Fargot Password? / Help

The patent referred to Fort Mattapony, the first structure on Locust Grove. This was perhaps a fortification of some sort constructed by early settlers to which they could flee at a time of unrest with the local Indians. Documentary research does not indicate that an officially sanctioned fort was ever built on the tract during the first half of the 17th century. The treaty of 1646 stated that the land on the north side of the York River (including its tributaries such as the Mattaponi) was reserved for the Indians, and yet by 1653 settlement had spread both north and westward into that territory. Consequently, the Fort Mattapony tract lay within the frontier interface between the Indians and the English, a likely location for a fortified house.

In April 1679 the colonial government passed an act to establish a fort at the head of each of the colony’s four major rivers, the Potomac, the Rappahannock, the York, and the James. These forts were to be built above the Indian towns for defense. Each fort was to consist of a 22 foot by 60 foot sturdily constructed frame storehouse, built for the use of the men to be garrisoned there and a 10 foot square building to house their ammunition. The fort on the York River was to be located on the Mattaponi River, its northernmost branch, and was called Fort Mattapony. Initially the fort was to house 40 men. A year later the number was reduced to 20, 10 regular soldiers and 10 local militia.

In 1994, the State Historic Resources Department conducted a survey of the fort site on the hill where the Walker graveyard is located. Archaeological remains, dating to the fourth quarter of the 17th Century and conforming to the architectural specifications of the Fort Mattapony storehouse (fort), were identified. The fort was located to the front left of the current Walker graveyard.

The storehouse site consists of a 22’ x 59 ½’ configuration of cellars and postholes, the remains of a structure with measurements closely corresponding to those of the colonial forts at the headwaters. Just west of the cemetery and north of the storehouse the remains of the magazine building used to hold ammunition for the fort were found. The artifactual material recovered from the site suggests that the fort’s structures stood until the close of the 17th century. Artifacts included case bottle and wine bottle fragments, the rim of a Sorrey coarse earthenware jar, and English or Dutch clay pipe-stems. A bridle bit fragment found within the cellar may have been part of the horse furniture supplied to the troops garrisoned at Fort Mattapony. Hand-wrought nails, shell, and bone also were recovered. A brass cannon fragment, dated to ca. 1650-1750, was plowed up from the surface of the site during the 1930s.

As the frontier became more stable, families built homes. The first Walker residence, Ryefield, was built near the fort as noted in the survey site map. The 25’ x 54’ brick foundation of a domestic structure was found 60’ from the “footprint” of the storehouse and dating to the 4th Quarter of the 17th Century. The foundation wall was thick enough to support a frame structure.

Numerous domestic artifacts, including a bottle seal embossed with the name of S. Walker, dating to the first quarter of the 18th century were found.

Sources Patent Book 5; p. 504 (616) Patent Book 7; p. 559 Library of Virginia Guides, “Headrights”, “Glossary of Colonial Terms”, Milan in Virginia web site, Cavaliers and Pioneers, Vol. 1 Kaplan,Barbara Begun, Ph.d, Land and Heritage in the Virginia Tidewater: A History of King & Queen County, 1993