From 2,500 years ago, tribal groups expanded in present-day tidal Virginia and in the Piedmont region. Hunting, fishing and agriculture provided reliable means of subsisting within evolved societies. Two principal Native American tribes populated the area of present day Stafford, the Patawomecks and Manahoacs.
PATAWOMECKS The Patawomecks were the northern most tribe of the Powhatan Nation or Confederacy. They were an Algonquian-speaking tribe (one of 32 in Virginia) and occupied the lands below the fall-line of the Rappahannock and on the peninsulas along the Potomac River.
In 1608, Captain John Smith encountered the Patawomecks when he explored the Rappahannock River below present day Falmouth and when he explored Aquia Creek. In his writings, Smith described an Indian village on the hill nearby today’s St. Clair Brook’s Park and Pratt Park. Smith’s description fits the picture in the exhibit that was drawn by John White of North Carolina Indians. The dwellings were made by sinking large poles in the ground, bending green poles between them to form a roof base, and then covering the frames with closely woven grass mats. Smith said individual houses were about 12 x 16 feet while the main lodge for meetings, worship, protection was about 20 by 60 feet. There were individual gardens along with a communal garden. The Captain noted that the Stafford Indian gardens were “cleaner than our English gardens.” He listed plants as peas, pumpkin, (green) squash, beans, sunflowers, gourds, corn, and tobacco. (It you click on the exhibit picture, it will enlarge.)