Another day at the plantation and Hint #7

04/06/12 2:44 PM

Another great day at the plantation! We headed up on Saturday, this time with my sister Catherine, who is here from Alabama. Hurley, our plantation dog, decided to stay home with our son for a day of swimming. Catherine’s husband, Andrew is a video producer. He is working on an introduction video of the plantation for us. Catherine was helping us on Saturday with the reshoots.

Catherine working on the reshoot

When we arrived, the sun was out and it was a beautiful day. Not too hot and perfect for filming. While she looked around and figured what she wanted to shoot and the time we needed to do it, I hung back around the front portico of the house, exploring the ground around the base of the house. Since we have been working on this project, I have made it a point to keep my eyes open for artifacts that might be just lying around. We have a caretaker that lives there now and he has told us that artifacts show up all the time. He has found items such as bottles and Indian arrowheads and tools. In the short time I have been there, I have found a broken perfume bottle from Germany that dated to 1860, two blue and white plate shards and lots of coal. This Saturday was no exception.


The house was restored from 1997 to 2003. During the restoration, they pulled out several old nails and just discarded them. I found a pile of them around the horse hitching post in the front and along the base of the house.

Green and White Plate Shards

White Dish Shards

Blue and White Plate Shards

I also found two more plate shards, this time green and white. As I was walking between the outbuildings and the old barn site, I found three more white dish shards. And of course more coal. What is so amazing is that it is just sitting on the surface of the ground. No digging involved. I have to admit I love finding the plate shards. It’s like having a connection to those that came before. Maybe one day we can find a whole piece! Wouldn’t that be grand!

Once we got the video we needed for that time of day, we headed out to allow the sun to set. The sun sets on the Riverside of the house and baths the house in a golden warm glow. We wanted to capture that on the video. So we spent our time visiting some of the local attractions. One of our stops was back at Ingleside Winery. There we did a wonderful tasting! We even got lucky. They had opened one of the Virginia Gold bottles and allowed us to taste it as well. This one is not on the tasting list. It was one of the best wines from Ingleside that we have had and it has the awards to prove it. After the tastings, we received a free private tour of the winery with one of the funniest tour guides we have ever met. It has long been a dream of Catherine’s to have a vineyard and winery so this was up her alley. Who knows maybe one day she and Andrew can move up and run a vineyard on our plantation!

Once we completed the tour, we head out to one of the best cakery and candy stores we have ever been to. It’s called Mary’s Cakery & Candy Kitchen. When you walk into this store, you immediately go into a diabetic coma. The chocolate smell is so thick in the air that I think I gain at least five pounds on the smell alone!

Mary has been making cakes and candy for years. She learned her craft from a 75 year old man who worked in Hersey, Pennsylvania. I have to tell you, her creations would have Willie Wonka asking questions.

Chocolate “Rocks”

She also creates some of the most decadent cakes you have ever tasted.

One of Mary’s biggest weapons is her husband, Jim or as everyone knows him, “Mr. Mary”.  Jim works the store while Mary and her staff create the masterpieces you will find there. Jim makes sure that each and every customer is greeted and has at least two or three samples before they go. In our case, Brett ended up with about ten candy samples and two cupcakes before we left the first time!

Mary’s Chocolate Truffles

By the time we finished at the candy store, we rolled ourselves back out to the car to head back to the plantation, just in time for sunset. We allowed Catherine to do her video work while Brett and I walked the plantation again. Most of the time we spent sitting on the rivers bluff looking out at the river and watched our resident osprey.




We have a mating couple of osprey that we are told return each year from April to September. The only issue is that they have chosen to nest on one of the main chimneys. In doing some research, we have discovered that once they have left the nest for the season, we can put up a new nesting site on a pole stand close to the house, using their last nest to encourage them to move. We will then have to place something on the chimneys to keep them from nesting there next year. From what we understand, these two ospreys had to defend this nest at the beginning of the season from two eagles. I hear it was a great sky battle that would have been a sight to see. But the osprey won the day and was able to nest again for another season. We have named them as well. We affectionately call them “James” and “Dolley”. We hope to have them return for many years to come. We also hope to see the bald eagles in the area from time to time. It is such a grand sight to see!

New Hint!

Hint One:

Captain John Smith sailed up the river that runs by this plantation in 1608 and noted the Indian settlements along the river banks.

Hint Two:

George Washington was a frequent visitor to this plantation.

Hint Three:

It’s not Williamsburg or the area around Williamsburg.

Hint Four:

Two famous Virginians were born on this plantation. Both were very good with words.

Hint Five: 

The town located across the river from this plantation once was under consideration for Nation’s Capital.

Hint Six:

An assassin passed through this plantation on the way to his death.

Hint Seven:

Name the birds.

Advice – Read other’s comments. If someone guesses correctly, I do tell them. We have had one person name the plantation. If you name it, there is a special treat for you!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 94 Comments »

94 Comments on “Another day at the plantation and Hint #7”

  1. GlobeTramp Says:

    Everything looks absolutely delicious! X

  2. I have to admit, it was!

  3. Lloyd Parlee Says:

    Not sure if those are outbuildings in front of you when you’re setting up the camera or the main house but I would love to poke my head in a few of those to see whats inside. The stonework looks great.

  4. It is an outbuilding. We plan on doing a post just on them as soon as we reveal the house!

  5. Dianna Says:

    I’m sure you enjoyed having your sister visit. Can’t wait to see the video!

  6. Thank you! We are enjoying seeing her!

  7. I know! Belle Grove Plantation in King George County. Any old house lover could tell you. I don’t see a way to send a message privately, so I assume this won’t be posted.

  8. Congrads on guess the plantation!

  9. rennadarling Says:

    Nails and ceramics are used by historical archaeologists as “diagnostic” artifacts and can actually tell you quite a lot about the history of the property. If you want to know more your best bet is to contact an archaeologist but there is a lot of information out there about artifacts just like these. The Society for Historical Archaeology has their journals available for free online at I might suggest this article for more information about nails There’s also an article about nineteenth century ceramics (which most of the fragments here seem to be) by George Miller in volume 14 (1980) of the same journal but I can’t seem to find a link for that at the moment I’m afraid. I’m always interested to learn more about what the archaeological record reveals about historic sites and it seems like your property certainly has stories to tell!

  10. Thank you for your information! We are always looking for more on how to determine what time period things come from. We have met with the archaeologist at Montpelier and they have been a great help. If you find any inforamtion on these pieces, please let us know!

  11. Jen Says:

    Oh, the osprey are beautiful. I wish you luck in getting them to use the new roost next year instead of the chimney, too!

    The plate shards and nails are very interesting. I wonder what else you’ll find?

  12. I hope they will too. I think that there are tons of undiscovered treasures just waiting for us to find! The property goes back to its first purchase in 1670 and had Indian settlements along the banks for years before.

  13. Jen Says:

    Oh, how exciting! You’ll have to set up a little museum somewhere on the property! 😉

  14. We are planning on using one of the three outbuildings we have as the museum. What better place to store history than a 1790 Summer Kitchen!

  15. Giovanni Says:

    I just love your photos of the Osprey! They are magnificent birds indeed. And I love the way they hunt.

  16. They are beautiful. We have not seen them hunt yet but hope to soon!

  17. bethbeverly Says:

    Love the Osprey story! Please update about that fabulous couple often?

  18. Thank you! We have fallen in love with them too! I do have to say she is really vocal when we are around the house. We hope we can move their nest next year and maybe add a cam to watch them!

  19. hoogator Says:

    A cakery and a winery? You never know what’s going to turn up down those VA byways. Glad to see roadside America alive and well.

  20. Wine and cake, you can’t beat it! And all within a short drive of our plantation!

  21. I love the whole anthropological stuff you’re finding. That’s a real treat!

  22. Its a thrill for me. When I find the first plate shards, it was like the plantation was offering me a gift for all the hard work I put into the research of the history. It was a great feeling!

  23. Thanks for stopping by my blog. You have a beautiful blog. I’m enjoying reading through back posts. When I visited Tangier Island some years ago, like you I found many shards of pottery and dishware just sitting out in the open along the shoreline. It was like finding treasure. I felt so rich! I’m going to take a stab at your place being Studley Plantation.

  24. Thank you! No it’s not Studley Plantation. You are getting close to the right area, but off by about an hour or so. That is how I felt finding mine!

  25. This is fun, and I’m not yet ready to give up just yet. Based on the Osprey’s name, I’ll make one more guess. Is it Scotchtown Plantation? I’m thinking a Patrick Henry/Dolley Madison connection?

  26. Good try but not right. Keep at it. I have had two others that have correctly named it. If you do, we will email you to let you know!

  27. garybuie01 Says:

    How lucky you are to have your own ospreys! They’re quite rare now in this country. And great nails! We found some similar hand-made nails when we were doing some alterations on our place a few years ago. I put them in a wee frame.

  28. Yes we feel very lucky to have them! We are going to take all the artifact we find and put together a small museum using one of the outbuildings. We want to preserve them and share the history that has been lost for so much years!

  29. Ed Says:

    Very cool spot and an archeological treasure. Not too sure on the spot or the name of the plantation but is it Jamestown?

  30. Thank you! Nope it’s not Jamestown! We hope to be able to reveal it this week so everyone will know soon!

  31. torimcrae Says:

    I’m so excited for you and your huge project. I love history and old houses. What a wonderful adventure. You scored a real treasure when you were able to make arrrangements for the wedding cakes for the Plantation. I think I know who’s plantation you;re readying for a B&B but I’ll e-mail my guess to you.
    Tori McRae

  32. torimcrae Says:

    I think your plantation is Montpelier, the home of James and Dolley Madison. If it is I know it’s beautiful. I just looked it up in the encyclopedia. I couldn’t find an e-mail address so I’m reluctantly posting my guess here,.I suppose you can choose to not approve it & get rid of the post?

  33. We would love to have Montpelier, but that is now a National Historic Landmark. So sorry, that isn’t the plantation we are opening. But a very good guess! And very close!

  34. torimcrae Says:

    Sorry for a 3rd comment — sort of. I had a thought regarding discovering the date of your pottery shards. We watch a show on PBS called The History Detectives. The take items owned by individuals which are of potentionally historic significance and do research on it to discover the facts surrounding the item. Of course the searches and results are videotaped and become part of the show. I can see them searching to see what era your artifacts came from, who owned them and such. And it would be wonderful free advertising for your B&B.
    Tori McRae

  35. We love the History Detectives! We have already thought about having them come and do a search for us. We have a small mystery that we have not been able to uncover. We will profile this mystery after the reveal, which we hope will be this week! Thank you for all your comments and excitment! We love comments like this!

  36. Jo Ann Abell Says:

    I’ve seen where people have incorporated broken pieces of china or pottery into new pottery pieces or cement planters. I have some pieces of tea cups that my husband accidentally broke, and “some day” I’m going to do something like that.

  37. Wow I bet that will be really beautiful!

  38. redcat72 Says:

    This blog is wonderful! Thanks for liking mine so that I could find yours. I’ll follow because it’s a great story and we may be back in VA next year and can visit you.
    Sherry from the Pacific Northwest

  39. Thank you! We look forward to seeing more of your blog and may be seeing you here in Virginia!

  40. Sara T Says:

    Okay. I am going to make a guess. Is it Belle Grove in Port Conway, VA? James Madison was born there (James and Dolley after the Madisons, right?). And according to Wikipedia J. Wilkes booth crossed a river in Port Conway, so maybe he passed through the Plantation as well?

  41. Congrads on guess the plantation! Wikipedia is good!

  42. uribg Says:

    Hi there,
    Thanks for “liking” my post “Color, Part Two” on
    Wow, you are off on a great adventure with your historic plantation ! I am looking forward to hearing more. The pottery shards make me think of a book I read called “In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life” by James Deetz. It’s an excellent introduction to material culture and archaeology — where did those shards come from and what does that mean?
    Best of luck to you,

  43. Thank you! I found the first two blue and white shards around the driveway on the side closest to the fields. I have done a lot of research and I have a map of the plantation dating back to the Civil War. I am thinking that this area may have been the location of the slave quarters. The spot I found them was where a tree had fallen during a huricane last year. They had taken up the stump and I think it was pulled up from what could have been a trash pit. I haven’t done any digging so I don’t know for sure. The others I found around the front portico. Maybe a dish or two was dropped on the portico and broken. Thank you for the book, I will see if I can find it! We look forward to seeing more of your blog!

  44. jmmcdowell Says:

    First, a thank you for stopping by my blog. Second, what a great way to introduce your B & B plans to the world!

    I would need to see the sherds in person to tell whether they’yre pearlware or whiteware. But your “green and white” sherd has shell-edged decoration. If it’s pearlware, it would be from about 1800-1830. If it’s whiteware (which is my gut feeling based on the straightness of the lines in the rim), it would date from about 1830-1860.

    From the photo, the blue and white sherds look like they are “flow blue” transfer-printed designs. This design is usually found on whiteware or ironstone, and dates from about 1827-1875.

    Have you considered contacting a nearby university with a graduate program in historic archaeology? Some of the faculty might be interested in doing a research project, or they might have graduate students looking for a Master’s or PhD project. I’m biased, of course, being an archaeologist, but the archaeology could be a added attraction to your B & B. It could add a physical complement to the history of your property. That could be an added draw for some visitors.

  45. Thank you for your information! I have been in contact with Montpelier and their archaeologist from James Madison University. We had hoped that maybe one day we could work together with them to research more of the area. I don’t want to do any real digging because I have no experience in noting everything or how to do it right. And I want some treasure hunters who dig things up and don’t really look to see where it is and why it is there. Maybe once we get this really going, we can look more into it. In the meantime, our goal is to protect what is there. With the research I have into the owners history, once we date the pieces, I can tell you who they belonged to!

  46. jmmcdowell Says:

    That’s a great attitude to take toward your property. Context and association are critical factors in understanding an archaeological site. Artifacts on their own can’t tell us much. But if we know they came from an outbuilding or kitchen cellar, for example, we get a much more complete picture of the past and the people who lived then.

    Keep track of where you find those surface artifacts. Those that aren’t found by standing structures could mark buried foundations or cellars. 🙂

    Thanks for the follow!

  47. qiuuing Says:

    Interesting finds! Must be wonderful living in a house full of history!

  48. Well we aren’t living there yet, but we hope to be in there within the next two months. We hope to reveal the plantation this week and then it will take about two months to prepare it and fill it. It’s going to be an exciting journey! We are just excited to share it with everyone!

  49. Wow, I envy you! Its so exciting to find something that makes you wonder of what came before you.

  50. I have to say when I picked up that first blue and white shard, I was so thrilled I couldn’t stand it! I know its just a plate, but after researching this plantation for nine to ten months, it was like a small reward for the effort and time I put into it!

  51. Anne Bonney Says:

    What an interesting adventure you are having. I look forward to reading more.

  52. Thank you! It has be interesting and a lot of work and fun. We hope to reveal it this week if everything works out. Please check back for the big reveal!

  53. Mae Says:

    I think I know which one it is. Should I post it or is there somewhere I could e-mail you?

  54. If you want to make a guess, you can email us at I will let you know if you are right!

  55. thirtyfourflavours Says:

    merci for always liking my posts! 😉 p.s. do you really own thsi plantation? can folks stay with you?

  56. You’re welcome! Thank you for stopping by ours! We are not going to own it, we are going to lease it. Once we finish with the last contract (hopefully this week) we need to get things down like filling it and doing some landscaping. Then we hope to open in September this year is our goal! Hope to see you!

  57. Thank you for visiting my blog! I have no idea idea what the answer is.
    xo, Lissy Parker

  58. You’re welcome! Thank you for stopping by ours! We should be able to reveal our plantation this week. So check back for the answer!

  59. thirtyfourflavours Says:

    hmmmm so is it really a ‘plantation’? just curious.

  60. Yes, it’s really a plantation. There are about 5 to 7 total within the area of this one.

  61. Lloyd Parlee Says:

    Is it at 3403 Stonewall Rd, Hayes, VA?

  62. Nope. It’s north about 2 hours from there.

  63. Al breig Says:

    how do you know 3403 stonewall rd Hayes va ( greenway). My wife ans I recently purchased it and would like to know any of it’s history

    Thanks Al Breig

  64. I am not sure about the address or the location. Sorry.

  65. Lloyd Parlee Says:

    Hi, I was trying to guess the location of Belle Grove and searched on Zillow for homes for sale in VA built in the 1700’s. It was a random guess. Looks like a nice spot though.

  66. Hayes is very close to Gloucester, Virginia near the Inn at Warner Hall. It is a very historic area.

  67. Vikki G Says:

    Hi there! Thank you so much for stopping by The RV Project blog, we really appreciate your support. I have had an awesome time catching up with your blog posts, your B&B is going to be beautiful!! My guess for the plantation is Shadwell. Am I close?!? 🙂

  68. Thank you for stopping by ours! Nope, not Shadwell. That is where Thomas Jefferson was born. But it’s in the wrong area and is the wrong famous Virginian. Go North about 2 hours and then just east a bit. Hope to see you there some day!

  69. […] can guess the location. So far two people have figured it out. And I am one of them. Favorite Post: Another Day at the Plantation and Hint #7. After reading this post, I cracked the code. I got an e mail from Michelle and Brett confirming […]

  70. Really three people have now gotten the answer! And soon we will have everyone in the know!!

  71. Sara T Says:

    Nice! I updated my post to three correct guessers! 🙂

  72. 1. The green china with the what looks like tiny strokes on the edge is called “feather edged pearlware” and was very popular in the 19th century.
    2. My guess is Cleydael Farm.

  73. Have a rain cap and spark arrestors put on your chimney. That will do at least three things: (1) keep the ospreys from nesting on your chimney, (2) prolong the life of your chimney by keeping rainwater out, and (3) prevent the neighborhood from burning down due to sparks flying out of your chimney.

  74. Thank you! We are going to put caps on them. I do have to say, the closes neighbor is about 2 or 3 miles away.

  75. Not a Virginian, I have no idea, but the adventure of finding bits and pieces of the lives on the land before you has to be fascinating! I can’t wait to read more.

  76. Thank you! We aren’t from Virginia either. I’m from SC and he is from Oho. But we have fallen in love with this state and all it has to offer! We can’t wait to share more of our finds!

  77. It is a gorgeous state. We are both from New York but have lived in Memphis for 25 years. Our daughter lives just outside D.C. so on a future trip I am determined to visit your plantation in person. I am sure it will be incredible!

  78. Cool! We’ll keep the light on!

  79. jojoakesson Says:

    Skynda like you have are on quite the adventure with your plantation. Best of luck!

  80. Thank you! We appreciate that! Please stop back by soon!

  81. amysworlds Says:

    This is so cute! Hi! Just popping by to say thanks for the like on my blog post. Looking forward to seeing what’s going on!

  82. Thank you for stopping by! We love reading other blogs and found yours very interesting! We hope you will stop by ours again!

  83. makeshoppe Says:

    Hello from the Make Shoppe! Thank you for stopping by and leaving your “like.” Great blog you have…keep in touch!


  84. Thank you! We look forward to seeing more of yours as well!

  85. Hi! Thanks for visiting Sheepy Hollow! While I don’t travel much (with the milking goaties, etc), if I’m ever passing thru Virginia, I’ll be sure to stop and say hello! What a wonderful adventure you’ve embarked upon! I love the history and support your efforts to preserve it!!! God bless and the very best wishes to you!

  86. Thank you! You know our neighboring plantation has goats! They are so cute when we visit! We look forward to seeing more about yours!

  87. Thanks for visiting Savoring Goat Cheese:) Loved looking around your site! I have a killer recipe for cheese blintz souffle that a dear friend/innkeeper uses for his morning guests, and if you like, I can email it to you. Just let me know on my blog if you’d like to have it for your kitchen! And good luck with your venture!!

  88. Thank you! We would love to have the recipe!

  89. Ok…probably not a correct guess, and mostly moot since you’re going to reveal tonight, but Mount Airy?

  90. Nope sorry. But you will know the answer tonight!

  91. Nope…change my mind! I’m going for Belle Grove.

  92. The one near port royal & port conway…not middletown

  93. Very good! You found both Belle Groves of Virginia! I will be doing a post on the one in Middletown later!

  94. Congrads on guessing the plantation! Since I was going to reveal it today, I waited to let you know! Very good!