On Saturday, April 25 at 2 p.m. Fort Christanna Historical Site will officially be opened with a gala event at the site. The public is heartily invited to come and see the historic opening of this new Brunswick attraction.
Why is this piece of land hidden on a dirt road in the woods so important? Why will hundreds of people celebrate its existence on the 25th?
In 1714 Virginia was a colony of Great Britain. The area that now is Brunswick County was wilderness, with only a few settlers and with wandering groups of Native Americans displaced from their Tidewater lands. Virginia's governor, Alexander Spotswood, was concerned about the safety of settlers and wanted to provide a safe place for more people to come. He was also concerned about the wandering groups of Indians, known as the Tributary Indians, who were often attacked by their enemies, the Nottoway and Meherrin tribes. He additionally wanted to provide a trading site for the Native Americans of the area. He found the ideal spot on a cliff above a bend in the Meherrin River. The colony's legislature provided funding, and in 1714 the fort was built. At that time it was the farthest western outpost of the British Empire. The fort was five-sided with each side some 300 feet long and made of a palisade of split logs. At each corner small bastion houses held a 1400-pound cannon apiece. Twelve rangers under the command of Captain Robert Hicks were housed in the fort. They were young men who rode around the neighboring settlements to offer some protection to the new settlers. Spotswood built a house for himself about a mile from the fort.
The fort was large, covering over three acres, and probably had many buildings inside, such as a storehouse, a dormitory for the rangers, a blacksmith, stables, and perhaps there were gardens, pig pens and chickens. There was certainly an Indian School.
With Spotswood's encouragement, the Tributary Indians moved to Fort Christanna and banded under the name Saponie. They built a village not far from the fort, described as a circle of buildings. Over 200 Native Americans lived in the village. Governor Spotswood paid from his own pocket to hire a teacher, Charles Griffin, to educate the Indian children who numbered as many as 100 at one time. He taught them the Anglican catechism and prayers as well as the three "Rs". .Cont. here:
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