Jordan's Journey (44PG302)
The sites associated with the early 17th-century settlement known as Jordan’s Journey were located at Jordan’s Point near the confluence of the James and Appomatox rivers in Prince George’s County, Virginia. The property was initially occupied by Weyanoke Indians, one of the groups that formed the Powhatan chiefdom. About 1620, Samuel Jordan, his wife, Cecily, her two daughters, and their adult male servants took up residence at Jordan’s Point; this occupation is probably archaeological site 44PG302. Samuel Jordan died in 1623, and his widow married William Farrar, who moved to Jordan’s Journey. 44PG302 appears to have been abandoned by 1635.
At least five other sites with an early 17th-century component have also been identified at Jordan’s Point and these sites probably bear some relationship to 44PG302.
Antiquarians and archaeologists have long maintained an interest in the sites located at Jordan’s Point, especially the Native American occupations. The sites described here concern the early 17th-century European component at Jordan’s Point.
Excavations were conducted at 44PG302 from 1990 until 1992 by Virginia Commonwealth University under the direction of L. Daniel Mouer and Douglas C. McLearen. Mouer and McLearen conducted Phase II and III investigations at Jordan’s Journey in advance of residential construction in the vicinity. Five other sites (44PG151, 44PG300, 44PG303, 44PG307, and 44PG315) have also been examined and contained archaeological evidence believed to be associated with the early 17th-century component. While the information recovered from these five other sites are used in this project, the data consist solely of sub-plow zone feature maps and selected excavated features. No plow zone data was recovered from these other sites.
The investigations at 44PG302 consisted of the controlled surface collection of a plowed field, mechanical removal of the plow zone, and the identification, mapping, and selected excavation of 1,100 sub-plow zone features. For the controlled surface collection, approximately 1.5 acres were plowed and disked and a grid established. Mouer and McLearen reported excellent surface visibility, with 761 10-by-10-foot units collected in a single day by ten crew members. Following the surface collection, the plow zone was stripped, the grid reestablished, and exposed features were mapped and excavated.
These excavations exposed a fortified compound containing 11 structures and an associated cemetery dating to the early 17th century.
Structure 1 was an earthfast building measuring 55 by 16 feet. The building was divided into three bays of 18 feet each with a five-foot shed at the building’s north end. A hearth and possible chimney hood was suggested in the middle room. No artifacts were recovered from the building’s post holes, suggesting an early construction date. Structure 1 was the largest building on the site and was used as a dwelling.
Structure 4 was an earthfast longhouse measuring 51 by 16 feet, divided into three rooms of unequal size. The middle room, or hall, was the largest, measuring 25 by 16 feet. This central room was heated and access was gained through a lobby entrance located between the hearth and a door on the building’s west side. The northern room measured 13 by 16 feet and contained a cellar or buttery; the southern room also measured 13 by 16 feet and appears to have been heated by a fireplace. Based on discussions in the field with Cary Carson, Mouer and McLearen concluded that this building had a basic hall-parlor plan, with an additional room used mostly for storage. A loft or second story was located over the ground floor rooms. This structure may have been built early in the site’s occupation; the building was abandoned and dismantled while occupation continued at the site.
Structure 5 was an earthfast longhouse reported to have measured 37 by 16 feet in the 1992 report and 36 by 16 in the 1993 report. The building had a shed measuring 7 by 8 feet at its northeast corner, and was possibly divided into two equal size rooms with two probable door openings on the east wall. Hearths probably existed in both rooms. Structure 5 intrudes an early lime kiln (Feature 411) and a borrow pit/possible saw pit (Feature 409).
Structure 10 was another earthfast longhouse measuring 55 by 16 feet with a 3 by 9 feet shed at the building’s northwest corner. The northernmost room appears to have been a ten-foot addition, indicating that the building measured 45 by 16 feet when it was initially constructed. This building contained many internal features.
Structure 15 measured 22 by 14 feet and may predate the palisade enclosure (see Structure 25, below), since it appears to be incorporated into the palisade. A door may have been located in the southeastern corner of the building’s south gable end. Mouer and McLearen believe this building served as a stable, a livestock barn, or a tobacco barn.
Structure 16 was a building measuring 15 by 15 feet and was interpreted as a service structure.
Structure 17 was a small earthfast building, measuring 16 by 12 feet. A small cellar was located in the northeast corner of the building. Excavation revealed that the cellar contained many domestic items, including fireplace tongs, a flatiron, a brass skimmer, a knife, animal bone, a redware pot, a Ming porcelain wine cup, a Bartmann bottle, glass case bottles, beads, an ear bauble, aiglets, pipes, a spur, shot, a shot mold, gun parts, bandolier cap, plate armor, burned daub, and bale seals. The feature also contained Native American ceramic sherds (Gaston ware) that may represent colonial use of an Indian pot. Mouer and McLearen believe that this building could represent the original colonial house at the site, predating the palisade.
Structure 18 was an earthfast building measuring 16 by 14 feet. Some historic material was recovered from the post holes, suggesting that some occupation had taken place on the site before this structure was erected.
Structure 19 is small, measuring 6 by 10 feet, and may represent a corn crib, small pen, or feeding bin.
Structure 20 was an earthfast building measuring 41 by 17 feet, constructed outside the palisade but tied in to it. Mouer and McLearen interpret the structure as a gate house, and as the place where those living within the fort (including Jordan or Farrar and their families) came together with those living outside the enclosure (servants, Indians, people from other plantations) for common purposes.
Structure 21 was a small earthfast outbuilding measuring 13 by 13 feet square. The building appears to have been divided into two rooms, one of which contained a small cellar or buttery. The cellar fill contained numerous knife fragments, redware, stoneware bottle fragments, a Ming porcelain wine cup, a polychrome delft tile, saws, axes, a whetstone, a grinding wheel, beads, buttons, pins, tobacco pipes, animal bone, and shell. Relatively few pieces of arms, armor, and personal items were recovered from the cellar fill.
Structure 25 consisted of the palisade fortification, in the shape of an elongated pentagon. The enclosure measured 260 feet north-south by 110 feet east-west, with walls of posts, pales, and rails. Mouer and McLearen believe that the palisade’s arrangement is best positioned for protection from Indian attack (rather than attack from other Europeans), and that the palisade was constructed in 1622 after the successful Indian attack on the colonial settlements.
Feature 321 was a historic-period, basin-shaped pit that contained few artifacts.
Feature 342 was a historic-period, flat bottomed pit, oval in plan, used for dumping hearth sweepings and other trash. Feature 342 was located approximately 15 feet from the possible back door of Structure 4.
Feature 404 was a historic-period pit, probably dug for making daub and then used as an ash/trash dump. Feature 404 is located 13 feet from the door to Structure 5 and contained parts of brass kettles, ceramics, arms, and armor.
Feature 409 was a rectangular, historic-period pit probably excavated for daub and then possibly used as a saw pit before Structure 5 was built. Feature 409 was filled with early artifacts. The bottom level (Stratum III) appears to have been an intentional backfill. Stratum II appears to represent primary refuse accumulation, and includes a brigandine vest, food bone, wrought iron roasting spit, redwares, Seville storage jars, Iberian costrels, and personal items. Mouer and McLearen believe that some of the Indian ceramic sherds recovered from this pit represent pots used by colonists.
Feature 411 represents the remains of a lime kiln that must predate Structure 5. The feature consists of a circular pit filled with the last firing.
Feature 430 was a historic-period borrow pit complex, representing at least twelve different digging episodes. After the clay was extracted from the pits, the pits were used for dumping refuse. Mouer and McLearen report that the inventory of materials recovered from this pit is “huge and diverse.” Features 519 and 520 appear to be part of this feature complex.
Feature 431 includes possible clay borrow pits, with one end apparently excavated to serve as a privy.
Feature 433 was a small borrow pit, located just ten feet beyond the probable door located near the northeast corner of Structure 10. Fill consisted mostly of domestic refuse.
Feature 435 was a well that appears never to have been completed.
Twenty-four graves associated with the Jordan’s Journey settlement were excavated during the 1992 field season. Two skeletons were recovered from one grave, making a total of 25 individuals in the cemetery. The skeletal materials were analyzed by Douglas Owsley of the Smithsonian Institution. These graves were found outside the palisade’s north and west walls. The vast majority of the burials were not in coffins, and many of the grave shafts were “crudely dug and relatively shallow.” Forty percent of the burials were female or possibly female. More than half were between the ages of 10 and 19; only two were over 30 at death. Hinges from a possible document box were recovered from one grave (HB 4) containing a “white” male aged 35 to 39. McLearen and Mouer speculate that this might be the grave of Samuel Jordan.
More than 60,000 artifacts were recovered during the excavations of Jordan’s Journey by Mouer and McLearen. White clay pipes number in the thousands, many with identifiable bowl forms or maker’s marks. Stem bore diameters are: 9/64 inches (11%); 8/64 inches (57%); 7/64 inches (30%); and 6/64 inches (2%). Red clay pipes were also recovered in “surprising number[s].”
Ninety-six ceramic vessels were identified, including four porcelain bowls, five porcelain wine cups, and one porcelain storage jar. Other ware types include Normandy stoneware, Midlands purple, Tudor Green, Rhenish stonewares (jugs and a chamber pot), North Italian slipware, tin-glazed earthenwares (galley pots), Iberian wares (costrels), a number of redware jars and pipkins, and a possible African or Afro-Caribbean pot.
Clothing artifacts include two cords of woven fibers covered in silver and gold, a silver hair pin, a possible earring bauble (of glass), a plain brass finger ring, and a gold ring. Other objects include a small brass book clasp, a bone comb, brass, iron, and silver buttons, wire hooks and eyes, iron buckles, aiglets, straight pins, scissors, spoons, knives, tenterhooks, lead bale seals, and beads. Tools include a drawknife, axes, saws, shovels, hoes, and a carpenter’s compass. Arms and armament include gun barrels, cannonballs, shot, sword parts, plate armor, and flint. Furniture and architectural locks, padlocks, and keys were found. Two coins and 178 jettons were also recovered.
Other Sites at Jordan’s Point
Several other sites were identified and excavated at Jordan’s Point, some with components associated with the Jordan’s Journey settlement. These include:
44PG151: Probably the location of the dwelling site of the first Richard Bland. The site was excavated by the James River Institute for Archaeology (JRI). JRI concluded that the site was first occupied c. 1670 and abandoned in the mid-18th century. The site also contained an early 17th-century component related to Jordan’s Journey.
44PG300: An archaeological site that McLearen and Mouer indicate contains some components associated with Jordan’s Journey. This site was excavated by Jay Harrison, and may have been associated with Nathaniel and Thomasine Cawsey.
44PG303: An 18th-century domestic plantation site associated with Richard Bland II. Native American deposits were also recovered at this site, and Structure 2 may be associated with the early 17th-century occupation of Jordan’s Point. Structure 1 is the “Richard Bland House,” with artifacts suggesting an occupation range of the 1760s to the early 1770s. Structure 2 was “originally a square, straight-sided, flat bottomed hole, approximately 25 feet on a side, and 3-4 feet deep” (McLearen and Mouer 1993:85). The feature has a terminus post quem of the early 17th century, “although we are by no means certain that the feature is that early.” The orientation was sufficiently different from that of Structure 2, and McLearen and Mouer do not believe the two structures are related. The lack of associated early 17th-century domestic refuse presents an interpretive problem, however, concerning the structure’s use.
44PG307: This site encompasses part of the Richard Bland plantation known as “Jordan’s,” but features associated with the Jordan’s Journey settlement were also recovered. 44PG307 may represent the remains of the Palmer or Fisher households, which were reported in the 1624/25 census. PG307 was also a fortified compound, just a couple hundred yards from PG302 (Jordan’s Journey). This was a rich site, with two moderately large houses and additional buildings. The sites were identified through mechanical removal of the plow zone; no controlled surface collections or plow zone samples were collected. According to Mouer and McLearen, the plow zone had already been extensively disturbed through previous grading activities. Structures 3 (four posts 4 feet on a side located inside an early 17th-century palisade), 4 (palisade enclosing early 17th-century settlement features), 10 (large, rectangular early 17th-century building within the palisade), 11 (a building similar and in close proximity to 10), 12 (smaller rectangular early 17th-century building), 13 (possibly a bastion for the early 17th-century palisade), and 16 (small, four post structure) are believed to be associated with the early 17th-century settlement at Jordan’s Journey. Forty ceramic vessels associated with this early component were recovered, as well as a large assemblage of tin-glazed tiles.
44PG315: A Native American site dating to the Late Woodland or Protohistoric periods. Test excavations there in 1992 by McLearen and Mouer, however, turned up few features associated with Indian occupation.
McCartney, Martha W. 1988. The History of the Hopewell Airport Property, Jordan’s Point, Prince George County, Virginia. Prepared for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. On file, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond.
McLearen, Douglas C., and L. Daniel Mouer. 1993. Jordan’s Journey II: A Preliminary Report on the 1992 Excavations at Archaeological Sites 44PG302, 44PG303, and 44PG315. Prepared for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. On file, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond.
Morgan, Tim, Nicholas M. Lucchetti, Beverly Strauve, S. Fiona Bessey, and Annette Loomis, with contributions by Charles Hodges. 1995. Archaeological Excavations at Jordan’s Point: Sites 44PG151, 44PG300, 44PG302, 44PG303, 44PG315, 44PG333. Two volumes. Prepared for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. On file, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond.
Mouer, L. Daniel, Douglas C. McLearen, R. Taft Kiser, Christopher P. Egghart, Beverly J. Binns, and Dane T. Magoon. 1992. Jordan’s Journey: A Preliminary Report on Archaeology at Site 44PG302, Prince George County, Virginia, 1990-1991. Prepared for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. On file, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond.
Owsley, Douglas W. and Bertita E. Compton. . An Osteological Investigation of Human Remains from “Jordan’s Journey” (Site 44PG302), a 17th-Century Fortified Settlement in Prince George County, Virginia. On file, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond.
Owsley, Douglas W., Kim M. Lanphear, and Bertita E. Compton. 1990. Osteological Examination of Seventeenth Century Burials from Jordan’s Point, Prince George’s [sic] County, Virginia. On file, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond.
Further Information on the Collection
The Jordan's Journey archaeological collection is owned by the the State of Virginia and curated by the Department of Historic Resources in Richmond. For more information about the collection and collection access, contact Dee DeRoche at 804-367-2323 ext 134; email Dee.DeRoche@dhr.virginia.gov.
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
Cite this Record
Jordan's Journey (44PG302). ( tDAR id: 6063) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8BZ67H2
Jordan's Journey (44PG302)
Calendar Date: 1620 to 1635
min long: -77.498; min lat: 36.633 ; max long: -75.41; max lat: 39.368 ;
Individual & Institutional Roles
Field Director(s): L. Daniel Mouer