The Richmond History Podcast

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Anouther Tiny Slice of The History of Richmond's East End

According to Facts and Legends of Richmond Area Streets by Thomas F. Mustian, Williamsburg Ave in Fulton, Richmond, VA was once called "Bloody Run" after the battles between the early European settlers and the natives, while Williamsburg Rd (today the same road, with a name change as it moves up the hill) in Fulton Hill was called Pocahontas Trail because it was an old trail the natives used, and gets its present name because it was the main route to Williamsburg, Virginia's former capital.  There were also 2 tolls on Williamsburg Rd, one was at the intersection with Darbytown Rd.  Darbytown Rd was almost exclusively inhabited by the Darby family and the Enroughty family.  The two names were interchangeable at one time and Darby seems to have won out because it was easier to say.
The book doesn't give any dates on the subject so, if anyone has the dates let me know and if anyone has any idea where the other toll was or when they disappeared please comment below and as always try to give some source.

Not from Mr. Mustian's book, I have seen plenty of maps calling Williamsburg Rd, Williamsburg Turnpike (Civil War), and Williamsburg Stagecoach Trail.  I have also heard that the stagecoach stopped on the 1300 block of today's Williamsburg Rd.  Can't verify the stagecoach stop.

Would love to see proof of that as well.

Follow this blog on Facebook or Twitter


  1. Greetings:

    Much as I hate to knock over beloved old myths, that's what they are. Here's a few snippets from stuff I've written on these subjects, that may if nothing else fuel the debate. I apologize for the length -- but you asked. Here's Part I.

    I don't know diddly about the Darby and Enroughty issue.

    I guess we can all be glad about that. "Tradition shifts fact."

    "Between March and December 1656, perhaps near today’s 31st and Marshall streets, in the ravine below Libby Terrace, a bumbling grandee killed off his own allies in a pitched battle.

    The incompetent Col. Edward Hill of Shirley Plantation and Speaker of the House of Burgesses, commanded English soldiers and allied Pamunkey tribesmen led by Chief Totopotomoi. They attacked invading ‘Richahecrian’ people. The Pamunkeys were used as human shields to protect the English. They died in droves, including Totopotomoi.

    Hill was tried by his peers for “crimes and deficiencies.” No compensation was made to the Pamunkeys. Three years later Hill returned as Speaker. Documents about the incident inconveniently burned later Richmond fires. An historian of pre-English Viriginia, Dr. Helen Rountree, theorizes Hill’s debacle occurred in Hanover County along the South Anna River. This hasn't prevented various organizations from placing a plaque and an historical sign proclaiming the "Bloody Run" as fact.

    Bloody Run may have more to do with waste seepage pouring into the ravine from nearby slaughter houses than a 17th century massacre. That's not as romantic a view of history, though.

  2. Part II:

    * * *

    "The Powhatans settled their seasonal villages atop hills, to view growing fields and the possible approach of their enemy, the Monacans. Powhatan may have been referring to the battles at his namesake family village and Monacan warriors when he related to Capt. John Smith he’d witnessed three times the death “of all my people, and not anyone living of these generations but myself.”

    Historians have attributed this statement to epidemics of European diseases, although no mass graves have been found to support this theory. Historian of Virginia Indians Helen Rountree speculates that Powhatan was referring to Monacan attacks on his namesake village."

    * * *

    "The hills to the east of Chimborazo and the valley below mark where native met newcomer and Richmond began. On Chimborazo’s brow rests a large stone, placed there 76 years ago to venerate a Richmond family and its ties with the city’s founding.

    A plaque on the rock reads: “An old Indian stone removed from and now overlooking ‘Powhatan Seat’ a royal residence of King Powhatan when Captain John Smith and his fellow ‘Adventurers’ made the first permanent English settlement in this country at Jamestown, Virginia, 1607.

    ‘Powhatan Seat’ was the residence from 1726-1865 of the ancestors of Peter H. Mayo by whose daughters this stone was presented to the Association of the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.”

    This worn boulder is what remains of the Mayo estate. The family occupied the residence for five generations. Their place stood along Route 5, just outside the city limits. It occupied a now-flattened rise south of the Old Osborne Turnpike along Almond Creek.

    Major William Mayo mapped the city with Colonel William Byrd II and surveyed Richmond’s first lots. His family established the Mayo’s Bridge, established as a tolled span, that despite some initial engineering difficulties and flood damages, gave the family a financial boon.

    During the 18th century, the Mayo’s amassed an estate of some 2,000 acres, bounded by 37th street, the James River, Orleans St., and just beyond Almond Creek. During 1726-32 they built a house upon a commanding hill, “500 feet from the river, just by 3 small islands.”

  3. Part III The Last:

    William Mayo gave his place the misleading name of “Powhatan Seat.” Mayo believed, or perhaps more appropriately, wanted it to be the site where John Smith and Christopher Newport in May 1607 met Parahunt, the son of the Great Chief Powhatan.

    The “T”-shaped, brick Mayo House had “a most commanding view of vessels and sailing parties ascending and descending...[the house was] not only picturesque but most convenient in construction, ventilation and general comfort,” Peter Mayo wrote.

    The house was likely modeled after those in Poulshot, Scotland, home of the brothers William and Joseph Mayo before their immigration to the New World via Barbados.

    Prior to the Civil War two huge elms stood in front of the main entrance. Each trunk measured 4 feet in diameter. Folklore had it that “Powhatan’s wigwam” was once pitched between the trees. The presence of two large, solemn rocks, with mysterious carvings, supported the place’s mythic feel.

    An account in the May 1859 Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, describes the house and grounds. The narrator details two stones. The one now on Chimborazo apparently bore traces of carving, “the shape of a child’s and an adult’s foot, a horseshoe and others less distinguishable.”

    The rock was inscribed with the date “1740” in several places and the letter “M.” Some of the imprints came from past Mayos, others perhaps from stone quarriers, whose identifying marks could seem alien to the untutored.

    Nearby, another rock with a smooth concave depression was said to be where Capt. Smith would’ve been killed except for Pocahontas’ pleadings. The Harper’s writer instead supposes that they were ritual objects, such as described by John Smith, as “pawcorances” which were placed by worship sites and near settlements or in the woods, “marking where [the Indians] had an extraordinary accident or encounter,” Smith wrote. According to Smith, natives used the stones as places to relate stories of antiquity and make offerings of tobacco and deer suet.

    City guidebooks late as 1893 perpetuated the myth of the rock and reputed connection with the romantic tale of Chief Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas. The rock, sheltered by a wooden pavilion before its move to Chimborazo Hill, was billed as Chief Powhatan’s tombstone.

    Artist and historian Edward V. Valentine and engineer E.C. Clarke placed that meeting further west of Powhatan Seat in present Fulton. That splendid site received dedication in May 1934 as Powhatan Hill Memorial Park.

    The Mayos and Valentine may have been wrong about the precise spot where Smith and Parahunt met, but the Mayos were closer, demonstrating how tradition shifts fact. Archaeological examination in 1992 of the grounds at Tree Hill on Route 5, a little more than a mile east of Fulton and on a bluff past where the Mayos lived, revealed 1607-era artifacts. Aarchaeologists concluded that this steep-sided location was “the main occupation area of the village of Powhatan.”

    More investigation is needed there and at nearby Marion Hill, near today’s Greenview Drive.

    Even gardeners on the south side of Williamsburg Road on Fulton Hill have churned up arrow heads."

  4. I am not sure how a quick post about a couple streets got that reponse but I love it.
    First, as the book doesn't have any dates it is already slightly suspect. I have found some maps that show the Darby and Enroughty family owned land west of were Darbytown intersects with Williamsburg but I can't find it right now so I can't give the dates so that makes me as suspect as the book as of now.

    Second, I have a read that the landing, Powatan's seat, and the Pamunkey slaughter were elsewhere, but where ever the Pamunkey were done wrong, is the battle called "Bloody Run", or is it called that because it was thought to have happened in that area below Libby terrace?

    I need to step away so I will make my comment a multi parter as well.

  5. In May 1859 the new issue of Harper's account, introduced the house and grounds. Details of the narrator's two stones. Chimborazo is clearly bore traces of sculpture, "the shape of a child and an adult's foot, horseshoe and other less distinguished.

    home for sale in richmond va