Eliza - A Founding Mother by Gary D. Crawford
The early years of the Jamestown settlement were just plain awful. When Capt. Newport arrived with three ships in early 1607, he had the first 108 settlers aboard ~ all men. All but 38 of them were dead when he returned the following spring with 200 more settlers, including the first two women: Mrs. Forrest, the wife of a settler, and her young maid, Anne Burras. The first marriage in Jamestown was in 1608, when Anne married John Laydon. Conditions deteriorated. There was starvation and disease; they had few crops, little fish and game, and no hope. There were too many “gentlemen” and not enough workers; basic survival skills were lacking; they drank unclean water. The Virginia Company continued to send out more emigrants but few supplies.
When another 300 arrived in August of 1609, Capt. John Smith was furious. After being injured by
an accidental gunpowder explosion in his canoe, Smith sailed back to England in October, never to return. Those who were in Virginia at that time, an estimated 500, were woefully unprepared for the brutal winter of 1609-10. It came to be k now n as “ The Star v ing Time,” for only 60 pitiful souls were left alive the following spring. The few survivors decided to abandon the blighted settlement and, in June, set sail down the James River toward the Chesapeake Bay ~ and home. To their surprise, they met William De La Warre coming up the river, leading an expedition with supplies and fresh colonists. He persuaded everyone to return to Jamestown and try again. With additional provisions and new leadership, the colony managed to survive, but just barely. In 1612, John Rolfe arrived from Bermuda, bringing with him the key to their economic survival ~ some tobacco seedlings from the Caribbean. South American tobacco was vastly superior to the rough leaf used by Indians here in the Chesapeake. Soon they were exporting leaves as good as those the Spanish and Portuguese were bringing into Europe, at exorbitant prices,