This blog is a reprint of my internet journal from 2001 to 2002 in which I documented my "vagabond" solo journey in a Chevy Conversion Van tracing my roots. I not only traced their paths and found their homes and final resting places, but I did extensive genealogical research in court houses, libraries, historical societies, genealogical societies, cemeteries, and talked to the local people. I traveled with a laptop to upload my notes and photos, and use e-mail. It was a fantastic journey which lasted two years. I had no other home except my van to sleep in...just a bed and video player. My household goods were put into storage for two years. My mail was delivered to me at general delivery when I phoned "MailBox, etc." and told them where to send it. At night I stayed in campgrounds, motels, friends' backyards, friends' homes, and those of the few living relations I've tracked down. As I traveled I collected so much genealogy information, that I had to get rid of items that I had originally thought essential to my travels (like a microwave oven). Between ancestral sites, I visited any tourist sites I could find and got to know alot about the USA. This was a trip of a lifetime and I'm still sorting through all the wonderful memories, photos and invaluable genealogical data I found. I will post to this blog as I can - one or a few days at a time of that journey from 2001 to 2002

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ancestor Tracking - Charlottesville to Richmond, VA - 26 May 2001

From Donna's Vagabond Journal of 26 May 2001:
Raining all night at the Charlottesville KOA campground, but I was nice and dry. Got up at 8:30 am and noticed the four tent sites next to me were either vacant or the occupants were in the process of leaving. I wonder if they are going to a dry motel, or further into the Shenandoah Mountains?   The camp bathroom was humming with activity, so rather than be seen heating coffee water in the bathroom, I was prompted to use my own resources to get hot water. I tested my Power Supply Battery to heat up water in my hot pot, but it took 400 watts, so just tried my hot coil, and at 100 watts it worked perfectly. Since I slept later than expected, I didn't pull out of the camp until about 11am.

I drove north in the direction of Orange, VA. On the way I stopped to view the Barbour Mansion Ruins, home of James Barbour an early governor of Virginia that burned in 1884. It was designed by Thomas Jefferson, and now has a popular vineyard and winery. Further on Hwy 20  I finally came to Montpelier, home of the 5th President of the US, James Madison and his wife Dolly. It is out of the way, and not highly publicized, but definitely an enjoyable estate to walk around. With a "AcoustiGuide" tape player you can hear about all the places you walk through.

Barbour Mansion Ruins


James Madison & model of Montpelier

View from the house to Montpelier grounds

Ready for dinner with James Madison and friends at Montpelier
The big house is full of history:  from the early 1800's through it's expansion when James Madison inherited it, with the entertaining done by Dolly Madison, and after Madison's death, with the sale of the estate and later purchase by a black sheep of the wealthy DuPont family of Delaware. If you go there be prepared to spend several hours enjoying the historic plantation.  The graves of James and Dolly Madison are on the grounds of Montpelier.

Graves of James and Dolly Madison
The two lane highways of Virginia, while picturesque, are narrow enough to make me hold my breath when oncoming trucks pass by. I headed back southeast and in an hour arrived at Richmond, VA. I reluctantly came to this city, but with the 3-day Memorial Day weekend, I figured a lot of the people had left the city and gone to the mountains, so I would get a motel room, use the internet, and be able to visit some of the Civil War battle sites that I had missed before. I got a room at Best Western for two nights, got a sandwich at Arby's and settled in for some serious internet exchange.  Although I had ancestors in Virginia, I wasn't sure just where they had lived.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Donna! We met at the Ice Cream Social at Jamboree.. Your blog is really great. I don't know if I could live out of a van for 2 years, but what an adventure you had! I look forward to more posts.



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