Pamunkey River

Pamunkey River
The Pamunkey River in 1864

Friday, November 25, 2016

Hunting: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

The forests in the vicinity of New Kent Courthouse, always a famous resort for deer, are said to be filled with this favorite game to a greater extent the present season than ever. Large numbers have fallen at the crack of the huntsman's rifle, and a day or two since one expert killed two at once with a double hand gun.

-Alexandria Gazette, 29 Aug. 1867

This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries.
"Up until that point, hunting had been considered the right of every person in the state with no fees or bag limits. Now, knowledge of these new rules and regulations needed to be disseminated to the general public and new permits and licenses enforced.
Wardens were hired for every county in the Commonwealth from a list of  'suitable persons' selected and delivered by the town councils. Such willing individuals were provided 'with badges, copies of the game laws, application blanks for hunters’ licenses, notices to hunters to be posted in their counties, and … advised to travel their territories as much as possible.' "*

New Kent has always been one of the outstanding hunting counties of the Commonwealth, not merely in 1867 but down to this day. In May of this year the Department purchased some 2,600 acres in the county in the area of Ware Creek for a new Wildlife Management Area.

*- "A Brief History of Terrestrial Game Species Management in Virginia: 1900 – Present"
      Banisteria, Number 41, 2013 Virginia Natural History Society

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

150 Years Ago: The Recovery from War

The York River Railroad.- This line is now progressing finely toward completion, and ere the approaching winter expires, with its accustomed bleakness, the iron horse will be dashing proudly through the rich and productive valley of the Pamunky to West Point, and bringing to this mart the invaluable treasures of York river and its tributaries, together with other desirable products of the Tidewater region. The people along this line, who have suffered almost beyond endurance by the ravages of war, will hail with delight tho sound of the shrill whistle and the graceful train as it glides once more over the land they love. This will, indeed, be a happy era for an enterprising people who are now shut out from this city for the want of requisite facilities to transport them and the products of their indefatigable toil, nearly all of which now find access to Baltimore, Norfolk, and other cities, attributable to the extreme isolated position this country bears to this city since the destruction of this road. We have watched and felt a profound interest in this improvement from its earliest inception to the present moment, and know that previous to the war the most sanguine anticipations of success had been more than realized by ardent friends. The extensive travel and immense freight over it enhanced the thrift of this city no little. A greater portion of this trade justly belongs here, and will naturally come when this avenue has been opened sufficiently for its transition. Till then it will seek other markets, to the great detriment of Richmond, which has already lost materially by unwise legislation on other lines of internal improvement. 
The road is now in excellent running condition to Chickahominy river, a distance of twelve miles from the city, with a material train passing over it daily. A splendid bridge now spans this widely famed stream, and is ready for the trains to pass over, with the exception of putting the rail down, which, we are informed, will be done in a few days. The grading north of the Chickahominy is of a lighter character than that already finished, and continues to the White House. There will be a passenger car placed on the road when completed to Dispatch station, for the accommodation of the public. This is only two miles north of the bridge, and will soon be ready, from the fact of the large number of hands employed. 
General William H.F. Lee has contracted to furnish all the material for constructing a bridge across the Pamunky river, and with his usual promptness will have the whole of it in place at the time specified. The building of the bridge must necessarily consume much time, owing to its large dimensions, etc. There are laborers at this time engaged in putting piles in their proper places for superstructure of bridge. If I there is nothing to retard the present operations on the road, we can with safety say that it will be completed to the White House by the 1st of February next. 
It will be ineffable pleasure to see this line opened to West Point. The enormous prices that fish add oysters now command in our markets will suddenly collapse, and we will be enabled to indulge in the luxuries of salt water without fear of being made bankrupts by paying the exorbitant prices of $1.50 per gallon for oysters, and in the same ratio for fish. 
Mr. Williams, do continue to hurry up the road, so that we can get to York river, and feast on bivalves, trout, sheepshead, drum, and hogfish. 

-The Daily Dispatch, 12 November 1866

Saturday, November 5, 2016

New Kent Votes in the Presidential Election: 1788 - 2016- Updated!

1788, 1792- George Washington ran without opposition

1796-ADAMS (F) [elector Mayo 57- elector Griffin 23]- JEFFERSON (DR) 60

1800-JEFFERSON (DR) 105- ADAMS (F) 87

1804-JEFFERSON (DR) 47-

1808-MADISON (DR) 60- MONROE 52

1812-MADISON (DR) 64- KING (F) 55

1816-MONROE (DR) 26-

1820- James MONROE faced no opposition in 1820


1828-JACKSON (D) 96- ADAMS (NR) 77

1832-JACKSON (D) 71- CLAY (W) 33

1836-WHITE (W) 108- VAN BUREN (D) 57

1840-HARRISON (W) 198- VAN BUREN (D) 156

1844-CLAY (W) 198- POLK (D) 177-

1848-TAYOR (W) 176- CASS (D) 101

1852-SCOTT (W) 174- PIERCE (D) 148-

1856-BUCHANAN (D) 193- FILLMORE (NA) 169


1864- Part of the Confederate States of America

1868-  Virginia not readmitted to the Union until 1870

1872-GRANT (R) 474- GREELEY (D) 362

1876-GRANT (R) 540- TILDEN (D) 470

1880-HANCOCK (D) 107 [+324 READJUSTER]¹   GARFIELD (R) 361

1884-BLAINE (R) 691- CLEVELAND (D) 440

1888-HARRISON (R) 689- CLEVELAND (D) 375


1896-MCKINLEY (R) 446- BRYAN (D) 369-

1900-MCKINLEY (R) 447- BRYAN (D) 282-

1904-PARKER (D) 127- ROOSEVELT (R)  75

1908-BRYAN (D) 193- TAFT (R) 159- DEBS (SOC) 2

1912-WILSON (D) 136-  ROOSEVELT (PRO) 32-  TAFT (R) 15

1916-WILSON (D) 192- HUGHES (R)  69

1920-COX (D) 190- HARDING (R) 109

1924-DAVIS (D) 178-  COOLIDGE(R) 86- LAFOLLETTE (PRO) 15

1928-HOOVER (R) 217- SMITH (D) 178


1936-ROOSEVELT (D) 307- LANDON (R) 120

1940-ROOSEVELT (D) 286- WILKIE (R)  133

1944-ROOSEVELT (D) 329- DEWEY (R) 158

1948-TRUMAN (D) 277- DEWEY (R) 140- THURMOND (SR) 92- WALLACE (PROG) 1-                          THOMAS (SOC) 3

1952-EISENHOWER (R) 455- STEVENSON (D) 400- HASS (SL) 5- HOOPES (SOC) 1-                              HALLINAN (PROG) 1

1956-EISENHOWER (R) 510- STEVENSON (D) 178- ANDREWS (SR) 189- HASS (SL) 3

1960-NIXON (R) 526- KENNEDY (D) 481- COINER ²(CON)² 10- HASS (SL) 1

1964-JOHNSON (D) 684- GOLDWATER (R) 677- HASS (SL) 4

1968-HUMPHREY (D) 765- NIXON (R) 526- WALLACE (AI) 609- BLOMEN (SL) 1-
         GREGORY (PF) 1- MUNN (PROB) 2

1972-NIXON (R) 1370- MCGOVERN (D) 633- SHMITZ (AI) 19- FISCHER (SL) 7

1976-CARTER (D) 1338- FORD (R) 1259- CAMEJO (SW) 9- ANDERSON (AM) 14-
          LAROUCHE (USL) 17- MACBRIDE (LIB) 7

1980-REAGAN (R) 1739- CARTER (D) 1204- ANDERSON (I) 68- COMMONER  9-
         CLARK   5

1984-REAGAN (R) 2679- MONDALE (D) 1204- LAROUCHE (I) 16

1988-BUSH (R) 2917- DUKAKIS (D) 1427- FULANI (I) 20- PAUL (LIB) 20

1992-BUSH (R) 2708- CLINTON (D) 1738- PEROT (REF) 1017

1996-DOLE (R) 2852- CLINTON (D) 1859- PEROT (REF)  520

2000-BUSH (R) 3934- GORE (D) 2055- NADER (G) 81- BUCHANAN (REF) 11-
         BROWNE (LIB)     20

2004-BUSH (R) 5414- KERRY (D) 2443-  BADNARIK (LIB) 42- PEROUTKA (CONS) 41

2008-MCCAIN (R) 6385- OBAMA (D) 3493- NADER (I) 36- BARR (LIB) 28-
         BALDWIN (CONS) 19-  MCKINNEY (G) 16

2012-ROMNEY (R) 7246- OBAMA (D) 3555-  JOHNSON (LIB) 82 - GOODE (CONS) 34-
         STEIN (G) 24

2016- TRUMP (R)  8117- CLINTON (D) 3545- JOHNSON (LIB) 347- STEIN (G)  52-                                 MCMULLIN (I) 102

AI- American Independent Party
AM- American Party
CON- Conservative Party of Virginia¹
CONS- Constitution Party
CON-U- Constitutional Union Party
D- Democratic Party
DR- Democratic Republican
F- Federalist Party
G- Green Party
LIB- Libertarian Party
NA- Native American Party
N-DEM- Northern Democrats
NR- National Republican Party
PF- Peace and Freedom Party 
POP- Populist Party
PR- Progressive Party (1912)
PRO- Progressive Party (1924)
PROB- Prohibition Party
PROG- Progressive Party (1948-52)
R- Republican Party
REF- Reform Party
S-DEM- Southern Democrats
SR- State's Rights Party
SRD- State's Rights Democrats
SL- Socialist Labor Party
SOC- Socialist
USL- U.S. Labor
W- Whig Party

¹ - The Readjuster Party was a Virginia political movement of the 1880's. In 1880 they nominated their own slate of Presidential electors to support Democratic candidate Winfield Scott Hancock.
² - The Conservative Party of Virginia was a conservative third party splinter group that hoped to draft Sen. Harry F. Bird.

All election returns are from the author's personal research over the years.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Strange Tale of 1888 - Epilogue

So the mysterious tale entitled "The Seal Broken"was revealed to be, in the end, not some great archaeological discovery along Ware Creek, but instead a newspaperman's April Fools Joke. These had become not uncommon at the end of the Nineteenth Century, and New Kent would again feature prominently in one in 1902. New Kent with its close proximity to Richmond but small population(pop.1890-5,511) and heavily forested terrain seemed to appeal to newspapermen when in search for a locale to place "strange, but true" stories. Look for more of these to be published here.

The story of amazing, subterranean discoveries would have been familiar to American readers of Jules Verne; "Journey to the Center of the Earth" had first been published in English in 1871. An actual discovery closer to hand would have been that of Luray Caverns whose existence first became know to the world in 1878. The Caverns were frequently in the newspapers in the 1880's as they were promoted as a tourist attraction. Poe himself had perpetrated, not an April Fool's joke but an outright hoax in 1844 when he claimed in the pages of the New York Sun that men had successfully crossed the Atlantic by balloon from Norfolk, Virginia. Interestingly that same year, Poe's old employer, the Southern Literary Messenger had published an article about The Stone House, from which story many of the legends mention in the "The Seal Broken" appear to spring.

The Stone House survives today in the name of the Stonehouse magisterial district in northwestern James City County.