Yorktown in York County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Captain John Smith’s Adventures on the Pamaunk Flu
— www.johnsmithtrail.org —
The lowborn colonists who shouldered most of the work required to settle in Virginia were attracted by the personal freedom enjoyed by Indian men. Many deserted to the Indians, particularly during the starving time. As the son of a yeoman farmer, Smith was proud of his origins and scorned the highborn councilmen who disagreed with his practical (and successful) approach to managing the colony. “Let all men have as much freedom in reason as may be, and true dealing, for it is the greatest comfort you can give them, where the very name of servitude will breed much ill blood, and become odious to God and man.”
Capt. John Smith’s Trail
John Smith knew the York river and its tributaries by their Algonquian name: the Pamaunk Flu. Smith traveled these rivers and the Chesapeake Bay many times between 1607 and 1609, trading with Virginia’s Indians to ensure survival of the young English colony.
Capt. John Smith’s Trail on the Pamaunk Flu is a 36-site water trail and auto tour for modern explorers.
October 19, Yorktown Day commemorations
Since the British forces under Lord Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington on October 19, 1781, the anniversary has held special significance to our nation. Commemorations began as early as 1824 when Lafayette returned to Yorktown as part of a national tour. In 1879, events were staged to aid in planning the 1881 centennial. While other commemorations were held periodically over the years, in 1909 the Yorktown Historical Society and the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence began holding annual Yorktown Day celebrations. They continued until the Comte de Grasse Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution formed and began coordinating the event in 1922.
The Yorktown Day Association, consisting of various patriotic societies and organizations, formed in 1949. Today the association, with co-sponsor Colonial National Historical Park, continues the tradition of planning the annual commemorative activities.
The 1881 centennial, 1931 sesquicentennial and 1981 bicentennial celebrations each included participation by the President of the United States and drew national attention. The 225th anniversary in 2006 was one of the signature events held in honor of the 400th anniversary of the founding of nearby Jamestown.
The aerial photograph shows the 1931 sesquicentennial celebration, including the “tent city,” exhibition areas, entry arches, and the naval, historic and private ships moored in the York River.
Erected by Captain John Smith’s Trail, York County Virginia, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. (Marker Number 34.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Exploration • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Lafayette’s Farewell Tour series list. A significant historical month for this entry is October 1950.
Location. 37° 14.161′ N, 76° 30.55′ W. Marker is in Yorktown, Virginia, in York County. Marker is at the intersection of Ballard Street (Virginia Route 1020) and Main Street, on the left when traveling north on Ballard Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Yorktown VA 23690, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. York Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); York County War Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Swan Tavern (within shouting distance of this marker); Medical Shop (Reconstructed) (within shouting distance of this marker); Site of the Home of Nicolas Martiau (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); West Along Main Street (about 300 feet away); East Along Main Street (about 400 feet away); Grace Church - circa 1697 (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Yorktown.
More about this marker. On the lower left is a photo of a living history farm – Courtesy of Jamestown Settlement living-history museum, Williamsburg, Va. Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation photo.
On the upper right is a map of "Capt. John Smith's Trail."
The sidebar contains an aerial photograph of the 1931 Cornwallis Surrender sesquicentennial celebration - Image courtesy of U.S. Army Air Corps at Langley Field, Virginia.
Also see . . .
1. Colonial National Historical Park. National Park Service (Submitted on August 4, 2010.)
2. The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. National Park Service (Submitted on August 4, 2010.)
Credits. This page was last revised on November 14, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 4, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 789 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on August 4, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.