Sep 13, 2013 by Lee Hart

History behind the Virginia ham

Here’s a photo of the Virginia militia in training to fire on the British as they fight for independence back in 1776. I didn’t have the

Virginia militia in Old Willamsburg fire on the British.

Virginia militia in Old Willamsburg fire on the British.

guts to raise my hand and say “hey, I have British roots”….bad enough I am a Canadian.

This military display is part of the daily demonstrations in the old town of Williamsburg, Virginia. It is a reconstructed settlement in the midst of the modern city of Williamsburg on east side of the state.

The first capitol building of the United States was located here before it moved to Washington, D.C.

Old Williamsburg is an interesting mix of historic buildings, and people walking around in costume of 1700s and demonstrating the life style of the era, but there are also private residences in the village where every day Virginians live before they head to the every day modern work world outside the village boundaries. And if you really watch carefully as you travel around the village you may have a chance to buy a souvenir of your visit.

One thing I have noticed about Williamsburg, that I don’t see at home, is ham stores. Stores devoted to just selling ham. Obviously the Virginia ham is big business here.

Apparently the Indians taught the Jamestown colonist how to cure meat. The Indians were salting, smoking and curing venison, so the colonists tried the process out on hams from razorback hogs. And from there grew the Virginia ham business. The hams are still produced from a similar process — dry cured and some are smoked. Apparently a true Virginia ham is aged for six months or longer.

I did have a Virginia ham sandwich in a tavern on the main street of Old Williamsburg and it was very good. If I had more room in the suitcase, I’d be tempted to bring a ham home.

Anyway, those are a couple interesting things I learned in Williamsburg yesterday. We’ll see what today brings.

Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]

Lee Hart

Lee Hart


Lee Hart is a long-time farm writer, and honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, with many observations on the agriculture industry, who never hesitates to admit he is wrong (should that ever happen.)


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