Sunday, May 6, 2012

Back to the Beginnings

Monday through Wednesday: I’ll spare you the details of our delightful stay with our good friends in North Carolina. It was nice to take a couple of days off from traveling. We went to the Columbia temple with them on Wednesday—always a highlight. I've included a picture of their house and one of their cats.

Thursday: We drove through Virginia to Beckley, West Virginia and visited Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine. Those poor souls who worked the mines in the early days: Backbreaking work for practically nothing. Then they had to buy everything from the company store. The song “Sixteen Tons” kept going through my mind. Every man had a canary. Canaries are sensitive to oxygen levels, so when their canary died, they scurried out of the mine. Those birds saved many men’s lives. That was all the company supplied the minors; they had to buy the rest of their own tools. Notice the difference between where the minors had in their homes to eat, and where the supervisor ate. The minors had to pay rent, but the supervisor did not. Along with original homes and such that have been moved to the property, they have a display of log cabins also.

Friday: A driving day. We drove to Richmond, Virginia and stayed at a Wal-Mart.
Saturday: So much history, so little time. In the morning we visited Historic Jamestowne. This was the first English speaking settlement on this continent. It barely held on through famine, fire, and Spanish opposition. Water was one of the major problems. The town sits between two rivers where they meet Chesapeake Bay, so the water was salty, and not drinkable. Even the wells had seepage from the salty water making it bad. The love story about John Smith and Pocahontas is fictionalized, but she was a real Indian princess, a friend to John Smith, and valuable help to the settlers. It was an amazing experience to walk where these early settlers lived. There is a mock settlement close by where the visitor can see how they lived, but we couldn’t do everything. The historic site is a working archeological dig, and is getting better year by year. It rained the night before we got there, so actual digs were covered with black plastic to protect the artifacts they are finding.

In the afternoon we visited Yorktown Battlefield, the turning point of the Revolutionary War. I learned about Cornwallis (the British), George Washington, Lafayette (French), and so many others in details I have either forgotten, or never learned. I developed an understanding of the siege I could never have from a book. It was explained on the grounds where we could see the terrain of what they told us about. It would take more room than I have here to explain it, and without being there, it still wouldn’t have the full impact. We often think of July 4, 1776 as being the birth of our nation, but in reality, this siege, October 6-18, 1781, with Cornwallis’ surrender was when our nation started becoming a reality, and not just a note on a piece of paper.

George Washington's Tent

Moor House where Cornwallis Surrendered to George Washington

Sunday: We went to church in Williamsburg to finish out the week. I love that the church is the same where ever we go.

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