Virginia History

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 3:49pm

Present-day Christmas conjures memories of snow, lighted trees, cinnamon, gifts, parties, and music. If we lived during the Civil War, what kinds of memories would we have? Would they be of family, food, warmth, and parties, or would they be of just trying to survive and stave off hunger? Would there be presents under the tree, or would we be happy just to be present with our loved ones. To learn a bit more about Christmas during the years 1861-1864, explore the items in the library and the Web sites listed below.

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 1:26pm
Time Travel -- Patawomeck Style

Time travel to the year 1608 in a Patawomeck village set up at the Salem Church Branch on Saturday, November 5, between 9:00 and 3:00.

Local Patawomeck tribe members will transform the library grounds into their village as it was when Captain John Smith sailed up the Potomac River. Chief John Lightner says, “We take great pride in bringing history to life by creating actual experiences for people. You get a taste of the real thing.”

Sat, 10/01/2016 - 3:30pm

By Fredericksburg Area Tourism Department

The spirit of the past still lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia. George Washington's footsteps seem to echo on the paths and streets of his hometown. The voices of Thomas Jefferson and other colonial leaders seem to resound through the Rising Sun Tavern.

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 9:02am

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, 09/22/2016 - 3:19pm

By Ruth Fitzgerald*

Blacks first inhabited Virginia in 1619. They came to the sparsely settled Rappahannock Valley long before Fredericksburg was officially founded in 1728.

In colonial times, Fredericksburg and Falmouth, across the Rappahannock River in Stafford County, were important centers of trade. The towns were considered the gateway to the mountains and the way west, and they also served as major seaports.

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 1:40pm
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….


Tue, 09/20/2016 - 11:50am

Twenty years before Jamestown was founded, over 100 women, men, and children came to Virginia to try their luck at starting a colony. They arrived on the stormy shores of what we know now as North Carolina. They were not the first to land there. Two years before, another group of colonists, all men, gave up trying to settle Roanoke Island and sailed back to England. The supply ships arrived too late to save the abandoned first colony, but they left behind fifteen soldiers to mind the fort who soon vanished into the wilds, driven off by an Indian attack.

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 8:43am

With Google's now infamous detailed photos, it's rather easy to see how a town is laid out today. But what about 50, 100, or 150 years ago? Where are the maps that show how the towns and counties grew through the years? One excellent source of information is the Sanborn fire insurance maps.

Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:58am

Chances are if you are studying colonial times, your teacher will assign a hands-on project. You could make a model of the Jamestown Fort or a copy of the Declaration of Independence-but why not try a craft that the colonists themselves would have done?

Every colonial family except for the very rich had to be able to make their own soap, candles, furniture, cloth, baskets, toys, and musical instruments. Below is one practical craft to try. Scroll down and check our lists of books and Web sites for more ideas.

Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:56am

What was it like to live long ago when Virginia belonged to England? When there were no cars, no computers, few hospitals and no free public schools?

Without cars, trains or airplanes, people traveled by boat, horseback or on foot by "shank's mare". The reason so many colonial towns were located next to rivers is that often the roads were terrible seas of mud. It was so much easier to travel on the rivers!