Tag Archives: History

The Northern Neck Makes the New York Times!

New York Times Travel Writer, Guy Trebay, has (not surprisingly) fallen in love with the Northern Neck. Our little slice of heaven has made the front page of the Times Travel Section. Check it out!

Pilgrims or Planters. You decide.

A hearty “Hear! Hear!” and pass the gravy on this call to action for Virginia to claim her rightful spot as the birthplace of the first Thanksgiving. Weigh in and let us know with whom you stand – the pilgrims or the planters?

Virginia Museum of History & Culture's Blog

Let’s have a heart to heart about Thanksgiving. I fully admit that I am not taking the most historically accurate or rational view on this debate, but I do feel that Virginia has to stake its claim to the first Thanksgiving. You can argue over the earliest date for Thanksgiving in the colonies or whether the celebration became an annual event where it occurred. Virginia is perceived as the underdog in this fight, so we need to take our argument to a national level. Now, to clarify, what I am referring to is the first Christian Thanksgiving in British North America. Thanksgivings have taken place in many cultures for thousands of years before it became popular in the British colonies. To complicate matters further, there are those who argue that the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine, Florida, held the first Thanksgiving. However, my battle is with the Pilgrims of Massachusetts…

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The Menokin Foundation Takes to the Road

The popular Banner Lecture Series offered at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, VA will host two guest speakers in October, both co-sponsored by The Menokin Foundation.

These programs will be held at the VHS, which is located at 428 North Boulevard in Richmond, VA.

The first takes place on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at noon, and features Dr. John C. Coombs, a professor at Hampden-Sydney College, discussing Planter Oligarchy on Virginia’s Northern Neck.

Unlocking Menokin’s Secrets: Archaeological and Landscape Research at a Northern Neck Plantation takes place on Thursday, October 25, 2012 at noon, and will be presented by David Brown and Thane Harpole of DATA Investigations.

One of the great houses to survive from colonial Virginia, Menokin was the result of a unique collaboration between John Tayloe II of Mount Airy and Francis Lightfoot Lee, the husband of his daughter Rebecca. Tayloe gave Lee a life interest in 1,000 acres of his vast Richmond County estate and, as a wedding present, built the plantation house and surrounding structures.

David Brown at work at Menokin.

Though scant written records remain, other clues offer insight into this adaptation of European design to the environment of eastern Virginia. David Brown with DATA Investigations will discuss recent archaeological and landscape research conducted at the site.

Reservations are not required for either lecture. Admission is $6/adults, $5/seniors, $4/children and students, free/members (please present card) and to Richmond Times-Dispatch readers with a Press Pass coupon. Parking is free. For more information visit: www.vahistorical.org/news/lectures_banner.htm.

Planter Oligarchy on Virginia’s Northern Neck

Virginia Historical Society Banner Lecture Series

Dr. John C. Coombs, Presenter

Co-sponsored by the Virginia Historical Society.
Program held at the VHS located at 428 North Boulevard, Richmond, VA

The rise of a distinct class of affluent families to economic, social, and political dominance in Virginia during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries is without doubt one of the most important developments in the Old Dominion’s early history.

As a group, however, the “gentry” were far from homogenous. John C. Coombs will draw on research for his forthcoming book The Rise of Virginia Slavery to discuss the foundations of power that were common across all ranks of the elite, as well as the circumstances that allowed the Carters, Lees, and Tayloes to achieve distinction as the colony’s “first families.”

Dr. Coombs is a professor of history at Hampden-Sydney College and coeditor of Early Modern Virginia: Reconsidering the Old Dominion.

Reservations are not required. Admission is $6/adults, $5/seniors, $4/children and students, free/members (please present card) and to Richmond Times-Dispatch readers with a Press Pass coupon. Parking is free.For more information visit: www.vahistorical.org/news/lectures_banner.htm

Art Unveiling

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You are invited to the unveiling of the original pen and ink drawing of Belle Mount by artist, Bill Martz. This event is hosted by Charles Belfield, a descendant of the Belle Mount Belfields.

The manor house at Belle Mount in Richmond County, Virginia was the home of John and Ruth Sydnor Belfield.

John, son of Thomas and Mary Meriweather Belfield, was one of the 115 patriots who signed the Leedstown Resolves (also known as the Westmoreland Resolves) in 1766 – one of the first deliberate acts of sedition against England.

John became a member of the Virginia Dragoons where he served in the rank of Major. He fought in many battles to help win our freedom from England, in order that we could become the United States of America.

His home at Belle Mount was destroyed in the War of 1812. No picture has ever been produced until now.

Bill Martz is a Northern Neck artist. You can find out more about him at billmartz.com.

The Passing of Jack Boucher – Legendary HABS Photographer

Upon receiving the news of Mr. Boucher’s passing on September 2, 2012, I dug into the Menokin Photo archive this morning to look for the images that I knew he had taken here as part of his work with HABS (Historic American Building Survey). Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, to share these photographs with the world as a way of paying tribute to the wonderful career of Jack Boucher?

Enjoy!

Read his obituary on our facebook page.

 

The Fruits of Summer

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Joe Smith in his wheat field at Menokin.

Joe Smith stopped by Menokin today with his customary warm handshake, eye-crinkling smile…..and a bag of tomatoes.

One definite advantage to working in the Northern Neck is the abundance of fresh produce. Here at Menokin, our local farming friends are quick to remember us when doling out the harvest of their labors.

Joe has farmed the Menokin property for more than 30 years. His connections to Menokin are many and his roots in the Northern Neck are deep. He was happy to explain that the yellow tomatoes are called “straws” which are on the verge of “breaking” into full ripeness. He also let us know that if we were unable to wait, the green tomatoes are delicious fried up in a pan with potatoes, a dish his mother prepared for him as a boy.Image

Tomatoes are a pretty big deal around here. Farm stands depend on the reliable reputation of a delicious ripe tomato warmed by the sun to lure passers-by to pull in for a purchase.

But many years ago, with the introduction of the steamboat era to this region, tomatoes and tomato canning became a huge industry. According to a 2008 article from the Southside Sentinel “at one time there were 40 tomato canning factories on the Northern Neck, and just about that many on the Middle Peninsula.” The vegetable canning business that grew out of the steamboat era provided jobs at a time when this area was still recovering from the Civil War and, later, the Great Depression.

Each cannery had its own label, the likes of which are considered artwork worth framing and collecting by many in these parts. These two labels were gifts of one such local collector.

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Sure, we may do without many modern conveniences out here in the countryside – like reliable internet and shoe stores. But what we do have is really worth having. Yum.

Just in time for one last summer trip. . . .

I wonder why Menokin isn’t on this list? Even so, the entries are worth a look….and a vote!

Virginia Museum of History & Culture's Blog

Maybe you’ve already taken a big vacation for the summer, perhaps to an exotic place or maybe to the ever popular Outer Banks. But this summer you can’t miss out on voting for and visiting one or two places named on the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) nomination list for the Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts.

VAM has created a program called Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts in order to raise public awareness about the care of collections throughout Virginia, Washington, D.C., and beyond. Virginia’s Top 10 is not a grant-giving program. It is designed to offer museums, libraries, and archives an opportunity to raise media and public awareness about the ongoing and expensive care of collections. Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts’ nominees have the opportunity to promote their nomination during the public voting portion of this project. Public voting began on August 1st and will continue until August…

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Find out how Menokin is rattling the chains of traditional house museum preservation and conservation.

http://tinyurl.com/9fspt25

Preservation and Place

The National Trust for Historic Preservation released this announcement of their receiving a grant to support an initiative to increase visitor engagement at historic house museums. You can read the press release here: National Trust Initiative to Innovate House Museum Model.

Some of my first museum memories are from historic house museums, they are what some call sticky memories. I don’t remember the whole day, but I remember the red exterior of Gilbert Stuart Birthplace, the amazing elevator in Gillette Castle, the opulence of Rosecliff Mansion (okay, so at least the last two aren’t so house-y, but they followed the model at least back then, and they were houses to some people). I was between 6 and 9 when I went to these places, and that I at least remember some facet of them 20 years later means that those running the museums and leading the tours are…

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America: First Impressions

Native American Settlement

Before the Menokin plantation was ever developed, this area along Cat Point Creek (also called Rappahannock Creek) was home to the Rappahannock Indian Tribe. In 1608, Capt. John Smith recorded 14 Rappahannock towns on the north side of the River and its tributaries. The general plantation site was referred to as “Menokin” by the Rappahannock, which likely translates to “He gives it to me” in the tribe’s Algonquian-based language. Francis Lightfoot Lee kept the name for his home. For more information on the Rappahannock Tribe, visit http://www.rappahannocktribe.org.

Great Stories

John Smith was one of the foremost leaders of early Jamestown.  He’d had an interesting life before that, one which influenced the direction of this country and (as I seem to be constantly promising) which will be explored later in this blog.  He was a controversial but effective leader in the settlement’s first years, and when health problems and an injury prompted his return to England in 1609, he spent his time working for the colony from there, promoting it and encouraging people to move there.

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