (Route 31 South).  Drive four miles on Jamestown Road, and turn left at the Jamestown Settlement sign onto Route 359.  Visitor parking is on the right.

Historic Triangle Featured in National Geographic Traveler Magazine

traveler-november-december-09 National Geographic Traveler magazine is featuring the Historic Triangle, Chesapeake Bay and Shenandoah Valley on its list of the world’s iconic destinations.

The magazine’s list ranks the world’s most celebrated travel destinations and how well they’ve weathered mass tourism while protecting the environment. The list will appear in the magazine’s November-December issue.

The Historic Triangle – Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown – ranked the best among the Virginia destinations and was listed in the "Places Doing Well" category.

The Chesapeake Bay was in the "Places with Troubles" category, and the Shenandoah Valley was among "Places in the Balance."

Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists.

"Beautiful, with considerable historic character. The region has an excellent tourism infrastructure, and some areas are particularly well done: The recent work at Jamestown is superb, especially the archaeology and its interpretation; and the ongoing character of Williamsburg remains a key charm. The sustainability question is key—such as the expense of operating something like Colonial Williamsburg—and operational costs and government cuts to agencies such as the National Park Service (Yorktown) are a long-term concern."

"Williamsburg is a fascinating living museum. But its antiseptic quality belies the reality of life in the 18th century."

"The Colonial Williamsburg restored area and national parks at Yorktown and Jamestown are best experienced by the Colonial Parkway, which is still a pristine drive that links all three destinations and buffers them from the sprawl culture. Williamsburg has devolved into little more than an upscale suburban enclave. The growing residential population clings to a faux colonial aesthetic that is applied to homes, shops, and strip malls."

Read more here

Or buy the issue now on news stands.

 

Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown Videos

It’s amazing to me how many high quality videos there are about our great area. What’s also surprising is how few people have watched them. Here are just a few that I wanted to share. If you are curious about the history of the Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown, VA area history then spend a few minutes and watch the following videos.  Each one is only a few minutes long. You can watch more of them here.
You can also learn more about both Jamestown and Yorktown at the The Jamestown Yorktown Foundation website by clicking here

Map with locations of Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown VA

Map picture

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