What is: Pottery School, Pamunkey Indian Reservation, King William County, Virginia.  Home of the Pamunkey Potter’s Guild since the early 1930s.

What was: Pottery production for Virginia’s indigenous peoples began roughly three millennia prior to contact with Europeans. From its beginning to approximately five decades after European contact, the ceramics of Virginia’s coastal plains consisted of small to large wide-mouthed jars with conoidal bodies and rounded bases. Ceramics were produced and used on a household basis for a multitude of purposes including cooking and storage. The period of initial European contact resulted in the first marked shift in European influence on Pamunkey pottery production in which pottery shifted from production for consumption to production for exchange.

During the nineteenth century, the Pamunkey potters had a thriving peddlers’ trade throughout the Peninsula area. Many believed that this activity was ruined by the construction of the York and Richmond Railroad in 1854 and the traumatic events surrounding the Civil War and resulting disruption of life in King William county area. Reconstruction, would, of course, take a further toll. By the beginning of the 20th century, only a handful of potters remained, but all the senior members of the community could recall a day when their grandparents made a living, at least in part, from peddling their stewing pots, milk pans, and other pottery vessels throughout the country.

Today, the Pamunkey Reservation consists of 1,200 acres. That is 7% of the land originally granted by the 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation.

What is: Fort Monroe, Hampton, Virginia

What was: Fort Monroe has an interesting place in American history.  In late August 1619, the first ship carrying “20 odd” enslaved Africans arrived at Point Comfort in Virginia, where Fort Monroe is today.  The Fort was built between 1819 and 1834 and occupied a strategic coastal defensive position since the earliest days of the Virginia Colony. During the Civil War, the Fort remained in Union possession and became a place of refuge for freedom seekers, earning the nickname “Freedom’s Fortress.”

Just six weeks after the Civil War began, three slaves – Frank Baker, James Townsend and Shepard Mallory – escaped from behind Confederate lines and sought refuge at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia. Commanding General Benjamin Butler refused to return the fugitives and declared the three men contraband of war. Soon, thousands of enslaved African Americans from all over the region descended on Fort Monroe in pursuit of freedom and sanctuary. This event fundamentally changed the meaning of the Civil War from states’ rights to the immorality of slavery, and marked the beginning of the end of slavery in the United States.  Fort Monroe became a refuge for those escaping enslavement, and was one of the first places enslaved people were granted freedom during the American Civil War.

While its location was the site of the first Africans who were traded as property, it’s also the place where — more than 240 years later — thousands of slaves found refuge and ultimately, their freedom, when Union forces did not return slaves to Confederate soldiers. Jefferson Davis was imprisoned here at the conclusion of the Civil War. Edgar Allen Poe and Harriet Tubman both spent time at Fort Monroe, and Abraham Lincoln stayed there during the assault on Norfolk, VA – the last time a sitting President was actively involved in a military campaign.

What is: Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park. a sweeping view of the river and mountains along the Grand Loop Road.

What was: Near this location is what is known as Nez Perce Ford which is where Chief Joseph’s Nez Perce tribe crossed the Yellowstone River on August 25, 1877.

In June 1877, several bands of the Nez Perce, numbering about 750 men, women, and children resisted relocation from their native lands on the Wallowa River in northeast Oregon to a reservation in west-central Idaho. They decided to escape to the east through Idaho, Montana and Wyoming over the Rocky Mountains into the Great Plains, at one point in Montana believing if they went North to Canada they could reach safety.

By late August, the Nez Perce had travelled hundreds of miles and fought several battles in which they defeated or held off the U.S. army forces pursuing them. The Nez Perce War was extensively reported in the nation’s press and their leader Chief Joseph became something of a national hero and a military genius in the eyes of many in the American public as he continually outwitted and embarrassed the American Troops.

In getting through what is today’s Yellowstone National Park, the Nez Perce had about 200 fighting men and were up against America army units totaling 2,000 soldiers plus hundreds of Indian scouts. The Nez Perce Indian chiefs attempted to restrain their young men from taking revenge on White non-combatants, but not always with success. The Nez Perce selected an unknown and most difficult route over the Absaroka Mountains reaching an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet. The American commander following them, said it was the roughest country he ever undertook to pass through.

In 1902, Major Hiram M. Chittenden, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Yellowstone’s chief road builder embarked on a campaign to mark all the historic spots in the park from the 1877 Nez Perce war. By 1904, signs marked the locations of all the key encounters during the Nez Perce flight through the park. By the 1930s, the signs were all gone.

What is: Sumner, MS courthouse jury seats…Go watch Till, the movie…. opening everywhere tomorrow. Trailer here.

What was: On September 23, 1955, in a five day trial held here, an all-white male jury acquitted two other white men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, of murder. The trial included missing witnesses, a sheriff proposing a conspiracy theory about whether the tortured body was really of the boy, Emmett Till, as well as lack of some key investigatory undertakings. The jury took one hour and seven minutes to reach its verdict, with one juror noting the decision could have come sooner but they were told to take some extra time to make it look good, so they went and bought some sodas. There were rumors of “reminders” and “threats” from the local white citizen council about the jury knowing its’ duty. The trial transcript and all of the evidence in the trial disappeared over the years. Years later (early 2000s) the FBI re-opened the case. They found the lost transcript.

I have a series of images related to the Emmett Till story collected here

Whoopi Goldberg on the movie. Review, Till grippingly reorients American Tragedy.

Bryants grocery store today…it sits beside a perfectly restored gas station

Where they had dug a shallow grave and hoped to bury the story

Where Moses Wright Lived and the kidnapping took place

The shed of torture

supposedly the bridge where the body was thrown away…with a gin fan hung tied. around the neck with barbed wire…as if killing and torture/lynching was not enough

Bryants Grocery

The Shed of Torture of a 14 year old boy

The shed…walk in and hear the screams of Mama…

What is: The Bremo Bluff Post Office, Bremo Bluff, Virginia

What was: Bremo Bluff is an unincorporated community located on the northern bank of the James River in Fluvanna County, Virginia, United States. The locale was established by the Cocke family in 1636. The Bremo plantation covered 1500 acres and included three separate estates, all created in the 19th century by the planter, soldier, and reformer John Hartwell Cocke on his family’s 1725 land grant.  In total 246 people were enslaved there from 1781 – the earliest date on record – until 1865.  However, enslaved men also cleared the land and built a structure (which still stands) to claim the land grant in 1725. During the American Civil War, the family of General Robert E. Lee sought refuge in the community.

Around 1840, the James River and Kanawha Company developed a series of locks and canals that improved river transportation. A boat wharf was built to accommodate the river traffic that became an important part of the local economy by the 1850s. In 1895, Bremo Bluff had a population of 72 people with a post office and railroad service. The railway at Bremo Bluff soon became one of the five busiest stops for passenger and freight traffic for the Richmond Allegany Railway. By 1918, four trains each day were stopping at the town.

In 1931, the Virginia Electric & Power Company constructed a 30-megawatt coal-fired power station along the path of the James River Line at Bremo Bluff. Bremo Power Station was operated most recently by Dominion Energy.

Today, The Bremo Bluff Post Office serves 930 Bremo Bluff residents. It’s estimated that approximately 1,484 packages pass through this post office each year. #

What is: The First Street Bridge, The Sunflower River, Clarksdale, Mississippi.

What was: In the 19th and 20th century the river was used by Black churchgoers for baptisms.

On Sept 19, 1919, L.B.Read, a returning Black Army veteran from the American Expeditionary Forces, was hanged here, for allegedly dating a white woman.  This followed “The Red Summer” of 1919, when thousands of Black people were beaten and murdered throughout the United States.  Black Veterans had just returned from World War I and begun organizing for equal rights after serving their country overseas.  #scarredplacesphotoseries #whatisleadsustowhatwas #Clarksdale #Mississippi #Baptisms #RedSummer #Lynchings #AfricanAmericanhistory #Knowourhistory #Blackveterans