These hickory nuts, along with walnuts, were identified in abundance in the colony’s second well. Hickory has been heavily relied upon throughout the eastern United States, and nuts have been found in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States archaeologically as early as the Archaic period (8000-6000 BC). They would have been an important source of food for Native Virginians, who likely prepared them as food for the colonists, or taught the Englishmen how to crack open the shell to get to the nut inside and then what to do with the nut to make a meal. The nutmeat provides oils, protein, and fats to one’s diet. Hickory milk, referred to by John Smith in his diaries as being called Pawcohiscora by the Native Virginians, was made by grinding the nuts into small pieces and then steeping them in water and decanting the liquid—similar to today’s almond, oat, and soy milks!
Hickory trees also had many uses to both Native Virginians and the early colonists. Hickory wood is a slow-burning fuel, so may have been used to extend the life of a fire used for warmth or cooking. The hickory nut hull and shell could have been used for kindling.