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Captain John Smith Arrives in Middlesex

Captain John Smith’s arrival in Middlesex County 400 years ago was every bit as dramatic as his arrival in chains in the New World a year earlier.

On July 17, 1608 Smith and his crew of 15, on their first voyage of exploration on Chesapeake Bay, went hard aground at the mouth of the Rappahannock River.  Surrounding the shallop were lush sea grasses and a multitude of cownose rays. 

Since food was in short supply, the men jumped from the boat and began spearing the rays with their swords. The good Captain’s catch slid down his sword and stung him in the wrist. The pain was so fierce Smith believed himself to be dying and commanded his men to dig a grave. 

To find out what happened next to Middlesex’s first unhappy tourist one must buy a ticket to the “Stingray Point Story,” an original play by Raynell Smith. The play will be performed Thursday, July 17, and Saturday, July 19, at 11 a.m. near the spot in Deltaville where the actual events occurred 400 years ago.

Tickets for the play are $10 and include free parking at the museum and transportation to the beach. There will be no parking available at the beach. A limited number of tickets are on sale at the Deltaville Maritime Museum, Nauti Nell’s in Deltaville, and Papeterie in Urbanna.

All proceeds from the play will benefit Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park. For more information go to or call 804-776-7200.
Historical interpreters, some of whom participated in last year’s Jamestown 400th celebration will assume the major roles in the one-act play. Dennis Farmer will play John Smith,
Terry Bond will play Dr. Walter Russell, and Dennis Strawderman will be William Cantrill. 

Deltaville’s own Kaptain Krunch (Steve Smith) will play Maracah, an elderly Powhatan brave. Approximately eight other parts will be played by local volunteers.
Bob Zentz, a well-known Chesapeake Bay composer and musician, and Jeanne McDougall, a musical historian, have written eight original songs for the play. They will also perform these songs during the play on period instruments.

One of the major props for the play will be the “Explorer,” the 30-foot replica of John Smith’s shallop, built by the Deltaville Maritime Museum.  Last year Explorer helped celebrate Jamestown’s 400th anniversary by participating in First Landing at Cape Henry, and then by accompanying the “Godspeed” up the James River, following the route of the first settlers.

posted 07.02.2008

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