Happy Independence Day!

05/07/12 12:11 AM

Happy Independence Day!

This morning when I woke up, Brett informed me that someone on our Belle Grove Plantation Facebook page had sent us a message. He is from White Stone, Virginia, which is about one and a half hours from Belle Grove. Since 1999 their site has chronicled the restoration of 18th century Enon Hall in Lancaster County, Virginia by a family descended from its original residents.


Thank you to Enon Hall for reminding us about the 4th of July celebration in Port Royal!

In his message, he mention that he and his family were heading to Port Royal, Virginia for their annual 4th of July Celebration. I had remembered reading about this in the Port Royal Historic Society Newsletter when I first started researching Belle Grove. So true to form, I jumped up, got dressed and headed to Port Royal. Brett stayed behind to get dinner ready when I returned around 6pm. He is such a great husband.

Civil War photo of the Evacuation of Port Royal. The house on the other side of the bank is Walsingham Plantation

You may remember Port Royal, Virginia from our hints at the beginning of our blog. Port Royal is located across the Rappahannock River from Port Conway and Belle Grove Plantation and is located in Caroline County.

According to Wikipedia:
“Port Royal is one of the area’s more historic towns. It was first established in 1652 as a port on a navigable portion of the Rappahannock River during an era when waterways were the major method of transportation of people and property in the British Colony of Virginia. It was an important point for export of tobacco, Virginia’s cash crop.

Local tradition holds that Port Royal was named after the Roy family. Dorothy Roy and her husband John owned a warehouse chartered by the crown, a ferry service across the Rappahannock River to King George County and a tavern. In the 21st century, the chimneys of the Roy house are preserved landmarks in the town.

Port Royal was incorporated as a town in 1744. The “town green”, upon which stands today the Town Hall and the firehouse, was forever reserved “for public and civic use”. Shipping of property from the port began to decline after completion of railroads which began in Virginia in the 1830s. The last scheduled passenger ship service ended in 1932, supplanted by highways. However, Port Royal was served by the new highways which became U.S. Route 17 and U.S. Route 301, with their crossroads at Port Royal.

Probably Port Royal’s most notable claim to fame is that John Wilkes Booth was killed about two miles outside town by Sgt. Boston Corbett, part of a contingent of federal troops, at the now obsolete Garrett farmstead (look for prominent markers along northbound Rt. 301) on April 26, 1865 after Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln on the night of April 14, 1865 in Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC.”You

You can also see more history on Port Royal at their website:  http://www.historicportroyal.com/

The Port Royal Annual 4th of July Celebration was free to the public. This festival was a celebration with period dress from Colonial to Civil War periods. They had patriotic music and speeches and 18th century dancing. There was even a horse drawn carriage for you to tour Historic Port Royal in. As you tour the town, you can see these beautiful historic homes, which have dated sign for you in front.

The Lekie House 1775

The Pearson House 1775

The Riverview House 1846

The Tavern 1750

The Timberlake 1750

The Townfield House 1745

The Brockenbrough date unknown some time before 1765

St Peter’s Church 1835

St Peter’s Church 1835 – Interior

St Peter’s Church 1835 – Interior

St Peter’s Church 1835 – Interior

I meet some really wonderful people who shared their love of history with me. I also met the mayor of Port Royal, Mrs. Nancy Long, who welcomed me to the area and told me that they were excited that we were opening Belle Grove. Brett and I are looking forward to becoming part of this celebration next year!

The Rappahanock Colonial Hertage Society – www.RCHSinc.org

The Rappahanock Colonial Hertage Society – www.RCHSinc.org

Westmoreland Long Hunters

Caroline County Minute Men

Time Traveler

13th Virginia Infantry Co A Montpelier Guard – www.13vacoa.net

13th Virginia Infantry Co A Montpelier Guard 5 – www.13vacoa.net

23rd Regiment USCT – jjwmuseum.org

23rd US Colored Troops – 23USCT@jjwmuseum.org and 54th Mass Volunteer Infantry Reg Co B – www.54thmass.org

Hundley Carriages, Inc – www.hundleycarriages.com

Port Royal Mayor Nancy Long

Afterwards, I made a quick stop at Belle Grove, to see what damage we might have had from the recent storms. Happily I can report that Belle Grove is safe and sound. Two hundred twenty-one years, and she is still standing strong. We did lose a branch from one of our older trees at the front entry. This tree has had damage from a lightening strike as well, so I am sure that had something to do with the branch breaking off. We also lost one of the Cypress trees that lines the front drive in. The caretaker had already removed it, but you can see the way the wind just twisted this tree off. Wow.

Belle Grove Plantation – Tree at the front entry gate

Belle Grove Plantation – Tree along the front drive

I am also happy to report that James and Dolley’s nest on top of the chimney is still there. With the high winds, I expected it to have been blown away. I am also happy to report that both James and Dolley were at the nest. We are glad to see James back. He had us worried that something had happened to him since we had not seen him the last several times we were at the house. The caretaker also told us that the eagles have been flying around a good bit lately. Could be that they are looking to pick off James and Dolley’s nest.

Belle Grove Plantation – Dolley on her nest

On my way home, as I rode into Tappahannock, I noticed an antique store that was opened. So you guessed it, I had to stop. And score! I found two more wonderful tea plates to go with my tea cups and saucers.

A to Z Antiques – Tappahannock VA

A to Z Antiques – Tappahannock VA

I arrived back home, just in time as the food was coming off the grill and got to spend some family time with our son, his girlfriend and my father. I have to say for a Wednesday, it was a really good day!

Brett and Hurley

Brett, and I and even Hurley want to wish each of you’re a wonderful 4th of July. Next year, who knows, we might have to have our own cookout at Belle Grove Plantation!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 54 Comments »

54 Comments on “Happy Independence Day!”

  1. I so miss all of this. Thanks for posting it. Happy 4th of July for you too.

  2. Thank you! We are glad to share it with you! Brett missed it too 😉 He was home cooking.

  3. Angeline M Says:

    What great history. Hope you’ve had a great 4th.

  4. Thank you! We hope you did as well!

  5. Dianna Says:

    Wow, that looks like a wonderful celebration! I may have to note that on my calendar for next July 4th! But, as I looked at all those folks dressed in period costume, I just kept having the same thought: HOT….! !! Glad Belle Grove had no damage from the storm.

  6. It was hot. I felt bad for them. I’m glad that Belle Grove didn’t have damage. I was worried. 😉

  7. John Says:

    All of those brave souls in those beautiful period costumes have my unending respect. It was 98 here yesterday and the humidity was near 80%. Wonderful Shots.

  8. Thank you! I know, I really felt for them. But the church had the ac on so I think they were allowed to come in a cool off.

  9. I was thinking the exact same thing! I has been sweltering up here, so I can only imagine what it has been like further south. Just looking at those period costumes made me feel sweaty!

  10. I know. The color troop was just sitting around in their wool jackets and I was just dripping it was so hot. I couldn’t believe they were just sitting there! We are heading there tomorrow and we are suppose to have at least 100 degrees. I hope the caretaker has turned the ac on in the house!

  11. Gregoryno6 Says:

    I’m impressed by the work that those folks put into their outfits.
    Here in the Great South Land, we celebrate the national day with rather less formality.

  12. I know, they were great. I was impressed that most quickly removed their modern reading glass before I took their photo. I also felt bad for how hot it was for them. They were truly dedicated.

  13. They period costumes looked wonderful, but must have been very hot. I take my hat off to them.

  14. Me too! The Civil War Soldiers had to be the hotest. Their coats were made of wool. Whew….

  15. ….better them than me….

  16. 😉

  17. What kinds of books are you finding? Are there any old Bibles or Books of Common Prayer? Just curious.

  18. I haven’t found many books. I have a copy of two of the family bibles from the Conway and Turner families. But I hope we will be able to recover more. I am thinking that once we get into the outbuildings, especially the Summer Kitchen, we may be able to find some reading material hid by the slaves. Who knows… 🙂

  19. Wonderful pics of your visit! Loved the costumes.

  20. They were really nice! I think if it had not been so hot, I don’t think I would have minded being in costume too!

  21. I agree with everyone, the period costumes are wonderful but everyone had to be so hot, looks like a fun festival. Very glad you sustained no damage at the plantation from the storms.

  22. I think the Civil War soldiers had to be in the worst way. Their coats were wool! Yes, we are also glad it was safe after the storm. Whew…..

    By the way, have you registered for the free weekend giveaway yet? $10 and you can win a free weekend if you win! And the funds go to a great cause! To save our beloved outbuildings. These buildings are 221 years old. That kind of history is hard to be replaced. Thank you!


  23. yhoti Says:

    Love those shoes with the buckle

  24. Those were cool! Of course I liked the knee breeches. Did you know that James Madison was the first president that did not wear knee breeches? James Monroe that followed him did, which was out of fashion by the time he took office.

  25. Wow, I could look at the ‘hisoric’ outfits and houses all day. I love the nineteenth century. Those knee breeches the men wore in the eighteenth century were so sexy. What fun.

    Yes, I know where Port Royal is. When I attended MWC it was only a crossroads. Looks like it has changed a bit since the 1970s. Dianne

  26. I loved the costumes too! I do think the eighteenth century costumes were my favorites too. It seems to be taking off in just the time we have been going up over the last year. It would be great if they could turn it into a “Williamsburg” style destination. They do have the history for it and they still have all the original buildings!

  27. givingglory Says:

    Wonderful post – Happy belated 4th! I grew up in Richmond – so much history in Virginia!

  28. Thank you! Happy Belated 4th to you as well. You should come and see us at the plantation! We have a ton of history! We are giving away a free weekend too. You should see if you can win it! 😉

  29. ladyfi Says:

    What wonderful costumes! Sounds like a grand day out.

  30. They were great costumes! It was worth the 2.5 hours up to Port Royal from our current home to see it!

  31. adinparadise Says:

    Love these pics. The folk here have really gone all out to to make it a very special celebration. Love those plates too. What a lucky find. 😉

  32. Thank you! Yes I think they did go all out, even with the heat at 100 degrees! That was dedication! I was very excited about the blue one. I have been looking for one to go with one of the cups and saucers I had found. Thank you for stopping by!

  33. Thanks for posting so many beautiful photos of historical houses and “historical” people, as well as your descriptions. What a great way to celebrate Independence Day!

  34. Thank you! It has been our pleasure to post them and collecting them! Wait until you see where we are going this weekend!

  35. Sounds like a fun day! And also very relieved to hear that you had only minor damage from the storms. Thank goodness!

  36. Yes, I was happy that we didn’t have more damage too. I was just too happy to see the nest still there and in one piece. I think Dolley might have eggs if not babies soon. She stayed on the nest the whole time this time, so I know she is protecting them.

  37. I love the historic homes! Looks like a neat town to explore!

  38. Thank you! We love them too! Hope you can stop by some time to see us and the wonderful history town!

  39. Bello reportaje!, me encamta, saludos

  40. Muchas gracias! Nos agrada que disfruté mucho.

  41. J M Naszady Says:

    Thanks for sharing this special holiday event!

  42. You are so welcome! We enjoyed sharing it.

  43. It’s so nice to “live” among history and find it so plentiful in your surroundings. The period costumes make it so very nice to “really see” history come alive. Thanks for posting. It’s nice you all survived the recent storms that passed through.

  44. Thank you for your wonderful comment! We do love being around so much history. I am with you, the period costumes really do help you feel what it might have been liked. Thank you for stopping by!

  45. weddingspice Says:

    Thanks for sharing tidbits of history! Love the period costumes and, of course, the china!

  46. You are so welcome! We really enjoyed going and sharing it with everyone. The costumes were really great and the china were a great find.

  47. cyferREDrose Says:

    love the costumes, looks like it was a grand 4th of july!

  48. The costumes were really great. It really set the mood of the day. Thank you for stopping by!

  49. ladywise Says:

    This was a wonderful post. So enjoyable. It’s obvious you put a lot of time in it. I love to go to events like this.

    I’m new to your site and so will ask rather than dig through old posts, but do you run the bed and breakfast and where exactly is it? Just curious.

  50. Thank you! It was great fun being part of this event. We are getting ready to open a bed and breakfast in September, 2012 if we get things in place in time. It is located across the Rappahannock River from Port Royal, Virginia in an area called Port Conway, Virginia. It is where James Madison was born. Ask any questions you want anytime. We are happy to answer them for you 😉

  51. hermitsdoor Says:

    I bet that you could get some re-enactors encamped on your property some day. I find that the more purists tend to prefer to not mix their eras though. Belle Grove probably crosses Colonial/French and Indian War, to Rev. War, to Civil War. There are at least 3 events waiting to happen.

  52. We have already started thinking about public events we could bring together for the public to enjoy around the Colonial times and Civil War times. We will try not to mix the two if possibe, but with so much history this plantation has seen, it is hard sometimes to keep them apart. 😉 Thank you for stopping by!

  53. chrisstov Says:

    Fascinating pictures of the Civil War. We have societies in this country that re-enact our Civil War between the Roundheads and Cavaliers in the 1640s. They dress up period costumes even down to the weapons of that time.

    Glad Dolley and James survived the storms. I did wonder about Belle Grove when I read about the storms in Virginia.

  54. Thank you! We all survived with little damage this time! I was just glad the osprey babies made it too! I love going to events with reenactors. It makes it more real to see them there!