Don’t forget that the Menokin Photography contest is now underway. Even an overcast day can result in gorgeous pictures. These were all taken right here at the Visitor’s Center.
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.
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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This quote from The Actual Proposal struck a chord with me. It seems to aptly illustrate the lifestyle of the Northern Neck – that of the Lees and Tayloes, and even of the residents today.
In the daze of overwhelming mobility perhaps architects should wonder: what’s wrong with standing still? Poet, essayist, and farmer, Wendell E. Berry, shares a similar sentiment in remembering his grandfather:
“My grandfather, on the contrary, and despite his life’s persistent theme of hardship, took a great and present delight in the modest good that was at hand: in his place and his affection for it, in its pastures, animals, and crops, in favourable weather.
He did not participate in the least in what we call “mobility.” He died, after eighty-two years, in the same spot he was born in. He was probably in his sixties when he made the one longish trip of his life. He went with my father southward across Kentucky and into Tennessee. On their return, my father asked him what he thought of their journey. He replied: “Well, sir, I’ve looked with all the eyes I’ve got, and I wouldn’t trade the field behind my barn for every inch I’ve seen.”
In such modest joy in a modest holding is the promise of a stable, democratic society, a promise not to be found in “mobility”: our forlorn modern progress toward something indefinitely, and often unrealizably, better. A principled dissatisfaction with whatever one has promises nothing or worse.”
The Menokin Foundation invites you to visit our site and show us Menokin through your lens. This photo contest includes three categories: Wildlife, Landscape and Architecture. The contest will conclude in November with a salon style exhibit and reception at the Menokin Visitor’s Center.
At least three images from each category will be printed, framed and displayed at the exhibit. All other works entered will be displayed in a slide show.
The show will be judged by Richmond photographer, Hullihen Williams Moore, who studied with Ansel Adams. The University of Virginia Press published a book of Hullie’s images, Shenandoah: Views of Our National Park, and his work is part of the permanent collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
AUGUST 1st: Entry submission begins
OCTOBER 15th: Entry deadline
NOVEMBER 2: Exhibition and reception
Rules and Guidelines: (Delivery information is listed at bottom of page)
1) All photos must be submitted digitally no later than midnight of October 15, 2012.
2) Emailed photos must not be larger than 3MB. Larger files will be accepted on CD or DVD via mail and hand delivery.
3) Only three images per applicant will be accepted. They may be in any category of your choosing: Wildlife, Landscape or Architecture.
4) Registrants must complete an application and submit with their entries. Applications are available at the Visitor’s Center in Warsaw and on our website. (http://www.menokin.org/pdf/events/Photo%20Contest%20Flyer.pdf )
5) Prizes will be awarded as follows: 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize in each category and one Best In Show. A prize will also be awarded to the Best In Show winner – an afternoon of photography at Menokin with Hullie Moore.
Menokin is located at 4037 Menokin Road in Warsaw, VA. Call us at 804-333-1776, visit online at menokin.org, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is much evidence at Menokin of human impact on the land. The example below demonstrates that there were tobacco rolling roads on the Menokin plantation. These roads allowed for barrels filled with tobacco to be easily transported to the river. After these barrels were rolled down these roads to Cat Point Creek, they were shipped off to be sold in various markets.
These tobacco rolling roads were built to hasten the process of transporting tobacco and further the success of the plantation. The enslaved men and women at Menokin most likely dug these roads, evidence of which you now see today.
The landscape holds traces of history everywhere. These rolling roads demonstrate that the actions of people centuries ago are still with us today. Even though the forest looks wild, upon closer look you can see the imprint of Frank’s decisions and the labor of slaves.
These tobacco rolling roads helped advance the commercial interests of Menokin. Can you see how people use land today to enhance one’s business? What other ways do people impact and distort the land?
Are you sad the cherry blossoms are no longer in bloom? Do you still need that tree fix?! At Menokin, there are an abundance of tree species to see. In fact, you can download our tree guide and learn about over 30 species of trees while enjoying a nice walk on our nature trail. Bring some friends and your dog and experience these natural wonders!
First, let’s test your tree knowledge! Do you know what tree this is? (Hint: it is the Virginia state tree)
It’s a flowering dogwood tree (Cornus Florida)! Actually, the white or pink “flowers” of the flowing dogwood tree are bracts, or specialized leaves, that surround a cluster of tiny yellowish flowers. The dogwood tree is beautiful all year round. The white or pink “flowers” that bloom in the spring give way to bright, red leaves in the fall. The flowering dogwood is abundant in the Eastern United States. 
Can you name this tree?
It’s a Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron Tulipfera)! The tulip poplar is one of the largest of the native trees to the Eastern seaboard. Native Americans and colonists used these trees to make canoes. It could be that the Rappahannocks, who lived on Cat Point Creek, could have used some of Menokin’s tulip poplars to build some canoes! 
In 2009, archaeologists found a beautiful locket in the Menokin house ruin. This cameo locket portrays the image of a woman. Who did this locket belong to? Who is this woman? A 1794 letter from Frank’s brother, William, may just be the key to unlocking this mystery!
In 1785, two years after the death of his wife, Hannah, William Lee sent his two daughters, Portia and Cornelia, to live at Menokin with Uncle Frank and Aunt Becky. Hannah Lee thought it important that her daughters grow up in Virginia. William wrote to family friends in London, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Thorp, to further explain the desire for his daughters to grow up in Virginia. He writes, “[H]owever superior English education may be to what can be obtained here[,] yet the manners & customs of the ladies in England are so extremely different from the ladies here [in Virginia] that I never knew an instance of a young lady educated in England who could live happily here.”
He also wrote to the Thorpes requesting a momento by which Portia and Cornelia could remember them. He writes, “Our dear girls at Menokin are so importunate to have a miniature picture for each of them of your self & good Mrs. Thorp…have them set in gold to wear as bracelets…or a locket…the form should be rather a long than a round oval not too sharp at the ends…”
Could this be Mrs. Thorp on the locket? Did it once adorn the neck or wrist of young Portia or Cornelia Lee?
We hope to answer these questions with further research. In the meantime, tell us what you think and check back at Menokin Monitor for updates on this locket and other objects at Menokin.
We’d like to thank the Virginia Chapter of the Colonial Dames whose generous grant helped stabilize the locket. The locket is on display in Menokin’s Visitor’s Center.