Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Oh! The Things You'll See and the People You'll Meet While Walking Along Duke of Gloucester Street: Visiting Colonial Williamsburg (Part 5)

But it's not just Duke of Gloucester's all of Colonial Williamsburg!  And here we are, into part 5 of my series documenting our family visit to Colonial Williamsburg. Until the last week of June 2016, we had never been, but we desperately wanted to go.
It took a few years of saving, for we wanted to do it right, and the pay off was so well worth it!
While there, I took so many photos (and learned so much great history) that I knew I couldn't put everything into one blog post. It just would not work out at all to put hundreds of photos and all sorts of my own thoughts and commentary in one posting. So I split them up into...hmmm...well, let's put it this way - there will be at least one more posting after this one, so that's six postings for sure. Quite possibly there will be a seventh, but we'll see.
Anyhow, I hope you've been enjoying them. I certainly am enjoying reliving my time there. In fact, it's giving me a hankering to head back...
(and if you missed my other Williamsburg posts, please see the links at the bottom)
~ ~ ~
~Watching the 18th century world go by in
Colonial Williamsburg~
And that's one of the wonderful things about
this historic open-air museum: the entire place
centers around a specific time in our nation's
history, so everywhere one turns, what they
will see is similar to what they may have seen
250 years ago. 
And therein lies the magic.
Anyone who knows me knows it's in my entire being, where I take it all in and I'm just immersed. For me it's not something 'fun' to look at once in a while, maybe in between trips to Disney World or Vegas or wherever. Not that I vacation in those spots - and not saying that they're not good to go to - but for me, if there is no 'real' history involved, I'm probably not going to want to go.
Okay, I'm sounding harsh here - not every vacation needs to be historical (really? Did I just say that?), but I'm sure, as a historian, I can tell you the true (historic) want and theme of our get-a-way.
To get all I can out of wherever I go.
Since returning from our vacation to Colonial Williamsburg, I've been asked numerous times, "Did you also go to Jamestown?"
"Did you go to Yorktown?"
And they are surprised at my answer.
"You were right there! Why didn't you visit those places?"
"Because I wanted to get the most out of Colonial Williamsburg."
"But you were there for four days! Certainly you could have made time for those other places."
They don't understand...
It was "Williamsburg or bust" for me.
Having never been before - and now knowing better - I think another couple days in Williamsburg would have been perfect, and then maybe a trip to the other two places after.
But I'm not complaining.
You see, as a social historian - and a living historian - I not only enjoy wearing the clothing of the past, but I enjoy intently studying...researching...and just engulfing myself in the past.
And that, my friends, is why I spent my entire vacation inside the Revolutionary City and not bopping about like your average tourist.
So, that being said, are you ready for my next set of pictures, including historical facts, snarky comments, and, of course, scenarios that include yours truly?
Well, as Jackie Gleason used to say, away we go!

First stop for this part of my Colonial Williamsburg series: the Printer & Binder and Post Office - - -
William Parks' double-bay-windowed shop served as a stationer's, a post office, an advertising agency, an office supply shop, a newsstand, and a bookbindery.
In this store William Parks sold magazines and books, maps and almanacs, and even sealing wax! His press printed broadsides and business forms, laws and proclamations, tracts and blank record books.
I love the fact that everywhere you turn there seems to be colonial people hanging about, working, speaking to modern visitors...I love it!
And we were a part! In this photograph is my wife and our daughter in period dress speaking to a (mostly hidden) Williamsburg presenter.

In the 20th century, while excavating the site of Parks' shop, archaeologists unearthed several hundred lead border ornaments used for French and Indian War currency, as well as several hundred pieces of type.

Here I am with Mr. Parks himself!
(Well, it could be!)
Today this building is a retail outlet selling some very cool authentic reproduction merchandise such as broadsides, books & pamphlets, and period notices (printed, I am told, on an 18th century press below stairs!), quill & ink, candle holders, and historical documents and images, among many other historically replicated items. They also carry an excellent (and even somewhat eclectic) collection of history books.

As I strolled down Duke of Gloucester Street (I love the fact that I can say that I strolled down Duke of Gloucester Street!), I ran into this fellow, who let his fingers (so to speak) do the talking. Yes, he was the man behind the scenes for the old-time puppet show featuring the historically well-known favorite (and period-appropriate) Mr. Punch (from the classic "Punch and Judy").
Poking fun at higher-ups was common in the 1700s, and it was one reason puppetry appealed to the masses. Punch, who spoke in a high-pitched squeal that was often inarticulate, was the Bugs Bunny of his era in renown and temperament. Punch's punch lines were filled with violence, racism, sexism, and bathroom humor. The early Punch and Judy shows contained much that would offend people today.

Whether squeaking or speaking, swatting the devil or his wife, or appearing as himself or in a role, people could not get enough of Punch.
In 1776, George Washington watched (a puppet) show. A writer in the Virginia Gazette said that "in the midst of this crash of ruin," Washington "can go composedly to see a puppet show or laugh with a buffoon. O wretched England!"
(Photo by Mr. Fred Blystone)

Walking along Nicholson Street, we came across the cooper trade shop:
I could not find any information about the building you see here in this photo. Maybe one of the readers can help me out with a bit of history on it.
But as it sits on Nicholson Street today it shows the cooper trade.

Cooperage is the ancient craft of barrel making; it is considered an art form, really, that results in a water-tight, wooden vessel held together by nothing more than the hoops that surround it.

The cooper’s trade has, in fact, not changed very much at all over its 2000 year history. A barrel made today is made in very much the same manner it was back then; the selection and aging of the wood, the preparation of the staves, and the end construction are all still very similar.

Here in Colonial Williamsburg, modern technology such as the use of band saws and sanders that other 'historical' places may accept is forbidden. Here,the process remains unchanged from 250 years ago.

Used for storage of food, water, and other necessities, a cooper’s barrel was also used prominently for shipping items over land and sea.

Let's hop back over to Duke of Gloucester Street - - - -
This photo of Devon and I is very similar - almost identical, in fact - to a picture in the first post of this Williamsburg series.
So why show this one as well? Because it was taken by my Colonial Williamsburg photographic hero, Fred Blystone, and imagine my surprise when he also posted it on one of my very favorite Facebook pages, Colonial Williamsburg Friends
Imagine that!
For me, that's one of the highest honors...especially since I live in Michigan!

Strolling down Duke of Gloucester Street (I never get tired of writing or saying that!), I snapped pictures of whatever scenes appealed to me. I am sorry to say that I'm not sure which structure this is, only because I took so many pictures in such a short time (1137!) that there are a few dozen that I simply cannot place.
I can tell you this was taken in the evening, after most of the shops were closed for the day, though the taverns were filled to the brim with visitors.
(This is similar to a picture in part 4 of this Williamsburg series, but at a slightly different angle)

The west end of Duke of Gloucester Street

The Brick House Tavern:
This lodging house was built in the early 1760s, where traveling tradesmen and others with services or goods to sell would arrange to stay here to show their wares to customers in their rooms.

Over time, a surgeon, a jeweler, a wigmaker, a watch repairer, a milliner, and several tavern keepers made Brick House Tavern their home.

Once again, I do not know which building this is. 
It was another one of those scenes that quickly unfolded in front of me: I saw the woman you see to the right walking past, along with the roof ladder prominently placed, and I knew I had to capture it, so I whipped out my 'stealth' camera and took the photograph you see here.

Like the title of this posting, "Oh! The the things you'll see and the people you'll meet while walking along Duke of Gloucester Street!"
(Thank you for the inspiration Dr. Seuss!)
I saw this gentleman you see sitting on the bench and I struck up a conversation with him. I have no idea who he is but he was a friendly fellow, as were most of those who were there.

As we spoke I come to realize he was a patriot and believed in the cause for liberty.

I, too, believed in the cause for liberty, but we must be careful of our conversation, for one may never know who might be listening...

Yes, I think it best if we move along. We'll speak another day.

It's not just people you meet on DoG Street: one minute it is a person, next it's a horse and coach, and then suddenly (how sudden can an ox be?) out comes oxen pulling a cart!

I was disappointed the apothecary shop was not open during the time we were there. I was really looking forward to hearing about this ancient "drug store" and pharmacy.
The Apothecary Shop
Unfortunately the shop was closed while we were there.
But I did get a couple of window shots
William Pasteur and John Minson Galt traveled to England to study medicine before returning to Williamsburg to practice. They were partners in this apothecary shop from 1775 to 1778.
Maybe one day we'll return again and we can then visit this little known part of our nation's past.
In addition to dispensing drugs, they provided surgical, midwifery, and general medical services.

Heading back to the trades, we found ourselves inside the spinning, weaving, and dyeing shop. I did not get as many good pictures as I would have liked due to the fact that on the day I was in the shop it was packed with interested people, so the backs of people's heads filled most of the photographs that I took.
However, I was able to get a few *decent* shots of the woman on the spinning wheel, for she was behind a rope barrier, therefore the throngs of visitors were not in the way.
My wife is a spinner who presents this craft/trade at our colonial and Civil War reenactments, so she is always interested in watching how others spin and is not afraid to ask questions upon seeing something new or different. 
The woman here did a fine job presenting her craft. 

Flax near the linen.

Here we see flax inside a hackle.
The fibers are drawn through the hackle, which will separate, clean, and straighten them. When the flax first hits the teeth of the hackle, a ringing sound will come forth as the tangles and knots are removed. Soon that noise turns into more of a hiss as it is being prepared for spinning into thread.

In the basket we see carding paddles to card (or comb) the wool in preparation for spinning into yarn.

The naturally dyed wool.
Here are a few examples of where the colors may come from: 
madder root from the madder plant will make orange,
indigo is best for blue,
red is from the cochineal beetle (yes! a real beetle!),
brown can come from rotted black walnuts, and
marigold pedals make a nice yellow.

Some of the tools of the textile trade.

As I mentioned earlier, I would've liked to have gotten some better photos, but there were quire a few visitors hanging about. 
I suppose that's a good thing, eh? (unless you're a photographer!)

So, as I walked past the home of George Wythe, Declaration of Independence signer and mentor to Thomas Jefferson, my wife, with my camera in hand, continued to take pictures. She must have taken a half-dozen of me walking past Mr. Wythe's House.
Actually, it's kind of cool when you think about it... wife knew to have my camera ready as I *just happen* to walk past the George Wythe house.

And since we're in the George Wythe area, why not check out a few more places here?
Next to this house was a basketmaker's shop.
Because the weather was rainy on this day, these two ladies chose to be indoors to craft their magic into basket making.

It was easy to see the importance of the baskets in everyday colonial life. It seemed that every period-dress female was carrying one. I believe each was made right here in Colonial Williamsburg.
"The baskets are made by weaving together thin strips of split white oak, and they come in as many sizes and shapes as there are jobs for them to do." (from the picture book Historical Trades by the Williamsburg Foundation)

How to tell if your egg is good to eat or not:
Just fill a bowl with cold water and place your eggs in the bowl. If they sink to the bottom and lay flat on their sides, they're very fresh. If they're a few weeks old but still good to eat, they'll stand on one end at the bottom of the bowl. If they float to the surface, they're no longer fresh enough to eat.

As the sun began to set behind Chowning's Tavern...

Way back at my first Colonial Williamsburg blog post (link at the bottom of this page) I mentioned the "pathway to the past," a walkway that leads from the Visitor Center to the historic city, and along this pathway I saw a beautiful site as the sun was setting:
I'd come to find out this is the Great Hope Plantation, a historic living history farm representing African-American slave labor and working farmers, showing what they did and how they lived.
"At Great Hope Plantation, you’ll learn through a hands-on experience how most Virginians lived more than 200 years ago. Appreciate and understand the music, songs, and dances of the 18th- century African-American community which borrowed from the many cultures of Africa and Europe."
I'm not sure how old the windmill is, but I found out that it, until recently, sat behind the Peyton Randolph House and was moved to the Great Hope Plantation to help with the aesthetic appearance of an 18th century Virginia farm.
It is believed that the Peyton Randolph House would not have originally had a windmill due to its more urban location.
I did not take the tour of the Great Hope Plantation due to the days it was open to the public. As much as I am into historic farming, I would have loved to seen this presentation.
Yes, there's got to be a next time visit to Colonial Williamsburg in my future!

Then there's the Capitol - - - 
Two capitol buildings served the colony on the same site: the first from 1705 until its destruction by fire in 1747; the second from 1753 to 1779.

The Capitol at Colonial Williamsburg housed the House of Burgesses of the Colony of Virginia from 1705, when the capital was relocated there from Jamestown, until 1779, when the capital was, once again, relocated, but this time to Richmond.

The architects charged with the restoration of Williamsburg chose to reconstruct the first capitol based on superior documentation of its design and its unique architecture compared to the second Capitol.

With the iron gate it almost has a sort of spooky atmosphere...
You'll notice nearly all of my pictures of the Capitol were taken at night, right?
Yeah...for some reason I thought I took more daytime pictures of it.
I didn't.
Well, at least I got the few photos that I did!

Speaking of night time....
Evening has come to pass...
And there you have part five of my wonderful world of Williamsburg excursion. I have at least one...maybe two more parts to go in this series, so stay tuned.
Once completed you can then join my family and I on our June 2016 vacation to a true National Treasure, for that's exactly what Colonial Williamsburg is. It does help to 'restoreth thy' National pride!

The puppet information came from HERE
Some of the cooper information came from HERE
Information about the Brick House Tavern came from THIS awesome book

To go to the other parts of this series, please click the links you see below:
In case you missed part one of this series, please click HERE
If you missed part two, please click HERE
Part three? Click right HERE
How about part 4 - - click right HERE
AQnd click HERE for part six
All are filled with lots of photographs and historical information...and fun.
Interested in an overview of how the Founding Generation lived? Click HERE
How they cooked? Click HERE
How they traveled? Click HERE
How they celebrated Christmas (with a few more Williamsburg photos!)? Click HERE
How about learning how a New England colonial farm family lived? Click HERE



The Farmers Daughter said...

Strolling down the Duke of Gloucester Street IS a treat! Because of your posts, we'll be spending a couple of weeks at CW during the Christmas holidays! We got homesick. I've discovered recently that George Wythe's wife is my 1st cousin 7x's removed. Guess that's reason enough to visit there for a while. Wish I had known it while working at CW! I'm sure it would have made it even more special. Looking forward to the next posts!

Historical Ken said...

Colonial Williamsburg at Christmas tide! Now there's a dream!
And to top it off...finding out your relations to the Wythe's! Holy cow - - can it get any better??
I would love to hear about your next CW visit!

Rachel said...

Rachel said...

Hi Ken!

I am a staff of the Commonwealth Museum, which is a state history museum located in Boston, Massachusetts. Currently, our museum is in preparation for an exhibit on the topic of "Food", and we would like to express our interest in using one of your photos for one of the display panals for the upcoming exhibit. Please feel free to reach us at, your help is greatly appreciated!

Thank you once again and we look forward to hearing back from you.

Historical Ken said...

Thank you for asking - - I have no problem in having you use one of my photos for your exhibit.
Thank you for asking.
The only thing I ask is to be given credit for it.
Which picture were you interested in?