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Alexandria hosts replica of a ship that brought first settlers to Va.

The Portside in Old Town Festival is going on in Alexandria this weekend, and docked there for the weekend is a replica of one of the ships that sailed its way into American history.

WASHINGTON — The Portside in Old Town Festival is going on in Alexandria this weekend, and docked there for the weekend is a replica of one of the ships that sailed its way into American history.

The Godspeed left England on Dec. 20, 1606 along with two other vessels, the Susan Constant and the Discovery. The trio arrived in Virginia about five months later, on May 13, 1607.

It was a wavy transatlantic journey for this group of permanent settlers. On board the Godspeed replica are examples of games of that time, including one called Nine Men’s Morris.

As for food on board the ship at that time, there was “a lot of soup, a lot of stew, a lot of one-pot meals for these men. Not things that they’re not used to — it’s salt pork, pickled meat, dried peas, dried beans, hardtack,” said Carol Wiers, one of the crew members of the Godspeed replica.

The trip to Virginia was peppered by stops to refresh crew and passengers and to restock their provisions.

“They stopped at seven different islands along the way. On every island, they reported hunting, fishing, collecting eggs, they ate iguana, they ate tortoise,” said Wiers.

“On Dominica, they traded with the native people and got pineapples. So, imagine after a month of salt pork stew what that pineapple tasted like.”

The Godspeed is docked in Alexandria this weekend. Visitors can get on board for a living history lesson from crew members dressed like 17th century sailors. They’re offering free deck tours on Saturday, Oct. 13, from noon until 6 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 14 from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m.

The Godspeed, Susan Constant and Discovery arrived in Virginia in 1607. Twelve years later, 1619, was another key time in American’s evolution.

“Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in North America, and it also is the place where the first legislative assembly was held, and that’s our form of government today,” said Eric Speth, captain of the Godspeed. Speth is referring to the legislative assembly in 1619, which was a forerunner of the representative democracy in place in the United States today.

In that year, the first recorded Africans also arrived to Point Comfort, Virginia, in August of 1619, and in November of that year, single English women were recruited to join the men in Jamestown.

American Evolution™ will commemorate the 400th anniversary of these and other key events in Virginia history that took place in that year. The tribute gets started in November with an exhibit featuring the stories and contributions of the first English women who arrived in the colony, as well as the first documented African woman who arrived in Virginia in 1619. The story and leadership of Cockacoeske, from the native Pamunkey tribe, will also be featured. The exhibition Tenacity: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia will open at Jamestown Settlement on Nov. 10 and runs through Jan. 5, 2020.


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