Across the Bluegrass and onto Virginia

- Trip 3: Part 1

G'day y'all!

1999 marked my third extended trip to the USA. The trip over was more or less uneventful, tho' I did come down with food poisioning a few days before I left and thanks to some nasty weather I was delayed three hours at Chicago airport. Arrived  in Frankfort, Kentucky, and settled in pretty quickly. I guess after having done it twice already I'm starting to get used to it. Despite the previous winter being one of the warmest on record, I still managed to catch a few snow falls and some wonderful chilly weather. Got back into the line dancing and at the urging of my host, enrolled in the higher level class. I have to admit that it's been quite a challenge for someone with the lousy coordination that I have, still, I did manage to learn most of the new dances ... even if there were some that so far are beyond me. I've even been to several line dance meets to show off my skills - well at least I didn't trip over. *grin*  I finally found out what happened to my application last year to have my entry permit extended a few months - it finally arrived in March, four months after I returned back home and seven months after I'd mailed it off.

On the cultural side, I've been to a number of concerts. The first was a charity concert held at church. In addition to several of the church choirs there were two guest solo artists. The next evening we went to an opera performance put on by the Kentucky State University drama department. Had extracts from three Mozart opera's, The Magic Flute, Don Giovani and The Marriage of Figaro - only the latter was in English, but it was no more comprehensible. At the start of each there was a synopsis in English. The next outing was a performance by the Kenytucky State University (KSU) Symphonic Band who played 1920's and 1930's "big band" music. The last was a performance by the KSU Gospel Ensemble. It was advertised as a concert but turned out to be an afro-american religious rally. Different! Went to a school science fair. Interesting but very chaotic. The chemsitry demonstration was spectacular .. lots of bangs, flames and smells.

The Bluegrass: Kentucky

18th March 1999: Louisville, Kentucky
The first day of sightseeing for this trip ... destination: Louisville, arguably most famous for being the home of the Kentucky Derby, at Churchill Downs. But with the entry fee charged there, don't hold your breath waiting for a travel report of that particular tourist trap! Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky, with a city and suburban population of almost 1 million and lies on the banks of the Ohio River, which forms the border between Kentucky and Indiana - actually a sizable proportion of Louisville's suburban population lies across the river in Indiana. Even so, it is four times larger than Kentucky's second largest city, Lexington. Anyway ... in a city that size, there's bound to be lots to do, no matter where your interests may lie: race courses, a theme park, a zoo and countless other attractions. And since Louisville was founded in 1790, there's also a lot of history. On today's trip we visited two cathedrals, two house-museums and the Water Tower, which is now an art gallery.
Arriving in Louisville, we parked at the visitor's centre and headed off to the catholic cathedral, which was only a few blocks away, through part of the downtown area. With temperatures around 5C and a brisk wind, things were a bit on the chilly side! The Cathedral of the Assumption is the third oldest catholic cathedral in the US (1852) and has been recently restored. It's built in the gothic style and rises to a height of 287 feet, the tallest church in the USA at the time it was built. Inside and out it looks to be in near mint condition, with obviously a lot of love and care going into maintaining its appearance. Inside there was a high, arching gothic ceiling, painted dark blue and covered with 8000 gold stars, the significance of which I'm not sure, tho' the proto-cathedral in Bardstown had a similarly decorated ceiling. Inside there are a number of beautiful murals and at the front of the church is a large stained glass window, one of the oldest in the US and a pretty impressive example of the art. The window was actually the only elaborate thing in the church - the rest was simple yet elegant, reminiscent of the Shaker style. Not that it was unimpressive - it was.

After the catholic cathedral, we checked out its "competition", so to speak. Christ Church, the Episcopal cathedral, was only a few blocks away and is the oldest church in Louisville (1822). The first expression that comes to mind about that one is "faded glory". Lots of stained glass windows, complex and ornate altars and other "decorations". While the floor of the "holy area" at the catholic cathedral was highly polished wood, here it was a mix of tile mosaics and marble. But sadly, the signs of wear were all too plain to see with threadbare carpets and peeling paint and plaster. One unusual feature of this church was the low roof, almost oppressively so. Most old churches and cathedrals seem to have high, arching ceilings, but this one was flat and probably no more that 20 feet up. Up at the front was a large marble altar, which would have been more at home in a catholic church, intricately carved, with lots of figures and maybe 10-15 feet tall. Very much like the one we saw a few years back in the former catholic church in Augusta, Georgia.

Heading back to the car, we then spent quite a while driving in circles, trying to find the Thomas Edison House (1850) - which we eventually did, no thanks to the Louisville city council which had removed the roads which the signs directing people to the house would normally have used. The house is a small and simple affair, what is known as a "shotgun dwelling", so called because with the doors open you could fire a shot thru' the front doorway and it would pass straight thru and out the back doorway. Whether anyone ever tried doing that is another matter! We got there on the tail end of the tour of a group of school kids, so we had to wait a bit until we could get our own tour. In the US, and probably everywhere in the world, houses are often named after famous people who lived there, no matter how short or long their stay. Thomas Edison lived in Louisville for about a year in 1866-1867 where he worked as a telegraph operator until he was sacked from his job and moved on elsewhere. While in Louisville, he spent most of his time as a boarder at this house, which now bears his name. Edison was sacked from the job (something that happened to him a lot, incidentally) for experimenting after hours and having an accident - he spilt acid on the floor which ate its way thru' the floor and on thru' his boss' desk on the floor below. The house is full of examples of Edison's genius, from light bulbs, to the phonograph to the first movie camera and projector and much more. Edison filed more than 1000 patents, tho' many of them were not the result of his own research, but that of those working for him in his "research factory". His first invention, patented the year after he left Louisville,  was an electrical vote counter - in which the US government was not interested, probably because it would have exposed their voting irregularities! His first successful invention was the stock market ticker-tape machine.

After lunch we visited Locust Grove, an old plantation mansion on the outskirts of suburban Louisville, which was built by William and Lucy Croghan in 1790, the year Louisville was founded. And staying in that theme, it was built by the brother in law of Louisville's founder, George Rogers Clark - in fact Clark spent his last years there. At the time it was built, Louisville was right on the frontier, so despite the wealth of the family who lived there, the house lacked the extravagance that mansions of the same vintage, but further to the east, possessed. A striking contrast is between Locust Grove and Whitehall (south of Lexington), both were built by state surveyor's (a *very* lucrative job), tho' the latter was built several decades latter. The house passed out of the family and eventually was bought by the city in the 1960's at an auction, when it was restored and turned into a museum. Because of it's many owners, only a few of the items in the house are original to the Croghan family, the rest are period pieces, but nonetheless, befitting a frontier mansion. Particularly striking was the rooms on the two lower floors which had three plaster walls and wood paneling (as sign of wealth) on the fourth - even in the "traveler's room", a room that it was tradition to keep aside for the use of any traveler who might have need of it, whether they were known to the family or strangers passing through. A lovely custom that these days would be just too dangerous, sad to say. The tour also included the out-buildings, all bar one reconstructed from old photographs and drawings as well as archaeological excavations on the site. A smoke house (for smoking hams), a kitchen, a well, a spring house (the spring is still there) and various other buildings. So far they haven't been able to find where the slave quarters were, but digging continues.

The last stop on the trip was the old Water Tower (built 1860). A very grandiose structure build along Greek lines. The engine house was built like a Greek temple, complete with corinthian columns, pediments and the like. The water tower (actually it was the pressure regulator) itself was 183 feet tall, surrounded by columns and had ten statues along the top of the columns, all bar one being of Greek or Roman deities associated with the seasons. The one exception was an Indian. The Tower and engine house, like the Greek temples that they were modelled after, have survived many natural disasters including several floods and a tornado that partially destroyed the orginal wooden tower.

The trip home was not without "excitement" either. Roadworks had reduced part of the highway to one lane and right at that point a semi had crashed into the barrier wall, making it a tad difficult for through traffic!

10-11 April 1999: Kentucky History Museum, Frankfort, Kentucky: Opening
The Kentucky History Museum opened this weekend here in Frankfort and all weekend they were having opening festivities and the like. We were there for most of saturday and sunday. The Museum was the child of Thomas Clark, Kentucky's historian laureate. Clark was born in 1903, so not only is he a historian, he's also part of Kentucky's history. His "History of Kentucky" is still considered the definitive history of the state - an impressive achievement considering it was written over 60 years ago (1937). Most of the original records in the museum from the last century survive today thanks to his foresight - he saved all the old state records just before they were to be pulped back in the 1930's.

The museum opened at 10am (the ribbon cutting) & we got there around noon .. in additon to the museum, there was lots of outdoors displays & performances, so we spent quite few hours going thru' those. The crowds were too thick to actually go thru' the museum exhibit part, but we went thru' the rest of the building - it's a combo genealogy research centre, library, history museum with work areas for artifact restoration and all that stuff .. so it's a "serious" research museum, not just a place where they dump a lot of old stuff. Entering the main door one is greeted by a huge mosaic map of Kentucky on the floor, made of brass and some green stone. The Hall of Governors has paintings of all of Kentucky's governors. There's a permanent exhibit on Kentucky history, covering some 25,000 square feet (which we didn't see). There's also a smaller exhibit gallery that will host short-term exhibits including local stuff and also travelling exhibits of art, history and science from around the country. Upstairs there's a huge genealogical library, with everything in one place - heaven on earth for anyone doing Kentucky genealogy! The library also has a large collection of rare books and manuscripts on Kentucky history, newspapers, over 100,000 photographs and much more. Eventually they plan on having all the records available over the internet.

Most of the stuff going on was outdoors, around the Old Capitol Building. There was a parade, a classic car show and virtually the full spectrum of music including brass bands, swing, big band, bluegrass (lots!), drumming, banjo, dixieland, traditional music from the UK and Ireland, gospel, folk etc. There was a Cherokee storyteller and pow-wow dancing. Folkcrafts, both pioneer and indian and much more.

Early saturday evening there was a free concert by the "Kentucky Headhunters", a famous Kentucky blues-rock & country group, noted for their "visionary music". They were very dynamic and certainly not your usual country music group! After they finished there was a philharmonic orchestra and a laser-light show.

Throughout the weekend there were five performances presented by "Kentucky Chautauqua", a group devoted to bringing back to life people who were part of Kentucky's history, some well known, other's just "average" citizens. The actor or actress in each (solo) performance first thoroughly researched everything that was known about the person they played .. letters, military records, biographies and so forth. Then dressed as the historical person they were portraying and with only a few props, they would retell some of the tales of "their" life - in the first person. Some of the actors were professionals, others amateurs, but either way they have each performed the role 100's of times over the past few years, so much so that the persona they portrayed was likely almost as familiar to them and as natural as their own. The impression you got was not of actors but rather that the historical characters themselves were there in front of you. Sometimes they interacted with an "imaginary" audience, other times it was with those of us there watching, but even then it was in character.

We saw three of the performances. The two we missed were Henry Clay and Winifred Green. Clay was one of the most significant figures in American politics in the 1st half of the 19th century and his actions delayed the start of the US civil war for decades. If he had lived longer US history would probably have been very different. Where Clay was famous, Green could not have been any more different - she was a prolific letter writing wife and mother. Outside of her friends and family it is likely no-one else even knew she lived. Yet her letters live on and through them, she lives on too.

The three performances we saw were Simon Kenton, Jefferson Polk and Angus Burleigh. Kenton was a colourful frontiersman of the late 1700's, a contemporary and friend of Daniel Boone. At the age of 16 he fled west from Virginia after a fight with another youth over a girl. He thought he'd killed the other boy, tho' in fact he only knocked him out - in fact the other youth was charged with Kenton's murder, tho' never convicted since the "body" couldn't be found! Kenton spent about 25 years on the Kentucky frontier and is held to be one of Kentucky's greatest frontiersmen. Kenton eventually moved to Ohio.

Polk had a "bit" part in history, tho' he led a fascinating life. During his life he went from one job to another, circuit preacher, farmer, printer, bookstore owner, pharmacist and newspaper owner-editor. At the age of 37 he went to university and became a doctor. "He" told of his experiences as a civilian doctor in the aftermath of the 1862 civil war "Battle of Perryville", which left more than 8000 casualties. Polk impartially ministered to those on both side.

Burleigh was a former black slave, tho' born free (his father was english), who ran away from his owner and enlisted in the union army at Frankfort. His story of life at Camp Nelson (where the "coloured" regiments were trained) told of how some of the unionists treated the blacks just as bad, if not worse, than the slave-owning confederates. Enlisting soldiers were granted their freedom, but their families were not - even tho' Kentucky was then part of the Union, it was a slave state. On a number of occasions the Union authorities actually drove the families of those who'd enlisted back to their masters, to a very uncertain fate. On one freezing winter evening, 400 women and children were forced at gunpoint to travel all night to a town where they were to be handed back to their masters. More than 100 of those evicted died. In total, of the 3000 or so refugee's who travelled to Camp Nelson (families of those who enlisted), over 1300 died. Upon leaving the army, Burleigh met up with John Fee, an abolitionist and founder of Berea College, who invited him to take part in that experiment - Berea was the first interracial college in the South. Burleigh went on to become Berea's and Kentucky's first black college graduate in 1875, which was just the start of his career. He became a teacher and preacher and for a while was the chaplain of the Illinois state senate. This last performance was certainly the most powerful and moving of them all, perhaps because Burleigh was a role model for the actor, a former gang member who after many years of struggle also graduated from Berea.

1st May, 1999: Local stuff- Frankfort, KY
Checked out a few things locally here in Frankfort we'd heard about. Right in the middle of Frankfort there's this big hill which is s'posed to have an old civil war fort on it. Saw a brochure that said it was to be the site of a special event next month, with renactments, and all kids of stuff. We found two roads leading to the hill top. One had a locked gate across the road and it looked to be 4-wheel drive only .. the other didn't have a gate .. and didn't need it. Looked like even mountain goats would have trouble with it. Oh well .. Then we headed over to the other side of town. Saw a mural last week which had some of the famous sites of Frankfort marked on it and there was an old mine marked, so we looked for that. Found the mine, but the mine buildings were long gone from the looks of things. Prolly drowned, from the looks of it. Think they mined limestone there .. we did run into a local who said his dad worked there and they mined "rock" .. the mines were just off the side of the road. Between the mines and the road was a big depression which was filled pretty deeply with water .. blue water too. Looked quite pretty. There was a duck or two and some fairly big looking fish in the water. The mines were mostly flooded, but you could still see the tops of where they'd dug into the mountainside .. plus a good part of the mountainside had been mined away too .. so in the midst of green covered mountainside and brown-stained rock there was this stretch of off-white, at the bottom of which was a lake of blue water. Just to make a contrast, on the other side of the narrow road was the Kentucky River - this time of the year a solid brown colour.

6th May, 1999: The circus!
The circus came to town! Not a big one and it wasn't one of those "family circuses" where everyone is related in some way, instead the performers etc were gathered from all over .. mostly local (Lexington, that is), but some were from Florida and others from .. well, somewhere. Not born in the USA at least.

There were three rings and all the usual circus fare .. a big cat show (nothing particularly spectacular, no great tricks, but nice looking "big cats"), juggling, gymnastics, balancing tricks .. like the guy who balanced on a ladder, holding onto one leg of the ladder with one hand and resting another leg of the ladder resting on a ball - oh, and he was upside down. The usual bunch of clowns doing clown stuff, more gymnastics and comedy stuff, some high-wire balancing stuff and a guy who rode a motorbike along a highwire .. the bike was attached to a cage underneath on which was seated a lady. At one point the bike and cage flipped around so the bike was upside down underneath - not original, but it is impressive. Other acrobatics stuff including a guy who did stuff holding on by his teeth! A trained dog show with the dogs doing tricks, some horses .. who seemed to mostly just run around the ring and little else .. one better trained horse did dance across the ring on it's hind feet. The whole thing ended off with a bunch of elephants who came in and did the usual elephant type tricks .. along with one who did a few tricks that the trainer prolly would have rathered it didn't .. I guess when an elephant's gotta go, it has'ta go .. and when an elephant goes .. boy, is there a LOT of mess! *grin* The guys with the shovels were kept pretty busy. Luckily that was the closing act. I'd hate to have been the next performer! The elephant let go, ahh, both ways.

All in all there was some pretty good performances, but also some pretty amateur ones .. I guess that's the danger with a circus like this, rather than the sort who have lived and performed together for years .. or even centuries with some of the family circuses. Still, it was worth the money.

On one final note .. I'd always though Aussies were akin to pigs, the way they'd leave a fair bit of mess behind after a performance or the like .. a lot of Aussies just dont think twice about littering. But these Americans .. phew .. I had a quick look around the seats (the circus was in an indoors arena, the "Farnham Dungeon"!) and the mess that'd been left behind by all the "pigs" would leave anything I've seen left by an Aussie crowd looking clean and tidy. Boy, was I disgusted! Mind you .. if it'd been back home there'd be garbage cans all over the place .. here I couldn't find one .. I was out of the arena and half way back to the car before I found a garbage can and that was a wheely bin being used by the circus people.

12th May, 1999: Kentucky History Museum: Part 1
Back to the Kentucky History. When we went for the first time we couldn't get in to see the museum part thanks to the crowds. This time it was pleasantly uncrowded .. apart from the occasional horde of schoolkids who went screaming thru' - literally and figuratively.

The museum was bigger than it looked from the outside .. creative use of the space, I guess. It's also got a pretty imaginative layout. Most museums just seem to dump stuff into the display area, with little care for order, tho' sometimes they may try to group some things together. With this museum, as you travelled along the meandering route, you progressively travelled in time. First the indians, then the pioneers, the "antebellium age" (1800 to the civil war), the civil war, the victorian era, the new century, depression and war and the present. Of course, for those who so wish, there are short cuts. In the centre there's a bunch of computer touch screens where you can summon up virtually anything on Kentucky history from who won the Kentucky Derby in 1896, just what is a mint julep to biographies of famous and infamous people in Kentuckian history. It took us about 2 hours to get up to the civil war section (about midway) before we had to rush the rest to get out by closing time. Another visit is called for, methinks. Each of the displays is also imaginatively laid out. No rows and rows of dusty display cases here. All of the sections have some interactive parts and also recreated scenes, some of them utilising animated robots (thankfully nothing hollywoodish, rather subtle things like the cat in the corner purring, twitching it's tail and playing with a ball of yarn). For those who like the rows of glass covered cases, they are there too .. tastefully located in drawers throughout the museum, which can be opened for those so inclined - such as the drawer full of arrow heads in the indian section. Oh, one other thing that deserves a general comment - most sections have at least one "privacy booth", something akin to the "Zone of Silence" on the tv show Maxwell Smart: a creative use of soundproofing and uni-directional speakers where you stand under a plastic hemisphere and you can hear a short lecture, examples of music, a poem and so forth. Yet a few metres away nothing can be heard of all. And no, the shell doesn't drop down around you .. it's comfortably above head height. Oh, and the museum is free!

The first section was devoted to the first Kentuckians (c.10,000BC- 1750AD) - the indians, who first arrived in the area over 12,000 years ago. The exhibts here describe the various different indian cultures who have lived in the state over that time, from primitive hunter & gatherer types in the early days to the more recent and fairly sophisticated societies living in towns of stone and wood, some with temples atop huge earthen mounds. Some of which had hereditary leaders, others elected. There was a display on daily life including clothing, cooking utensils, foods and the like. Another on weapons and yet another in the spiritual life of the different societies from the first Kentuckians up to 'till when the "whites" arrived in the area. The final display in the section as "cultures in contact" and looked at how the advent of "whiteman" affected the indian people, initially thru' trade, then thru' conquest and finally thru' extermination and exile. One haunting display had pictures of some of the famous Kentucky frontier pioneers (including Daniel Boone), with their stories .. and was titled "Heroes or villians?" All too true, depending only one which side on was on.

The next section was "The Kentucky Frontier (1750-1800)". Here there were several exhibits including "Newfound Paradise" which focused on the routes and ways in which the early white Kentucky pioneers entered the state .. by foot, horse or boat. The dangers they faced and the rewards some of them reaped. The first exhibit was focused on a recreation of an old pole boat, complete with cargo and crew. It was docked at the next exhibit, "Growing Communities", which was a primitive log cabin. Further on was "Home life on the Frontier" which showed life on the frontier farm & the primitive tools used, the different ways of making a log cabin and a second log cabin (and is actually a real relic itself), a bit more elaborate than the earlier one - each one inside depicting frontier homelife. The final exhibit in this section was "Forging a Commonwealth" and probably the most notable thing here was a copy of the original Kentucky Constitution.

The third section was "The Antebellum Age (1800-1860)". Here the main focus was on the great contrasts between the various levels of society. The rich and wealthy, the slaves and the free subsistence farmers - who made up most of the population. The contrasts between the way people of these three classes lived, played and worked. The contrasts between a primarily subsistence agricultural society & growing industrialisation. For the wealthy that mean a booming economy, for the rest it meant little or nothing. Kentucky was and still is one of the most rural states in the USA and even in the early 20th century there were many living exactly as their ancestors lived in the early frontier days, especially in the mountains in the south & east (the Appalanchian's). Even today you can find people in Kentucky still living in log cabins that are 100's of years old. There were exhibits featuring a traveller's inn, a subsistence farm, industry, a wagon with the master riding up front and a black slave in the back with the cargo, there was an exhibit on the music of each of Kentucky's three classes: classical, what would become "black gospel" and the early roots of bluegrass music, that most uniqoely of Kentuckian music styles. Other exhibits were on clothing styles, transportation - which included early privately owned toll roads (the Federal government refused to pay for the construction of roads in the new state!) and recreation - the Derby for the wealthy, more down-to-earth activities for the less "exalted". A final exhibit was on medicine: professional medical care for the rich; as for the poor, they made do with "old wives tales'. Some of which were no doubt helful .. but some were just plain bizzare. A headache cure involved giving the patient laxatives and raising blisters on their scalp! I daresay they'd be so uncomfortable from the treatment, the original complaint would go un-noticed!

This was as far as we got before we had to rush.

The next section was on the civil war & it's aftermath (1850-1875). The factors leading up to it, Kentucky's neutrality during much of the war, comments from generals on both sides saying that whoever won Kentucky would win the war - as it happened, the Union won Kentucky. The division of society over the slavery issue, abolutionists (wanted slavery to stop, NOW), emacapationists (wanted a gradual elimination), the pro-slavery faction and of course the slaves themselves. There were displays on the war itself and it's horrors including a home suffering from bullet damage and a tent hospital with an amputation underway - you could see the pain on the face of the patient and the suffering and horror on the face of the surgeon. Shining onto one of the displays, using masked lights, were two collections of stars, forming both the union and confederate flags. At the end of the section was a display on the aftermath of the war: the war may have ended but the feelings had not. In the following decades up to 1900 there were between 60 and 100 people lynched each decade, some blacks for "getting thoughts above their stations", others were whites who were murdered for being sympathisers. Next to a figure of a KKK member there was a plaque listing some of the many who suffered from this post-war persecution, gender, age, job or race was no barrier.

After the war came the victorian era (1875-1900). Homelife (that's where the robot cat was), the continuing "battle" between industrialisation and subsistence agriculture and how that violence spilled over into the community with family feuds that went on for generations and saw 100's killed. The most famous was the Hatfield-McCoy Feud, but it was neither the longest running nor the bloodiest. One such feud only ended when there was only one male left from the families involved, other's required federal intervention and a few even ended up in the supreme court! There was also an exhibit on Governor Gobels, who was assassinated the day he was elected in a result hotly disputed by the republicans (who lost) - no one has ever been charged. The clothes Gobell's wore on that fateful day were on exhibit, showing a huge hole .. in the back.

The next section was "The New Century (1900-1930)" and focused on "King Coal", which was Kentucky's biggest product during that time & included a similated coal mine. We had time only for a quick look there before we had to leave.

Oh, and what's a mint julep? It's a mix of mint leaves, water, sugar and bourbon poured over crushed ice. Some drink it shaken, other's stirred.

15th May, 1999: Danville and Perryville, Kentucky
The academic summer break has arrived, which means it's time for some serious sight seeing. Today it was down to Danville and Perryville. Danville was the first state capital of Kentucky and Perryville was the sight of a horrorfying civil war battle.

Danville is about the geographical centre of Kentucky ... at least it was in the late 1700's before the "Jefferson Purchase" when the US bought what is now western Kentucky off the Indians (no doubt for a few useless beads). The town was founded in 1775 and in 1785 Danville was chosen as the seat of government for the then "county" of Kentucky. A meetinghouse, courthouse and gaol were built on what is now known as "Constitution Square". In 1790 Kentucky became a state and the constitution was drafted there, tho' for the most part the drafting went on in many of the surrounding inns! One "radical" inclusion in the constitution was that Kentucky was the first state to grant to right to vote to all adult men, whether they owned property or not - elsewhere only property owners could vote. The first state buildings of Kentucky are very different from those of today or even of the last century. Primitive log cabins, one and all. There was the Supreme Court (1785) - a far cry from the luxury and richly furnishings of its successor, this one had rough wooden seats, lacking even cushions. There was the gaol (c.1786) - just as rough and primitive. There were two cells, one with a small display of artifacts, the other done out as it probably originally looked, bare with just a table, chair, wooden sleeping shelf and a ball and chain. Oh, and solid steel bars on the tiny window and the door. There was the old Meetinghouse (1784), used as a church, among other things. Church in there must've been a very dim and dark affair, even during the day. The post office (pre-1792) was the first west of the Allegheny mountains in Virginia. All of these buildings had simple displays in them. Also in the Square was the Watts-Bell house (1816) which houses a museum, alas closed for repairs, the Schoolhouse (1820) and Alban Goldsmith's house (1820), all of which were brick. Goldsmith's house was bought by Jefferson Polk in 1827. Finishing off the square was Grayson's Tavern (1785), a favourite for the early politicians. The whole site is filled with lush lawns, colourful gardens and a stack of memorials. There's also an art gallery in the Fisher Row (1817), but that's also closed for renovations.

Across the street from the Square was the home of Dr Ephraim McDowell, who performed the world's first successful abdominal surgery on Christmas Day, 1809, when he removed a 22 pound ovarian tumour from a lady who was initially thought to have been pregnant .. but when she was a month "overdue" they realised something was wrong. The operation was done without anesthetic (ouch!!) or antiseptic - this was in the days before people knew about infections and the only anesthetic was to drink lots of alcohol. McDowell avoided the inenvitable lethal infection that would have resulted from any abdominal surgery without antiseptic thru' pure luck: after he removed the tumour the patient's intestines fell out onto the table (yeah, gross), McDowell thought they were cold (it was winter), so he washed them with some warm water before putting them back and sowing up the incision. It must've worked - there was no sign of infection and the patient lived to the ripe age of 70. We were also lucky - our guide had just finished a research project on McDowell, so probably knows more than anyone else alive! The house was built in two stages, the first in 1790 and a latter extension in 1804, and is full of period furnishings, typical trappings for a successful professional of c.1800. There's also an extensive collection of medical instruments, which seemed to be mostly tools for bleedings and amputations, and portable "pharmacies", packed with all the essential medicines of 19th century health care.

Next door was McDowell's apothecary - back in those days doctors had to prepare their own medicines. The apothecary has a large collection of medicine jars, donated some years ago by a collector. There also all the other tools of the trade, balances, mortars & pestles to grind stuff up and even a tablet maker - the doctor prepared the medicine as a thick paste and used a tool to make long, thick strands, which were then cut into short lengths and dried. A complicated process and so consequently doctors back then preferred to give out liquid medications. The apothecary has a cellar .. according to local rumour, McDowell was said to keep bodies there to practice his surgery on. Probably just a rumour, but the practice was not unheard of elsewhere. Outside was his herb garden - just as doctors back then had to make their own medicines, they had to grow their own medical herbs.

There are lots of historical walking tours one can go on around Danville. We did two of them one along Main Street and the other the residental district along Lexington Ave, where all the local "money" lives. The main street is pretty antique looking and the city authorities have wisely kept all the power and phone lines out of sight and have installed old-fashioned street lighting, thus preserving something of the 19th century atmosphere. Saw the county courthouse, completed in 1862 - just in time to be taken over by Union forces after the Battle of Perryville. The Ayres Silvershop was built around 1790 and before owned by the Ayres' family, it belonged to Dr Polk. In the Lexington Ave-Broadway St there are lots of old and historic homes. The Montgomery-Rodes house (1836) is a large, Greek-revial style home, still owned by the Rodes family. For all that it was impressive, it was nothing compared to the Yeiser house, built in 1804 in the same style, with latter additions ... it was simply huge. It's perfect front lawn was as big as a football field, if not bigger. Just off Lexington Ave there's a row of mansions on Third St, all dating to around 1830-1850. Large, stately buildings, all surrounded by lots of large, leafy trees.

Danville is also home to Centre College, founded in 1819. The original building, the Old Centre, built in 1820 in Greek-Revival style, it is still standing and its architecture is very reminiscent of the exclusive private colleges to the east such as Davidson College. Danville's other famous institution is the Kentucky School for the Death, founded in 1823 and the first government school for the deaf in the US. Jacob's Hall, originally a dormitory, was built in 1857 in the Italianate style and is also worth a look. A final stop in Danville was the Old Crow Inn, built around 1790 of stone. These days it's a bed & breakfast.

West of Danville is the town of Perryville, site of a horrific civil war battle in which over 40,000 fought, which lasted just two hours (2nd October, 1862) and resulted in almost 8000 casualities: 1355 confirmed dead at the end of the battle (and probably twice as many more od injury and disease in the following days), another 766 missing, almost 5500 wounded. Even tho' the Confederacy won the battle, they were heavily outnumbered and had to retreat during the night, leaving Kentucky to the Union. It was this battle at which Dr Polk treated the wounded. Polk was one of those brought "to life" at the recent opening of the Kentucky History Centre. Every year on the anniversary of the battle there's a re-enactment. Most of the battlefield is now part of a state park and there's a museum and Confederate cemetery. The museum has a small collection of artifacts, most of which were latter recovered from the battlefield by locals, as well as a few artillery pieces. After the battle the Union dead were carried away to be buried in what is now a national military cemetery. The confederate dead were left to the locals (the Confederate forces having headed south as quickly as they could) to deal with and most of them were buried where they died. Near the museum there's a mass grave on top of a small hill where some 450 or so unknown soldiers were buried in four mass graves. A dozen or so were latter identified (mostly officers) and their names appear on a few gravemarkers and a monument. The cemetery itself is enclosed by a dry-stone wall (one in which there's no cement used). I do wonder how peacefully they lie - proudly flying above the graveyard is the Union flag. Today the whole area seems so peaceful and quiet, a few distant farm houses on the horizon. It's hard to believe that some 150 years ago the place saw one of the bloodiest of the US' civil war battles.

In Perryville itself is the "Merchant's Row", the original downtown district. Like most things, towns too evolve and even move - the original downtown district is now on the edge of the town. Lining the street are a few residences as well as restored stores, all done up to look much as they would've done back during the civil war years. Most of the stores looks to be a museum, full of merchandise typical of that time and also displayed much as it would have been back then. There was also the usual collection of crafts shops and cafe's. A tiny one or two room clapboard office still bears the very faded sign announcing it to be the surgury of Dr J. J. Polk. Polk was the town doctor during the civil war. The stores on one side of the road back onto the Chaplin River and along the shore has been built a nice promenade. Quiet, peaceful and shady - and with some quite colourful flower gardens. The most imposing residence on the street was the Karrick-Parks House, built in 1794. It's now a museum, containing the furnishings it had during the civil war, tho' was closed by the time was arrived. Behind the house there's a sinkhole containing a small flooded cave. On the other side of the river is the Elmwood Inn, originally a home built in the 1840's, now an elegant tea house and bed & breakfast.

Oh, and on the way home we passed thru' Nevada. No, we didn't get totally lost and end up in the state of that name, just the hamlet of Nevada, Kentucky.

Virginia: Birthplace of the USA

17th May, 1999: Waterfalls of West Virginia
Today was the start of a six day trip to eastern Virginia. Drove non-stop until we reached the south-east of West Virginia where we stopped for a late lunch and did a bit of sight-seeing. West Virginia is a lot more lush and greener than Kentucky, no doubt because it gets a lot more rain. While culturally Kentucky is part of the "south", geographically it's part of the Great Plains, which occupy the central part of the country. West Virginia is a rural state, much like Kentucky, but it has a significantly smaller population and so a lot of the state is empty - of people anyway, instead it's mostly forest. Near the villages of Falls Creek and Glen Ferris we stopped to check out some waterfalls. A 30-35 miles stretch of one road we were travelling on (US-60) was alongside the the Kanawha River in a narrow valley, so there were a number of small waterfalls right alongside the road where creeks were running down the mountainside and into the river. The first one (don't know the name) was near Falls Creek, a lovely little waterfall, with maybe a 50ft drop over several tiers and just a few narrow streams, at the base was a small pool.

A little bit further on were the Kanawha Falls. These were on the river itself and since it's one of the biggest rivers in the state, they are pretty impressive. The river at that point is several 100 metres across with a series of small islands scattered in a very rough line. Stretching between the river banks, from island to island, was a series of waterfalls, about 20ft high. There's even a small hydroelectric plant on one bank. Next to the falls is the Glen Ferris Inn (and the village named after it), which looks to have been built in the late 1800's as a ritzy tourist resort.

A few minutes drive past the Kanawha Falls is another small roadside waterfall, the Cathedral Falls. This one has a lot of terraced mini-falls and the water flows down in wide, lace-like curtains Simply beautiful. The waterfall ends in a pool at the base of a shaded sink hole, full of colourful butterflies and birds.

Further on the river valley turns into a narrow gorge and we stopped for a look at Hawks Nest State Park, so named for a lookout just off the road (which at this point is along the top of the ridge) which overlooks the river gorge and where hawks once nested. Just below the lookout the river is dammed and in the still waters of the flooded gorge you can see reflections of the walls of thge gorge and the clouds in the sky (assuming there are some, which there were). Quite a sight. Elsewhere in the park you can ride across the gorge on a gondola, tho' we skipped that and headed on to Virginia, finishing the day at Charlottesville.

18th May, 1999: Charlottesville, VA, and Monticello
Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia and even tho' the city is a pretty sizable place, almost half of it is part of the campus. Certainly the biggest university campus I've seen so far, in the US or back in Australia. The city has a "quaint" historical shopping district, but it's big claim to fame actually lies outside the city: Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, US president and author of the Declaration of Independence (but more on that latter). The mansion itself is one of the most important pieces of architecture in the country and there are countless numbers of buildings scattered across the US, either based on or imitations of Monticello, both homes and public buildings. The style is particularly popular with universities and colleges.

As a national landmark, it was no surprise at the huge crowds. It was a bit dissapointing to be rushed thru' the house tour, but it's understandable given how many hope to tour the place. Even tho' we arrived there around 9:30am, we had to wait until 11am before we got to go on the house tour. While we waited, we went on a 40 minute grounds tour, focusing on the history of the plantation (there's also a garden tour - Jefferson was also a botanist).

The guide for the grounds tour was quite knowledgeable and regaled us with tales of the people who lived at Monticello, both Jefferson and his family and the slaves they owned. Jefferson was a contradiction on the slavery issue: he said slavery was an "abominable crime", yet he owned 135 slaves, almost half of them children and during his lifetime he only gave freedom to two slaves, both of whom looked white. Children were put to work at the age of 6, by 16 they were working dusk to dawn. Still, he did treat his slaves comparatively kindly, even letting them live in families - then again, by law any child of a slave was also a slave, so allowing them to live as families meant there was always going to be more slaves born, which was cheaper than buying them. Also, a slave with children would be less likely to run away. Did he treat them like he did because of how he saw slavery, or was it just taking care of his property? Incidently, even if a slave was freed, if he (or she) hadn't left the state within a year, they'd become a slave again. Jefferson frequently rewarded his slaves with food and clothing for good behaviour (normally they had to make their own), but he also believed in punishment - one boy was lashed three times in one day. It was a hard and grueling life for the salves, one full of fears of being beaten or sold, never to see their families or loved ones again.

Jefferson did see all this as a contradiction. On one hand he saw himself (and whites) as being superiour to the "blacks", while on the other he saw slavery as a necessesary evil and a system under which the slaves were better off than if they'd been living on their own. He did believe "blacks" were inferiour, he _was_ a racist, just another average white slave owner of the times. In contrast, there were local landowners who were against slavery. One chap by the name of Cole took all his slaves to Illinois, freed them and bought them land. He became the first governor of Illinois, but today his name is just a minor footnote in history, yet a racist slave owner became one of the most well-known figures in US history.

Jefferson was also more concerned with other issues, such as the trouble with England and the Revolution. In the end, he needed the slaves to maintain his lavish lifestyle. Even so, he died $160,000 in debt (a *lot* back then). Slavery wasn't the only contradiction in his life - for someone so dedicated to "freedom", he treated his family like a dictator.

Most of the slave cabins and workshops no longer exist (unlike the mansion, they were made of wood), one cabin and the chimney of the wood joinery remain. Originally there were 17 buildings. Jefferson called the strip of cabins and workshops "Mulberry Row", named after the trees that lined the strip.

Recent controvery surrounds Jefferson's supposeded affair with Sally Hemmings, one of his slaves. Hemmings was actually 3/4's white and thought to have been the half-sister of Jefferson's wife. DNA testing and oral tradition both support the claim that Hemmings had at least one child to Jefferson. It's interesting to note that the two slaves he set free in his lifetime and the 5 set free in his will were all Hemmings and all looked white. Were some of them his children? Oral tradition says they had more than just one. Of course, the DNA testing doesn't say Thomas Jefferson _was_ the father, just that the father was either Jefferson or a very close relative of his. He was the only member of his family in the area tho'. One guy in the crowd seemed to be really upset at the idea that Jefferson would have evn thought to have had an affair with a slave. Oh, Jefferson's wife had died by this time.

North of the house is the family graveyard where descendents of Jefferson are still buried today - apart from those descended from Sally Hemmings, while the family now admits they are Jefferson descendents, they still refuse to allow them to be buried in the graveyard. Jefferson himself is buried there, tho' the oldest grave is actually a friend of Jefferson's, not a relative.

Then it was time for the tour of the mansion. As I already mentioned, history aside, the mansion itself is important - it's the only building in North America on the UN World Heritage List of International Treasures, a list that includes such famous landmarks as the Great Wall of China, the pyramids and the Sphinx in Egypt and the Tarj Mahal in India. Whatever else one could say about Jefferson, he was a genius, politican, leader, philosopher, botanist, scientist, inventor and architect .. he spent his fortune and 41 years (1768-1809) of his life building the mansion and in doing so founded the neo-classical style of architecture.

Entering the house one first comes face to face with his genius as an inventor: at the front door is a pendulum clock that he invented which tells not just the time but also the date and rang a bell on the hour that could be heard anywhere within Jefferson's plantation. The entrance foyer was filled with the results of another of Jefferson's passions - hunting. With skins, mounted heads and a collection of indian artifacts given to Jefferson by various indian tribes. There were also paintings, huge maps, fossils and more. The Sitting Room was the domain of the lady of the house, from there she directed the house slaves and entertained her guests. The rest of the south wing was Jefferson's personal domain, an area visitors rarely saw. There's the library ... Jefferson once said "I cannot live without books", the greenhouse, study and his bedroom. In the centre of the house behind the entrance there's the Parlor or family room where the family got together to play games, play music and the like. In the north wing there's two guest bedrooms and the Dining Room, where meals were served, and the Tea Room for between meal snacks. Two additonal floors, not on the tour, contain additional bedrooms.

The tour itself was so rushed it was hard to get much in the way of a detailed impression. Snippets here and there, plus an overall impression of luxury, yet at the same time it had the atmosphere of a shrine - many of the people there were not sightseeing, they were there as pilgrims and the guide seemed not so much describing as showing reverence. For a foreigner, it does take one back a bit, but I guess it's not surprising given the degree of patriotism that exists in the US and that Jefferson is one of the most revered national heroes. Around 60% of the furnishings are original, the rest are period pieces.

Jefferson's wife died after just 10 years of marriage. Even tho' he did take a mistress, he never remarried. However the "cultured" society of his time required a hostess, so he hired a lady to perform those duties and she, her husband and children all lived in Monticello. Jefferson loved books, so much so that he had a library of over 7000, covering a wide range of topics from religion to geography, science, law, politics, medicine .. Jefferson was a very well read man. When the Library of Congress burnt down in the 1812 war, Jefferson's library became the basis for the current library. He was a botanist and kept a detailed climate diary, had a greenhouse where he grew many exotic plants and kept in touch with botanists around the world. His office was filled with his weather measuring instruments as well as a lot of gadgets, some of which he built himself. He was also a musician, being an accomplisted violinist. Perhaps fittingly, Jefferson died on the 4th July - but he had the last word, he wrote his own tombstone inscription.

The building itself has lots of quirks, like the dumbwaiters built into the sides of the fireplaces in several rooms and the "All Weather Passageways". From the outside these seem to be just L-shaped raised wooden verandahs coming out from the sides of the building, with the long arm of the "L" stretching out in front of the main building like outstretched arms. At the end of each "arm" was a small building, one was the original home where Jefferson lived before Monticello was livable, the other a latter addition used as an office. However, from behind the house that's not the whole picture - the walkways are actually roofs covering the service buildings and one can walk underneath from the end of one arm past the kitchens, storerooms, dairy and smokehouse on one side, underneath the house itself, thru' a cool and dark corridor with more storerooms and the wine cellar, onto the other "arm" containing the ice house, stables and carriage house. Monticello is built on the top of a hill - from the front the walkway is only a few scarce feet about the ground, but from behind there's enough clearance to walk inside with height to spare.

The location of Monticello is another quirk - in an age where there was no piped water in the country and people genrally built their homes in valleys so they could collect the water running downhill, Jefferson wanted a place with a view - so he built his home on the top of a hill .. which meant some pretty imaginative measures to ensure a steady water supply. Even so, there were times when he had to have water carted up in barrels. The desire for a view was also the reason for kitchen's etc being put under the walkways. Normally the kitchen, stables etc would be in seperate buildings scattered around the main house, but that'd ruin the view, reasoned Jefferson, so he came up with his imaginative solution.

That was it for Monticello (tho' not Jefferson - you can't get away from him in Virginia). Next stop was Ash Lawn, home of another US president, James Monroe. Monroe was another talented chap, tho' his talents were pretty much used just in the political arena. In addition to being a president, Monroe was also Secretary of State and Secretary of War (they were more honest about labels back then, I guess), state Governor, senator and an ambassador. Monroe oversaw the Louisiana Purchase, whereby the US bought the French colony of Louisiana for a steal - the French needed the money desperately. He also has the unusual distinction of being re-elected for his second term as president without opposition. A speech of his became the Monroe Doctrine, still the cornerstone of the USA's foreign policy. Ash Lawn itself is a lot less elegant than Monticello, both the building and it's furnishings. Monroe lacked Jefferson's wealth, for all that they were of the same social class. Some interesting bits including very colourful original wallpaper in one room depicting a french hunt.

An interesting story about the origin of the nursery rhyme, "hickory dickory clock" - during one of the several wars in the US there was a brass shortage so Eli Terry, a clockmaker, had to go to imaginative lengths to keep producing his clocks. The clock was made from hickory wood, including the hands and gears! In fact while Henry Ford is usually credited with developing the factory process line, Terry had his wood carvers set to carve just the one piece each. Anyway, since wood does not give as smooth a surface as metal, the gears had to be regularly coated with lard, which of course attracted the rodents during the night - no house was without them, even those of the rich and mighty. And, yes, Monroe was another slave owner - he had 70 slaves on his planation. Outside were a number of outbuildings including the usual kitchen, overseer's cabin and various workshops. While the estate is only a fraction of it's original size, it still has pretty impressive gardens, including one huge tree that predates the house.

The final "target" for the day was "Mitchie Tavern", built in 1784 and moved 17 miles to it's present site in the 1920's, no doubt to cash in on the huge crowds visiting Monticello. The Tavern still functions as a restaurant, tho' most of it is now a museum. No guides here, just recorded narratives in each of the rooms on the tour as well as some outside. There's the common room on the ground floor with simple furnishings and a few games and the like. Upstairs there's a ballroom and several bedrooms. Visitors in the early days did not rent a room (unless they were quite wealthy), instead they paid either to share a bed (usually with a stranger) or a patch of floor where one could lay a blanket or a pallet. Then back downstairs to the kitchen & warming room (most of the cooking was done outside) and finally a tour of the outbuildings and the wine cellar which was underneath. The public outhouse had candles and reading materials. *grin*

On the same site there's also several other old buildings from nearby that have been moved to the one site. There's an old tobacco barn (1797), the Sowell House (1820) and the Meadow Run Grist Mill (1797).  The Mill is done out as a museum and still has a functioning waterwheel on the outside. Nearby is the Monticello Wine Company - among other things, Jefferson was the father of the US wine industry.

19th May, 1999: Richmond, VA - Day 1
Spent the day in Richmond. Capital of Virginia and also the capital of the former Confederate States during the civil war. Started the day having a look at Monument Avenue, which is lined with huge monuments .. mostly to Confederate war heroes, tho' there are a few modern heroes, one of whom would make the confederates a tad uncomfy I'm sure - Arthur Ashe, the first afro-american to win the US Open in tennis. A native of Richmond. Nearby is the Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart (1903), Richmond's second - an earlier cathedral (still standing) is St Peter's, near the Capitol. Sacred Heart is considered one of the most outstanding examples of Italian Renaissance style architecture in the USA. The foundation stone actually comes from the garden of Gethsemane in Israel. The large, dim and echoey interior is laid out in the traditional cross-shape. There's 23ft high corinthian columns, a 3900 pipe organ, lovely stained glass windows, a 96ft high dome over the marble altar (the dome is covered with copper on the outside), statues and carvings everywhere.

First "port of call" was the Virginia Historical Society Museum. Quite large and you'd need a whole day to do the place justice. Lacking that we just breezed thru', stopping here and there to smell the roses, so to speak. The Cheek gallery had an exhibit on Confederate weapons and told the story of the industrial revolution that brought a bunch of states that were essentially still pre-industrial into the industrial age. If the war hadn't ended as it did, the chances are that that "revolution" would have spelt the end for slavery before too long anyway. There were two other galleries, one devoted to George Washington and the other on Virginian history. The Washington gallery was mostly paintings of Washington .. it's unbelievable just how many of them there were, literally thousands!

The Virginia gallery starts off with a video in a genuine log cabin which gave a brief history of the state, from foundation to the present. Some interesting bits from the video - until large scale tobacco farming took off in Virginia, the English colonies in America were struggling and for a time looked like they could be abandoned, at least by the big financial interests. But with tobacco, the economy took off and the future as assured. Of course tobacco farming was labour intensive and that meant slaves. The first arrived in 1619 and by 1776, 40% of the state's population consisted of "black" slaves - tho' not all slaves were black, either in colour or ancestry. By the time of the Revolutionary War, Virginia was the most populous, wealthiest and most powerful english colony in the America's. But after the war things went downhill. A generation after the war, over a million Virginian's had left the state, seeking fame and fortune in the "new lands" to the west. Of course, by that time poor farming practices meant that much of the rich Virginian farmland had become marginal and the combination of the mass exodus and the destroyed farmland meant the Virginian economy collapsed and for the next 150 years or so the state remained a backwater, despite a brief resurgence of fame during the civil war - the Confederate capital was in Richmond and more civil war battles were fought in Virginia than any other state. Even today, outside of a few big cities, the state is sparsely populated and much of it is covered by pine forests. After the civil war, it was an ironic fact that "blacks" and women had less rights than they had before the war .. even for most white men! Only rich white landowners were allowed to vote. Even by 1905, to vote one had to be male, white, literate and rich enough to pay the poll tax.

One interesting tidbit: the US Declaration of Independence is universally held to be the work of Thomas Jefferson. In fact he wasn't the author, he was just the editor. A Mr Mason wrote the original and Jefferson shortened it, edited it here and there and got into the history books. Plagarism is as old as writing ... if not older.

The next two places we visited were anomalous, to say the least. In the early decades of the 20th century, before the Great Depression, it was popular amongst the financial elite to buy up old homes of European nobility and transport them to the US. Some were faithfully recreated, such as the French palace that featured in the James Bond movie, "Moonraker", others were cannibalised to create new-old homes. Virginia House and Agecroft Hall were two such examples. Virginia House was built out of the Priory of St Sepulcher at Warwick, in England. The priory was built before 1098. It was disassembled and transported to Richmond in 1925 by Alexander Weddell (it faced demolition back in England). Not knowing what the original looked like, it's hard to say how much of the architecture of Virginia House is that of the priory, but there are obvious elements scattered around the stone-block building and it certainly looks like an English manor - since the priory was probably confiscated from the church during the Reformation, it had likely spent the next 300 years as a manor and was undoubtedly modified by its owners. It was closed for renovations, but from the postcards the inside is furnished in 17th century English manor style, with genuine furnishings. The library even has a hidden passage. Outside of the manor were extensive English-style formal gardens, containing some very weathered statues, which looked to have also been originals from the priory - certainly they all seemed religious in nature.

Next door to Virginia House is the Tudor-style Agecroft Hall, named after the manor it was cannibalised from which was originally located near Manchester, in southeast Lancashire, England (originally known as Edgecroft Hall). The original manor dated back to 1376, tho' it was extensively renovated and expanded in 1636. The manor remained in the original family until 1925 when it was sold to a US banker. The manor had been abandoned in 1905 because coal mining had undermined the foundations. It was dismantled in 1926 and those parts that could be recycled were shipped to the US where they were used to "rebuilt" the manor. Those parts which were too decayed to be reused were carefully duplicated. Alas, while the house looks genuine, it actually isn't. Most of the materials used in it's construction were from the original manor, but the floorplan has nothing at all in common with the original (it's a 1/3rd the original size), it incorporates all the modern conveniences and was built around a steel frame. Oh well .. it *looks* original at least.

The original tudor-style manor was home to the Langley family before being inherited by the Dauntesey's when the male Langley line died out. When the US owners died (the William's), the manor was deeded to a foundation who now operate it as a museum. The library remains as it was when the foundation took possession but the rest of the manor has been furnished with period pieces typical of a 16th/17th century English manor - some pieces even date back to the 1400's - some 500 years ago! In fact while the floor plan is new, it's still laid out like a manor, just smaller than the original Agecroft Hall. Outside there are fairly extensive gardens (23 acres), including a formal garden, rose garden, fragrance garden, herb garden, knot garden and more. Inside there are two museum displays, one on the history of the manor and it's reconstruction in Richmond, the other a collection of old english military dress uniforms.

The tour itself starts off with a video about the manor, it's transplanting and the families that lived there, including bits of "gossip" such as the 400 year old graffitti on one of the window panes (all the windows are original). Since apart from the library (which has 20th century decor), none of the furnishings are from any of the families that have lived in the manor, the tour guide for the most part talked about the typical manor life and furnishings.

The first room we saw was the Hall. This would have been the oldest part of a manor, originally the lord and his family would have lived, eaten and slept here. As the manor grew and the lord and his family moved elsewhere, the Hall became the domain of the servants. Today the two-storey room (there's a balcony on the upper level leading to the family bedrooms) has huge tapestries and equisite wood pannelling on all the walls as well as a huge balcony window. The floor was slate, tho' originally it would have been stone, covered with rushes or straw. Since hygiene and table manors were not worries back then, the rushes served to catch and hold the food which fell to the ground. They were changed once a month and any drooped food or spilt drink would stay there all that time unless the dogs, rats or mice ate it. To keep the smell manageable, scented flowers were tossed over the floor in an attempt to hide the smell. Mind you, since people bathed prolly just a few times a year, the smell likely wasn't noticed all that much. Of course, all that straw would have been a fire hazard, so buckets of water were always kept near the fireplace .. not only was there rotting food on the floor, it was also wet - and you thought manor life would have been pleasant?! On the wall were hung various pieces of armour - ready at hand for the lord and his trusted guards to don in case of need. Anyone know what a blackjack is? It's a big beer mug, maybe 8-12 inches tall, made of leather. Regular use turned the leather black. Why leather? It was cheap and also it didn't break or dent if it accidently fell on the floor.

After the Hall was the Great Parlour. This was much more luxurous and obviously not meant for the servants. More tapestries and carved wooden pannelling on the walls. Wooden floors with mats made of rushes. Heaps of old furniture. There was a three-legged chair .. sounds unstable but they were actually more stable on an uneven floor than the more familiar four legged variety. Books (big ones, covered with leather), games, musical instruments and the like .. all the things that a noble family would use for entertainment. Lots of paintings - in fact there were paintings all over the manor. One interesting tidbit - girls played keyboard instruments while stringed ones were the domain of the boys. The same tradition held for the adults too.

The Dining Parlour had a bunch of tables butted up against each other in a "L" shape. Between meals  they were used for games. Seating during meals was mostly benches or stools. Only a few chairs, and those likely just for the lord and lady. Children? They had to stand to eat. Eating was done with knives, spoons and fingers and the food itself looked quite pretty. As far as the nobility was concerned, if the food didn't look nice, it wasn't worth eating. Wondered where cupboards came from? Originally cups did not stay on the table during a meal. Instead a servant would, on request, fill a cup and bring it to the table, taking it away again when it was empty. Between drinks they were kept in the cup board. A tasty looking pie? Don't think of eating the crust tho' - pie crusts were originally just there for appearances. The crust was removed and the pie eaten. Afterwards the crust was used again .. and again until it was unusable. There's an old nursery rhyme or the like about nightingales in a pie .. or something like that. Sometimes live animals were put inside a pie crust - birds, eels, frogs etc. The pie was then given to a young woman, who upon cutting it open would encounter the animals and scream .. much to the amusement of the others at the meal.

The stairway to the upper floor was beautifully hand carved from wood and was originally from the Warwick priory which furnished the materials for the neighbouring Virginia House. Each panel was carved from a single piece of English oak - not the easiest of woods to work with since it's so hard.

Upstairs were the bedrooms. They were all in a row, with only one doorway onto the hall. Apart from the first bedroom, to get to the others you needed to travel thru' one or more of the other rooms. And since the Lord & Lady had the room closest to the doorway, it did make it a bit hard for the others to sneak out for a midnight rendezvous! All the bedrooms were quite luxurous, with four poster beds with colourful bed hangings - some of them were covered with carved fertility symbols including dragons, satyres sand more. When privacy was desired, draps could be let down over the sides of the bed. The bed was usually the most valuable and cherished piece of furniture in a house, often in a will from those days the disposal of the beds is the first thing that's dealt with. Some of the bedrooms also had a "livery cup board", despite what the name suggests, they were actually used to store snack food and a mug of beer .. just in case one woke up at night feeling a bit peckish. On the way to bed one would grab a snack from the kitchen, fill up a mug and put them in the livery cup board. One never left such things on a table at night, even manor houses were simply crawling with rats and mice and a snack left on a table at night would end up in another's belly. Or bellies.

A few other tidbits: girls were taught to read (the nobility anyway), but the only books they were allowed to read was the Bible and their herbal - the as a future "Lady of the house", she would be expected to concoct medicines to treat (or try to) illnesses common to the time. Most of their time, however, was spent polishing their skills at needle-work - that was the one skill above all others that a lady was expected to be expert at. The boys? They wiled away their childhood hunting and fishing. Washing was done very rarely and even then, it was just the linens.

The library was left exactly as it was when the William's lived there up until 1967. It has a large collection of books, comfy chairs and couches and is the only room that has direct lighting - in the other rooms the lighting is very subtle, no doubt keeping with the atmosphere.

After Agecroft we headed into the centre of Richmond and had a look at the Capitol Building, sited in the midst of huge trees and an extensive lawn. Unlike other Capitol buildings I've seen, this one lacks a dome, but otherwise looks much like a Greek temple - the model for most Capitol's across the country. The building is showing its age, which is no surprise, I guess - it was built by Thomas Jefferson and is the home of the oldest legistative body in the America's. Next to the building is a big memorial & statue of George Washington and across the road is the City Hall, a big gothic-style edifice, easily bigger than the Capitol itself. What that says, I leave to the reader.

20th May, 1999: Richmond, VA - Day 2. James River Plantations
Day two in Richmond. Well the morning anyway. There's so much to see in Richmond that one could spend a week there, but alas time was limited. The Valentine Museum of Richmond history, the Egypt Building and the Confederate White House are just some of the other attractions we didn't get to see. We did, however, get to see a few more things in Richmond before we headed on.

St John's church was built in 1741 and was the site of the famous "give me liberty or give me death" speech made by Patrich henry in 1775. 'Tis a quaint wooden clapboard church, built in two sections with the newer part having stained glass windows and a bell-tower. The original section has just plain glass. The church is in the middle of a cemetery, with gravestones dating back to the 1600's, many so eroded that nothing can be read on them anymore. On the down side, it's the first time I've come across a church that charges you entry - and while it is a tourist attraction, it's still a functioning church.

One of Richmond's famous (or infamous) children was the horror writer Edgar Allan Poe and the city hosts a museum devoted to him. The museum is in the Old Stone House, built in 1737 and the oldest in Richmond. The Poe Foundation bought the house and the surrounding buildings and turned them into a museum and shrine, with the world's largest collection of his manscripts, first editions and the like. Mind you, Poe never actually lived in the house or even visited there, tho' he did spend most of his life in the neighbourhood and his mother is buried in the nearby St John's cemetery. Sadly, lamented the guide, that meant they could not tell any delicious Poe ghost tales about the house. The foundation eventually plans on moving to a bigger building and turning the house into a museum in it's own right. We didn't go into the museum, but the kind guide allowed us to look around the Old Stone House (now the gift shop) and the gardens for free. There's an enclosed courtyard with a shrine known as the "Enchanted garden" - named after one of Poe's poems, naturally enuf.

South of Richmond is Henricus City - which despite being called a "city" has a population of zero. People, that is. It's the site of the second english settlement in North America, established in 1611. Nothing is left tho'. They are in the process of re-creating the original settlement on the site. What remained of the settlement was destroyed in latter centuries by collectors who dug the area up looking for indian artifacts. So far there's a few buildings and part of a stockade. The rest of the site is just a nice shaded trail with markers noting where the original buildings were and what they were used for. With the exception of a church, they were all made of wood. The trail loops and at the midpoint ends at a bluff overlooking the James River. A nice view & peaceful with the birds singing, a few raptors flying in the breeze etc. If not for a bridge in the distance, there'd not be a single sign of humanity. The site is on a peninsula, with the river on one side and a wetland on the other. At the end of the bluff there are several memorial markers as well as the ruins of a lighthouse keeper's house from the 1800's. There are benches at the top of the bluff and it's quite pleasant just sitting there and absorbing the view. One can easily see why the pioneer's picked the site! Near the end of the bluff there's a side trail which takes you thru' the wetland, for the most part over a wooden walkway. A nice pleasant walk, with lots of wildlife, birds, fish, frogs, insects and snakes. Not for the faint hearted, I guess.

Henricus City was the site of the US' first hospital, aptly called "Mount Malady". I'm not sure if I'd want to get medical care at a place by that name! It was also the site of the first university planned for America, it was planned and chartered, but never built. It had the US's first library, first privately owned land and more. The town was abandoned after an Indian masacre in 1622, just 11 years after it was founded. Despite it's short life, the town had an important impact on the future - it was there that Pocahontas was captured (yes, she really existed) and was taught European ways; her travels in Europe fired the aimagination of many who then travelled to the New World to start a new life. Henricus City was also where tobacco was first cultivated and exported back to England - arguably moreso than anything else, the US was founded on tobacco, without that crop, the US would never have come to be.

After that we headed east along the James River to check out some of the many old plantations that are scattered along the river between Richmond and Williamsburg. Most of these plantations date back to the first 20 years of English settlement in the USA and includes the homes of presidents, impressive examples of architecture and much more. many of the plantations are still in use and among them are numbered the oldest continuous farms in the USA (excluding native enterprises, of course). While most of the plantation homes date to the 1700's, the plantations themselves date to the early 1600's. Belle Air is the oldest plantation house, dating to 1670.

Shirley Plantation is the oldest (settled in 1613) and is still an active farm - for it's first two centuries it was primarily a tobacco farm, in the early 1800's it converted to wheat and corn. The plantation house is right on the river bank and it fronts onto the river - in the early days access was via the river. The plantation was named after the wife of the first owner - tho' she never actually lived there. The plantation then passed to the Hill family who built the present plantation house in 1723, which is pretty much in it's original state. They had no surviving sons and it passed to their daughter who married John Carter, the richest man in the Colonies at the time. Their daughter married the Virginian governor who in turn was the father of Robert E. Lee, of civil war fame. The 11th generation of the Carter family still live there (upstairs). Like most James River plantation homes, Shirley faces the river: the river was the main transportation route and visitors always arrived via the river. The three story house was originally built in three seperate sections, the central building and two free-standing bedroom wings. The wings were also three stories high and had bedrooms on either side of a central hall. Sadly neither of the bedroom "wings" have survived: one burnt down and the other was demolished soon after.

Inside there's an unsupported three-story straight staircase  (it uses iron beams), still in fine condition and doesn't even creak - after 270 years - and lots of hand carved wood paneling. There's the ballroom with paintings and the staircase. Next is the parlour or drawing room with more paintings, couches, books and a table with an inlaid chess board. All of the ground floor rooms have wood panelling painted a dirty green. Not a particularly attractive colour, but chosen so it'd not show the marks of the smoke from the fireplace and the candles. The parlour actually had plumbing, which was vary rare for the time; fed by a rooftop cistern. The dining room has more paintings, cupboards full of silverware, elaborate carved chairs with needlework cushions, mirrors and chandeliers. Most are 19th century replacements - during the early 1800's the owners died young, their heir was sent to England for schooling and the plantation "looked after" by an uncle. Sadly he had a gambling problem and he sold off much of the furnishings in order to pay his debts. He even sold the lead covering on the roof! In the end the heir returned and kicked the uncle out. The last room on the tour was the bedroom, with a four-poster bed, a "potty" chair, secretary full of books, cabinets etc. And yes, more paintings. One of the paintings in the bedroom is said to be haunted - if hung anywhere else it falls down and there are strange noises. Believe it or not. :)

Continuing with the tales ... near the end of the civil war when the Union forces were approaching Richmond, the wealthy rushed to put their valuables in the bank vault. The Carter's missed the rush and were forced to bury their valuables  on their plantation. As it turned out, the Union forces took possession of the vault and everything that was in it - so in the end the Carter's lucked out. Even moreso, when the Union forces occupied the area and Shirley Plantation was turned into a hospital, the ladies of the house willingly worked as nurses and for their service, their house and it's furnishings were left intact - a fate not shared by some other plantation homes which were burnt down. On the amusing side, from the first generation, Carter women have carved their initials in the dining room windows using their engagement rings - a test to see if they were really diamond or not!

Outside are a number of out-buildings which, unusually, are all original - probably because they are all-brick, rather than the usual wood. The kitchen house, laundry house (both two story) and two L-shaped barns form, along with the house, the only surviving example of a Queen Anne forecourt in the USA. The forecourt is full of lovely gardens, full of flowers and herbs: colourful and fragrant. The kitchen house is furnished in the 18th century style, the laundry house contains the gift shop and the two varns contain a selection of 18th and 19th century farm implements. All four buildings are made from red brick, as is the mansion itself. Under one of the barns is the icehouse, for the storage of ice in summer. At various times the upper floor of the laundry has been used as a school (General Robert E. Lee had his first schooling there), a guest house and now an office. There's also stables, a smokehouse, root cellar and a dovecote (for pigeons). The smokehouse has a large bell at the top which was used to summon help from the fields in case of emergency.

Next stop was Berkeley Plantation, site of the first official Thanksgiving in the USA (1619) and birthplace of a signer of the Declaration of Independence and two US presidents. The place has lots of other claims to fame; supposedly the first burbon whiskey was distilled there, tho' historians in Kentucky may argue the point - likely it was whiskey rather than bourbon that they made. "Taps" was also composed there in 1862. The present mansion was built in 1726. We were hoping to look at the grounds since most of the plantations which could be toured only charged for touring the house. Alas that was not to be. Berkeley has lots of kiddie attractions like a pirate ship and entry to the grounds covers them. Oh well. Onto the next stop.

Westover Plantation is open only for a grounds tour, but it's certainly worth a visit. Built in 1730, it's arguably the most spectacular of the James River plantation homes and is considered the US' finest example of Georgian architecture - very stately and graceful, matched by the surrounding landscape. Like Shirley, the mansion originally consisted of a three story central building and two 2-story wings. The west wing is original, the east burnt down in the civil war and was replaced in 1900, when the two wings were joined to the central house. The east wing originally housed the Byrd Library. One interesting feature was a dry well, which led down to a tunnel which in turn led under the house and onto the river bank - built over fears of an Indian attack; in 1622 six people were killed in one such attack. The "Necessesary House" (outside toilet) even has a fireplace. Talk about luxury! There are several other buildings on the tour including the ice-house, the original kitchen and finely wrought cast iron gates. There's also the formal gardens, which are full of squirrels and birds, quite leafy & shaded, and contains the grave of the builder of the plantation mansion, William Byrd II, also founder of Richmond. The house itself is only about 50 metres from the river front. Nearby is the Westover Church, which has the third oldest tombstone in the USA.

Tho' the James River area is the oldest English settled area in the US, time has certainly taken it's toll on the early settlements. Jamestown, the first settlement in 1607, was abandoned and fell to ruins. Now only a few chimneys and the like remain (there is a re-created settlement nearby), Henricus City (1611) - nothing left; and the third settlement, Charles City (1616). Charles City still exists, but only as a tiny country town. We drove thru' it and didn't realise it until we came to a marked crossroads further on.

21st May, 1999: Colonial Williamsburg, VA
Williamsburg, "Colonial Williamsburg". When the first settlement of Jamestown was abandoned, they moved to a nearby site they named Williamsburg, after the then king, in 1699. Today the city has been restored to something like it might have looked at the time of the revolution (1775). Back in the 1920's John Rockefeller Jr, a resident of Williamsburg, gave $53 million to set up the Williamsburg Foundation, who'se purpose was to preserve the rich heritage of Williamsburg. Today the foundation owns virtually all of the old district (some 173 acres) and apart from catering to the tourists, it's involved in an active archaeological programme - there is still much more to research and restore. It's free to walk the streets of the settlement, however you need to buy a pass to go inside and of the buildings. You can even buy replica 1775 money for use in the settlement or to take home as a souvenier.

The site contains over 400 buildings, some 88 of which are original, that is they pre-date the revolutionary war, including homes, shops, taverns, public buildings. The remainder are the result of careful research, both historical and archaeological and are as accurate reproductions as is possible. Even down to the colour of the paint. Only about 1/4 of the buildings are open to the public, the rest are used for offices and staff residences - the foundation has around 3200 full time employees, not to mention a horde of volunteers, from archaeologists to actors to guides to behind the scenes types.

We spent a whole day walking around the historic area and touring some of the buildings  .. probably we should have spent several days, but time was limited. At first I was a bit dissapointed, between the hordes of schoolkids and the first impression of cheesyness, I wasn't all that impressed ... but after walking around for a while the crowds settled down, the kids seemed to vanish into rat holes and the place started to really "grab" me. The area contains homes, public buildings, shops, workshops, taverns and more. There's a gaol, courthouse, capitol and governor's palace. As well as the furnished buildings, there's also actors and guides all over the place in period costume. Once you speak to them you can readily tell the difference - the actors are living in 1776 and boy, do they stay in character! One can also take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

First stop was the cabinet maker's shop, full of 18th century tools, the cabinet maker, his apprentices and slaves all busy beavering away. Turns out that all those lovely and intricate pieces furniture from olden times are quicker to make with old style tools than they are with modern power tools. The design of old style furniture meant that the pieces had to be constantly moved as they were being carved - quick to do with hand tools, but when using power tools it takes a lot longer. As a result the design of modern wood furniture has changed to make it easier and quicker to make using power tools. Outside there was a team cutting wooden roof beams, both men and women, which is prolly an anachronism.

The Capitol (1751) was a figure-8 shaped two storey brick building with a wooden clock tower at the top. And yes, with the British flag flying proudly. At a time when public buildings were burning down almost every day, the designers decided not to include fireplaces in the Capitol and even candles were not allowed. Even so it burnt down in 1747. A second was built on the spot in 1751 and it burnt down in 1832. The present building was a reconstruction built in the 1930's. Records were kept in the nearby Secretary's Building, which even tho' it had a fireplace and candles were allowed, never burnt down and the original building still stands today. I guess the lesson there is never to temp fate too much! After the capital was moved to Richmond in 1780 the Capitol was used first as a hospital and then as a dance school.

The Capitol contained all three arms of the government. In one wing there was the supreme court on the ground floor and on the first floor was, naturally enuf, the Upper House (or senate). There was a corridor leading to the second wing where upstairs there were offices and downstairs (again naturally) the House of Burgess or the Lower House. Court justice back then was quick. There were no gaol sentences, one was either fined, branded (for a first offense) or hung. Juries were locked into a room without food, water, heat or sanitary facilities - which did tend to mean quick verdicts. Still, some of the laws wouldn't go down too well with people today .. it was a misdemeanor offense to fail to go to church at least once a month. Of course, if you were a woman or a slave that law didn't apply.

The Upper House consisted of the governor and other's appointed by him. The Burgess, founded in 1619, consisted of men elected by eligible voters - of course very few Virginian's were actually allowed to vote, only a few % of the population. In the Capitol we heard of the politics and shenagians that led to the revolution. When the revolution began, the governor fled and both houses ceased to function; the members of the Burgess then set themselves up as the defacto government, calling themselves the  Committee of Safety. Sounds very Orwellish to me.

Next was the gaol - not just the "home" for those awaiting trial, it was also home for the gaoler and his family. At the time of the revolution, the gaoler was also the organist at the town church. Macarbe. The gaoler was also the one who carried out the sentences - branding for first timers or hanging for repeat offenders (or those found guilty of serious crimes like murder). hanging was a slow and painful affair. The chair was gently removed and the offender suffocated. There was even a captured "english sailor", who was quite pleased to chat with another loyal subject of the English crown and warned me to watch my step! Of course, that was a slight anachronism - the first Australian colony was established in 1788. It was interesting to hear the view of the average Englishman on the revolution. Another chap was in gaol facing a treason charge from the Committee of Safety - he'd taught his slaves about Christianity and was accused of "inciting them to rebellion".

On the trail again. Had a quick peek at Powell House (no tours) and then onto Bassett Hall (1760). Not a particularly imposing place, for all that it was the home of the famous John Rockefeller Jr! It's open for tours, but only at an extra charge. Back to the Capitol where we saw a flintlock gun demonstration at the military encampment. Quite loud! Then had a look at the Secretary's Office (1748), originally built to store court records and supposedly fireproof. Well, it never burnt down. Inside there's a small museum display and a video. We then headed on down the main street to the business district. The Apothecary Store was full of 18th century medications, some still in use today, others like mercury and lead salts have long since been thrown out as being more dangerous than the complaints they were meant to cure. Slaves were not allowed to buy medicines unless they had a written note from their owners (and it was illegal for a slave to be literate) .. a law brought in after slaves tried to poison their owners.

In one spot on the main street there are a bunch of Taverns. We toured Raleigh Tavern. Tavern's were not just drinking holes, tho' they were that - they also provided accomadation to travelling men. Women and families were expected to find lodging in a boarding house (and there were several of them as well). The layout inside was much the same at Mitchie Tavern, tho' a tad more sophisticated ... Mitchie's was on the frontier, while Raleigh's was the in capital. There was a ballroom, a public dining room and upstairs several bedrooms. As with Mitchie's, the bedrooms were communal, tho' a wealthy man could afford one to himself. Tavern licences were strictly overseen and a complaint could see the license revoked - of course, unless your name had some pull, it's doubtful a complaint would fall on anything but deaf ears. Downstairs there was also a well stocked bar. The guide (one of the 1776 ones) was quite strict with some noisy kids and even asked a maid to take them away - much to the concern of the parents! He then went on to say that kids were expected to be seen and not heard. If nothing else, that is a big difference today! Out the back was the kitchens and the games room. The game of billiards (from which pool, snooker etc originally come from) was originally played on grass - hence the green felt on billiard (etc) tables. And the original cue's were called maces and came in two varieties, the one familiar today but also one which had a triangular shaped flat and flared end. How it was used I have no idea. Since maces were originally rather nasty weapons, I also wonder at teh origin of the game. One can almost picture some middle-ages barbarian using his mace to wack the heads of his foes down rabbit holes. Oh, wait. That's golf. Oh, and sheets were washed once every two weeks, so one should not expect clean sheets. Of course, people didn't bathe either, so who'd notice?

Checked out the silversmith shop, the barber shop (who made wigs, which were called "perukes", as well as cutting hair) and the Blacksmith's shop. A typical smithy, I guess, with the smell of metal, lots of clangs and pretty cluttered. Weatherburn's Tavern, built in 1751. The Powder Magazine (1715) was well away from any other building (apart from the guardhouse), which makes sense I guess. You wouldn't want to be near if there was an accident. As it happens, there never was and the original building still stands today. It was Governor Dunmore's removal of the gunpowder from this magazine in 1776 which touched off the revolutionary war in Virginia. Ironically, Dunmore had the gunpowder removed because he feared the colonials would rebell and sieze the gunpowder. I guess some days you just can't win. The magazine was not just for gunpowder, it was also the armory, storing guns, swords & all sorts of weapons and even blankets, tents & uniforms. Dunmore also issued a proclaimation that any slave who left his master and joined the royalist army would gain his freedom - something that didn't go down too well with the revolting colonials, tho' they in turn used it during the Civil War.

The courthouse was another original building and we arrived just in time to hear some "loyalty trials" conducted by the "Committee of Safety". If that sounds like McCarthyism to you, you are quite right. One of the self-appointed roles of the Committee was to stamp out any trade with England, no matter how minor. They literally went on a witch hunt. Volunteers were picked from the crowd to play the prisioners, but the transcripts and verdicts were all taken from history.

One guy was put on trial because he'd bought a morning coat (his mother had just died). The coat was from england, so he was accused of being a traitor. The verdict? He had to sell the coat and donate the money to the war effort. Another guy put on a ball - he was accused to spending money on entertainment when he could have also donated the money to the war effort. He also got off by paying a substantial donation to the war effort. Oh, the donations were adminstered by the court so it's questionable just how much of the "fines" actually went to the war effort and how much was pocketed. Another, a young lady (played by my friend & host), wrote a letter to her mother back in England, was charged with passing on military information and found guilty. Was she really a spy or an innocent? Who knows. The evidence was certainly slim.

Bruton Church was built in 1715, making it one of the oldest surviving buildings in Williamstown. Inside is a mix of plain and elegant. The building itself is fairly plain, yet the pews are carved from a deep coloured wood and there's a fancy looking chair in it's own enclosure - the Governor's chair. One macarbe thing are the graves along the main aisle. Outside is a cemetery.

Wythe House is another original. Wythe was a teacher and lawyer, mayor of Williamsburg and a law professor. He taught such luminaries as Jefferson, Henry Clay and John Marshall. Sadly he had no children. Outside there are gardens and out-buildings. Inside there are lots of bright colours - each of the rooms has it's own colour and both the furnishings and the walls reflect this. Bright blue, red, gold, green etc. Certainly not the kind of thing you'd find all too often these days. George Washington used the house as his HQ while he was in Williamsburg in 1791.

The Bush-Everard House was built in 1717. Everard (the second owner) started his life as an orphan in England. After that rocky start, however, he managed to rise up to the ranks of American gentry and for many years was the court clerk. One unusual feature of this house was the glittering appearance of the painted walls - once the paint was put on, it was then coated with layer after layer of varnish. While the varnish preverved the paint, it's purpose was to reflect the candle light around the room and so making things brighter. In his latter years his manservant slept on the floor at the end of his bed. Unusually, most of the out buildings were also originals.

We had a quick peek at the Governor's Palace from the outside, but didn't tour it (that requires the most expensive ticket, which is actually a year pass), so named by disgruntled American's who envied the governor his rich lifestyle. Of course, it goes without saying that there were probably a number of "American's" who led just as lavish lifestyles, but whom were amongst the complainers.

Despite the fact that there were British flags flying all over the place and not an American flag to be seen, I did get the overall impression of an anti-British sentiment (from the actors anyway), which I guess is no surprise since the "date" is in the days leading up to the declaration of independence.

After we finished with "Colonial Williamsburg" we walked thru' the shopping district (a bit more modern) and onto the William and Mary College, founded in 1693 and the second oldest in the US. The main building is the Wren building, first built in 1695 and rebuilt after a fire in 1716. It's the oldest academic building in continual use in the US. On either side are the Indian School (1723) and the President's House (1786). In the area also is the Public Hospital, built in 1773, the first in the US dedicated to treating mental patients. It burnt in 1885, the present day building is a reconstruction.

In the evening's there are even "Ghost Tours" (surprise, surprise!), but they usually sell out days in advance and after some 8 hours walking around, our feet demanded a break!

There was lots of other places in the area to see, tho' no the time to see 'em. Jamestown, the original English settlement. Actually there's two Jamestown's .. there's the recreated settlement and also the remains of the actual settlement - nothing left but some ruins. There's also Yorktown, site of the last major battle in the revolutionary war. While Jamestown and Williamsburg focus on the days of English settlement, Yorktown focuses on the revolutionary war. Plus heaps of plantations and Wolstenholme Town, an early settlement destroyed in 1622.

22nd May, 1999: The end .. for now
The sightseeing over, we headed back to Frankfort ... non stop apart from stops for petrol and food.

Well that's the end of the sightseeing for this newsletter. Coming up in the next installments will be a trip to Fort Boonesborough, Daniel Boone's fort; the Capitol Expo here in Frankfort and other sightseeing around the state - almost certainly including some caves. For a change of scenery I'll be spending three weeks in Canada, seeing the sights of Toronto, Niagara Falls and much more. On top of that I'll also be spending a few days in London seeing some of the history there.

And thaaaaat's all folks. For now anyway.

David Powell,
9th June, 1999; Frankfort, Kentucky, USA.

Ó David Powell, 2000. Reproduction for financial gain is strictly prohibited. I also do not guarantee any of the historical or geographical information given above.

Some web links of interest: The following is a list of web pages that have some connection with the above sites and activities. I've not checked most of them, so I can't guarantee that they'll all work or be current. For the most part they have been taken from tourist brochures etc connected with the above sites I've visited. Links are listed in the order that the attractions appear above.

Louisville, Kentucky Visitor's Centre
Kentucky Humanities Council
Kentucky Historical Society (& Museum)
Danville, Kentucky, Visitors Bureau
Perryville Battlefield site, Kentucky
Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia - home of Thomas Jefferson
Ash Lawn, Charlottesville, Virginia - home of President James Monroe
Agecroft Hall, Richmond, Virginia
Visitors information, Richmond, Virginia
Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia
Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Richmond, Virginia
Charles City & the planatations of James River, Virginia
Shirley Plantation, James River, Virginia
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

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