Shiloh School to delve into ‘Virginia mindset’

To appreciate the nature of the “independent Virginian mindset,” start by going back to the early 1600s.

That’s the approach a leading Virginia archeologist will explain in a presentation starting at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at the Shiloh School in Balls Neck.

Virginia Department of Historic Resources eastern regional archeologist Michael Clem will draw the connections to Virginia’s Northern Neck by explaining a site dating to about 1636, the Eyreville Site in Northampton County.

He explains how the first occupant built a “humble Virginia style” house, “likely hoping to make his fortune and return home to England.”

But the best-laid plans so often go awry, as happened in this case, reported Bud Ward on behalf of the Shiloh School board of directors. The site has been continuously occupied since that time and a 1799 home remains on the property. Clem’s in-depth research and excavations show as many as four houses existed on the property by the time of that 1799 home…and three of them dated to before 1700.

A “fascinating story” of the third property owner at Eyreville, a wealthy trader and one-time Speaker of the House of Burgesses—reveals his ties to the Northern Neck, where he passed away in 1686. Research shows he owned a small vessel that plowed the Chesapeake Bay, apparently disregarding the navigation laws of the 1650s and openly trading with the Dutch.

With Eyreville’s clear Dutch influence, Clem says, the site “is yielding evidence of the emerging cultural mindset that would become the independent Virginian. It is a mix of European, African and Native American cultures to make something unlike any other.”