Jamestown, VirginiaJamestown was a village on an island in the James River in Virginia, about 45 miles southeast of where Richmond, Virginia, is now. Both the river and the 1607 settlement there were named for King James I of England who had recently come to the throne then. That Jamestown Settlement was the first permanent English colony in the New World. It was founded by the businessmen of the London Virginia Company. The island is now part of the Colonial National Historical Park.
"Jimsonweed" is a corruption of "Jamestown weed," named for the village after some British soldiers sent to quell Bacon's Rebellion in 1676 failed in their mission after being fed leaves of the plant, which grew wild in great quantity there. They were intoxicated for about a week and claimed afterward to have no memory of that period.
In 1607 the area had been a marshy peninsula not yet separate from the mainland, but by the American Civil War, it had become an island. The Confederates wanted to hold it because of its strategic position, and the ordnance and armor of the CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimack) were tested there.
But the Confederates evacuated the island on May 3 1862, and the Union forces did occupy it and used it, among other things, as an evacuation station for escaped slaves, who were then taken to the North by Union Navy ships. Some of the former slaves burnt down the Ambler House, a 19th century mansion on the island. After Lee's surrender, Jamestown was one of the places where the Oath of Allegiance was administered to former Confederate soldiers.