October 18, 1609
Tell your Mother I’m fine and well! I fear that she will fret herself sick
otherwise. We arrived on May 14,1607. At the helm of the Godspeede,
Susan Constant, & the Discovery it was Captain Newport who did a good
job of getting 103 of us here safely. I have many tales to tell. I’ll begin with
our arrival. A sealed box on the ship was opened. In it a slip of paper named
seven of our men who would govern the colony. Captain John Smith was
The Virginia Company, as you know, sent we “gentlemen” to find the
colonists of Roanoke, a Northwest Passage to the South Sea, and to find
gold! Our goals have yet to be accomplished. King James will be
disappointed. So far, settling the colony has been hard, steady work. Most
of us hardly even know how to use a hammer, but we worked diligently and
built a fine camp on a strip of land next to the river.
I like this New World very much and I hope you like it, too. It seems rather a
wet area, but the surrounding forest beauty makes it worth sloshing around
in the sandy mud of our camp. At night, you can hear the birds sing, frogs
croak, and see the countless stars. The sunrises are a thing of pure
perfection. The only bothersome things here are the bugs that are quite bad
in the summer.
The Indians seem kind and gentle; thanks to John Smith and Pocahontas. Of
course it does help considerably that he has a knack for languages! I’m
sure it’s because of his many adventures back home. Captain Smith and
Pocahontas met when Opechancanough, a chief that belongs to a group of
Indians calling themselves the Powhatan Confederacy, captured him. Chief
Wahunsonacock, “Powhatan”, Opechancanough’s brother, sentenced our
Captain Smith to death at an Indian festival. The story goes that Pocahontas
saved Smith from an untimely death. It seems the little tomboy is a favorite
of her father’s! I know the feelings that must have been going through the
Chief’s mind as that little face looked up at him much as you look up at me
with those big blue eyes when you have saved some poor wretched
creature that you want as a pet. After that day, John Smith and Pocahontas
became friends and a peace was made between the Indians and us.
Pocahontas is a very helpful girl and is about your age. They are starting to
give us food in return for ammunition and other supplies. It seems a good
trade-off for now. The Indians are teaching us to live off the land, too. Many
of our men say we should get rid of the Indians, but I do not agree. Chief
Powhatan has been kind, trusting, and helpful. I want you to meet the tribe
when you come. Their villages, I’m told, are very large. They have around
100 dwellings in one alone! I think this peace between us and the Indians
Things have not been all rosy, though, and I think this information may be
too much to put on your mother’s delicate shoulders. I know you’ll
understand when I ask that you censor your comments concerning this part
of my letter. Shortly after Captain Newport left back for England with two of
our ships, we started to become ill with a mysterious fever. John Smith,
too, became quite ill. Consequently, our gardens became weeds and it left
us short of supplies for the winter. We didn’t care, as we were all too sick
to do anything about it. The fever lasted for weeks. We lost 65 souls.
Burying our friends was quite an ordeal as we were all much to weak to do
more than cover them. With the increasing heat, it became obvious that we
had to bury them quickly. Thankfully, as fall progressed, the fever seemed
to go away and we were able to hunt the abundant fowl that flew overhead.
We gradually regained our strength and were able to carry on but not
without bad memories and regrets.
Captain Newport returned shortly after Christmas with fresh supplies and
more men. These gentlemen are about as much help as a child. They have
much to learn and are unwilling to work much as we were when we first
came. They came for the adventure as we all had! Pocahontas came on a
regular basis to the camp. Her name is really Matoaka, but Pocahontas
better describes her personality. She is indeed playful and mischievous.
Her favorite activity is turning cartwheels with our youngsters! We owe a
debt of gratitude to this young slip of a girl!
Captain Smith left us this spring to explore. By summer the fever struck
again. Upon Smith’s return, we elected him President. One of the first
things he told us was, “He who will not work shall not eat.” That got the
newcomers going, I’ll say! We built and repaired our cabins and fort.
Several of our men didn’t like being under Smith’s leadership. He had to
return to England last month after being seriously hurt. Smith will be greatly
missed. I heard one of the men say of him, “What shall I say? But thus we
lost him who, in all that he did, made justice his first guide. He always hated
baseness, laziness, pride and unworthiness more than any dangers. He
would never see us want what he could by any means get for us. He loved
actions more than words and hated falsehood worse than death.” He is a
Well, my fine girl, it grows nighttime. The lamps are to be doused soon. My
rations of pumpkin pudding and corn are getting cold. I pray that you and
your mother will be able to join me very soon.
With all my love,
|Jamestown Colony is Settled
Clare Anastasia Doss
Our Little Schoolhouse (Homeschool)
Sponsoring Chapter: Bois d’Arc Chapter, NSDAR
Word Count: 985