“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Chester in Chesterfield County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Dutch Gap Conservation Area

Captain John Smith’s Adventures on the James


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Dutch Gap Conservation Area Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 23, 2015
1. Dutch Gap Conservation Area Marker
The trail at Dutch Gap traces the old channel of the James River. Before the river was rerouted, there was a ferry landing on the opposite shore called Osborne’s Landing. This may have been the location of the enigmatic Port Cotage referenced by George Percy in his Observations Gathered Out of a Discourse of the Plantation of the Southerne Colonie of Virginia by the English: “At Port Cotage in our Voyage up the River, we saw Savage Boy about the age of ten yeeres, which had a head of haire of a perfect yellow and a reasonable white skinne, which is a Miracle amongst all Savages.”

There is a small chance the boy was an offspring of a member of the 1587 lost colony at Roanoke. Or, perhaps Percy’s tow-headed Native was an exaggeration. Gabriel Archer described dining with the Arrohateck Indians at “a place I call Poor Cottage,” but made no similar reference to a fair-skinned boy.

Percy, however, was not the only settler to entertain the fancy of finding a white-skinned people in the new world. John Smith recalled being told "of a certaine men…at a place called Ocanahonan, cloathed like me” by his Algonquian captors. This may have been a product of the settlers’ charge to find any survivors of the Roanoke colony.

Capt. John Smith’s Trail
Dutch Gap Conservation Area Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 23, 2015
2. Dutch Gap Conservation Area Marker
Smith knew the James River by its Algonquian name: Powhatan, the same as the region’s paramount chief. Smith traveled the river many times between 1607 and 1609, trading with Virginia Indians to ensure survival at Jamestown. What he saw of Virginia’s verdant woodlands and pristine waters inspired him to explore the greater Chesapeake Bay, chronicling its natural wonders.

Capt. John Smith’s Trail on the James is a 40-site water trail and auto tour for modern explorers.

Of All Those Sorts Great Abundance

In the description accompanying his 1612 Map of Virginia, John Smith catalogued the region's abundant wildlife. He listed many of the bird species that still find shelter at Dutch Gap Conservation Area, including the great blue heron.

Smith wrote: "Of birds, the Eagle is the greatest devourer. Hawkes there be of diverse sorts as our Falconers called them, Sparrowhawkes, Lanarets, Goshawkes, Falcons and Osperayes; but they all pray most upon fish. Partridges there are little bigger than our Quailes, wilde Turkies are as bigge as our tame. There are woosels or blackbirds with red shoulders, thrushes, and diverse sorts of small birds, some red, some blew, scarce so bigge as a wrenne, but few in Sommer. In winter there are great plenty of Swans, Craynes gray and white with blacke wings, Herons, Geese, Brants, Ducke, Wigeon, Dotterell, Oxeies, Parrats, and Pigeons. Of all those sorts great abundance, and some other strange kinds to us unknowne by name."
Erected by Captain John Smith's Trail. (Marker Number 10.)
Location. 37° 21.576′ N, 77° 23.179′ W. Marker is in Chester, Virginia, in Chesterfield County. Marker can be reached from Henricus Park Road 1.3 miles east of Coxendale Road. Touch for map. Located on the Dutch Gap Trail in the Dutch Gap Conservation Area. Marker is at or near this postal address: 251 Henricus Park Road, Chester VA 23836, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Siege of Petersburg (within shouting distance of this marker); The Battle of Trent’s Reach (approx. 0.3 miles away); Battery Dantzler (approx. 0.3 miles away); Olin Miller Dantzler (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named Battery Dantzler (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named Battery Dantzler (approx. 0.7 miles away); The Howlett Line (approx. ¾ mile away); Boy Company (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chester.
More about this marker. On the lower left is a depiction of Native Americans along the James River. The photo carries the caption "“The New World” © MMV, New Line Productions, Inc. All rights reserved. Photo by Merie Wallace. Photo appears courtesy of New Line Productions, Inc."

On the upper center is a sketch of a "tow-headed Native" Image Courtesy of the Library of Virginia
Also see . . .
1. Captian John Smith's Trail. (Submitted on August 23, 2015.)
2. Dutch Gap Conservation Area. Chesterfield County Parks & Recreation (Submitted on August 23, 2015.) 
Categories. Colonial EraExplorationNative AmericansSettlements & Settlers
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 23, 2015, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 216 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 23, 2015, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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