In introducing the new photos just uploaded, Amanda and I decided to take a trip a bit off the beaten path and stop at Berkeley and Shirley Plantations. Both of them hold significance in the history of America. Just because back then many of the noble families intermarried among each other there are numerous links to various known families.
Berkeley Plantation was also known as Harrison Landing. It is here at Harrison Landing the ship landed in 1619 having come from England. According to the dictates of those who sent them, when they reached the shore, they were to drop and give Thanksgiving for having made it safely. It is also here at Berkeley that Bourbon Whiskey was first made by a Priest. The other notable first for Berkeley is “Taps” was written there in about 1862. It is named after Richard Berkeley. After the Berkeley Hundred was abandoned after an Indian massacre the home was taken over by the Harrison Family in the 1630′s. It was through this Harrison line that Benjamin Harrison was born, the signer of the Declaration of Independence. He is buried in the graveyard. Interesting to note, the first 10 Presidents of the United States were entertained and stayed at Berkeley Plantation. It just happens the 9th President, William Henry Harrison, was born at Berkeley. It was in the same room he was born that he wrote his inauguration speech. The one in which he gave despite the weather to prove he was not too old to be President. He caught cold and died about 30 days into his Presidency. The shortest Presidency still, the first President to die in office, and he was for almost 150 years the oldest President to be elected to office. It was his grandson, Benjamin Harrison, who would become our 23rd President (during whose term Idaho became a state). During the Civil War McClellan camped 140,000 troops here. During this time President Lincoln visited and entered the home. It was in these camps ‘Taps” was written. Anyhow, Berkeley was very interesting to visit. It was a cold day so there were few visitors. The lady selling tickets saw my Zion’s card in paying and asked where were were from. She taught English for many years at Mountain View and has moved to Virginia, where she was born. Small world isn’t it?
Shirley Plantation is not far up the road. It is part of what was the Shirley Hundred. It claims to be the oldest plantation in America (1622) and the oldest family owned business. The Shirley’s who were given the Shirley Hundred were on their way to Virginia when Mr. Shirley died in the Azores on the way over. The rest of the family went home not wanting to venture to the wilderness without him. The property was sold and the Hill’s acquired. After a generation or two the Hill’s had no male heirs so it went through the daughter who married a Carter. It is through this Carter line Anne Carter was born, mother of Robert Edward Lee. Robert was raised here, but he certainly spent a good deal of time there growing up and receiving some of his schooling in this house. During the Civil War the Plantation became a place where the Union Troops placed their injured after the Malvern Hill battles. Those at Shirley Plantation went out to tend and take care of the injured soldiers and earned the respect of General McClellan. In return for their efforts he assigned soldiers to protect the home from being burned and pillaged as many other homes were during the Civil War. Today, descendants of the Carter’s (and Hill’s) still live in the home making it the 11th or 12th generation. That possibly of itself makes it the longest family owned home in America.
There was some definitely instructive and pleasing things learned at Berkeley and Shirley. They were fascinating really.