The first church services were held outdoors.
Then they built a rough barn-like structure; it burnt in 1608.
Then they build a wooden church with a brick foundation; it burnt in 1676.
Then they build a brick church; it burnt.
Then they build another church, using the walls and fountains of the previous church. It “fell to ruin” in the 1790s (except the tower) and its bricks were reused to build the present graveyard wall. The foundations of those last two churches are visible inside current church.
The wall around the churchyard encloses several tombstones and grave covers. I learned that they were probably all imported from England, which means only wealthy people could afford them. Some of the inscriptions were quite wordy, but my favorite belongs to William Sherwood: “Here lyeth William Sherwood that was born into the parish of White Chapel near London. A great sinner waiting for a joyful Resurrection.”
They also put up barricades, with stick frames and 2’ thick mud walls and a thatched roof. Only “footprints” of any of these structures remain, where the soil is a mixture, instead of undisturbed soil.
Inside the church 3 men put on a reenactment, where a soldier met with two brothers of Pocahontas to discuss the peace they hoped her marriage would bring about. I don't know the names of the characters, but the actors were Cody and Warren, and they were quite good.
Pocahontas is one of the most famous people associated with Jamestown, and she has been famous a long time; the lovely stature of her at the entrance was put up in 1922.
She was a frequent visitor to Jamestown and there is an antidote of her as a little girl, cartwheeling naked through the center of the town. Apparently Pocahontas simply enjoyed these newcomers, and visited often. John Smith wrote of her as "a child of tenne years old ... not only for feature, countenance...but for wit and spirit, the only Nonpariel of his Country.” There is some question if she really saved his life, but she certainly improved relations between her people and the colonists. Eventually she was kidnapped, converted to Christianity and married John Rolfe. Warren is a member of her tribe, and he said that among the tribe, her life is not considered remarkable because she was doing exactly what tribal princesses were supposed to do - build alliances. Even the kidnapping wasn’t unusual. It happened occasionally between tribes and if the captive wasn’t killed, they were usually adopted into the tribe, creating relationships between tribes. Looking at it in this light, her actions were quite traditional.
And poor John Smith - all many people know of his life is a fictional romance with an Indian princess. But I learned that John led a very interesting life. Apparently while he was a soldier in Hungary he was captured, taken to Turkey and sold into slavery in Russia, where he killed his owner and made it back to England. In America he led a 3,000 mile expedition in an open boat to map the Chesapeake Bay waters, he was Governor of Virginia, and he wrote the early history of Virginia. And apparently he was a very good leader at Jamestown; it seemed to all fall apart shortly after he left.
The current excavation is a kitchen area, mostly underground. There would have been a low ceiling, about a foot above our guide's head. Two ovens are built into the corners.
This was filled in, or maybe caved in, around 1610, which is known as “The Starving Time”. That was when the drought got worse, there were no fish in the area, the Indians killed anyone who tried to go hunting, and the supply ships brought more people but no supplies. The colonists ate their dogs and horses, but that wasn’t enough. And here is where the Jamestown legend got a new wrinkle. When they cleaned out the trash used to fill in this area, they found bones of a young woman with the same butcher marks as the dog and horses bones. The Smithsonian folks came out and verified that she was cannibalized. The only good thing is that it almost certainly happened after she died. There is no way yet to identify her, so she has been named Jane. I think it's ironic that this 14-year old girl, probably a maid, who was handled so poorly after her death, will probably become the most famous person in Jamestown.