Uncovering Early American History at Jamestown

Archaeologists and scientists at the site of the Jamestown Settlement are uncovering new information about one of America’s earliest colonies.

The remains of Rev. Robert Hunt, Captain Gabriel Archer, Sir Ferdinando Wainman, and Captain William West have all been identified and uncovered at a church site. The church is also where Pocohontas married John Rolfe.

The four graves were investigated in 2013 and then local scientists joined with Smithsonian archaeologists to do further research. According to the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation at Historic Jamestowne and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, here’s what they’ve found about these early settlers:

·         The Reverend Robert Hunt was the first Anglican (Church of England) minister at Jamestown. He arrived with the first settlers and was responsible for providing religious services to the men as well as for preaching to local Indian peoples.

·         Captain Gabriel Archer, a vociferous critic and rival of Captain John Smith, was one of the most important of the early leaders, involved in much of the in-fighting that characterized the colony’s first few years.  Resting on top of Archer’s coffin, the team discovered a small, silver box, which was found to contain shards of bone and a tiny lead ampulla that would have held holy water, oil, or even blood.  The presence of the reliquary, a sacred object normally (but not exclusively) associated with Catholicism may suggest Archer was a secret Catholic.  Alternatively, it is possible the object had significant meaning in the founding of the established church, the Church of England, in the New World.

·         Sir Ferdinando Wainman was a kinsman of the governor, Lord De La Warr, and a high ranking officer who was appointed master of ordnance (artillery) and placed in charge of the colony’s horse troops.

·         Captain William West was also a relative of Lord De La Warr and was killed in fighting against elite Indian warriors in the fall or winter 1610.

Photos: The Lost Founders of Early America

Historic Jamestowne, the archaeology site where these discoveries were made, is open to the public and provides visitors with chances to talk to the archeologists who were part of this remarkable discovery and to learn more about the earliest days at Jamestown.