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All Our Provision Was Brought A Shore

March 4, 2011

The Jamestown settler threw two dice, totaling a 9 count. Then the first boy rolled and totaled an 8. The second boy the same. Bad luck!

Willie Balderson portrays colonist Anas Todkill while playing a game of dice with some visitors.
Willie Balderson portrays colonist Anas Todkill while playing a game of dice with some visitors.
"Each of you have to give me one of your shoes," the settler said. The boys paused. Their grandmother offered a distraction: "I like YOUR shoes," she said to the man in armor.

"Well, you will have to game me for them," Anas Todkill answered.

Todkill came to Jamestown 400 years ago as the servant of Captain John Martin. On Feb. 26 he returned thanks to Willie Balderson and a Historic Jamestowne family program called, "All Our Provision Was Brought A Shore."

The program mixed Balderson's living history with a special tour through the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium with Bly Straube, senior archaeological curator at the Jamestown Rediscovery Project.

Balderson demonstrated the use of some of the 1,000 artifacts on display in the Archaearium museum on Jamestown Island.

"These are the objects that were used, sometimes made, broken, and lost by people who were here," Straube told the visitors.

She told the story of how one object in particular pleased Queen Elizabeth II when she visited in 2007. Straube said the Queen had been quiet on her private tour of the Archaearium until seeing the case about the surgeon's chest sent to Jamestown in 1609 by John Woodall. He later wrote a book, "The Surgions Mate," that described what a chest should have, and the Jamestown Rediscovery team has found many of those items in the fort remains.

When the Queen saw the iron "spatula mundani" that Woodall invented, she called out to her personal physician. He came running, and she pointed to it and asked, “Do you have one of those?” and broke into laughter. The spatula was designed to treat severe constipation.

On that topic, Straube added, "We don't have many chamberpots. Those belonged to gentlemen. The codes of conduct stated that you had to go out from the fort, half a mile into the woods. And of course in some cases people came staggering back to the fort with arrows in them."

Balderson, as Todkill, demonstrated for the modern visitors how to put on his 18 pounds of armor. He noted that English musketeers fighting the Spanish in 1588 had no armor, but, "Now we need it to walk from the fort to the blockhouse. There was a time when it weren't in our heads, but the country has turned against us."

When Todkill showed all the steps to firing a musket, a visitor how long it took a good soldier to reload and fire.

"Perhaps a minute-and-a-half," Todkill said.

"And how many arrows are being shot at you in that time?" Straube asked him. The visitors chuckled.

"Tis the problem of this country!" Todkill answered.

The two boys in the crowd, eight-year-old Bryan Greene and seven-year-old Tyler Greene, helped Todkill with his armor and got to closely examine his compass. But at the end of the tour they had something else on their minds.

"Bryan is dying to ask for a rematch of that game!" said his grandmother, Jodie Greene.

Historic Jamestowne is jointly administered by Preservation Virginia and the National Park Service and preserves the original site of the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Preservation Virginia and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation formed a new collaboration in the fall of 2010 to connecting their histories through compelling stories of discovery, diversity and democracy.

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