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VIRGINIA: THE OLD DOMINION

As seen from its Colonial waterway, the Historic River James, whose
every succeeding turn reveals country replete with monuments and
scenes recalling the march of history and its figures from the days
of Captain John Smith to the present time.

By

FRANK AND CORTELLE HUTCHINS

With a map, and fifty-four plates, of which six are in full color,
from photographs by the authors.

1910






[Illustration: The Portico of Brandon, from the Garden.
(See page 119)]



TO
THE HONOURABLE FRANCIS E. HUTCHINS, THE FATHER OF ONE AUTHOR,
THE MORE THAN FATHER-IN-LAW OF THE OTHER, AND THE EVER-STAUNCH
FRIEND OF GADABOUT, THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.


This volume was formerly published under the title, "Houseboating on a
Colonial Waterway"; but its appropriateness for inclusion in the "See
America First Series" to represent the State of Virginia is so obvious
that the publishers have, in this new edition, changed the title to
"Virginia: The Old Dominion," and reissued the book in a new dress,
generally uniform with the other volumes in the series.




CONTENTS

CHAPTER


I. ALL ABOUT GADABOUT

II. OUR FIRST RUN AND A COZY HARBOUR

III. LAND, HO! OUR COUNTRY'S BIRTHPLACE

IV. A RUN AROUND JAMESTOWN ISLAND

V. FANCIES AFLOAT AND RUINS ASHORE

VI. IN THE OLD CHURCHYARD

VII. SEEING WHERE THINGS HAPPENED

VIII. PIONEER VILLAGE LIFE

IX. GOOD-BYE TO OLD JAMES TOWNE

X. A SHORT SAIL AND AN OLD ROMANCE

XI. AT THE PIER MARKED "BRANDON"

XII. HARBOUR DAYS AND A FOGGY NIGHT

XIII. OLD SILVER, OLD PAPERS, AND AN OLD COURT GOWN

XIV. A ONE-ENGINE RUN AND A FOREST TOMB

XV. NAVIGATING AN UNNAVIGABLE STREAM

XVI. IN WHICH WE GET TO WEYANOKE

XVII. ACROSS RIVER TO FLEUR DE HUNDRED

XVIII. GADABOUT GOES TO CHURCH

XIX. WESTOVER, THE HOME OF A COLONIAL BELLE

XX. AN OLD COURTYARD AND A SUN-DIAL

XXI. AN UNDERGROUND MYSTERY AND A DUCKING-STOOL

XXII. A BAD START AND A VIEW OF BERKELEY

XXIII. THE RIGHT WAY TO GO TO SHIRLEY

XXIV. FROM CREEK HARBOUR TO COLONIAL RECEPTION

XXV. AN INCONGRUOUS BIT OF HOUSEBOATING.

XXVI. THE END OF THE VOYAGE

INDEX




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


THE PORTICO OF BRANDON, FROM THE GARDEN (In full color)
(See page 119) Frontispiece

MAP OF THE JAMES RIVER FROM RICHMOND TO ITS MOUTH

THE HOUSEBOAT GADABOUT

IN THE FORWARD CABIN. - LOOKING AFT FROM THE FORWARD CABIN

ALONG THE SHORE OF CHUCKATUCK CREEK (In full color)

"JUST THE WILD BEAUTY OF THE SHORES, THE NOBLE EXPANSE OF THE
STREAM, ... AND GADABOUT"

JAMESTOWN ISLAND FROM THE RIVER (In full color)

IN BACK RIVER. - THE BEACH AT JAMESTOWN ISLAND

WHARF SIGN AT JAMESTOWN ISLAND. - THE "LONE CYPRESS"

THE BRIDGE ACROSS BACK RIVER. - THE ROAD ACROSS THE ISLAND

THE RUINED TOWER OF THE OLD VILLAGE CHURCH

A CORNER IN THE OLD GRAVEYARD (In full color)

VIEW FROM THE CONFEDERATE FORT. - LOOKING TOWARD THE FIRST LANDING-PLACE

LOCATING WHAT IS LEFT OF THE SITE OF THE FIRST SETTLEMENT

AN EXCURSION DAY AT JAMESTOWN ISLAND

GADABOUT LOOKING FOR THE LOST ISTHMUS. - A VISIT TO THE "LONE CYPRESS"

ONE OF THE EARLIEST EXCAVATIONS. - HUNTING FOR THE FIRST STATE HOUSE

ENTRANCE TO CHIPPOAK CREEK. - COVE IN CHIPPOAK CREEK

RIVERWARD FRONT OF BRANDON (In full color)

A SIDE PATH TO THE MANOR-HOUSE. - THE WOODSWAY TO BRANDON

IN THE DRAWING-ROOM

"VENERABLE FOUR-POSTERS, RICHLY CARVED AND DARK"

A CORNER IN THE DINING-ROOM. - THE DRAWING-ROOM FIREPLACE

TREASURED PARCHMENTS, INCLUDING THE ORIGINAL GRANT OF 1616

THE ANCIENT GARRISON HOUSE

MISS HARRISON IN THE COURT GOWN OF HER COLONIAL AUNT, EVELYN BYRD

STURGEON POINT LANDING. - AT THE MOUTH OF KITTEWAN CREEK

THE FOREST TOMB. - THE OLD KITTEWAN HOUSE

HUNTING FOR THE CHANNEL. - APPROACHING A NARROW PLACE

LOWER WEYANOKE

AN ANCESTRESS OF WEYANOKE. - CHIEF-JUSTICE JOHN MARSHALL

UPPER WEYANOKE. - AT ANCHOR OFF WEYANOKE

PRESENT-DAY FLEUR DE HUNDRED

A FISHING HAMLET. - A RIVER LANDING

"LITTLE BOATS WERE NOSING INTO THE BANK HERE AND THERE"

RIVERWARD FRONT OF WESTOVER

THE HALL, WITH ITS CARVED MAHOGANY STAIRCASE

THE HEPPLEWHITE SIDEBOARD WITH BUTLER'S DESK. - "FOUR-POSTERS AND THE
THINGS OF FOUR-POSTER DAYS"

THE ROMANTIC CENTRE OF WESTOVER; EVELYN BYRD'S OLD ROOM

THE COLONIAL COURTYARD GATES. - TOMB OF COLONEL WILLIAM BYRD

THE DRAWING-ROOM MANTELPIECE AT WESTOVER

TOMBS IN THE OLD WESTOVER CHURCHYARD
(In the foreground is the tomb of Evelyn Byrd)

A TRAPPER'S HOME BY THE RIVER BANK. - "OFTEN ... THE WANDERING HOUSEBOAT
COMES ALONG TO FIND ONLY AN EMPTY PIER"

BERKELEY; THE ANCESTRAL HOME OF A SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF
INDEPENDENCE AND OF TWO PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES

THE FIELD ROAD AND THE QUARTERS

RIVERWARD FRONT OF SHIRLEY (In full color)

THE OLD "GREAT HALL"

THE DRAWING-ROOM

THE KITCHEN BUILDING, FIFTY YARDS FROM THE MANOR-HOUSE

A BRICK OVEN IN THE BAKE-ROOM

SOME NOTEWORTHY PIECES OF OLD SHIRLEY PLATE

PEALE'S PORTRAIT OF GEORGE WASHINGTON

VARINA

DUTCH GAP CANAL. - FALLING CREEK

THE VOYAGE ENDED, GADABOUT IN WINTER QUARTERS




CHAPTER I

ALL ABOUT GADABOUT


It was dark and still and four o'clock on a summer morning. The few
cottages clustering about a landing upon a Virginia river were, for the
most part, sleeping soundly, though here and there a flickering light
told of some awakening home. Down close by the landing was one little
house wide awake. Its windows were aglow; lights moved about; and busy
figures passed from room to room and out upon the porch in front.

Suddenly, with a series of quick, muffled explosions, the whole cottage
seemed carried from its foundations. It slipped sidewise, turned almost
end for end, then drifted slowly away from its neighbours, out into the
darkness and the river. Its occupants seemed unconscious of danger.
There was one of them standing on the porch quite unconcernedly turning
a wheel, while two or three others were watching, with rather amused
expressions, two little engines chugging away near the kitchen stove.

And thus it was that the houseboat Gadabout left her moorings in the
outskirts of old Norfolk, and went spluttering down the Elizabeth to
find Hampton Roads and to start upon her cruise up the historic James
River.

But to tell the story we must begin before that summer morning. It was
this way. We were three: the daughter-wife (who happened to see the
magazine article that led to it all), her mother, and her husband. The
head of the family, true to the spirit of the age, had achieved a
nervous breakdown and was under instructions from his physician to
betake himself upon a long, a very long, vacation.

It was while we were in perplexed consideration as to where to go and
what to do, that the magazine article appeared - devoted to
houseboating. It was a most fetching production with a picture that
appealed to every overwrought nerve. There was a charming bit of water
with trees hanging over; a sky all soft and blue (you knew it was soft
and blue just as you knew that the air was soft and cool; just as you
knew that a drowsy peace and quiet was brooding over all); and there,
in the midst, idly floated a houseboat with a woman idly swinging in a
hammock and a man idly fishing from the back porch.

That article opened a new field for our consideration. Landlubbers of
the landlubbers though we were, its water-gypsy charm yet sank deep. We
thirsted for more. We haunted the libraries until we had exhausted the
literature of houseboating.

And what a dangerously attractive literature we found! How the cares
and responsibilities of life fell away when people went a-houseboating!
What peace unutterable fell upon the worn and weary soul as it drifted
lazily on, far from the noise and the toil and the reek of the world!
All times were calm; all waters kind. The days rolled on in
ever-changing scenes of beauty; the nights, star-gemmed and mystic,
were filled with music and the witchery of the sea.

It made good reading. It made altogether too good reading. We did not
see that then. We did not know that most of the literature of
houseboating is the work of people with plenty of imagination and no
houseboats.

We resolved to build a houseboat. There was excitement in the mere
decision; there was more when our friends came to hear of it. Their
marked disapproval made our new departure seem almost indecorous. It
was too late; the tide had us; and disapproval only gave zest to the
project.

As a first step, we proceeded to rechristen ourselves from a nautical
standpoint. The little mother was so hopelessly what the boatmen call a
fair-weather sailor that her weakness named her, and she became Lady
Fairweather. The daughter-wife, after immuring herself for half a day
with nautical dictionaries and chocolate creams, could not tell whether
she was Rudderina or Maratima; she finally concluded that she was
Nautica. It required neither time nor confectionery to enable these two
members of the family to rename the third. They viewed the strut of
plain Mr. So-and-So at the prospect of commanding a vessel, and
promptly dubbed him Commodore.

An earnest quest was next made for anybody and everybody who had ever
used, seen, or heard of a houseboat; and the Commodore made journeys to
various waters where specimens of this queer craft were to be found.
All the time, three lead pencils were kept busy, and plans and
specifications became as autumn leaves. We soon learned that there was
little room for the artistic. Once Nautica had a charming creation, all
verandas and overhanging roofs and things; but an old waterman came
along and talked about wind and waves, and most of the overhanging art
on that little houseboat disappeared under the eraser.

"That's all good enough for one of those things you just tie to a bank
and hang Chinese lanterns on," he said. "But it would never do for a
boat that's going to get out in wide water and take what's coming to
it."

When we concluded that we had the plans to our satisfaction (or rather
that we never should have, which amounted to the same thing), we turned
over to a builder the task of making them into something that would
float and hold people and go. The resulting craft, after passing
through a wrecking and some rebuilding, we called Gadabout. She was
about fifty feet long and twelve feet wide over all, as the watermen
say; and was propelled by twin screws, driven by two small gasoline
engines. Though not a thing of beauty, yet, as she swung lazily at her
moorings with her wide, low windows and the little hooded cockpit that
we tried hard not to call a porch, she looked cozy and comfortable. Her
colouring was colonial yellow and white, with a contrast of dark olive
on the side runways and the decks.

Inside, Gadabout was arranged as house-like and, we thought, as homelike
as boating requirements would permit. There were two cabins, one at
either end of the craft. Between these, and at one side of the
passageway connecting them, was what we always thought of as the
kitchen, but always took care to speak of as the galley.

At first glance, each of the cabins would be taken as a general
living-room. Each was that; but also a little of everything else. At
customary intervals, one compartment or the other would become a
dining-cabin. Again, innocent looking bits of wall would give way, and
there would appear beds, presses, lavatories, and a lamentable lack of
room.

Both cabins were finished in old oak, dark and dead; there is a
superabundance of brightness on the water. The ceilings showed the
uncovered, dark carlines or rafters. The walls had, along the top, a
row of niches for books; and along the bottom, a deceptive sort of
wainscoting, each panel of which was a locker door. Between book niches
above and wainscoting below, the walls were paneled in green burlap
with brown rope for molding. The furnishing was plain.

[Illustration: THE HOUSEBOAT GADABOUT.]

The kitchen or galley was rather small as kitchens go, and rather large
as galleys go. It would not do to tell all the things that were in it;
for anybody would see that they could not all be there. Perhaps it
would be well to mention merely the gasoline stove, the refrigerator,
the pump and sink, the wall-table, the cupboards for supplies, the
closet for the man's serving coats and aprons, the racks of blue willow
ware dishes, and the big sliding door.

One has to mention the big sliding door; for it made such a difference.
It worked up and down like a window-sash, and always suggested the
conundrum, When is a galley not a galley? For when it was down, it
disclosed nothing and the galley was a galley; but when it was up, it
disclosed a recess in which two little gasoline motors sat side by
side, and the galley was an engine-room.

It was a very ingenious and inconvenient arrangement. Operating the
stove and the engines at the same time was scarcely practicable; and we
were often forced to the hard choice of lying still on a full stomach
or travelling on an empty one.

There yet remains to be described the crew's quarters. The crew
consisted of two hands, both strong and sturdy, and both belonging to
the same coloured man. Though our trusty tar, Henry, had doubtless
never heard "The Yarn of the 'Nancy Bell'" and had never eaten a
shipmate in his life, yet he had a whole crew within himself as truly
as the "elderly naval man" who had eaten one. There was therefore no
occasion for extensive quarters. Fortunately, an available space at the
stern was ample for the crew's cabin and all appointments.

All these interior arrangements were without the makeshifts so often
found in houseboats. There were no curtains for partition walls nor
crude bunks for beds. People aboard a houseboat must at best be living
in close quarters. But, upon even the moderate priced craft, much of
the comfort, privacy, and refinement of home life may be enjoyed by
heading off an outlay that tends toward gilt and grill work and turning
it into substantial partitions, real beds, baths, and lavatories.

Gadabout was square at both ends; so that the uninitiated were not
always sure which way she was going to go. Indeed, for a while, her
closest associates were conservative in forecasting on that point. But
that was for another reason. The boat was of extremely light draft.
While such a feature enables the houseboater to navigate very shallow
waters (where often he finds his most charming retreats), yet it also
enables the houseboat, under certain conditions of wind and tide, to go
sidewise with all the blundering facility of a crab.

[Illustration: IN THE FORWARD CABIN.]

[Illustration: LOOKING AFT FROM THE FORWARD CABIN.]

At first, in making landings we were forced to leave it pretty much to
Gadabout as to which side of the pier she was to come up on, and which
end first, and with how much of a bump. But all such troubles soon
disappeared; and, as there seemed no change in the craft herself, we
were forced to believe that our own inexperience had had something to
do with our difficulties.

To Gadabout and her crew, add anchors, chains and ropes, small boats,
poles and sweeps, parallel rulers, dividers and charts, anchor-lights,
lanterns and side-lights, compasses, barometers and megaphones,
fenders, grapnels and boathooks - until the landlubberly owners are
almost frightened back to solid land; and then all is ready for a
houseboat cruise.




CHAPTER II

OUR FIRST RUN AND A COZY HARBOUR


Daylight came while Gadabout was lumbering down the Elizabeth, and in
the glory of the early morning she followed its waters out into Hampton
Roads, the yawning estuarial mouth of the James emptying into
Chesapeake Bay.

She would probably have started in upon her cruise up the historic
river without more ado if we had not bethought ourselves that she was
carrying us into the undertaking breakfastless. The wheel was put over
hard to port (we got that out of the books) and the craft was run in
behind Craney Island and anchored.

While our breakfast was preparing, we all gathered in the forward
cockpit to enjoy the scene and the life about us. The houseboat was
lying in a quiet lagoon bordered on the mainland side by a bit of
Virginia's great truck garden. Here and there glimpses of chimneys and
roof lines told of truckers' homes, while cultivated fields stretched
far inland.

The height of the trucking season was past, yet crates and barrels of
vegetables were being hauled to the water's edge for shipment. The
negroes sang as they drove, but often punctuated the melody with strong
language designed to encourage the mules. One wailing voice came to our
ears with the set refrain, "O feed me, white folks! White folks, feed
me!" The crates and barrels were loaded on lighters and floated out to
little sailing boats that went tacking past our bows on their way to
Norfolk.

It was a pretty scene, but there was one drawback to it all. Everything
showed the season so far advanced, and served to remind us of the
lateness of our start. We had intended to take our little voyage on the
James in the springtime. It had been a good deal a matter of sentiment;
but sentiment will have its way in houseboating. We had wished to begin
in that gentle season when the history of the river itself began, and
when the history of this country of ours began with it.

For, whatever may have gone before, the real story of the James and of
America too commences with the bloom of the dogwood some three hundred
years ago, when from the wild waste of the Atlantic three puny,
storm-worn vessels (scarcely more seaworthy than our tub of a
houseboat) beat their way into the sheltering mouth of this unknown
river.

That was in the days when the nations of Europe were greedily
contending for what Columbus had found on the other side of the world.
In that struggle England was slow to get a foothold. Neglect,
difficulty, and misfortune made her colonies few and short-lived. By the
opening of the seventeenth century Spain and France, or perhaps Spain
alone, seemed destined to possess the entire new hemisphere. In all the
extent of the Americas, England was not then in possession of so much
as a log fort. Apparently the struggle was ended and England defeated.
No one then could have imagined what we now behold - English-speaking
people possessing most and dominating all of that newfound Western
World.

This miracle was wrought by the coming of those three little old-time
ships, the Sarah Constant, the Goodspeed, and the Discovery.

It was in the year 1607 that the quaint, high-sterned caravels,
representing the forlorn hope of England, crossed the ocean to found a
colony on Roanoke Island. Storm-tossed and driven out of their
reckoning, they turned for refuge one April day into a yawning break in
the coast-line that we now call Chesapeake Bay. Following the
sheltering, inviting waters inland, they took their way up a "Greate
River," bringing to it practically the first touch of civilization and
establishing upon its shore the first permanent English settlement in
the New World - the birthplace of our country.

The civilizers began their work promptly. Even as they sailed up the
river looking for a place to found their colony, they robbed the stream
of its Indian name, Powhatan, that so befitted the bold, tawny flow,
bestowing instead the name of the puerile King of England. That was the
first step toward writing in English the story of the James River, the
"Greate River," the "King's River."

It was later by three hundred years lacking one when our houseboat came
along to gather up that story. But to our regret it was not springtime.
The dogwood blossoms had come and gone when Gadabout lay behind Craney
Island; and she would start upon her cruise up the James in the heart
of the summertime.

In some way that only those who know the laze of houseboating can
understand, the hours slipped by in that tiny, tucked-away haven, and
it was the middle of the afternoon when Gadabout slowly felt her way
out from behind the island and started up the James in the wake of the
Sarah Constant, the Goodspeed, and the Discovery. That historic wake we
were to follow for the first thirty miles of our journey, when it would
bring us to the spot on the bank of the river where those first
colonists landed and built their little settlement which (still
honouring an unworthy king) they called James Towne.

As Gadabout sturdily headed her stubby bow up the wide, majestic
waterway, we looked about us. After all, what had three centuries done
to this gateway of American civilization? Surely not very much. Keeping
one's eyes in the right direction it was easy to blot out three hundred
years, and to feel that we were looking upon about the same scene that
those first colonists beheld - just the primeval waste of rolling
waters, lonely marsh, and wooded shore.

But eyes are unruly things; and, to be sure, there were other
directions in which to look. Glances northward took in a scene
different enough from the one that met the eyes of those early
voyagers.

Upon the low point of land along which they at last found a channel
into the James and which (in their relief) they named Point Comfort,
now stood a huge modern hostelry.

To the left of this, the ancient shore-line was now broken by a dull,
square structure that reared its ugly bulk against the sky - a strangely
grim marker of the progress of three centuries. For this was the grain
elevator at Newport News, spouting its endless stream to feed the Old
World, and standing almost on the spot where those first settlers in
the New World, sick and starving, once begged and then fought the
Indians for corn. Lying in the offing were great ships from overseas
that had come to this land of the starving colonists for grain.

Beyond all these could be seen something of the town of Newport News
itself. Towers and spires and home smoke-wreaths we saw, where those
beginners of our country saw only the spires of the lonely pines and
the smoke from hostile fires.

As our houseboat skirted the southern shore of the James in the sunny
afternoon, our engines chugging merrily, our flags flying, and our two
trailing rowboats dancing on the boiling surge kicked up astern, we
felt that our cruise was well begun. Not that we were misled for a
moment by that boiling surge astern into the belief that we were making
much progress. We had early perceived that Gadabout made a great stir
over small things, and that she went faster at the stern than anywhere
else.

Yet all that was well enough. So long as the sun shines and the water
lies good and flat, dawdling along in such a craft is an ideal way to
travel. If the houseboat is built with the accent on the first
syllable, as it ought to be, the homey feeling comes quickly to the
family group aboard. Day after day brings new scenes and places, yet
the family life goes on unbroken. It is as though Aladdin had rubbed
the wonderful lamp, and the old home had magically drifted away and
started out to see what the world was like.

Now, just ahead of us where the chart had a little asterisk, the river
had a little lighthouse perched high over the water on its long
spindling legs. Gadabout ran just inside the light and quite close to
it. It is an old and a pretty custom by which a passing vessel "speaks"
a lighthouse. In this instance perhaps we were a trifle tardy, for the
kindly keeper greeted us first with three strokes of his deep-toned
bell. Gadabout responded with three of her bravest blasts.

It was not long before the sun got low, and with the late afternoon
something of a wind whipped up from the bay, and the wide, low-shored
river rolled dark and unfriendly. We found our thoughts outstripping
Gadabout in the run toward a harbour for the night.

That word "harbour" comes to mean a good deal to the houseboater who
attempts to make a cruiser of his unseaworthy, lubberly craft. A little
experience on even inland waters in their less friendly moods develops
in him a remarkable aptitude for finding holes in the bank to stick his
boat in.

Sometimes the vessel is seaworthy enough to lie out and take whatever
wind and waves may inflict; but that is usually where much of the charm
and comfort of the houseboat has been sacrificed to make her so. Then
too the houseboater is usually quite a landlubber after all; so that
even if the boat is strong enough to meet an angry sea, the owner's
stomach is not. And, over and above all this, is the fact that


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