400th Anniverary of Henricus, Second English Settlement in America
Henricus Historical Park kicks off a year of commemorating the founding of the Citie of Henricus.
Farrar: I'm on assignment at Henricus Historical Park, where in 1611, the Citie of Henricus was founded on a bluff overlooking the James River. It was the second English colonial settlement after Jamestown, founded just four years earlier.
Today, the Henricus Historical Park is on the site, and the park is commencing a year-long 400th anniversary celebration with the annual Publick Days this weekend.
We're talking to Charles Lewis Grant, the acting Executive Director of the park, and John Pogano, the historical interpretive supervisor. Mr. Grant, first of all, tell us about some of the events that will be commemorating the 400th anniversary year of the city and what people will be seeing and doing when they visit.
Grant: Well, we call the year coming up the "Year of Henricus," and it starts off with Publick Days this weekend, September 18th and 19th, so Saturday and Sunday, and this event honors the founding of Henricus and includes living history re-enactments, military drills and musket firings, craftsmen and glasssmiths. In November, on November 6th and 7th, will be Pocahontas, Rock Hall and the Powhatan people and that is a event that revolves around the Virginia Indians.
Then in March, on the 26th and 27th, we commemorate Henricus College, which was actually the first university chartered in North America. And in May, on the 7th and 8th, we will look at America's first hospital, which was called Mount Malady. Medical procedures and practices will be discussed and demonstrated, and topics will include the influx of a new workforce in Virginia, the challenges these workers faced in their new environment and the science behind the medical treatment of their maladies.
In July of 2011, on the 23rd and 24th, we will look at tobacco as America's first successful commercial export, and folks can learn about early Colonial tobacco in the area and John Rolfe, who introduced Spanish tobacco to mainland America. And then finally, we wrap up the Year of Henricus on September 17th and 18th, with another rendition of Publick Days, and this will feature the Godspeed from Jamestown settlement.
Farrar: Well, when I first explored here a number of years ago, there was little here but a monument that was constructed in the early 1900s, I think, and it was accessible only by hiking along the riverbank from the Dutch Gap boat ramp, but there's been a considerable development since then with the restoration or reconstruction of many of the buildings and types of structures that existed back in the 17th century. Mr. Pogano, tell us just a little bit about what's here now and what life was really like at the time of the Citie of Henricus.
Pogano: What we have is a reconstructed Indian village representing Arrohatoc and Appomatoc, which are two tribes of the Powhatan people, and we also have a consolidated view of Dale settlements, partially the Henricus fort and also some of the community of Coxendale and Mount Malado, with the Rock Hall addition coming up soon. So we have a little bit of everything inside the walls of our site and life at the time, you know, it's interesting when you set up a living history outdoor museum like ours, that we really can only touch on how it looked like, based off of written and archaeology evidence and so on.
But what we know is that they came up here about the day that we're sitting here today and they did so under Indian attack, and that led to an on-going war between Powhatan and Sir Thomas Dale, because they weren't allowed to build here. So we know that the colonists, when they came here, weren't coming up here, hopping off a ship, getting their knees wet with an axe over their shoulder, very gingerly and with pipes in their mouths, kinda chopping down trees. We know that this was a military operation. We know that it was arrows and bullets, so that went on for months.
It took a while for Sir Thomas Dale to come to grips with how the Powhatans were gonna interface with him and his people, and ultimately, Dale, being a warrior himself, a soldier back in Europe, he's gonna convert his English people here into a fighting force that can actually compete with the Indians and ultimately, by 1614, he is going to make the Indians come to terms with the technology and military presence that he creates here in Virginia.
Farrar: And it was here that the colonists learned to cultivate tobacco profitably.
Pogano: Yeah, you remember the English are farmers, so they have the skills. They've been doing it for, you know, eons. The Indians doing the same thing, only different crops. So when it comes to tobacco, the English weren't tobacco growers, the tribes in the Carribbean and the other Americas, yes, but the English, it's new. John Rolfe brought that new idea to the English people here, tried it, you know, up and down the James River different places, and eventually up here when Dale brings this area to settlement, the seeds come with John Rolfe and he plants them up here as well. So, but you can't grow tobacco in an environment that's at war, so you're gonna eventually have to come to terms with the Indians, so that way you could be out clearing trees and planting fields.
Farrar: And today, visitors can see the reconstructed first hospital, the fort, the Indian village, the houses like were built here by the colonists and as much as can be reconstructed, what life was really like in the early 17th century.
Pogano: Absolutely, you know, the scale on which Dale built this fort, we can't reconstruct right now, money or time being the essence. The original fort was seven acres big; it was three-and-a-half times bigger than Jamestown. It would've had upwards of sixty dwelling houses inside the fort, so what we do is we give everyone a taste, a sampling of what all these venues might have looked like and felt like, so you can come here, you can see how you would have lived in an Indian house, how you would have experienced living with the soldiers, with the tradesmen and with the planters, especially how those women would have lived once they came here to Virginia.
Farrar: And just briefly, the city essentially was destroyed in an Indian attack in 1622, and after that, the land went into private hands for a long time and then eventually in the 20th century, the park was developed.
Pogano: Yeah, the end date on this that we interpret here is 1622 and that's because of Opechancanough's military offensive. On that day, on Good Friday 1622, that 'fatal March day' as the English would say, many of the colonists who were up here were killed and their entire families killed in that attack; but, there were other families who survived and the governor at the time, Governor Francis Wyatt, had a military decree, a military order, that said to all the colonists up here, 'you're gonna take your animals, take your belongings and you're gonna retreat downriver and you will leave this upriver settlement.'
For many of the people that fought it out here with the Indians, they had to be forced to move. Mistress Alice Proctor said she's not leaving and the captain of the soldiers was ordered to burn her in her house if she didn't leave. So it was bittersweet to actually leave this property, but they did, and after that, it takes about a year for other people to come back up here and resettle.
Farrar to Grant: And you noticed that John mentioned that the original name was probably pronounced HEN-ree-cus by the colonists, but the modern preferred pronunciation, I understand, is hen-RYE-cus?
Grant: Well, it's hen-RYE-cus (today), and I think a lot of that has to do with Henrico County, (but) HEN-ree-cus is probably the correct pronunciation, given that it was named after someone named Henry. But today, everybody knows it as hen-RYE-cus.
Farrar: All right, Publick Days this weekend followed by a year-long celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Citie of Henricus. Thank you both.