Robert Bolling and Anne Stith
(Please note, this was copied the way it was written, there are spelling errors and Bolling is often spelled Boiling. I kept it authentic as possible).
In 1681, widower Robert Bolling married Anne Stith, the daughter of Major John Stith. The couple had five sons and two daughters: Robert, Stith, Edward, Anne, Drury, Thomas, and Agnes. After 28 years of marriage, Robert Bolling died on July 17, 1709, following a lengthy illness. The Bolling brothers had their father’s landholdings legally partitioned and then swapped land among them. Drury (b. June 21, 1695) inherited the family seat at Kippax. Under his ownership, the plantation extended to over 500 acres. Drury died in 1726, leaving his wife Elizabeth and daughter Frances (b. 1724) to reside on the plantation.
A probate inventory of his possessions, taken in January 1726, indicates that Drury left an estate worth estimated 543 pounds sterling, including 12 African-American slaves. This inventory, while not room by room, suggests at least two structures on the property in 1726, a main dwelling house and quarter. The presence of at least four bedsteads, quantities of imported bed linen and cloth, and an extensive collection of ceramics, furniture, and books suggest that the Bolling’s lived a relatively affluent and comfortable lifestyle. Drury’s inventory also lists several items commonly associated with the Indian trade. Interspersed among the listing of his furnishings, livestock, and slaves are
“one Indian basket, a parcel old metal buttons, teaspoons, two pairs of small still yards, artificial flowers and beads … 1 ½ gross new pipes”.
The buttons, buckles, bells, artificial flowers, and other “trifles” reflect objects mentioned by many 17th-century traders. Whether these items remained from his father’s business activities or were the result of Drury’s participation in trade with Native Americans is unclear.
Archaeological excavation of a 7-foot-square brick-lined cellar, filled between 1730 and 1750, provides possible physical evidence of Drury’s role as a merchant/trader. A wide range of domestic artifacts were recovered from the cellar fill, including an early 18th-century antler handle knife, a folding knife, a trade gun side plate, buttons, buckles, straight pins, and a bottle seal marked DB (Drury Boiling [?]).Analysis of the artifacts indicates that the cellar was filled over a relatively short period. The majority of the artifacts were recovered from the dark organic level just above the clay floor. The date of deposition and the DB bottle seal suggest that the artifacts may represent the change in households that occurred following the death of Drury Boiling in 1726, or changes following the marriage of his daughter Frances to Theodorick Bland in 1739.
Perhaps the most interesting artifact group recovered from within the cellar fill is the 1,775 glass trade beads. These beads are probably of Dutch or Italian manufacture and date to the 17th century. The red, blue, and white colors have significance in Native-American cosmology; blue and white are representative of knowledge and light, and red represents fire and the rejuvenative aspects of fruit and berries. Most of the beads were recovered during screening of the soil; however, one strand of beads was discovered intact during excavation.
These imported beads represent the Bolling’s participation in trade with the Native-American population. Some Chesapeake archaeologists have suggested that glass trade beads only occur in any quantity on sites during the first half of the 17th century when Native-American trade peaked. They have concluded that the appearance of a few trade beads on colonial sites after the mid-17th century suggests usage primarily by colonists. The large quantity of beads recovered at Kippax, while of later date, suggests continued trade activities with Native Americans and subsequent use by African-American slaves rather than primary usage by colonists.
The two most significant items at Kippax that can be firmly connected to the fur trade are the beads and the steelyards listed in Drury’s inventory. Steelyards are unequal arm balances, a type of scale that utilizes levers and weights. Steelyards were carried by traders and used to weigh furs and powder.
The other Native-American trade item found in both the 1726 inventory and in the excavations at Kippax is beads. Documentation suggests that glass beads were a highly prized commodity that imitated traditional wampum beads. In the early years of settlement, glass beads were so valuable that the
Virginia Colony stated that “the Comoditie of Beads was like to prove the verie Coyne of that Country.”
As William Byrd II learned from experience, “the want of beads or some other trifles [is] often times a great prejudice to success.”
Linebaugh, Donald W. Kippax Plantation: Traders, Merchants, and Planters. An Exhibit Celebrating the Families of Pocahontas. Center for Archaeological Research, the College of William and Mary, Historic Hopewell Foundation, Inc. The City of Hopewell (1995).