I grew up in Bacon’s Castle, a
little town map dot in southeast Virginia. It was a busier place in my childhood than it is these days. Within a couple mile radius, in addition to homes and fields, there is a church, a dairy farm, a convenience store and a cemetery. The association that oversees the cemetery is made up of hometown folks, and I’m honored to serve as its secretary.
And the area also includes the historic house, Bacon’s Castle.
A few miles away is the Dominion Power Surry Nuclear Power Station. As a teenager, I watched that plant being built from the window of my school bus.
Recently, Dominion purchased property in the area to relocate dredge material. One condition of this purchase was that the land first undergo archaeological research. This property was once part of the huge Bacon’s Castle farm. And as the crow flies, is less than ten miles from historic Jamestown.
During the research, performed by the James River Institute for Archaeology, human remains were found. It is believed that a dwelling was located on this property, the time period being 1680-1710, and that the remains (two adults, one teen and one child) were members of the same family.
The bodies were all in coffins, suggesting they were Anglo-Virginians, but the condition of the remains was very poor, with only a few bone fragments and teeth being found. However, with research, the archaeological firm was able to determine some facts, about which they feel very confident.
The graves were set in a east-west configuration, which suggests that this was a Christian family.
The teeth that were found provided many clues to the researchers. Those of the child indicated a poor diet, which leads to the assumption that this was not a wealthy family. They were, perhaps, indentured servants or tenants.
Also, it is believed the adults were born in Europe, because their teeth showed a diet based on wheat. As for the children, their diet appears to have been corn-based, indicating they were born in Virginia.
Dominion Power followed all required procedures as to the reburial of these remains. Appropriately enough, our little cemetery was chosen as the location.
A service was held last week and was well attended, mostly by local folks, but also representatives of the archaeology firm and Dominion Power.
And the thought occurred to me: there were probably many more people in attendance for the reburial service than when the bodies of these early Virginians were originally interred.
I just find it sad that we know so very little about them. The finding of their remains leaves us with many questions, first and foremost: “Who were they?”
And there are some things we will never know.
~These Days Of Mine~