Monday, February 8, 2016


The records and historians frequently mention "the falls".  But what do they mean? One of President Wingfield's first acts in May, 1607, after the construction of James Fort was underway, was the dispatch of a party to explore the river above Jamestown. Twenty-two men under Capt. Christopher Newport left on May 21 and proceeded inland to the falls of the James River near the Indian Towne of Powhatan.  Although the James River was navigable, small ships could not pass beyond the Falls.  Hence, upon the shallop of Newport arriving, they could not cross.  Two years later Capt. Smith sent Capt. Francis West from Jamestown to establish a settlement at the Falls where 140 men and a six months supply of food was left.  However, the site was too low in elevation and subjected to the inundation of high water. So when Capt. Smith went up river to look over the new post, he negotiated with the Indians to take over their fortified settlement on a point of high ground. This included lodgings and 300 acres of ground readie to plant, a place which Smith called Nonsuch.
The shift of site was made in West's absence and when he returned he was not happy with the situation. He preferred the site of his choice and the settlers returned again "to the open aire of West Fort," abandoning "Nonsuch."  As a result, an Indian attack followed and the settlement became untenable. West returned with his men to Jamestown having lost a goodly number at the "Falles" as well as eleven men and a boat at "Arsetocke" a few miles downstream. One more settlement had temporarily failed. Lord De La Warr attempted to re-establish the post here in 1610 and built "Laware's Fort" from which he planned to search for minerals in the coming spring. This, too, failed when illness caused him to return to Jamestown, the same sickness, perhaps, that led him to quit Virginia a little later.

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