The Bounty of the Chesapeake

Fishing in Colonial Virginia

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Author: James Wharton
Published: 1957
Language: English
Wordcount: 30,864 / 96 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 69.8
LoC Category: E
Downloads: 543
Added to site: 2008.09.17
mnybks.net#: 22084
Origin: gutenberg.org
Genres: History, Post-1930

Just as a series of personal letters may constitute an autobiography, so the extracts from Colonial writings that follow tell the unique story of the fisheries of Virginia's great Tidewater. In them it is possible to trace the measured growth of a vital industry. The interspersed comments of the compiler are to be understood as mere annotations. This is the testimony, then, of those who from the beginning participated in one of the foremost natural resources of this country.

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y afforded naturally. Yet of eighty who lived upon oysters in June or July, with a pint of corn a week for a man lying under trees, and one hundred twenty for the most part living upon sturgeon, which are dried till we pounded it to powder for meal, yet in ten weeks but seven died.

For once he paints a brighter picture:

The next night, being lodged at Kecoughtan, six or seven days the extreme wind, rain, frost, and snow caused us to keep Christmas among the savages, where we were never more merry, nor fed on more plenty of good oysters, fish, flesh, wild fowl, and good bread.

He describes further ups and downs:

Now we so quietly followed our business that in three months, we ... provided nets and weirs for fishing.

Sixty or eighty with Ensign Laxon were sent down the river to live upon oysters, and twenty with Lieutenant Percy to try fishing at Point Comfort. But in six weeks, they would not agree once to cast out their net.

We had more sturgeon than could be devoured

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