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What is: The Pecos Mission circa 1717, as restored with archaeological ruins around them

What Was: Native people inhabited the Pecos Valley for 1200 years. Pecos was one of the largest and most powerful pueblos. In the early 1600s the Spanish established churches. The Spanish arrival brought sweeping changes impacting the lives of the Pecos people. Spaniards actively tried to eradicate every aspect of the ancestral pueblo life.

In August of 1680, the Pueblos revolted, driving the Spaniards out. They destroyed the church. By 1690s the Spanish returned and by the early 1700s there was a new church built. By the 1780s disease, raids and drought decimated the population. From 1821 to 1880, the area was a major trade route between Missouri and Santa Fe.

What is: George and Polly Gilmore’s farm, Montpelier, Virginia.

What was: This was George and Polly Gilmore’s farm in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Both George and Polly were born into slavery at James Madison’s Montpelier. The Gilmore family lived here until the 1930’s.  The cabin is representative of not just the Gilmore family’s early years of freedom, but countless other newly freed African Americans in the Piedmont region of Virginia during Reconstruction.

President Madison died in 1836. When Dolley Madison sold Montpelier in 1844, George Gilmore and his future wife Polly conveyed with the property. They were married in 1850 and were freed in 1865 when Federal troops occupied Orange County.  Excavation units in the yard allowed historians to uncover what appears to be the remains of a Confederate encampment.

Like millions of African Americans throughout the South, many emancipated slaves worked on the same plantations where they once labored. After emancipation, Gilmore stayed at Montpelier, and is listed in census records as having worked as a saddle maker and as a tenant farmer. In 1873 the Gilmores built this cabin, and in 1901 purchased the 16 acres of land from Dr. James A. Madison, the great-nephew of President Madison. Members of the family lived on the farm until the early 1930s.

What is: Abandoned House in the fields on the way to Nat Turner’s Cave. Southampton County, Virginia

What was: In 1831, a slave rebellion was led by Nat Turner.  The slaves went from farm to farm in Southampton County killing the white slave owners.  Scores of blacks were murdered in reprisals throughout the South.

The legacy of the biggest slave revolt in U.S. history still hangs over the sandy soil, blackwater cypress swamps and abandoned homes of the county. Kids grow up in rural Southampton County hearing that the mist creeping across the fields might be something unearthly. Old folks warn them not to sneak into abandoned houses, where rotting floors and walls are said to be stained with blood. This is a haunted landscape. (Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/the-haunted-houses-legacy-of-nat-turners-slave-rebellion-lingers-but-reminders-are-disappearing/2019/04/29/d267d814-5d68-11e9-842d-7d3ed7eb3957_story.html

Attacking farmhouses in the darkness and picking up supporters along the way, Turner and his rebels killed some 55 white men, women, and children over two days. They were eventually scattered by militia infantry, and some were rounded up and killed or put on trial. Turner escaped and hid out for two months mostly in a crude “cave” — a hole dug under a pile of wood — before surrendering on Oct. 30, 1831.

Lonnie Bunch, then director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, said, “The Nat Turner rebellion is probably the most significant uprising in American history.”

Probably the most significant uprising (after Jan 6? ) in American history. Lots of legends and stories here…

What is: Corner of Bride Street and High Street, Courtland, Virginia, Population 1295

What was: In 1831, a slave rebellion was led by Nat Turner. The slaves went from farm to farm in Southhampton County killing the white slave owners. Scores of blacks were murdered in reprisals throughout the South. The legacy of the biggest slave revolt in U.S. history still hangs over the sandy soil, blackwater cypress swamps and abandoned homes of the county. Kids grow up in rural Southampton County hearing that the mist creeping across the fields might be something unearthly. Old folks warn them not to sneak into abandoned houses, where rotting floors and walls are said to be stained with blood. This is a haunted landscape. (Source for some of this and a great story here.

Attacking farmhouses in the darkness and picking up supporters along the way, Turner and his rebels killed some 55-65 white men, women, and children over two days. They were eventually scattered by militia infantry, and some were rounded up and killed or put on trial. Turner escaped and hid out for two months mostly in a crude “cave” — a hole dug under a pile of wood — before surrendering on Oct. 30, 1831.

Turner was hung from a tree on Bride Street in what is now Courtland, VA. A short distance away, around the corner on High Street, is the ditch where Turner’s torso was said to have been tossed after he was decapitated (pictured here). Human remains have been found here. At some point, the county hopes to excavate. In the meantime, the spot is marked by tiny wire flags stuck in the weeds, the sort that might designate a property line or a cable route.

Many Black people who had not participated were also persecuted in the frenzy. Months after the insurrection, the Virginia legislature narrowly rejected a measure for gradual emancipation that would have followed the lead of the North. Instead, pointing to Turner’s intelligence and education as a major cause of the revolt, measures were passed in Virginia and other states in the South that made it unlawful to teach enslaved people and free African Americans how to read or write.

Lonnie Bunch, previously director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, said, “The Nat Turner rebellion is probably the most significant uprising in American history.”

Among one of the most important sacred sites to Native Americans. The tribal village would have been along the shore, with the community leaders, temples and civic buildings further at the back of the site.
What is: Werowocomoco. It is today United States Government Property. No Trespassing. In 2016, Werowocomoco was permanently protected by the National Park Service and is administered by the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
What was: Werowocomoco (wayr-uh-wah-koh-muh-koh) is believed to have been a place of leadership and spiritual importance to American Indians as early as circa AD 1200.  The village served as the headquarters of Chief Powhatan, a Virginia Algonquian political and spiritual leader when the English founded Jamestown in 1607. The name Werowocomoco comes from the Powhatan werowans, meaning “leader” in English; and komakah, “settlement”.
When Englishman Captain John Smith explored the Bay in 1608, he documented hundreds of American Indian communities. Today, sites on his map are archeological treasures and sacred sites for tribal citizens. At Werowocomoco, Powhatan, the leader of many Algonquian tribes, lived and subsequently met on several occasions with Captain John Smith in 1607 in the earliest recorded meetings between a Native leader and the English. On one visit in 1609, the English forced Powhatan to bow so they could crown him as a ruler in Virginia.
The Native Americans were increasingly unwilling to trade and wary of English intentions. Attempts at cooperation steadily led to conflict, and Powhatan moved his headquarters farther inland. Werowocomoco soon fell silent. The land at Werowocomoco was cultivated for crops and timber from the early days of colonial Virginia, either by a single family or small cluster of neighbors. There is no indication that they maintained any direct association of the land with Werowocomoco or its importance to native and colonial history.
Nothing above ground remains of the Indian community that lived here. The rural landscape is largely intact. However, clues to the past still lie in the earth. Fields and forests at the site surround a private, single-family home, situated at the end of a long gravel road with a view of Purtan Bay and the York River beyond. Indians moved away from Werowocomoco in 1609. In the centuries that followed, Indian heritage was both neglected and suppressed. Source: National Parks Service.

 

 

 

 

What is: A mound on Pamunkey Neck, described as the gravesite of Powhatan.

What was: Powhatan, was the leader of many Algonquian tribes and met on several occasions with Captain John Smith in 1607 in the earliest recorded meetings between a Native leader and the English. On one visit in 1609, the English forced Powhatan to bow so they could crown him as a ruler in Virginia.

He died around 1618, and the ceremony for the “taking up” of his bones was a signal for the uprising that initiated the Second Anglo-Powhatan War in 1622. Colonists did not know the details of Powhatan’s death or burial, so the written records do not document the location of his grave.

His bones may have been placed in a mat and kept in the Uttamusak temple complex, rather than interred in the ground. Whether or not Powhatan’s remains ended up on what is today the Pamunkey reservation, no one knows for sure.  However, it highlights the association with the paramount chief and father of Pocahontas and gives the Pamunkey tribe special status today.

The railroad tracks running across the Powhatan mound were first laid in 1855, across 22 acres of the Pamunkey reservation, without permission from the Pamunkey and with no compensation to the Pamunkey for this unsolicited and unwanted use of their land.

In 1975 the Pamunkey began a suit against the Southern Railroad Company which in 1979 resulted in reparations of $100,000 being paid to the Pamunkey for the location of these tracks. The terms of their settlement also required that the railroad continue regular rent payments for use of that land in the future, and determined that if the railroad should at any point discontinue use of the tracks, the land will be returned to Pamunkey use.

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 Heart Mountain Relocation Center and the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, Park County, Wyoming between Powell and Cody

What was: The Heart Mountain Relocation Center is one of the ten internment camps built to house Japanese people in the United States who were forcibly relocated from the West Coast during World War II. The Heart Mountain Relocation Center is one of the few relocation centers with buildings still standing today. It was the fourth largest relocation center.

Heart Mountain was a self-contained operation with residential and administrative buildings. There were 650 buildings and structures at the Center, housed 10,000 evacuees making it the third largest city in Wyoming at the time. Nine guard towers and barbed wire perimeter surrounded the residential barracks. The buildings were wood framed with black tar paper exteriors. Apartments ranged from 16 feet by 20 feet up to 24 feet by 20 feet divided, the latter designed for a family of six. Each apartment contained army cots, two blankets and a pillow, one light and one burning stove. There were also mess halls, a recreational facility, two toilet and laundry facilities. The center had a hospital, schools, a garment factory, cabinet shop, sawmill, and silk screen shop staffed primarily by internees.

385 residents of Heart Mountain served in the military, many becoming members of the famed all-Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most decorated units in the U.S. military. Eleven of the soldiers from Heart Mountain were killed, 52 were wounded in combat, and two received the nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor.

Source: National Park Service

Scarred Places: Guard tower. What is: the smoke stack in the background and an old guard tower are among the remains of the Heart Mountain internment camp. What was: From 1942-1945, Heart Mountains was one of ten sites built to confine 120,000 Japanese living in America and relocated from their homes, mostly on the West Coast. Heart Moountain facility housed about 10,000 people in 450 barracks, each containing six apartments. The largest apartments were simply single rooms measuring 24 feet by 20 feet. The units were eventually outfitted with a potbellied stove, none had bathrooms. Internees used shared latrines. None of the apartments had kitchens. The residents ate their meals in mess halls. A highschool was built in 1943 for about 1500 students. (Source: https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/brief-history-heart-mountain-relocation-center). Local reactions to the internment ran the gamut from people believing this was the wrong thing to do to others believing the barracks and living conditions were too good for those interned. On the highway between Cody and Powell Wyoming is an interpretive center in a building that resembles the long lost barracks. #scarredplacesphotoseries
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