Note from author: This is a short fictional story based on the way life was in the early days of Appalachia. The story is presented from the viewpoint of a doll made in a style very common during the 17th century in Appalachia. The information on Bacon's Rebellion, the burning of Jamestown, and the second fire that destroyed the statehouse are from actual historical facts. The act of burying the family valuables in a trunk is what many early settlers actually did during times of war.
Following is the story as told by Amy Lynn, a doll.
My name is Amy Lynn. I am originally from Jamestown, Virginia. I now reside in a lovely home in North Carolina. My owner is a descendant of the beloved elderly lady who created me in 1665. It was a time of mostly peace after all the wars with the Powhatan Confederacy -- so evenings were more relaxed and the women had time to sew then.
The beloved lady was very kind and gave me a full body and round head, then she stuffed me with barley. Her name was Evangelina and she was very skilled with her sewing.
Evangelina gave me a tiny waist and full, rounded hips, which was typical of the pioneer women in those days. My boots are just tan cotton that were sewn to my white cotton legs. The rest of me was also white cotton. My face is quite lovely, with rouge on my cheeks and lips. The rouge was a dye made from pokeberries. My eyes, eyebrows and nose were drawn on with pencil, then embroidered with neat tiny stitches.
Evangelina dug in her box of scraps and found some pretty calico with pink and blue tiny flowers. A darling dress with a full skirt was made for me. My undergarments all came from white cotton and were trimmed in tiny lace then embroidered with tiny pink flowers above the lace. I have pantaloons, a camisole, and a petticoat all trimmed in the same way.
Of course, all the fabric on me and my clothes has faded over the years, making me look very primitive, but that only adds to my charm and value. My hair was made from a dark yarn which was raveled to look like long, curly hair. Everything on me is original except my right arm and stuffing. Several times I have been emptied and re-stuffed so as to keep my shape and keep me soft.
I was a Christmas gift for Evangelina's granddaughter, Mary Jane. There was another granddaughter born when Mary Jane was four years old. The baby girl was darling, but, oh, so spoiled. She was given anything she wanted, except me. I went everywhere with Mary Jane and she did not let anyone else play with me. She took such good care of me and kept me very clean. She did not want the baby to get anything sticky on me like jam or anything.
One day, when the little sister, Suzanne, was about three, she grabbed me away from Mary Jane and ran. Mary Jane caught us and tried to take me back, but, Suzanne kept hold of my arm and it tore off. Mary Jane was devastated, grabbed the arm and held me close as she ran crying to Evangelina. My arm was torn too bad to repair, so a new one was made for me that very day and sewn on.
In 1676 I was almost forgotten in an old trunk and could have been left behind during a rebellion and a lot of fighting going on. Mary Jane was then fifteen years old. She still kept me on her bed all the time and slept with me at night.
A man named Nathaniel Bacon came to Jamestown from England in 1673. He caused a lot of friction between the Indians, farmers, and colonists. Governor Berkeley and Nathaniel Bacon were at odds and a rebellion led by Bacon was threatening to destroy Jamestown. In 1676, Bacon and his rebels burned down most of Jamestown.
When the troubles started up, Mary Jane's parents packed as many valuables as they could in a trunk. Mary Jane tenderly wrapped me in linen and hid me in the trunk. Her father then buried the trunk out in the back yard in hopes that no one would find it if we were attacked and the house burned down -- or if the family had to leave Jamestown.
Fortunately Bacon's Rebellion did not last too long and life soon returned to a sense of normalcy after the town was rebuilt. However, the trunk was left buried, just in case there was more danger to come.
Two years later, the trunk was dug up. Mary Jane was then seventeen and was to be married the following spring. There were family heirlooms in the large trunk that her mother wanted to give as a bridal gift. So once again I was back with Mary Jane. When she got married, I received a place of honor on a shelf where she kept her heirloom china dishes from Ireland.
In 1698 the statehouse burned down again. That time it was an accident, they say. Mary Jane was then 27 and had four children. Two girls and two boys. The town center and new statehouse were rebuilt in 1699, in what was called the Middle Plantation, and renamed Williamsburg in honor of King William III.
That was the year that Evangelina, the beloved lady who created me, died. Mary Jane was very sad about that. In honor of her grandmother, Mary Jane wrote a short letter and pinned it to my petticoat. The letter explained that Evangelina created me in 1665, had her full name, date of birth and death, and other information about her -- and also my very own history and name.
The letter is still pinned to my petticoat. It is quite worn and yellow with age. I was passed down to Mary Jane's eldest daughter when she got married in 1698. By then I was no longer considered a toy and became a family heirloom.
I have been an heirloom over 300 years now and still live with the same family descendants. My most recent lady owner copied the letter that Mary Jane pinned to my petticoat so very many years ago and put it under glass in a lovely frame to stand next to me. I am much honored and loved in my family.