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Ella, Sue, and Elizabeth: The Jordan Girls and a Generational Commitment to St. Luke’s

Black Literacy in Colonial America: The Impact of the Bray Schools

When Americans generally think about colonial education, we often imagine men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison pouring over books in their personal libraries. Hardly ever do we reflect on how literacy and education came into contact with those who American society did not consider “elite”. Indeed, I often get looks of confusion or bewilderment when I tell people that I study the history of Black literacy in Colonial Virginia…

The Origins of Race: A Brief History

The Origins of Race: A Brief History

When we talk about the concept of race in the 21st century, we are discussing a socially constructed idea. For the most part, we are talking about skin color when we use the term today. But, at the dawn of the 17th century, race typically identified a group of people with a common ancestor. That group, just as we see in families today, could be quite diverse…

Bishop James Madison and Religious Freedom

When I speak with people about Bishop James Madison of Virginia, often the initial response is one of confusion. “I didn’t know that James Madison was a bishop,” some have replied, confusing the clergyman with his cousin of the same name, the third president of the United States. But Bishop Madison is a significant historical figure in his own right as the first bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Virginia…

Joseph Bridger Hodsden: War of 1812 Veteran

Joseph Bridger Hodsden: War of 1812 Veteran

Joseph Bridger Hodsden was born on March 29, 1776 and died on November 19, 1815. He married Mary Wilson Pasteur on November 23, 1799 and in fifteen brief years managed several farms, fought in the War of 1812 and fathered nine children. His last child, Julia Ann Hodsden, was sadly born after her father had passed away…

Mystery of the Lost Colony Solved? Not So Fast!

A recent Virginia Pilot headline declared “Mystery Solved,” referring to the long unanswered questions about the English attempt at Colonization of the New World in 1587 on what is now the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This so-called “Lost Colony” has been the subject of many archaeological digs, theories, conjecture, a quaint play, and even a horror movie. What happened to those 114 people who sought to compete with Spain, England’s chief rival, in reaping the benefits and resources of the New World?…

Something Wicked, This Way Comes — to Virginia.

Today we usually only think of witches at Halloween… ugly wicked hags who wear pointy black hats and fly around on brooms. It is interesting, however, to look at the historical truth — which doesn’t begin in Salem, Massachusetts. Did you know that we had supposed witches and devils here in Virginia long before they appeared up in Massachusetts?…

Recognizing The Strength of Our Community: A Letter to Our Supporters

Over the past few months, the difficult decisions we have all had to make and the stressful times that have united us, have put the meaning of “community” into perspective for me. We are all part of many communities, both small and large, that connect us and influence our lives every day…

A Polio Epidemic and the Unflappable People of 1950 Wythe County, Virginia

During the Summer of 1950, Wythe County, Virginia experienced a polio outbreak that quickly spread, becoming one of the worst per capita epidemics of polio in U.S. History. The death rate reached almost 10% that summer, roughly twice the country’s average at the time. Despite medical advancements since then, including the creation of the first effective polio vaccine in 1952, the reason why Wythe County experienced such extreme cases of polio remains a mystery…

The Yellow Fever Outbreak of 1855 and a Surprising Connection to St. Luke’s

On June 6, 1855 a steam ship known as the Ben Franklin came into port in Norfolk, Virginia for repairs. The ship had traveled from St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, a place Yellow Fever was known to be prevalent. Local authorities were concerned about the possibility of Yellow Fever onboard because of the ship’s origins and interviewed Captain Byner upon arrival…

Against All Odds: George Washington, Smallpox, and the American Revolution

In July of 1775, just three months into the conflict with England that would become known as the American Revolution, George Washington took command of the patriot army. He faced not only the greatest military power in the world, but also the scourge of Variola. He had a difficult decision to make: Should he inoculate the army?…

A Pox and the Social Covenant: 1721 and 2020

Several years back, I wrote a book about a 1721 Boston smallpox epidemic and the introduction of inoculation into colonial America entitled The Pox and the Covenant. The fact that there are parallels between that epidemic and our current pandemic should not surprise us given the immutable character of human nature. However, that fact should also give us comfort that we can endure…

Jamestown: A Story of Unexpected Survival

A 1972 New York Times article referred to Jamestown as “the blunder that started America.” The author, H.H. Morris, certainly had a lot of fodder to support his claim that Jamestown was a complete and utter failure…

17th Century Medicine: A Major Obstacle Faced by the Jamestown Colony

The Englishmen, inexperienced in surviving in this new wilderness, fell ill with terrible diseases often caused by their poor water supply. Many experienced salt poisoning, dysentery, typhoid, or even a mixture of these. Furthermore, they unknowingly arrived during a significant drought which further degraded their water supply and quickly led to food shortages and desperation…

A Letter to Our Community: Like So Many Before Us, We Will Endure

Hello, everyone! My name is John Ericson and I am the Outreach Coordinator and one of the Museum Interpreters here at St. Luke’s Historic Church & Museum. Though we are unable to open our doors for tours during this time of social distancing, we are striving to continue our mission of educating…

A DREAM COME TRUE: Gen. Joseph Bridger’s Whitmarsh

By William P. Carrell II The author of the cryptic epitaph on the gravestone of Gen. Joseph Bridger (by 1631/2-1686) now in the chancel of St. Luke’s Church queried: “does nature silent mourn and can dumb stone make his true worth to future ages known?” Whoever that...

The Misconception of Memory

The Misconception of Memory: Part One Written by Research Assistant Lauren Harlow   What is history? What is memory? Are these two words synonymous, or do they hold their own meanings? Very plainly, history is the use of collected facts and primary sources in...

Who Lies Beneath the Baptismal Font?

Who Lies Beneath the Baptismal Font? Written by Research Assistant Lauren Harlow “Whose time-tinted bones are slowly reverting to dust at the bottom of a shallow grave in the [“Old Brick Church”]?” (Smithfield Times, 1956) This is one of the many mysteries which...

Why do we like Ike?

Why do we like Ike? Written by Research Assistant Lauren Harlow and Education Coordinator Rachel Popp  On October 12th, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower wrote a letter to Mr. Henry Mason Day, the first president of Historic St. Luke’s Restoration. In this letter,...

Dr. Michael Browder Discusses Reverend Devereux Jarratt

“Devereux Jarratt: Virginia Evangelical Lecture” Who was Reverend Devereux Jarratt and why does he matter? These questions and more will be answered by Dr. Michael Browder on August 26th during his 1 p.m. lecture at Historic St. Luke’s. The lecture will...

Meet the Man Behind the Mead

Historic St. Luke’s Museum Interpreter Nicole Lichty Interviews Glenn Lavender, Founder and Owner of Silver Hand Meadery Mead is an historic fermented honey drink that goes back for centuries. Though mead has a long history, not many know about this historic...

JUNETEENTH: A Celebration of Freedom at Historic St. Luke's

Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom. The American holiday celebrates the freedom of former slaves granted by the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War. But why is June 19th the date that Juneteenth is typically celebrated on? June Nineteenth is not the...

Dr. James Rice and Bacon's Rebellion

 Museum Interpreter John Ericson interviewed Dr. James Rice about his upcoming lecture at Historic St. Luke’s on Bacon’s Rebellion and research from his book, Tales from a Revolution: Bacon’s Rebellion and the Transformation of Early...

Coffee and the Civil War

The American Civil War proved to not only be a period filled with turmoil, but also a time of innovation. The Gatling Gun, ironclad warships, and improvements to railroads and telegraphs are only a few of the innovations that flourished during the Civil War. One of...

Board of Directors Highlight: Vice President Dana Dickens

Historic St. Luke’s is grateful for our Board and their years (and in some cases, decades) of volunteerism here at our National Landmark. As a new feature for our blog, each month we will highlight one of our board members. E. Dana Dickens III has been a board...

Living Historian Richard Greathouse and Our Civil War Weekend

Living Historian Richard Greathouse of the 3rd Virginia Infantry visited Historic St. Luke’s Church on March 2nd for an interview with Education Coordinator Rachel Popp. They discussed his long involvement in Living History and how he first got involved in the hobby....

The Pox and the Covenant: Interviewing Author Tony Williams

Tony Williams is the author of several books including; The Hurricane of Independence, The Jamestown Experiment, America’s Beginnings and a book co-authored with Stephen Knott; Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America. John Ericson, Outreach Coordinator and Museum Interpreter at St. Luke’s Historic Church & Museum, interviewed Tony Williams before a lecture at St. Luke’s held on March 4, 2017 on one of his recent books, The Pox and the Covenant: Mather, Franklin, and the Epidemic that Changed America’s Destiny…

Looking For The Perfect Day Trip? Try Smithfield!

So you have some family in town for the holidays. Where do you take them? Maybe they’ve felt like they’ve seen everything in the surrounding areas. But have they taken a day trip to Smithfield yet? Ask yourself these questions: Do they love shopping? Do...

Education: 2016 In Review by Rachel Popp

Dear Reader, On January 1st, 2016, I was a senior in college at Christopher Newport University, anxiously beginning my last semester before graduation. So much has happened since then that it feels like the beginning of the year was a lifetime ago. At the beginning of...

Interview: Randolph Turner (Werowocomoco)

On October 31st, Museum Interpreter John Ericson interviewed Dr. E. Randolph Turner III about his upcoming symposium at Historic St. Luke’s entitled; “Searching for Powhatan’s Werowocomoco”. Werowocomoco was Powhatan’s principal residence in 1607 and served as...

Listen: Historic St. Luke's on Werowocomoco

  You may have noticed over the past year that the Historic St. Luke’s brand has been popping up everywhere. Did you know that we are also on the radio? That’s right! A big thanks to our friends at WNIS 790 AM and  93.7 BOB FM for supporting us on air...

Looking Below The Surface: Archaeology in Virginia

Keeping Up With The Joneses: An Archaeology Presentation presented by Nick Luccketti On Saturday October 29th Historic St. Luke’s will present a symposium on 17th archaeological evidence from Isle of Wight County and the surrounding Virginia Colony. The first...

Clash of Cultures: Native Americans and The Anglican Church

When English settlers first made contact with the Native People of North America, it was a priority that Christianity be shared and new converts won. Not just any Christianity, but the faith and traditions of the Church of England. Everyone remembers that Pocahontas...

Music, Food, and Fun At Our 17th Century Event!

This weekend Historic St. Luke’s will hold a 17th century living history event entitled; The General from Whitemarsh; a celebration of Joseph Bridger. The weekend will highlight a number of great speakers but it is not limited to history alone. On Saturday evening,...

A 17th Century Religious Experience

On Sunday, September 11, 2016 Brett Walker of Colonial Williamsburg will be at Historic St. Luke’s Church as part of our event; The General from Whitemarsh, a Celebration of Joseph Bridger. Brett will lead us through a service of the word from the 1662 Book of Common...

Blazing Goats BBQ – Sept 10-11, 2016

During the “General from Whitemarsh:  A Celebration of Joseph Bridger:  A 17th-century living history weekend” September 10-11, 2016 the food truck featured will be Blazin Goats’ BBQ. Enjoy this video of their smoker on youtube. Stan Battle and his...

Interview with Chief Walter "Red Hawk" Brown

On Thursday August 19, John Ericson, Museum Interpreter for Historic St. Luke’s Church sat down with Chief Brown to discuss the history of the Cheroenhaka Tribe and the Chief’s upcoming presentation at Historic St. Luke’s on September 10. The Cheroenhaka/Nottoway...

Dr. Doug Owsley Returns To Historic St. Luke's

In 2007 the Smithsonian Institute was in the midst of a project called Written in Bone, a project that offered biographies through human remains found at Jamestown and at Historic St. Luke’s Church. Col. Joseph Bridger of Whitemarsh (1629-1686) was one of the...

Todd Talk (August 2016)

The past several weeks are the greatest examples of dog days of summer.  I feel for our landscape crew and the nearby construction workers working on the Benn’s Church/Benn’s Grant roadways projects.  Amidst all of this roadwork we have remained open for...

Free Admission August 25th – 31st

With summer winding down and school starting soon what better time to get in all your last minute vacation stops? And what better place than Historic St. Luke’s? Historic St. Luke’s is excited to announce that admission to our 45 minute guided tour will be...

God and Country: Loyalist Clergy

The Revolutionary War created a dilemma for clergyman who had taken an oath of loyalty to the head of the Church of England, his Majesty King George III. By the 1770’s English clergy were facing a stark choice, stay and join the patriot cause or go back home to...

Where is Werowocomoco?

  In 2002 to 2003 an archaeological dig in Gloucester VA uncovered evidence that suggests that it is the site of the capital of the Powhatan Confederation known as Werowocomoco, a city that dates back to 1200 C.E. .  The National Park Service is currently...

British Atlantic: Epilogue

On Saturday, June 4th, 2016 between 1 and 2:30 p.m. twenty-five guests and staff enjoyed Dr. Herbert’s presentation on the 17th and 18th-centuries Dissenters of the British Atlantic. She established the average Anglican experience from typical services to...

Epilogue: The Early African American Religious Experience Symposium

The Education Department at HSL held a well-received program, the second educational program in the 2016 Season, on Saturday, April 9th, 2016.  Drs. Cassandra Newby-Alexander and Kay Wright Lewis from Norfolk State University presented on the Early African American...

Todd Talk (April 2016)

As the seasons changed and snow gave way to pollen as Mother Nature’s preferred ground cover, the landscapers at HSL have been busy maintaining the ancient cemeteries and preparing for Annual Historic Garden Week April 23rd through 30th, 2016, the education team...

A Clash of Classes, by Molly Steele

Early last summer, a reliquary was found buried with one of the bodies that was unearthed behind the chancel. This discovery led to many interesting questions: were there more dissenters than originally thought in early Jamestown? Were dissenters given some sort of...

Race and Salvation! by John Ericson

On April 9, 2016, Historic St. Luke’s Church is proud to present a symposium on the early African American experience within the established Church of England. Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander will present on “Anglicanism, Race and Intolerance in Colonial Virginia”....

Artifact of The Month (March)

Order for Service – Dedication November 16, 1894. Accession # 2008.001.015 In the last decade and a half of the 19th century, the people of Christ Episcopal Church were engaged in a great effort to restore the “Old Brick Church” also known as St. Luke’s. The Reverend...

A History Of Misunderstandings, by John Ericson

Every year at Thanksgiving we hear a narrative about how our country was born in religious freedom. So the story goes, Pilgrims left England in search of a place where they could practice their faith, free of the persecution they faced in England. The story is...

Washington and Hamilton Lecture Teaser, by John Ericson

After George Washington, Thomas Jefferson seems to have won the hearts of much of modern America. But, it was Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, whose vision for America was far more prescient than the Arcadian vision of Mr. Jefferson. What is...

Richard Channing Moore and the Revival of the Episcopal Church

  Bishop James Madison succumbed to what he and his contemporaries called “dropsy” in March of 1812 (dropsy is the old fashion name for edema; a build up of fluid in the body’s cavities or tissues). By that time the Protestant Episcopal Church was in a troubling...

Impact of the Revolution on the Established Church of England

Glebe Church and the battle for the hearts and minds of the Virginia Colonists. The conflict between Great Britain and her thirteen colonies in America had a tremendous impact on the church in Virginia. Virginia was a royal colony, which meant that the established...

Todd Talk November 2015

Todd Talk As I sit here the day prior to Halloween writing this, I think of all of the festivals and events happening this time of year and realize how fortunate we are to live in a Country where we have the inherent freedoms to enjoy celebrations of such great...

Save the Date! December 1st!

As we approach the end of 2015, the development department is working on something new for Historic St. Luke’s. We’re happy to announce our participation in Giving Tuesday. Following on the heels of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a day...