James River near the Huguenot Bridge, Richmond,Virginia. Photo by Betty S. Conner, with permission.
In the last few days, I had the joy of visiting my home town of Richmond, Virginia. A couple of friends from my youth, Betty S. Conner and Karen Bonner Allen, took me on a tour of our old neighborhoods which included a leisurely roll by the James River–a river that ran through our neighborhoods, our city, and our state. As I gazed at the river, reminiscing with friends, memories swelled within me of all the lifetime moments–adventures, joys and sorrows associated with that beautiful river!
Upon returning home and sharing these thoughts with others, a cousin reminded me of how prominently the James River had featured in the life of our family since the inception of our country and the Colony of Jamestown! Wow! I had not thought of it that way…suddenly my thoughts expanded and encompassed not only my own life, my immediate family’s life, but my grandparent’s, my 3rd Great-Grandparents, and all the way back to, yes—the 1650’s when my 8th Great-Grandfather John Langhorne (1642 -1687) born in England, sailed to Virginia. There on the James River he established the Gambell Plantation, east of the Colony of Jamestown. I grew up on that same James River–only about 60 miles west of the plantation settled by John Langhorne.
–map included in The Virginia Langhornes by James C. Langhorne, 2013, Blackwell Press, Lynchburg, Virginia
Gambell remained the family home for over 100 years in our direct line bringing us to my third Great-Grandfather, Henry Scarsbrooke Langhorne (1790-1854) born at Gambell on the James River.
As the planting of tobacco was no longer as profitable as it had once been, Henry S. Langhorne and his wife Frances Callaway Steptoe (1798-1832) my 3rd Great-Grandparents, moved to Lynchburg, where he established the second largest milling venture in Virginia at that time. Betty Smith shared with us that Langhorne Mills in Lynchburg, was also known as the Lynchburg Milling Company. It was started in 1831 by brothers Maurice and Henry S. Langhorne, but after a few years, Henry bought out his brother’s share. In the mill they produced different kinds of flour.
Henry never abandoned planting though, and continued to buy numerous plantations in Bedford, Campbell and Amherst Counties. His 13,000 acre plantation located in Patrick County, Virginia was inherited by his son James Steptoe Langhorne, (1822-1905), my 2nd Great-Grandfather. In 1845, Henry retired and relocated to “Cloverdale”, a 3,500-acre Botetourt County plantation. Another invaluable source for family history is the book, The Virginia Langhornes, by my cousin, James Callaway Langhorne, published in 2013 by Blackwell Press in Lynchburg, Virginia–and of course, my cousin himself.
Langhorne Mills in Lynchburg, Virginia, also known as the Lynchburg Milling Company. from Flickr.com
The mill produced specialized flours and shipped their products and tobacco down the James River to markets in Richmond and below, in specially designed, flat bottomed, shallow-drafted Bateau boats. Today, Virginians celebrate the history of the Bateau boats with a festival on the James River every year, which several family members attend.
Betty Smith shares that during the Civil War, Lynchburg had only one battle with the Union, an attack led by Maj. Gen. David Hunter and his soldiers destroyed the mill’s supplies, the boats, and tore up what few railroad lines existed. Hunter’s attempt to capture the city was defeated by forces under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Jubal Anderson Early, my 3rd cousin, 3x removed. The current mill owner, John Langhorne (1817-1886) and his family used the mill for a hospital for Confederate soldiers.
Fifteen years later, my grandmother Katherine Steptoe Houchins Kearse, child of Evelyn Langhorne, is sailing the James River with her husband in their boat, “The Lady Jane”. Tragically, their only son of seven children, Thomas Philip Kearse, Jr. drowned in the James River at age 8, in 1922. My mother and aunts talked of “The Lady Jane” and their adventures often and lovingly. You can read more about “The Lady Jane” in this former blog post: https://heart2heartstories.com/2014/03/03/thomas-philip-kerse-captains-the-lady-jane-52-ancestors-in-52-weeks/
The Lady Jane sails the James River near Richmond, Virginia. Personal Photo library of Helen Y. Holshouser. The boat belonged to her grandfather Thomas Phillip Kearse.
Another 70 years and I have grown up on the James River, along with cousins, brothers, sister and friends– boating, swimming, fishing, and just nourishing our souls — connecting with ancestors who arrived in Jamestown Colony on the James River in Virginia! No wonder the river speaks to me –it flows through my DNA and is imprinted on my soul!
–About a 350-year span of lifetimes—–ALL INVOLVED WITH OR DEPENDENT UPON THE JAMES RIVER ❤️
Huguenot Bridge spanning the James River, Richmond, Virginia, google earth
In this series of blog posts, I’ve been discussing connections to my neighbors found in my family tree. Having moved into a cul-de-sac about ten years ago, it has amazed me that I have discovered either relationships, or connections by marriage with several of my neighbors! All of us were new to this neighborhood, and new to each other. I had never done any genealogy so we became acquainted through shared interests and proximity, then I discovered the genealogical connections.
My next door neighbors were a delightful couple, named John and Dora Burgess Pryor. John was an accomplished genealogist at age 92! He’d been researching for years the old-fashioned way– no internet! He and his wife had traveled the towns and states, and spent many hours in libraries and courthouses, poring over tax records, marriage and death records and the like. They’d walked cemeteries and taken copious notes! I was impressed with what John had accomplished and he inspired me to think about creating my own family tree.
Many of my readers know I have severe heart disease and can’t walk far or stand long. I had always loved to garden, but unable to bend over or stand for any length of time, I thought my gardening days were finished. John was in his nineties as mentioned. He could not stoop or bend over either, so he sat on the ground and scooted or crawled to where he wanted to go, gardening up a storm! I watched him work and again was inspired! If this 92-year-old man could sit on the ground and garden, I could too! What a pair we made. Other neighbors got used to seeing us crawling around our gardens! I loved it, and hadn’t had as much fun in years–playing in the dirt! We both had beautiful flowers to show for it as well. Not that we could take all the credit! John’s wife Dora was quite a bit younger than John, and she could and did work rings around both of us! She was the true gardner! Her yard was spotless and beautiful! I didn’t even try to keep up, just tried to enjoy what I could do. My own husband didn’t consider himself a gardener, but he was the labor end of our efforts! Dora and I became great friends! Unfortunately, John passed away a few years ago, and even though he has left a hole, we love Dora with a passion! John passed away shortly after I started my own genealogical work, so we had only a couple of opportunities to compare notes! What a loss.
Daylilies line the path to Dora’s
Double red knock out rose
Just like with the Voorhees and McLaughlins, it wasn’t long until I was seeing Pryors and Burgesses in my tree! What’s up with this?! My neighbors thought I was crazy as they heard me saying again, “Dora, I think we are kin to each other…and I might be kin to John as well! LOL Like before, I asked Dora to let me work on her tree a bit so that I could check out these things I was finding! The “coincidences” are amazing in my book, and unfortunately, I can’t even remember them all! I wasn’t thinking I’d ever write about them, so I noted them, talked about it with Dora, then went on with my research.
But look at this. As you know, my paternal grandmother’s line is Hogue on one side. Hogue is Scottish, and Pryor is generally English in origin. However, I found the name Pryor all over my Hogue family tree! My neighbor John was named John Hamilton Pryor. Right there in my tree was a John Pryor Hogue, a Pryor Hogue, and a John Hamilton Hogue! My neighbor John was born and reared in West Virginia, and I could trace my Hamilton Hogues right to West Virginia! I could never quite prove the kinship however. After John passed, I took a dna test to aid with my genealogy research. As I learned more about the Hogue dna, I discovered that the Pryor and Hamilton Hogues were not in my Hogue haplogroup! Hard to believe, but definitive. Nevertheless, what are the chances we’d have these name connections moving in next door to each other from different states and backgrounds?
Dora and I not only shared the love of gardening, we became red hatters together and played like there was no tomorrow! She and Linda and I shared our strong faith as well, we were great “pray-ers”! Dora and Linda were avid volunteers in the community, at their church and in other endeavors. I couldn’t believe the blessing of moving next door to such a dynamic, loving woman.
Burgess and McKay (pronounced McCoy) were her main two genealogical lines. Her McKays were from Scotland like my Hogues, and I saw them everywhere, along with Burgess!
After I got my dna done, I began to zero in on my exact relationship to her Burgesses! We shared a third cousin! However, we were kin to that same person by opposite sides of the family, so we were still only kin by marriage. But, hey, it seemed amazing to me!
Thomas Burgess was born in 1814, He was one of fourteen children –so we share 14 third cousins! LOL Just think, 200 years ago, Dora’s family and mine were the same, our families , or our kin folks lived together in West Virginia!
If that isn’t enough, our families were together again in Jamestown, Virginia! Dora’s eighth great- grandfather, John Chew, 1587-1668, has an illustrious history in the colony of Jamestown, Virginia, and qualifies her to join the Jamestown Society. We can verify in The Genealogy of the Chew Family by Robert L. Chew,published by the Gloucester County Historical Society, Woodbury, N. J. that John Chew was a Burgess in Jamestown for almost twenty years starting in 1624. He also served as a Justice for York County. Quoted from this same source: “John Chew of Jamestown, VA (1587-1668) was born in Whalley Parish, Lancashire, England. A wealthy merchant, he may have been with John Smith as early as 1607, when the first permanent English settlement in the new World was founded at Jamestown. It was certain that John Chew received land granted from the Virginia Company in 1618. He married Sarah Gale in England, and returned to Virginia in 1622 on the ship Charity, which was owned by his wife’s family. He operated a tobacco plantation on Hogg Island, across the James River from Jamestown. His wife, indentured servants and oldest children immigrated from Chewton, Somersetshire, England on the ship Seaflower to join him in 1623. John built a house, warehouse and store in Jamestown, where he dealt in wine, corn and tobacco. He was a member and secretary of the Virginia House of Burgesses. By 1642, he also owned 1200 acres in York County. When the Virginia Governor oppressed
Puritans in support of the Church of England, the family migrated to Anne Arundel County, Maryland. John used Virginia tobacco to buy 500 acres near Annapolis. When his wife died in Maryland, John returned to Virginia. He was the oldest son of John Chewe of Bewdley, Worcestershire, England.”
When you look at the history for my own 9th great-grandfather, Nicholas Martiau (blog post here), the similarities are striking and the shared experiences so strong, they surely must have been acquainted! From John Baer Stoudt’s book entitled Nicolas Martiau –Adventurous Huguenot, we learn that Nicholas “left England and sailed for Virginia arriving in June, 1620. His construction of a fence or palisade around the Jamestown Fort helped the settlers survive an Indian uprising in 1622. He …was elected to the House of Burgesses from the colony. Later he served as a Burgess from Elizabeth City, Yorktown, and Isle of Kent. Nicholas also served as a Justice for the early court system of Virginia–with court sometimes being held in his home.” It seems they must have known each other, I cannot imagine how they would not have.
How can we explain Dora and I moving next door to each other and becoming close friends, 400 years after our grandparents worked and played together as well?! It certainly seems as if our families are connected. Add to that my connections to the Voorhees and McLaughlins across the street…well, what do you think? Is it serendipity, reincarnation-traveling with our tribes, or coincidence–the definition given us saying “coincidence — a miracle where God’s presence is invisible?” Kind of feels like that to me–like a miracle of friendship!
Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, we lived only a couple of hours from Jamestown! We went there often in my childhood, to Yorktown and Williamsburg as well. My mother was very interested in history, and wanted to be sure her children understood their Virginia history! She was also very interested in family history, but as far as I know, she had no idea that she had grandparents who had lived in Jamestown! Oh my gracious, she would have been so excited to know all this I’m sure! I am excited as well! As my genealogical research progressed, I began to realize we had some lines of ancestors that extended back to that time frame. However, I had not investigated particularly if we had ancestors who were on the “approved” lists from the Jamestown Society indicating that you did indeed have ancestors from Jamestown. As I approached the end of this 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge, I decided to write about some of our first ancestors–the Huguenots, Pilgrims on the Mayflower, and Jamestown Settlers. I gathered all the lists I could find, and started searching! Some were easy as I readily recognized the names! Several were amazing to me, because I had perhaps stopped at a daughter or son, never dreaming that including one more generation would take me to Jamestown! Wow! Altogether, as of this writing, I have identified twenty grandparents who were present in Jamestown, and therefore would make my siblings and I , and many of my cousins eligible for membership in the Jamestowne Society. That is simply amazing to me!
I am going to list all twenty of our grandparents here, and highlight the ones I’ve already blogged about–so that you can simply click on them and see their story. At the end of this post, just for information’s sake, I will list their relationship trees. Therefore cousins can tell who comes through the Houchins, the Langhornes, the Omohundros, etc. and see their own relationships.
The very first discovery I made that I’d not known of before, just blew me away! I was looking at the lines, and noticed a Mirian Newport married to a William Hatcher. It was the Newport name that caught my attention. I knew I had seen that name on the lists. I thought I’d extend her line a bit, and who turned out to be her father? Oh my gracious, none other than Captain Christopher Newport, Captain of the Susan Constant and in charge of all three ships that sailed to Jamestown! I had no idea, and was so excited! He is our/my ninth great- grandfather! His daughter Marian is my eighth great-grandmother and is a qualifying ancestor in her own right! Her husband William Hatcher, my eight great-grandfather is identified as well! William Hatcher served for many years in the House of Burgesses.
The following story, originally shared to his family tree on ancestry, by Theodore Walker27, by an unknown author, can be found on ancestry, and is very interesting about the Susan Constant and Captain Newport:
“The Susan Constant, captained by Christopher Newport, was the largest of three ships of the English Virginia Company (the others being the Discovery and the Godspeed) on the 1606-1607 voyage that resulted in the founding of Jamestown in the new Colony of Virginia. Susan Constant was rated at 120 tons. Her keel length is estimated at 55.2 feet (16.8 meters). Her overall length from tip to stern is estimated at 116 feet. On the 1606-1607 voyage, she carried 105 colonists, all male. She returned to England in May 1607. She served as a merchant ship through at least 1615. Her fate is not known. The alternative name Sarah Constant has been cited, and is shown as being the name noted on the earliest document, leading to a belief that Samuel Purchas had the name wrong in his Pilgrims book. There is growing support for the name Sarah Constant. The article that cites the Sarah Constant is as follows: He tolde me of three barques on route to the New Worlde, thouse whose names are, as he tolde me thereon, be consysted of “Godspeed”, “Discoverie” or “Discovery”, and one whose name splyte twice, I think ´was “Sarah Constant”.- presumably written by Sir Walter Raleigh. December 20, 1606, 150 passengers left Blackwall, London, England in three London (Virginia) Company ships, Susan Constant with Master Christopher Newport and 71 passengers, Godspeed with Capt. Bartholomew Gosnold and 52 passengers and the Discovery under Capt. John Ratcliffe, carrying 21 persons. They headed for the New World. After 18 weeks, the ships landed in Cape Henry, Virginia. 105 survivors established the town of Jamestown. April 30, 1607: The ships arrive at Cape Comfort, a vanguard boat stopped at Kecoughtan where the natives welcomed the English Settlers”
If you like interactive websites, and if you’d like to know more about the women in Jamestown, there is a wonderful website titled the National Women’s History Museum. There we learn that the Englishmen named the river that flows into the Chesapeake Bay the James River and named their settlement Jamestown, both to honor their King, James I. The settlers of Virginia were looking for gold especially, but none was to be found!
In this same website we finally learn about the women in Jamestown!” For over a year after the founding of Jamestown, no English women lived in the colony. Then in October of 1608, two women arrived with the “Second Supply” of men and provisions. Thomas Forrest, listed as a gentleman in the supply lists, brought his wife, Anne Forrest, and her maid, Anne Buras. Buras was about fourteen years old when she arrived. She married the carpenter John Layton within a year, an event that Captain John Smith described as the first wedding held in Virginia. Anne Layton later gave birth to a daughter, named Virginia. While the Laytons are not mentioned again in later records, their arrival represents the beginning of families in Jamestown.
In August of 1609, about twenty women arrived on ships sent by the Virginia Company of London. One hundred more women arrived a few months later. Many of the female passengers on the first ships were traveling with their husbands and families. All were recruited by the Virginia Company, a land-development, stock-issuing corporation based in London. For the most part these women’s names are lost, but a few survive in the record.”
Lo and behold, listed on this website, is Jane/Joan Pierce, my grandmother! Until this very moment I didn’t know she and her daughter existed, only men are usually discussed! “Joan Pierce sailed with her husband William and daughter Jane. By all accounts, Joan was a dauntless woman and enjoyed the challenges of living in Virginia. During a visit to England in 1629, she was described as “an honest and industrious woman [who] hath been [in Virginia] nearly 20 years.” She apparently considered the new colony rich in resources; she was quoted as saying that “she can keep a better house in Virginia . . . than in London.” Many women were in the same situation: while their men took off for the New World, women supported their families and managed the finances. Before leaving England to join their husbands, these women made the decisions about selling property and planning for the long voyage.”
“Her daughter, Jane Pierce, married John Rolfe, the widower of Pocahontas. Pocahontas had been the favored daughter of Chief Powhatan, and her marriage to Rolfe in 1614 brought over eight years of peace between the settlers and Native Americans, during which the colony was able to produce profitable tobacco. Pocahontas died in England in 1617, and Rolfe returned to Jamestown. He became active in colonial politics and married Jane Pierce later that year. They had one daughter, Elizabeth, also named for the powerful Virgin Queen.”National Women’s History Museum. Jane Pierce was my 10th great Aunt, with her sister Edith being my 10th great-grandmother! Edith Pierce married Jerimiah Clements, my 10th great-grandfather. It is so amazing to me, that I happen to share the Pierces and the Clements with other genealogical researchers–making us cousins now as well as friends!
From Jamestown Rediscovery we learn that the “Recent discovery of the exact location of the first settlement and its fort indicates that the actual settlement site was in a more secure place, away from the channel, where Spanish ships could not fire point-blank into the fort. Almost immediately after landing, the colonists were under attack from what amounted to the on-again off-again enemy, the Algonquian natives. As a result, in a little over a month’s time, the newcomers managed to “beare and plant palisades” enough to build a wooden fort. Three contemporary accounts and as ketch of the fort agree that its wooden palisaded walls formed a triangle around a storehouse, church, and a number of houses. It is amazing to realize that my own 9th great-grandfather Nicholas Martiau, a Huguenot, French Engineer, helped design and build the improved palisades around the Jamestown Fort in 1620, allowing for the survival of some of the settlers during the 1622 Indian Massacre.
While disease, famine, and continuing attacks of neighboring Algonquins took a tremendous toll on the population, there were times when the Powhatan Indian trade revived the colony with food in exchange for glass beads, copper, and iron implements. It appears that eventual structured leadership of Captain John Smith kept the colony from dissolving. The “Starving Time” winter followed Smith’s departure in 1609 during which only 60 of the original 214 settlers at Jamestown survived. That June, the survivors decided to bury cannon and armor and abandon the town. It was only the arrival of the new governor, Lord De La Ware, and his supply ships that brought the colonists back to the fort and the colony back on its feet. Although the suffering did not totally end at Jamestown for decades, some years of peace and prosperity followed the wedding of Pocahontas, the favored daughter of the Algonquian chief Powhatan, to tobacco entrepreneur John Rolfe.
The first representative assembly in the New World convened in the Jamestown church on July 30, 1619. The General Assembly met in response to orders from the Virginia Company “to establish one equal and uniform government over all Virginia” which would provide “just laws for the happy guiding and governing of the people there inhabiting.” The other crucial event that would play a role in the development of America was the arrival of Africans to Jamestown. A Dutch slave trader exchanged his cargo of Africans for food in 1619. The Africans became indentured servants, similar in legal position to many poor Englishmen who traded several years of labor in exchange for passage to America. The popular conception of a race-based slave system did not fully develop until the 1680s.”
The Algonquian eventually became disenchanted and, in 1622, attacked the out plantations killing over 300 of the settlers. Even though a last-minute warning spared Jamestown, the attack on the colony and mismanagement of the Virginia Company at home convinced the King that he should revoke the Virginia Company Charter; Virginia became a crown colony in 1624.
The fort seems to have existed into the middle of the 1620s, but as Jamestown grew into a “New Town” to the east, written reference to the original fort disappear. Jamestown remained the capital of Virginia until its major statehouse, located on the western end of Preservation Virginia property, burned in 1698. The capital was moved to Williamsburg that year and Jamestown began to slowly disappear above ground. By the 1750s the land was owned and heavily cultivated, primarily by the Travis and Ambler families.
You can read or listen to the history of Jamestown in so many places, I have not tried to tell you even half of the history here. I have included a video which is very instructive in the history. I am going to list some of the websites I utilized as well, especially the ones with the lists of settlers, much more than the beginning ones listed here: From the website Historic Jamestown, , Understanding America’s Birthplace, we find this list of the very first settlers and their occupations!
Original Settlers–Spring, 1607
Master Edward Maria Wingfield
Captaine Bartholomew Gosnoll
Captaine John Smyth
Captaine John Ratliffe
Captaine John Martin
Captaine George Kendall
Master Robert Hunt
Master George Percie
Captaine Gabriell Archer
Thomas Wotton, Surgeon
First Supply, January 1608
appointed to be of the Councell
With divers others
Second Supply, Fall 1608
Captaine Peter Winne
Captaine Richard Waldo
Were appointed to bee of the Councell
Master Francis West
David ap Hugh
Mistresse Forrest, and Anne Burras her maide
eight Dutch men and Poles, with some others
Relationship Charts for Ancestors in Jamestown,
Capt. Christopher Newport (1563 – 1617) is your 9th great grandfather
This is IT! I did it! I completed writing about 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks! Actually, more than that as many posts dealt with multiple ancestors like this one! What a difference a year makes! Fifteen years ago, I was told I would only live five years or so, now this year, my fifteenth year of survival with severe heart disease, I have accomplished this challenge, and I have written a novel! Amazing!Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow for issuing and maintaining the challenge, and thanks to all the other authors who’ve shared their techniques and their family stories! I could not have done all of this without the support of my family and friends who have encouraged me every step of the way! Thank you so very much! It has been a wonderful experience!
Sugggested reading and reference:
–Jamestowne Society, Richmond, Virginia, http://www.jamestowne.org/ (includes list of approved ancestors)
–National Park Service, Historic Jamestowne, http://www.nps.gov/jame/historyculture/index.htm
–National Women’s History Museum, https://www.nwhm.org/online-exhibits/jamestownwomen/index.htm