Virginia History

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 2:49pm

Everybody knows that the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving, right? Well, probably not, but it was the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving that gave us our Thanksgiving holiday as we know it today.

The Pilgrims came to the New World looking for a way to worship God as they wished. They were not Puritans. Puritans wanted to change the Church of England to do away with its bishops but keep its ties to the government. The Puritans went on to settle the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Pilgrims at the Plymouth Colony were Separatists.

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 9:23pm

By Jane Kosa and Virginia Johnson

Pocahontas, the Powhatan princess who befriended the Jamestown colonists, married the Englishman John Rolfe in 1614, and is believed by many to have saved John Smith's life—that is what the world knows about the Powhatan Confederacy. Her father, Powhatan, almost alone, united the small, scattered Algonquian tribes of present-day Virginia and Delaware into a 30-tribe group in the late 1500s. We know this group as the Powhatan Confederacy. The Confederacy included 128 Algonquian villages and 20,000+ people at its peak in the early 1600s.

Powhatan and his people welcomed the English settlers in 1607 and helped them survive the first winter here by teaching them how to grow corn and tobacco, providing them medicine, and helping them hunt. But that relationship wasn't to last. Even so, for hundreds of years, people have told the story of a young Powhatan girl who was believed to have saved an English captain's life and established peace for a time between their peoples.

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 11:53am

Travelers who take a turn off of busy Route 1 near Aquia Harbor find themselves viewing a living monument to colonial Virginia's past. Protected from the surrounding sprawl by its location, nestled on a hilltop surrounded by trees, this beautiful church dates to the decades before the Revolutionary War. Its long and sometimes difficult history—preserved in bricks, stone, and written memories, includes tales of preachers, firebrands, soldiers, and star-crossed lovers.

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 8:41am
Patawomek village coming to HQ

Fifty members of the Patawomeck tribe will recreate one of their villages at the library. On the front lawn, you’ll smell venison and fish roasting on an open fire, hear live Patawomeck music, explore a longhouse, sit in a 13-foot canoe, and see Patawomeck dancing. You and your family can pound cornmeal, play Indian football, play drums, and meet a Pocahontas reenactor. Inside the theatre, you’ll see artifacts that are 10,000 years old, learn how regalia is made, hear Patawomeck storytelling, watch a movie, and make crafts.

Save the date: Saturday, August 5, from 9:00-3:00 at Headquarters Library.

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 10:35pm

Between April and September 1862, an estimated 10,000 slaves fled the South through our region. As part of the local Civil War Sesquicentennial commemorations, the Trail to Freedom project was designed to give the public a better understanding of the experiences of those whom the war impacted greatly but are often only a footnote in history books.

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 8:22am
Accessing the Old Newspapers of Fredericksburg

There have been newspapers published in Fredericksburg since 1788. (The only gap came in 1862-65, when the city was devastated by war.)  Fredericksburg has been a one-newspaper town – the Free Lance-Star –- since the 1920s, but before that many newspapers were published locally….

 

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 2:46am
Cover to Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil War

Two armies faced each other in winter camps across the Rappahannock River. The fighting in December had gone very badly for the Union as they tried to take the Confederate position at Marye’s Heights. Friends and sometimes family had been killed, and the Southern town of Fredericksburg was largely left in ruins.

For months, these two enemy armies went about their business on opposite sides of the river. During those long days and nights, they weren’t firing cannons anymore, but they were sending out volleys of music to lift their soldiers’ spirits. Each side had its patriotic songs. Often they had the same tune but different words, and each side would sing and cheer their own bands.

On those winter nights, they might close with a special tune. One that everyone sang the same words to: “Home, Sweet Home.”

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 2:54pm

On October 6, 2007, the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center, 907 Princess Anne Street, opened a retrospective exhibit of the paintings of Fredericksburg artist John Adams Elder, "Fredericksburg's Artist of the Civil War."

The retrospective exhibit, the first of Elder's work since 1947, included portraits, landscapes and paintings of the Civil War and Southern life. It was on view until September 7, 2008.

The paintings, many of which come from the Library of Virginia's collection, include:  

Tue, 01/24/2017 - 1:23pm

In June 1816, the Virginia Herald announced a meeting to be held to formulate plans for making the Rappahannock River commercially navigable above the fall line rapids at Fredericksburg.

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 11:53am

On May 29, 2005, a public dedication ceremony was held at the Richard Kirkland Monument, adjacent to the newly restored Sunken Road. Workers spent months burying power lines, removing pavement, and restoring the stone wall. All of this recreated the look and feel of what became one of the bloodiest pieces of ground in the Civil War.

Fredericksburg rises from the fall line of the Rappahannock River. Its natural hills are generally considered to be just part of the scenic landscape. Wealthy townspeople, such as the Willis and Marye families, built their mansions on the heights. Before the Civil War, the scenery was pleasant but otherwise unremarkable.

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