By November 1621 when the Pilgrims sat down with their Wampanoag neighbors for their first harvest feast in the Plymouth Colony, the English settlement at Jamestown was in its fourteenth year. In the beginning, the English settlers at Jamestown traded European goods – copper, beads, swords – with the Powhatan for food. But by their third year, relations with Chief Powhatan had deteriorated, and failed supply expeditions from England left the settlers struggling to survive. Their darkest hour came in the winter of 1609-1610, known as “the starving time.” Only a small fraction would live to tell the story – or to keep the secret – of their survival. It was a dark secret that would take more than four centuries to come to light again.
PBS series Secrets of the Dead explores this dark history of the first permanent English settlement in North America in an episode entitled “Jamestown’s Dark Winter,” which premiered November 24, 2015, on PBS stations across the country. Check local PBS affiliates WHRO and WCVE for encore showings.
If you would like to read more about the starving time, visit the Preservation Virginia Jamestown Rediscovery Project, Colonial Williamsburg Journal, or Smithsonian Magazine online.
If you want to see the artifacts in person, visit Historic Jamestowne, part of the Colonial National Historic Park.
For a kid-friendly outing, visit the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Jamestown Settlement, where you can see reproductions of the ships and a firearms demonstration at the English fort, and grind corn or knot a fishing net at the Powhatan village.
This post was authored by local REALTOR John Womeldorf, known around town as Mr. Williamsburg, for both his extensive knowledge of the Williamsburg/Hampton Roads area and his expertise in the local real estate market. I would love to help you find your dream home in the area or sell your existing home! You can text or call me at 757-254-8136 or email [email protected]
I look forward to serving your real estate needs!