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 Godfrey Ragsdale, I

Godfrey Ragsdale, I

East Bridgeford, Rushcliffe Borough, Nottinghamshire, England
Death 18 Apr 1644 (aged 23–24)
Henrico County, Virginia, USA
Burial Non-Cemetery Burial
Memorial ID 51101428 · View Source
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My 8th great-grandfather.

Son of John & ? (Heathcoat) Ragsdale. Believed to be ancestor to most all Ragsdales in America. His wife is unknown except for "Mary." We know of only one son, Godfrey II.

Mrs. Blake Ragsdale VanLeer, Ragsdale Family in England and America, (Compiled & © 1975 by June Hart Wester), pp 16-17, "...died in the Massacre, Henrico Co., VA. 'Opechancanough Day' or 'Massacre Day.' April 18, 1644 was celebrated in Virginia for years. It was named for the instigator, the half brother of Powhatan, father of Pocohontas."

In a letter from my cousin, Ramona in 1995: "In early February my sister and I traveled to Richmond and Williamsburg, VA. We spent two days at the Virginia Historical Society and the Library of Virginia for we wanted, specifically, to know the area on the north side of the Appomatox River where Godfrey Ragsdale I, II & III had made their plantation homesite.

"Though we searched and searched for old maps that showed 'Olde Town' or Tonstoll's Creek, etc., we didn't have much luck in Richmond, other than the fascinating books of the various counties ('History of Henrico County,' 'History of Bristol Parish,' etc.)

"At Williamsburg, the Curator of Prints and Maps showed us map after map of 16th, 17th and 18th century Virginia. But, of course, the maps were not detailed enough to point out the specific creeks that would help us pinpoint Godfrey's land.

The curators eventually led us to the former Director of Historic Petersburg, Mr. Dulaney Ward. We told him we were interested in the Ragsdales on the Appomatox River in the 1600s. 'Oh you must mean Godfrey Ragsdale,' he replied, 'the Ragsdales were related to the Joneses.' We were thrilled. This man spoke our language.

"Mr. Ward said the old Ragsdale land is what has been called 'Pocahontas' since at least 1748. He is also sure 'Olde Town' referred to a former Indian village. In 1748, Richard Witton laid out plats of land, proposing to call the area 'Wittontown.' The House of Burgesses said, no, it must be called 'Pocahontas.' Mr. Ward believes Mr. Witton had married a Ragsdale. [Note from Arleta: Peter Ragsdale married Alse, widow of Witton, and mother of Richard Witton.]

"In addition, Mr. Ward said, 'The Ragsdale land is "Pocahontas" and more, including land to the north and the east.' Most of it is in present day Petersburg and also nearby Colonial Heights. He believes that the old plantation home is, sadly, where the Southpark Mall is today. He commented, 'I wish I had had the information you have (Mrs. Wester's and Mrs. Van Leer's, etc.). In 1986 the mayor and I were trying to find anything or anyone to stop the building of that mall.' The Route #1 Bridge runs on the edge of Pocahontas. The Ragsdale land was on both sides.

"Fort Henry was the precursor of Petersburg the city. During the Civil War there was the great siege, but in recent years, Petersburg's claim to national attention, you may remember, was the great tornado of 8-9 Aug 1993. There is a sign 'What the Yankees couldn't do in ten months, the tornado did in ten seconds'" The tornado tore right through Godfrey's land, right through the mall. One of the best maps I located is the West Point Atlas of the Civil War which clearly shows Pocahontas.

"We asked Mr. Ward why so many would sell their homes and move to Mecklenburg and other points south. Was it the impending war with England, had the soil played out, was it the end of the fur trade (disappeared by 1720s). Mr. Ward stated emphatically, 'They were going for opportunity.'

"William Byrd II & III were a major force in opening up the new lands. (In the 1740s Byrd II had 180,000 acres of land.) In Prince George he got a fee for all the patents he sold. 'Once that land opened, it opened up extremely rapidly.' Mr. Ward suggested we might read Byrd's 'History of the Dividing Line' and 'The Secret History of the Dividing Line.' 'When you read that, you will know what your people were doing.' John Bannister acted as William Byrd II's business manager; he is in Caroline Skelton's book in the fold-out page of the Jones-Batte genealogy.

"Standing on the upper banks of the Appomatox and James River was very beautiful and very moving. To think this was the land of our intrepid Ragsdale forebears made us tremendously proud and humbled by their courage."

Family Members

Gravesite Details Grandpa & Grandma Ragsdale died in the massacre of 1644 and were probably buried in mass graves with the others of that terrible day.

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  • Created by: Arleta
  • Added: 14 Apr 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 51101428
  • Arleta
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Godfrey Ragsdale, I (1620–18 Apr 1644), Find A Grave Memorial no. 51101428, ; Maintained by Arleta (contributor 46898856) Non-Cemetery Burial.