We did not spend Christmas Day in Virginia, nor did we hit the blue highways. Instead, we spent it on the water in Annapolis, Maryland at a restaurant called Carrol’s Creek Cafe; and it was a scrumptuous buffet, especially the oyster dressing. We also visited the Naval Academy where our son went to school and married his bride. It was good to visit the campus again.
Our daughter Jamie’s mother-in-law is British; and her best friend also British, was there at dinner, too. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to both women speak in their native accents, which thickened as they relaxed. It was good to spend Christmas with family.
The next day, on our way back to Florida, we drove south down the eastern side of Chesapeake Bay on US 50 and US 13. A long drive of mostly four-laned roads, we finally crossed the amazing 23-mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which I had traveled on when I was a girl on our way to the New York World’s Fair in 1965.
After crossing the bridge-tunnel we went west on US 60 and ended the day in Williamsburg where we spent two nights. The first day we went to Jamestown Settlement living history museum. But first I think I need to give you a little background on why both of us are super interested in this area. No surprise, I’m sure. It relates to genealogy.
First, my Roe ancestor came to Jamestown sometime before 1650 as an indentured servant. We also know that he married or his son married a Powhatan Indian. We’re not sure which generation, but John the immigrant has a deed witnessed by Thomas Rolfe, the son of Pocahontas. So that is one ancestor.
The other is Richard Lee, the immigrant, called this because there are several Richard Lees who succeed him. He is a common ancestor to both Chuck and myself.
Just before we married, I asked Chuck’s Mom about Chuck’s lineage, such as who his grandparents and great grandparents were. She said that Chuck’s Grandmother Littlejohn before she married was a Lee.
I told her, “We have Lees in my family. My Grandmother Hamrick’s Great Grandmother was a Lee before she married.” I asked Dody where Chuck’s Lees were from, and she said that they were from around Marion, SC. I told her that ours were from around Valdosta, GA; and that with all the Lees in America, I doubted there was a connection.
She said that their Lees came down from Virginia and were from the family that was kin to Robert E. Lee. Well, I felt certain we weren’t kin, because surely someone would have remembered “that” in my family.
Well, apparently not because just a few years after Dody passed, I was asked by one of my Lee family members, who lived in south Florida, if I could go look something up in the Valdosta, Georgia library on the Lees. Valdosta is not that far from Tallahassee.
There, I discovered that my Valdosta Lees migrated before the Civil War from? You guessed it, Marion, SC. My Lees and Chuck’s Lees were related after all. Upon further research we discovered that we are eighth cousins once removed, and we share Richard Lee as a common ancestor.
So we were also both interested in Jamestown, because this is where Richard Lee migrated to in 1635 as a eighteen-year-old unmarried man. But which Jamestown should we visit? There are two.
We first went to Jamestown Settlement, a recreation of Jamestown. There is an indoor museum, which does a great job of explaining the story and an outdoor full-scale reproduction of Jamestown with a recreated Indian village nearby. They come complete with actors in period costume and even animals that ran free just like they did in the early 1600s.
For example, at one point a young man called everyone together to read a decree from the Governor who ordered that every man and woman meet at the palisade wall near the church to learn how to fire a muzzle-loader and to practice loading. Lord, that matchlock was loud. There was also a cooking demonstration in one of the homes.
In the museum it explained the lives of indentured servants, and I was extra interested in this because this was the life of John Roe, until he worked off his service. Many died so it seems I come from good stock.
We spent an entire day at Jamestown Settlement, but it was worth it. We just wish we had brought the grandchildren. I took lots of pictures, and the ones of the church would prove to be significant later.
They even recreated the Susan Constant, the flagship of the expedition that brought them here.
Jamestown Settlement was so good that we almost didn’t go on to Historic Jamestown. Instead, the next day we went in search of our common ancestors Richard Lee and Ann Constable. We drove the Colonial Parkway which starts near Jamestown and runs all the way east to Yorktown along the southern bank of the York River. Beautifully scenic this was one of our favorite drives of the entire trip.
At Yorktown we crossed the York River driving north on US 17. It was a beautiful day for a Northern Neck drive, which is what this area is called. We had lunch in Kilmarnock at Lee’s Restaurant for a home-cooked meal; but their pies, were the best.
Found online I had directions to Richard and Anne Lee’s graves, which were near Kilmarnock. I put a general address into the GPS designed to get us close. It got us close enough that we found this sign. We knew we were on the right track.
We took pictures of the site, and we talked about the coincidence of two of their offspring finding each other almost 400 years later. I wonder how many of Richard Lee’s offspring show up here married to each other?
The marker told us that they were married in Jamestown in 1641, and we knew that we just had to go to Historic Jamestown and visit the site where they said their vows. But this posed a problem. Which church were they married in. There were several.
Or was it the brick church which they built on the existing foundation of the earlier church? It was built between 1639 and 1700. They were married in 1642, so was this one built before or after they married? Not sure.
One thing was for sure, though. They married on the foundations of the earlier two churches, where now sits the church that the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America built in 1907. I walked inside the vestibule of this church which is an old tower.
They built this newer church on to the original church tower which is still standing, so we knew there was a possibility that this tower was there when they married. They built the tower between 1639, though possibly earlier, and 1700. Maybe the tower was there the day they married?
Chuck stopped outside of the church to listen to a docent, while I stepped inside. I stood there in the foyer created by the tower and thought about my 10th Great Grandmother Anne Constable, who stood here waiting for that most exciting moment in her young life, when she would forever hitch her wagon to someone else’s dreams. We might have been ten generations apart but this feeling had to be the same.
Other occurrences weren’t the same. How did she feel when she and Richard crossed the York River leaving the safety of the fort to forge a new life in this new land. Did she lie awake at night fearful of the sounds outside her cabin? What was it like for her when the Indians raided their neighbors?
As stated before, the rest of this church built in the early 1900s was built on the foundation of the church built in 1607 and the later one built after 1639. We cannot be sure what the building was like when they married, but we can be sure about the foundation.
They married standing on this site; and the Colonial Dames did something really cool. In this church one can see the original foundations through strips of glass flooring. Richard and Anne stood on these very stones before God and their loved ones and pledged their trough to one another.
Historic Jamestown is totally separate from Jamestown Settlement. Here is simply a small museum, a film explaining what happened, and the actual site complete with ongoing archeological digs. We spent the remainder of the day wandering around Historic Jamestown.
Unfortunately, we never made it to historic Williamsburg. We ran out of time, but we have to go back. Chuck’s ancestor Oliver Littlejohn came to the New World later in the 1600s and became overseer of Middle Plantation owned by Governor Andros, the site of the future Williamsburg.
On our way back to Florida, we crossed the James River by ferry on County Road 31 south. We watched the sun set as we crossed. On the other side of the river our GPS wound its way down blue highways and through little towns until we got to Stony Creek on Interstate 95 where we stopped for the night because this was the first lodging we found since we left the ferry, an hour back.
The next morning on another beautiful drive, we followed State Road 40 farther west and then turned on US 1 going south picking up US 58 going farther south. Today, we are headed to Pam’s grave, and I cried several times on the trip down. Thankfully, there was lots of beautiful scenery to distract me.
We crossed over into Virginia on State Road 49 and then took State Road 62 for many more miles before it ran out. The GPS wound us through several more county and state roads south of Greensboro until we got to Statesville, NC.
We went directly to the cemetery to place some flowers on my sister Pam’s grave. It was windy and cold up on the hill where we stood next to the mausoleum.
I haven’t been back since she passed last spring. Because her husband placed a small lighted Christmas tree there at her grave, we gave the flowers to him to place later which he did. He sent us this picture.
We also had a wonderful visit with him, his mom, and stepfather. It was good to talk to Mike again, and he had wonderful news. Mike’s lungs are in bad shape, and Pam was more worried about his health than her own. Mike told us that he is a good candidate for a double lung transplant. He is waiting, and we are all hopeful and praying.
Finally, we stopped to visit Pam’s daughter in Shelby, NC, spending the night and getting up early the next morning. We got on back to Florida driving blue highways all the way home only stopping in Anderson, SC to watch the Gator Bowl until halftime and in Milledgeville to watch more football in a downtown bar. After all it is New Year’s Eve. We got home about 10 p.m. and watched a movie on TV until the New Year.
So this is our first postcard from the blue. Happy New Year to you and yours. And we wish for your family an especially healthy and prosperous 2017.