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In Podcast #16 the Virginia Trekkers take you to Shirley Plantation in the Coastal Plains Region.  Plantations were huge farms that were almost like small villages because the workers lived right on the farm and met all their own needs.  They grew their own food, raised their own animals, made their own clothes, and built their own buildings.  Shirley Plantation is the oldest active plantation in the United States and the oldest family-owned business in America!  In this podcast you’ll learn how colonists preserved their food before there were refrigerators, why colonial homes had pineapple carvings, how this plantation survived the Civil War without being burned down, and lots more about daily life in the past.  We’ll also review wild vs. tame animals, indentured servants vs. slaves, and we’ll even show you a real live bald eagle! and Come on... let’s go trekkin’!

Some people believe Shirley Plantation is haunted.  In the second floor bedroom is a painting of a woman that has been acting very strangely over the years.  The woman was Martha Pratt, a daughter of Edward Hill III, who built the big house on Shirley Plantation in 1723.  After Martha’s death, the family moved her portrait to the third floor, but they noticed that it began to shake and rock on the wall.  So they moved it to the attic, but then they reported hearing knocking sounds all around the house.  Later, when they moved the portrait to the first floor, it continued to tremble and shake and did not seem to be happy.  Because of this strange behavior, the portrait was put on display in New York where the shaking was even recorded on television!  Over the years, all those vibrations took their toll on the picture frame and it had to go to a shop to be repaired.  While in the shop, workers said that they heard bells tolling, even though there weren’t any bells around the shop.  Finally the portrait was returned to its place in the second floor bedroom and now it seems to be at peace.

Here you can see the famous haunted portrait of Anne Pratt. Photo credits

SOL Correlation:

VS.3 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the first permanent English settlement in America by

  1. e)identifying the importance of the arrival of Africans and women to the Jamestown settlement;

VS.4 The student will demonstrate knowledge of life in the Virginia colony by

  1. a)explaining the importance of agriculture and its influence on the institution of slavery;

VS.7 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the issues that divided our nation and led to the Civil War by

b) describing Virginia’s role in the war, including identifying major battles that took place in Virginia.


1.5 The student will investigate and understand that animals, including people, have life needs and specific physical characteristics and can be classified according to certain characteristics.  Key concepts include

  1. c)other characteristics (wild/tame, water homes/land homes).

4.8 The student will investigate and understand important Virginia natural resources.  Key concepts include

d) forests, soil, and land.

Coastal Plain