400 years ago, John Smith explored Chesapeake Bay – 1/31 iconic images

native-americans-york-county
John Smith was an artist as well as an explorer. He drew this Susquehannock Indian after his visit to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in 1608. Background posts: John Smith gave Susquehannocks their name, American Indians’ carvings almost forgotten treasure and Project uncovers hidden American Indian mural.

In the past two “Connections” editions, we have assembled multi-page displays showing the Murals of York and paintings of key figures with York connections in the American Revolution.

For this year’s special publication, our spread will show 20 images that help define York County… .


This special display comes in “connection” with the 400th anniversary of John Smith’s visit to the region where the Susquehanna River flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
John Smith’s drawing above of a Susquehannock is the first image, and we’ll run the rest in York Town Square over the next two weeks.
Here is the description:
In plain view: This drawing of a Susquehannock Indian fills a corner of a map drawn by Captain John Smith. Smith, friend of Indian princess Pocahantas, meets the Susquehannocks in his exploration of the Chesapeake Bay and Lower Susquehanna River in 1608 – 400 years ago. He describes them as giants (their gravesites indicate that they were not), claiming one warrior’s calf measured 27 inches around. It was Smith who called them “Susquesahanocks,” a Delaware Indian term meaning “muddy river.”
Behind the scene: The Iroquois defeated the Susquehannocks, weakened by epidemics and alcohol, circa 1675. It is about this time that the Susquehannocks built villages on sites above present-day Long Level in Lower Windsor Township. They later join with other groups and become increasingly known as the Conestogas. When European pioneers settled west of the Susquehanna after 1730, the Indian threat was minimal. Settlers could largely clear land and build their farms without looking over their shoulders. York County was off to a good start.
Further details: Barry Kent’s “Susquehanna Indians,” (Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1993) tells the story of York County’s predominant Native American group.
Posts in this series:
- 400 years ago, John Smith explored Chesapeake Bay – 1/31 iconic images
- Declaration signer James Smith tops York County patriot list – 2/31 iconic images
- Going to market a longtime York County pastime – 3/31 iconic images
- William C. Goodridge: From slavery to success story – 4/31 iconic images

- Rebs’ short York visit creates long memories – 5/31 iconic images
-Artist Horace Bonham captured everyday life – 6/31 iconic images
-York County farm vs. factory tension relieved in overnight raid – 7/31 iconic images
- York County stood firmly behind Allies on all fronts in WW II – 8/31 iconic images
- Downtown thrived in post-WW II York – 9/31 iconic images
- After WWII success, Farquhar sells assets to out-of-town outfit – 10/31 iconic images.
- Sears, York County Shopping Center in the middle of things – 11/31 iconic images
- Three Mile Island emergency indelibly written into memories – 12/2 iconic images.
- People of varying religious groups founded York County – 13/31 iconic images
- President Reagan: ‘Harley is back and standing tall’ – 14/31 iconic images
- York’s mayor: ‘We are no longer unprotected’ – 15/31 iconic images
- Grange Hall represented past way of York County life – 16/31 iconic images.
- York County Honors Choir product of proud moment – 17/31 iconic images.
- Meeting of riot victims brought hope for racial accord – 18/31 iconic images.
- Property rights foundational factor in Lauxmont dispute – 19/31 iconic images.
- New baseball diamond serves as York cornerstone – 20/31 iconic images
- Season 2 of York’s campaign to come back – 21-23 of 31 iconic images
- York on knees as its men storm Normandy beaches – 24-25 of 31 iconic images
- One image illustrates two long-neglected subjects in York area – 26-27 of 31 iconic images
- Images explain changes in York County factories, farms – 28-29 of 31 iconic images
York County still home to unvarnished beauty – 30/31 iconic images
Latinos most recent migrant group to call York County home – 31/31 iconic images
To see the full series of iconic photos in a special York Daily Record/Sunday News publication, click here.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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One Response to 400 years ago, John Smith explored Chesapeake Bay – 1/31 iconic images

  1. Byrn Watson says:

    I am trying to find the Indian meaning of Chesapeake. James Michener’s book Chesapeake says; the great river in which fish with hard shell coverings abound. Does anyone know if this is correct and where I can authenicate its Indian meaning.
    Thanks