We Directly Support The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail

The Chesapeake Conservancy supports work beyond what the National Park Service could accomplish on its own, including: improving public access, supporting land conservation, conducting cultural research and environmental analysis, and providing outreach that enrich visitors’ experiences and create a sustainable future for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“…The situation of the rivers are so propitious to the nature and use of man as no place is more convenient for pleasure, profit and man’s sustenance.”

– Captain John Smith, A Map of Virginia, 1612

Captain John Smith’s 1612 map, Virginia Discoverd & Discribed, even to the casual eye presents our earliest picture of the Chesapeake Bay with uncanny accuracy. But something else emerges. There are 27 “Maltese” crosses scattered over it right to left, top to bottom. Smith tells us in his map key: “Signification of these markes,/To the crosses hath bin discoverd/ what beyond is by relation.” His journal tells us the “markes” represent actual crosses left in those places during is exploration, either of brass or as a shape carved in tree bark. Captain John Smith historian Ed Haile, with former Conservancy Chairman Charlie Stek, put together a plan to restore the cross sites with stone markers right where Smith left the originals. Three were eliminated as mapped outside of Smith’s actual area of exploration, and not on the Bay, leaving a total of 24 in the marker project. Through the help of Ed and fellow project volunteer, Connie Lapallo, the Conservancy is working to mark each spot for modern day adventurers to visit using square granite pillars.  These will function to make the Trail more real for people and to enhance geocaching adventures.

Maltese Crosses

on the

Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail

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Project Volunteers

Ed Haile is a historian and poet, author of Jamestown Narratives and John Smith in the Chesapeake, and two historic Bay maps. He is our source for the Trail route and John Smith’s dates and itinerary. For some years now Ed has been doing his research on marker placements.

Connie Lapallo is an author, historian, and speaker. Her trilogy is based on the true story of Jamestown’s first women and children: Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky (1592-1611), When the Moon Has No More Silver (1610-1620), and The Sun is But a Morning Star (1621-1652). Connie has told the Jamestown story to hundreds of audiences across the country.