In one of the most exciting recent finds related to the region’s colonial past, volunteer archeologists have discovered what they believe to be remnants of a historically significant plantation lying just inches below the ground in a Mathews County subdivision.
"We have a major archeological treasure that nobody knew about," Forrest Morgan, vice president of the Middle Peninsula chapter of the Archeology Society of Virginia, said of North End Plantation, which is at North, near the border with Gloucester County.
North End Plantation was built in the late 1740s by John Page, son of Mann Page of Rosewell. While not quite as grand as his father’s Gloucester County estate, North End Plantation is believed to have been similar in size and design to other colonial-era estates such as Shirley Plantation in Charles City County, or Mannsfield, the Spotsylvania County home of John Page’s brother, Mann Page II. Mannsfield was destroyed during the Civil War.
Those plantations each had approximately 30 small outbuildings or dependencies, including a kitchen, slave quarters, stables and an ice house. "We think that’s what we’re going to see here at North End," Morgan said.
The search for North End Plantation began after the discovery of another archeological find, a colonial-era domestic site on the property of nearby Fort Nonsense. Roughly 800 artifacts have been unearthed there, dating from 1700 to just before the American Revolution. Those artifacts predated the use of the land as a Civil War fort, but the quantity wasn’t enough for it to have been an estate. So, while the timeframe is correct, as well as the general location, Morgan and his fellow volunteer archeologist Tom Karow knew this wasn’t the North End Plantation site.
"And the question then became … where was his (John Page’s) house?" Morgan said.