December 2, 2013
Colonial Williamsburg brings to life the founders and the everyday people who made the American Revolution. But what of the dead? Williamsburg also contains scattered cemeteries of various sizes. Watch some highlights in our new video tour. First, a little background.
Many eminent figures in Williamsburg’s history, including Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, were buried on their own property. Other notables, including Francis Fauquier, Virginia’s lieutenant governor for a decade before his death in 1768, are buried under the floor of Bruton Parish on Duke of Gloucester Street. Outside, the church’s crowded cemetery dates to the 1630s. Time has dulled many markings, but there remains a trove of tributes and symbols, from angels and cherubs to family coats of arms.
Looking around, you’ll come across people of Williamsburg from all walks of life: John Blair, a signer of the Constitution; and John Greenhow, who owned the store bearing his name almost directly across the street.
Ordinary townspeople commonly would have had simple wooden crosses erected to mark their resting place, but wealthier residents are memorialized with stone markers or with elaborate monuments called table tombs. As with other burials there, bodies would have been interred four to six feet underground.
The Historic Area also includes seven family graveyards. At one, the top of a cross rises above a brick enclosure between the Capitol and the Secretary’s Office. Behind the locked gate are 10 members of the Jones family. Just north of Basset Hall lies the Waller graveyard, where more than 30 descendants of that family are buried. A 10-foot tall monument labeled “Mercer” rises in the center of the yard. As with so many older cemeteries, this one marks the final resting place of children who succumbed to one of the deadly diseases that were such a normal feature of life for past generations.
Behind the Coke-Garret house at the east end of Nicholson Street, a brick wall conceals a single 1854 gravestone. In all likelihood, others also were buried in this family plot, but the markers have been lost.
Williamsburg’s cemeteries are just one more piece of the rich tapestry of this town’s history, and worth a few minutes’ reflection when you visit.
November 12, 2013
As weather forecasters predict the season’s first hint of snow today, think about sharing some Williamsburg winter-weather postcards with friends and family.
On our popular postcard pages, you can choose a photo, design and even typography.
Add your message and the recipient’s e-mail address, and the postcard is on its way.
November 8, 2013
A recent presentation at the City Club of San Diego about “The Idea of America” is now available on C-SPAN.
William White, Colonial Williamsburg’s Royce R. and Kathryn M. Baker vice president of productions, publications and learning ventures, spoke to the group in September about the ideals and principles that shaped the leaders of the American Revolution.
“Mr. White argued that America’s founding values often contradict each other, and because of this, Americans have constantly wrestled with many of the same philosophical questions that confronted the founders,” according to C-SPAN.
Created by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, “The Idea of America” is a digital high school program that presents the history of the nation from its early beginnings to the 21st century. The program introduces students to the challenges and choices made by each generation of Americans that shaped the nation’s history.
November 4, 2013
Most Americans are stumped when it comes to listing the three branches of government that keep our nation’s powers in balance. Can you name them?
Balance of Power, an Electronic Field Trip premiering Thursday, Nov. 7, answers the question with a memorable metaphor executed in three acts. A baseball game played across the ages illustrates the powers in play and the umpire who keeps them in check. Will Thomas Jefferson score a run? Will John Adams steal home? The characters help present governmental balance of power in a way that will help viewers learn an unforgettable piece of history.
This week on the podcast, one of the show’s producers, Cash Arehart, joins host Harmony Hunter to discuss the playful new show.
October 28, 2013
October 22, 2013
How well do you know the ghosts of Colonial Williamsburg? Take our quiz and get your score — then share it on your Facebook page or your favorite social site.
Feel like cheating? You can find answers to the question by clicking on links at the bottom of this post.