In late June, 1608, Capt. John Smith and his crew aboard the Discovery Barge turned into the Potomac on their way south during their first exploratory voyage of that summer. What is the modern name of the still-lovely creek that they visited first? What was the Indian name for both it and its principal town (according to Smith’s spelling)?
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Thanks for playing CBF's Bay History Game this week. Paula Boracki's second answer is correct. Paula, if you'll e-mail me at email@example.com with your mailing address and size, we'll get your prize CBF T-shirt on the way to you.
Nomini Creek, in Westmoreland County on Virginia’s Northern Neck, was undoubtedly surrounded by deep forest when several local Indians beckoned to Smith to come ashore on June 30, 1608. Smith’s journal recounts the ensuing skirmish, after which the two sides made peace and the Natives escorted the Englishmen up to a feast in their main town, Onawmanient (accent on the fourth syllable) , at the head of the creek’s tidal section.
English colonists settled on the creek later in the seventeenth century and Anglicized Onawmanient to Nomini. The Creek’s most famous resident was Robert “Councillor” Carter (1751 – 1804), whose plantation Nomini Hall (built on the site of Onawmanient), family, and life are chronicled in the Journal and Letters of Philip Vickers Fithian, 1773-1774: A Plantation Tutor of the Old Dominion (available online).
Today, Nomini Creek’s lower reaches form a lovely, pastoral waterway still reflecting some of its eighteenth century appearance. The upper reaches, though now shallow because of siltation, are largely wooded. By any measure, Nomini Creek is one of the jewels of the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail.
Best regards, JPW