APPOKANT: Algonquian words strung together possibly meaning: Place of Mystery (Sacred) Tobacco Where We Dance....the language has many 'holes' in it from an un-necessary demise. possibly this was an area very productive of jimmson weed, accompanied with the un-inhibited enjoyment of the hallucinatory effects of this weed, and the celebration of the good and strenuous life and...most of all...sex...with friendly members of the opposite one...look, with women walking around most of the year wearing nothing but a leather apron, maybe not thonged up in back very often, this place could have made Hedonism II look like amateur-hour...
Captain Smith writes:
"At the end of forty miles this river environeth many low islands, at each high water drowned for a mile, where it uniteth itself at a place called APOKANT, the highest town inhabited"
WHAT WE SEE HERE BY CROSS-COMPARING THE ACCOUNT WITH THE MAPS IS AS FOLLOWS:
Note that the mapping shows that the FIRST PLACE on the Chickahominy River where all of Smith’s descriptions fit the terrain is just north of Roxbury, an old Chesapeake & Ohio Railway depot on the mainline from Richmond to Williamsburg.
since 1607, the river has silted and filled-in from the rain-runoff, due to un-wise farming practices being used in the fields adjoining the river during the intervening 4 Centuries. you must remember, Smith wrote that the river bottom here was hard. we moderns must mitigate our doubts about this location being Appokant due to the terrain contouring on the present-day USGS map. at the time of the Smith exploration, since the depth of the main-stream was greater, the barge would have been able to go about this far, even though an exact replica of it could not navigate to Roxbury in 2013 without a very shallow draft.
Smith is telling us that he can get 10 miles further up the river in 1607, but his military-mind is telling him that if the Indians were to attack his party on the water at the 50 milepost, they would all be looking Death in the face without any Hope. they would be unable to handle the barge properly for a swift retreat and would be captured by warriors and handed over the Indian women to be cut up into pieces with sharp oyster shells.
in the 1880’s, when the C&O Railway civil engineers were locating the rails through this area, they were able to make use of the “many low islands” along the river. this would minimize the chances of logs and other debris floating along the river during a flood from doing significant damage to the piers of the bridge crossing here.
we can also see that the river does have a number of branches all along this section, with 7 forks of contributing streams in a 5 miles length of the main-stream. Smith would have ‘assumed’ that the many side-branches were, perhaps, just as great in watershed area and drainage volume, as well as length-to-source, as the mainstream would turn out to be.
at several points along this area of the river, we can also observe that there is about a mile of distance from one side of the tidal flood-ebb zone over to the other side of it.
if this ‘village-outpost’ was indeed the last one possessed by the tribe before the cross-over into Pamunky tribal areas, the Chickahominy would NOT want to leave such an important and populous settlement ‘hanging in the air’, as would be said in military parlance. that would be inviting an attack from other tribes of the Confederation, if or when Wahunsenacock decided to try once again to subjugate the independent ‘Chicks.’ the postion of this last village or town would have to be militarily defensible. it would not be a place that ‘invited attack’. so, it would most likely:
1. be on high ground, enabling villagers to see well into the surrounding woods and up & down the river channels.
2. have a narrow isthmus approach from the land side, with a ‘choke-point’, enabling just a few warriors to delay a surprise attack, while women and children and older folks could escape to the river.
3. would be near to the river and the canoes collected there on the north shore, for fast escape.
4. would have plenty of cleared-off land near the village for the growing of food-stuff crops.
5. would have fresh-water springs in abundance for the easy supplying of a multitude of family cooking pots.
6. would, ideally, have flanking and active streams on both sides of the village, allowing for one stream to be continuously considered a ‘fresh water supply’, and the other one to be considered a ‘bathing side’, or a ‘grey water effluent run-off side’...in other words, they had figured out not only that the sewerage treatment plant is always downstream from the fresh water filtration plant...but it is even better to keep the streams-of-duty wide apart.
from the current-day map, we have located three possible village sites.
all of the sites fit somewhat into the Captain’s description of the river’s conditions at the distance of approximately 40 miles up from the Chickahominy’s mouth at the James. (this writer has no clue what-so-ever as to why the Captain would measure the length of any river by using the Fort at Jamestown as the ZERO MILEPOST. Smith really was not a confusing writer very often, and his editors may have been very often off-base and doubly confusing, but he would not have allowed this error to go to print and stay in-print for long)
the first one reached by the exploring party in 1607, to the south of Mountcastle, is a ‘shot-in-the-dark’ site. it might fit into a romantically alluring description given by some people that Powhatan’s last lodging place was ‘Orapacks’, and was ‘in the middle of a swamp’. you usually have more questions than answers scratched to the surface by 19th Century ‘historians’ and by ‘uncle henry said it was there’ legends being handed on by generations of Virginians who never really looked at the written records or the maps to decide for themselves what is true and what is lore.
so the Mountcastle site, and any sites thought to be to the southeast therefrom, do not fit the Smith record.
if anything, the river was MUCH MORE STRAIGHT IN 1607, and has become more curved and sinuous in the 400 years since, which in reality would stretch the riverine centerline distance of 40 miles that Smith wrote about further UPSTREAM, toward the west. get a string of spaghetti off your plate one night and test this out for yourself. fascinating…
the second defensible village site is at exactly 40 miles from the river’s entrance as Smith is counting the oar strokes of his ‘bargemen’….or is having one of his bargemen keeping count for him so he can think clearly and do more important things. this site is about 60 acres up front, and it also has two streams flanking it, one for fresh water and one for grey water. it also has about three spring-sites and a narrow land-side approach gap that is about 700 feet across. it is on very high ground, about 100 feet aloft of the river plain, and is accessible to a small off-shooting tributary of the river by descending a ravine or two. and there is a distance of about 4300 feet across the river's alluvial-plain here. Smith’s story is a very near-perfect match with this place.
however, this tributary joins the main river only after running roughly parallel to it for ½ a mile. this would make it possible for attacking Indians to cut-off the river escape route if the aggressors decided to attempt a two pronged strike.
it is highly probable that the Chicks were using SEVERAL SITES here in the area that they called “appokant” (place of the sacred tobacco plants, or jimsonweed). so the modern researcher would look in this site area to see if there could be found an abnormal amount of healthy jimsonweed and ground covers that indicate a long term human presence.
so far, we have a down-river site where it is possible the males might ‘hang-out’ to fish and cook the catch while getting away from the women for ‘man-cave activities’. we have a second site that fits all criteria perfectly, but is only the size of an ‘outpost’, if that is an issue that amounts to anything.
the third site is about 400 acres in area, and has over a dozen possible spring-sites, as well as flanking streams, and much high and clear ground for cultivation. it could supply 3 to 4 hundred people with food and community defense and safety. HOWEVER….(oh, crap, what now?)…it is also the place we moderns call ‘Orapax Farms’.
does THIS mean that Appokant and Orapacks were the SAME PLACE? wellllllll…. you be the judge on this issue. Orapacks was never as well described by anyone as Smith described Appokant, which description is about 33 words in length. and Orapacks is somewhat cloaked in legend. besides, why would Wahunsenacock be WANTED as a resident of a Chickahominy Indian village of such strategic importance, by people who essentially HATED the thought of a kingly ruler in the first place?? until the 1640’s the Chickahominys considered themselves to be the closest of allies with the English colonists. the chance that the Paramount Chief of 37 confederated tribes would live at a place WITHIN their territory, whether called Orapacks, or Appokant, is remote in the extreme.
Uncle Henry may not have thought much about that issue either…..
from Smith’s record, we see that Appokant was located someplace between Mountcastle and the mouth of Crump’s Creek. it cannot be southeast of Mountcastle, nor northwest of Crump’s Creek. IT HAD TO BE WEST OF (up-stream from) about 3 islands in the middle of the river, as shown on the Smith Map. a number of peninsulas, containing higher than normal terrain, with open and flat fields that could have supported 2 to 4 hundred persons comfortably, that are environed with plenty of freshwater springs and escape routes via the river, are in this zone of probability.
we rest our case….we have enough evidence for the Grand Jury but not enough to convict anyone.
GO AND DIG...but do not hold your breath waiting for any Federal Grant money.
THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST SHORT STORIES EVER WRITTEN BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
Subject: Burial At Sea
Powerful stuff. Please take time to read all of this. I wish each American could read this one. I feel too many of us fail to grasp what our young troops have done for us for so long, the freedoms they have protected for us. To only those who would and could appreciate it. This account is one of a kind...a powerful one that touches your heart. Read this slowly and to the end. Tough duty then as it is now.
Burial at Sea
by LtCol George Goodson, USMC (Ret)
In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time,
as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial.
War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it.
Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded
there, Vietnam was my war.
Now 37 years have passed and, thankfully, I rarely think of those days
in Cambodia, Laos, and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams
of Americans and Montangards fought much larger elements of the North
Vietnamese Army. Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:
*The smell of Nuc Mam.
*The heat, dust, and humidity.
*The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets.
*Elephants moving silently through the tall grass.
*Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers.
*Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar.
*A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby.
*The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao.
*My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina,
Virginia, and Maryland.
It was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam.
Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to
Norfolk, rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth
new school, and bought a second car.
A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek,
Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is
important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine.
I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At
5'9", I now weighed 128 pounds - 37 pounds below my normal weight. My
uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication,
and I think I had a twitch or two.
I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the
nameplate on a Staff Sergeant's desk and said, "Sergeant Jolly, I'm
Lieutenant Colonel Goodson. Here are my orders and my Qualification
Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out
his hand; we shook and he asked, "How long were you there, Colonel?" I
replied "18 months this time." Jolly breathed, "you must be a slow
learner Colonel." I smiled.
Jolly said, "Colonel, I'll show you to your office and bring in the
Sergeant Major. I said, "No, let's just go straight to his office."
Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, "Colonel, the Sergeant
Major. He's been in this job two years. He's packed pretty tight. I'm
worried about him." I nodded.
Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major's office. "Sergeant Major,
this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Office. The Sergeant Major
stood, extended his hand and said, "Good to see you again, Colonel." I
responded, "Hello Walt, how are you?" Jolly looked at me, raised an
eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door.
I sat down with the Sergeant Major. We had the obligatory cup of coffee
and talked about mutual acquaintances. Walt's stress was palpable.
Finally, I said, "Walt, what's the h-ll's wrong?" He turned his chair,
looked out the window and said, "George, you're going to wish you were
back in Nam before you leave here. I've been in the Marine Corps since
1939. I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam
for 12 months. Now I come here to bury these kids. I'm putting my letter
in. I can't take it anymore." I said, "OK Walt. If that's what you want,
I'll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it
through Headquarters Marine Corps."
Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later. He had been a good
Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much
suffering. He was used up.
Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28
military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines
that were severely wounded or missing in action. Most of the details of
those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory.
Four, however, remain.
MY FIRST NOTIFICATION
My third or fourth day in Norfolk, I was notified of the death of a 19
year old Marine. This notification came by telephone from Headquarters
Marine Corps. The information detailed:
*Name, rank, and serial number.
*Name, address, and phone number of next of kin.
*Date of and limited details about the Marine's death.
*Approximate date the body would arrive at the Norfolk Naval Air
*A strong recommendation on whether the casket should be opened or
The boy's family lived over the border in North Carolina, about 60 miles
away. I drove there in a Marine Corps staff car. Crossing the state line
into North Carolina, I stopped at a small country store / service
station / Post Office. I went in to ask directions.
Three people were in the store. A man and woman approached the small
Post Office window. The man held a package. The Storeowner walked up and
addressed them by name, "Hello John. Good morning Mrs. Cooper."
I was stunned. My casualty's next-of-kin's name was John Cooper!
I hesitated, then stepped forward and said, "I beg your pardon. Are you
Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper of (address.)
The father looked at me-I was in uniform - and then, shaking, bent at
the waist, and vomited. His wife looked horrified at him and then at me.
Understanding came into her eyes and she collapsed in slow motion. I
think I caught her before she hit the floor.
The owner took a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and handed it to Mr.
Cooper who drank. I answered their questions for a few minutes. Then I
drove them home in my staff car. The storeowner locked the store and
followed in their truck. We stayed an hour or so until the family began
I returned the storeowner to his business. He thanked me and said,
"Mister, I wouldn't have your job for a million dollars." I shook his
hand and said; "Neither would I."
I vaguely remember the drive back to Norfolk. Violating about five
Marine Corps regulations, I drove the staff car straight to my house. I
sat with my family while they ate dinner, went into the den, closed the
door, and sat there all night, alone.
My Marines steered clear of me for days. I had made my first death
Weeks passed with more notifications and more funerals.. I borrowed
Marines from the local Marine Corps Reserve and taught them to conduct a
military funeral: how to carry a casket, how to fire the volleys and how
to fold the flag.
When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said,
"All Marines share in your grief." I had been instructed to say, "On
behalf of a grateful nation...." I didn't think the nation was grateful,
so I didn't say that.
Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and I couldn't speak. When
that happened, I just handed them the flag and touched a shoulder. They
would look at me and nod. Once a mother said to me, "I'm so sorry you
have this terrible job." My eyes filled with tears and I leaned over and
Six weeks after my first notification, I had another. This was a young
PFC. I drove to his mother's house. As always, I was in uniform and
driving a Marine Corps staff car. I parked in front of the house, took a
deep breath, and walked towards the house. Suddenly the door flew open,
a middle-aged woman rushed out. She looked at me and ran across the
yard, screaming "NO! NO! NO! NO!"
I hesitated. Neighbors came out. I ran to her, grabbed her, and
whispered stupid things to reassure her. She collapsed. I picked her up
and carried her into the house.. Eight or nine neighbors followed. Ten
or fifteen minutes later, the father came in followed by ambulance personnel.
I have no recollection of leaving.
The funeral took place about two weeks later. We went through the drill.
The mother never looked at me. The father looked at me once and shook
his head sadly.
One morning, as I walked in the office, the phone was ringing. Sergeant
Jolly held the phone up and said, "You've got another one, Colonel." I
nodded, walked into my office, picked up the phone, took notes, thanked
the officer making the call, I have no idea why, and hung up. Jolly, who
had listened, came in with a special Telephone Directory that translates
telephone numbers into the person's address and place of employment.
The father of this casualty was a Longshoreman. He lived a mile from my
office. I called the Longshoreman's Union Office and asked for the
Business Manager. He answered the phone, I told him who I was, and asked
for the father's schedule.
The Business Manager asked, "Is it his son?" I said nothing. After a
moment, he said, in a low voice, "Tom is at home today." I said, "Don't
call him. I'll take care of that." The Business Manager said, "Aye, Aye
Sir," and then explained, "Tom and I were Marines in WWII."
I got in my staff car and drove to the house. I was in uniform. I
knocked and a woman in her early forties answered the door. I saw
instantly that she was clueless. I asked, "Is Mr. Smith home?" She
smiled pleasantly and responded, "Yes, but he's eating breakfast now.
Can you come back later?" I said, "I'm sorry. It's important. I need to
see him now."
She nodded, stepped back into the beach house and said, "Tom, it's for
A moment later, a ruddy man in his late forties, appeared at the door.
He looked at me, turned absolutely pale, steadied himself, and said,
"Jesus Christ man, he's only been there three weeks!"
Months passed. More notifications and more funerals. Then one day while
I was running, Sergeant Jolly stepped outside the building and gave a
loud whistle, two fingers in his mouth....... I never could do that...
and held an imaginary phone to his ear.
Another call from Headquarters Marine Corps. I took notes, said, "Got
it." and hung up. I had stopped saying "Thank You" long ago.
Me, "Eastern Shore of Maryland. The father is a retired Chief Petty
Officer. His brother will accompany the body back from Vietnam...."
Jolly shook his head slowly, straightened, and then said, "This time of
day, it'll take three hours to get there and back. I'll call the Naval
Air Station and borrow a helicopter. And I'll have Captain Tolliver get
one of his men to meet you and drive you to the Chief's home."
He did, and 40 minutes later, I was knocking on the father's door. He
opened the door, looked at me, then looked at the Marine standing at
parade rest beside the car, and asked, "Which one of my boys was it,
I stayed a couple of hours, gave him all the information, my office and
home phone number and told him to call me, anytime.
He called me that evening about 2300 (11:00PM). "I've gone through my
boy's papers and found his will. He asked to be buried at sea. Can you
make that happen?" I said, "Yes I can, Chief. I can and I will."
My wife who had been listening said, "Can you do that?" I told her, "I
have no idea. But I'm going to break my ass trying."
I called Lieutenant General Alpha Bowser, Commanding General, Fleet
Marine Force Atlantic, at home about 2330, explained the situation, and
asked, "General, can you get me a quick appointment with the Admiral at
Atlantic Fleet Headquarters?" General Bowser said," George, you be there
tomorrow at 0900. He will see you.
I was and the Admiral did. He said coldly, "How can the Navy help the
Marine Corps, Colonel." I told him the story. He turned to his Chief of
Staff and said, "Which is the sharpest destroyer in port?" The Chief of
Staff responded with a name.
The Admiral called the ship, "Captain, you're going to do a burial at
sea. You'll report to a Marine Lieutenant Colonel Goodson until this
mission is completed."
He hung up, looked at me, and said, "The next time you need a ship,
Colonel, call me. You don't have to sic Al Bowser on my ass." I
responded, "Aye Aye, Sir" and got the h-ll out of his office.
I went to the ship and met with the Captain, Executive Officer, and the
Senior Chief. Sergeant Jolly and I trained the ship's crew for four
days. Then Jolly raised a question none of us had thought of. He said,
"These government caskets are air tight. How do we keep it from
All the high priced help including me sat there looking dumb. Then the
Senior Chief stood and said, "Come on Jolly. I know a bar where the
retired guys from World War II hang out."
They returned a couple of hours later, slightly the worst for wear, and
said, "It's simple; we cut four 12" holes in the outer shell of the
casket on each side and insert 300 lbs of lead in the foot end of the
casket. We can handle that, no sweat."
The day arrived. The ship and the sailors looked razor sharp. General
Bowser, the Admiral, a US Senator, and a Navy Band were on board. The
sealed casket was brought aboard and taken below for modification. The
ship got underway to the 12-fathom depth.
The sun was hot. The ocean flat. The casket was brought aft and placed
on a catafalque. The Chaplin spoke. The volleys were fired. The flag
was removed, folded, and I gave it to the father. The band played
"Eternal Father Strong to Save." The casket was raised slightly at the
head and it slid into the sea.
The heavy casket plunged straight down about six feet. The incoming
water collided with the air pockets in the outer shell. The casket
stopped abruptly, rose straight out of the water about three feet,
stopped, and slowly slipped back into the sea. The air bubbles rising
from the sinking casket sparkled in the in the sunlight as the casket
disappeared from sight forever....
The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar
Peatross, at Headquarters Marine Corps and said, "General, get me out of
here. I can't take this anymore." I was transferred two weeks later.
I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and
too much suffering. I was used up.
Vacating the house, my family and I drove to the office in a two-car
convoy. I said my goodbyes. Sergeant Jolly walked out with me. He waved
at my family, looked at me with tears in his eyes, came to attention,
saluted, and said, "Well Done, Colonel. Well Done."
I felt as if I had received the Medal of Honor!
A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank
check made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of
'up to and including my life.' That is Honor, and there are way too
many people in this country who no longer understand it.'
A BIT MORE ABOUT THE COLONEL:
THE STORY THAT APPEARED IN THE MARINE CORPS GAZETTE
Whitney Houston's death, while a sad thing, was the direct result of very unwise life choices. It dominates the news.
Charlie Sheen is 45 and his story is all over the news because he is a substance abuser, an adulterer, sexually promiscuous and obnoxious.
Lindsay Lohan is 24 and her story is all over the news because she is a celebrity drug addict and thief.
Something as frivolous as Kim Kardashian’s stupid wedding [and short-lived marriage] was shoved down our throats.
Justin Allen, 23
Brett Linley, 29
Matthew Weikert, 29
Justus Bartett, 27
Dave Santos, 21
Jesse Reed, 26
Matthew Johnson, 21
Zachary Fisher, 24
Brandon King 23
Christopher Goeke, 23
and Sheldon Tate, 27.....
Are all Marines that gave their lives last month for you. There is no media for them; not even a mention of their names. Honor THEM by sending this on.
Mr. Bury's postscript:
The Medal of Honor is a Valor medal and says this on the Medal itself. it is bestowed on men and women in the military who, in moments of extreme danger, have been willing to sacrifice everything they have to save the life or lives of other persons. the word 'VALOR' means in several old languages that the person possessing it has extremely great 'VALUE'. but for a moment in the recipient's life he or she thought of everyone else in his/her unit as having much more 'value' than himself/herself.
therefore, the Medal of Honor does not belong to the recipient of the Medal, but instead belongs to everyone BUT the recipient. it belongs to the people who were serving with the recipient on the day it was merited..and it belongs to the People of the United States of America as a tribute to the extreme and continuing 'value' that we still place on Honor....a set of Beliefs and Values and Faith that the Nation was founded upon and that will live forever…and the recipient has been recognized by The People of this Country for acting on those Beliefs, those Values and that Faith ‘above and beyond the Call of Duty’.