Monday, October 31, 2016

"Glad and Gallant Ghosts": Visiting Colonial Williamsburg (part 4)

 ~So here we are...part four of my series on our vacation to Colonial Williamsburg (click HERE for part three, HERE for part two, and HERE for part one). Folks, never in my wildest dreams had I ever an inkling that this historic restored city would affect me in the way that it has. I love this country and its history, and Colonial Williamsburg brought the patriotic fervor out of me like little else has. 
The U.S. is truly the land that I love. And Colonial Williamsburg helped to bring that feeling out of me even more.
I hope some of that shows in this post. ~

~ ~ ~

A question recently posed to me was: what was my favorite Williamsburg memory during our vacation there?
To be honest, so many wonderful memories were made there, but my most favorite was the very first time I stepped onto Duke of Gloucester Street in the early evening of Sunday June 26, 2016 only minutes after checking into our hotel room. I stood there on the corner of DoG and Queen Street, looking east and west, just taking it all in.
I was there! I was in Colonial Williamsburg!!
And only a few minutes later I sat on a bench right there near that corner and texted a good friend and fellow history nerd back home in Michigan. In this text I wrote, "Guess where I am at this very moment?"
She replied with, "Aaaah! Where?"
I responded, "Sitting on a bench on Duke of Gloucester Street!"
She texted back, "You made it! I'm very very happy for you! I hope you have the best week ever!"
Yep---I made it!
And then the next night I wrote on the Colonial Williamsburg Friends page (via my tablet) and mentioned where I was, and one of the responses (in a private message) was "HOLY CRAP...........YOU'RE IN COL. WILLIAMSBURG?? I'm away from my computer for a day and look what I miss! When and how did this happen? Wow - I am so incredibly happy for you."
You see, I didn't tell many people about this trip beforehand. It seems whenever I say too much about my plans of any sort, something always goes wrong and messes things up.
So, except for about a half dozen of my closest friends, I kept it pretty hushed.
Now it's all a memory - a grand memory, mind you - and, as you well know, I have scads of pictures. Since it would cost way too much to print out all of my favorite photos, documenting and sharing our time there via my Passion for the Past blog seems to be the best way to keep my memories fresh and alive.
I appreciate you coming along on the journey with me.
The Edinbg Castle
Not really a castle, it's been said the Edinburg Castle was once an "ordinary" (an 18th century term for a tavern) that about 13 beds
As I've said time and again in my living history postings, part of the magic of experiencing the past is through sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, and in Colonial Williamsburg your senses are stimulated and invigorated everywhere you turn.
Oh! Look out behind you!
Here we see a carriage driver taking a morning ride.

Seeing something as simple as a girl walking down the street can be almost as special as watching tradesmen work their craft. It lends greatly to the feeling of an 18th century city

Oh look! Another horse and carriage!

And turn around to see another young lady stroll along the sidewalk.

And here comes another horse & carriage, moving up to the hitching post

Seeing colonials about, just being a part of the every day life of Williamsburg, is what makes this historic city stand out in a way no other can (or does).

Ha! Even my wife and I enjoy being part of the colonial scene!

To take a tour of the many historic houses or to enter the trades areas, visitors must purchase tickets. 
The two young girls here were "ticket checkers" - that is, they made sure patrons had their passes to enter into the Public Armoury.
The industrial complex known as the Public Armoury, consisting of a blacksmith shop, tinshop, kitchen, workshop, and various outbuildings, is based on extensive archaeological and documentary research. Beginning in 1776, James Anderson, public armourer for the newly formed Commonwealth of Virginia, planned and built this site. During the war, he employed more than 40 men including apprentices, journeymen, soldiers, skilled slaves, and prisoners of war.
The white building you see here in the Public Armoury is the blacksmith shop, and the brownish-red building is where the tinsmiths work their trade.
In reproducing the Armoury, account books were studied and, upon finding one over-looked in the Daughters of the American Revolution archive in Washington, it was found that the “shop was built in wartime, when the need to maintain arms for the Continental Army and Virginia militia required expanding the operation, at state expense.

Williamsburg mason Humphrey Harwood was paid for constructing those foundations August 13, 1778, when he billed the commonwealth for "underpinning the armourer's shop" with 6,950 bricks. Delivery of 13,000 nails to carpenter Phillip Moody that October—also for the armory—further indicates that the large structure was erected in a single campaign. Ledger entries for hinges in the public store records allowed us to calculate how many doors and shutters enclosed the building.
The interpretation of the written records began to focus on Anderson's role as public armorer at this site from 1778 until his operation moved with the government to Richmond in 1780.”
(from the Making History blog)

Our first stop in the Public Armoury...
...the blacksmith shop.

A blacksmith's forge consisted of a raised brick hearth outfitted with bellows to feed its soft-coal fire and a hood to carry away the smoke.

The forge heated bars of iron yellow-hot. With his journeymen and apprentices, the blacksmith used sledges weighing as much as 12 pounds to hammer the heated bars into various shapes.

From steel, he made tempered cutting edges for axes and smooth faces for special hammers.
Blacksmiths in Williamsburg fashioned items from iron and steel for fellow tradesmen to use in their work and also made things for household use. Among the tools blacksmiths used were the following:
  • forge
  • anvil
  • hammer
  • tongs
  • vise
  • file

Now we'll head next door to where we'll find the "tin man/tin woman" presenting their craft from the period 1778–80, a time when, perhaps, three or more men toiled at the shop.
Here we see men and women toiling in the tin shop
One man may have traced patterns onto sheets of metal and cut out the parts. Another craftsman could have shaped these into components and done some basic assembly, while a third person would do the final assembly and soldering,
These workers probably learned their trade through a seven-year apprenticeship started at age fifteen.
 They also honed their math skills, aesthetic sensitivity, and ability to do precision work.
During their training, they mastered the craft’s basic skills–cutting, shaping, and assembling and its tools, including mallets, hammers, vises, files, pliers, punches, specialized anvils, and shaping forms.
During the revolution, the military wanted tin items, because they were inexpensive, lightweight, and durable.
These qualities explain tin’s use for such civilian goods as funnels, colanders, basins, pastry molds, teapots, graters, convection ovens, lanterns, snuff boxes, and needle cases.

And also in the Public Armoury area are the artificers.
Yeah, I know...what the heck is an artificer?
Don't feel bad - - as deep into history as I am, I never heard of them until I went to Williamsburg.
In the book of Trades published by Colonial Williamsburg it states that a Military Artificer...
...provides and maintains an army's many pieces of equipment.

An artificer working in leather makes cartridge boxes, belts, scabbards, valises, saddles... and other accoutrements.

Ahhh...but what's this?
A runaway?
I wonder if they caught the young chocolate lover.
Mayhaps she is over at Charlton's?

Wood! We need more wood for the fires!

I just saw this guy walking along and snapped the photo.
Non-posed pictures can be the best.

Alright, let's head back on out to see what else is out there - -
I wish I could jump right into this picture and once again walk down Duke of Gloucester Street.

We next took a tour of the Wetherburn Tavern, an original building that was restored to its mid-18th century appearance in the 1960s and 70s. There is so much to see in this old building that I could not keep up with the information given, so the following text may not be pertinent to the photograph, and I apologize for this.
Like some of the other facts I have here, this came from the official Colonial Williamsbug page (see link at the bottom of this post).

 There 'tis - the Wetherburn Tavern
Such a majestic structure...
Opposite the Raleigh Tavern on Duke of Gloucester Street, Wetherburn had become so popular that its proprietor had built an addition – a great room – to better accommodate his customers. 
Taverns were also known as 'ordinaries.'
In August 1731, Henry Wetherburn applied for a license to operate a tavern, in this case the Raleigh Tavern. He began to develop his reputation for keeping a good tavern. His reputation was such that by 1736, William Randolph and Peter Jefferson (father of Thomas Jefferson) sealed a land deal with Wetherburn's "biggest bowl of arrack punch."
In 1738, Wetherbum purchased two lots across the street from the Raleigh Tavern. He began to build a house on the lots, a typical center-passage house with two rooms on either side.
And here I am standing with Mrs. Wetherburn!
In 1742, a group of men purchased the Raleigh Tavern, where Wetherburn had been working as the tavern keeper. Wetherburn decided to move across the street and open his own tavern in his house.
Wetherburn added a new room to his tavern. The "Great Room" addition was part of a trend in the mid-1750s to add large entertaining spaces to houses and was also part of a building boom that occurred in Williamsburg in the mid-1750s.
On November 19, 1760, Henry Wetherburn died. An extensive and detailed inventory of his personal property was taken in December 1760. This detailed, room-by-room inventory has been used by the curators to refurnish the tavern today.

 The inventory gave valuable information about the quality of service Wetherburn offered his customers and the use of the rooms in the tavern.

The inventory included mahogany furniture, pier glasses, prints, and enough china, glassware and silver to set a very elegant table.

The inventory also listed the twelve slaves Wetherburn had at the tavern as well as items he had at his farm outside of town. A separate inventory was taken of his larger farm also located outside of town.

Taverns were the pulse of 18th century urban life, and their importance to the local community cannot be overstated.

Colonial taverns were run by keepers of a middling class who had a steadier income than a farmer or other laborer might have had, and food, drink, and overnight accommodations were offered for a price.
Looks like the boarder didn't tidy up after his sleep! 

But it's nice to have a room with a view:

The second floor bed chamber window...
Looking out on Duke of Gloucester Street from the above window.
Another 2nd floor bedchamber
Bed curtains to provide at least a little privacy.

And here is a portion of a third bed chamber.
At the local taverns, current events were debated - men gathered to talk over the terrors of Indian warfare at the time of the French and Indian War, for instance, and a few years henceforth turned to a discussion of the acts of Parliament in distant England, leading through the anxious but unwavering years preceding and during the Revolution.
The tavern owner was a very prominent man in town, and was thoroughly informed on all public and most private matters. He enjoyed the confidence of all who gathered around his fireside.
By the 1760s and 1770s, the ordinaries were the rendezvous for those who believed in the Patriot cause and listened to the stirring words of American rebels, who mixed dark treason to King George with every bowl of punch they drank.
The story of our War for Independence could not be dissociated from the old taverns, for they are a part of our national history, and those which still stand are among our most interesting Revolutionary relics.

Competitive pricing

"For the LADIES and GENTLEMEN, There will be a BALL, AT Henry Wetherburn's on Tuesday Evening next, the 10th instant, and on every Tuesday during the sitting of the General Assembly."
As the notice in the March 5, 1752 issue of the Virginia Gazette suggests, merriment and conviviality were specialties of the house at Wetherburn's Tavern in Williamsburg.

Here is Wetherburn's kitchen where all the food was prepared. From colonial times through the late 19th century, it wasn't uncommon for a kitchen to be a separate building from the house. This was for a couple of different reasons: case of a fire caused by the hearth, only the kitchen was likely to burn down and not the main structure. And also, especially in the hot months of summer, the heat from all the cooking would not affect the main house.

"Ham, bacon & fowl pigeon of one sort or another always to be had upon the road & often fresh meat or fish, dried venison Indian or Wheaton bread, butter eggs milk, often cheese, drinks Rum Brandy or Whiskey, resembling Gin.
From 1787

I see plates made of pewter and trenchers made from wood - both very common in the colonial era.

Pottery was also a common

The back of Wetherburn Tavern

Kitchen gardens were a mainstay of nearly every home of the 18th century.
We just happened upon this group of young people as we strolled near the Greenhow Store area of Duke of Gloucester Street. They worked together like a family - and they very well could have all been siblings.

Can you imagine trying to get modern 21st century kids to care for a garden these days like the kids you see in this photo? Oh, I know some do, but it's few and far between.

Ten or eleven year old kids working in the hot summer sun. Of course, no work, no food. This was the importance of family life before the 20th century.

She looks quite proud of her morning's work!

Besides the varieties of squash, beans, lettuce and other vegetables used to help sustain the family, the colonial family would have also grown plants for medical purposes as well.
What most people of the 21st century do not realize about 18th century folks is that in a colonial family, everybody had their place; a family worked like a well-oiled wheel, and if one - just one - member doesn't do their job, it could cause some big problems.

The gardeners told us these neat little items were to help keep the bugs and small animals off the plants.

A beautiful colonial garden.

The same garden from a slightly different angle.

Off to town to sell their yield.

The courthouse~
Construction began in 1770 and was completed in 1771. 
This was where, in 1776, Benjamin Waller read Declaration of Independence, right from steps you see here.
The Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War, was also announced here, on May 1st, 1783.

Inside was heard the debtor's dispute with his creditor, the complaints against the pig stealer, and the apprentice's pleas for protection from an abusive master.
Punishment was quick; the whipping post and the public stocks stood just outside, a few steps from the prisoner's dock.
When they weren't hearing the petty crimes and civil cases, colonial Virginia's courts acted as community council or board of supervisors. They were the principal agents of local government.
Serious cases involving free subjects (ones for which the penalty touched life or limb) were the province of the General Court, which met each April and October in the Capitol.
Yes, the following two photos of my daughter in the stocks were in my first Colonial Williamsburg blog post, but they do fit in better here, don't you think?

Not making fun of history, but making history fun!
Speaking of fun, we were under this tree, of which I was told is a "Compton Oak," and took a few "fun" photos on this beautiful early summer morning:
I didn't fully realize the length of my hair until seeing this picture!
And my wife, whether dressed modern or colonial (or even a little of both while wearing my tricorn!), always looks wonderful.
(Yes, she is a member of the DAR) is a "nice" picture of my wife and I.

But our kids, on the other hand...yep---the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree!

Night time falls on Williamsburg, looking as it has for 250 years.
Okay, maybe not quite this bright...
One of the wonderful things about Colonial Williamsburg is the opportunity to stroll the streets after sunset.
I only wish I took more night time shots.

By the way, do you know what this is?
This was the wall paper in our room at the Woodlands Hotel.
I wouldn't mind replicating this wall paper for my own house!

Before we close out part 4 of my continuing series on our vacation to Williamsburg, I'd like to speak a little about the souvenirs we purchased.
Very recently a friend of mine asked me what was my favorite souvenir from this historic place. My family and I did buy quite a few items, most of which were fairly inexpensive. Some pretty cool things, by the way - - -
~Colonial Williamsburg souvenirs~
As you can see, we didn't spend a ton of money at the stores: a few shirts, books & pamphlets, some colonial beer, Chowning Root Beer, a couple of broadsides, a silhouette, quill & ink, a mouse pad, a woman's 'pocket'...not too bad of a haul for the four of us who went there plus what we bought for our older offspring, our daughter-in-law, and our two grandkids, eh?
Now, of all of what you see here, which one do you think is my favorite?
Nope - it's not that.
Uh uh...not that one either, though it was a good guess.
Okay, I'll tell you...
Nothing you see here on the table.
Oh, I like my shirt, the broadsides, and especially the silhouette I had done. And I can't forget the cool little "A Day in a Colonial Home" book that I bought on a lark - very well written in a you-are-there manner.
As awesome as everything we purchased is, nothing - nothing - will beat the over 1100 pictures I took. Before leaving for Williamsburg, I got a new memory card for my camera - one that could hold 3000 pictures in the largest size - and thank God I did. Now I have so many wonderful pictures to look back on and document in my blog postings. And some to use in future postings as well.
My photos. The best souvenir ever.
Yes, so my recommendation is to purchase a momento as a keepsake - a t-shirt, a book...but concentrate on your photography. That will be your real treasure.

Now, there will be a little break before I continue onto parts 5 and 6 of my Colonial Williamsburg vacation photos series; I have living history reenactments taking place on each weekend during the month of August, and so, for the next four weeks my Passion for the Past blog will be filled with pictures and comments from these other time-travel excursions.
But, fear not, for I have plenty more Williamsburg pictures a-comin'!

With that being said, it's Back to the Future we go...
Until next time...see you in time.

~ ~ ~

Much of the informational text I used here came from the Colonial Williamsburg PAGE

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
And click HERE for part five 
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? Click HERE


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