Angel Oak Tree

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When looking at the Angel Oak Tree, it’s like a walk through a mystical time period.  Spots of hazy, heavenly, light shows its beams through the leaves onto the branches.  I expected nymphs and winged fairies to flitter under the huge canopy of the massive oak tree.  This centuries-old tree continues to grow near a dirt road that leads to the Angel Oak tree; which is surrounded amongst many Low Country trees. 

Angel Oak Tree

The Angel Oak tree is located on St. Johns Island, about twelve miles south from downtown Charleston, NC.  When I saw the Angel Oak Tree in 2019, it is free admission.  There just aren’t many free places to stop, and this is one that is definitely worthwhile.

This peculiar tree is said to be one of the oldest living oak trees east of the Mississippi River.  Arborists estimates the Angel Oak tree is 400 to 500 years old. Several reasons for the Angel Oak’s longevity is its natural hardiness, long taproot, and widespread root systems, that anchors the tree deep into the ground.  This is how it has survived natures elements of winds, storms, earthquakes, and hurricanes through-out the centuries.  It does show scars from natures elements; but the old oak tree still stands strong and brave.

Angel Oak Tree

The uniqueness of the tree is that it grows both up and out.  Its massive, twisted, and gnarled branches reach out like tentacles from a giant monster.  It’s said, by tour guides, the tree stands 66.5 ft (20 ml), the trunk measures 28 ft (8.5m) in circumference and produces shade that covers 17,200 feet (1,600 m2). 

Local folklore tells of another source for the name of the tree; ghosts of former slaves are said to appear as angels around the tree. 

 In her Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, Denise Roffe interviewed a woman descended from the slaves who toiled on the island’s plantations. She recounted the legends of the tree, including that it was once home to huge birds (likely vultures) who fed on the bodies of lynched slaves. The old woman continued saying that many people were buried under the tree including Native Americans who met under its shady branches. She stated that these spirits still gather around the oak and that they also work to protect the tree.

Recorded history traces the ownership of the live oak and surrounding land to year 1717.  When Abraham Waight received it as part of a small land grant, the tree stayed in Waight’s family for four generations, and was part of a marriage settlement to Justus Angel and Martha Waight Tucker Angel. The Angel Oak tree is now owned by the City of Charleston and has become the focal point of a public park.

Many weddings and engagements take place under the canopy of this beautiful historical tree.  

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PAMUNKEY INDIAN RESERVATION

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We arrived at the reservation just before the guide finished the previous group. When we off loaded from the bus, our tour guide divided us into two groups. One group was led into the museum and the other half to the one room school house.

A display inside the museum showed primitive pieces of hunting equipment, pottery, tomahawks, tools and a small section of bead works and clothing.

I read a pamphlet about this one-room frame school house which for decades the state partially supported. This school on the Pamunkey reservation offered elementary education to a small number of children until it closed in the 1950s; but many Virginia Indians who desired to attend high school were denied admittance to the racially segregated public schools. In Virginia, they either had to leave home to attend a government Indian school in another state or quit school before completing their education. This Pamunkey Indian school is now part of the tribal museum on the Pamunkey Reservation.

Inside, three black chalk boards hung on the wooden wall. On one side of the room sat a wood burning stove. In the cold and chilly months, the warmth from the stove was a blessing to the young children. I enjoyed the history and heritage about this reservation.
The Pamunkey tribe is one of only two that still retain reservation lands assigned by the 1646 and 1677 treaties with the English colonial government.  The Pamunkey reservation is located on some of its ancestral land on the Pamunkey River adjacent to present day King William County. Virginia.
Since we are on a bus tour, our time at the reservation was cut short.  I wanted to see the fish hatchery that Pamunkey Indians maintain.  One of the main staple of their diet is fish. The Pamunkey have maintained a philosophy that if you took fish from the water, you should put some back.  I did learn a little information about their hatchery.
In 1918 they started an indoor fish hatchery with an 800 gallon holding tank, gas powered motor, hatching jars and holding tanks.  As soon as the eggs hatched, they were gravity-fed back into the Pamunkey River.  Since then, the Pamunkey Tribal expanded the hatchery from 12 hatching jars to 24 and upgraded the facilities and filtration system.
Now with a larger hatchery and more equipment to spawn the shad fish they can tag the shad to help document life history characteristics.  Spawning shad (broad stock) will be manually spawned and fertilized eggs will be incubated in the hatchery.  Upon hatching, the young shad fry will be intensively cultured for about a 16 day period.  During their stay at the hatchery, the dry will be marked with Oxytetracyclin (OTC) on a set sequence of days that will give the shad produced from the PTG hatchery a unique tag.  All shad produced from this facility will be released back into the Pamunkey River.

Blue Bird Gap Farm

barnes, farms, history, Outdoors, Paintings, Virginia

This is a plein air painting I did at Blue Bird Gap Farm.

The first known owner of the property on which Blue Bird Gap Farm now stands was Captain William Tucker. Captain Tucker bought the property in 1622.  Since then it has changed hands several times through out the centuries.  In 1969, the City of Hampton, Virginia acquired the property and opened Blue Gap Farm.

The 60-acre farm has around 150 domestic and wild animals; such as the typical farm animals, also it is the home to birds of prey, whitetail deer, llamas, alpacas, tortoises, peacocks, rabbits, and waterfowl.

On the property is a petting zoo, for the young and the young at heart.

Although this setting is surrounded by the interstate and the urban communities, it is a peaceful, quiet, and tranquil place. The atmosphere and environment mesmerizes you to the deep country life of days gone by.

 

Blue Gap Farm.jpg

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