Sunday, October 17, 2010

Exploring SE Virginia - Northern Neck

Having explored southwest Virginia a few weeks ago, we planned another long weekend trip to go see the southeast.  In our next few posts we will describe what we saw in the Northern Neck, at Jamestown, Yorktown, Virginia Beach, and the Eastern Shore.  There is so much to see, we could have spent twice as much time, but five days was all we had.

We headed off the first day to see a couple of sights on the Northern Neck.  The eastern coast of Viriginia is really made up of several penninsulas.  One is called the "Northern Neck".  (To learn more, click here.)  We wanted to see two things ... the birth places of George Washington and Robert E. Lee.   

On the way to these two sites we unexpectedly found a location where George Washington grew up as a young boy. Legend has it that this is where he cut down his father's cherry tree, and when confronted about it said "I cannot tell a lie."

There weren't any buildings left from the days of Washington's childhood, but archeological studies were being done.  Since there wasn't anything authentic to see, we decided not to stay long.

Soon we came to the site of GW's birth, and where he lived the first three years of his life.

It was once a tabacco farm called Pope Creek.  GW's grandfather, John Washington, came to Virginia in 1657 on a small trading venture, then stayed to marry the daughter of planter Nathaniel Pope.  Pope gave the couple 700 acres to start their own tobacco farm.  (John Washington steadily added land until he owned 10,000 acres.  This included a tract on Little Hunting Creek, which later would be renamed Mount Vernon.)  Augustine Washington, George's father, inherited John's property and added to it by purchasing land on nearby Pope's Creek.  This is where George was born, and lived until he was almost four.  He later spent time here as a young boy when visiting his half-brother.

The original house burned down in 1779.  The property changed hands several times before being acquired by the state of Virginia in 1858.  Plans to develop the site were disrupted by the Civil War. In 1930 a Colonial style house and kitchen were built on the site where they thought the house originally stood, as an example of what the original may have looked like.  The actual foundation for the original house was discovered in 1936.

These informational signs explain the site as it appears today.  (Click on them to enlarge the picture.)

These photos show the site today.  The replica house and kitchen can be seen, as well as the foundation for the original structure, which can be seen in the foreground.

A few miles away is an old burial site, where many of GW's relatives have been laid to rest.  Note the headstone in the bottom photo is of John Washington (GW's Uncle) and wife Ann WICKLIFFE.  Do you think there is any connection to the current line of Wickliffes in the Zuspan family tree?   Hmmmmmm..... 

Well, because we got a late start on the trip and because we spent more time than expected at George's house, we didn't make it to Robert E. Lee's birthplace before closing time.  Oh, well.  So we headed on to Williamsburg where we stayed the next few nights while exploring Jamestown and Yorktown, which (of course) will be our next couple of blog posts.

Until then ..... 

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