As I have stated in previous posts, over the years I have met numerous individuals during my travels and work experiences. The comments, jokes, and/or statements are in the thousands and I have always come to appreciate the life lessons I have learned from each encounter.
So, having the privilege of living in Virginia for over ten years the one constant theme besides my wife are the parks and waterways that I hold true and dear to my heart. While living in Williamsburg, Virginia, before moving to Virginia Beach to be closer to the ocean, I traversed pretty much every park and waterway in the Williamsburg area. One because at one time it was my job and two, well I just could not stand not being outside in the elements of nature. The wildlife, experiences, and entertainment I witnessed goes far beyond words.
One park in particular was Freedom Park in James City County/Williamsburg Virginia. This one park I frequented on a regular basis has a plethora of mountain bike trails. (If you ride, this is a great place to mountain bike; it was one of the best kept secrets to the local Mountain Bikers in the area.) When riding, always bring safety gear; a helmet should be worn and shin guards are advisable. There are some serious jumps on those trails, folks. Going airborne 10 to 15 feet into the air is not uncommon when jumping off these obstacles and many riders have been put into the hospital from accidents. Scout the jumps or obstacles before you attempt to go on or try your luck going off. They are no joke and should not be taken lightly. Two sets of rims, broken ribs, fingers, and a couple of close calls myself, so fun they were, but know your limitations. I cannot stress that enough! Be safe…. So, though it is a mountain biker’s paradise, at least in the local area within driving distances from Virginia Beach and the Richmond areas. There is a very historical significance about this park people should know about other than the trails.
Freedom Park is home to one of the nation’s first free black settlements in the United States. The history alone is worth the visit. Being able to hike, bike, and picnic are only several options; the historical significance of the park is just as, if not more, important. This is home to one of the first free black settlements in the United States. This was home to freed men and women (former slaves) to have land of their own to provide for their families as we all today try to strive for. The historical data and stories are endless, and this free black settlement is a hidden gem in Williamsburg.
It is unfortunate, though, that few know that this restoration of a free black settlement exists. Although no one lives in the cabins, visitors can visit the reconstruction of the cabins and acquire at least a slight idea of what life may have been like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for African Americans in the South. This brings me to a gentleman with whom I have had the privilege to speak; he is an excellent speaker, and never fails to share interesting information in his speeches and presentations. Retired Army Lieutenant Colonial Mr. Lafayette Jones Jr. is a descendant of the freed slaves who were granted their freedom by William Ludwell Lee. Mr. Jones is a direct and kind-hearted man who has written a book and spoken throughout the area about the historical significance of his family’s history related to Freedom Park. While speaking with him, I learned some great things regarding history, especially that of his family. For those interested in history, Williamsburg is more than just Colonial Williamsburg and Revolutionary era history; there is fascinating history to be learned, too, through the Free Black Settlement restoration at Freedom Park.