Beyond Jamestown: Life 400 Years Ago
This exhibit tells the story that begins on July 24, 1608 when a crew of twelve Englishmen, under the leadership of Captain John Smith, set sail from the settlement of Jamestown, Va. on the second leg of their voyage up the Chesapeake Bay. They were strangers in a strange land, on a mission to chart the Bay, look for gold, find the fabled
Northwest Passage to Asia and to establish trade networks with any Native American communities they encountered.
Smith and his crew spent July 31 to August 7 charting and exploring the Upper Chesapeake Bay. Here they encountered the Massawomeck, Tockwogh and Susquehannock tribes. Apparently the Susquehannocks made quite an impression on the English for a representation of one of their warrior’s was featured on John Smith’s 1612 map of the Chesapeake region. The convergence of these cultures brought about by this voyage of discovery developed ramifications that echo through to today.
Step back in time, discover life in the Upper Bay 400 years ago and go Beyond Jamestown.
You may be surprised at what you discover.
Working On The Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the Nation’s largest estuary and historically has supported one of the most productive fisheries in the world. Chesapeake Bay inhabitants have harvested herring, shad, eel, oysters, crab, perch, catfish and bass. Who harvests these waters? Watermen do. They are the men and women who make a living from the Bay. Many of these men and women are passed down the skills of fishing, crabbing and oystering from previous generations in their families. On display are a variety of tools used by Watermen to harvest the Bay.
This exhibit also discusses the various types of boats watermen use or used on the Chesapeake Bay. Discover how wooden workboats were made by exploring the tools used to create these boats. Take a seat on the wooden work bench and experience what it was like to create a wooden boat.
Ever hear of a floating fishery? No? That because commercial fishing ended in the Chesapeake Bay from overfishing and from the building of the Conowingo Dam, which stopped various fish from being able to migrate up the Susquehanna River to their spawning grounds. Watermen still harvest these waters today, but they are few and far between.
The Ice Harvest
Before the 1920’s when industrialization created a more modern refrigerator, ice was not easily accessible as it is today. Natural ice was harvested off of frozen lakes and rivers by men and animals in order to supply the growing demand.
Havre de Grace had several ice warehouses that were used to cut, store and deliver ice to Baltimore and to its local residents. The residents and businesses would hang signs out of their windows with the amount of ice needed for their ice boxes. Twenty to a hundred men would spend the winter months cutting blocks of ice from the rivers using saws, ice chippers and various other tools. They would then haul the ice blocks to their warehouses using carts pulled by horses and chutes that would move the ice down into tightly packed rows. The ice would then be insulated by sawdust.
Discover how the ice business was brought to Swan Creek by William Michael and Abedego Taylor. Learn exactly how the tools were used to cut through fifteen inches of ice. Even though ice nowadays is artificial and can be made right at home, observe the difficult task of how ice was naturally harvested by working men from the 1870’s to the 1910’s.
Unites States Coast Guard
The modern-day Coast Guard was formed in 1915 after the merger of U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Life-Saving Service which were established in 1790 and 1878 respectively. The Revenue Cutter Service was charged with the patrol of the coast, by sea, to enforce tariffs and trade laws in order to prevent smuggling and protect the United States’ maritime interests. During the War of 1812, the Revenue Cutter Service demonstrated its capabilities as a formidable naval warfare force. Members of the Life-Saving Service were stationed along the shore year-round patrolling along the coastland performing rescue operations for and rendering aid to crews from offshore shipwrecks. The U.S. Coast Guard combined the missions, service and protection previously provided by the Revenue Cutter and Life-Saving Services that continue today. The Coast Guard is a branch of the Armed Services that during peacetime, operates under the Treasury Department and in times of war, falls under the Department of the Navy and has played a notable role in all conflicts along the United States shores since its inception.