Broaddus Flats
Assassquin Plantation

Dover Steam Mill

18th Century Cellar

19th Century Kitchen Cellar

Summer Hill
Mehixton Plantation

site design by riverrun enterprises / design & contents copyright 2005, 2004, 2003



Tips for Teachers

by Tom Hobbs

As a twenty-eight-year teacher of Virginia and U.S. History, I have always tried to find ways to make the teaching of history more interesting to the high school student and at the same time integrate state and county objectives for this subject with archeology.

In the 1990s when the State designed the current SOL strands / themes, I designed a field trip within Hanover County to accommodate the two SOLs in question, VUS.2 and VUS.3, but more specifically life in colonial Virginia (and America). Teachers were asked to concentrate on a few subjects:

  • Anglo-Indian contact and relations in the 17th century
  • the finding of a "cash crop" or some other activity that enabled European settlers to survive and prosper so far from their native land
  • the mercantile system they set up to allow them to do this
  • the role of the colonial church in the colony
  • the slow movement toward self-government (or more correctly, local government to administer to local problems)
  • early colonial voices and rebellions against Spanish or English governmental or military policies
  • the role of English indentured servants and African slaves in the colonies

Armed with these objectives, our field trip took us to three locations and lasted the entire school day.

First, we visited Slash Church (b. 1729), the oldest wooden clapboard church in Virginia, where an elder taught us about the role of the Anglican Church in colonial times. He also tried to impress on the history students how the church was paid for, i.e., with so-many thousands of pounds of tobacco.

Second, we visited the Hanover Court House area, with its complex of colonial-era and early-American buildings. We took tours of the Court House of 1735, where the "Voice of the Revolution" Patrick Henry practiced law, then the old stone jail (1790?), and finally Hanover Tavern. Here, the students got lessons on the restoration of a colonial building —how to "repoint" colonial mortar and to replace brick, making and replacing plaster on the walls, etc.

Third, we dug on the Broaddus Flats site (44Hn254), which is a multi-component dig site, with distinct evidence of human occupation from the Early Archaic Period (ca. 9,000 years ago) into the Late Woodland and Contact periods (ca. 15th – 17th centuries A.D.) including one short episode of Anglo-Colonial occupation from ca. 1690 – 1750. The site’s prime location on the "upper freshes of the Pamunkey River" and on a ten-year flood plain have made it an excellent site for humans to carry out life’s necessary activities, i.e., hunting, farming, commerce, and raising and defending a family. Lessons out here were geared to cover all aspects of colonial home life, including indentured servitude and slavery.

What a day!

I gave the students quite a few choices for their project they had to do as a follow-up to our field trip. Some of these included

  • a "day-in-the-life" journal entry by a sixteen-year-old child living at Assasquin Plantation (Broaddus Flats site) about 1720
  • an architectural drawing of the plantation and its environs (use of the CAD system at school was encouraged)
  • a newspaper article to a colonial paper such as the Hanover Gazette, after sitting in on one of Patrick Henry’s speeches (I provided the text for The Parson’s Cause, one of Henry’s most famous cases)

Students could, and sometimes did, invent their own project, such as one I recall on colonial dress for men, women, boys and girls. This student researched formal and informal outfits worn in 18th century America, drew by hand and colored them, including dogs or cats that the kids would have had as pets. Each drawing was labeled with the colonial name of the garments and in which activity they would have been worn.

Date posted: 3.26.03