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York County Historical Museum Newsletter

November 2006

York County, VA.

4th Edition


Yorktown Day Weekend Big Success for Museum on Main
by Belinda H. Willis

Thanks to the generous support of York County and the National Park Service, the old Fife and Drum Building on Main Street is now Museum on Main.  Museum Board Members and the York Ruritans have spent countless hours renovating the building for the grand opening on Yorktown Day.  

Over 1100 visitors stopped by during the Yorktown Day weekend to the newly renovated building that used to be know as the Fife and Drum Building.  Museum on Main is an extension of the collections in York Hall.

Also, approximately $500 was donated to the Museum by the vendors who participated in the Yorktown Day weekend.  According to Don Willis, one of the volunteer coordinators for the weekend, the for-profit vendors were asked to make a contribution from their proceeds to the Museum in lieu of a fee for their booths.

Many thanks to these supporters for their generosity!

Update on The Chiskiack Watch Exhibits
by Merry Outlaw

The Chiskiack Watch archaeological excavations in 1989 reveled three different periods of military-related occupation on the bluff overlooking the York River between Ballard and Buckner Streets.  archaeologists uncovered the remains of a starship fort built by Nicolas Martiau around 1630, as well as, evidence of occupation by soldiers at the end of the revolutionary War in 1781, and by Civil War soldiers from around 1864. 

The two stoneware jugs (illustrated right) were found in a small dugout Civil War hut believed to have been occupied first by Confederate soldiers and later by Union soldiers.  The jug on the left was made in Baltimore around 1860, and is typical of stoneware vessels found on Civil War sites. Found broken, it was discarded soon after its manufacture.
The jug on the right has a much longer history and causes us to speculate about one Civil War soldier.  Made in the 1820s or earlier in Old Bridge, New Jersey, wear indicates that it was in regular use from its manufacture until its disposal in Yorktown.  The stamped mark (illustrated right) indicates its original contents were "GIN."  Forty years later, did it still hold gin, or a soldier's more ordinary ration when he was camped in Yorktown?  A rarity among archaeological ceramic artifacts, it was found intact.  Why?  Was it a treasured possession, lovingly buried when the hut was backfilled, and meant to be retrieved after the war?  What happened to its owner? The answers are elusive, but the questions still intrigue.

Museum on Main - photo courtesy of Dave Meredith

 York Ruritans - photo courtesy of Dave Meredith

Save the Dates!

The Museum will be hosting the
"2006 Historic Yorktown Christmas Market" on
December 2 and December 9.  This event will be held from 9am to 4pm on Main Street.  Stop by and do your Holiday shopping!

American stoneware jugs found in a Civil War hut at Chiskiack Watch. (Photo courtesy of Gavin Ashworth)

Detail of jug on the right indicating its original contents. 
(Photo courtesy of Gavin Ashworth)

York County Historical Museum Hosts Newport News Author For Book Signing

Newport News author D. Thomas Wessells Jr. will be on hand November 11 to sign copies of his recently published  book, "In Bold Measure: The Biography of Col. Benjamin Lyons Farinholt, CSA" . The author will be at The Gallery at York Hall from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm that day.  Books may be purchased from The Gallery for $19.95.

Wessells' book traces the life of Colonel Farinholt, who fought in most of the major battles in Virginia during the Civil War. Included in the book are reproductions of photographs and images representing significant people and places in Farinholt's life as well as many of his letters.

Private Collection of Military Memorabilia to be on
Display in Yorktown

On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the York County Historical Museum will host a one-day-only display of a private collection of military memorabilia from the mid 19th to mid 20th centuries. The exhibit will include a number of military relics, uniform items, photographs, maps, books and family heirlooms collected through three generations of the lending family. This is a rare opportunity to see many items that have never been available for public display.

The exhibit will be setup in the lower level of York Hall, 301 Main Street, Yorktown, on Saturday, Nov. 11, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Free admission.

Volunteer Opportunity!
Museum Docents Needed

Training Provided
Call Jim Funk at
(757) 898-4910




Museum Hours
Tues. - Sat.
10 am - 3:30 pm and
Sun. 1 - 3:30 p.m.
Free and open to the public.

Call (757) 898-3727 for more information or to arrange a private tour
The York County Historical Museum is a 501-C-3 non-profit organizations.  All donations are tax deductible.

For more information about the Museum, email Bonnie Karwac at
For more information, comments about or to unsubscribe from this newsletter, e-mail Belinda Willis at B


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