Friday’s Fences: Smith’s Fort Plantation

For the first 22 years of my life, I lived in Surry County (Virginia), which neighbors Isle of Wight County, where I currently live. Near the town of Surry lies property now known as Smith’s Fort Plantation.

This land was once owned by the Indian Chief Powhatan. For those of you who never studied Virginia history, his name may not be familiar, but I bet you’ve heard of his daughter, Pocahontas. When Pocahontas married John Rolfe, her father, Powhatan, gave him the property as a dowry. It was later inherited by their son, Thomas.

Thomas Rolfe sold the land to Thomas Warren, who built a house there around 1651. The house that now sits on that property was built after 1750.

Smith’s Fort Plantation House

The property was formerly known as The Rolfe House and The Rolfe-Warren House.  Captain John Smith began work on a fort on that site around 1609 to protect nearby Jamestown from possible attack, thus the current name of Smith’s Fort.

Smith’s Fort Plantation is now owned by Preservation Virginia, the same organization that owns my beloved Bacon’s Castle. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know that a cousin of my maternal grandmother owned Bacon’s Castle, and that my Mother and her family lived there from around 1920-1940. (For my new followers, click on the Bacon’s Castle category to read previous posts.)

Smith’s Fort Plantation House from the back

But my family also has a connection to Smith’s Fort.  The Thomas Warren who purchased the land and built the first house there? He was my eighth great-grandfather.

gate smiths fort

Smith’s Fort Plantation Herb Garden

When Marshall learned a few years ago that his ancestor purchased land from the son of Pocahontas, he was astounded.  “Son, you have deep roots”.

Linking up to Friday’s Fences.

fridays fences

30 responses to “Friday’s Fences: Smith’s Fort Plantation

  1. Great photos. I like that fence and house. I agree you all do have deep roots. That’s so cool about your ancestor purchasing land from the son of Pocahontas. I love hearing about your family history. It’s so interesting. 🙂

  2. What an interesting family history you have! I asked Mom if she ever wanted to trace her family’s history and she laughed and said “I’m afraid I’ll find horse thieves!” (she, of her siblings, was the only one with a head for horses …)


  3. That is a beautiful house! Love the front door. And the fence is very charming. And yes you do have some deep roots, how cool!

  4. The pictures and descriptions really bring Smith’s Fort Plantation to life. I can almost feel like I’m visiting it. You live in an area with such a long, rich history!

  5. That is so cool to have that connection to history. I love old buildings like this one. Nice fences too!

  6. Loved hearing how your family’s history ties into Virginia’s history. I lived in Virginia for much of my life – mostly in the DC suburbs – and I still miss the history there.

  7. itsallaboutpurple

    a very cool story and a beautifully preserved building!! lot’s of these older, preserved buildings have those cute little herb gardens that i adore!! very nice fence!!

  8. Living in such close connection to ancestors is not common today—-how fortunate you are to have that. I love that house 🙂

  9. mollieandalfie

    What a lovely house and just love the little white fence 🙂 Have a wonderful Friday xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  10. How lovely that you can trace your roots back so far! And that is an impressive heritage! That’s what I love about Virginia…can’t go anywhere without finding a link to American history. I can’t imagine the fun of being so directly linked to the stories of the early settlers there by your own family lineage…must make researching these things even more interesting! ~ Sheila

    • Sheila, I’m fortunate that someone else did all the research, and I was able to obtain copies of all the information. I can’t imagine the time involved; my grandmother’s history is traced back to the 1500’s in England! So thankful to be one of the recipients of that research.

  11. Dianna, this is so cool! I love genealogy stories especially those tied in with U.S. history — very awesome. Is this property open to the public? I would love to send my sons there to see it along with Bacon’s Castle when they have some days off. Have a really great weekend, dear!

  12. You are living in just the right place, Dianna, with family places all around you. That some of these buildings are still standing is astounding!

  13. Oh, that’s really something. Genealogy is so interesting. What a long history your family has in the area. Cool Dianna! I can’t wait for the next season of “Who Do You Think You Are”.

  14. This part of family history was always popular with the guests at Bacon’s Castle – VERY deep roots !!

  15. How great that you have ties so far back in this area. Now it’s up to Marshall to keep it alive!

  16. nice historical properties.

  17. Deep roots absolutely…..and it’s nice to know your roots AND to have lived near them all these years. I love that house too – and the fence! That’s a beautiful area down there just filled with incredible history and it’s great to hear about it but REALLY great that you are a part of it!


  18. Deep roots, indeed. What a lovely house and property.

  19. What an interesting history behind this beautiful old home and in your family tree! I love the house and the old picket fence too. Beautiful post. Pamela

  20. It’s so awesome that you can trace your history so far back – to your 8th great grandparent! And of course the old house and its lovely fence are delightful.

  21. Awesome! I love these historic homes — and you actually have a family tie to this one! Virginia is so rich in US history. What a wonderful place to photograph!

  22. I have some awesome links, but not nearly as awesome as yours! My 6-great grandfather fought in Bacon’s rebellion, and his sword is in the museum there at Jamestowne. Another ancestor was the pipe maker who settled in Jamestowne and some of the pipes he made were unearthed in the dig. I have always been so fascinated by your connection to Bacon’s Castle, and now I learn there is also a connection to Smith’s Fort! You are fortunate indeed!

    Great fences…but I loved seeing the house again!

  23. Such an interesting read! And naturally, the photos are great too. 🙂

  24. Shirley Matthews Dunn

    What wonderful family history. Now the Rolf House and Capt. John Smith, I love it, little did I know when we were children together!

  25. I’m researching my 10th-great grandfather Thomas Warren and really enjoyed your post. Thank you!

  26. Pingback: Random Five Friday | these days of mine

  27. Wonderful memories of wonderful places in Virginia! But this is a plea for help from a maybe distant cousin. I have proven descent from Arthur Long of Surry, Isle of Wight & Southampton, who d. in 1767. His wife Elizabeth was clearly a daughter of Thomas Davis who died in SH in 1778, and there is substantial evidence to suggest that he may have been the son of James Davis and Elizabeth Warren, grand-dau. of Thomas Warren, the builder of Smith’s Fort. (Of course the Longs claim a tie with Bacon’s Castle, but that’s another story.) Could you possibly refer me to a reliable source or person who might help with the Thomas Davis question—which Thomas Davis was the son of Elizabeth (Warren) Davis? Every writer has a different opinion. Any suggestion would be most gratefully received.

  28. Pingback: Random Five Friday | these days of mine

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