In the early days of the Virginia colony, it was hard to recruit settlers to leave England and travel to the Colony. Life here was hard. Most settlers were dying here, about 80% over the “Starving Time” during the winter of 1609-1610. Since this was a private venture, managed by the Virginia Company with the blessing of King James I, the Company had to figure out a way to entice people to make the trip. They soon discovered the one item that was the most effective incentive to attract new settlers. It began to offer land, a commodity which the company had in abundance. Anyone paying their own expenses to Virginia, or the expenses of someone else, would receive a warrant authorizing them to survey and “patent” 50 acres of land free.
In an even better offer, new investors could assemble a whole group of new settlers and start a plantation away from Jamestown. The new plantations were called Hundreds as each “Hundred” could comfortably hold 100 people including women and children. Each immigrant brought to Virginia, no matter what their age or sex, entitled the investor who was paying their way to 100 acres of land. As a result some colonists became wealthy having plantations of over 1000 acres.
Although the initial inhabitants of Virginia came to find gold and silver it didn’t take long to realize the real “gold” was the tobacco that was grown here. My 9th Great Grandfather John Dodson born in 1571 in Great Neck, England, arrived at the Virginia Colony on April 26, 1607, aboard the “Susan Constant” and was one of the first colonists in the area. In 1608, John Dodson accompanied Captain John Smith on a voyage into the Pamunkey River, and on December 29, 1608, he was among the men who accompanied Captain Smith to Werowocomoco, Powhatan’s village on the York River. He married a woman named Jane (Unknown last name) sometime before his first son, Jesse, was born in 1623. By early 1624, he owned land in the Bermuda Hundreds and he grew tobacco. He died in 1652 at the age of 81.
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