This is a source describing the beginnings of colonies in Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles during the time-period of 1580-1631. It is divided into six books; The second book being of relevance to the food story of North Carolina. It is a primary source, written by John Smith, on his observations of the Virginia Colony. John Smith describes the location and findings of the Virginia Colony. The source also provides details on the agricultural and cooking practices of the Powhatan Indians.

In his writing, John Smith lists several of the edible crops that the colony has found that naturally grow in Virginia. A few of these include chestnuts, cherries, strawberries, herbs, etc. An interesting crop they mention is a root called Tockawhoughe [1]. The Powhatan’s roasted it for 24 hours before they ate it. It was also commonly used it in bread during the summer.

John Smith claims that corn is the food the Powhatan Indians put the most effort in producing. He also describes the Powhatan’s routine for planting corn. It is an important factor when understanding techniques used by the Powhatan Indians and how it may have influenced the practices of colonial settlers. More important to note, John Smith explains the multiple methods in which Powhatan Indians use corn in cooking. Further proving how corn is an important food staple in the diet of the Powhatan Indians. An example John Smith mentions is how they boil it with beans for a dish called Pansarowmena [1].

This source is important because it gives us insight into the beginnings of early colonial settlements in Virginia. Although these observations by John Smith don’t take place in North Carolina, it is still important to consider for the food story of Chapel Hill during pre-colonial times. It describes the colonial settler’s observations on the Native Americans living there on how they grow and use food. This, in turn, will influence the food production of colonial settlers. This account also introduces the beginning of an important food, corn, to early colonial American settlers.

[1] Smith, John. The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: With the Names of the Adventurers, Planters, and Governours from Their First Beginning, Ano: 1584. To This Present 1624. With the Procedings of Those Severall Colonies and the Accidents That Befell Them in All Their Journyes and Discoveries. Also the Maps and Descriptions of All Those Countryes, Their Commodities, People, Government, Customes, and Religion Yet Knowne. Divided into Sixe Bookes. By Captaine Iohn Smith, Sometymes Governour in Those Countryes & Admirall of New England. University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2006.

– Ellison Commodore