It is a balmy 67 degrees this morning in Williamsburg as we start another day preparing for the summer season. The forecast calls for a high of 79 with the welcome addition of rain later this afternoon. And I can assure you that there are plenty of recreational beverages to be found in our taverns. But on this date in 1777, it was quite a different matter, as this entry from 33-year-old Ebenezer Hazard’s journal suggests. Heat, counterfeiting, and an absence of beer and cider made Williamsburg seem a less than hospitable locale.
“The Water at Williamsburgh is very bad; — no Beer or Cyder in town – Grog or Toddy, or Sangaree, made with vile Water is the only Drink to be had, which, with the Heat of the Weather is sufficient to keep a Man in a continual Fever. … The Virginia Money, supposed to be counterfeit is so well done as to induce a general Doubt whether it is counterfeit or not.”
But perhaps the fever of which Hazard complained was from a rather different source. In fact, he might have enjoyed Williamsburg just a little too much the night before, when he attended a ball at the Capitol. Of that he wrote,
“The Entertainment last Night was very fine, the Music excellent, the Assembly large & polite, & the Ladies made a brilliant Appearance. A Mr. Blagrave (a Clergyman), his Lady, & a Mrs. Neal, performed the vocal Parts; they sang well, especially Mr. Blagrave. His Lady played excellently on the Harpsichord. After the Entertainment was over, the Company went up Stairs to dance. I think a Mrs. Cuthbert (formerly Mrs. Blair, a Daughter of Dr. Eustis of New York) made the best Appearance as a Dancer.”
Certainly a tale of two rather different days in the revolutionary capital.