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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Free Persons of Color: Rocketts Landing Virginia

I am excited to announce that there is an Exhibit in Richmond Virginia, featuring my ancestor, Charles Lewis. The exhibit is titled African Americans at Rocketts Landing. My ancestor, Charles Lewis resided in Richmond from about 1780-1808. He was a Free Person of Color, and a businessman at Rocketts Landing.

It is believed that Charles and his brother Ambrose were born in King George County Virginia. That was where they were in 1771, when the courts sentenced them to Indentures. They were labled, Mulatto, and sentenced to serve twenty one year indentures, under a Mr. Buckham. When the Revolutionary War started the brothers were working on the Page Galley, a tiny vessel which sailed the Rappahannock. They were eventually transferred to the Dragon Ship, a larger vessel which also patrolled the Rappahannock. In his Revolutionary War pension file, Ambrose describes sailing up the Rappahannock onto the mouth of the James River. When Ambrose and Charles completed their Sea duty, they mustered out at Chickahmony Bay. Charles and Ambrose then signed on as Regular Soldiers, and fought at, The Battle of Camden South Carolina.

Ambrose was bayonnetted clean through, and shot nine times in at Camden. He was then taken prisoner until the end of the War. It is not certain whether, Charles was taken prisoner, or injured. We do know that Ambrose injuries would have earned him a purple heart if he were in battle today. After the war, Ambrose settled in Fredericksburg and Charles in Richmond. Charles owned property in the City of Richmond, Henrico County, and a Warehouse at Rocketts Landing. His occupation was listed as Butcher on the census for Henrico County.

There is an exhibit now being held, at The Patrick Henry Building in the Capital Rotunda. It is a small Exhibit titled, African Americans, at Rocketts Landing. The Exhibit is centered around documents I collected on my ancestor, Charles Lewis. The curator, Melba Myers, did an excellent job of setting up the exhibit. It tells a story through documents, and pictures of Rocketts Landing. Also, in the exhibit is a picture taken with cousin, Ida Williams with a large portrait of our Great Grandmother (a descendant of Charles Lewis). It is a blend of the past and the present, and a site to behold. The documents in the Exhibit were collected by me, over a twenty year period. According to Deed and census records, Charles owned property at Ward II, and at least one Warehouse at Rocketts Landing.

Matt Gottlieb (a writer for the Virginia History Magazine), has written an article about Rocketts Landing, and Charles Lewis role there. He told me that Rocketts Landing was a Frontier Town, and many Free Persons of Color, and Natives(especially Cherokees), found refuge there in the 1700-1800's. The article is scheduled for the October issue of The Virginia History Magazine.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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