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Finding my Family at Chippokes Creek, Virginia

Sit Aug 21
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To celebrate the anniversary of our country’s independence, and to enjoy a warm summer day in Virginia, my family planned an outing on the fourth of July.  We knew we would head east towards the fractured expanse of water that made Virginia a special destination for the start of our country, and our holiday.  After looking through the tourism websites, we landed on a special place called Chippokes Plantation State Park.

Eager for the journey. we headed out. Our casual trip for a little splash and sun, was contrasted by the deep level of history the area provides. Named for the Chippokes creek that runs through the area, The current state park was organized upon a working farm that has been in existence since 1619. It is not surprising, given that just across the river is the Jamestown Colony. Chippokes felt apripros for our patriotic outing, taking us back to our beginings, while providing a gorgeous location to enjoy the sun.

As part of our outing, we ran into a family who spoke spanish. They too were enjoying the natural beauty of the area. My daughter, who recently graduated from a spanish immersion center in Henrico County, talked with the family, took their family photo, and wished them well during this celebration.   I assume that they may have recently immgrated here too. How fitting it was for them to be here at the place where so many American familes immigrated almost 400 years ago.

Just this week I was reminded of this special day in the sun. I have recently been researching my family tree. As I dug through the electronic records of Virginia history, I came across something that made the hair raise on my arms.

William & Margaret Pilkington came to this country from England in 1620, landing at Jamestown. They worked in service to a man named George Sandys, and initially lived at his plantation, “Treasurer’s Plantation”. It was called Treasurer’s Plantation because  George Sandys was the serving treasurer for the Virginia Company of London.

I am still unaware of the location of  Treasurer’s Plantation, but records show it was close to Pace’s Paines, a plantation that was south of the river. Its owner, Richard Pace, is famous in Virginia history for rowing his boat across the James river to warn the people of Jamestown of an Indian uprising in 1622, noted on this historical marker.

To continue the story, William and Margaret Pilkington in 1635 acquired lands that ran along the Chippokes creek. Essentially the same area that we were enjoying the sandy banks of the river. They likely walked some of that same land.

This alone would make a moderately interesting story for our American Evolution, but there is more. In my research today while writing this story, in my effort to find the location of Treasurer’s Plantation, I found Paces Paines; and I found it familiar.  It turns out William Pilkington is my 10th great grandfather on my mother’s side, and Richard Pace is my 12th great grandfather on my father’s side. Maybe there was a small flicker of ancient memory that made Chippokes feel special to me. I remember saying to my daughter while we sat in our kayaks, “it would be fun to paddle all the way over there to Jamestown. I bet its a lot farther than it looks…” Who knew I was proverbially tracing my ancestor’s routine, and historic journey.

We didn’t know during our visit that we were walking, and paddling the lands of our ancestors. I would have returned for the fun, but now it is a pending adventure to better know my personal connection with those who laid the path for us all.


Editor’s note: Want to learn more about Capt. William Powell’s property — one of the oldest continually farmed plantations in the country? Visit Chippokes Plantation State Park today.


Father of 3 college kids living in Richmond, VA. Technologist, social adventurer, business man, thinker, #FlowRider, struggling musician

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  1. AE Curator August 23, 2018

    Thanks for sharing! What a fantastic experience!


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