Jamestown, 400 Years After the First Settlers, Still Surprises

"Just think of them wearing those dark woolen outfits in that heat," says Kelso as we pass a row of grave markers. "One document says they died because of exertion, just exertion in the climate."

Their relations with the local Powhatan tribe -- some journal entries refer to them as "the naturals" -- were sometimes friendly, sometimes deadly. Kelso says there's evidence the Powhatan sometimes lived right within the walls of the fort, sometimes helping the English find food.

At other times, the Powhatan attacked. At least one English skeleton was found with an arrowhead embedded in bone. English armor had been found -- obsolete in Europe by 1607 but useful against the bow and arrow.

By the 1620s, though, it was clear that the colonists were going to make it. They planted tobacco and shipped it back to Europe at great profit. For every settler who died, more arrived from England.

"What kept them going, all through that period, was the idea that there was greater opportunity here," says historian Horn. "There are opportunities that the New World offers that the Old World doesn't to ordinary people."

"I owe them a lot," says Kelso, "and I've often said that this is where the American dream begins. They came over to better their lives, get land, get a piece of the action."

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