Fiction authors sometimes begin historical narratives by announcing the discovery of a long-forgotten strong box in a dusty attic containing purportedly true accounts of times passed handily preserved for the modern reader’s enjoyment. T.O. Madden, Jr.'s We Were Always Free starts with just such a scenario, but unlike historical fiction, this is no ploy. The history unearthed is real and traces back to colonial Virginia when Mary Madden, an Irish woman, gave birth to a child of mixed race on August 4, 1758 in Spotsylvania County.
Because of the laws of the time, just as the mother was free so would Mary’s child, Sarah, be considered free, as would all of Sarah’s descendents. Mary and her newborn were first tended at the Collins farm in Spotsylvania, and the church vestry paid the Collins for their year of upkeep with 600 pounds of tobacco taken in tithes from the parishioners. In 1759, still being paupers, Mary was sent along with her baby, to the local workhouse where the poor labored to support themselves.
This interview airs beginning June 8.
D. P. Newton has preserved and arranged a most remarkable record of life during an era of turmoil in our nation. The White Oak Civil War Museum reflects his passion and dedication to accuracy in compiling this unique and extensive collection. In this video, host Debby Klein meets Mr. Newton at the museum on CRRL Presents, a Central Rappahannock Regional Library production.
This interview airs beginning April 26.
Many years of work with the Stafford County Historical Society, an extensive collection of historic artifacts, and authoring a definitive history of the county have made Al Conner an authority and the person to talk to about Stafford County history. Debby Klein does just that when she visits Al Conner on CRRL Presents, a Central Rappahannock Regional Library production.
This interview airs beginning April 13.
Dr. Rachel Clay’s biography, The Orioles; Second String Albert “Diz” Russell, documents the history of the legendary vocal group, the Orioles, and reflects on the great influence of its members and rhythm and blues in the history of American music. Debby Klein joins Dr. Clay in her home on CRRL Presents, a Central Rappahannock Regional Library production.
George Mason, future patriot, spent part of his childhood in Stafford County. His father died by drowning when he was very young, so he sometimes stayed with relatives including his uncle, John Mercer who lived at Marlborough Point. His uncle was a lawyer and landowner. He had a large library for the time—more than 1,500 books—and 11-year-old George enjoyed the library, including law commentaries his uncle had written.
This interview airs beginning February 2.
Caring and curious about her ancestry and her extensive family's place in the history of White Oak, in Stafford County, Lou “Whitefeather” Silver has explored her genealogy on a journey back through 400 years and 16 generations. She shares her extensive knowledge and amazing memory in an interview with Debby Klein on CRRL Presents, a Central Rappahannock Regional Library production.
This interview airs beginning January 19.
Jack Edlund has been slowly uncovering the secrets of Fredericksburg’s Old Stone Warehouse. He is also a collector of old and interesting artifacts and an artist. Jack talks about his dedication to discovery and digging in the dirt to learn about the past.
As my cotton-gloved hands examined the woven fabric, I felt the thrill of encountering a link to the age of discovery. Over a hundred years old and probably unseen and untouched for decades, this artifact of the Cook Islands was being carefully prepared by us technicians to be moved to the Smithsonian Institution’s storage facility. Some twenty years later, Professor Nicholas Thomas’ Cook: The Extraordinary Voyages of Captain James A. Cook has given me much better perspective on these pieces of the past.
Lake Anna State Park is a favorite local destination for campers, boaters, and families who just want to spend a summer day at the lakeside beach. For most of us, the way to the lake runs down Lawyers Road. These days, there’s not much to take in with the view from this one-lane road, which passes through as quiet a stretch of Spotsylvania countryside as remains in the 21st century. But in centuries past, the western part of the county was the scene for tribal wars, slave labor, religious awakenings, whiskey barrel politics, gold mining, and Civil War armies on the march.
The subtitle of A Brave Vessel by Hobson Woodward says it all: The True Tale of the Castaways Who Rescued Jamestown and Inspired Shakespeare's The Tempest. The voyage of the Sea Venture, May to July, 1609, featured an encounter with a perfect storm that flung the little boat ashore on the island of Bermuda instead of its intended destination, the fledgling colony at Jamestown.
The author is a credible historian (the text is fleshed out with ample notes and an extensive bibliography) with a novelist's skill at telling a story enlived with fleshed out characters, dramatic tension, and pacing that make it a true page turner. One of the Sea Venture's passengers was William Strachey, a writer whose extensive chronicle of the castaways' experiences of the desert island was widely circulated on his successful return to England and clearly was familiar to Shakespeare who apparently wrote his play while the news was still fresh.
Who were these people? How did they survive? How did they hand build a boat capable of getting them up to Jamestown and what did they find when they arrived? What elements did Shakespeare incorporate into his play? Fascinating reading, with an amazing finish.