It’s hard to argue against Rosewell’s stunning beauty, even after fire and the elements have taken their 100 year toll. The Palladian home is captivating. But beauty is not the only draw that Rosewell boasts. Much has taken place across these grounds, and to many it is as if someone is still trying to tell the living about Rosewell’s storied past. In this special edition, I share just a few of those stories by reading famed Virginia Paranormal Historian, L.B. Taylor’s essay, “The Resplendent Ruins of Rosewell” from his book The Ghosts of Tidewater.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire! John Smith wasted no time picking a fight with the Powhatans after Christopher Newport sailed back to England. Smith had no choice. If he wanted the colony to survive, then he would have to figure out a way to feed those under his command. Smith only had one choice, go to the Indians for food.
Going to the Indians, however, was a dangerous problem. They didn’t have much food, and weren’t about to part with any that they had. Smith, ever the survivor, then switched from friendly trader, to belligerent invader. He simply wasn’t going to die sitting still.
His domineering manner saved the colony through the 1608 winter, but it came at a high cost. Powhatan and Opechancanough both tried to kill the colony president during Smith’s trading tour, thereby ensuring that relations between the two peoples would never be trustworthy for long.
But that’s not entirely what Smith cared about. He wanted to live, even if others had to suffer.
All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is of “John Smith Taking the King of Pamunkey Prisoner” from Smith’s 1624 General History of Virginia.
John Smith’s presidency started out well enough, but when the Mary Margaret arrived with Christopher Newport and 70 new settlers the situation in Virginia deteriorated rapidly.
Smith had created an understanding with the surrounding Powhatan tribes. Newport threatened that.
Smith was working to supply the colony in advance of the rapidly oncoming winter. Newport wanted to search for more gold, as well as explore the region.
Smith wanted to impose his command, but Newport offset the balance of council power, and in so doing undermined Smith’s presidency.
Smith would have to suffer, and he did at the hands of both Newport and Powhatan, but in the end, Newport left, and Smith regained control. It was a hard first 100 days, but Smith once again survived, and because he did, the colony would make it through to 1609.
All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured photograph is of a cooling glass six-lipped vase produced at the Jamestown Glasshouse. The secondary picture is of the original 1608 glasshouse primary kiln.
Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “The Fire” by Virginian band The Last Bison, available on Soundcloud.
Christopher Newport returned just in time to save John Smith from being hanged on January 2, 1608. The first resupply mission came at a perfect time, but the colony continued to suffer.
Newport and Smith eventually accepted an invitation from Powhatan, which was the first of a series of exploratory trips that Smith would take during the next few months.
As John Smith gallivanted throughout the Tidewater region, Jamestown was crumbling. John Ratcliffe’s administration as well as increasingly hot weather and gold fever killed half of the colonists, and those still alive thought about mutiny.
Once Smith returned from his first journey, the time seemed perfect for a coup, but Smith still wanted to explore. Governing was not on his mind. Not yet at least. But once he completed the second venture, Smith decided to acquiesce, and became the Virginia Colony’s next President.
Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” and Klaus Badelt, “The Black Pearl” from Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl both songs are available on iTunes.
John Smith was a bold guy. He told us so, and that’s most of what we have to go by concerning his life events. Whether or not history happened the way he remembered it, something happened during his Jamestown tenure. If it weren’t his bold actions, then Jamestown’s complete collapse would most likely have happened.
This episode summarizes what John Smith told us about his early life before sailing to Jamestown. From there, the narrative picks back up amid the chaotic political posturing that was discussed in the last episode. Smith couldn’t sit still and do nothing. He risked his life, and in so doing saved it, as well as those of the remaining colonists.
Because of Smith’s actions, and perhaps some of his story telling, he and a certain young Native American Indian girl are still remembered today, not only as historical figures, but also as life inspiring characters who overcame boundaries, tensions, and cultures. They persevered, and there perseverance helped lay the foundation upon which a great state was born.
While the early Virginia settlers struggled to establish a permanent settlement centered upon James Fort, there was potentially serious intrigue taking place back home in London.
A spy fed the Spanish Ambassador, Don Pedro Zuñiga, information that alarmed Spain concerning possible English piracy in the New World. Zuñiga’s work, accompanied with Newport’s less than glorious return, almost ended the Jamestown venture before more serious, fatal events began plaguing the colonists.
While politics was playing out in London, disease and starvation began destroying the fledgling Jamestown settlement. Political posturing also played a serious role, but while chaos reigned supreme, an overly confident John Smith gained control just as it all seemed lost.
Jamestown’s first month was hectic to say the least. After the governing council was established, the settlers began building their base. Concurrent with this undertaking, Christopher Newport led an expedition up the James River and met with many of the tribes along the way, before being convinced to turn around at the falls near present day Richmond, VA.
When Newport and his men arrived to Jamestown, they discovered that an Indian attack had taken place the day prior to their return. This prompted James Fort’s building, an audacious 3 week project amidst fatal conditions. A week after the fort was finished, Christopher Newport loaded two of his ships, and sailed back to England, just as the colony was about to begin a period of suffering.