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Native People in Louisa County

Dublin Core

Title

Native People in Louisa County

Subject

North American Indians

Description

Native People in Louisa County

Although Native People were present in Central Virginia for more than 12,000 years, Louisa County was sparsely inhabited when the first English men were establishing themselves at Jamestown. There may have been no permanent inhabitants. Certainly John Lederer reported no sign of Indians when he ascended the North Anna in 1644.

At the time of contact Indians of the Piedmont had farming villages on the James and Rappahannock Rivers. Sometimes the villages were protected by stockades. Houses in these villages were multifamily dwellings – longhouses – in which each nuclear family had an apartment along the sides. The ends of the house may have been for communal activities such as cooking in the back and the reception of visitors in the front.
Between spring planting and fall harvest the villages were abandoned except perhaps for a few individuals who remained to chase the crows and deer that might damage the crops. The rest of the people scattered to take advantage of dispersed resources. In the spring numbers of them gathered at the rapids for the fish runs that lasted from March until early June.

During the summer and winter months, villagers split up into family groups and went farther afield, perhaps several families together. Some came to Louisa County, the land between the rivers, which was sparsely populated at any time of year.

On such seasonal forays the people may have lived in small dome-shaped dwellings built from a circle of poles stuck into the ground and tied together at the top. The walls were wicker, composed of sticks woven in and out between the uprights and covered with grass, pine branches, or mud. After a few days or weeks the people would move on, not returning to the site for several years or several decades.

Over the last three centuries, farmers have found a variety of tools they left behind as evidence of their passage. One of the largest collections was found by just north of Massie Place near the confluence of White;s and Gold Mine Creeks. Point such as those pictures here were left on the high ground around the heads of springs where the roots, leaves, and seeds of cattails, arrow leaf, and water lilies provided food throughout the year. Larger tools, including a large boulder mortar and pestle


Creator

Dr. Thomas P. Myers

Source

Old Home Places of Louisa County Revisited

Publisher

Louisa County Historical Society

Date

pre-1700

Contributor

Louisa County Historical Society