25th-anniversary meeting on June 22nd, 2024, Buena Park, CA

The First California Company of the Jamestown Society held its 25th-anniversary meeting on June 22nd, 2024. This was the first in-person meeting since the Fall 2023 meeting in Buena Park. We were blessed to have Dan Gamble of Jamestown Rediscovery as our guest speaker. We thank longtime FCC webmaster and website editor James H. McCall for his over 20 years of service building the website and writing wonderful and highly informative content. Chris Friend, a new member of the FCC, will take over the duties of webmaster and editor.

We were fortunate to record the meeting on our Zoom feed, which we present to you here. Please look forward to a new version of this video in the next few days featuring inserts of the slides shown by Dan Gamble.

Judy Baxter was elected governor of the First California Company during the meeting. We thank former Governor John Ferris for serving 2022-2024 years.

Posted in 2024 Summer Meeting, Agriculture, Buena Park, Dan Gamble, DNA, Farming, First California Company, Founders' Graves, Historic Jamestown, Historical Notes, Jamestown Rediscovery, Jamestown Rediscovery Society, New Members, Secrets from the vault, Virginia | Comments Off on 25th-anniversary meeting on June 22nd, 2024, Buena Park, CA

You Can Learn About Jamestowne Rediscovery Artifacts at Our February 26 Winter Meeting

On opening each issue of your Jamestowne Society magazine, you’ll see inside the front cover Merry Abbitt Outlaw’s feature, Secrets from the Vault. With each issue, she’s been describing some of the interesting artifacts that the Jamestowne Rediscovery team has recovered from their world-renowned archeological excavations for the past 28 years. As David Givens (Jamestowne Rediscovery’s Director of Archeology) puts it, “It’s not what you find, it’s what you find out.” Each of these finds tells us more of our ancestors’ lives, living conditions, and ways. You’ll soon have the chance to hear directly from Merry, as she will be our featured speaker at our 2022 Winter Meeting at 11 AM on Saturday, February 26. This will be another virtual meeting using the Zoom program. Merry Abbitt Outlaw with some of Continue reading

Posted in 2022 Winter Meeting, Artifacts, First California Company, Historic Jamestown, Jamestown Rediscovery, Merr y Abbitt Outlaw, News, Secrets from the vault, Uncategorized | Comments Off on You Can Learn About Jamestowne Rediscovery Artifacts at Our February 26 Winter Meeting

Professor Peter C. Mancall Presented at our 2021 virtual Fall Meeting

For our October 30 virtual Fall Meeting, First California Company welcomed Professor Peter Mancall of the University of Southern California, a world-renowned scholar of colonial New England and Virginia history, who enlightened us about the Indian Uprising of March 22, 1622. This was a major event with long-term consequences for Jamestown’s history. Our Society will soon be commemorating it. Here is a synopsis of his presentation:

“Powhatans, English, and the Meaning of 1622”
Peter C. Mancall
University of Southern California

It is impossible to understand what happened in 1622 and the years that followed without taking into account three separate developments that preceded that fateful year.

First, and perhaps most obvious, was the growth in European demand for tobacco. The plant was unknown in Europe before the time of Columbus. During the sixteenth century, it became one of the most sought-after products from the Western Hemisphere, both because of the pleasure it provided to smokers (who wrote about “drinking” the smoke) and also because Europeans believed that tobacco was a medicine that could cure a wide range of human ailments. (If anyone is interested, you can see my contribution to the vast literature on tobacco: “Tales Tobacco Told in Sixteenth-Century Europe,” Environmental History 9:4 (October 2004), 648-678.) Because tobacco depletes the soil of nutrients quickly, those who wanted to produce it needed to find fresh plots of land when their fields became exhausted.

Second, it is likely that a young Indigenous man known as Paquiquineo and later as Don Luís de Velasco, captured by the Spanish and taken to Spain when he was a boy and then traveled back to the Western Hemisphere, grew up to become the Powhatan leader known as Opechancanough. The documentation is not thorough enough to be definitive, but in his forthcoming book, the historian James Horn has made a convincing argument that this is a single individual who appears in the records with three different names. In 1571, Paquiquineo led an attack on a Jesuit mission on the Chesapeake that had been planted by the Spanish. He then disappeared, apparently joining the local Indigenous community. It is likely that Paquiquineo was a brother or cousin of Wahunsonacock, the man known to the English as Powhatan. James Horn’s book on Opechancanough, which will be published any day, is fascinating and excellent: A Brave and Cunning Prince: The Great Chief Opechancanough and the War for America (Basic Books). [NOTE: Released on November 16]

Third, possibly as a result of the arrival of the Spanish and the fear of invasion, Wahunsonacock seems to have gone on a campaign to forge the Powhatan confederacy. Before 1607, it included approximately 30 Indigenous communities along the tributaries of Chesapeake Bay. It did not include every Native group; as the earliest English colonists discovered, there were some Indigenous peoples in the region who resisted the overtures of the Powhatans. From his vantage point, Wahunsonacock looked at the majority of the peoples of the region as subordinate to him. It seems likely that Wahunsonacock and his allies saw the English as another subordinate group, which would owe its loyalty to him. Some scholars have speculated that Smith’s capture and eventual release by Wahunsonacock was not because of the entreaties of Pocahontas but instead a form of ritual adoption. If this is the case, it would confirm the theory that Wahunsonacock saw the English as the newest tribute-paying community in Powhatan territory. Frederick Gleach’s Powhatan’sWorld and Colonial Virginia: A Conflict of Cultures (University of Nebraska Press, 1997) is a superb study of intercultural relations in the age of Wahunsonacock.

From the time of their arrival until the death of Wahunsonacock in 1618, the English and Powhatans, after they settled the event known as the first Anglo-Powhatan war (1609-1614), managed to find a way to coexist. But once the English made their commitment to keep Jamestown going despite the enormous cost in colonists’ lives, tensions rose when the growing number of immigrants sought new lands to grow tobacco. Opechancanough, who became the primary war chief among the Powhatans, was less tolerant of the English than Wahunsonacock had been. Eventually, he had enough. The Powhatans on March 22, 1622, launched their surprise attack, killing 347 English.

Immediately, the English called this event a “massacre.” In his report on the violence, the colonial secretary Edward Waterhouse relied on longstanding European tropes about Native “savagery.” By doing so, he resurrected an earlier vision of Native Americans as unwilling or incapable of cultural conversion—despite the fact that Pocahontas had married John Rolfe and been welcomed at the highest level of English society. When an illustrated translation of Waterhouse’s narrative appeared from the de Bry workshop in Frankfurt in 1627 or 1628, it included the graphic image that is now among the most common illustrations for 1622. Waterhouse’s text about the events of 1622 can be found via the online Encyclopedia Virginia.

The war that began in 1622 dragged on for a decade, and it is likely that the English, over that period, killed many more Powhatans than the Indigenous had killed at the start. Eventually, the two sides settled on peace. Soon colonists, again seeking lands for tobacco production, pushed beyond what the Powhatans had accepted as the boundary. In 1644, Opechancanough led another uprising. Colonial soldiers captured him in 1646 and one of them shot him to death while he was imprisoned.

The resolution of that third Anglo-Powhatan war accelerated the demographic transition of Virginia. In 1607, Natives far outnumbered English. By the late 1640s, English and a growing number of enslaved Africans became the dominant population in the tidewater. Over time, the numbers of English and Africans would increase, and the English would create ever more restrictions on Africans, eventually writing laws that defined enslavement as permanent, forced (there was no contract, as there had been for indentured servants), inheritable (depending on the status of the mother), and limited to individuals of African descent.

The events of 1622 did not dictate this subsequent history, but the second Anglo- Powhatan war facilitated the English conquest and colonization of the region.

Shortly afterward, he expanded further with his article, The first Thanksgiving is a key chapter in America’s origin story – but what happened in Virginia four months later mattered much more in the online publication Conversation.

[NOTE: Jim Horn’s book will be discussed by the Jamestowne Society Book Club on Tuesday, January 25, 2022. For details, watch the Events tab on the website.]

FYI: The forthcoming Spring issue of the Society’s Magazine will also publish an article on the underlying reasons and causes for the Powhatans’ uprising, by Professor Seth Mallios of San Diego State University. Dr. Mallios was one of Bill Kelso’s original archeological team on the Jamestowne Rediscovery Project, which the Society supports.

Posted in 1622 Indian Uprising, 2021 Fall Meeting, Early American History, First California Company, Historical Notes, James Horn, Jamestowne Society, Peter Mancall, Powhatan Indians, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Professor Peter C. Mancall Presented at our 2021 virtual Fall Meeting

Our Fall 2021 Meeting Will Feature Professor Peter Mancall

Professor Peter C. Mancall

The First California Company of the Jamestowne Society will hold its Fall 2021 meeting by Zoom at 11 AM on Saturday, 30 October 2021.

Our speaker will be Professor Peter C. Mancall of the University of Southern California, whose work has focused on Colonial America, Native Americans, and the early modern Atlantic world. He will be discussing the early encounters between the Powhatan Indians and the English at Jamestowne, and the lead-up to the massacre of 22 March 1622.

Dr. Mancall is the USC Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities, Professor of History and Anthropology, the Linda and Harlan Martens Director of the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute. He is the author of seven books, and edited Virginia 1619: Slavery, Freedom, and the Emergence of English America (with Paul Musselwhite and James Horn), and is currently writing American Origins, which will be Volume One of the Oxford History of the United States.

In May 2009, Dr. Mancall discussed for us A New World, England’s First View of America, featuring John White’s watercolors (his keynote speech given at the Yale Center for British Arts exhibit); at the San Diego Yacht Club.

For more information, please contact Lt. Governor Norma Keating at normakeating@earthlink.net

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Our 2021 Annual Meeting Will Held Virtually on Saturday, June 5

Unfortunately, any good news about reducing the pandemic restrictions is coming too late to plan a face-to-face gathering for our customary major June event.

First California Company will hold its 2021 Annual meeting virtually on Saturday, June 5 at 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada.) We will hear from David M. Givens, Director of Archaeology at Jamestowne Rediscovery, who succeeded the renowned Bill Kelso on his recent retirement.

Dave Givens

Dave joined the Rediscovery archeological team early on and has been a major contributor to many of its extraordinary finds. He was the recipient of the 2014 Jamestown Society Fellowship. He will review the Rediscovery team’s latest work – the excavations in the 1617 church where Virginia’s first General Assembly met in 1619 and their efforts to interpret that space for our Nation’s 400th anniversary.

The meeting will be held on Zoom. For more information, an invitation and access instructions, please contact Lieutenant Governor Norma Keating at

As benefits our Society, Jamestowne Rediscovery has sharpened and enlarged its focus on education with this posting.

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Our Winter Meeting Will Be Held Virtually On February 20

First California Company will hold its 2021 Winter Meeting virtually on Saturday, Feb 20th at 11 am on Zoom. Jamie May, the Director of the Voorhees Archaearium Museum, Jamestowne Rediscovery Foundation will be our speaker. She will discuss Jamestowne Rediscovery: Interpretation in the Voorhees Archaearium Archaeology Museum.

Jamie has long been a member of the archeological team that has been unearthing our ancestors’ earliest settlement at Jamestown. She last spoke to First California Company in June 2001 and told us about The Discovery of the Lost Jamestown and the start of the Dig at Historic Jamestown. We will learn just how far things have since come.

For more information and Zoom instructions for this meeting, please contact Lt. Governor Norma Keating, at normakeating@earthlink.net or 714-319-5994

Posted in 2021 Winter Meetimg, First California Company, Historic Jamestown, Jamestown Rediscovery Society, Jamestowne Society, Jamie May | Comments Off on Our Winter Meeting Will Be Held Virtually On February 20

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 jpnkids@yahoo.com or 619-207-7006

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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: https://bit.ly/2KIx3X6

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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 jamestowne.society@verizon.net (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: brooksidegc.com – 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 jpnkids@yahoo.com 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