King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum Opens Exhibit on John Smith’s Travels in Middle Peninsula on April 21st

John Smith’s Shallop, Explorer, also to be on hand for festivities that carry over to April 22nd (April 2007)

“Did you know that John Smith came to what is now King and Queen County in 1607?” “It is true, however, John Smith did not come of his own free will!”

This will be the focus of the new Exhibit opening on April 21st at the King and Queen Historical Society’s Courthouse Tavern Museum.

In December 1607 John Smith sailed his small shallop, the Explorer, up the Chickahominy River, seeking to trade with the Indians for food and explore the area. He was captured by the Indians near present day Bottom’s Bridge. For the next 30 days John Smith was led by the Indians, who were looking for their Chief Powhatan, through King William, King and Queen, Essex, Middlesex, New Kent and Gloucester Counties. Powhatan was located in Gloucester County, where the famous meeting with Pocahontas occurred, allowing John Smith to return to Jamestown.

A program marking the opening of the exhibit will take place at 11:00 am on April 21 at the Museum at King and Queen Court House. Speakers will discuss (1) the background of the Exhibit, which includes the story the “Capture Route,” as developed by Essex County historian Ed Haile, the history of the Indians in the area, and the story of John Smith; (2) John Smith’s small shallop, the Explorer and its construction; and (3) the “Driving Tour” of the Capture Route, also developed by Ed Haile. The exhibit is being designed by Studio Ammons of Petersburg, who has designed the Museum’s other award winning exhibits. The Museum and the new exhibit will be open on Saturday, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

An additional special treat on opening day at the Museum will be the visit of the replica of John Smith’s shallop, the Explorer. A shallop is a small open boat fitted with oars or sails or both and usually used in shallow water. The replica has been carefully reconstructed at the Deltaville Maritime Museum. Members of the crew will be at the Museum with the boat during the day to answer questions. As part of the 11:00 am program a speaker will discuss how the boat was carried from England and how it made it way up the Chickahominy before Smith was captured.

A third speaker at the 11:00 am program will discuss the new driving tour of the Capture Route. The driving tour map will available at the Museum. Its publication has been sponsored by Twin Rivers Realty, along with C&F Bank, New Kent County, West Point Economic Development Authority, Bank of Essex, EVB Bank, and the King and Queen County Courthouse Tavern Museum.

The festivities will continue on Sunday, April 22, when the new exhibit will be open from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm and the Explorer also will be on hand with members of the crew to answer questions and explain operations about the boat. Also on Sunday, the regular meeting of the King and Queen County Historical Society will take place at 3 pm in the Circuit Court Courthouse. The speaker will be Dr. Sharon Perry of Richmond, who will discuss the diary of King William schoolteacher Carolyn Kean Hill Davis, written beginning in 1861. The diary touches on activities during the war, including the attack at Walkerton on Union cavalry by the home guard, and references many King and Queen families, including the Gwathmey, Ryland, Turpin, Roane, and Bagby families. The weekend promises to be an exciting one and of great interest to many in the whole area.

The Courthouse Tavern Museum at King and Queen Court House is open each Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Members and friends of the King and Queen Historical Society and the Museum welcome you to attend any and all of these historical events. The John Smith Special Exhibit will continue throughout 2007 and 2008.