Beach Commission invites public to explore preserving history of “America’s Cape”

Section of PA Co Map ca 1785

Section of “Map of Norfolk and Princess Anne Counties, Va., and Currituck County in North Carolina”  [1785?]  (5848 x 2645) [Click here to view/download higher resolution images.]

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jjjb  J. Matthew Hogendobler, DMD, MD, EBD

                                                                                          by J. 
The Historic Preservation Commission of the City of Virginia Beach will hold its Annual Meeting at 6:30 this evening at Central Library to hear comments and answer questions from the public following a panel discussion about the status and plans of the “Cape Henry Historic Site.”  While the borders of the site weren’t identified, the area from Pleasure House Point to the Atlantic is so steeped in the same history, it would be impossible to conceive of any discussion excluding the Lynnhaven Bay inlet. Countless issues and ideas, many of them decades in the making, have emerged and evolved over the years, and they are, at once, as significant to the nation and countries elsewhere in the world as they are to residents of Virginia Beach and the Commonwealth.

The 7:45 PM Q&A section of the meeting agenda does not appear to be limited in scope, although a speaker is planned earlier during the meeting, so discussions, if any, are likely to follow the lead and flow of the moderator, if not severely limited by constraints of time.  Coupled with the number and array of related, yet unresolved issues already before the city, it is therefore appropriate to identify in advance of the meeting, some of the more recent proposals made by a handful of local, state, national and international interest groups and individuals, not only to increase public awareness, but to provide a voice to public opinion, especially to those individuals and organizations otherwise unable to attend.

The historical significance of Cape Henry extends well beyond the borders of the city or, for that matter, the nation. The connections between the United States, France, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and, most especially, Great Britain, predate the birth of our nation and live -even today- in the documents with antecedent ties to former Princess Anne County.

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Though by no means intended to be inclusive of all events which occurred on or near the shores of the southern promontory entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, over 5000 years of the presence of indigenous cultures notwithstanding, the time period being considered by the Commission likely begins historical recognition as King James, the First (of England) would have wanted: in 1607, when the Englishmen who journeyed to and landed at Cape Henry opened sealed orders and proclaimed Virginia (named centuries earlier) in the name of the King of England. (Accordingly, Capes Charles and Henry were named after the eldest two of his three sons.)

Such a starting point makes sense. After all, the King, to whose reign the most widely adopted translation of the Bible is attributed, officially established the first forms of government and religion for the first colony, Virginia, “the Old Dominion,” with borders which lay as far north as the country itself. But no such historical discussion would be complete without incorporating references to the actual documents of the time, and they should be laced with a basic understanding of the subjects granted the authority to act, by whom and why. [Visit America’s Holy Covenant for more information.]

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There is probably no better expert than meeting speaker Dr. Bob Albertson, Virginia Weslyan College professor and president of the Order of Cape Henry 1607, to address some of these questions and provide a brief foundation for the actions of those first settlers. (Readers may wish to research the complex, faith-based history of the evolution in England of the Virginia Company itself, since, ultimately, it would result in three charters for the Colony, although none would survive for any appreciable length of time.) The formal establishment of an organized religion, represented in the cross planted on Cape Henry’s shore, provided a foundation for the first mandatory church services in Jamestown, the erection of the colony’s first church and the first meeting of the colony’s leaders, resulting in a representative form of government which survives in America today.

The next period of Cape Henry history occurred prior to 1775, during the remainder of the 17th and most of the 18th centuries, when the Chesapeake Bay, like other large seafaring lanes of travel into and out of the new world, witnessed untold masses of vessels carrying passengers and cargo to grow the thirteen colonies.

The city’s documented history of the time tells stories of pirates in the Lynnhaven Inlet and Lake Joyce vicinities, and reports of stolen treasures left by the infamous Blackbeard.

After awhile the call of the open sea became irresistible, and Blackbeard returned to piracy along the southeastern coast, ranging as far north as Pennsylvania in the eight-gun sloop Adventure.  Tradition in the James River region maintains that he eluded British naval vessels by disappearing up Pagan Creek in the neighborhood of Smithfield, Virginia.  Blackbeard’s Hill still dominates Lynnhaven Bay near Cape Henry.  From its summit, pirate sentinels could scan the Chesapeake Bay entrance through the Virginia Capes.

Popularized tales of Grace Sherwood (16601740), the only “witch” in the Colony of Virginia ever to have been tried by water and convicted, have never ceased to captivate locals, both young and old.  Best recalled by Louisa Venable Kyle as The Witch of Pungo in her book of the same name, Sherwood was a resident of Princess Anne County and a “woman of good standing with the Lynnhaven Parish Church,” in which she was married in 1680.  Townsfolk accused her of using witchery on cattle and crops, of tormenting various citizens while in the form of a black cat, of causing women to miscarry and of sailing one evening in an eggshell to England.  (The original transcript of the trial resulting in the naming of “Witchduck” is believed to be on file, still, at the office of the Clerk of Court.) 

This was truly a Colonial American era, which folklore undoubtedly remembers best, but in the former Princess Anne County in the former Colony of Virginia, it was not without an assist (or many) from a governor, a city, its mayor, school children, hospitals, authors, artists, residents and guests.  Though a map still might be needed these days to find Blackbeard’s Island, located in the Baylake Pines area,  the famed pirate’s only treasure is currently estimated to be worth a disappointing $650,000.  And, as for a state bewitched by the injustice of trials by water, Grace White Sherwood was exonerated by Governor Tim Kaine at 10:00 on the morning of July 10, 2006 (the 300th anniversary to the minute of her conviction).  Absolved by the Mayor, she was immortalized the following year with her story, struck forever in bronze by the city’s 5th grade students, a state historical marker and her likeness.cast in a statue situated on land donated by Sentara Healthcare.

For the re-buffs of fanciful history, countless maps and journals exist from this same period, documented by the explorers, the geographers, and the surveyors, like George Washington, himself, years before the first mention of rebellion among the colonists. No memorial to the history of Cape Henry would be complete without considering them or, for that matter, the cultures indigenous to the area, including their burial grounds and archeologically documented civilizations.

“There’s too much emphasis placed on the historical rather than the prehistorical in Virginia,” stated Julian H. Lipscomb, a Shore Drive resident and former member of the Archeological Society of Virginia. Quoted in a 1973 article appearing in the Virginia Beach Sun, Lipscomb commented on its membership: “There’s a joke among them that most Virginians think the earth was created in 1607, but surface evidence and digs prove that unrecorded Indian sites existed on the Pungo Ridge (which extends from north Virginia Beach to Hilltop, to Oceana and down through Pungo) at least as far back as 4,000 to 6,000 B.C. Many of our modern settlements here are situated atop old Indian sites.”

So it was that, on April 26, 1997 (the 390th anniversary of the settlers’ first landing), working with Jamestowne’s chief archeologist and director, Dr. Bill Kelso, and Nansemond Indian Chief Emeritus Oliver Perry, the City of Virginia Beach properly returned the last 64 souls of Great Neck Point’s Chesepioc Chesapeake Indian tribe to their rightful burial ground. A brief but solemn ceremony, officiated by then Mayor Meyera Oberndorf, marked the occasion with a plaque to watch over their spirits and guarantee remembrance of the area’s last-known victims of genocide.

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According to Ben Swenson, author of “First Landing State Park and the Last Trace of a Vanquished Nation,”

The Chesapeake Indians unearthed as Virginia Beach grew weren’t given a proper burial for nearly twenty years. Their remains sat on shelves at Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources in Richmond. They might have stayed there forever; there are still Virginia Indian remains held in museums awaiting repatriation.

Referring to the area’s unique freshwater as “sweet water,” Lipscomb, who still rues the state’s absence of an historical museum to preserve and publicly display its artifacts, proffered a clue as to why the area was so inviting throughout history, particularly to those who would contribute in very significant ways to the defeat of the British in ending the Revolutionary War. “It’s particularly good in [First Landing] State Park,” he said. “Especially valuable in the days of sailing vessels, it was transported in wooden carriers [and] didn’t turn foul like regular water. With [this] water on both sides [of the ridge], it’s a most desirable building area today just as it was for the early inhabitants.”

Lipscomb’s citations undoubtedly include references to the next period of historical significance of the area – the era of American revolution against King George, when at least one of the heroes in American history, the Comte de Grasse, would select “Lynnhaven Bay” as his temporary residence. Cited among the reasons for his decision to moor the large fleet of French naval army vessels were the abundance of oysters and access to fresh water in shallow springs.

From an archived copy of the 1985-1986 City Directory:

The first Battle of the American Revolution in Virginia took place in Princess Anne on November 16, 1775. Lord Dunmore, who had situated himself off the coast of Norfolk, declared martial law early in November. News reached Dunmore that the local militia were assembling to guard the roads over which the Royal troops had to travel for a rendezvous with him. He decided to march on Great Bridge, a gathering place for the Virginia militia. Finding no militia and learning there was a force stationed at Kemps Landing in Princess Anne, he marched overland to the village. Only one volley of shots was fired by the British, but it was enough to scatter the untrained group of farmers and merchants. The volley touched off the tinder of revolt throughout Virginia.

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Though the new federal government’s first structure, the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse, would not be completed until after the war, transport of Rappahannock River stones from the Fredericksburg area quarry to Cape Henry began after Virginia and Maryland realized a need for navigation in 1720, and by 1775, over 6000 tons of aquia “freestones” had been transported to the Cape. Any inhabitant standing atop the pile of massive boulders would have been able to witness either of the two sea battles between the British and the patriot French, both of which occurred in and just outside the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. [See The Lighthouses Act of 1789.]

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What is surprisingly not well known about the Cape Henry area is the meeting which took place aboard Ville de Paris in Lynnhaven Bay just one month before the Siege of Yorktown. With six of the patriot commanding generals in attendance, the French fleet would be enlisted and the final military strategies for the “Trapping of Cornwallis” designed. (It was the only time the three Commanding Officers recognized on the nation’s first monument, erected in Yorktown, would be in the same place at the same time.) [Click on the image above and follow the links in order to view copies of Washington’s actual journal entries in preparation for his visit with De Grasse, to get a glimpse of the fabric Washington designed (including his unique 6-pointed star) for his Commander-in-Chief flag, to read Dr. Robert Selig’s unpublished historical study of the visit of Washington and Rochambeau to Lynnhaven Bay (commissioned and ordered “not for publication” by the Commonwealth of Virginia), and, maybe, to discover an interesting link between Cape Henry and Jean Audubon, father of the famed French ornithologist.]

It is a popularly maintained misconception that July 4, 1776 marked the date of our nation’s independence. (Not even the patriot victory at Yorktown formally guaranteed it.) Only in 1783, with the signing of the Treaties of Paris and Versaille was America formally granted its sovereignty by the British and French. But not even then (nor since) would America (or Americans) enjoy untethered separation from countries like England, for it began its sovereignty indebted to the King, never to realize an independence either “free” or “clear.”

Article VI, Section 2 of the U. S. Constitution exists to document and authorize international treaties with perpetual provisions. It was included because of the agreements in existence at the time; among them, the Treaty of Alliance and Treaty of Peace, the latter of which would evolve into the regularly renewed Social Security Administration agreements with the United Kingdom, available to view among both countries’ official documents posted online: United Kingdom United States.

No land force can act decisively unless it is accompanied by maritime superiority.

There is no disagreement among historical scholars of the American Revolutionary War that Patriot victory would not have been possible, at least not yet, without the  participation of France, in particular the French Armées Navales under the command of Lieutenant Général François-Joseph Paul, marquis de Grasse Tilly, comte de Grasse, and there is little doubt that historic victory occurred because of the secret strategy meeting of the Patriot generals in Lynnhaven Bay the month before.

That it was a Frenchman who liberated Americans from subject servitude is one accomplishment about which the entire nation of France is quite astonishingly proud, even to this day; although the number of American statues, monuments and plaques honoring the Revolutionary Fleet’s giant (at 6′ 4″ he was an inch taller than Washington, to whom he referred as mon petit general), pales by comparison and large margin to similar memorials in France, remembering the man who acquired “immortal glory for having ensured l’Independance des ETATS- UNIS d’AMERIQUE.”

Among the many obligations
that the United States have gained
visa-vis the men of the French Army and Navy
who have taken such a noble part in our establishment,
that which you have acquired will be profoundly engraved
in the spirit of its sons in indelible character,
with gratitude and deep respect.

It is appropriate, then, that international observance of the treaties be celebrated in and commemorated annually by the City and residents of Virginia Beach, where the greatest contribution of the French occurred. On this premise, the City has previously recognized De Grasse with the naming of a street in the Municipal Center area and by supplying benches, light poles and flowerbeds at the foot of his statue in Cape Henry Memorial Park, a part of the Colonial National Park Service, located on JEB Fort Story.

Several proposals have been made to the City in order to further the recognition on behalf of a nation grateful to France (and noted in the quotations, above, capturing the words of Washington himself). Sufficient explanation of each exists, at least to educate the public as to the ideas which could be discussed, albeit briefly, during the April 3rd meeting. Not one of them is any more or less important than the others.

I consider myself
infinitely happy to have
been of some service to the U.S.
Reserve me a place in your memory.

  • Relocating the Statue of “Amiral” De Grasse. It has been proposed by the National Park Service that a more accessible, more apropos venue than on JEB Fort Story could be considered to showcase the statue donated to the City by former Norfolk resident, the Baron de Lustrac. The creation of an “Homage to De Grasse” park has been suggested in alliance with W3R-US® – forever reserving a place for the comte de Grasse in our memory.  (Incidentally, he was never an Admiral.)

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Signpost borrowed for marketing concept2

  • “Twinning” Virginia Beach and Tilly. It is difficult to imagine Virginia Beach “sistering” with any other city in the world without first considering the city of Tilly, France, the hamlet home of the final residence and cardinal resting place of Amiral Joseph Paul, the Comte de Grass and Marquis de Tilly. [Click on the image above to view the actual email thread resulting in the selection of Tilly by the queried historians. (You may be surprised at what else you learn when you do.)] Share your opinion in an email to Director Ruth Fraser and members of the Sister Cities Association of Virginia Beach.

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  • Becoming the nation’s home for annual commemoration of the anniversaries of the signing of the Treaties. It has been said about our earliest official historical documents, that all evidence of surviving relevance from the predecessors of our nation was written, signed, sealed and delivered (like the decisive 1781 Battle off the Virginia Capes, the meeting of the three Commanders-in-Chief, and the naval contributions to the Patriot victory at Yorktown).. MORE

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  • Creating a memorial at the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse so visitors may observe from the same vantage point as that during the actual battles. Only one area in Cape Henry exists, topographically, as it did in the 18th century: the large dune in the “Desert at Cape Henry.” [Click here to view Charles Hatch’s The Old Cape Henry Light booklet, and on the image above for details of an hexagonal, brick, perimeter fence with memorial observation deck proposed to Preservation Virginia in 2009 by the Norfolk Chapter SAR.]

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  • Nationwide Centennial Commemoration of the Order of Cape Henry 1607 for the 100th Pilgrimage to the Cross. Proposed to be sponsored by the City of Virginia Beach, the National Park Service, the Jamestowne-Yorktown Foundation, the British Consulate, Old Donation (former Lynnhaven Parish) Church, Christian Broadcasting Network and members of the ancestral, indigenous native American tribes in combination with ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony, etc. for the grand opening of the “Homage to Washington, Rochambeau and De Grasse Park” during the weekend of Friday, April 26 – Monday, April 29, 2019.

For additional reading, see the brief synopses: The History of Lynnhaven Parish, Virginia’s First 70 Years in Pictures, Virginia’s History, History of Virginia Beach, First 100 Years in Hampton Roads: 1510-2013, The Beach: The History of Virginia Beach, Virginia (Full Text, Digitized) and The Colonial Background of the American RevolutionAlso see March 30, 2014 Virginian-Pilot article.

Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales
——————-
IN COMPARISON TO OTHER AMERICAN MAPS OF (AND PRIOR TO) THE TIME, NOT ONLY OF PRINCESS ANNE COUNTY, VIRGINIA, BUT OF MOST ALL OTHER REGIONS ELSEWHERE IN THE NATION, THE MAP SECTION DEPICTED AT THE TOP OF THIS POST IS QUITE UNIQUE. COLLECTORS OF CARTOGRAPHY LIST IT AS “RARE.”  Some believe it to be ONE-OF-A-KIND.  THE SOLE REASON AIDED EXPERTS IN ASCRIBING AN APPROXIMATE DATE TO ITS CREATION.  (LEAVE A COMMENT IF YOU WISH TO GUESS OR KNOW THE REASON, ALONG WITH THE DATE  AND PRESENT LOCATION OF THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL.)
——————-
The author gratefully acknowledges the following individuals (in no particular order), without whose contributions of time, energy and knowledge, research and verification of the accuracy of the information presented in this article would not have been possible: john starling, nicole yancey, Bob selig, jacques de trentinian, albert “durf” mcjoynt, ralph nelson, nancy miller, stuart nesbit, robert hitchings, dan smith, joe dibello, carter furr, lillie gilbert, peggy haile-mcphillips, betsy poulliot, joseph judge, preston grissom, scott mohr, john cross, bob albertson, julian lipscomb, john quarstein, richard perkins, barbara henley, brian solis, JEAN GULICK, FIELDING LEWIS TYLER, barbara duke, Harvey williams (Decd.), meyera oberndorf, carolyn scullion, bill kelso, WORTH REMICK, richard cobb, VICKI KENDALL, HELEN SPRUILL, patrick villeurs, jini jones vail, nicolas valcour, ROBERT PERRINE, margaret windley, phyllis sawyer, christie everett, charlie spivak, stephen mansfield, ann callis, sylvia ryder, ceci budimier, louis malon, bill simpson, joseph dooley, barbara spradlin, drew foisie, ben haller, paul ewell, paul west, jeanne holland newton and members of the facebook® group, “I grew up in virginia beach.” /JMH/
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13 thoughts on “Beach Commission invites public to explore preserving history of “America’s Cape”

  1. Very nicely written and documented, JMH! We look forward to the day when the statue is on the bridge, the historical museum is nearby, and tourists, students, and historians can benefit from the coordinated collection of documents and artifacts now being assembled to interpret the events that advanced the cause of U.S. liberty so decisively in the autumn of 1781. Each great event depends on many smaller events that vie for being deemed the most significant factor in the great outcome. Only by taking the time to learn about many of the small events can we gain a true appreciation of the value of the many as well as the few.

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  2. All involved are to be valiantly commended in the effort to represent and interpret Virginia history on the Southside of Hampton Roads. For far too long, the histories belonged to the Historic Triangle of the Peninsula, and sorely forgotten by benign neglect on the Southside due to economic interests.

    Creating geographic interpretations of historical events dedicated to the education of children so that in the process of learning text for SOL testing they may have a means to understand the geographic locations of such events is forever paramount to an understanding of the events.

    While many adults may view such as a “nice to know” sort of thing, not really impacting their busy lives, it has a valuable place in the understanding of historical events of which so many are not knowledgeable, and may become so in a venue of open air interpretation. It adds interest to the incredible environmental beauty that surrounds us, attracts usage of the infrastructure investment, and is worth every penny of investment.

    John Franklin Cross III

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A beautiful story and opportunity is developing right before our eyes….imagine boarding the Ville de Paris and learning about the plans for the Battle off the Capes; imagine viewing via a digital presentation the Battle Off the Capes as it unfolded off the shores of Cape Henry; imagine viewing the statue of de Grasse as a recording gives facts about the French Naval involvement in the decisive battle leading to the British surrender at Yorktown; imagine an interactive map that traces the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail; imagine a well publicized and well attended drama featuring the Chesapeake Indians who first inhabited this area; imagine 4th grade students making an annual visit to this historical area/park in Virginia Beach in order to appreciate Virginia Beach’s important location and witness to this historical period and the homage paid by Virginia Beach to Admiral de Grasse who orchestrated one of the Greatest Naval victories in American history.

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  4. You may know that as President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Bill in March 2009, the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route came into the National Trails System. The goal of this NHT is to trace the heroic march of the combined armies of Washington and Rochambeau in the heat of the summer of 1781 from Boston to Yorktown.

    Hampton Roads was the site of the most crucial and final part of the fight of the colonies for independence. There, through land and water routes, events that brought the victory at Gloucester and Yorktown took place. And the most strategic area was Lynnhaven … THERE, de Grasse and later Barras fleets laid at anchor; FROM THERE, men, arms and supplies were carried up the James River to College Creek, and from there to Yorktown through Williamsburg…

    THERE, de Grasse received Washington, Rochambeau and their staff on board his flag ship “Ville de Paris” and held the planning meeting of the siege of Yorktown … FROM THERE, de Grasse fleet left when the British fleet was sighted and ordered the attack and won at what is known as the Battle of the Capes … FROM THERE, ships from the french fleet sailed north to blockade the York River and keep Cornwallis’ army trapped in Yorktown…

    This is the story that ensured the sovereignty of this magnificent United States, and this is the goal of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historical Trail. Its mission is education, preservation, public awareness and enjoyment.

    The NHT is administered by the National Park Service, which is working in partnership with cities, counties, historical associations and anyone, like you and me, interested in supporting the project and joining in this exciting venture.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. To the Virginia Beach Commission of Historic Preservation:

    I am so happy to learn that the Commission will allow the public to participate in a project that is long overdue. As a founding member of the Alliance Française in Norfolk, I had the honor to work with the Baron de Lustrac who worked so hard to promote the French American friendship. He did so not only in his conferences, but by negotiating with the French government to procure the cannons at Yorktown and the statue of De Grasse at Cape Henry. He was called Mr. Yorktown by members of the SAR in that city and the Alliance Française named our chapter after De Grasse.

    2001 De Grasse - Battle Off the Capes Ceremony

    The AF celebrated the Battle of the Capes every October with a guest speaker and the City of Virginia Beach participated with the Laying of the Wreath. We ended our celebration at the Officers’ Club with the full view of the ocean where the battle took place. Thanks to the devotion and the efforts of Dr. Matt Hogendobler during this past decade, the importance of the Cape will be recognized by the City of Virginia Beach as a site of an historical treasure and of great significance to the nation.

    Please be assured that I would be happy to join the city of Virginia Beach in any effort that they might have to preserve the place that honors French and Americans who contributed to the American Revolution and to the Birth of our Nation.

    Yours truly,

    Richard Cobb
    Director of the AF Institut

    Liked by 1 person

  6. FOR THE RECORD: I RISE IN OBJECTION AGAINST THE PURELY [POLITICAL] TWISTING OF ACTUAL KNOWN HISTORY TO A FORM OF “FALSE HISTORY’ FOR POLITICAL DESIRED PROFIT FROM TOURISM:
    This whole effort is for the most part a discussion of [moving] a part of history [from] where those of years ago felt was the proper [location] for a part of American History; to wherever, those political profit desire “today” to re-locate it to maximize “tourist profit”, although, wherever it may be moved to, knowing will not be a [true history location]. I object to the act of twisting the [truth] for profit, when it is knowingly “not true”. This entire [process] and discussion has obviously overlooked and intentionally left out all reference to all of the true historical contribution of African American, Negro, Colored, etc. (wherever we were referred to during a particular time in history). This is to only point to the fact that a lot of “true history” is and has been [left-out] intentionally, as of it does not matter. The act of altering, twisting of the [true] facts to reach a politically desired end. It is as wrong as slavery was wrong. Now to cover over those contributions that blacks gave their lives in every battle America was ever in during this Revolutionary War period is as wrong today, as it has always been wrong to put a “white political advantage and profit” over the truth of what actually happen. Then to suggest to lead little children of our day and tomorrow to learn this [false] profit twisted history. Adds insult to injury.
    The above record clearly states that the French man (De Grasse) to be honored was [not] an “Admiral”, yet he is continuously referred to as an [Admiral]. There are both government and public records. Our law states that it is [unlawful] and a punishable crime in Virginia to “falsify government records”; yet this is promoted by many of those who took legal Oath of Office to [uphold] the laws of Virginia. While at the same time authorizing the unlawful [falsifying] of these (a) governmental and (b) public records, by recording therein “Admiral De Grasse”, when they know [he] was never an [Admiral]. The “political [twisting and falsifying] of actual [true history] to fit the todays profit desires of the persons, who either themselves or their political associates are to [profit] greatly from these not only wrongful twisting of true history, but as well, unlawfully “falsifying of government records for political profit. The same as “black human beings” were enslaved for political [profit] of that time; now today, overlooked again for political profit; public again being falsely mislead for purely [political profit]; and planning to bring “4th Grade children” to brain-wash” the “little children” of today and tomorrow, into believing the promulgated and [politically] designed “false history”, all for political profit from [tourist]. YES, I RISE IN OBJECTION.
    Respectfully submitted,
    E. George Minns, President
    Seatack Community Civic League, Est. 1908

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    • My Dear Mr. Minns,

      I understand your frustration, and underlying animosity. I am sure you have not visited the Great Bridge Battlefield Park, and its historical markers. The African American participation on both sides in the early stages of the American Revolution is clearly dedicated to the truth of history. Dr. William E. Ward, President of the Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation, placed Peggy Haile-McPhillips, and myself, as Co-Chairs on the Signage & Historical Marker Committee to make the presentation correct and truthful. William “Billy” Flora, a free black, was in all primary citations of the battle of the Great Bridge a true Patriot, and a Historical Marker is dedicated to him. The strange enigma of “Little William”, the young African American body servant of Major Thomas Marshall was included on the Marshall Marker after much debate. The British Proclamation of Dunmore for the freedom of African Americans that participated in the Crown to over-throw the rebellion was also included in a dedicated historical marker. This Committee went to great lengths to ensure the truth was told with individual markers and combined into the over-all story of the battle.

      What we were not able to accomplish in the Park is intended to be explained in the museum, which is an explanation of Dunmore’s intentions, and the situation of the Ethiopian Regiment, warranted to understand how the British evacuation of Gwynn’s island caused almost all to die, not by the Patriot hands, but, by a total disregard of the British for their welfare under Dunmore. Smallpox had run rampant in the ranks of the Ethiopian Regiment under difficult conditions in Dunmore ships, and he placed them all on shore to die on Gwynn’s island. (I was the Director of Excavations of Fort Cricket Hill at Milford Haven, Gwynn’s island, and co-wrote the report for the VDHR (Virginia Department of Historic Resources) in 1987), when General Andrew Lewis arrived to expel Dunmore from Gwynn’s island with cannon, what he found was horrific; Lewis’s words are beyond horrific. Lewis tended to the remains of the Ethiopian Regiment with food and water, and what medicine they had, they were not round up back into slavery; he ordered they be tended to and left to their own devisees. He did not force them into labour, nor, made them march with them as did Dunmore; there is a partial record of some survivors joining the Continental forces, and given their freedom, which was granted by participation in the revolution against the British in the pension records.

      If you really wish the truth, seek the truth in the primary citations.

      There is so much that has to be done to tell the African American experience, not by anger or anomosity, but, by participation. You may just find your anger is misplaced.

      John

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Good morning to you, Mr. Minns. Cheryl Snowden and I were just chatting with Fielding Lewis Tyler last night on Facebook® about something with which you may agree: restoring the Seatack name to the Old Coast Guard Station (one of Fielding’s former stomping grounds). The change seems to have been as benign as the naming of Virginia Beach. I told her she might have some success with the effort, if she were to present the idea at the meeting, and especially since Fielding will be there for a little while tonight. If he concurs, seems only a matter for the bureaucrats to resolve. It could be incorporated into a question about the Cape Henry Historic Site, albeit a bit of a stretch, since the newer light house is still owned by the Coast Guard and there will be a member on the panel. I certainly would have boasted the history of the oldest black community in the nation had I known more about it. All I have to go by is a videotape of Congressman Rigell’s reading of the Act before Congress, and I don’t even know the text of it. (Too much history for one county, I’d say!) Thanks for the morning “wake up.” /JMH/

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    • One other thing. As a board member of the Great Bridge Battlefield and Waterways History Foundation, I would love to have mentioned William Flora, who, as a member of the Norfolk militia, was very probably the first Patriot hero of the Revolutionary War. Although depicted in the map linked from the one at the top of the page, Great Bridge doesn’t fit within the context of this article, even though it is bounded by the borders of Chesapeake (just not the one whose tides ride the shores of Cape Henry). /JMH/

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  8. I grew up on a farm in Lynnhaven. Part of it is now Eastern Park. Ingram Road, named for our family, split the farm in two. The acreage went to the East to a small creek. We called it Nickles Creek, but I find it on no maps of that area. There was a spring near it where I often watered my horse.

    Next to the stream was an Indian Mound; small, but still had some artifacts. All throughout the wooded area around there we would find arrowheads of all sizes. When Daddy died and we left the farm, Mother offered many of the artifacts to the then county and state. No one wanted them. I have felt for a long time, the small remaining pieces belong somewhere where many can enjoy rather than gathering dust on my library shelves.

    In 1957-58, I wrote a HS term paper on Grace Sherwood. Mrs. Kyle had told me about the records, which is why I knew to look. Mr Sidney Kellam helped me get access to the trial accounts. They were poorly stored in the Old Court house. It has been so long ago I have forgotten whose office.

    The paper was fragile and no curator was around to instruct how to handle. The writing was cramped but not difficult to read. I now realize what a rare privilege I had getting to see them, much less spend time poring over content. Wish I had the paper still. Who knows what happens to school work years later. Probably tossed in a frenzy of cupboard cleanings.

    Your piece is really nicely done and has information unknown to me. I never knew about the move to name the Cheasapeake bridge tunnel. I like the idea of a statue plaque mid bridge. I walk over the Ocean Springs-Biloxi Bridge often and aways pause to read the historical plaques posted. Besides its a good rest after walking a mile uphill.

    I look forward to reading the other items highlighted.

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  9. Thank you, John. Your comments importantly remind us all that the waters between America’s Capes have, in fact, been more than just a mouth into which sea travelers have entered our country. The Capes, themselves, also have been the sentinel eyes of the new world. Since the advent of sea travel, their shared history have included far more than all of the noteworthy single events, including the War of 1812, combined. As if it were a motion picture version of one of those large, chronological maps, it would be an interesting video documentary to portray the progression of events, evolution of vessel types, logistics of tactical maneuverings during engagements and patterns of “traffic flow” over the centuries, beginning with those first Nordic/Spanish/South American explorers’ ships and ending with the most modern view — two or more tankers, anchored, awaiting clearance into the Bay. /JMH/

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