Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Smith’s Fort Plantation, circa 1765!

After exiting the ferry on the “Surry Side” I headed down a lovely green country road, fields and fields of peanuts growing on each side.

Virginia IS Peanut Country ---there are often little country shops and stands along the road side where you can buy not only Virginia peanuts, but Virginia hams as well!

Taking the road-less-traveled, I wasn’t sure what I would cross paths with, but when I came to a sign telling me that Smith’s Fort Plantation was ahead, I had to take the turn ---only --- I missed it!

I had to go up the road a bit to find a place to turn around and double back ---

And it was so worth it!

I found myself traveling up a tree covered drive that seemed to go on for miles:

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I sure felt like I was going to wind up at some place like “Twelve Oaks” from Gone With the Wind!

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To my dismay, even through I was there at 10am ---it was a Sunday, and the house wasn’t open. But I was free to wander around the grounds, and it was just what I needed for a leg stretch at this time.

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I did a little more research and this is what I found:

The plantation received its name because it was the location of Captain John Smith's "New Fort," built in 1609, located directly across the James River from the Jamestown colony. The fort was quickly abandoned due to dry rot and a rat infestation.

The same land was later given by Chief Powhatan to John Rolfe as a dowry for the hand of Pocahontas when Rolfe and Pocahontas married. Archaeological surveys of the property have revealed that a number of structures have existed on the property and the present, restored main house was built by Jacob Faulcon in 1751.

Is that cool or what? Having heard of Pocahontas all my life, this really was like walking through history! Not to mention that Shamu and I rode over on the Pocahontas Ferry ;c)

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We get the idea that because the word “PLANTATION” is used, that the house is going to be a huge structure of Georgian architecture. Not always. Many plantation houses were modest “normal” sized homes ----and I sure wished I could have had a chance to tour the inside of this one. But I was happy to walk the grounds…that crepe myrtle tree is in full bloom and is gorgeous! Up closer to the house is an ancient magnolia. The size of the trees alone make the house look that much smaller, dwarfing it in comparison.

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Imagine the lady of the manor stepping out of that front door dressed for a journey to town, or maybe to church or to visit. Imagine the lives, the births, the deaths, the every day occurrence of waking up to greet a new day of plantation life ---in the Virginia summer heat and humidity without the benefits of electricity, air-conditioning or other modern conveniences.

Yes. I’m a modern girl! I love revisiting the past, but I’m so happy to be living where I live now!

Next trip? I *AM* going to be there when it is open to see inside!


  1. I really love visiting historical places like that. Don't blame you for re-visiting someday so you can see the inside. Thanks for sharing, Bonnie.

  2. there are several interesting places to visit around this area. the town of Smithfield is a great place to vist (and get a real Smithfield ham--THE BEST!) and the little restaurant just after you get off the ferry on the right has some really good peanut soup. YUM!
    and there's Fort Monroe that sits on the James River.(left hand side of 664 just before you get to the tunel). That's just been opened up, and they have plans to make a historic park out of it.
    and then there's also the Hampton University, a historic black college just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Yep, there's loads of history in the Hampton Roads area around the James River. Oh, and we can't forget the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk; another 'gotta see' place!
    And besides that, you have to come back and eat a heaping helping of steamed Chesapeake Bay crabs, served hot and spread out on a picnic table that is covered with the local newspaper. The clean up is a breeze!

  3. Anonymous11:17 AM EDT

    thanks so much for all the adventures you share with us. Your blog is the first thing I look at in the morning while eating my breakfast. Your pictures are always so awesome. My travel pictures never seem to look so good. I look forward to seeing you in March (I think) in Portland OR.

    Diane in WA

  4. When we lived in Virginia, outside D.C., we had a crepe myrtle in our front yard. Not near as tall and lush as the one in your photo but just a pretty. Your photo brought back good memories.

  5. Anonymous1:13 PM EDT

    I always wish the walls could talk and tell us the stories!!!

  6. You see, it's pictures like these that get me into trouble. I tell my husband we should go visit the States. He then says any time I get a job to pay for it will be fine.
    Sigh. It's so hard to balance travel and quilting budgets in this household.
    Thanks for the pics!

  7. When we hear the word plantation, we always think of a huge farm, but there were not that many huge plantations really. Most were smaller farms owned by individuals who worked the land themselves and some had slaves as well. The big plantation owner was actually rather rare.

    The south has so many gorgeous plantation homes, many of which are open to tours.


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