Pamunkey River

Pamunkey River
The Pamunkey River in 1864

Monday, June 29, 2015

"A Steel and Concrete Bridge"

A called meeting of the Board of was held to appoint commissioners to look into the building of a new bridge over the Chickahominy where the old Bottom's bridge was washed away during the recent flood. This bridge, used by automoblist over the Richmond to Newport News highway, will be built by New Kent and Henrico counties. A steel and concrete bridge will take the place of the old wooden structure.
- Virginia Gazette(Williamsburg)., March 28, 1912

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Spontaneous Combustion

A Fire at Talleysville
Mr.R. Richardson, of Talleysville about five miles from Tunstall's, in New Kent county, was in the city yesterday. His premises were visited by fire about 5 o'clock on Friday evening and two barns, the stables attached thereto, and a corn house were entirely destroyed. The barns contained 700 bushels of oats and a lot of hay, fodder, & c. Mr. Richardson places the loss at $1,800. The insurance amounted to $1,600, and was placed $1,000 through Gordon & Co. and $600 through Montague & Co. The cause of the fire is not known, but it is thought to have originated from either the oats or fodder becoming heated.

-Richmond Dispatch., October 09, 1892

Friday, June 19, 2015

Slovaks in New Kent

"New Kent County:  A 1905 advertisement in Jednota* promoted a 'Slovak Colony in Virginia,, a farming community where many Slovak families were reported to have come.'  The colony was located 'only two miles from the town of West Point and 15 from the city of Richmond,' an awkward description, since West Point and Richmond were approximately 35 miles apart.  The advertisement stated 'Last month over twenty families bought farms here.'  No clearly Slovak place names are evident on the area USGS quadrangles.  The 1930 census listed King William County, 76 Czechoslovaks, and in New Kent County, 56.
John and Mary Janosov, who purchased a New Kent County farmstead called Aspen Grove in 1908, were likely among the Slovak families. [1] They came to New Kent from Braddock, Pennsylvania.  John Kaliniak, from Rices Landing, Pennsylvania, bought 100 acres near Quinton in 1907.[2]  The 1917 State Gazetteer listed J. Janosov, Quinton district, among the county’s farmers.  Other likely Slavic names listed in the 1917 gazetteer were Paul Kramus and Paul Kregnas, also in the Quinton district.  Likely Slavic names listed in the county deed records include Knakel (1916), Kalinchak (1917), Kozelnisky (1919), Kotcko (1923, 1942), and Kolousek (1933)."

- The Czech and Slovak Communities in Virginia by John E. Wells,

* "Unity," a Slovak language magazine.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Custer Wades in the Chickahominy

Brigadier-General John G. Barnard

Reports of Brig. Gen. John G. Barnard, U. S. Army, Chief Engineer of operations from May 23, 1861, to August 15, 1862. WASHINGTON, January 26, 1863.

  . . . .
In the movements of the army in its advance from Yorktown the officers of engineers were employed in various reconnaissances of the routes of the York and Pamunkey Rivers, & c., while detachments from General Woodbury's Engineer Brigade repaired roads and bridges. After reaching a point near Roper's Church, on the Williamsburg and Richmond road, the right wing, consisting of the corps of Porter and Franklin, took the road via Cumberland and the White House, striking the Chickahominy at New Bridge, while the left (corps of Heintzelman and Keyes) kept the Richmond road to Bottoms Bridge. The advance guards reached these points about the 16th or 17th of May.
On the 20th I proceeded, by orders of the commanding general, to make a forced reconnaissance of the position of Bottoms Bridge, accompanied by Lieutenants Comstock and McAlester. On arriving, I found the ground already occupied by a portion of the division of General Casey, and I dismissed the force I had ordered. The result of the reconnaissance was the acquiring of a perfect knowledge of the character of the Chickahominy as an obstacle, and the presumption that at this point (Bottoms Bridge) no serious resistance was contemplated; in fact, the next day our troops crossed and occupied the other bank.
General Woodbury, with his brigade, was ordered to this point to repair the old bridge and the railroad bridge and to establish others, while Lieutenants Comstock and McAlester made a reconnaissance in force on the right bank, with the view of establishing a tete-de-pont to cover both Bottoms Bridge and the railroad bridge. This work was begun, but never entirely finished.
On the 22d the general headquarters reached Cold Harbor, and I proceeded immediately to the New Bridge to reconnoiter that position. A word is proper here concerning the Chickahominy, which at the season we struck it was one of the most formidable obstacles that could be opposed to the advance of the army an obstacle to which an ordinary river, though it be of considerable magnitude, is comparatively slight.
The Chickahominy, considered as a military obstacle, consists of a stream of no great volume, a swamp, and bottom land. The stream flows through a belt of heavily-timbered swamp, which averages 300 to 400 yards wide. A few hundred yards below New Bridge is a short length of the stream not margined by swamp timber, but everywhere else between New and Bottoms Bridges the belt of swamp timber is continuous and wide. The tops of the trees rise just about to the level of the crests of the high lands bordering the bottom, thus perfectly screening from view the bottom lands and slopes of the high lands on the enemy's side. The disappearance in the place indicated of swamp timber near New Bridge, and the dwindling away of the same at some points above the bridge to isolated trees, gave us some glimpse of the enemy's side near this point. Through this belt of swamp the stream flows, sometimes in a single channel, more frequently divided into several, and when bat a foot or two above its summer level overspreads the whole swamp. The bottom lands between the swamp and the high lands are little elevated at their margins above the swamp, so that a few feet rise of the stream overflows large areas of them. They rise very gently toward the foot of the high-land slopes.
These bottom lands are generally cultivated, intersected by deep ditches, and their lower portions are in wet weather, even when not overflowed, spongy, and impracticable for cavalry and artillery. The total width of bottom land varies from three-quarters to one and a quarter miles. The crests of the opposite high-land spurs are about one and a half or one and three-quarter miles apart. The road via Cold Harbor to Richmond crosses the stream by a wooden bridge on piles, which had been destroyed. After passing the bridge the road or causeway takes a direction oblique to the course of the stream, having reaches nearly parallel with it, and ascends the opposite heights by a ravine at a point nearly a mile from the bridge. Above New Bridge the character of the stream and margins is not much different from what has been described, though the swamp was somewhat less regular in its width and density. The Mechanicsville and Meadow Bridges each consisted of several bridges, crossing different arms of the stream, the swamp being wide at both places. These were the only bridges and roads crossing the stream in the vicinity of the positions of the army.
The distance from New Bridge to Bottoms Bridge is 8 miles. In this space there were two or three indifferent summer fords or places where a pedestrian could make his way through the swamp and stream, but it was currently reported at the time of our arrival that the stream was nowhere fordable.
The knowledge of the Chickahominy gained at Bottoms Bridge showed me that the stream might be reached at almost any point with little risk and thoroughly examined, provided the enemy's pickets did not actually hold our side. Taking with me Lieutenant Custer, of Fifth U. S. Cavalry, I reached it at a point three-fourths of a mile below New Bridge, and caused him to enter it. He waded across without any difficulty (the depth being about 4 feet), and a few days afterward, emboldened by this experiment, he caused the length of the stream to be waded from the bridge for a half a mile down. The attack and capture of the enemy's pickets by him and Lieutenant Bowen was founded upon these reconnaissances, to which the successful results are due. Although it was thus shown that the stream was no obstacle for infantry, the swamp and the bottom lands were impracticable to cavalry and artillery.

- Official Records of The Union and Confederate Armies Series I, Volume XII. Part 1.Reports.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Mysterious Affair Down at the Depot

A Mysterious Affair- Opening a coffin on Which There was No Address.
[correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
    Wilcox Wharf, June 7. 1884.
A few weeks ago a large coffin from which the address had been lost was landed at one of the depots on the Chesapeake and Ohio railway in New Kent county. It was placed in the depot. The people of the neighborhood wondered where it came from and who was inside,and curiosity began to run high on the second day after its arrival, when no one called for it. Then, too, it began to be offensive, the agent said, and others began to hold their noses as they peeped in to look at it. One old gentleman said his family were offended by it a hundred yards away. It grew worse and  worse as the weather warmed, and something had to be done. Crowds began to collect to and hear some solution of the mystery, where did he come from, and what was his destination? How long was the corpse to remain? A proposition was made to bury it. It would make everybody sick. The agent could stand it no longer. But they must know who the corpse was if any trace could be had from a view of it. So it was decided to unscrew the coffin. Fifteen men gathered around, all but one holding their noses. This man said he could smell nothing, but he had a cold, and he supposed that accounted for it. So an expert took out the screws, and the crowd gently lifted the lid, each with one hand, the other hand to a nose, when lo! there were six other coffins packed in the big one like hats in a box.
The pall-bearers let down the lid, took down their nose-hands, looked very solemn and walked away; but as they went one man said, "It's no use to blab about it." But the man who had a cold in his head and could not detect anything offensive did blab, and so you have it.

-The Daily Dispatch, June 08, 1884

Monday, June 8, 2015

"Route to West Point Shortened"

Route to West Point Shortened
Accommodations Provided at White House, Va.
Establishment of a new ferry at White House, Va., over the Pamunkey River, and making the shortest route to West Point, was announced  yesterday. Roads better than the average are also said to run through this section of New Kent County.
Accommodations for two automobiles are available on the ferry. The ferry consists of a lighter towed by a powerful launch, and is run by E.R. Allmond, of White House. The trip across the river takes ten minutes.

-Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 19, 1919

E. R. Allmond is listed on the Pamunkey Indian census of 1901 carried out by James Mooney.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The S.S. Chickahominy, Part II


THE S.S. Chickahominy went on her trial trip off the Hartlepool coast on the 4th inst She is the second of a group of three steamers built at the Middleton Shipyard West Hartlepool by Messrs. Furness, Withy, and Co., Limited for the Chesapeake and Ohio Steamship Company and is fit not only for general cargo, but especially for the carriage of live cattle from the United States to this country. Two whole decks, almost from stem to stern are given up to the accommodation of live cattle and numerous improvements are provided for their safety and comparative comfort whilst on the voyage, the arrangements for ventilation and for the rapid supply of fresh water deserving especial mention. The vessel is provided with main engines and boilers from the Central Marine Engine works West  Hartlepool, the cylinders being 28 in., 431 1/2 in., and 72in. in diameter by 48 in. stroke. The boilers are two large double-ended boilers working at 160 lb. per square inch, made on the plan universally adopted at the Central Engine Works, with welded and flanged shellplates. The trial trip took place on a most unfavourable day, there being a heavy sea running and much wind, which prevented anything like a test being made of the speed of the vessel.

-Engineering, Nov. 17, 1893