Quick weekend get away Va. Beach, Virginia...

With some weather coming our way, I decided to pack a bag and my metal detecting gear and head to Virginia Beach. I headed out Friday after work and slowly made my way East. I stopped just East of the Hampton Bridge Tunnel to let the traffic die down a bit. There is a boat landing there were you can pull right up to the water and take it all in.

Arriving at the beach a secured some chow. While I ate my dinner I watched as two tow truck drivers cruised the parking lots looking for vehicles to tow. I walked over and asked if there were any 24 hour parking lots...They were very helpful and gave me a few suggestions. I wanted to be close to the beach as my plan was to do some metal detecting that evening. Free on street parking is unheard of around the beach and the cost for a campsite near the beach was anywhere from $40 to $70 per night. I parked in a parking lot for $20 just off the beach.

Metal detecting for just a few hours, I managed to find about $8 in clad, not the gold ring with diamonds hanging off it I had wished for. Fun anyway!! Hit the rack and watched a Denzel Washington movie "Fences." Great movie! Rain came down pretty hard that night.

Got up the next morning, rustled up some breakfast and coffee from the local fast food joint. Parked the van right off the beach and watched sun rise. Surfers paddling out near the pier looking for the best waves. Grabbed my Minelab CTX 3030 and hit the beach again. Few hours later, no ring but another pocket full off clad.

I did work on a list of things "To Do" on the van next. Topping off that list is finishing the sliding door. Need to get finished panels on and window installed.

Called my daughter and granddaughter who weren't far from my current location. Made a plan to meet at a local state park for some exploring. Turns out First Landing State Park is a really cool park. Trails, beaches, boat ramp are just some of the reasons to stop and explore. The park is a favorite of my daughter and granddaughter, turns out they go there often.

After collecting clams, snails and running from little small crabs, we were hungry and headed to a local taco shop. This was my second time eating at Pelon. Great tacos and good service. Give them a go, you'll be glad you did! Video here

Sometimes the "Art of doing nothing.." must be worked on. Here I am working it hard!

After lunch, they headed to NC and I head to the Chesapeake Bay to do a little more detecting. Got another hour or so in before the rain came in hard. Packed my gear up and decided to make a run for the house. Great weekend!


VMI family stories confirmed...

So after writing and posting the article about my family ancestry and a poem my great grand father wrote (find it here), Richard Williams commented on the article and passed on to me the name of the Director of the museum at VMI as well as all his contact information. Later that night, I emailed the director and with in twenty four hours the director confirmed some of the family stories. 

Special thanks goes out to Richard Williams for suggesting and sorta kinda pushing me to contacting the director. I only live an hour or so from VMI and have never gone up there to confirm the stories. I have often put it on my list of things to do, but it always has gotten bumped off for one reason or another. With Richard giving me the email address and phone number and suggesting how helpful the director had been to him in the past...my excuses were no more. Check out Richard's blog here. It is a treasure trove of good information to any one who likes American history, particularly Southern history. Rick has also written several books, give them a try. You can buy his books here.

Another huge thanks to Col. Gibson for confirming the family stories and then some. I'm sure the Director of the Museum at VMI has to be a very busy job. I'm grateful for his time and effort put into answering my questions. Thanks again Col. Gibson...

On to the history uncovered at VMI...It turns out my great grand father donated 10 items to the museum and some of those artifacts are unbelievable. The walking cane from the vertebra of a tiger shark is there. It turns out that it was given to R.W. Weiss by a ship's Captain. It was made by French convicts imprisoned on Devil's Island. There was no record on a sword donated by R.W. Weiss.

Here is a list of other items R.W. Weiss donated to the museum:

Gun used in General Custer's command. Marked "U.S. Springfield 1873". Marked #20 on butt. Picked up by Indian scout after massacre at Little Big Horn. Bought by Weiss from an Indian with Buffalo Bill Cody. Serial # 39667.

Model, Architect's Model of an outrigger boat made by the cannibals in the Dutch East Indies.

My grand father Rudolph Jules Weiss, VMI Cadet 1939 

My grand father Rudolph Jules Weiss, VMI Cadet 1939 

Belt of an American soldier.

German helmet .

Piece of iron from Jamestown.

Shell from The Crater.

Five grapeshot from The Crater. 

Ramrod from The Crater.

Gras Rifle, Model 1874. French. Manufacturer Armes Chatellerault, Mle. 1874 M. 80. Rifle SN: A 96498. Bolt SN: A 96498


Good luck and HH



Fire in my soul...

"Down thru the years we wander, till twilight shadows fall, tis then we open our treasure chest, and reminiscing go."  

October 18, 1934  Captain R.W. Weiss


         R.W. Weiss and Marion his wife

I would have loved to meet the man R.W. Weiss. That poem strikes a fire in my soul every time I read it. Captain Weiss was born in Kronach, Germany  on Oct 18, 1889. Weiss arrived in America in 1914 and quickly started a family and made a name for himself. As the manager for the Alcoa Steamship Co in Hampton Roads area, Weiss served three US Presidents, (Eisenhower, Truman, Roosevelt) as well as the countries of Germany, Mexico, Haiti and Panama as honorary consular.  R.W. Weiss was my great grandfather. He died November of 1966, just eight months before I was born.

I was born in Texas, my father W.J. Weiss was in the US Army and stationed at Fort Hood. Later, my mother married again, and my last name changed to Johnson. In fact, I did not know I was a Weiss until the age of thirteen. 

Having done (and continue to do) research on my ancestors, I have found on my fathers side (Weiss) our history here in the US is some what short (beginning in 1914). I hired a genealogist in Germany without much success. Perhaps, a trip to Germany myself is in order to continue the search. My mothers side (Braswell) has a long history here in the US dating back to the early 1700's. The Braswell family is full of patriots from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Indian Wars and the Civil War.

Word has it that my great grand father did some exploring around the coast of Africa before coming to America. My grand father went to Virginia Military Institute and the word is that R.W. Weiss donated several items to the museum at VMI. One being a cane made from the vertebrae of a Tiger shark (from Africa). Another one being some type of sword found in the Chesapeake Bay while dredging. I need to get up to VMI and nail down these stories, true or false. It's just up the road an hour or so...

I do have an item that came from my great grand fathers collection. An 1860 Colt .44 pistol black powder conversion. My father gave it to me and I will pass it along to one of my son's.

Read the update here...

Good luck and HH