Monday, September 15, 2008

University of Virginia accepts 300,000 pieces of Flowerdew farm history

From the Charlottesville Daily Progress
By Aaron Lee

Published: September 8, 2008

Roughly 300,000 artifacts that shed light on centuries of history — including the early English settlement of North America — have been donated to the University of Virginia. The artifacts come from a farm known as Flowerdew Hundred on the south side of the James River between Hopewell and Jamestown. It was once the site of Native American villages, a fortified frontier settlement, a thriving plantation and a major Civil War encampment.

“It is one of the most significant and comprehensive collections on Virginia history,” said Hoke Perkins, director of UVa’s Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture. The late David and Mary Harrison, for whom the institute is named, purchased Flowerdew in 1967. The donated collection of artifacts comes from their children.

“Our father was determined that the important material discovered at Flowerdew would live on, and we feel like the university will prove to be a wonderful home for the collection,” said Mary Harrison Keevil, Harrison’s daughter.

UVa alumnus David Harrison, a lawyer and investment banker, was one of the university’s most generous benefactors. The field at Scott Stadium is named in his honor. He died in 2002; Mary died in 1990. Artifacts unearthed during decades of excavation at Flowerdew Hundred include stone tools estimated to be 10,000 years old.

Flowerdew became an English settlement in 1619, when Sir George Yeardley was granted 1,000 acres that he named in honor of his wife, Temperance Flowerdew. It later became the site of America’s first windmill.

During the Civil War, Union troops camped at Flowerdew for three days before the Battle of
Petersburg.

Prior to the donation of the artifact collection, fewer than 100 artifacts from the farm had been on loan to the Harrison Institute since 2004. Once the recently donated collection is catalogued it will be available to researchers and enhance the collection already on display to the public, said Perkins, director of the Harrison Institute.

The donation will also be incorporated into online research resources, Charlotte Morford, UVa Library director for communications, said. Further down the road, Perkins said, the institute would like to explore using the Flowerdew finds in collaboration with archeological collections at other cultural institutes in Virginia.

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