Captain John Smith's Adventures on the James
— www.johnsmithtrail.org —
Near this spot, the Arrohateck Indians greeted John Smith and his compatriots during their May 1607 exploration upriver from Jamestown. Smith's 1612 Map of Virginia shows Arrohateck towns on both shores of the James below present-day Richmond.
In 1611, Sir Thomas Dale founded the Citie of Henricus on a bluff above a bend in the river. The location was deemed both more defensible and more healthful than Jamestown, where settlers were often forced to drink brackish water that left them ill or lethargic. At Henricus, the English chartered Virginia's first university and built their first hospital.
According to one tradition, Pocahontas, the daughter of the Algonquin ruler Powhatan, was kidnapped at Jamestown and met and married John Rolfe at Henricus in 1614. Their union prompted an eight-year truce between the Powhatan chiefdom and the English. Rolfe was the first Englishman to successfully cultivate tobacco in 1612.
The profitable export crop would give rise to vast plantations that siphoned settlers from Henricus and angered displaced Natives. As a result, the truce between the Algonquians and the English unraveled in 1622, shortly after Powhatan's death.
Capt. John Smith's Trail
John Smith knew the James River by its Algonquian name: Powhatan, the same as the region's paramount chief. Smith traveled the river many times between 1607 and 1609, trading with Virginia Indians to ensure survival at Jamestown. What he saw of Virginia's verdant woodlands and pristine waters inspired him to explore the greater Chesapeake Bay, chronicling its natural wonders.
(sidebar)Did native Virginians have tattoos?
The English colonists at Jamestown were curious about -and sometimes astonished by-the Natives surrounding them. John Smith's contemporary, George Percy, recorded his observations of the ornate tattoos worn by Algonquian women: " The women kinde in this Countrey doth pounce and race their bodies, legges, thighes, armes and faces with a sharpe Iron, which makes a stampe in curious knots, and drawes the proportion of Fowles, Fish, or Beasts, then with paintings of sundry lively colours, they rub it into the stampe which will never be taken away, because it is dried into the flesh where it is sered." It is unknown whether Pocahontas wore similar tattoos, though it is likely when she was a child the sides of her head were shaved. This was the custom for Indian girls, who wore their remaining hair in long braids.