Alice French, Education Coordinator at Menokin
Menokin, a 500 acre classroom connecting the past to the present. Come visit for yourself, connect with your world, and be inspired.
Menokin, a 500 acre classroom connecting the past to the present. Come visit for yourself, connect with your world, and be inspired.
They’re all in Virginia. And they’re all hosting the Smithsonian Institution’s Water/Ways Exhibition.
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH), in cooperation with the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) and six organizations across the state, will help Virginians examine water as an environmental necessity and an important cultural element through “Water/Ways,” a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program.
From above, Earth appears as a water planet with more than 71 percent of its surface covered with this vital resource for life. Water impacts climate, agriculture, transportation, industry, and more. It inspires art and music. With VFH funding, the “Water/Ways” exhibition will explore this essential topic in six Virginia communities from May 2017 through May 2018.
July 15, 2017 / August 27, 2017
That’s right! The Menokin Foundation in Warsaw, VA is one of six sites across the state to host this traveling exhibit which will criss cross the state over the next 11 months.
This massive, colorful, informative and interactive exhibit will wind and curve its way through the Menokin Visitor’s Center (we measured; it’ll fit!), provoking contemplation, conversation and community awareness. Admission is free.
Check out the Water/Ways page on the Menokin website to learn about Community Paddles and a grand opening festival where the community is invited to paint Warsaw’s sidewalks to look like a river. And the Warsaw/Richmond County Main Street Program will be providing free popsicles and watermelon!
What will your next Menokin Experience be?
How thrilled were we when Richard Moncure, Education Director for the Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR), called to see if he could bring some members of Falls of the James, – Sierra Paddlers Club from Richmond – for the first spring paddle on Cat Point Creek on April 1st? Really thrilled. No fooling!
Moncure was joined by FOR’s Adam Lynch in leading the paddle tour on Cat Point Creek. Mother Nature obviously approved of the idea as she provided perfect weather for us to introduce our little slice of paradise to this eager group of enthusiastic nature lovers.
Since it was still a little chilly early on this first morning in April, we collectively decided to meet at the Visitor’s Center for an orientation of Menokin and the preservation and education projects we are undertaking. Next was a Hard Hat Tour of the Menokin ruin. Who would have thought our fallen house with barely any walls would have felt warm?! This group was adventurous and open to learning something new, and so they did. After an inspired house tour, we ventured down to Cat Point Creek. The wind made the water a little choppy. After safety instructions from Richard and Adam, this hardy crowd paddled out into Menokin Bay, the widest part of Cat Point Creek.
The good news was we were beginning the paddle against the tide and wind, when we still had a lot of energy! Along the way, Adam, Richard, and I pointed out plant species, wildlife and talked about historical references to this place. Emphasis was placed on the fact that due to conservation of our waters through acts such as The Chesapeake Bay Act, fathered by our own dear Tayloe Murphy in 1970, the Northern Neck and the Chesapeake Bay provide wonderfully preserved authentic experiences not found in many places on this planet. Evidence of the effects of conservation measures such as this are seen in the resurgence of eagle habitats, symbol of American Freedom, throughout the Northern Neck. Additionally, oyster reproduction, crucial to keeping our waterways clean, has finally begun to increase again as well.
Remember, we all drink the same water on this planet. We all need to protect it.
Moncure, a native of the Northern Neck with a long family history associated with the water, spoke to us on the importance of supporting special environments like those still found in the Northern Neck. Ecological conservation efforts from advocacy groups like the Friends of the Rappahannock and conservation-minded tourism properties like Menokin have helped to maintain and sustain the pristine beauty and ecosystems of this region.
Our next community paddle is on June 9th and features a full moon! This enchanted landscape will surely be made more magical by a Moonlight Paddle. We have other community paddles schedule throughout 2017, so watch for those announcements. Many will be associated with the Smithsonian Water|Ways exhibit that is coming to Menokin for six weeks starting in July. Take advantage of having a world-class museum experience in your own back yard for you and your family to learn more about how the precious resource of water affects our culture and our planet.
Come for a paddle and see for yourself. Our trails are open from 7am – 7pm Sunday through Saturday. Find out more on our website. menokin.org/water-access
The earliest documented European settlement in the locality of Menokin occurred about 1650 with a patent of land on the Rappahannock River, at the mouth of Rappahannock Creek, by Moore Fauntleroy (Fig. 10).Colonial authorities had not officially allowed settlement of the Northern Neck until 1649. Fauntleroy’s initial plantation (south of the creek) was named Mangorite, evidently another phonetic transliteration of an Indian word (“Mangorike [sic] Marsh” is along the north bank of the Rappahannock River, near the Sabine Hall lowlands). North of the creek, a substantial brick house, quite like Sabine Hall, was built c. 1740 by his descendant, William Fauntleroy, near present Naylor’s Beach. That house was situated so near the shoreline that, by 1905, it was reported that “the waves of the river . . . have undermined the bank at the rear of the garden and invaded the family burial-ground.” Soon after, the house itself was demolished.
A little farther inland, Capt. Henry Fleete patented 750 acres in 1652 on the west shore of Menokin Bay. His patent noted that Fleete’s property was situated “southwest of the Great Rappahannock town where the Indians are at present seated 2 miles up Fleets Creek” (i.e., two miles upstream from the confluence of Rappahannock Creek and Rappahannock River). “Southwest of” evidently was meant to imply that the creek was between Fleete’s property and the Indian town. Six years later, John Stephens patented the Menokin property (originally 1000 acres) directly across the bay from Fleete’s land on 13 March 1657/58, however Stephens may not then have occupied the land. His will written three years later, before embarking on a return visit to England, referred to the “one thousand acres of land lying on Rappae: Creek on ye same side ye Indians liveth on….” Thus it appears from multiple sources that in the mid-17th century, the Rappahannocks were residing on the east bank of Menokin Bay, not on the western shore as has been suggested by some recent writers.
In the 1960s, local historian Thomas Hoskins Warner who also was a professional surveyor, determined that a Rappahannock town had been situated “on the northeast side of Rappahannock Creek (Cat Point) about two miles above its mouth and less than a mile above the point where Menokin Swamp flows into the creek.” He surmised that the town had been sited there for defensive purposes and for observation of rivercraft: “Back of it was a high hill, from the summit of which a man might see down the creek almost to the river.” Although authorities on regional Indian cultures indicate that such towns often were built on high ground, Warner suggested that the town at or near Menokin was not on the uppermost plateau. As a surveyor, Warner gave its precise location as latitude 380 0’ 15” and longitude 760 48’ 50”, but that position may not now allow for a subsequent slight shift in magnetic declination.
Warner also made an observation of an “Indian relic” on the “north slope” (possibly on Menokin Foundation property) that he claimed “has aroused keenest interest.” He described it in some detail as the “remains of a circular stone wall,” about 30 feet in diameter, “no doubt one of the last existing monuments of a long departed race.” (It is presently unknown if that feature survives.) He further noted that early records refer to Cat Point Creek as “Indian Creek” or “Great Hunting Creek” and Menokin Run as “Little Hunting Creek,” but I have not verified those names. If Warner was correct in his assertions, then it appears that the Rappahannock Indian presence on the Menokin property was quite significant.
Moore Fauntleroy (1610-1663), from Craundall, Southampton, England had arrived in Virginia about 1643, according to a monument erected on that property by a descendant in 1927. See Sanford and Klein, “Archaeological Assessment,” pp. 100-101; Robert R. Harper, Richmond County, Virginia, 1692-1992: A Tricentennial Portrait (Alexandria, Virginia, 1992), p. 34.
See James Horn, Adapting to a New World: English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake (Chapel Hill, 1994) pp. 161-164, 175; Jean B. Russo, Planting an Empire: The Early Chesapeake in British North America (Baltimore, 2012).
See Harper, Richmond County, p. 46. Evidently Avery Naylor was an early landowner in the vicinity (“Naylor’s Creek” is on the south side of the Rappahannock River, opposite the mouth of Rappahannock Creek) and “Naylor’s Hole” was the name for the deep water in the Rappahannock River at that location, where ocean-going vessels would often anchor. “Naylor’s Wharf” projected from the north bank of the river (near present Naylor’s Beach) and “Cat Point” nearby, along the Rapahannock Creek, was sometimes also referred to as “Naylor’s Point.” The Fauntleroy house itself became familiarly known as “Naylor’s Hole.”
 George W. Beale, “Naylor’s Hole: Ancient Seat of the Fauntleroy Family in Richmond County,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2 July 1905.
 Virginia Land Office Patent Book 3, p. 97 (1 August 1652).
 Ibid. For further relevant information regarding the Indian town, see Virginia Land Office Patent Book 3, p. 73; 4, p. 235; Northern Neck Grant Book 1, p. 134. See also (old) Rappahannock County Deed Book 2, pp. 39-40, 135.
 Virginia Land Office Patent Book 4, p. 303; Northern Neck Grant Book 1, p. 135 (18 March 1691/92). For further confirmation of the location of this land, see Virginia Land Office Patent Book 5, p. 198; 6, p. 77.
 (Old) Rappahannock County Will Book 2, part 1, pp. 66-68 (5 March 1660/61); the will was proved 6 February 1677/78. See also Northern Neck Grant Book 1, p. 137.
 Warner, Old Rappahannock, p. 36.
 According to Helen C. Rountree, they “preferred to locate settlements on high ground overlooking the water, so that everything and everyone approaching the town could be seen;” Powhatan, p. 58.
 Warner, Old Rappahannock, p. 37.
 Ibid. The circular dancing-ground/prayer-plot depicted by John White in his famous painting of the Indian town of Secota, was about that size; see c. 1620 DeBry engraving of that painting, in Rountree, Powhatan, p. 59.
 Warner, Old Rappahannock, pp. 170-171.
The objective of this report is to provide an explication of how the landscape of Menokin has functioned historically as a setting for human habitation. The focus is “cultural” usages and meanings rather than “natural” conditions as wildlife habitat. To borrow the terminology of anthropological studies, the analysis centers on an examination of human pathways (movement through space in time) and activity areas (utilization of space in time). Eighteenth-century plantations in America were complex agricultural-production systems. Their organization reflected societal and individual attitudes. In the most refined examples, such as Menokin represents, they were also expressions of aesthetic and associational values.
Perhaps the most distinctive quality of the natural landscape of Virginia’s Northern Neck, the broader geographic setting between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers, is the pattern of irregularly-shaped, small plateaus encompassed by shallow escarpments that occasionally approach true “cliffs” in character. In the vicinity of Menokin, the level (or nearly level) upper plateaus are typically quite modest in extent. By contrast, the tidewater landscape farther down the peninsula (as also along the lower James and York rivers) is usually flatter and more broadly expansive. Land, sea and sky begin to merge there. But in Menokin’s locale, discrete elevated pockets of land have been carved by numerous interconnected rivulets. The resulting dendritic pattern is clearly visible in satellite imagery of the immediate region (Fig. 1).
The generally wooded condition of the surrounding ravines has created nearly continuous bands of foliage that envelope each enclave. The density and verticality of the trees define compact spatial edges and frequently also limit long-distance views. Upon each plateau itself there is a prevailing sense of containment and seclusion. Those particular qualities also make the Menokin landscape quite different from the continuously rolling topography of the piedmont to the west, where the ground levels (and perspectives) constantly vary, and mountains are always on the horizon. It is evident that the natural landscape of Menokin (Fig. 2) has had significant implications for the development of its cultural landscapes.
Menokin plantation takes its name from references to the Indian word associated with the stream which bounds the property along the southeast. As early as 1657/58 the name “Manakin” appears in local records in relation to that “Creek” or “Run” or “Swamp.” (An upper branch sometimes was called “Muddy Run”; in recent years, the latter name also has been applied to the entire stream.) The current spelling of Menokin only became standard in the late 18th Century with the Lee family tenure. Prior to that, numerous transliterated variations may be found, ranging widely from “Monoaton” to “Monocon” to “Manoikin.” Mary R. Miller, in her very useful study of Place-Names of the Northern Neck of Virginia (1983), in attempting to distinguish between the variant spellings, nevertheless made some significant errors which have produced subsequent confusion. It does appear however that the similar place-names of “Monascon,” “Monaskan” or “Menaskant” (thought to be a shortened form of “Monasukapanough”) identify an entirely separate locality on the border of present Richmond and Lancaster counties.
The Algonquian meaning of “Menokin” is unknown today, according to most authorities on American Indian cultures. Variations of that place-name today appear throughout the eastern seaboard. As unlikely as it may seem, modern authorities also believe that the Algonquian word bears no relation to the Monacan Indians who inhabited the upper James River region during the contact era, yet who spoke a separate Siouan language. (Thus the similar name of the Huguenot settlement of “Manakin,” established in 1699 in what became Powhatan County near an abandoned Monacan Indian town, is considered to be merely coincidental.) It also should be mentioned that there was a “Manoakin” on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay as early as 1663. Clifford C. Presnall’s article on “The Menokin Mystery” in the Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Magazine (pp. 3020-3022) attempted to address the matter but ultimately circulated further misinformation.
main travel artery of the Rappahannock River (Fig. 3) was recognized as being highly suitable for occupation even in the prehistoric era. An abundance of early artifacts (stone flakes, pottery shards and fire-cracked rock) have been recorded by archaeologists investigating the plateau near the house ruins (Fig. 4).
By the contact era with Europeans, the vicinity was occupied by the Rappahannock Indians (who evidently had resided in the broader region since about 1300 C.E.).
The locality’s association with them is reflected in the site’s long-standing place names. Indeed, Capt. John Smith’s 1612 map of Virginia appears to locate the principal seat of the Rappahannocks (“Toppahanock”) in the general Menokin neighborhood (Fig. 5). He reportedly first encountered them in December 1607 and then again in July 1608 (Fig. 6).
One archaeologist has suggested that in the mid-seventeenth century (and perhaps earlier?), when there probably were only a few hundred Rappahannocks left, the
chief “town of the Great Rappahannocks” was situated along the southern edge of what became the Menokin estate (Fig. 7). The particular promontory that he identified is one of the first to be encountered upstream along Rappahannock Creek and is slightly secluded yet affords a clear view to allow monitoring of movement on the nearby river. It would seem to be an ideal defensive position. However, there appears to be disagreement among historians; a recent map of “Indians Towns” along the Rappahannock River (Fig. 8) does not include the Menokin location. (In any case, compare the apparent discrepancies among the relative locations of “Toppahanock,” “Acquack” and “Nomanye”/”Nawmanay,” known today as “Nomini”.) This important subject needs to be more fully investigated in consultation with experts on Virginia’s indigenous people. Future archaeological excavations may clarify the matter.
|The girls participating in SOAK have been enjoying their afternoons! They took a trip to Francis Lightfoot Lee’s Menokin to do some kayaking. Here is a full gallery from the trip!|
The crew was able to receive extensive background knowledge about the Menokin site and how it came to be. The crew experienced a full tour of the house as we walked around the building, down into the cellar, and up on to the main floor!
Kayaking along Cat Point Creek was another highlight, as we paddled we saw Bald Eagles, Wood ducks, and much more wildlife.
As for the afternoon, attentions were set on a professor from William Mary who discuses information about the stones that were used to build the house. Another successful Environmental Education Day for the YCC crew.
Thank you again to everyone at the Menokin site.
The Menokin Foundation would like to thank USFWS, the Youth Conservation Corps, these summer interns, and most of all Jarred for sending us this post. He’s not in any of the pictures because he was taking them. Here’s one of him from Dr. Bailey’s geology lecture.