Week ending 04/18/2014

On Friday, April 11, I joined Dr. Lelievre and archaeologist Bruce Larson at the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station for a site tour of Charles’ Corner and other Reservation sites.  It’s hard to imagine a vibrant community once thrived where now there is only forest.  Stepping in to the space, seeing evidence of life in the artifacts left behind (a cemetery, a patch of exotic flowers, remnants of a cast iron stove, a rusted out washtub) confirm that human life was here once.  Mr. Larson helped me to see the topography in a new way by pointing out flat areas that would not naturally be flat (indicating humans had graded the area for a homesite or garden or what have you), road beds, and the like.   Because the sites have been vacant for so long, the forest has completely taken over and, interestingly, rare native plants can now be spotted along the forest floor  The people are gone and the flora and fauna couldn’t be happier.  Except for the two stow-away deer ticks that came home with me, the visit was everything I hoped for and more.  If I were at a different stage in life, I could see myself really embracing that kind of work.

Prior to heading to the Naval Weapons Station, I drove to Grove to photograph the street-side memorial marker and to visit Mount Gilead Baptist Church again.  I wanted to take a picture of the corner stone that commemorated the Church’s origin in Magruder.  As it happened, there was a church member on site, Sheila Jefferson, who gave me permission to photograph the corner stone.  She also shared a few minutes of time with me, talking about the church and some of her members.  She gave me the name of Magruder survivor, Elder Roland Wallace, and suggested that he might be a good resource.  I reached out to Elder Wallace and left a message, but I haven’t heard back.  Given the looming deadline for the paper, I must forego any further efforts to contact him at this time.   Additionally, I have not received any further correspondence from Bishop Dawson.  At this point, it looks like my information on MGBC will come from the Church’s website and what I can put together from the historic record.

I had a ‘kick me’ moment this week, too.  In that, I mean that I missed an opportunity that I would otherwise have had if I had followed my instinct.  When going over Reverend Ward’s papers very early in this process, I came across the name of Ann Little and wondered to myself how she knew Reverend Ward.   Much to my regret, I did not follow up on that notion.  I learned just last week that Ann Little is Reverend Ward’s daughter and she is the one that donated the papers to Special Collections.  I found a telephone number, called and left a message.  I did not receive a call back and thought that I must have the wrong Ann Little.  As it turned out however, she was out of town and didn’t get my message until this week.  She called me and seems very excited to talk about Magruder with me.  I am meeting her for an informal interview tomorrow morning.  Had I acted sooner, I would have been able to undertake a formal oral history interview.

The rest of my WDP time this week has been spent transcribing the Larson interview.  There are 1.25 hours of audio to transcribe and it is time consuming.  I should finish that tomorrow.  Beyond that, I am ready to go for the paper.  This weekend I will dive in and write…write…write!

3 Responses to “Week ending 04/18/2014”


  1. 1 rwduke April 19, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Kari, Every week I am so interested to read about your research and the successes and obstacles you come across. Don’t be hard on yourself about Ann Little. If we had more time to conduct this research these time sensitive things wouldn’t impact research. I’m really looking forward to your final presentation!!

  2. 2 mal2013 April 20, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    I’ll be eager to hear about your informal interview with Ann Little. Another interesting form of evidence that Bruce Larson mentioned is the presence of non-native plants in the Charles’ Corner area. Archaeologists can often use the presence of non-native species to infer the presence of human cultivation.

  3. 3 Ryan Feeney April 21, 2014 at 12:15 am

    Don’t be too hard on yourself about Ann Little. The closer I get to the deadline with my own project, the more I wonder if I should have more names, or who else I should have interviewed. Given the relatively short amount of time, though, we can only do the best we can. If you are really serious about pursuing this project as an honors thesis, you can always pick up these “loose ends” then. Good luck with everything, I’m really eager to hear your presentation!

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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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