Jamestown Settlement - Our Field Trip
I recently signed up to be a chaperone on my daughter's 4th grade field trip to Jamestown Virginia. I will have to say that I am glad that I was able to not only visit the Jamestown Settlement but also was very glad to have done it with my daughter. We actually live very close to Jamestown and it is really a shame that the last time I visited Jamestown was probably my 4th grade field trip! We were able to see and experience the things that the settlers did back in the early 1600's together. We recently signed up for Ancestry.com and over the course of a year or so were able to trace our family back to John Rolfe and Pocahontas. This gave our experience a little more meaning as we walked through the original settlement and the museum. I was very impressed with the tour guide that was assigned to us and would recommend this trip to anyone looking for somewhere educational or historical to take their children. I have already decided to take all of our children back as soon as we can to revisit and have them experience Jamestown.
The Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery
One of my favorite stops was to view replicas of the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. These were the ships that departed from England in 1606 under a charter by King James I. It was sponsored by the Virginia Company of London and was done so in hopes that they could make money from the venture. The expedition was led by Captain Christopher Newport. They arrived in 1607 with somewhere around 104 -105 people. All of this took place 13 years before the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts. It was interesting to go on one of these ships and below deck to imagine what the people endured during their trip. Things like the smell of the animals on board were most likely horrific.
The Powhatan Indians and Their Homes
The settlers arrived in 1607 and started their settlement on the banks of the James River. They quickly found out that they were not alone. There were somewhere around 14,000 Algonquian speaking Indians all around them. They were led by Chief Powhatan who was Pocahontas' father. There were times of fighting between the settlers and Indians as well as times of peace where they were trading and friendly. We were able to visit a replica of a Powhatan Indian Village and see the reed covered houses they lived in as well as go inside of them to imagine what it was like to live in one. These were very clean inside and spacious. Animal skins covered large sitting areas and were hanging throughout the houses as well. A fire would always be burning on the inside of the house. However, no cooking took place inside. All of the cooking was done on the outside. One reason given was to avoid attracting animals to the inside of the house. The fire burning on the inside served to keep them warm as well as tanning the animal hides hanging on the walls and above the fire.
Cooking and Food
We were able to visit with a young Indian girl as she explained how they prepared their food. She had a piece of deer meat cooking over a fire and had made some corn bread with cranberries for us to see. All of this was stored in pottery bowls along side the fire. During the summer months the main course was fish while during the fall and winter it was typically deer.
The replicas of the Colonial Housing were taken from a period of approximately 1610. They were wattle and daub structures with thatched roofs. Very simple housing. We visited structures such as an Anglican Church, storehouse, and merchant's office. The most interesting part of our Colonial Housing visit was to watch a matchlock musket being fired. The gentleman explained how the musket worked and actually fired it while we stood there. It was very very loud! It was hard to imagine fighting any kind of war where you had to take the time to reload one of these. But this was how it was done and we got to experience it.
View a musket being fired at Jamestown
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