Saturday, May 30, 2009

Berkeley Plantation

We continue to be fascinated by the long and rich history in this area.

On the trip home from Williamsburg, we drove highway 5 along the James River, up river from the Jamestown settlement. It is a beautiful drive and we found that there are quite a few historic plantations along the river. We stopped and toured one called Berkeley Plantation. We spent time touring the buildings and the grounds to get a sense of the rich history of this particular plantation.

Berkeley was originally settled in 1619 but later abandoned after several savage attacks by Indians. Eventually the property was purchased by Benjamin Harrison V, who later became one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. His son, William Henry Harrison, one day to become the 9th president of the United States, was born and raised there. (William Henry was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president.) (Click any of those names to learn more about the Harrisons.)

During the Civil War, General McClellan encamped with 140,000 Union troops during the summer of 1862. The tune "TAPS" was written and first played during this encampment. President Lincoln visited the General twice that summer.

The plantation home was built in 1726. It has been beautifully kept and was wonderful to tour.

Only two of the outbuildings still remain. There are about 1,000 acres, many still farmed.

Other firsts claimed at Berkeley: the first official Thanksgiving on December 4, 1609, and the first bourbon whiskey distilled there in 1621.

To learn more about Berkeley, check out these links:

The history lesson is over.

1 comment:

Robin said...

I enjoyed my early morning history lesson! Fascinating! Keep 'em coming!