Dearest Diary

Day 1 – Williamsburg

Dearest Diary,
I arrived in Williamsburg.  The heat was more than I could bear but I muddled through as I disembarked from the ship. After being aboard the ship for all those weeks, I was not prepared for the weather. Father had sent letters telling me the weather was hot and muggy, but I do not think I truly understood until I arrived in the town. Williamsburg is larger than I expected. While I tried to cope with the incessant heat, even my fan did not bring me relief, I tried to become accustomed to the hamlet.

Of course nothing can truly compare to London. Father’s letters tried to describe it to me but I think he did not do it justice. For a colonial town it is much more delightful than even I expected. Mary Snowdon will be quite surprised when she arrives on the next ship. Her father made her think it was a town to rival London, but I doubt there are any lords here who will offer her a hand in marriage. From what I can see thusfar, the men are all tradesmen and are busy toiling every day.  I do see a few carriages rolling along the main thoroughfare, but even those do not give me hope to find many men of marriageable age who would provide entertainment for me and most definitely not her.

I am staying in a quaint inn for the evening before I meet up with father tomorrow. A clean establishment, the innkeeper has a room on the first floor but I have been given a fairly large chamber with two beds.  I hope I do not have to share a room because after the crowding on the ship, I relish the idea of sleeping by myself for the first time in weeks.  I also long to sleep without falling out of my bed.
The smell is infinitely better than the ship. I think the rodent population stayed on the Merry Lady.  Or at least I hope so, because I dare say the idea of sharing my current home with even one of those fellows does not please me.  Father has assured me no such rodents reside here although he has said I will find several other animals quite new and interesting.

Since the hour is now late, I will say good night, but I will tell you more tomorrow as Father has told me we will travel to Jamestown to see where John Smith first landed.  I am quite excited because I learned from Mrs. Peabody about an Indian woman who traveled to London many years ago. I wonder if I will see any Indians myself.

Day 2
Dearest Diary,

Frances Street was unusually quiet this morning but once I reached Duke of Gloucester Street I understood why.  People milled about discussing the trial last eve.  The women of Williamsburg had a deep sympathy for Mrs. Hill.  She is a well-loved lady of the town.  People know her and her husband extremely well.  Being new, I have no real opinion of either lady so I declined to respond while people talked.

Mrs. Anderson did not like the lady found guilty - "a most unfriendly sort" and "never smiled" were words she uttered while Mrs. Hill was "likable and friendly" and "a pretty woman even as she aged."  It would appear that even in Williamsburg a person's looks can make people think a certain way about a body.  Not one to judge a book by its cover as my Father has always stated, I cannot declare either woman pretty or not. I am certain if Mary were here she would have an opinion.  She has an opinion on everyone she meets.

I milled about the shops, browsing to my heart's content but dared not hope for anything new today. Father seems preoccupied so I dared not ask for pin money to purchase a few necessities.  I will do with what I have brought with me in the meantime.  There was no rain today so the streets teamed with people and liveried carriages.  Everyone appeared to have taken advantage of the lovely weather.  If Williamsburg is like this, I think I could be persuaded to remain.  Father says he will take me to the plantation home later in the week.

Diary, a most glorious thing occurred today.  More than I dared hope.  Father arrived home with a large  box. When I opened it I could not contain my excitement.  The most delightful, exquisite gown of red satin with gold piping and Brussels lace at the sleeves was nestled inside.  When I asked Father about the occasion, he explained we would be traveling to a fellow gentleman's home on the morrow.  There will be a ball and I will be introduced to the finer people of Williamsburg's society.  Apparently the lady will sponsor me during the upcoming season.

I think I shall retire early this evening in preparation for the day.

Fare thee well, diary.

 Day 3 –

Today we went to Jamestown settlement.  One of the fascinating facts we learned was that for many hundreds of years, it was thought that Jamestown had been washed into the river. The recreated settlement we visited was filled with historic recreations – Indian homes – muchega (sounds like Jamaica). We got a chance to see artifacts such as bone hooks for fishing, shells for scraping fur from the hides, and beaver pelts. We got a chance to see how baskets were woven and we even given a chance to weave our own baskets. This is something we should definitely do together.

My favorite part of the day was visiting the three ships – the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery (I think this is the 3rd ship). We got to go on the ship and see where cargo was held. We saw where the people slept. It was interesting to see that the majority of the people who traveled here had to sleep on top of the cargo and had only about 3.5 feet of space for between the beams and where they slept. Many of the sailors had to sleep in shifts depending on when they worked a top deck. Only the captain the cook had their own quarters.  The cook usually slept atop the quarter deck and was right next to the stove/oven for cooking.  The captain’s quarters were towards the front of the ship. He slept in the quarters in front of the officers who had to share one chamber.  The captain had a small room to himself but in reality, compared to what his men had, this was quite extravagant.

After seeing the three ships we traveled to the real Jamestowne settlement. We saw where the archeologists are currently digging to unearth the church. They managed to dig of several graves and marked several others.  During the Great Hunger time, the population went from over 300 to about 60 people. To not let the Indians see so many men had died, they buried them inside the dwellings. They thought  they would leave on the next ship and began to depart when Lord De la Ware arrived with new provisions and an extra 200 men.  This allowed the settlement to continue.

Rain poured from the sky but we did a fun activity – Mary had cut up postcards and numbered them.  We are going to work together with the other people who have the other parts of our cards.  A great way to get students to work together.  We also did an activity where we pretended we were indentured servants and had to convince the agents to take us to America. Some teachers were the agents and others were the servants. The more points you earn, the better you did.  Another fun activity for the students in order to understand about indentured servitude and how people worked the system to their own gain.

Finally tonight, after eating at Christiana Campbell’s tavern, we went on a guided tour of Williamsburg.  We ended the evening at the a court hearing for a woman accused of witchcraft.

Day 4

Dear Diary,

The sky opened up, dumping buckets down on us this morning.  Tess, my maid brought me a message from Father who left already for the day.  He was going into the country to oversee the building of our new house. For Father’s faithful service to the crown he has been given 3000 acres of land in which to grow crops and build a home. I would prefer a home in London, but Father stated this is a great honor.

How any work was to be done in this weather is beyond me.  Rebecca awaited me in the parlour.  We were to call on a Mrs. Powell late in the morning.  Tess helped me dress, and while longing to look my best for this woman of society, I dared not ruin my satin pumps in this changeable weather.  I realize you think ‘tis silly of me since London’s weather is not the best, but I can tell you, diary, the heat here is something I have never experienced in my life.  Instead of wearing my best silk and brocade slippers from the Orient, I slipped on serviceable black shoes and set my cap into place.  Tess brought me my bonnet and I descended the stairs to meet Rebecca.  My  nerves all a jumble, I knew Father depended upon my perfect behavior as it would reflect upon him, but most of all, if women in Virginia were anything like London women, gossip could destroy both of us.  I understood the weight of this meeting this morning and vowed to do my very best.

Diary, I had nothing to fear.  Rebecca’s effervescent attitude lifted my spirits on the rainy morning and helped ease my nerves when having tea with Mrs. Powell.  Her home, while not what I am accustomed to in London, ranked with some of the finer homes in the country of England.  Mrs. Powell is an amiable woman who welcomed us into her home and out of the pouring rain. Thank goodness Father summoned a horse and carriage to take us the distance from Colonel Criswell’s home or not only would my dress have been ruined, but I vow I would not have made a good impression.

We were ushered into her cozy home and into her parlour where we were served tea and a delightful dish called bread pudding. Apparently the concoction is a specialty of her cook’s, a woman renown across the county for her cooking.  Mrs. Powell delighted in informing us of her cleverness in stealing the woman away from a local tavern. The pudding was indeed tasty, but I still prefer a good English scone to the thickness of the bread pudding.  Alas, just another thing I must grow accustomed to here in Williamsburg.  (personally, I am beginning to enjoy it here, but I dare not tell Father too quickly or it would ruin our relationship).  While at Mrs. Powell’s she recommended a traveling dance instructor by the name of Mr. Bruce who should be able to assist me in learning the local dances as well as brush up on London’s  dances.  I did not have the heart to tell the woman I had a perfectly adequate instructor while living in London.  It would appear rude and I must not do anything to harm Father’s reputation.

Upon leaving, Mrs. Powell commented upon my surprise on the institution of slavery.  A mulatto girl stood at attention in the corner of Mrs. Powell’s room.  I believe we call it a parlour in London.  I hardly noticed her presence except when my tea cup was instantly filled.  I thanked the girl until Rebecca gave me a look.  I can only guess I did not make a social faux pas which would hurt Father’s reputation too badly.

As we bid Mrs Powell farewell we headed back to my quarters. We passed the town square.  A man and a young boy were in the stocks - looking quite miserable in the excessive heat.  Just before we reached my building, the sky once more opened up – christening me thoroughly to Williamsburg climate.  I believe it rained more today than I have seen in weeks in London.

A refreshing nap to prepare myself for this evening’s ball made me long for the cooler London climes.  Suddenly the gorgeous gown did not seem as appealing.  (describe Peyton Randolph house)

Father said I acquitted myself well this evening.  Mrs. Randolph has invited me to join her household as they travel the shops tomorrow and eater dinner together.  I met so many people I doubt I will recall all the names, but Father insists I must since I will be mistress of our home in the country. 

Before I continue, let me tell you about the dancing.  Not only do they known the minuet, but also the contre danse, which here they just call a country dance.  I do believe there are many things so much like London that I feel my time here will not be as unpleasant as I once thought.

I forgot to mention Father introduced me to a man named Patrick Henry this evening.  I feel he must be rather important to the people here because so many men wanted to speak with him. I only had a chance to say hello and even then, just a brief curtsy. He was polite yet preoccupied. When Mr. Henry went off to speak with the men, Father explained the colonies were growing and a lot was happening.  He also told me to be nice to men like Patrick Henry and another man named Thomas Jefferson because they will rule this land before long.  I do not know how this will be possible if King George is still alive and waiting to hear work from you.  I also wonder, and I know ‘tis treason to do so, but if Father received so many acres of land from the king, how can he stand around and speak with men such as this? It puzzles the mind, but then I guess I am not supposed to think on such matters.  Such is the plight of a young lady both here and in London.

Day 5
Dear diary,

I wish I could write more but the hour is late and my day was so full of exciting adventures, I am afraid I will fall asleep before I recount them all. 

I find myself in town.  Father has an account at Mr. Greenhowe’s store and I am to purchase items I feel we will need in our new home.  Much to my delight father has transferred a sizable amount of money to this merchant’s account for just said purposes.  All manners of sundries must be purchased so several shops are on my list today.  At each one I shall let them k now Mr. Greenhowe holds our note of credit.  Thank the heavens it is just as London, for I fear that the concept of money and the exchange would confuse me terribly.  Not that Father did not hire an exemplary tutor in Mr. Broadhurst in London.  On the contrary, he taught well enough to do my numbers, but when trying to do an accounting in one’s head in this god forsaken heat, I fear I could make a terrible mistake.

Many of our belongings are being stored at the warehouse.  The silver brought from England included are packed soundly in a crate.  I know this because I saw them seal the lid before we left. Father said all is safely kept under lock and key so as not to attract too much attention. Just as in London there are n’er do wells who might attempt to take that which does not belong to them. So I am to not worry about those goods and concentrate more on decorations and household supplies to make our home a Virginian home.

As I visited the millinery, I was surprised by the variety of fabric available to me.  Bolt after bolt of London goods faced me, surely rivaling anything I had seen in town on my visits there. The major milliner had several apprentices working for her.  All capable hands, I’m sure, but if I am to be clothed properly, I want the master milliner to create my clothes.  Father stated my current clothes should do, but as I have seen the ladies of Williamsburg are already wearing the current fashions, I will need to keep up with London if I am to make an impression.

Rebecca and I met up with a friend of hers, Elizabeth from the far northern colony of Massachusetts Bay.  We went to the coffeehouse just near the Capital building.  The young girl who attended us inquired if we needed a room to let.  I guess she noticed I was new in town, but we declined and we were quickly shown into the back where more ladies were gathered. The men were at the Capital building. An important debate was occurring today – something about rights and such. We listened as the other women gossiped and I must say, the entire even fascinated me. All the men of voting age were gathered.  The woman said the debate got pretty heated yesterday as several large plantation owners argued to not go against the king, while others are mad over the taxes they pay.  I don’t understand, truly.  We pay plenty of taxes at home.  I should know.  I help Father with the books.  Especially with him in the colonies. The taxes they are complaining about do not compare to ours.  Why, our taxes are more than double what they pay.  Which is one of the reasons Father moved me here.  He feels we will have a better chance at a wonderful life here in these colonies.  I just wish he had chosen a cooler clime.  Something more like London would have suited me fine.

Day 6
Dear diary,

So much is happening in this city I have now come to call home. While our new home is still under construction, we have found a lovely home on Frances Street for the time being. The owner is off assisting Colonel Washington and we are staying at his home for the duration.

Father explained there was a great debate about freedom for these colonies in the town today. He was at the King’s Arms and a lady Mrs. Purdy has quite the collection of characters coming from the capital house to speak and knows all the good gossip.  Apparently the dance instructor father intended to hire for me is quite the wastrel and we have dismissed my upcoming lessons.

The Bruton Parish church is lovely but small. We do attend services at a much larger church in England, but here they still observe all the same traditions. Everyone who is anyone, father said, was at services this morning. It must be true because the pews were cramped and humidity made near unbearable. I swear I saw a head or two dip down in their pews. I even heard whispered after services that Mrs. Peabody fainted dead away. I myself did not see it, but everyone is abuzz about it.

The governor’s wife was there. I was quite surprised to see such a lovely young lady here. I have met the governor, believe it or not at Mr. Randolph’s home and he is much older. I can only guess the custom of marrying a young lady to a man of means is a custom here as well as in England. I hope father does not entertain such thoughts for me because I cannot imagine marrying someone his age or older. If I marry, I hope to do so for love even though father says love can grow. If a man is old and near to death how is it possible for love to grow at all, I ask you?

Back to the governor’s wife. She insisted I come to a small gathering she was having at her home this evening. Of course I was shocked, being new in the colonies and all, but apparently father’s rank must be quite high for the governor addressed him after services as well. Being the governor of this land is much like being the king I presume.  After all he does represent the king here, so all who speak to him know they are speaking to the king. And of course vice versa (as my tutor would state) that all the governor says is from the king and must be obeyed. Of course I agreed to come to her party and looked forward to the event with glowing anticipation.

Father tells me not to speak to one side or the other as tempers are far too hot and that women have no opinions on the matter. I would greatly disagree with him, but I know this would only upset him. He would be surprised to learn the women have a great deal to say about the matter.  A few speak about family in Britain and are concerned for their welfare.  Others speak like the pastor and declare we should not gainsay the governor as he is a representative of the king who is chosen by God. I have heard these arguments in Britain. No one speaks of any else in London.  There is not a party I have attended where the talk did not lean towards this battle brewing in the colonies.  I was much surprised when Father bid me to pack up our belongings and come here.  I am starting to wonder if he requested my presence here for the same reason I hear many voice – he was concerned for my welfare if he should vote with these colonists against the King.  Perhaps this is also why we are using up our credit here and furnishing our home so quickly.  Father could be worried the money will all disappear once he declares himself for the side of the patriots as I have heard them called.

In either case, a vote is to be taken soon.  I have seen the letters posted and have heard the announcement at Sunday services.  I worry about this vote.  I fear nothing will be the same.  But I guess, for me, so much has changed over the past few weeks, what could possibly make it more different?Dearest Diary,

So much time has past and I wish I could have written sooner.  With moving in to our new home, I have  been busy setting the household to rights.  Father purchased several slaves - an institution I am much opposed to but Father will not hear me speak on the matter.  He also has paid for several indentured servants to assist me in the home.  I do not understand why we cannot just pay for servants as we did in London.  Father keeps reminding me we are not in London.

My question is this - I have heard the men speaking about liberty and their reasons for fighting for freedom.  Why do not the slaves deserve this same freedom? There! I have said it.  IT is written down and I vow to not retract my thoughts on this matter. All men deserve to be free.  Once Father is over this business of fighting against Britain I will speak with him about the evilness of holding a person against their wishes and making them work for no pay whatsoever.

In the meantime - we have voted for freedom from Britain.  I say we, but it was really the men who voted.  We women do not have a say in this matter. Father came home from the Assembly and was so proud of the vote.  He also bid me to make sure we stored our silver away in a safe location.  He fears this war shall rage on for a while and we may need our silver in order to survive.  I pray things do not get so bad.

I hope to write more soon.  I hear there will be meetings in Philadelphia soon.  Our brave men from Virginia will be heading there soon to cast their votes.  If all men believe as this Patrick Henry and my father, I know we shall be seeing British soldiers here on in our backyards soon enough.

Day 7

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