In April, the last three sets of English settlers’ remains discovered near Jamestown in a 1990 excavation were reburied.
The remains were found on a 3,000-acre Virginia Company of London land parcel, what was originally a Paspahegh Indian village.
Today, the land is the property of the Governor’s Land housing development and the Two Rivers Country Club golf course.
After analysis at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Governor’s Land Heritage Committee asked for the remains to be returned and reburied. One set of remains was returned in April 2016, which was followed with a commemoration and plaque in dedication.
The last three sets of remains were commemorated and reburied at a ceremony at the Two Rivers Country Club in April. Dr. Douglas Owsley, head of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian who analyzed the remains, spoke at the event, which was attended by 150 community members and members of several lineage societies.
“For 26 years they kept them, and we called Dr. Owsley and said, ‘you know, the Department of Historic Resources in Virginia says when you excavate bodies, you have to rebury them’. There’s no time limit, but you have to rebury them eventually,” said William Holstein, the chair of the Governor’s Land Foundation Heritage Committee. “I said, ‘well, is 20 some years a good time limit?’ and he said, ‘you ought to get them back’.”
The commemoration also dedicated a second plaque acknowledging the creation of the Virginia Company Land 400 years ago. The event was co-sponsored by the Order of Founders and Patriots.
During the late 1980s and the early 1990s, developer Dominion Resources commissioned archaeological digs at Governor’s Land, which resulted in the now reburied findings.
The James River Institute for Archaeology discovered evidence of a Paspahegh village and in 1990, and several buildings associated with the Virginia Company Land were discovered.
Under what is now the first fairway of the golf course, the remains of the four English settlers were discovered.
Owsley and a team of scientists’ analysis of the remains concluded they were two English women and a man dated to the time of the Virginia Company Land. The women may have arrived in the area in 1619 and 1620 to marry into the largely male colony at the time.
The remains returned in 2016 were of a 9- to 10-year-old female, who was dated to a later period, around 1630 or 1640.
Because the burials are on the golf course and residential area, the committee will let the grass grow over the graves and will just have the two plaques as markers.
The Governor’s Land Heritage Committee spent the year organizing the commemoration event, but usually offers an annual history tour of a historic site in the area, such as Windsor Castle in Smithfield.
Martin can be reached at (757)-243-3685, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SaraRoseMartin.