Friday, October 28, 2016

Visiting Colonial Williamsburg Part 6: The Cure for the Refractory

My ghost writer?
Here it is - - - what will most likely be my final blog posting about our summer vacation to Colonial Williamsburg.
I don't like to use the word "final" - - it's just!
So maybe we'll say it's the last one until next time, for I believe there will be a future visit.
Yes, I do plan to return one day...
Visiting Colonial Williamsburg has been a dream of mine for at least 30 years, and though the money it took to get there should have gone toward paying a few outstanding bills, or repairing my 19 year old van, re-doing our bathroom, or re-shingling our garage roof, it, instead, went on building amazing memories.
But, you know what else? We needed this vacation; with the rigors and stress of everyday life, and given the fact that we've gone eight years without one, don't you agree it was time for a family holiday, all else be damned?
I mean, I work to live, not live to work.
And that's why I titled this post "The Cure for the Refractory;" we took our chances between the tar & feathers or getting some sanity back into our lives. As I said, we needed this historical sojourn because we simply had to get away from all of the trials and tribulations of our modern lives.                                                                             
Our Sanity 1   Tar & Feathers 0

So, to begin the last part of my journal journey, let's look into a little about the history behind this posting's title, "The Cure for the Refractor."
 Yes, sitting in front of the King's Arms Tavern was this little curio that I snapped a picture of, and the more I looked at it, the more it enticed me to research deeper:
If you had ever wondered what the Cure for the Refractory was, as shown in this sign in front of King's Arms, it was a scare tactic for stubborn and disobedient colonists. If you decided to disobey (Refractory), you would get tarred and feathered (Cure). Sometimes this was a fatal cure for colonists, for some had even drown from the tar. Talk about cruel and unusual! What could have been a more civil way to scare these American Colonists?

Now, about the picture you see below - - 
In the foreground, two wigged Tories, or Loyalists (colonists who sided with Great Britain against the Revolutionaries), are being intimidated and obligated to sign their names on the agreement by a group of patriots led by a cook holding a butcher’s knife and wearing a cockade in his chef’s hat. 
The statue of Lord Botetourt watches over the scene.
And now you understand the meaning of this post's title. As I explained, I took my chances as a patriot and came to Williamsburg against all else who wanted my hard-earned money...and won!
Now...let's see what else I did during the much too short 4 1/2 days in Colonial Williamsburg:

King's Arm Tavern
For some odd reason, I did not spend too much time at the King's Arms, and I have disappointed myself here, for it was one of the places I really wanted to visit. I suppose my only excuse is that I was so overwhelmed with Williamsburg as a whole that I plum forgot about it.
At least I have the couple of pictures posted here.
The name, King's Arms, lost favor when hostilities with Great Britain broke out, and by 1776 the tavern was called "Mrs. Vobe's Tavern."
I've also read it was called "The Eagle Tavern" after the Revolution.
Widow Jane Vobe announced in the Gazette that she had "just opened Tavern opposite to the Raleigh, at the sign of the King's Arms" in February 1772. Her patrons included members of the gentry and, later, Revolutionary War generals.
As the book Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook states: "Recent re-decorations drew on the latest curatorial research to make each space in the tavern represent how Mrs. Vobe's customers used that room for dining, drinking, gambling, or sleeping.
Some guests dine in rooms in the adjacent reconstructed Purdie House, home of Virginia Gazette printer Alexander Purdie, his wife Peachy, and the three Purdie boys."
The reconstructed home of Alexander Purdie, now part of the King's Arm Tavern.
The Purdie House in the evening

Street scenes in Colonial Williamsburg, even something as simple as a couple walking down the street with a wheelbarrow, are what makes this historic city the time-travel experience that it is

I wrote a little more extensively about Bruton Parish Church in part one, but I found a few more pictures I thought you might enjoy:
Patty going to the Bruton Parish Church.
I wish we could have stayed until Sunday came to enjoy a sermon inside that old church. How cool would it be to hear preaching in the very same church that Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, George Wythe, Patrick Henry, and George Mason attended!

We continuously found ourselves in the vicinity of the George Wythe House. I don't know...he was such an unsung hero of the American Revolution - - maybe that was the draw: I wanted to get more photographs of the house in order to remind myself of his prominence in not only Williamsburg, but in our nation's history.
Here we see my wife strolling past his house.

I believe these three structures are kitty corner from the Chownings Tavern.

Again, I am not certain which houses these are, but I love their appearance.

It was unfortunate that the wigmaker's shop was closed the couple of times I attempted to visit. I had hoped to get a few nice shots of the interior.
As I've said before, it looks like I'll have to go back someday...
In the meantime, here's a little history lesson on the wig fashions of colonial America (taken from THIS page): 
An active social life was important for people of all classes. One's appearance was also very important. Being fashionably dressed meant dressing from the head down. The barber and peruke maker played an important role in keeping Virginians supplied with the latest in hair fashions."
Barber and Peruke (wigmaker):
The wigmaker offered a wide range of goods and services in the shop. Wigs and queues (hair pieces usually worn hanging at the back of the head) for men, and curls, braids and knots for women were sold for a wide range of prices. The barber pole in front of the shop advertised the availability of shaving and dressing services. The ceramic and brass shaving bowls were designed to keep soap and water from soiling fine clothing when men came to the shop for barbering services.
A wig or queue was a fashion necessity for men of the gentry and successful businessmen of Williamsburg. Being able to afford a wig, or sometimes several wigs, was a means of showing one's status in society. Even the lesser sort (those with little money to spend) wanted to own a wig or queue. The fashion was so important that wealthy slaveowners also purchased wigs for their slaves to reinforce their own social standing.
Most men of all classes wore wigs or queues, especially during Publick Times when the courts were in session.

Strolling along the lanes...
I found this woman over by the Peyton Randolph House. There were quite a few people around and, though I waited for a bit, I did not get the chance to speak with her like I would have liked to.

I cannot recommend the carriage rides enough! The driver you see here was the gentleman who gave us our tour (see the first post in this series) and he was friendly, kind, funny, and, most important, knowledgeable about history and Williamsburg.

I am not too familiar with period card games, but I caught this  
young lady playing what I think may be an early version of solitaire.

The first thing my daughter said upon awakening the morning after returning home to Michigan from Colonial Williamsburg was, "I want to watch 'Felicity.' "
"Felicity," if you are unaware, is the movie based around the colonial American Girl Doll that she received for Christmas when she was but one year of age, and then collected the accessories that went with it for years until just before reaching her pre-teens.
Mind you, my daughter is now 15 years old, and though she enjoys historical reenacting with us, when she's home and in modern clothing our time-travel hobby is the furthest thing from her 21st century mind. So to say that she wanted to watch the Felicity movie on our first day back means Colonial Williamsburg certainly had quite the positive affect on her.
And it's good that the rest of us like the movie, too.
While in Williamsburg, a presenter told us that the exterior of the Thomas Everard House was used for the home of 'extra' Felicity character, Miss Manderly, so naturally we had to visit.
The Thomas Everard House - - 
Hey! All you modern people! Get out of the way!
(Actually, a few folks here are my family modern clothing!)

Now here's the Everard House with the fashionable people of its time. Yes, that's my wife and I. This could easily become our home!
The house was built in 1718 by gunsmith John Brush. Thomas Everard purchased the structure around 1755 and lived here until 1780
I took loads of photographs inside the house. Unfortunately, I cannot label each room in any kind of detail, for I don't have that information and cannot remember all that the tour guide told us.
So, instead, I will include, from THIS web site, snippets about the house's history:
Built in 1718 by the first keeper of Williamsburg's Magazine, John Brush's five-bay, timber framed, story-and-a-half house of hand-split weatherboard stands in modest contrast to its lofty next-door neighbor, the Governor's Palace. But it is not without elegance of its own.
After Brush's death, the house went to his daughters, Elizabeth and Susanna. Elizabeth sold her share of the property to Susanna's husband, Thomas Barbar. After her husband's death, Susanna sold the property to Elizabeth Russell, a widow from York County.

Sometime in the 1730s Elizabeth married Henry Cary, a prominent local builder or undertaker as builders were called in the 18th century. Cary was responsible for completing the Governor's Palace and for building the chapel and president's house at the College of William and Mary. It was during their time in the house that the staircase was added, as well as much of the wood trim seen in the house today.

~2nd floor bed chamber~

It was around this time that Thomas Everard was apprenticed to Matthew Kemp in Williamsburg. Kemp held several important clerkships: clerk in the Secretary's Office, clerk of the General Court, clerk of James City County, and clerk of the Committee for Propositions and Grievances of the House of Burgesses. Everard trained for seven years in the Secretary's Office, the first four under Kemp (who died in 1739). Within a year of completing his apprenticeship, Everard received his first public appointment—clerk of the Elizabeth City County court.

~2nd floor bed chamber~

Everard served in many other public offices, including clerk of the York County court from 1745 until his death in 1781, deputy clerk of the General Court, clerk of the Secretary of the Colony's office, mayor of Williamsburg (he served two one-year terms), and was a member of the Court of Directors of the Public Hospital.

In the mid 1750s, Thomas Everard purchased the property.

~2nd floor bed chamber - same as the one in the above picture~

In the 1770s, Everard showed his support of Virginia's move toward independence by signing the 1770 Non-Importation agreement and by serving on the committee to elect Virginia's delegates to the Continental Congress.

~2nd floor bed chamber~

By the 1770s, Everard had become a very prominent member of the Williamsburg community. He owned a house and property in Williamsburg, 600 acres of land just outside of town and more than 1,000 acres of land in the western part of Virginia. He had a number of slaves on the property.
~2nd floor bed chamber~

Part of the room in the picture above this one

~2nd floor bed chamber~

What makes a colonial house a colonial house?
Why...the above stairs bed chamber window seats, of course!

The Everard House is noted for its fine staircase with its elaborately turned balusters, sweeping handrails, and richly ornamented carving on the stair brackets.

~This looks like the master bed chamber~

Everard's move up in prominence in the community was helped by his marriage in the mid 1740s to Diana Robinson, member of a prominent local family. Thomas and Diana had two daughters, Francis (nicknamed "Fanny") and Martha (nicknamed "Patsy"). Diana died in the late 1750s or early 1760s, leaving her daughters to help manage the household for their father.

~Same master bed chamber as the one in the picture above this one~

In 1765, Francis married Reverend James Horrocks, rector of Bruton Parish Church, president of the College of William and Mary, Commissary to the Bishop of London (making him the highest ranking church official in the colony) and member of the Governor's Council.

Reverend Horrocks died in 1772 while he and Francis were in Europe. At that time Francis, who was in poor health herself, returned to Williamsburg to stay with her father. She stayed at the house until her death in December, 1773. Martha lived with her father until at least 1774. By 1774, she had married Dr. Isaac Hall and moved to Petersburg, Virginia. Martha and Isaac would eventually inherit property and slaves from both Thomas and Francis.

Here is a close up of the items on the drop leaf table:

Today the home appears as it did in 1773, when it was in habited by Thomas Everard, widower, and his two daughters Francis and Martha.

One of the presenters of the house made sure I saw this etching on one of the windows. I took this picture from the outside looking in and then "mirrored" the photograph for a better impression.

A reader of this blog recognized me as I strolled down Duke of Gloucester Street.
What an honor to have her tell me such kind words about Passion for the Past. I just had to have my photograph taken with her - I'm just sorry I don't remember her name.
But, thank you for this!

One of the presenters who I got to know was this gentleman, BJ Pryor. As we walked down Duke of Gloucester, he told me of his aspiration of becoming a historical interpreter as Benjamin Franklin.
I did not get a picture of BJ that day we were together (it happened to be on my last day in Williamsburg), but just look at him now!
Congratulations, Dr. Franklin!

(Photo courtesy of BJ Pryor)

In part 1 or 2 of this series you will find a close-up photograph of me speaking to the young lady here on the road that leads to the brick-making area. However, this picture has more of a natural scene to it...everyday life.
Like I said, while in period clothing I became part of the atmosphere.

Elkanah Deane Shop - Coachmaker & Wheelwright 1772-75
This was the site of carriage making over 200 years ago...and it still is today!

I happened upon this shop (immediate left) quite by accident as I roamed on my own while the rest of my family were back at the hotel swimming in the pool on this hot summer Virginia day.

I was told that the apprentices today begin on something considered relatively easy like a wheel barrow

Yeah...making a wheel barrow may seem easy to some...but it certainly looks pretty hard to someone like me!

There was a forge inside the shop as well. Wheelwrights, blacksmiths, and harness makers were among the artisans who worked together to make carts, wagons, riding chairs, and carriages.

As I listened to the interpreter speak about the shop 
and answer visitor's questions, I saw what, in my 
opinion, was an interesting view to the work shop.
Of all of the trades I saw, I believe I would enjoy working here best.

Unfortunately, I came to the coachmaker & wheelwright a little too late in the day - the work they perform out back was already done by the time I arrived.
But, on the plus side...

...I got to see a "test run" of a new vehicle!
This was the first time out for this wagon. A 'test run,' you might say.

Market Square Tavern sign

Before this became the Market Square Tavern, it was a wig maker's shop. Around 1767 it was opened as a 'publick house' (tavern), and when George Maupin purchased it in 1771, he enlarged it and then announced it to have "the best Entertainment and Accomodations." 

I, unfortunately, have no pictures of the exterior of The Golden Ball shop, but I did manage to get a couple photos from the inside...
...including this sort of *artsy* shot utilizing a mirror to
allow me to get both of the women's faces without
an obvious pose.

I saw this young man in the back room, and it just
gave me the impression of one who was an apprentice
and was taking a few minutes break, or, rather, maybe
was working long and hard and fell asleep at the tool
bench while the master was away.
This was also inside the Golden Ball.

The St. George Tucker House was originally built facing the Palace Green but was moved to its present location in 1788. 
One of the neat bits of information is that this house put up the first Christmas Tree in Williamsburg. This occurred in 1842.
The descendants of Tucker lived in the house until 1993.

One of my "long-distance shots. 
Click the picture to enlarge it.

Duke of Gloucester Street

See the picture above this one? Yep - I took this shot directly afterward.

"Excuse me, can you please tell me where the shoe shop is? I am also looking for the Greenhow Store. I hear both are within this vicinity."
(No, the gentleman on the porch is not on a cell phone, though this does give that impression. He is scratching his ear)

"Off to the shoe shop she did go as fast as she could run. 
Bought him a pair, the best that was there, and the soldier put them on!"
Next stop...the Shoe Shop!
(The following comes from the Colonial Williamsburg guide book):
In 1773, George Wilson & Company advertised the arrival of a "choice cargo of the best Sorts of ENGLISH LEATHER for all Manner of Men's Shoes and Pumps."

Wilson must have had more business than he could handle
since he encouraged two or three journeymen shoemakers
to apply to him "next door to Mr. Greenhow's Store in

The lasts carved from a block of wood into the shape of a foot are used as molds to form each shoe.

By the end of the next year, in 1774, I believe, the household
furniture and working materials of George Wilson, now
deceased, were offered for sale.

In today's shop - the very same as once belonged to
Mr. Wilson - one can see all aspects of the eighteenth
century process for making men's shoes...

...including stitching by hand with eighteenth century tools.

I would love to purchase an authentic handmade pair.
If only I could...
This was a great shop, by the way, and the craftsmen who worked here were very knowledgeable and explained their trade in an interesting manner.

And right "next store" to George Wilson's shoemaker shop, there on the west end of Duke of Gloucester Street, sits - - - -
The Jn Greenhow Store

I found myself at the Jn (John) Greenhow Store a number of 
times, for it had quite the variety of historically-oriented 
product for sale.

John Greenhow was a merchant in Williamsburg from about 1755 
until his death in 1787.
Viewed from the street, this building, which combines store and house, appears to be in three segments. From left to right: there is a counting room or office, the store with entrance (that's me standing in the doorway to the store), and then the front door to the house.

Recently, we re-watched (for the sixth or seventh time) the John Adams mini-series from HBO, and, low & behold, here's the Jn Greenhow Store in the background in one of the scenes!
(From the HBO mini-series "John Adams")
 And another scene - - -
(From the HBO mini-series "John Adams")

According to the guidebook, the Jn Greenhow Store is the most completely reconstructed eighteenth century commercial space in Williamsburg. From the counting room in the back to the arrangement of the counters and shelving to the sign above the front door, the store is a recreation of its eighteenth century counter-part.
Now this room looked to have a few interesting items, 
something a living historian might have an interest in.

I was right! There was some very cool period commodities
 sitting upon these shelves, including leather dispatch cases, 
haversacks, waistcoats, shirts, and hats...

...willow baskets, fine imported porcelain, floorcloths, fabrics, cooper's items, tinware, and craftsmen's tools - all items sold in Mr. Greenhow's Store 250 years ago - are still available there today, along with more modern articles, including tavern beer in bottles, wine, Chownings Root Beer, books (including "A Day in a Colonial Home" - highly recommended).

So, with the variety of product for sale, shopping was quite fun and interesting, and the store-keep - Mr. Jn Greenhow himself? - and I had quite the fine conversation indeed!

I had a true feel of being in a store of the past - much more than the others - and not so much a souvenir stand.

As I moved throughout the Greenhow Store, I made a great discovery:
"Hey! They do shadow portraits here!"
Set up very much like I would imagine an 18th century studio might look, 
I hem'd & haw'd on whether or not to have one done.
The height of the popularity of shadow portraits (known in our modern times as silhouettes) ranged from the 1770s to the 1860s, and with me wearing my period clothing, I figured this would be the perfect souvenir of my time in Colonial Williamsburg..
The shadow portrait artist, Zach, practices the more refined style of painted shadow portraiture for his portraits. Painted shades were relatively inexpensive because they only used a single color. He uses ink and watercolor.
Zach creates authentic shadow portraits 
(also known as "shades" or, as mentioned above, 
in our modern times "silhouettes")

The affordability made shadow portraits appealing 
to the middling sort in society, and to those with 
aspirations of climbing a bit higher on the social ladder.

The sitting usually takes 40 minutes or so. Zach captures the outline of the face in perhaps ten minutes, then spends the rest of the time filling in the color and detail. He uses ink and watercolors. The paper is from the print shop.
He works out the details of the portrait through conversation. Initially I was going to wear my tricorn hat, but I was told that was not the norm. Of course, I wanted mine to be as authentic as it could.
For Zach, portraiture isn’t meant to be photographic. For him, the magic of portraiture lies in the attempt to capture the essence of a person—their personality, how they relate to the world—more than a rote likeness.
Here is my shadow portrait. 
I would say there is more than a remote likeness, wouldn't you?
Aside from all of the photographs I took while in Williamsburg, this is, perhaps, my favorite souvenir of my time here.
The thing is my shadow portrait was done totally as a last minute idea. Within a couple hours of this sitting (and of me taking these pictures), I was on my way back to Michigan.
Sadly, it was time to leave...
At least we were able to stay about seven hours later than originally planned.
And because of that extra time I was able to have my shadow portrait done and take the extra pictures you see above at the Greenhow Store.

With Colonel Washington
We stayed longer because I saw in the program that George Washington was going to give a speech - I couldn't leave without hearing the Father of Our Country, and, of course, meeting him (see part 3 for a video clip of Washington's speech and a couple of "quick sketches").
After visiting with Colonel Washington, it was time.
Off I went to the nearest necessary to change out of my period 18th century clothing into my modern 21st century fashions.
As I walked down Duke of Gloucester Street for the last time, I noticed something: I blended in to the throngs of visitors. No longer was I Colonial Ken in my knee breeches, waistcoat, coat, tricorn hat, and buckle shoes. Now, in my modern t-shirt, jeans, & tennis shoes I was just plain ol' everyday Ken. That's tough for me, for while I was dressed in period-appropriate clothing, folks greeted me, nodded an acknowledgement to me, maybe even would stop to talk with me for a while. But not anymore!
No longer able to engage the presenters and visitors into immersion discussions or in colonial scenarios, I knew my time there was done...into the car we climbed and off we drove for the 12 hour journey back to metro-Detroit..
But---what an opportunity, what memories, and new friends...and the 1137 photographs!
Thank you to the good folks at Colonial Williamsburg. In four and a half short days, my family and I made memories that will last a lifetime.
God Bless you all.

"These are but shadows of the things that have been..."
Our time here is nigh as we fade into the shadows and head the future
Someday I hope to return. I'm not sure how long that may take, but it is in my future-past plans.
 ~ ~ ~

I can't forget...
My daughter:
if I'm in the picture in these postings (which I am in quite
a few), she most likely was behind the camera. 
And she did a wonderful job, didn't she?
Thank you, Sweetie!

 Now, let's end this series on a fun note, with my attempt at humor:
And you thought I was purchasing a cone of sugar, 
a betty lamp, and a slate board!
Does anyone know where I got the idea to do this *almost* meme?
Send me a comment if you do!

Until next time...see you in time.

The information on the shadow portraits came from THIS excellent site.
Quite a bit of information came directly from THIS book.

It was difficult choosing which pictures would be in which posts, and there are many still that have been left out. However, if you have enjoyed my other Williamsburg vacation postings from this past summer, then I urge you to check out the first five in this series again, for I added quite a few more photographs to them. I did this because these postings are my diary, my journal, my memory, of this fantastic vacation and I want to be able to enjoy them quickly and easily.
If you would like to see PART 1 of my series on Colonial Williamsburg, click HERE
If you would like to see PART 2 of my series on Colonial Williamsburg, click HERE
If you would like to see PART 3 of my series on Colonial Williamsburg, click HERE
If you would like to see PART 4 of my series on Colonial Williamsburg, click HERE
If you would like to see PART 5 of my series on Colonial Williamsburg, click HERE
All are loaded with a ton of photographs.

For a general overview of everyday life in colonial times, click HERE
To learn about taverns and travel in colonial times, click HERE
To learn more about cooking over the hearth in a colonial kitchen, click HERE
To learn about a colonial fall harvest, click HERE
To learn of how colonials celebrated Thanksgiving, click HERE
To learn how colonials celebrated Christmas, click HERE
To learn of life in a colonial home, click HERE
To read about a historically accurate movie about colonial life, click HERE
To learn more about men's clothing, hair, and language of the colonial period, click HERE



Gina @ VictorianWannaBe said...

Wow Ken, so much to look at and ooh and aah over. Of course I always notice interior shots with fabulous period furnishings. And the shoes, and the shadow portraits, loved that! What a fun time you had, thanks so much for sharing it all with us. Happy All Hallow's Eve to you and yours!

Suzanne said...

Wow Ken-thanks for this, felt like I was on vaca with your family. What a truly magical place:-)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the exceedingly enjoyable “visit” to Colonial Williamsburg. My husband and I visited in the summer of 2017 for the first time, since taking my kids in the ‘80’s, and stayed in the Orlando Kitchen. Your wonderful series almost made me feel as though I was back! I SO wanted to wear my period clothing, just for fun,during my visit but wasn’t sure if I should. Thanks to you, next time I will :)
Ps. Toad in “American Graffiti” !

Historical Ken said...

Thank you for the very kind comments. I am so glad my post helped you to relive your experience.
And thank you just as much for responding to my American Graffiti reference! Made my day!!