Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Part of Virginia

by Drew Martin
I grew up with this map. The title of it is, A Part of Virginia showing Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown, with historical  events from 1585 - 1781. The start date is entered on the map underneath the curve of the text, Chesapeake Bay....First explored with a view to colonization by Ralph Lane, 1585-1586. The end date is slightly below that, to the right - The French Fleet, Comte de Grasse blocking the Channel September 5, 1781.

This print of the original hand-colored map was designed by Robert Ball in 1939 for the Williamsburg restoration. It is the kind of image that Edward Tufte, the information graphics guru, would love because is functions as a detailed map of the York River and the James River, and it is embedded with 200 years of history, including battles and massacres as well as the establishment of settlements and the burning of towns.

Captain John Smith is all over the map for different entries: John Smith trading with Indians May 1607...John Smith captured by Indians May 1607...Smith led captive through a great part the Tidewater region and finally brought before King Powhatan...his life save by Pocahontas January 5, 1608.

My first relative to America came over from London in 1619 and was one of 347 English colonists killed during the fist major Indian massacre. This is noted here too: The great Indian Massacre March 16 1622. He was on the Berkeley Hundred, shown here on the top of the smaller image.

When I was a boy, the James River on this map looked like a dragon. The Jamestown settlement (directly above the flags of the British artillery) looked like an eye next to a smiling, open mouth. All the creeks down river looked like Tyrannosaurus Rex-style arms.