Monday, January 27, 2014

Meeting Captain Argall, Who Took Pocohontas, at Jamestown

Saturday we drove to Historic Jamestowne in frigidly cold weather. From Northern Virginia to the Tidwater, snow covered the ground. On this day it was cloudy, cold and extremely windy. Although interpretive programs are usually held at the church, which embues great ambiance, the bitter cold necessitated a change of course. Surviving the cold on this day required a warmer environment than the original colonists of Jamestowne had occasion to enjoy. For our meeting with the "ever worthy gentleman, Samuel Argall," we found seats in the education room at the visitor center.

Our warm-up program was one of the archeologists from Jamestowne, who reviewed the island's history of settlement, via artifacts. This was the first time I've had opportunity to hear one of the archaeologists speak at length. Learning about the latest discoveries, their significance and their continuing research shed more light into understanding the history of the area. Thus, we can expect new things this summer, like names on the crosses around the church.  They are close to identifying the bodies they have found buried near the church.

After the archaeologist's talk, Captain Samuel Argall arrived. It was January 1614.

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He told about his sea journey to the island, about the starving time, and his journeys on the numerous waterways of Virginia.


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As interesting as all of that was, we were most curious about a certain young lady, perhaps the most famous resident of 17th century Virginia...Pocahontas. It was this man, Captain Argall, who brought her to live among the English settlers. The query of the day, was why?

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Argall explained how their goods and people were being taken from the Jamestowne settlement. Argall made his feelings clear to a certain Chief Japazaws, which culminated in mutual trickery to entice Pocahontas on board Argall's ship to live with the English, in 1613.

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My query to the captain was in regards to her feelings upon the matter. Of course we often hear stories that she frequently visited the English. How did she feel about being taken? Was she resistant or in compliance? Captain Argall said that as the Powhatan Princess, she knew her duty, although at first she most likely did not realize she had been tricked to board his ship. Once she realized what had happened, she didn't seem pleased but seemed resolved to carry through the task of being ransom.  He then submitted that I should ask her, myself.

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We were told that there would soon be a wedding! Since the time Pocahontas has been brought into the English settlement, the ransom Argall had set up had not yet taken place. In fact, Pocahontas has adopted the ways of the English, becoming a Christian, and had fallen in love with a certain John Rolfe! Historic Jamestowne will be hosting the marriage of Lady Rebekah (Pocahontas) and John Rolfe in April! From the gazette I have learned that a beautiful jacket is being hand embroidered for her, using motifs from the local area! Stay tuned!

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