Christmas in Williamsburg: Travel Historic America and The Thirteen Colonies

The Peyton Randolph House in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg
The Peyton Randolph House in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg | Source

More Successful Than Massachusetts Settlement

The first year that colonists arrived in what would become the Colonies in Massachusetts was an absolute horror. It was hard for the colonists and hard for the Indigenous Peoples. A bit later, Myles Standish earned for the English their "Indian" name, Wotowquenange, meaning cutthroat stabbers.

The land was gorgeous and the shoreline, trees, and wildlife beautiful. Some of my Native American ancestors were even very welcoming and helpful. However, there were no cities, no houses, no transportation, no food, no doctors, and no running water. The colonists brought no seed for crops with them ("We won't need it!") They brought kegs of beer -- Before you yell Yippee! to that, recall this - have you ever seen anyone die of malnutrition, out in the freezing cold; drunk, diseased, and without enough clothing?

The Unprepared People were forced to build houses with natural materials, their bare hands, and a few tools. They had no plumbing or running water, hauled water from rivers and streams and heated it on open fires for cooking, washing, and laundry (when they did laundry, which was not often).There were no bathrooms. No refrigerators; and they had to make furniture as well. Many of them likely worked from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week, in order to build some sort of dwellings and a life; hunting and gathering as the Native Americans always had. Many died of disease, malnutrition, and hypothermia during the first winter.

Decorated door for holidays. -- Notice the drum sticks and fifes representing the American Revolution.
Decorated door for holidays. -- Notice the drum sticks and fifes representing the American Revolution. | Source

That was the colonies' first year, before an official colony was established. There were no Pilgrims, that being a retail advertising gimmick of 1840 that stuck - we still see the myth advertised every year. The colonists called themselves simplySaints and dressed in thin, cheap, colorful clothing. They were the poorer class of Britain that the country felt well rid of, uneducated and unprepared for colonization.

The first "Thanksgiving" on New World soil led to a blood bath and you can see what happened at the following links. Living conditions improved over time for newer colonists. Some Native Americans stayed, others were driven off or killed, but they also killed a share of colonists, as well as one another in inter-tribal warfare.

Colonial Williamsburg had much better success from the start in the New World, as a colony, and as part of a US State. In the 20th Century a theme park and historical installation grew up around the orignal colony and today, Colonial Williamsburg is one of the prime Christmas Vacation destinations in America.

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Historic house in the complex.
Historic house in the complex.
Historic house in the complex. | Source
Source

Some Facts of Colonial Life

Time progressed and more settlers arrived. On the American Atlantic coast, people caught fish, clams, and whales. They could sell excess fish and the whale blubber at fish markets on the docks. Altogether, hey hunted, gathered, farmed when they learned how, and fished. This took 12 - 14 hours a day or more.

When colonists became famers, they raised the crops of corn (Maize, thank you, my native relatives), barley, wheat, tobacco, and rice. They took their crops to town on Saturdays to the weekly Farmers' Market, which we also now have today! They sold to fur traders, seamen, merchants, and others. Farmers also raised chickens, pigs, and cows. If they were fortunate, they had fruit trees.

At home, the women and girls spent all day baking bread, cooking, gathering food for natural sources, helping on the farm, sewing, making their own threads and wool and cotton yarns and cloth, etc. It was also at least a 12-14 hour workday for them.

Find more information at the Williamsburg links below, including a virtual tour.

November 2000-approved US Army Flash: Blue background  a symbol of the United States flag and the thirteen stars represent the original colonies.
November 2000-approved US Army Flash: Blue background a symbol of the United States flag and the thirteen stars represent the original colonies.

Improvement and Hope

The Thirteen Colonies were off to a horrific start, but life became more manageable over time, It is that life that you can see when you visit any of the Colonial Era working farms and working villages provided by a number of organizations and companies today. Life even then did not compare to today's American life of technology and entertainment, but it was better than the First Year.

NOTE:When humanity finally colonizes the Moon and Mars, the first year on either of these celestials may be just as hard as our first year in the New World. Think hard about it before you sign up to go. Already, senior citizens are likely to be recruited to become permanent residents of Mars;there will not be time for them to settle, develop, and return. Once normalized to a martian gravity, the human body (especially an older one) won't readjust to Earth. Blood pressures and sleep cycles will be forever changed and the lifespan will be decreased on a planet of lesser gravity, bones and muscles unable to be maintained.

Historical Vacations

The United States Park Services and the US States, along with their counties and cites, make available a large number of historical landmarks to the American public and visitors to this land. The National Registry of Historic Places, local registries, and a wealth of historical societies offer travelers a chance to see The Thirteen Colonies as they were in the 1600s and 1700s. Along with commercial enterprises, all of these entities produce vacation theme parks and individual working farms and villages that are interesting and fun to visit. Such a trip to even one of these places can provide insight into the daily life of the American colonists.

During November, December, and Early January, many of these historical sights celebrate American Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, inviting travelers and local guests to attend gala dinners and parties in the style of the Colonies. It's a great way to spend Christmas.

Virginia is the first of the original colonies, and Colonial Williamsburg is a sound place to start when looking for daily colonial life.

Proximity to DC and Baltimore

show route and directions
A markerWILLIAMSBURG -
Williamsburg, VA, USA
[get directions]

B markerWashington DC -
Washington, DC, USA
[get directions]

The Original 13 Colonies

For review, the Original 13 Colonies are listed below, along with their working farms and historic villages that operate to bring travelers back to the days before thje American Revolution.

In the order of their creation, The 13 Colonies:

  1. Virginia - 1606
  2. Massachusetts - 1620
  3. New Hampshire - 1623
  4. New Jersey - 1623
  5. New York - 1624
  6. Maryland - 1633
  7. Rhode Island - 1636
  8. Connecticutt - 1636
  9. Delaware - 1638
  10. North Carolina - 1653
  11. South Carolina - 1663
  12. Pennsylvania - 1682
  13. Georgia - 1732

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Comments 23 comments

onceuponatime66 profile image

onceuponatime66 5 years ago from USA IL

The Original 13 Colonies

For review, the Original 13 Colonies are listed below, along with their working farms and historic villages that operate to bring travelers back to the days before thje American Revolution.

In the order of their creation, The 13 Colonies:

Virginia - 1606

Massachusetts - 1620

New Hampshire - 1623

New Jersey - 1623

New York - 1624

Maryland - 1633

Rhode Island - 1636

Connecticutt - 1636

Delaware - 1638

North Carolina - 1653

South Carolina - 1663

Pennsylvania - 1682

Georgia - 1732

What a great refresher course for me.


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 5 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

This was great Patti,

Amazing how tough our "forefathers" really were, and what they had to endure to get this country started.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

It IS amazing. Kids need to know where we really started, and how. The knowledge will help, because Mars is going to be similar (no Indians or fish, though), but I hope advances are being prepared to ease the first few years.

@onceupnatime66 and CMerritt, thanks for commenting!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I don't know about us senior citizens going to mars. Even an eith hour drive seems overwhelming, anymore.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

Patty, I am very interested in the early colonist as I've spent years researching my ancestry and reading about the early days. I like your article as it really portrayed how rough thing were for those early settlers. Half of the Mayflower passengers died the first year since they were so unprepared for the climate. There food was so limited and they ate a lot of lobster.

I enjoyed your hub. Rated up.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California

Okay, this entire article is really great! However, I have to say that the little side-bar you placed within the story regarding colonization of the moon and mars was stellar! You make a very good point in comparing our history with our future; it is far too often that we forget the things history has taught us. This is awesome Patty.

K9


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Full marks for this realisticly written hub. One of the hubbers wrote an article where it read that the Pilgrim Fathers just landed there and all was love and friendship with the natives and all the white men were kind, show them the way to live, to the not-so-educated natives and so on. What a humbug. However, can you write something like that and that person is not really uneducated in one way but racism shows a lot up in the hub.


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 5 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

We have this rich history which is difficult to remember. 30 years ago, I was teaching US History to 8th graders and decided to re-enact some of the famous battles. We made costumes, flags, and got some local 4-H er's to come with their horses. It was a really fun time. Now when I run into my old students, the first thing they say is, "Do you remember the time we marched all over the school?" And then comment how much fun history was. Thanks for the refresher.


chspublish profile image

chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

I made the effort one year to travel to Willamsburg to really experience that old colonial life, unique to that part of the world and really enjoyed it and appreciated the history of the place. Would love to go back again and your hub tempts me back. Thanks.


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

Patty Inglish, MS

This trip has been on my radar too long. You convinced. What a wonderful tribute to our founding fathers. We forget the trauma and struggle and we must celebrate and honor their dedication.

Great Hub!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

For our Hispanic, first British, and subsequent settlers, our Founding Fathers, and Native Americans, Christmas and all the Winter Holidays are a great time to honor American beginnings. They were hard and we made it through, though wounded in many ways. In 2010 and even as we approach Mars, it is also possible.

Happy New Year 2011!


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

Superb information here. I became sidetracked on the issue of "recruiting" senior citizens to live on Mars. The movie "Soylent Green" flashed through my mind.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

@L.L.Woodard - I had not thought of that film in many years. Don't think Mars will be a comfortable place for the first 20 years!-- And I thinks it;s too far form the sun to ever become warm enough to go outside without an environment suit.


sweetmummy profile image

sweetmummy 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

what a cool hub! We'd love to visit the 13 colonies with our kiddos some day soon.


SJKSJK profile image

SJKSJK 5 years ago from delray beach, florida

I have been to historic Williamsburg over Christmas and it is so charming. Your hub is great.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

Patty,

Wonderful hub. I've always been interested in that part of our history. You presented it beautifully. Voted up and awesome.


sligobay profile image

sligobay 5 years ago from east of the equator

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy ,healthy, and prosperous New Year. Great reminder of the debt that we owe to our forefathers and the suffering endured.


chspublish profile image

chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

Really enjoyed visitng Williamsburg a good few years ago. It was a very speical visit as a tourist. I enjoyed finding out about the forefathers of your country and really liked your hub because it reminds me of that great visit. Would love to go there again.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Thank you all for the kind words and ratings, and for talking time to read this Hub. I've talked myself into going back to Williamsburg soon. I'll be sure to take pictures.

Just read where Colonial Williamsburg continues to be open on Christms Day. Friends were on a 2-year waiting list for hotels there, so they made it! Hope they have a lovely time.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

I love everything about history. Thanks my friend, you open my eyes again and again. I learn much from you. Take care. Merry Christmas!

Prasetio:)


sligobay profile image

sligobay 5 years ago from east of the equator

Williamsburg is a far cry from Mars. Are there plans afoot to colonize in the near future that you've caught wind of?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

@prasetio30 - Thanks very much. Merry Christmas!

@sligobay - You're right; I think the first year on Mars could be worse, perhaps impossible. The Mars Society has been collecting funds, conducting months-long simulations in isolated lands in the American Southwest almost yearly for many years, discussing spaceflight with private companies, etc.

Private spaceflight companies are discussing mining the asteroid belt nearby, and we already have spaceports around the USA, with more to come. I am now reading a book prepared by an astrophysicist that outlines an agenda for colonization that takes into account the changes and accomodations humans will be experiencing in order to survive on Mars. I will review it on HP when I complete me reading. It does not sound like a happy first year.


dpatullo741 profile image

dpatullo741 5 years ago from UK

Your hub is very convincing and your great effort is showing in it.

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