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of producing any crops in abundance, and are not inferiour to the best lands in the Atlantick States,
Through this county from west to east runs a ridge (though not high) of clayey, barren land, covered with pines, and a few miserable oaks. This divides the waters that fall into James river, from those which empty into Black Water. Southward of this ridge,' the soil is more sandy, less productive, and not generally so healthy as the northern side. Upon the river and the navigable creeks are extensive bodies of marsh, sometimes flowed by the tide, which rises here about three feet.
The timber consists of oaks, of various kinds (sufficient within a convenient distance of navigation to build a formidable navy, and of good quality) with all the different species known in the eastern States, and others which do not grow there. Mr. Jefferson has enumerated them in his Notes on Virginia, to which I refer.
The woods abound with wild grapes, some of the vines of a prodigious size ; with an infinite variety of flowering shrubs and plants. Here is also, in abundance, sarsaparilla, snake-root, and ginseng.
Notwithstanding, when the English first made their settlements here, this formed part of an extensive and formidable empire under king Powhatan, it does not appear the Indians had any considerable seats in this county.
A few places on the river only contain vestiges of the original inhabi. tants. These are traced on some of the points abovementioned, by the quantity of oyster and muscle shells, upon and near the surface of the earth, by the rude misshapen tools they used, and the points of their arrows (both formed of stone) which are frequently met with at those places. Mr. Jefferson mentions a small tribe that resided in Surry, on the east
a ern side of Upper Chippoah. Probably their residence was at Clermont, the seat of William Allen, Esq. which is at the confluence of that creek with the river, and where I have frequentiy met with traces of them.
I do not find that any barrows, or burial places of the aborigines, have been discovered in this neighbourhood. Single graves are sometimes found. These are dry, only eighteen or twenty inches deep ; the bodies uniformly deposited, with the heads to the north, and filled up with muscle shells, probably to prevent dogs or vermin from scratching up the bodies.
Perhaps in no part of the United States, are there such evident demonstrations of a general disruption of the earth, as here, in cummon with the lower parts of Virginia, or at least, that the lower country of the southern States, between the Alleghany mountains, and the Atlantick ocean, has undergone a material change, since the first formation of this, our globe.
To have an adequate idea of the appearances here, we must conceive the sea, with its finny tribe ; the bowels of the deep broken up, with its various productions ; the earth torn from its foundations, with its il'ces
and plants ; all these, agitated, mixed, and confounded in one com
; mon chaos ; and then we must suppose the water suddenly to retire, and leave this heterogeneous mass to consolidate together; for to nothing else can I compare the appearance of the bowels of the earth here. The banks of the river (which are generally high) uniformly discover this strange mixture. Deep gullies in various places shew the same ; and upon almost every occasion, where the earth is dug into, there is scarce any variation from this curious and singular phenomenon.
Bones and teeth of large and small fish ; oyster, muscle, clam, and cockle shells, with an infinite variety of scallopped shells ; trees of various sorts, petrified vegetables, and in some instances, the bones of land animals ; all these are met with in every direction ; nor are they to be found only in small quantities ; the land seems to be, in a large proportion, formed of them. Neither are they here, in regular strata, as if they had gradually subsided, with the heaviest bodies downwards, but are indiscriminately mixed, the heavier with the lighter.
Two complete skeletons of whales, or some very large fish, I have scen in this neighbourhood ; the one in the bank of the river, at Coggin's Point ; the other, some workmen met with, two years ago, in digging into a gravelly knoll, at the side of a water course, for the foundation of a mill.* Poplar and walnut trees of a large growth, perfect in their sbape and form, have been found at the depth of thirty-five feet in the earth. These appearances, in a less, or greater degree, extend over the whole champaign country, from the falls of the rivers, to the sea, and (if my information is just) through the whole flat country of the southern states, to St. Augustine, in East Florida. Above the falls of the rivers, the ground rises, and is more hilly, and the bowels of the earth are totally different in their formation,
To what causes can this remarkable difference be attributed ? is a question that naturally occurs.
Mr. Jefferson has passed over, unnoticed, this singular appearance, although it could noi have escaped his observation. General Lincoln (my very worthy and respected friend) has mentioned something similar at Yorktown, in a communication to the American Academy ; and Mr. Charles Thompson,in the Appendix to “ Notes on Virginia," has slightly
* I cannot forbeur to mention a singular occurrence, that happened at an old mill, which stood near where the above now stands. About three years since, the miller finding there was some impediment, that prevented the mill going as fast as usual, went to the wheel to see what affected it ; when, behold a ser. pent of an enormous size, had got entwined in the wheel, so that he could not extricate himself. He quickly stopt it, and with the assistance of some others, killed it ; after wirich they measured its length with a fence-rail, which are usually here about eleven feet in length ; when it appeared to be the full length of the rail, after its lead liad been partly cut off ; no one had the curiosity to measure its bulk. This fact is well attested both by whites and blacks. It was destroyeci :1d thrown inte the creek before I heard of it.
spoken of it, and seems not to have known the extent thereof. No other accounts have I seen.
It is reserved perhaps for some learned member of the Historical Society, to account therefor, from natural and philosophical causes. For my own part, till a better theory is offered, I shall adhere to that of Mr. Thompson, which he however styles but the vision of fancy, as it so perfectly accords with my own reasoning upon the subject. Had he been well acquainted with all the phenomena, which exist here, he would doubtless have thought with me, that it is not merely a vision, but a fact, as well established as any can be that must depend entirely on conjecture.
I do not however agree with him, that the change here has been effected at various times ; but at once, by some sudden and violent convulsion. For although some appearances (particularly at York-Town) may indicate this, yet in general they tend to confirm my opinion.
The productions of this county consist of wheat, Indian corn, cotton, rye, barley, oats, pease, some tobacco. This latler was originally, as in all parts of Virginia, the principal produce, and has injured the soil to a very great degree. It is, however, fast yielding to the culture of wheat and corn. But a small quantity is now made here, in comparison to that usually made twenty years since ; and it is a misfortune that it is any where eultivated, so largely as in some counties of this state, except in those, where the great distance from market will not allow the transportation of grain.
In common, large quantities of wheat and corn are made for sale in this county, exclusive of their own consumption. Flax and cotton are raised for the clothing of the white inhabitants, as well as their negroes.
In summer, most of the planters and their families appear in outer garments of cotton of their own fabrick; and it is even fashionable amongst the most wealthy : a circumstance honourable to themselves and advantageous to their country. The growth of cotton is not carried to the extent it might be ; it is easily made, and with proper gins is easily cleaned : but the mode generally in use, of picking it by hand, is very slow and tedious. A sufficiency might be made to supply the eastern states. It is here an annual plant. The staple is not so long as the West-India cotton, but compensates for that, by its superiour fineness.
It is not many years since the planter's paid no attention to their low grounds : they begin, however, to find the value of them, and a spirit for improving them is daily spreading. Probably the time is not far distant, when the extensive marshes on the river and creeks will be: gin to assume a new face, and from yielding no profit, become the most valuable part of the planters' possessions.
The fruits are those common in the states northward of this, Extensive orchards of apple and peach trees are very common, from which the inhabitants make large quantities of cider and brandy. The peaches have a flavour unknown to those of the more northern states ; but the Vol, III.
apples are inferiour in taste and spirit. The almond and fig will grow here in the open ground, if attended to.
Horticulture is not generally in vogue, though there are some gardens that do not yield to the best in the United States. In connexion with this may be mentioned the pleasure grounds of David Meade, Esq. of Maycox in this county. These grounds contain about twelve acres, laid out on the bank of James river, in a most beautiful and enchanting
Forest and fruit trees are here arranged, as if nature and art had conspired together to strike the eye most agreeably. Beautiful vistas, which open as many pleasing views of the river ; the land thrown into many artificial hollows or gentle swellings, with the pleasing verdure of the turf; and the complete order in which the whole is preserved ; altogether !end to form it one of the most delightful rural seats that is to be met with in the United States, and do honour to the taste and skill of the proprietor, who was also the architect.
The principal food of the inhabitants is bacon, of which immense quantities are annuaily marle ; every planter keeping a large drove of hogs, which gain most of their subsistence in the woods; they are confined however, when fattening, which is done with Indian corn.
This does not, however, exclude beef and smaller meats from the table ; most of the planters raising a sufficiency for their own consumption. The former is small, but generally fat and juicy. The muttons are also rather smaller than in some of the eastern states ; but no country can produce better veal ; indeed the best that I myself have even seen, has been at the tables of some gentlemen in this neighourhood. Poultry of every kind is in perfection and abundance. No judgment can be formed of the meats of this country from the publick markets ; for the best are commonly consumed at home by the planters.
The climate is here variable ; and depends entirely upon the winds which happen to blow. The summers are long, and sometimes intensely hot. The winters are short and generally pleasant; but little snow falls,and that lies on the ground only a few days. It is but seldom the navigation of James river is obstructed by ice ; and still seldomer, that it is frozen over, so as to bear any weight. Both in winter and summer the weather is very changeable, and the changes sudden. The greatest height of Fahrenheit's thermometer, the last summer, when suspended in the shade, was . The lowest at which it was the winter preceding (1791 and 1792) and which was uncommonly severe, was From the middle of October, through the winter and spring, to the middle of June, it is perhaps one of the most desirable climates that is known. In August and September, birious complaints are very common. And it is observible, that the lower class of whites are more subject to intermitlents than others, probably owing to their diet and drink.
li cannot, howerer, upon the whole, be considered as unhealthy. This county in particular has had, since my acquaintance with it, more people for advanced in life in proportion to the whole nunber, than other places coulci produce, which are esteemed healthy. Though
intermittents are frequent in the fall, they very seldom prove mortal.
The population of this country, by the last census, amounts to three thousand six hundred and fifty-four whites, and four thousand five hundred and nineteen blacks. Of this number about one thousand and two hundred are residents in Blandford. This is a small town upon the eastern bank of the Appomattox, and now forms part of the corporation of Petersburg, from which it is separated by a small marsh and a rivulet running through it. They are in separate counties ; but the internal police is governed by the same magistrates : a mayor and six aldermen, annually elected by the citizens. Blandford contains two hundred houses, pleasantly situated on a small plain. The hills which arise from the back of the village, in the nature of terraces, form many picturesque and agreeable situations for houses, some of which are improved as such.
A considerable trade is carried on in this little village. There are many large stores, and three tobacco warehouses, which annually receive about six to seven thousand hogsheads. An air of business is visible. The streets are frequently crowded ; and upon the whole, it is a thriving place. This and Petersburg have been considered as very unhealthy, and with some reason. The neighbourhood of several undrained marshes might' naturally occasion it ; but as these are drained, the air is improved, till probably in a few years, it will be greatly meliorated.
The south-western part of this county, with part of Dinwiddie adjoining, including Petersburg, forms one parish of the Episcopal church; the remaining part of this county forms another. There is a glebe belonging to each parish, both in Prince George. There are five churches in the county, of this persuasion; one meeting house for the Friends ;one building appropriated for the Methodists; they have meetings also
in other places. The Baptists have occasional meetings in some parts 1 of the county : to this sect the blacks seem particularly attached. All
the clergy are supported by voluntary contributions.
The militia of this county forms one regiment of about six hundred men, in which is included a troop of horse, and a company of light infantry.
This county sends two members to the assembly ; and with the three adjoining counties of Sussex, Surry, and Southampton, elect a representative to congress. The present member is Carter Basset Harrison, Esq. of Surry.
There is a county court consisting of an indefinite number of magistrates, commonly twelve, who fill all vacancies in their own body, by nomination to the governour and council. All other officers, civil and military, are nominated by them. They have unlimited jurisdiction both in common law and chancery business ; but an appeal lies, if the cause be of more than ten pounds in value, or concern the title or bounds of land, to the district courts, or high court of chancery. This is also a court for the probate of wills.