CHARLES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) -
Each week, 8News Meteorologist Tim Pandajis explores different day trip spots in our area; you can get to most of them on just a tank a gas! This week, Tim visited Berkeley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia.
As we all know, Virginia's history is all around us. But in no area is this more evident than at a plantation in Charles City as old as this country--and it has surely seen its fair share of historical events.
Located just off of Route 5 and nestled along the James River is a place that is not only rich in fantastic views and scenery, but is also crammed full of history.
"[Berkeley Plantation] is such a historic place; the setting is so beautiful and so peaceful. It's a great place to bring the family and to come out and enjoy. We have beautiful gardens, beautiful scenery. We have weddings here, we have corporate events and it?s a beautiful place to come and its different, you learn while having fun and exploring," said Tammy Radcliffe of the Berkeley Plantation.
?It was early December in 1619 when settlers from England landed near the present-day Berkeley Plantation along the James River. They came ashore, walked up to this relative location and had a prayer service; it is now considered the first official Thanksgiving in America.?
You may ask, "What about the Pilgrims and Plymouth, MassachusettWasn't?'t that the first Thanksgiving?" It was the first Thanksgiving feast, which is what we consider it today, but at Berkeley Plantation the English settlers celebrated the first Thanksgiving as a religious service, one year and 17 days before the Pilgrims arrived.
?"The first official Thanksgiving took place here in 1619," said Tammy. "Captain Woodleif and 35 men settled here after a three-month voyage. They landed on the shore. It was a religious ceremony; it's not what we celebrate today with a feast. This was a religious ceremony.?"
The Plantation was also the home of the Harrison?s. Benjamin Harrison V grew up to be one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and was Governor of Virginia. His younger brother, William Henry Harrison, was our nation's ninth president. Then, his grandson became the country?s 23rd president.
On top of the numerous other historical events that have taken place at Berkeley Plantation, it was also here in July of 1862 that General Daniel Butterfield composed a simple melody that is today the official call to rest of the United States Military, "TAPS."
General George McClellan?'s Union troops, numbering close to 100,000, camped here that summer. President Lincoln himself even visited the property to review the troops as they camped.
Berkeley Plantation gives a hands-on lesson in American history, from the very start of the nation through the current day, where it?'s still a functioning estate. Visitors like Morris and Beth Lahey from Ontario are drawn from all over the country and all over the world to see its beauty and learn about its past.
?"It was really impressive too, all the historical things that have happened here," the couple told us. "The first Thanksgiving, two presidents, a signer of the declaration of independence, "TAPS!" You wonder, if this place could talk, what it would tell you?"