By studying nail patterns, the research team deduced two of the men were buried in human-shaped wooden coffings (courtesy of Jamestown Rediscovery/ Preservation Virginia)
The bodies were exhumed from the church where Pocahontas married Captain John Rolfe in 1614, an historic location once thought to have washed out to sea. The bodies were found in the church’s chancel, indicating they were people of great status in the community.
It took two years of painstaking archeological work, genealogical and archival research, and the latest scientific techniques to identify the unearthed bones.
The remains belong to important figures who lived in Jamestown between 1607 and 1610, when the colony almost collapsed. “This was a time of food shortages, Indian attacks, and disease,” says James Horn, president of Jamestown Rediscovery. “These men helped established the colony and bring to life the challenges faced by the first settlers…. So it’s highly significant in terms of understanding the success of Jamestown and its survival as an English colony in the New World.”
The four founders of Jamestown identified by this project include two men from the first expedition of 1607 and two men from the second expedition that saved Jamestown and English America in 1610. Using physical evidence at the site, analysis of the bones, and extensive historical research, scientists narrowed the search down to these four men.
This makes my nerdy historian’s heart happy, even without any link to my own family history. But if you think you are fortunate enough to be related to these founders or to other fortitudinous settlers of Jamestown, visit this link for genealogy records that may advance your research.
In the meantime, I’ll contemplate the horrors of the Starving Time by remembering this female victim at Jamestown who, through archeological research, has at least had her sacrifice is recorded.