Reconstructing the Barracks

As you may know, our Society continues to support the Jamestowne Rediscovery Foundation in its archaeological research to help us better understand the lives and experiences of our ancestors. Most recently, we have made a $75,000 grant for the reconstruction of the representation of the barracks that were built in the earliest years of the colony. For those who use Facebook, Jamestowne Rediscovery is posting its progress.

Posted in 1607, 1608, Barracks, Historic Jamestown, Jamestowne Rediscovery, Jamestowne Society, News | Comments Off on Reconstructing the Barracks

We Have Cancelled the Program for Our June 27. 2020 Meeting

COVID-19 precautions have forced the cancellation of the program for our June 27 meeting, but we will convene our Annual Meeting online for members at 10 AM, as Governor Julie Plemmons gave them notice.

Bonnie Hofmeyer, our Jamestowne Society Executive Director, hopes she can join us for our tentatively planned October 24th meeting at the San Diego Yacht Club.

For more details, please contact Governor Plemmons at or 619-207-7006

Posted in 2020 Annual Meeting, Elections, First California Company, Jamestowne Society, Julie Plemmons, News | Comments Off on We Have Cancelled the Program for Our June 27. 2020 Meeting

A New Jamestown Timeline

From its latest Facebook post, Jamestowne Rediscovery tells is how its Digital Initiatives team has created a new history timeline covering events from Jamestown’s earliest years, from previous exploration by the English to the founding of a permanent colony to expansion beyond James Fort. Learn more about the colony’s first leaders, the hardships faced by the settlers, and their interactions with Virginia Indian peoples. You can delve deeper into specific topics by following links within the timeline. Additional resources will be added in the coming weeks, so check back for more. What would you like to know more about? Timeline:

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A New Jamestown Timeline

Our 2020 Winter Meeting Was Held In Pasadena

IMPORTANT NOTE:  The Society has cancelled all May Membership Meeting and events and advises that,  “Your health and safety is our highest priority and we feel this is the responsible action to take at this time.  We will be issuing refunds and email notices to all that had registered.  If you had made lodging accommodations at Kingsmill or another location please cancel them.”  Please contact Society Headquarters at (phone: 804-353-1226) for more details and watch its website for further information.

We held our 2020 Winter Meeting on February 29 when forty four (including twenty-three members, seven prospective applicants and fourteen guests) gathered on a sunny day at Pasadena’s Brookside Golf and Country Club to share conviviality and fellowship while enjoying Dr. Roy Ritchie’s wisdom and wit.

Left to right: Governor Julie Plemmons; Deborah Dews Wood; Carole Curran; Donna Riegel

Governor Julie Plemons welcomed new members Carole Curran, Donna Riegel and Deborah Wood.

Robert “Roy” Ritchie, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate at The Huntington Library, discussed Tobacco, Slaves, and Wives: The Growth of Jamestowne.

He related the Origins of English Empire: England had no public (royal) funding capacity for New World exploration and colonization, and turned to private investors, who sought repayment and profits. They would seek their returns with trading and by finding precious metals and a passage to Asia.

The new settlers had to deal with the reality of a new frontier. Until the advent of tobacco, Jamestown was not much more than a death trap for the settlers and a money pit for the Virginia Company.  Tobacco changed the future of the infant colony and became their salvation. John Rolfe’s 1614 discovery of the Virginia blend of the native plant with the Caribbean variety became popular and affordable in England. Rolfe’s first shipment of four barrels became an important milestone for the Virginia Company’s entrepreneurs; from it came the plantation system of cultivation and planter class of the James River Valley

Their labor source was to be England’s “surplus” population; bonded servants who would labor for up to seven years in a status close to slavery and who could be bought and sold by the planters who held their contracts.

Another vision came from Sir Edwin Sandys, a prominent parliamentarian and major backer of the Virginia Company, who sought to create a “little England” in Virginia, consisting of farms, villages and towns, all based on the tobacco economy. He urged the settlers to diversify from tobacco to silk, wine, tar, iron, salt and glass. To populate the settlement, in 1619-20 he had the Virginia Company send 3,500 servants and colonists, for a total population of 4,270 in 1620, but only 2,100 were still alive at the 1624 Muster.

At the same, a new legal society was created with the establishment of the General Assembly, a unicameral body that included elected burgesses, mainly representing the big planters; a small group in power that wrote the law. They controlled the increasing labor force of indentured servants needed for their expanding tobacco plantations. They wanted “seasoned” workers, those that survived the summer diseases.

The growing mass market in England drove the need for more labor; one new source of cheap labor arrived in August 1619 aboard the White Lion and Treasurer, private men-at-war that brought the first recorded 20 to 32 enslaved Africans to Virginia. They had been captured from a Portuguese slave ship and traded at landfall Virginia for needed supplies (“victuals”), as reported several months later by John Rolfe. They were placed in servitude as were all other bonded immigrants where they remained as such eight years later, as servitude at the time was de facto slavery.

At the same time in 1620-21, Sandys saw the need to further the settlement’s continuity with the inclusion of women to marry the then-almost exclusively male settlers to help create families. The Virginia Company subsidized the passage of 150 well-delineated women from England, for whom the planters paid 150 pounds of tobacco for each. Unfortunately, several of these new wives did not survive the massive Indian attack of March 22, 1622.

1622-23 was another Starving Time, and contributed to King James I’s decision to dissolve the Virginia Company in 1624 and Virginia’s new status as a royal dominion or colony, still to be based on tobacco.

Dr. Ritchie had served as the Huntington’s Director of Research from 1992 to 2011 and previously was at UC San Diego, as a professor of early American history and associate chancellor. He is highly regarded among scholars of early American colonial history and acknowledged in many books.

Lt. Governor Marty Sommercamp announced that the June 27th Annual Meeting at the San Diego Yacht Club will feature the Society’s Executive Director Bonnie Hofmeyer, who will discuss The History of the Churches in Jamestowne.

Posted in 1619, 1619 First General Assembly, 2020 Winter Meeting, 400 Anniversary of 1619, First Africans in 2019, First California Company, Julie Plemmons, New Members, News, Robert "Roy" Ritchie, Tobacco, Tobacco Wives, Uncategorized, Virginia Brides | Comments Off on Our 2020 Winter Meeting Was Held In Pasadena

We’ll Have a Special Treat at Our 2020 Winter Meeting in Pasadena

The First California Company of the Jamestowne Society will use 2020’s leap year day for a compelling Winter Meeting and Luncheon on Saturday, February 29. Our honored guest, Robert “Roy” Ritchie, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate at The Huntington Library, will discuss Tobacco, Slaves, and Wives: The Growth of Jamestowne.

We will meet at 12 noon at the Brookside Golf and Country Club, 1133 Rosemont Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103-2401 (website: – phone: 626-577-4497.)

Dr. Ritchie previously served as the Huntington’s director of research from 1992 to 2011. He is renowned among scholars of early American colonial history and acknowledged in many books for his assistance. The Huntington holds one of the premier Jamestown collections, and he curated it for their September 2007 academic conference, Jamestown at 400.

RSVP by February 14, 2020. The cost is $45. To reserve your place, please make your check payable to First California Company, Jamestowne Society and mail to Governor Julie Plemmons ~ 4080 Hancock Street, Apt 3701, San Diego, CA 92110-5176.

For more information, you can contact her at or 619-207-7006.

Please include your (and any guest’s) name(s), email and phone contact(s) and choose from among entrees: roasted French cut chicken breast or butternut squash gnocchi (vegetarian.)

NOTE: You can enhance your experience with Dr. Ritchie’s talk by first reading Jennifer Potter’s recently published book, The Jamestown Brides: The Bartered Wives of the New World, (available in paperback and Kindle editions.) In addition, a few of you might learn about an ancestor. It’s very readable and the author gives our own Bonnie Hofmeyer a credit among her acknowledgements.




Posted in 1619, 2020 Winter Meeting, First Africans in 2019, First California Company, geneaology, Jamestowne Society, Julie Plemmons, Robert "Roy" Ritchie, Tobacco, Tobacco Wives, Uncategorized, Virginia, Virginia Brides | Comments Off on We’ll Have a Special Treat at Our 2020 Winter Meeting in Pasadena

We Held Our Fall 2019 Meeting in Solana Beach and Learned About the First Thanksgiving

Forty-four members, prospective applicants and guests were convened by Governor Julie Plemmons on Saturday, October 26 at Lomas Santa Fe Country Club in Solana Beach to initiate First California Company’s twenty-first year.

Membership Chair Martha Pace Gresham introduced new members Jimmy Grimes from San Diego and John Ferris of Coto de Caza. Those in attendance then introduced themselves and their guests.  Governor Plemmons and Lieutenant Governor Marty Sommercamp reported on their attendance and participation in the  Society’s Council and Membership meetings July 27-29 in Williamsburg and recounted their experiences and impressions of the commemorations of the 400th anniversary of the First General Assembly.

After a short business meeting, reports from the officers and Thanksgiving-themed luncheon, Lieutenant Governor Marty Sommercamp offered a video presentation on the 400th Anniversary of the First Thanksgiving on December 4, 1619 at Berkeley Plantation on the James River, in what is now Charles City, Virginia.  The program related the history of plantation and the event and how its existence was rediscovered among the long-neglected “Nibley Papers” by Dr. Lyon Tyler, retired President of William and Mary College  and son of President  John Tyler, who resided nearby at his Sherwood Forest residence. First California member Julia Tyler Samaniego would later recount her memories of her grandfather, Dr. Tyler, and scenes of locales of where she was raised.

The time, date and program of the forthcoming Winter Meeting will be announced when available.





Posted in 1619, 1619 First General Assembly, 2019 Fall Meeting, Berkeley Plantation, First California Company, Jamestowne Society, Julie Plemmons, Marty Sommercamp, New Members, Uncategorized | Comments Off on We Held Our Fall 2019 Meeting in Solana Beach and Learned About the First Thanksgiving

Our Fall Luncheon Meeting Is on Saturday, October 26, 2019 In Solana Beach

The First California Company of the Jamestowne Society will hold its Fall Meeting and Luncheon at 11:30 AM on Saturday October 26, 2019 at the Lomas Santa Fe Country Club, 1505 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach, CA 92075.  (; 858-755-6768)

We will commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the First Thanksgiving at Berkeley Plantation.

Come and enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving luncheon with our First California Company and learn about the First Thanksgiving that occurred on the James River prior to the Pilgrims arriving in Massachusetts.


Traditional Turkey Dinner Luncheon: $45 each

Vegetarian – Butternut Squash Ravioli: $45 each

Make check payable to First California Company, Jamestowne Society

Mail to: Governor Julie Plemmons ~ 4080 Hancock Street, Apt 3701, San Diego, CA 92110-5176

RSVP By October 17, 2019

For more information and with questions, please contact

Posted in 1619, 2019 Fall Meeting, 400 Anniversary of 1619, Berkeley Plantation, First California Compoany, Jamestowne Society, Julie Plemmons | Comments Off on Our Fall Luncheon Meeting Is on Saturday, October 26, 2019 In Solana Beach

Our Governor Reports on the Society’s Meetings at Williamsburg July 27-30, 2019

The Jamestowne Society rescheduled its 2019 spring membership and Council meetings from their customary May dates to July 27-30 to commemorate the 400th anniversaries of two major events in the colony’s history: the convening of the first General Assembly – now the oldest representative legislative body in the New World – and the first recorded landing of enslaved Africans in English America.

The meetings were a major success and, according to our Executive Director Bonnie Hofmeyer, “We had 400 at the luncheon, 280 on the tour[s], 230 at the governors’ dinner, and 290 at the wine and cheese reception. We had wait lists for all events. We could have had a lot more. The largest attendance we have [recently] had at a May luncheon is 310 and 92 at the governors’ dinner.”

Governor Julie Plemmons reports as follows:

Lt. Governor Marty Sommercamp. Governor. Julie Plemmons and Councilor Ginny Gottlieb

The First California Company was well represented at the Jamestowne Society’s annual meeting and celebration of the 400th anniversary of the First General Assembly.  In addition to myself and Lieutenant Governor Marty Sommercamp, Past Governor and current Jamestowne Society Councilor Ginny Gotlieb, Friend of the Company Valeria Toms, and Valeria’s granddaughter Kelsey Toms from Texas were in attendance.  The meetings were held at the Kingsmill Resort on the James River in Williamsburg as well as on the Jamestowne Island.

Marty and I took advantage of the early registration on Friday and enjoyed seeing the newly designed church pin available from headquarters. There is a new Register of Qualifying Ancestors, and, if you or a friend would like to inquire about an ancestor, please let me know.  While most of the information is readily available and more current on the society’s website, the Register will prove to be a valuable asset at our genealogy events.

Saturday morning started bright and early with the Council meeting.  While Ginny was a participant as a Councilor, I was allowed to observe but not participate in the discussions.  We are in good hands with our current Council and continue to have a healthy treasury to carry on the good works of preservation and research.  A $75,000 donation was approved for Jamestowne Rediscovery with $15,000 of the donation to be directed to the church belfry.  The executive committee will be reviewing previous letters of protest to the power lines and to take appropriate action as they deem necessary.  A DVD and book on the 400th Anniversary will be available in the coming months with notification in the next magazine.

Two colonial representatives playing the drum and fife led the procession of the society’s Council and distinguished guests to the Annual Membership Meeting and Luncheon.  Special guests were the retired Rev. Chris Stone and his wife from St. George’s Church in Gravesend England, the final resting place of Jamestowne ancestor Pocahontas.

After an enjoyable lunch, Dr. Jim Horn, CEO of Jamestowne Rediscovery focused his lecture on the events in his book 1619: Jamestown and the Forging of American Democracy.  Although his remarks were similar to those presented at our June Company meeting, it is always a delight to hear him speak and we learn new tidbits about those early years on the island.

Sunday was a full day heritage tour on the island, beginning with a prayer service in the Memorial Church from the 1559 Book of Common Prayer.  Our Society Governor, the Reverend Dr. Roy Abbott Martin, Jr., and our Society Chaplain, the Reverend James Wilbur Browder, III, presided and the new church bell was rung.  It has a beautiful tone and several participants have put videos on the Jamestowne Society Facebook page for your listening pleasure.

We had lunch in an air-conditioned tent, however, with the high heat and humidity, it was not exactly California comfortable weather!  One must wonder and be amazed at how our ancestors managed through such difficult weather 400 years ago.  The lunch program included a portrayal of Mrs. Yeardley, wife of the Governor.  She assured us it was no picnic for the ladies in their finery during the summer of 1619.

Then, the highlights of the First General Assembly, which was held over six days in July and August of 1619, were reenacted in a living history interpretation.  It was interesting to hear the words of those first in attendance as well as the commentator pointing out that one of those in attendance actually passed away during the meetings.

We then toured the New Town portion of the island and placed a wreath at the Angela site [where archeologists are seeking evidence of where one of the first recorded landed Africans has been found to have lived.]  Archeologists discussed the interesting artifacts that have been found in that portion of the island.  We were left on our own to explore the exhibits in the Archearium and the visitor’s center.

That evening was the Governor’s Dinner with a beautiful anniversary cake.  Noted archaeologist Dr. Bill Kelso made the first cut of the cake with a sword discovered on the island.  Glasses were raised in a toast to our ancestors who founded the colony of Virginia and ultimately the United States of America.

Monday morning was a company Governor’s forum where various items were discussed including the annual giving program, meeting attendance and programs, and regional correspondence or lack thereof.  Unfortunately, time was quite limited for discussion amongst the governors, but a sharing of company meetings, membership, and ideas were briefly exchanged.

Monday evening was a final Wine and Cheese Jamestowne Society event on the island.  In addition to the wine, a local brewery had used hops grown on the island for a new beer.  A dedication prayer for the new church bell was given by Governor Rev. Roy Martin.  And a toast was given to all our ancestors and those descendants of the General Assembly were recognized.

Due to the President of the United States’ participation in events at [the nearby] Jamestown Settlement, access to the island was limited on the actual day of the anniversary and we were disappointed to not be able to venture to the island that day.

Having attended the 400th Anniversary of the landing in 2007, this was an equally moving event and I was thrilled to represent the First California Company.  If you have any questions I am always willing to share my thoughts with you in person, by phone, or via email.  Thank you for your continued support of the Jamestowne Society and of our First California Company!

Friend of the Company Valeria Toms, and Valeria’s granddaughter Kelsey Toms

Here, too, is Val Toms’ report:

Going to our first Jamestowne event was planned for a year. I had just finished my granddaughter Kelsey’s membership application and she had just been accepted into membership of the Society.  Kelsey is an AP teacher of American History in San Antonio, Texas. Her special interest is colonial history. We share that love. She was exhilarated by all she saw and heard, and I know her classes will benefit! We loved every part—- walking into the beautiful church, saying the same words on the same spot as ancestors had done was a goosebumps experience.  I in particular loved hearing the thoughts of historian Mark Summers. “E Pluribus Unum“ will always mean more to me now. I think Kelsey was thrilled by the archeologists’ work. The chance to interact with them in the church, in the museum, and the Angela site, were especially exciting to her. We both loved the reenactment.  It was all so much more than we had anticipated. A wonderful first experience of what the Jamestowne Society is all about, and SUPPORTS!




Posted in 1619, 1619 First General Assembly, 17th Century Church Bell Tower, 400 Anniversary of 1619, First Africans in 2019, Gotlieb, Historic Jamestown, James Horn, Jamestowne Society, Jamestowne Society Governor, Julie Plemmons, Marty Sommercamp, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Our Governor Reports on the Society’s Meetings at Williamsburg July 27-30, 2019

We Learned About Democracy, Diversity and Race at Jamestown in 1619 at Our Company’s 20th Anniversary

We commemorated our Company’s 20th anniversary on June 29 in Irvine with an auspicious event presided over by Governor Julie Plemmons. 37 members, guests and prospective members heard a fascinating presentation by Dr. James Horn, historian, author and President of Jamestown Rediscovery, on Democracy, Diversity and Race in 1619 in the Jamestown Colony.

Governor Plemmons with Dr. Horn and Charter Member and Past Governor Donna Derrick

Based on his recently published book, 1619, Jamestown and the Forging of American Democracy, Dr. Horn’s themes were the reforms for the colony as initiated by Sir Edwin Sandys  (who had just become the chief officer of the Virginia Company), which included recognizing private property, the rule of law, self-government and the common weal. Chief among his plans was to turn the native people into English people, both by religion and by the way they were to live.

Self-government led to the creation a General Assembly of elected representatives (the basis of our own form of government) which met for the first time on July 30, 1619 in the 1617 church, now the site of significant archeological work. Those discoveries indicate that it was a classic Tudor church, semi-timbered with a belfry.

Weeks later, two ships arrived with their cargo, captained by two English privateers who had seized a Portuguese slave ship loaded with Africans that had been captured in Angola. John Rolfe, Pocahontas’ widower, would later report the landing in Virginia of “20. and odd Negroes,” who were “bought for victuals.” We know from records that one of the Africans was a woman called “Angela” and from other records we know where she was a “servant” on Jamestown island. That site is now also a major archeological site.  Thus, 1619 brought to the English colonial world democracy and diversity and slavery, legacies of which are still with us.

Dr. Horn commended the Society for the financial support we have given Jamestown Rediscovery over the years.

Governor Plemmons introduces our new members

In the absence of Membership Chair Martha Gresham, Governor Plemmons introduced three new members: Norma Keating, Linda O’Hoy and Cathy Sherman.

Governor Plemmons gave a brief history of the company, noting that the company was chartered on May 8, 1999. Former governors were acknowledged: Mary Brown, 2000‐2002, Dee Rickards, 2002‐2004, Martha Gresham, 2004‐2006, and Cher Bucknam Sesma, 2006‐2008.

Three past Governors who were present offered their greetings and each gave a bit of history from her term of office. Joanne Murphy served 2008‐2010, charter member and current Society Councilor Ginny Gotlieb served two terms, 2010‐2014, and charter member Donna Derrick served 2014‐2016. Donna was followed by Scarlett Gathings Shepherd in 2016‐2018, who was not present.

Collectively,  the three past governors reviewed several important company events, including the June 2002 visit from now-Treasurer Emeritus Harrison Tyler, who spoke about Pocahontas, John Rolfe, the Harrison and Tyler lines and Sherwood Forest, our 2006 naming of the seventh race at Del Mar to help commemorate Jamestown’s founding, Society Governor Carter Branham Snow Furr and Mrs. Furr’s visit in 2010, and others among those listed on the Meetings page on our website.

They recollected the company’s achievements that included creating and maintaining our website, publishing a brochure, revising our bylaws and standing rules, participating in the Southern California Genealogical Society’s annual Genealogy Jamboree and fostering the organization of two new companies in California. Past Governor Gotlieb reflected on the pleasure of “…finding interesting speakers which I did for six years.  We were privileged to have several from the East Coast.”

Dr. Horn with Society Councilor and Past Governor Ginny Gotlieb

She added, in her capacity as Society Councilor, “I have never seen the Jamestowne Society more vibrant and focused on fulfilling its goals.  Thank you for your individual gifts and for supporting this Company’s strong and steady practice of Company gifts.  These annual gifts are key to the success of the Society’s projects. First California Company, over the years, has given to Jamestown Rediscovery, Preservation Virginia, the Wingo Fund, scholarships, the mortgage retirement Fund for our headquarters building in Richmond, and the 400th Anniversary celebration [of the 1619 events].  We can be very proud of this!” The Society’s contributions to Jamestowne Rediscovery have gone for the church tower preservation, replica bells, golf carts for staff and other transportation and archeological dig investigation of the remains of the 1617 church within the 1907 Memorial Church.

Past Governor Donna Derrick noted that during her tenure, our company actively participated in the efforts to thwart the construction of power transmission towers across the James River by asking the US Army Corps of Engineers to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement that would consider all alternatives to the towers. Dominion Energy succeeded in obtaining a permit without the EIS, and the towers were built. However, on March 1, an appeals court vacated the USACE permit and directed it to follow to the law and prepare the EIS. Please watch for more on this.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, October 26, 2019 at the Lomas Santa Fe Country Club in Solana Beach, with the program focused on the First Thanksgiving in 1619 at Berkeley Plantation.

Thanks to Erica Hahn her contribution to this report.


Posted in 1617, 1619, 1619 First General Assembly, 17th Century Church Bell Tower, 17th century church tower, 2019 Annual Meeting, 400 Anniversary of 1619, Donna Derrick, Erica Hahn, First Africans in 2019, First California Company, Gotlieb, James Horn, Jamestowne Society | Comments Off on We Learned About Democracy, Diversity and Race at Jamestown in 1619 at Our Company’s 20th Anniversary

Dr. James Horn of Jamestowne Rediscovery will speak at our June 29, 2019 Annual Meeting and 20th Anniversary Commemoration

We will commemorate our company’s 20th Anniversary at our Annual Meeting and luncheon on Saturday, June 29 at noon at the Il Fornaio restaurant, 18051 Von Karman Avenue, Irvine, CA 92612. (949) 261-1444.

Dr. James Horn

Our speaker will be Dr. James Horn. President and Chief Officer of the Jamestown Rediscovery and author of 1619: Jamestown and the Forging of American Democracy.

RSVP By June 20, 2019 ~ Limited Capacity of Fifty Guests

Cost: $55.00; meal preferences :(1)  Penne alla Vodka ~ Pasta Tubes with bacon, vodka-cream-tomato sauce; (2)  Cappellacci di Zucca ~ Vegetarian Ravioli with butternut squash and grana padano cheese; (3)  Pollo Toscano ~ Free range rotisserie Chicken, vegetables and roasted potatoes;(4)  Breaded grilled ~ Filet of Sole, vegetables and roasted potatoes (4) Sogliola alla Calabrese.

Send your reservation, meal preference and check by June 20, 2019 to Governor Julie Plemmons ~ 4080 Hancock Street, Apt 3701, San Diego, CA 9110-5176

For a map and directions, please go to  Phone (949) 261-1444

For more information, please contact Julie Plemmons, Governor  at; phone: (619) 207-7006

Posted in 2019 Annual Meeting, 400 Anniversary of 1619, Early American History, First California Compoany, Historic Jamestown, James Horn, Jamestown Rediscovery, Julie Plemmons, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Dr. James Horn of Jamestowne Rediscovery will speak at our June 29, 2019 Annual Meeting and 20th Anniversary Commemoration

Ringing the New Bell

Our Society has been supporting, through contributions from its resources and donations from members (like you), the replication of the bell that once hung and rang from the tower of the early church on Jamestown Island. That bell has been replicated and will be displayed and played at the commemoration events this coming July.

Bonnie Hofmeyer, our Executive Director, recently was among the Jamestowne Rediscovery group that welcomed the replicate bell to where the fragments of its progenitor was found and used for the replication. Jamestowne Rediscovery has described how it happened. 

Bonnie said: “The Jamestowne Society was delighted to help fund the recreation of this important early bell, which many of our members’ ancestors heard. Visitors to Historic Jamestowne will soon be able to hear a sound that the first settlers knew well.”

Bonnie has shared photos of the event:

The bell (photo by Bonnie)

JR Welcoming group: Pictured: Dr. Bill Kelso, Michael Lavin, & Dr. Jim Horn of Jamestown Rediscovery. Benjamin Sunderlin, Owner & Campanologist of the B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry. Bonnie Hofmeyer.

Bonnie Rings the Bell for the Society

You can also hear Bonnie ring the bell in this very short (12 second) Facebook video by Cindy Deuell.


Posted in Bell, Historic Jamestown, James Fort, James Horn, Jamestown Church Bell Tower, Jamestown Rediscovery, Jamestowne Society, Kelso, News, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Ringing the New Bell

Our 2019 Winter Meeting Was Held in Temecula, Featuring the 400th Anniversary of the First Recorded Africans in Virginia

Thirty First California Company members and guests attended our 2019 winter meeting at Baily’s Restaurant in Old Town Temecula on Saturday, January 26. Governor Julie Plemmons convened the meeting at noon.

New member Ellen Anderson is introduced by Membership Chair Martha Gresham

Membership Chair Martha Gresham introduced and welcomed new member Ellen Anderson.

Lt. Governor Marty Sommercamp introduced the speaker, Michael Oddenino, whose topic was “The 400th Anniversary of the First Recorded Africans in Virginia.” Here is a summary of his remarks:

“1619 was significant as marking the first time African slaves arrived at the first permanent English settlement in the New World – Jamestown. Of course, the Spanish had the first European permanent settlement in what is now the U.S. in St. Augustine, Florida.

“Spain became the richest country in the 16th and 17th centuries as they reaped the riches of conquests in Mexico and Peru. Other European countries aspired to emulate the wealth gathering that made Spain the envy of the world at that time. Spain enforced their claim to the New World by aggressively attacking whomever they viewed as interlopers. The French Huguenots at Fort Caroline (in what is now Jacksonville, Florida) were wiped out by the Spanish at St. Augustine in 1565.

“The Virginia Company of London, in financing the new settlement in Virginia, specifically advised the settlers to establish themselves sufficiently upstream to better guard against Spanish attack. The James River and Jamestown Island appeared to satisfy the goals of protecting against Spanish attack as well as Indian attack. What the location did not offer was gold and silver like Mexico and Peru. That lack of easy riches led to challenging times for the Jamestown settlers.

“John Rolfe, who married Pocahontas, saved the economy of Jamestown by importing ‘sweet’ Spanish tobacco from the West Indies, resulting in a cash crop that proved invaluable to the fledgling English settlement. A shortage of labor made new settlers and other arrivals most welcome in exploiting this crop. The arrival of Africans in 1619 marked an increase in much needed labor for Jamestown.” [Ed. note: The “20. and odd” Africans who were landed in 1619 were captured by a Dutch-flagged English privateer in the Caribbean from a Portuguese slave ship and brought to Virginia. While this marked the beginning of a supply of  involuntary labor for Virginia, most of the needed agricultural labor in subsequent decades came from the transport of tens of thousands indentured and other English who vastly outnumbered Africans for most of the 17th century. The emergence of chattel slavery and mass import of Africans would only occur later in the century after the flow of English indentured servants would diminish.]

FCC Governor Julie Plemmons and Lt. Governor Marty Sommercamp with our speaker, Michael Oddenino.

“African slaves were in other parts of the world at that time. The Arabs had been taking Africans as slaves since the seventh century into the 19th century. Blacks had been enslaving other blacks in Africa for some time by 1619. The Portuguese had been taking slaves from the west coast of Africa to the New World in the 16th and 17th centuries. They also enslaved Brazilian Indians at that time. White Europeans were being taken as slaves in the 17th century by Arabs in North Africa. The majority of the population in Russia in 1619 was made up of white serfs, who were slaves by another name.

“The arrival of the first Africans to Jamestown in 1619 wasn’t a race issue, rather a labor issue. Throughout history slavery was more a function of the spoils of war rather than a race issue. A fascinating significance of 1619 in Jamestown is that approximately one month before the arrival of the Africans, the first representative assembly in America was convened. Virginia Company officials sought to promote the Jamestown settlement as being governed by the rule of law, that is to say, that all people are created equal under the law.

“1619 represents an interesting intersection of slavery, liberty, and democracy. We look to Lincoln‘s Gettysburg Address for the most articulate commentary on the challenges faced by our country as a result of slavery and the loftier aspirations underlying American democracy. The events of 1619 in Jamestown reverberate down to our times today as we continue to struggle with the challenge of insuring that the rule of law is more than aspirational. The issues and forces connected to slavery in America continue to present a struggle with that Jamestown combination of slavery, liberty, and democracy. It all began in Jamestown.”

Meeting items:

  • We have 67 members, a net gain of 11 members since last year. Our meetings averaged 40 in attendance.
  • Our Annual Meeting and the 20th anniversary of our company will be held in late spring. A special program us is being planned to complement the Society’s 400th anniversary commemorations of 1619 events in late July.
  • Seven Southern California residents have been admitted as new Jamestowne Society members since our last meeting and one has joined us. The rest were our members’ children or grandchildren.
  • Member Sandy Krutilek will host our table at the Southern California Genealogical Jamboree on Saturday, June 1. She is working on a new display for our table.


Posted in 1619 First General Assembly, 2019 Winter Meeting, 400 Anniversary of 1619, Early American History, First Africans in 2019, First California Company, Julie Plemmons, Marty Sommercamp, New Members, News, Oddenino, Virginia | Comments Off on Our 2019 Winter Meeting Was Held in Temecula, Featuring the 400th Anniversary of the First Recorded Africans in Virginia