Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I was about halfway through Saturday's post (and still on Saturday, even) when my computer was frozen by the "FBI moneypak" ransomware virus. Fortunately my good friend Mr. Wonderful is a computer guru and is currently taking care of that and a few other issues for me (part of the deal being that I actually agreed to call him Mr. Wonderful for an undetermined amount of time, but when your back's against the wall, you do what you have to do).

I will be without my desktop for a few days, but hopefully I'll be able to work around that enough to finish the post on Yorktown if I can access the backup photos on my external hard drive. Printing Book 3 of the piano series I self-publish for one of my students is not as simple because the software I need is on the desktop, but fortunately she can wait until next week for that. As for the other newer files I have been working on that I've been meaning to back up ... well, it seems to be a good week to read instead of write.

So back up those files, update your virus protection, and then read a book. I'll go read a book, and then update my virus protection and back up my files later.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Williamsburg: Part 5

Capitol, Secretary's Office, Gaol, Public Hospital


After Jamestown burned for the third time, the capital of Virginia was moved to Williamsburg, and in 1705 the first Capitol building was completed at the end of Duke of Gloucester Street. To lessen the risk of fire, the building was designed without fireplaces, and candles and pipes were prohibited. After complaints that the building was damp, fireplaces were added, and the building burned in 1747.

A replacement was completed in 1751, and it was in this building that Patrick Henry delivered his "Caesar-Brutus" speech against the Stamp Act in 1765. Meeting in this building in May 1776, the Virginia legislature voted to send instructions to its delegates at the Contintental Congress in Philadelphia. Following those instructions, Richard Henry Lee rose on June 7, 1776, and read the resolution, "That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved." John Adams seconded the motion, and after debating it, twelve of the thirteen colonies voted for independence on July 2 (not July 4), with New York abstaining until July 15.

After the capital was moved to Richmond in 1780, the Capitol building was used as a court, hospital, law school, grammar school, and female academy. The west wing was demolished in 1793. The east wing burned in 1832.

Despite the historical significance of the second Capitol building, Colonial Williamsburg reconstructed the 1705-1747 building since it was better documented and had more interesting architecture. A two-story H-building, the east and west wings are connected by an arcade.

Southern facade of the Capitol
The first floor of the west (left) wing housed the General Court and the colony's secretary while the House of Burgesses and its clerk occupied the east wing. Upstairs was the Council Chamber, Council clerk's office, lobby, three committee rooms, and a conference room.


House Chamber
Council Chamber
The western facade faces Duke of Gloucester Street
Balcony overlooking Duke of Gloucester Street
Colonial Williamsburg performs half of a two-part outdoor drama on alternating days dramatizing the events leading up to and following Independence. Each act is set outside relevent buildings with both the characters and the audience traveling down Duke of Gloucester Street for the next scene.

The crowd begins to gather in front of the Capitol
Arrival of the royal governor

Confrontation with Patriot leaders

Following the fire that destroyed the first Capitol building, an outbuilding was designed to house and protect government documents. Of brick with interior walls of plaster laid directly on brick and floors of stone, the only flammable material used was the wood in the chair rails. Four fireplaces were designed to prevent downdrafts from driving sparks into the room while removing humid air and protecting the documents and leather-bound books from mold and mildew.

Secretary's Office

The Gaol (pronounced jail) was built in 1704 to house prisoners awaiting trial, convicts awaiting branding, whipping, or hanging, debtors, runaway slaves, and sometimes the mentally ill. The word gaol comes from an old French form of a Latin word meaning cage. The building also included living quarters for the gaoler and his family.

Two additional debtors' cells were added 1715. Debtors were held twenty days at public expense. Afterward, their creditors were required to fund the cost of their incarceration at about five pounds of tobacco a day. In 1772, creditors became wholly responsible for the cost.


The Public Hospital consisted of 24 cells to secure and isolate the patients. Each cell had a barred door, a mattress, chamber pot, and an iron ring to which the patient's wrist or leg fetters were fastened. Treatments included restraint, drugs, plunge baths, bleeding, blistering salves, and the use of an electro-static machine. Two dungeon-type cells were later dug under the first floor "for reception of patients who may be in a state of raving phrenzy."

Treatment of mental disorders later began to shift toward "moral management" urging self-control and included work therapy and leisure activities. Rooms were furnished with beds.

Later called Eastern Lunatic Assylum, additional buildings were added as the number of patients grew. The original buiding was destroyed by fire in 1885.

Eastern State Hospital relocated to land provided byJohn D. Rockefeller Jr. in the 1960's, and the Public Hospital building was reconstructed in the 1980's.

Return to Part Two Governor's Palace, Palace Green, Robert Carter House
Return to Part Three George Wyth House
Return to Part Four Tucker House, Randolph House

Williamsburg: Part 4

St. George Tucker and Peyton Randolph Houses

St. George Tucker House, central section
 Born in Bermuda in 1752, St. George Tucker sailed to Virginia to study law under George Wythe at the College of William and Mary in 1772, and later succeeded Wythe as law professor at the college.

The rambling house Tucker settled in on Nicholson Street was much like his family. Married twice, with nine children and five stepchildren, Tucker purchased a one-story center-passage house on Palace Street, moved it to its current location facing Market Square, added a second story, built a shed addition to the rear, and added wings to both sides with a kitchen on the west (left) wing connected by a covered way.

West wing of St. George Tucker House with kitchen on left

Although best known for editing Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England for American law students, Tucker was also an inventer. He constructed Williamsburg's first bathroom by piping heated water to a copper bathtub in a converted dairy house in his backyard, and invented a steam-powered water pump and an "earth closet" that removed "night soil" through the wall of his house. The Tucker house also boasted Williamsburg's first Christmas tree in 1842.

Master bedroom in East wing

Tucker descendents lived in the house until 1993. The St. George Tucker House currently serves as a hospitality house.

Also on Nicholson Street facing Market Square is the Peyton Randolph House.

Peyton Randolph House on Market Square

Born in 1721 to Sir John and Lady Susannah Randolph, Peyton continued his father's legacy of public service. The only Virginia-born colonial to be knighted, Sir John purchased two wooden houses 36 feet apart on Market Square and joined them with a center building. The house was inherited by second son Peyton.

While the center and western (left) sections connected, there was no passage to the east (right) section, which may have been an office or rental property.

Outbuildings in rear (north) of the house included a two-story kitchen, coach house, stable for twelve horses, and a dairy.

The kitchen is connected to the house by a covered way

The Randolph family is one of those First Families of Virginia from whom everyone else either descends, marries, or both. Thomas Jefferson's mother, Jane Randolph, was a cousin of Peyton Randolph. Peyton's wife Elizabeth "Betty" Harrison was the sister of Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence. Other relatives included Chief Justice John Marshall, General Light-Horse Harry Lee, and General Robert E. Lee.

Peyton Randolph studied law at London's Middle Temple. Returning to Virginia, he served as the colony's attorney general, presided as Speaker of the House of Burgesses during the years leading up to the  Revolution, and then as Chairman of the Virgina Conventions. He served as the first and third President of the Continental Congress, being succeeded by John Hancock. He died in October 1775.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wild & Crazy Turkeys

I just saw the weirdest thing on my way home from church. Several cars had stopped in the middle of the road just past my driveway, so I stopped after I pulled in to see why and there were these two huge, crazy turkeys just running around in the middle of the road, not letting anyone past in either direction. It was so strange. Any turkeys I've ever gottten close to have taken off running. I don't know if these were disoriented by the traffic or they just didn't care, but when they finally decided to get out of the road, they just started nonchalantly strolling across my field like they didn't have a care in the world.

They were too far away to get a picture of them, so I didn't get out my phone. I quickly regretted it because when I got down the driveway there was another huge turkey. When I drove up on him, he flew over the driveway and went running across my yard to disappear into the woods.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Williamsburg: Part 3

George Wythe House

The George Wythe House on the Palace Green. The steeple of Bruton Church is just to the left of the house.
On the Palace Green, situated between the Robert Carter House and Bruton Parish Church, is the George Wythe House. The house was built in the mid-1750's by Wythe's father-in-law, Richard Taliaferro, for Wythe and his second wife, Elizabeth.

George Wythe House with Robert Carter House to the right. The Governor's Palace is located just to the right of the picture.

The house is two-story brick with two rooms on either side of a central stair hall. Chimneys between each pair of rooms provided fireplaces in all eight rooms.
George Wythe, born 1726, was a Virginia lawyer who served in a variety of political positions, but his primary influence was that of law professor. Students of his included Thomas Jefferson, Chief Justice John Marshall, and St. George Tucker.

In 1775, Wythe was elected to the Second Continental Congress which approved the Declaration of Indepence, written by Wythe's student Jefferson. By the time the document had been engrossed and was ready to sign on August 2, 1776, Wythe had returned to Williamsburg and did not sign until later. Delegates signed the Declaration geographically, beginning with New Hampshire and progressing to Georgia. In respect of Wythe's influence, when their turn came to sign, the Virginia delegates present left space for Wythe's signature, and then followed with Richard Henry lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, and Carter Braxton.

In 1779, Wythe became the first professor of law in the US when he accepted an appointment to the reorganized College of William and Mary. After the capital of Virginia was moved to Richmond, Wythe taught classes in the old Capitol building.

An opponent of slavery, Wythe freed several slaves, some of whom remained in his service. Having no children, Wythe made a grandnephew, George Wythe Sweeney, his heir, but left generous bequests in his will to former slaves Michael Brown and Lydia Broadnax.

When Wythe and Michael Brown were both poisoned, a grand jury indicted Sweeney for murder in an attempt to inherit the entire estate and cover up forged checks that he had written against Wythe's accounts. The forgeries were discovered in time for Wythe to change his will before he died, but Sweeney was never convicted of the murder. Lydia Broadnax, the cook, may have witnessed the poisoning, but an African American was not allowed to testify in court against a white person. All other evidence was circumstantial and not strong enough to support a conviction.

The kitchen where the poisoning of Wythe's food allegedly took place is the little white building to the left of the main house.

Rear of the house.
Formal garden
I don't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure one of these little buildings was the Necessary (upper class Virginians didn't have "outhouses")

Dove Cote, where squab (young doves) would be raised to eat


Stairs to stable loft

Dining Room

Dining Room looking into downstairs guest room

Dining Room windows

Downstairs guest room looking into dining room

Downstairs guest room

Office closet

Downstairs stair hall

Opening the front door makes it a little less dark and depressing
Downstairs guest room
Downstairs guest room

This room was in the middle of being spruced up when I was there

Upstairs hall

Master bedroom

Master bedroom sitting area

Master closet

Guest room

Guest room

One of the outbuildings behind the Wythe House housed a display on weaving, dyeing, and spinning

Looking from behind the Robert Carter House across Prince George Street past some of the Wythe outbuildings into the Wythe back yard.

Return to Part Two Governor's Palace, Palace Green, Robert Carter House
Continue to Part Four Tucker & Randolph Houses
Continue to Part Five Capitol, Secretary's Office, Gaol, Public Hospital