".. If there was a general Isle of Wight muster March 17 - 18, 1781, Lafayette would have very likely gone by a Tavern route, whether via Cobham-Smithfield or via Cobham-Mills Swamp Church. Isle of Wight troops were part of Lafayette's first independent command at Barren Hill in May 1778 as attested by the naming of the aforesaid privateer in the Nansemond Rive the Marquis Lafyette. The encounter would have been like an old homecoming for the very popular "La Marquis". Possibly, these mustered Isle of Wight troops were the soldiers Hessian Captain Johann Ewald mistakenly recorded as the arrival of Lafayette's continental troops at Portsmouth.
The most direct route from Boykin's Tavern to Suffolk would have been along Lake Burnt Mill by passing Chuckatuck. Tarleton's map shows this road as a major thoroughfare of the time. Henry Brown, Thomas Clardy, and Francis Cole in their pension affidavits confirm "the Burnt Mills in Isle of Wight County" as an important stopping point and therefore this route as a thoroughfare. It is likely that Scott's Grist Mill in Isle of Wight County, owned by Captain/Major Francis Boykin, was somewhere along this thoroughfare. John Davidson in his affidavit mentions being discharged at "Scott's Mill where the companies were dismissed". Captain Ewald even seems to place Scott's Mill with the mills at Lake Burnt Mill. Probably this thoroughfare was part of the interior line along which couriers, crossing at Hood's on the James River, sometimes rode with messages from the Governor, Baron Steuben, and Lafayette.
The original deep red color of the front and back metal roofs of Boykin's Tavern matches the brick color wonderfully. It would have appeared to be a red house unlike the shingled dwelling houses of colonial Williamsburg.... John McClain and John Davidson, both of the command of Colonel William Bowyer, one of Colonel Josiah Parker's principal officers, said they rendezvoused in 1781 at Red House. They then marched to Portsmouth and served at Great Bridge under Parker's command. Though there were a number of Red Houses in Virginia, one wonders if Red House was Boykin's Tavern and had been a place of rendezvous for a long time.
Others, of course. say the metal roofs were a later addition. Still some of the wood shingles found under the metal roofs during restoration were painted red. If the Tavern was not the rendezvous point, there is a Redhouse Road a short distance away. Possibly, the rendezvous point was at a house near that road. Colonel Parker owned 1100 acres of timberland four miles from Cypress Creek, which could have put Parker's property in that area. This 1100 acres should not be confused with Corrowaugh in the present Windsor area, which Parker later also owned.
Besides, prominent justices and officers, Nathaniel Flemying, Captain James Bridger, Daniel Herring, Colonel John Lawrence, James Allen Bridger, Captain Mills Lawrence, Benjamin Eley, Captain Daniel Herring Junior, Captain William Eley and Captain James Johnson, both commanders of companies at Yorktown, all lived in the southwestern quarter of the county. Johnson, held in "profound respect" during his lifetime, even served throughout the War. Whatever was Lafayette's itinerary, the Mill Pond, Tavern, and Redhouse Road were probably all points of central rendezvous. They were on the long-forgotten Burnt Mills-Suffolk thoroughfare, and the patriots were very active throughout all of Isle of Wight ..."
Fort Boykin was built in 1623 to protect colonists from Indians and raiding Spaniards. It is located six miles west of Smithfield on the James River. Boykins Tavern was owned and operated by Major Francis Boykin. Boykin fought with Washington and camped at Valley Forge with him. He also served as a Lieutenant under Patrick Henry. The Isle of Wight Courthouse of 1800 contains some of the best-kept pre-Revolutionary War records in Virginia. Many visitors to the Courthouse research the records to discover the roots of their families.
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This Page Updated:December 12, 2016