Hi, everyone! Long time no talk! So… how’ve you been? How’s things? What’s the haps?
I apologize for the delay and for allowing this site to languish. I’m going to commit myself to updating more often, I promise! On that note…
I took a walk down to Pipeline to discover (not to my surprise) that the Richmond Heronry is once again gearing up. For those that don’t remember, or my new readers, a heronry is a rookery for herons and a rookery is a nesting ground for birds. Pipeline is located at the end of 12th Street on the river and is perhaps my favorite spot in all of Richmond. The heronry is one of the only (if not THE only) spot where herons are known to nest in view of Downtown, and it’s really something spectacular to watch. Now is the time to do it, before the trees start sprouting and the nests become largely obscured by leaves.
It’s fun to watch them building their nests and swooping in with large sticks between their bills, all while the James River races by. As the weather gets better and the shad start running they will take to the water. Overall just a great place to visit.
More coming soon!
And as a special bonus, speaking of nests and procreation and such… take a gander at this cute little guy that decided to join our family! He accounts for some of the lack of posts as I journey through parenthood in RVA. Photographing newborns is both fun and frustrating!
Massachusetts has stolen the spotlight in American history. From the birth of a nation to the American Revolution, it seems all you ever hear about is Pilgrims and Paul Revere. It’s easy to forget, especially around Thanksgiving, that everything Massachusetts claims, Virginia had already done. Plymouth Rock and the founding of the Plymouth Colony was 13 years AFTER the founding of Jamestown, and the American Revolution has already been started 100 years (almost to the day) in what was then the Colony of Virginia. Let’s focus on this one for now. But first, a quick cast of characters.
Name: Sir William Berkeley
Occupation: Governor of Virginia from 1641 – 1652 and again from 1660 – 1677
Hobbies: Writing plays for His Majesty Charles I, experimenting with new plants and crops to get away from just tobacco in the colony
Likes: Native American’s and fur trading ($$! Er… I mean ££!), raising taxes to build forts, His Majesty Charles I (he’s so awesome!)
Name: Nathaniel Bacon
Occupation: Planter, Member of Governor’s Council
Hobbies: I just like hanging out with my wife, even though her father disowned us and I sold some land fraudulently and had to move to Virginia
Likes: Shooting Indians, defying authority
As you might have guessed, there was a little bit of animosity between bacon and Berkeley, despite the fact that they were probably cousins. In 1674 Bacon defied Governor Berkeley by attacking a Susquehannock village and killing its chiefs, supposedly in retaliation for attacks by the tribe which in turn may have been caused by the colonists refusing to pay for goods… I think the only safe thing to say is that there was tension between the colonists and the natives.
Bacon and Berkeley had different ideas on how to defend against the Native Americans. Berkeley recommended, and was poised to pass a ruling, that all outlying colonial holdings should build fortifications and defend against possible raids. Bacon thought that this was just another excuse to raise already high taxes, and wanted instead to kill all the natives. Bacon sought a military commission to do so, and Berkeley refused. Bacon again defied Berkeley and gathered up a force of 400-500 men to attack the nearby Doeg and Pamunkey tribes who had committed the horrible crime of being Native American and having nothing at all to do with any of this. Berkeley expelled Bacon from the council, held re-elections for the House of Burgesses to exclude the lot of rabble-rousers, and that’s where the fun begins.
Bacon takes his posse of 400 – 500 armed men to the capitol of Jamestown in June of 1676, is promptly arrested and gets on bended knee and apologizes for his misdeeds in writing. Berkeley forgives him and welcomes him back into the council, until someone suggests that he appoint Bacon General and allow him to finish off the remaining natives. Berkeley is less than impressed and expels Bacon from the council… again.
Later that month Bacon returns to Jamestown with his posse, orders them to take aim at Berkeley, and demands he be commissioned so that he can go out and resume his attacks. In a fit of drama, Berkeley bears his chest to Bacon and tells him to shoot; ‘cause ain’t no way he’s getting that commission. Bacon thinks for a moment and has his men switch aim to the House of Burgesses members. Bacon gets his commission, and heads out to find some Indians to kill.
A month later, with no guns pointed at anyone, Berkeley reverses his decision and declares Bacon a rebel again. We’re now into July of 1676, and Bacon issues a Declaration of the People of Virginia enumerating 8 grievances against the Governor and British rule, including excessive taxation… all of this almost 100 years to the day before the signing of another famous declaration. A couple months later Bacon returns to Jamestown and burns the city to the ground. This all could have continued, and the course of American history drastically changed, except that in October of 1676 Bacon pulled the old “Oregon Trail Maneuver” and died of dysentery. Without his leadership the Bacon’s Rebellion fell apart.
Somewhere between his burning of Jamestown and his not-so-pleasant departure from this world, Bacon’s men happened upon the oldest brick building in Virginia, the home of House of Burgesses member Major Arthur Allen II. The men quickly seized the property and used it as HQ for their raids in Surry County.
The occupants also availed themselves of several bottles of wine of local vintage that are still displayed in the basement of the site today. In December of 1676 the crew of the vessel Young Prince seized an unknown fort that is thought to be what is now known as Bacon’s Castle.
Contrary to popular belief, and the name, Bacon never lived in Bacon’s Castle. As a matter of fact, there’s nothing to suggest that he ever even set foot on the property, as he was away fighting in Gloucester County. It was not until sometime much later (possibly 1769) that the site was referred to as Bacon’s Castle, but the name has stuck.
Preservation Virginia obtained and restored the property in the 1970s and currently run tours. The house is one of only three surviving “high-style” houses in the Western Hemisphere, and the only one in the United States.
Of particular note are the triple-stacked chimneys, the Flemish gables, and the historic graffiti from the 1800s that can still be seen inside.
Special thanks to Preservation Virginia for allowing me access to this history site! You can find them (and more information) at http://preservationvirginia.org/. Donations help fund the preservation of historic sites likes Bacon’s Castle, and by texting the word “PLACES” to 25383 on your mobile phone you can quickly and easily donate $10 to this awesome group!
Happy Halloween from PhotoRVA. I can now officially say PhotoRVA as seen in Richmond Magazine! (Or at least the Richmond Magazine website.) Read a great blog by writer Harry Kollatz Jr. about everyone’s favorite Richmond accountant: W. W. Pool here!
And enjoy a special high-res version of the master’s tomb itself, suitable for desktop background goodness. More Richmond history and photos to come soon!
I promised some history, and there’s really nothing more historic than old photographs of Richmond! Here is a photograph taken along the canal in April of 1865 immediately following the end of the Civil War. The photograph shows a group of freed slaves. Full information about the photograph can be found at the Library of Congress site, here: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/cwp2003005762/PP/
Sometimes, when I find myself with too much time on my hands, I like to take old photographs and add color to get more of a feeling of what the world might have looked like.
Here are some shots from a trip to the Richmond Metro Zoo! We will have more history coming up here, but until then enjoy the monkeys. Haven’t you always wanted a monkey?
Christopher’s Runaway Gourmet on a rock, down by the river!
This is why I love RVA!
And this is why I sometimes don’t.
It’s about time PhotoRVA took another stroll down Monument Avenue. Last time we had a little chit-chat about Mr. Jefferson Davis, so I thought we would move down the ranks a bit and explore the monument and life of Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson.
Jackson was born in 1824 either in the town of Clarksburg or Parkersburg (depending which burg you ask), both of which would be in the state West Virginia during the war that would make him famous, but was then still Virginia. Whichever city he was born in, he eventually had to walk 18 miles through the mountain wilderness to live with his uncles at a large gristmill cleverly named Jackson’s Mill. This was after: his sister died of typhoid, his father died of typhoid 20 days later, his mother died of complications in child birth, his older brother died of tuberculosis, and he was verbally abused by his stepfather. To say that Jackson had a rough time is probably a bit of an understatement. In 1842 Jackson was accepted into West Point, after basically teaching himself. It’s interesting to note that Jackson seemed to believe that one of his arms was longer than the other, and would routinely hold up that arm to increase circulation. (Foreshadowing!)
Prior to the War of Northern Aggression, Jackson proved himself during the Mexican War, especially at the Battle of Chapultepec Castle. It was in Mexico that the young Jackson first met one Robert E. Lee, and a classic tale of southern bromance was born. Jackson met Elinor Junkin, whos father was the president of Washington College (later Washington and Lee University) and moved into an addition of the president’s house which would later house Robert E. Lee when HE was president ! Spooky! More tragedy followed Jackson, and his newborn child and wife died during labor. He would later marry Mary Morrison, who was also the daughter of a college president!
Yadda, yadda, yadda… the Civil War started. Jackson joined the Confederate Army and was put in charge of the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 27th, and 33rd Virginia Infantry regiments which would be eventually named the “Stonewall Brigade”. It’s interesting to note that, in joining the rebels, Thomas had a break from his Union leaning sister… one of the few relatives that managed to survive.
It was at the First Battle of Bull Run, as Confederate forces collapsed under a heavy Union assault that Bri. General Barnard Elliott Bee, Jr. shouted to his troops, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Rally behind the Virginians!” Bee was quickly killed, and the world is left to ponder whether it was a good thing or a bad thing to be compared to an immovable object by someone who was being shot at. Either way, the nickname stuck and Jackson became Stonewall Jackson.
Yadda, yadda, yadda… Jackson performed many acts of daring do, and was the right hand of Robert E. Lee. At the Battle of Chancellorsville Stonewall marched his men on a largely unguarded group of Federals and captured many without even having to fire. As Jackson was returning with his men that night he was greeted by the cry of an 18th North Carolina Infantry regiment of, “Halt, who goes there?” The question was quickly followed by a round of gunfire from the Rebels who had mistaken their leader’s party for Yankees. Stonewall was hit three times by Confederate friendly fire and his left arm was shattered.
Jackson’s arm was amputated by one Dr. Hunter McGuire, thus ending Jackson’s concerns about one arm being longer than the other. (Isn’t it ironic, dontcha think?) Jackson was taken to Fairfield, the plantation home of Thomas C. Chandler. Robert E. Lee is reported to have said, “He [Jackson] has lost his left arm, but I my right.” Jackson eventually succumbed to pneumonia and died on May 10, 1863. Most of his body was taken to the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond for public viewing.
And so begins the strange story of the Arm of Stonewall Jackson. Dr. McGuire just finished sawing off the arm and was about to toss it into the pile of arms and other assorted body parts that followed doc’s around in those days. Reverend Lacy, a military chaplain, decided to snatch it up himself and sent it to nearby Ellwood Manor where it was buried in a private cemetery. There are reports of Union Soldiers having dug it back up in 1864 and reburying it. One might ask why anyone would dig up somebody’s arm and then bury it again, but that would involve questioning the whole burying of the arm to begin with… There is also a legend that General Smedley Butler was performing exercises with the United States Marine Corps and refused to believe that Mr. Jackson’s arm was buried there. He supposedly ordered his troops to dig by the concrete marker show here. Sources indicate that the General was disarmed by finding this arm of the other General, and had the whole thing reburied. There is no evidence that this actually happened, but it’s a fun story. Now, the story about a one-armed man hitching a ride on Route 3 on a dark and stormy evening… that one’s TOTALLY true.
In Richmond, Stonewall is celebrated in his entirety with many of the famous losers… I mean leaders of the Confederacy. His monument on Monument Avenue is located at the intersection of Boulevard (just Boulevard, no drive, street, etc. Like Madonna, or Prince.) and Monument Avenue. The sculpture was created by Frederick William Sievers and unveiled in October 11, 1919 and shows and intact Jackson atop his horse, “Little Sorrel”. There is no monument that I know of depicting just his arm, but if you ever wanted to see the ACTUAL body of a Confederate hero, head on over to Lexington, Virginia and take a gander at the actual stuffed body of Little Sorrel. There’s a road-trip worthy event if I have ever heard one!
The final image of the Stonewall Jackson Monument is actually a compilation of many images (including my own) of the monument taken from various angles, at various times, and various lightings. I find it to be an interesting composition.
PS: Another reason for the interest in Jackson has to do with our family’s newest addition. Some of you may recall that we lost our beagle Walken (named after Christopher Walken) last year. Well, we grew weary of being able to stay out until all hours and having our shoes remain intact, and so we adopted this gorgeous specimen from the Richmond Animal League. He was found in Caroline County and, since Caroline is a girl’s name, we wanted to name him after a famous person from Caroline County. Pretty much the only famous person to have a connection with Caroline County was good ol’ Stonewall, and so he is named Stonewall Jackson Kotula. (We call him Jackson.)
PPS: I couldn’t resist taking a photo from the south of a north bound horse. I offer you a quick homage to an awesome cartoonist and operator of RVA Coffee Stain, Doug Orleski. Take a look at his butts if you haven’t already.
So, Richmond… What would you like to see next? I’m always open to your suggestions! Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a comment! We can talk about dogs, daughters, coffee… you know, no big whoop!