Pamunkey River

Pamunkey River
The Pamunkey River in 1864

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

"The Proper Designation Is River." - the Chickahominy in 1888


PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION OF CHICKAHOMINY CREEK (RIVER) 

VIRGINIA UNITED STATES ENGINEER OFFICE

Washington DC- December 19, 1888

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of a preliminary examination of Chickahominy Creek Virginia which was authorized by the act of August 11, 1888, and was assigned to me by your order of September 29, 1888. The designation of creek used in the act of appropriation is a misnomer. The proper designation is "river."   
The name Chickahominy Creek can not be found in the Gazetteer nor in the maps of Virginia. There can be little doubt that Chickahominy River was intended, the word creek was employed to designate the part of the river above the head of navigation. This part of the river was described in the Report of the Chief of Engineers for 1875; page 170 Part II  At that time its improvement was not deemed advisable and recommendation was withheld until the bars had been removed in the lower part of the river between Windsor Shades and the mouth, a distance of about 27 miles. The improvement of this part of the river is now completed in accordance with the original project and it seems proper therefore to consider the propriety of beginning the much needed improvement above the Shades. 
Between Long Bridges and Forge Bridges, Providence Forge, a distance of about 10 miles, the river may be generally described as a cypress swamp of from one half to 1 mile in width intersected by a channel from 30 to 80 feet in width which is crossed on the Mechanicsville road by a causeway and six bridges. This swamp is a tangle of bogs not favorably known to the Army during the late war. 
It is not proposed to improve this part of the river. 
From Providence Forge, Forge Bridges to Windsor Shades, a distance of about 5 miles ,may be regarded more favorably. 
Windsor Shades Bar is at the head of the improvement begun by the Government in 1878.  




-Report of the Chief of Engineers U.S. Army, Part 2  Annual report (United States. War Dept.)
 Author United States. Army. Corps of Engineers



I like the line, "a tangle of bogs not favorably known to the Army during the late war."


Saturday, November 30, 2019

Improvement of Chickahominy River Virginia: 1895 Report

IMPROVEMENT OF CHICKAHOMINY RIVER VIRGINIA
This river is one of the principal tributaries of the James River and is navigable at high water for vessels drawing 12 feet to Binn Bar 2 miles below Windsor Shades. The latter place is the head of navigation and is 25 miles from the mouth of the river. Previous to artificial betterment the channel from Binn Bar to Windsor Shades was obstructed by several shoals with a depth of 4 to 5 feet at low water and the entrance to the river was obstructed by a bar. The present project of improvement is to dredge a channel from 100 to 150 feet wide and not less than 8 feet deep at low water through the shoals near the head of navigation and a channel 200 feet wide and 14 to 15 feet deep at low water through the bar at the entrance. The rise of the tide is about 3 feet. The amount expended on the present project to June 30, 1894 was 23,829.91 The channel through the bar at the entrance to the river has been dredged to the projected dimensions An examination made in January 1891 of the work hitherto done showed that very little shoaling had taken place in the channels dredged since 1878 the worst shoals being near Old Fort. These shoals and those between Binn Bar and Windsor Shades have since been dredged to a depth not less than 8 feet at low water and to a width of 50 feet excepting a part of Windsor Shades Bar where the width is only 40 feet.
Five thousand dollars was appropriated for this improvement by act of July 13, 1892. A contract was entered into with Chester T. Caler, of Norfolk Va., on March 18, 1893 to do the required dredging at 23 cents per cubic yard for material deposited on shore and 13 cents per cubic yard for material deposited by dumping. Work under this contract which was commenced June 9, 1894 was continued during the present fiscal year until July 29, 1894. 18,188 cubic yards of material being removed during July. Thirty-five thousand six hundred and thirty four cubic yards was removed and deposited from scows under this contract from Upper and Lower Binn, Osborn, Old Fort. and Windsor Shades bars increasing the channel width through each bar to 100 feet with 9 feet depth at low water. The aggregate length of the channels dredged was 5,875 feet. The project for this improvement is now complete a channel 100 feet wide and 8 feet deep at low water being completed from the mouth to the head of navigation and this is deemed sufficient for the present and prospective commercial interests of the locality. The amount expended on this improvement during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1895 is $5,170.09 for payment on contract inspection and office expenses
This work is in the collection district of Petersburg, Va which is the nearest port of entry
Nearest light house: Deep Water Light in James River Virginia
Nearest port Fort Monroe Va
The amount of revenue collected at the port of Petersburg, Va during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1895 is $00.00


 The following statistics relative to the commerce of the Chickahominy River Virginia during the calendar year 1894 were furnished by Mr L. F. Barnes of Boulevard, Va.

                                                 Articles
                    Amount      Value
                          tons   $
Cordwood 18 000 90 000
Sawed lumber    6 000 50 000
Vegetables           500 25 000
Fish                     250 10 000
Fertilizer              500 4 000
Total               25 250     179 000



Vessels Number     Average draft    Average tonnage
Feet.
Steam 2 6 6
Sail          200              12 250
Barges 25 6 175
Lighters     25 4 100
Rafts 10
Total 262




-Report of the Chief of Engineers U.S. Army, Part 2
Annual report (United States. War Dept.)

 U.S. Government Printing Office, 1895


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Rev. George Washington Nolley

Some biographical information about the Reverend George Washington Nolley mentioned in the post of  November 12.




THIS venerable man, now verging on eighty years, with a service in the ministry beyond a half-century, was a son of thunder in his prime, and of tireless zeal. He was a person of marked features and manner, tall, robust, brusque and positive, with "a face as the face of a lion." Even in his ashes the old fire often kindles. There is a fitness of things in such a veteran living near the training school of the sons of the prophets. His residence at Randolph Macon College, and the association with the young men preparing for the ministry, will be of enduring gain to them. 
 He was born of pious parents, in the county of Mecklenburg, Virginia, on the 25th of December, 1803. His father, James Nolley, was a native of Greensville County, of the same State, and, for several years of the last century, he was an earnest and laborious travelling preacher of the Virginia Conference. His health failed him, however, from excessive labors, and he soon retired to the local ranks. The mother of Mr. Nolley was originally a Miss Seward, of Brunswick County, in his own words "one of the best women that ever lived." Her remains rest in the soil of that county till the morning of the resurrection. 
 Mr. Nolley received a tolerable academic education in his early life, and he still remembers with pleasure, an incident which occurred when he was about twelve years of age, and before he embraced religion. His father took him some distance from home to a boarding-school. The teacher, an educated Scotchman, examined him to ascertain what progress he had made in knowledge, and among other questions he asked him, "What is religion?" The youth replied, "It is the love of God in the heart of men." He doubts now, after an experience of about sixty years, if he could give a better definition of it. 
 On the 9th of October, 1819, young Nolley was born again at a camp-meeting in Mecklenburg, his native county, and soon afterwards connected himself with the Methodist Church. He devoted several following years to the business of teaching school. 
 But it seems that Providence designed another field of instruction for him: It is a singular fact, in his history, that, long before he embraced religion, he received the impression that he would become a minister of the gospel. The church seems to have had a similar impression, for not very long after his conversion, without any application or knowledge of his own, he was licensed to preach. In the fall and winter of 1824 he was employed to labor on the Bedford Circuit by the Rev. H. G. Leigh, P. E., in connexion(sic) with the Rev. William H. Starr, who was then the preacher in charge of that Circuit. In February, 1825, he was received on trial in the Virginia Conference and sent to labor on Banister Circuit, embracing the lower part of Pittsylvania, and the whole of Halifax County. The most of this county was missionary ground, but, with the blessing of God, he succeeded in forming a circuit which has since occupied a high position in the Virginia Conference. One incident on this circuit deserves to be remembered. The young preacher made an appointment to preach at an old Continental church, eight miles out of his usual course. He attended and preached as well as he could to a large congregation of respectable-looking hearers but at the close of the sermon no one asked him to go home with him, and take any refreshment or lodging for the night. So he returned, with a rather heavy heart to the family which he had left in the morning. Immediately he retired to his room to seek some comfort in prayer and reading the Scriptures. Providentially he opened his Bible upon the sixth verse in Psalm cxxvi: "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." This passage gave him comfort and encouraged him to go back to that church again. On this occasion the wealthiest man in the neighborhood took him home with him, and would have him preach to his own servants in his parlor at night. 
 In 1826 young Nolley was stationed on Granville Circuit, North Carolina. One of the most important incidents that occurred on this circuit was the fact, that, from the experience of a pious lady given in a class-meeting, on one occasion, he was brought to feel the need, and seek blessing of perfect love, and he never rested till he obtained it. In 1827 he was where there were upwards of two hundred souls converted during the year. In 1828 he was stationed in Norfolk, in 1829 in Raleigh, and in 1830 again in Norfolk. In each of these stations he witnessed 44 times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord." In 1831 he was stationed at Trinity Church, in Richmond, which was favored with a good revival in the course of the year. In 1832 he was on Princess Anne Circuit; in 1833 on Caroline; 1834 on Gates Circuit; 1835 on Cumberland Circuit; and in 1836 on Buckingham Circuit. In all of these appointments he witnessed displays of Divine power in the salvation of souls.
 In 1837-'38-'39 and '40, he was on the Norfolk District. In 1841 he was, stationed at Shockoe Hill Church, in the city of Richmond. During this year there was a glorious revival of religion in that church, in which between one and two hundred persons made a profession and joined the church, and some are living now, steadfast and useful members.
 In 1842-'43-'44 and '45, he was on the Charlottesville District. In 1846-'47-'48 and '49 he was on the Lynchburg District. In 1850 and '51 he was stationed on Chesterfield Circuit. In 1852 he was stationed on Louisa Circuit. 
 It may be mentioned that, on the last four named appointments, excepting the Lynchburg District, he purchased and furnished very comfortable parsonages. In 1853-'54 he was stationed on Hanover Circuit, when, in the town of Ashland, he built and furnished another parsonage. At the close of his term on this circuit, he purchased a house for himself and settled his family in Ashland. He attended the following Conference, which was held in Petersburg, with some degree of fear and trembling, doubting whether Bishop Andrew, who was to preside, would approve of his course. He sought the earliest opportunity to state his case to the Bishop. That noble old man replied, "Nolley, you have done exactly right, when a man has travelled as long as you have, and has as large a family as you have, he ought to provide a home for them and settle them in it."

That decision of the Bishop removed a mountain from the mind of the veteran preacher-and since then, although his family has remained in Ashland, he has not hesitated to receive any appointment the Bishop has given him, however distant from home, even down to the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. 
 From 1854 to 1863 Mr. Nolley was stationed at the African Methodist Church in the city Richmond. He found here a church of one hundred and seventy-five members, and left a membership of five hundred. 
 At the close of the war in 1865, being excluded from his pulpit in Richmond by the Federal authorities, he repaired to his old friends on Princess Anne Circuit, then destitute of a preacher, and tendered them his services for the remaining part of the Conference year. He was returned to that circuit the following year in 1866. In '67 and '68 he was stationed on (the) New Kent Circuit. This country was overrun by both armies during the late war. The result was, the churches were mostly destroyed, and the people so impoverished that they were not able of themselves to repair them; but nothing dismayed, Mr. Nolley went into the chief cities of the North, and begged money enough to rebuild some houses of worship and repair many others. In 1868 he was stationed on Pasquotank Circuit, where he spent a most pleasant year, and witnessed a great many conversions. In 1869 and 1870 he was stationed in the town of Gordonsville, where he succeeded in completing and furnishing one of the most beautiful and commodious churches within all the bounds of the Virginia Conference. In addition to this, during the last year of his labors there, he had the happiness of seeing some thirty or forty persons converted and added to the church. 
 Since then, on account of the failure of his health, he has been laid aside from the regular work of the ministry. But still he preaches occasionally to his neighbors, and the students of our College in the town of Ashland, where his zeal and example in religious life is "as an ointment poured forth."  Notwithstanding his infirmities, he has answered to the call of his name on the first morning of every Annual Conference for the last fifty-five years, and now in the seventy-seventh year of his age, he is waiting for the call of his Master too the Conference and communion of Heaven! 
 He gave considerable aid to the Duncan Memorial Church in that town, by his large and liberal collections in different parts of the State. 

--Sketches of the Virginia Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  by Rev. John J. Lafferty Richmond, Va., Christian Advocate Office 1880.







Tuesday, November 12, 2019

"Peculiarities to Which a People Cling with so Much Tenacity"- New Kent - 1867

Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch
Pleasant and Practical- New Kent and Charles City- Wheat and Corn- Waste Land- Deer, Foxes, and Minks- The People- Employments and Amusements of Ladies and Gentlemen- The Kitchen and the Cow-pen- German Settlers- York River Railroad- Destruction and Renovation of Churches- Old St. Peters, &c.

Banks of the Chickahominy,
New Kent county, Va.,
June 3, 1867. 
We have at last a project of easy communication with our neighboring county Charles City, from which we are separated by the Chickahominy, a stream historical since the days of Captain John Smith, and still more noted since the great American war. In these parts it is a much more important affair than it is in your vicinity. There yon call it a swamp; here it is a bona fide river, and at tunes so wide and deep as to he impassable to those acquainted with its fords. The recent action of the courts of New Kent and Charles City for the restoration of the bridges destroyed during the war gives much satisfaction to numerous persons whom the calls of business and social life require to pass from one to the other of these counties.
If the Dispatch will use its influence to get us a mail from Richmond to New Kent Courthouse direct the public hereabout, will be greatly obliged, the circulation of the paper somewhat increased, perhaps, and news letters from this county will be more frequent. Though within twenty-five miles of the metropolis, there is for here no regular communication by public carriers of any sort. As you have not heard from this vicinity for a long time, it may please you to learn how folks are getting along. The wheat promises well: but the people having little or no money last fall to buy seed, the quantity that was put in the ground was small. On the low grounds of the James in Charles City the prospect, though far short of that which prevailed in years past, is good for the times. There is one party in that region of country who has 800 acres, and another who has 900 acres, nearly ready for the sickle. The stalks are as high as the heads of either of the proprietors of the Dispatch, and stand so closely together, that if they were to throw there hats upon their heads (I mean upon the heads of the wheat) they (the hats) would he sustained. When Mr. Jack Baker stopped one day on the upper James to examine a wheat- field of this sort, the little horse from which he had dismounted, while browzing (sic) about, disappeared from the sight of his master. "Boys," exclaimed Mr. Baker to the gentlemen with whom he was travelling, "do help me to catch my horse, for if he gets into this wheat-field I shall not find him till after harvest." He would have been exposed to the same risk among these fields in Charles City at this time. In some of these cases this year a single farmer may send to the Richmond mills twelve or fifteen thousand bushels of wheat; and this will be something that has not taken place for a long time. 
In this county the reduction of labor necessitates the neglect of a considerable part of the land, which is now lying out enjoying such a Sabbath as it never had in former days. Of course the swamps will extend their area, and the old field pines will rapidly take possession. The width of unoccupied land being so much increased, the hounds having been dispersed or destroyed, and the gentlemen having much less time to hunt, the deer and foxes begin to multiply; the latter take great liberties; they are sometimes seen playing in the fields in the day, and at night they are distinctly heard barking near the houses, or more quietly creeping up to the premises; they make fearful havoc among the fowls. The minks are equally troublesome, or more so; and one of them will in a single night destroy more hopes and prospects of income from eggs and chickens than were ever contained in the brain of that farmer's milk-maid in the fable, the toss of whose head brought all her future glory to the ground. 
The corn has a tolerably good stand. On the low grounds it is greatly overrun with grass, the frequent rains of late having made it impossible to weed it. As soon as the earth becomes dry much that is now almost out of sight will be reclaimed. But with all this work, and the replanting that is necessary, and the wheat harvest pressing, the people will be very busy, and the despondent will be discouraged. 
But I do not think there are many of this class. Those who have been wont to abuse the people of Eastern Virginia as a lazy set may now discover that the wealth and leisure which once enabled them to cultivate their minds, and acquire those social refinements that were, and still are and long will be, their striking characteristic, did not extinguish their more hardy and vigorous qualities. They have adapted themselves to their new and laborious duties with wonderful diligence and cheerfulness. An elegant lady tells you that she has tried white labor, and is heartily sick of it; but away who goes, with a smile, to the kitchen or the cow-pen; and If you be her guest, will entertain you in the meanwhile by sending you to the spring for a pail of water to let you see how it feels just for a joke, and reward you for your toil by feasting you afterwards on some of her own handiwork. A colonel or captain whom you may happen to visit apologizes to you at the table with assumed gravity, and regrets that under the new order of things he is compelled to ask you to sit down with the cook and the washerwoman; and these ladies in turn inform you with a quick retort and hearty laugh, that you are eating with the ostler and bootblack. If they bring you buttermilk in a gourd instead of a goblet, (that was carried off, we will not say whither; for who knows!) or help you to ice cream with a wooden spoon; you are entertained with lively chat, and not with the long, dolorous strain of "what the Yankees took from us," of which everybody is heartily tired. Some persons fear that our women will lose their delicacy, and our old Virginia homes will be less hospitable and open to company; but it is not easy to destroy peculiarities to which a people cling with so much tenacity, and to which they find stronger reasons everyday to be more attached than ever. But before I leave this subject I must tell you about the horse carts. Did you ever ride in one? They are just better than one of your four-muled street wagons, which, with their intolerable din, are among the greatest nuisances of Richmond. The horse-cart  a vehicle without springs  is the equipage of Eastern Virginia; our carriages and buggies are not. And now, Messrs. Editors, when you travel into this county be careful how you pass the people who ride in horse-carts. A word to the wise is sufficient. I have seen fine carriages; but comparisons are odious; only remember the words of Solomon: "I have seen servants upon horses and princes walking as servants upon the earth"; and again he says, "The thing that hath been is that which shall be." 
Last year there came down some German people to this county to cut timber to make casks for a lager-beer establishment in Washington. A leading man of this class has bought a fine farm on the Williamsburg road, on which stands a very handsome residence, well known to those who pass that way. Others are looking for land, and some have, I hear, made purchases. The gentleman to whom I first alluded, says that where one German goes others are sure to follow. He predicts a considerable emigration of his people to this country; and the citizens here are so favorably impressed with their political views, and their general conduct, as to look with considerable favor upon the movement. Everything connected with the improvement of the country will he helped forward by the opening of the York River railroad, on which regular trains for freight and passengers are soon to run to the White House.
In respect to churches, this peninsula suffered greatly during the war. Rev. George W. Nolley has devoted himself this year with great energy and perseverance to the collection of funds to restore several Methodist churches on his circuit, and has met with considerable success in the cities which he has visited. Emmaus, the Baptist church, escaped destruction. This congregation has for its pastor Rev. Mr. Wallace, formerly of Richmond, a zealous and laborious minister. At old St. Peter's  the Episcopal church near the White House, so famous as the place where General Washington was married to the widow Custis- there has not been a sermon since the war. The building, by the ravages of war and relic-hunters, is reduced to a mere shell, and the congregation, greatly reduced by death and removals, is without a minister, it will, however, be opened for divine service on the fifth Sabbath in this month, when a sermon is to be preached by the Rev. Dr. Wade, of Charles City. A new church of the same denomination, some miles nearer Richmond, and not far from Bottom's bridge, is standing and in good repair, but most of the people who once worshipped(sic) there have left the neighborhood, and several of the places where they once lived in peace and plenty are indicated only by chimneys standing silent and desolate. Olivet, the Presbyterian church; six or eight miles above New Kent Courthouse, is uninjured. The building is fresh and neat, the yard handsomely laid off and planted with shade trees, and well enclosed, with a brick walk from the gate of the yard to the door of the house. Within, it is well carpeted, and so furnished as to make it altogether one of the most attractive country churches anywhere to be found in the State. Its preservation through the war was a marvel, and, under Providence, due to the earnest intercessions of some persons living near it, one of them a highly respectable colored man. It has lately had for its minister Rev. P. Fletcher, whose removal was deeply regretted; and until it secures another pastor is supplied by clergymen from Richmond. The congregation is a good one, and increasing, and the Sabbath school very regular at all seasons, and useful. 

J.B.J.



Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Steamer West Point- April 1861


RICHMOND AND YORK RIVER
      RAILROAD AND STEAMBOAT LINE

STEAMER WEST POINT, Capt. J.C. Rowe, leaves Norfolk MONDAYS, WEDNESDAYS and FRIDAYS At 6 A.M. connecting with the CARS at White House at 2 P.M., and arrive in Richmond at 3:15 P.M.  
Passenger Train leaves Richmond DAILY at 6 A.M.,  (Sundays excepted.) connecting at White House with Steamer for Norfolk on TUESDAYS, THURSDAYS and SATURDAYS. Returning, on TUESDAYS, THURSDAYS SATURDAYS, Car leave White House at 11 A.M., and arrive in Richmond 12:15 P.M.  
 April 2d                                       R.H. TEMPLE Gen'l Supt. 

-Richmond Enquirer,  27 April 1861


The steamer West Point is now in Norfolk harbor where she has been with the exception of occasional short trips to Hampton Roads and one to Fortress Monroe with a flag of truce ever since the 20th day of April last. On the second trip made by her from the Pamunkey river to Norfolk, after the proclamation of President Lincoln of 15th April and before any indication had appeared that the federal government considered Virginia in a state of war Capt Rowe, commanding the steamer, was informed by tho military authorities at Fortress Monroe that she would not be permitted to pass that place again and that she would be stopped and seized if it were attempted. It was accordingly deemed proper not to put so valuable a piece of property at so great a risk, and the captain was directed not to make the attempt. Since that time the steamer has occasionally been in the use of the government for a per diem compensation.

-President's Report of the Richmond and York River Rail Road Company- Annual Report of the Board of Public Works to the General Assembly of Virginia, with the Accompanying Documents, Parts 3-4- (October 1861)


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A Vermonter in New Kent - 1862 - Coda

Now that the series is over, the question remains, who was "See See Ess?" Deciding to crack the case forthwith I started with the logical assumption that "See See Ess" was an acronym of a sort for C. C. S. So then a soldier with the initials C. C. S.- or better yet and officer or at least non-commissioned officer, from the easy way he seemed to get around and mingle with various rank. After searching through the combined rosters of the Union regiments from Vermont I almost immediately came across a Lieutenant C. C. Spaulding serving in the Company D of the Fifth Vermont. What is more, Charles Carroll Spaulding, born left the Fifth Vermont in the fall of 1862 and went on to FOUND A NEWSPAPER in Montpelier, Vermont. Further research revealed that Spaulding was a Democrat, which would seem to match the correspondent's praise of McClellan and occasionally critical remarks about Lincoln. His obituary also revealed he had been to the West which would gibe with some of the comments in the letters to the paper. 

I was rather pleased that I had pulled all these facts together in order to find the identity of the letter writer. And then I found this in the Green Mountain Freeman of October 16, 1862

Lieut. C. C. Spalding(sic), Co. D, Fifth Vermont, has been honorably discharged from the service on account of ill health. He has now gone to Washington hoping to get some Situation whose duties his health will allow him to perform. We hope to hear from him occasionally over his familiar signature      See. See. Ess.

So, not so a great piece of detective work as I thought. Pride goeth before a fall and a newspaper clipping you should have checked in the first place.

Here is Spaulding's full obituary:

Charles C. Spaulding, editor of the Newport News while it existed, died in Boston last Thursday. He was the son of Dr. Azel Spaulding of Montpelier. He graduated from the university of Vermont in the class of 1847, and chose the profession of civil engineer, but did not follow it long. In 1849, when the California gold fever broke out, he was one of the pioneers who bought that numerous land, making the passage in a sailing vessel around Cape Horn. His success at mining was indifferent. Returning home via the Pacific coast and the Gulf of Mexico, he spent about a year in Montpelier, when he went to New York and entered the service of Harnden & Co. as express messenger between New York and Boston. Soon going West, he engaged in surveying and railroad engineering in Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky. At the time of the establishment of Kansas a territory, he was living in one of the border counties of Missouri, where he married a Missouri lady. He took part in the establishment of its territorial government, making preliminary surveys and encouraging immigration by writing special letters to tho New York Tribune, which attracted no little attention in the East. He published a paper in Lawrence, Kansas, and was elected an alderman, and was for a short time mayor of the city. He took the democratic side on the out break of the Kansas war, and soon after left the state. He afterwards taught school, and at the breaking out of the war returned to the East, enlisting in tho sixth Vermont regiment, served two years, came home and started the Newport News, at Newport. This he sold, and went to Boston in 1866 and took a position on the Boston Post. In 1869, he became connected with the Boston Herald, and remained with that paper up to the time of his decease. He had been suffering from a complication of diseases involving the heart and other vital organs, and bis death was not unexpected.

-Vermont Farmer (Newport, Orleans County, Vt.)January 26, 1877





Saturday, October 19, 2019

William Cullen Bryant on the Chickahominy- 1872

Illustration by G. W. Bagby.-engraver W. L. Sheppard


We append to our series of Virginia scenes a view upon steel of the Chickahominy. This now historic stream was hardly known outside the limits of the State previous to the war; and yet there is much that is interesting about it, not only to the lover of the picturesque, but to the observer and student of Nature, The stream is a tributary to the James. Its volume is inconsiderable until it nears Richmond, and it is navigable for some twenty-five or thirty miles only from its junction. 
To the physical geographer the Chickahominy is interesting, from the fact that it is the northernmost locality that retains features, in its flora, which are common on the rivers of the Carolinas and the States farther south, in company with the growth of the colder climates. The cypress here protrudes its curious roots, and the funereal moss trails from the trees. The beech sends its horizontal branches over the darksome waters; the maples, so brilliant in their autumn foliage; and the gum-tree, more gorgeous still at the same season, with its rich variations from vermilion to royal purple — here keep company with the Southern interlopers. Vines encumber the trees, and harassing bamboo-thickets bar the way on the higher banks. The columnar gum-trees, in most cases, rise from an intertwined assembly of arched and knotted roots, especially where they are liable to be washed by the overflow of the stream. These arched bases have sometimes a clear distance from the earth of three and four feet, and constitute a unique feature in the forest. Immense masses of debris washed down by the freshets lodge against the standing timber, and the stream is bridged in hundreds of places by the trees which have lost their equilibrium from being undermined. The river contiguous to Richmond is invariably spoken of as the Chickahominy Swamp; and here, in effect, it is a swamp. The main stream, with its coffee-colored water, is well defined, but in many places, for a quarter of a mile on both sides of it, the ground is a slimy ooze, affording a very unstable footing. Where this ooze exists, it is covered with a dense growth of water-plants, generally of the peculiar whitish green found in plants little exposed to the light of the
sun. 
The Chickahominy is the chosen abode of all the known varieties of "varmints" of that region. The raccoon can here ply his trade of fisherman for the cat-fish and pike, or raid upon sleeping creepers or young wood-ducks. The "possum" has store of gum-berries, with the same variety in meat-diet which his nocturnal fancies; otters are still to be found; muskrats innumerable, and snakes — some of the aquatic species beautifully colored — in proportion. The wood-duck, of splendid plumage, flits like a prismatic ray over the brown water, and, though web-footed, builds his nests in the towering trees. In fine, the Chickahominy cannot fail to attract the artist and naturalist; it always would have done this, but now the added interest of historical association brings hundreds to visit its banks; and the stream which, heretofore, had but scanty mention in the common-school geography will find a place in man's record beside the Rubicon and the Tweed. 


-Picturesque America; or, The land we live in. A delineation by pen and pencil of the mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, water-falls, shores, caƱons, valleys, cities, and other picturesque features of our country by William Cullen Bryant 1872