Yorktown, Virginia

Old Yorktown, Virginia * http://www.yorkcounty.gov/tourism/

Yorktown, Virginia

Yorktown was named after England’s York and was established as a port for shipping tobacco to Europe. It is the 3rd part of Virginia’s infamous “Historic Triangle” that connects it with Jamestown and Williamsburg. Yorktown is a small village of roughly 203 citizens (2000 census) and is considered a “Census-designated place” in York County, Virginia. It is also York County’s county seat and is one of the eight original shires that formed in colonial Virginia in 1634. Yorktown is most famous for the surrender of General Cornwallis of the English army to General George Washington of the newly forming United States of America in 1781. It was this surrender that effectively ended the American Revolutionary War even though the war continued for another year. It was here as well that another American war – the American Civil War (1861-1865) prominently figurred as a placehold in being a major port that supplied northern and southern towns thereby placing it into being a battlefield a second time. There are only 9 buildings that survive from the Colonial period as well as many of the earthworks dug by the besieging American and French forces. There is also a memorial to the French war dead of the battle. Its a small quaint town. Nothing like Jamestown or Williamsburg and holds an attraction of its own. While I was visiting, most of the museums of historic buildings were closed and there were no activities. It does have a nice public white-sand beach great for summer activities and a little bit of shopping. Its a nice exit to the excitement of Jamestown and Williamsburg. Rating 3.5 stars out of 5. Visited 5/22/2008.

Cole Diggs House ca 1720 – [NPS Monument marker sign ] “I hope your Lord will think fit to move His Majesty to appoint another Councillor … I humbly recommend to your Lord for that Purpose Mr. Cole Digges a gentleman who lives very convenient to the Seat of Government, of an Ample Fortune, good Parts, and a Fair Character … ” [Governor Alexander Spotswood to the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, February 24, 1718″]. On September 15, 1720, Cole Digges of Yorktown was sworn in as a member of the royal governor’s council, a powerful and prestigous political position in the colonial government that he held for 24 years. Digges’ wealth, his position as a representative in the colonial legislature and his apparent support of the royal governor, Alexander Spotswood, combined to make him an attractive candidate for the council. Digges success came at a time when Yorktown was reaching its zenith, and the colony was still loyal to Great Britain.”

Custom House

Charles Cox House * The Trustee to the Portland of York Towne” deeded this corner lot to Charles Cox, “Inholder” and “Planter” in 1706, Cox probably built the house pictured here before sellign the property in 1729 to Thomas Nelson, in whose family it remained for the next seventy-five years. The painting is based on photographs of the twenty-by-forty-foot “Dwelling and store” with smokehouse behind. made before it was destroyed a half century ago.

Nelson House
ca 1730. Thomas Nelson Jr’s legacy is a lasting example of life dedicated to independence for his country. His support towards political freedom from Great Britain began while a member of Virginia’s colonial legislature. In addition to protesting British taxes, and leading Yorktown’s tea party, patterned after the one in Boston, he was one of Virginia’s delegates to the Continental Congress. In May 1776, he advocated that Virginia officially support independence – a proposal that helped lead to the Declaration of Independence signed by Nelson and 55 others. Nelson continued to support the revolution through political channels, and used his own funds to purchase military supplies. On June 12, 1781 he was elected the third governor of Virginia and faced the greatest challenge of his public career, the invasion of the British Army. As governor and general of the state’s militia, Nelson participated in the victory of Yorktown. One day after the British surrendered, Governor Thomas Nelson Jr wrote to the Continental Congress ‘ … the whole loss sustained by the enemy … must be between 6 and 7000 men. This Blow, I think, must be a decisive one.’ In November 1781, Nelson resigned as Governor, poor in health and in debt. He died on January 4, 1789,and was buried next to his father, and grandfather at Grace Church just one block from his home.

The Great Valley * “I Desired you not to send the things you used annually send me … I shall not import any more necessaries till the hateful acts are repealed. The Ministry promised to get a Repeal of that imposing the Duties on Glass Paper and Colours; But, tell them in Plain English, That alone won’t satisfy America …” William Nelson to merchant Mr John Norton in London, November 18, 1769.
Before the American Revolution, this narrow footpath, cutting through the Great valley, was a major thoroughfare that linked Yorktown’s busy waterfront district with businesses and government offices on Main Street.

Yorktown Waterfront

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