Windmill Point

windmill in Peale's Painting of "Washington and his Generals"

Located on the bluff “at a point near Yorktown…just below a small creek,” is the description of the property when William Buckner, a prominent merchant and town trustee in Yorktown, agreed to use one acre of  the property of John Lewis and his wife on July 16, 1711 “for a wind mill” as part of the business deal.  Buckner agreed with Lewis to build a windmill and keep it in good order for at least seven years or forfeit any right to the land.  Additionally, the windmill was to grind corn.  It was also necessary for Buckner to grind 12 barrels of Indian corn yearly for Lewis, free of charge.[1] [2]

The bluff is still known today as ‘Windmill Point.’  The octagonal windmill, standing tall above the bluff in James Wilson Peale’s painting of George Washington meeting with other officers after the surrender of Lord Cornwall in October, 1781.  The windmill had conventional sails and a tower.  In addition, the windmill had a long boom that moved the turret which may have been attacked to a dolly or carriage that rolled along yoked by an oxen team.  By 1850, an engraving shows the windmill appeared to have been abandoned for some time as the sails were gone and the building in poor condition.  [3]

During the Civil War, the bluff was used as an observation station by the Union Army and fortified and breast works which can be seen today.  A careful investigation of the site might turn up foundation bricks believe associated with the windmill.[4]

The Colonial National Historical Park (CNHP) has no archaeological evidence show where the windmill stood on Windmill Point.  Windmill Point according to CNHP is too difficult to return a replica windmill as the terrain too steep and clearing would result in erosion problems.  CNHP is pleased to see completion of Walt Akers’ windmill, which was created at the request of Superintendent, who assisted with the placement at the Waterman’s Museum on Water Street.   At this time, CNHP is not interested in pursuing Windmill Point for any eventual replica windmill placement.

Colonial Yorktown, by Clyde F. Trudell, c-1971, Pg 128-9; Colonial Yorktown’s
Main Street, by Colonial National Historical park – Virginia, c-1980, Pgs 9-11.

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

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