- Visit Gloucester
Pocahontas Ties to Gloucester County
In 1994, the work of Adolf Sehring, internationally renowned realist painter and sculptor, was unveiled and became an iconic image for Gloucester County. The statue of Pocahontas, which is located on Main Street, portrays Pocahontas as an 11 year old girl. The bronze, life-sized statue honors Pocahontas, daughter of Paramount Chief Powhatan who lived in Gloucester. It was at Werowocomoco, in Gloucester, that Pocahontas met Captain John Smith and where the legend of her saving Smith’s life took place.
Sehring ’s model for the statue was Debbie “White Dove” Custalow, daughter of Chief Webster Custalow of the Mattaponi Tribe in King William County. The statue was paid for by philanthropists and community members and the piece was dedicated at a large public festival attended by chiefs and representatives of eight Virginia tribes and descendants of Pocahontas.
Several years ago, the land surrounding the statue was landscaped with native plants focusing on plants described by John Clayton, the Clerk of the Court for Gloucester County and author of Flora Virginia, a survey of native plants in 1792.
The County government recognized Pocahontas in 1988 with the installation of a plaque dedicated to her. The Colonial Courthouse in Gloucester was erected in 1766 and contains antique plaques and markers along its walls that honor people who played a prominent role in the history of the County. The Board of Supervisors approved the addition of the Pocahontas plaque which was the first addition to the structure in more than 50 years.
Commissioned by the Cook Foundation in 2006 as part of the 400th Anniversary of Jamestown, the mural, located on the side of the Gloucester Library on Main Street, commemorates the Life and Legend of Pocahontas. The mural tells the story of how Pocahontas was able to transcend two worlds: the English and the Powhatan nation. The artist, Michael Kirby, did extensive historical research to portray as accurately as possible the lives of the Indians and the settlers. The mural was unveiled at the Pocahontas Family Festival, June 2+3, 2007. Check out the press coverage here!
The Pocahontas Museum, located on Lewis Avenue in Gloucester, is open by appointment. The museum includes thousands of items that highlight her legacy through preservation and education with collections in memorabilia, music, art, pop culture and crafts.
Museum open by appointment : Please call 804-815-0988 or 804-693-2795
The Gloucester County Visitors Center with the historic Court circle contains a room dedicated to telling the story of Werowocomoco. The site was purchased by the National Park Service but is not open to the public at this time. It is known for being a spiritual center of the Tidewater Indians for more than 400 years. Exhibits describe the site as well as information on Powhatan, John Smith and Pocahontas.
Werowocomoco was Powhatan’s tribal headquarters and according to legend where Pocahontas saved John Smith’s life. Click here for more information and to view a video about Werowocomoco, "A Powhatan Place of Power" from the National Park Service.
See the new developments at Machicomoco, a Future Virginia State Park, due to open in 2020 will include interpretative information on Virginia Indians who lived along the rivers.
Photo credit: AESVA.com
An outstanding symposium co-hosted by the Virginia Museum of History and Culture and American Evolution, the organization coordinating commemoration 400th anniversary of events that took place in 1619 was held in November 2018. The program, “Pocahontas: Her Life, Legend and Legacy,” was recorded on CSPAN and includes exceptional panel discussions on the life of Pocahontas, Pocahontas and Christianity and Pocahontas as a Cross Cultural Ambassador. View each session here: Session 1, Session 2, Session 3.
Don't forget to check out the Gloucester County Visitor Center's Werowocomoco Exhibit. This exhibit opened as a temporary exhibit in April of 2017 and will be formally re-opened in the coming months with additional amenities and artifacts.