History Feature Articles
By Janet Payne
Janet Payne is the retired fine arts coordinator of the Stafford (VA) County Public Schools.
This article originally appeared in the International Review of African American Art, volume 16, number 1, and is reproduced here with the permission of this publication.
(This brochure was originally printed in the fall of 2002.)
Africans first arrived in the Virginia colony in 1619 as indentured servants. In the late 1600s slaves were brought into the sparsely settled Rappahannock Valley, primarily to serve as agricultural laborers.
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.
By the Fredericksburg Area Tourism Department
In 1714, the Stuart dynasty ended in England with the death of Queen Anne. George I, elector of Hanover, Germany, was selected to become the next ruler of England, thus beginning the long reign of the House of Hanover.
Hanover Street, named after the House of Hanover, was developed on part of a tract of land granted in 1671 to early Virginia settlers Thomas Royston and John Buckner. The street was one of Fredericksburg's original eight streets, when the city was granted its charter in 1728.
By Fredericksburg Area Tourism Department
The spirit of the past still lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia. George Washington's foot-steps 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.
By the Spotsylvania Department of Tourism
From The Start ...
Blacks first arrived in isolated and sparsely populated Spotsylvania County along with white settlers in the early 1700's. Through the years before the Civil War, as slaves and occasionally as free men and women, they were an important force in area development. Occupations included labor as farm and plantation workers, as domestic servants, and as artisans, such as blacksmiths, carpenters, coopers, and fine needleworkers. They also worked in the iron industries, mining, construction, shipping on the Rappahannock River, and in their own businesses.
By the first half of the 19th century, Spotsylvania County's population reached about 11,000, over half of whom were black.
Alex Haley's award winning novel, Roots, cast his African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, as a slave of a Spotsylvania family.
By Fredericksburg Area Tourism Department
Fredericksburg is located at the falls of the Rappahannock River - the point where the flat, sandy, coastal plain meets the hilly, rocky piedmont to the west. This is where the river becomes unnavigable - rocky rapids and shallow waters make its channel impassable to vessels.
By The Fredericksburg Area Tourism Department
WASHINGTON AVENUE WEST
1200 - Built in 1916/ 1917 for Victor & M.C. Moon, traveling salesman. Architect, Philip Stern. Brick, showing modern and oriental infuence, quality work with early tile roof and copper drains.
By The Rappahannock Valley Civil War Roundtable
No great battles were fought within Stafford County, but during the winter of 1862-1863, 120,000 men of the Army of the Potomac camped along its ridges and valleys. The federal army combed the countryside, stripping the inhabitants of nearly everything - livestock, fence rails, crops, and lumber. With little remaining to eat and firewood for heating scarce (some sources claim that only 20 trees pre-dating the war exist in the county today), most residents were forced to leave. When these homes were found abandoned, Union soldiers simply pulled down the house and used it for firewood.
With steaming cups in hand, today's Fredericksburg area coffee shops continue a tradition which dates back three centuries to the founding of the town.
Walk in gentlemen, rest at your ease,
Pay for what you call for, and call for what you please.
This verse hung over the doorway of The Coffee House in old Fredericksburg. Located in the first Market House/Town Hall on Caroline Street near William, it was here that 18th- and 19th-century Fredericksburgers sipped their favorite brew and pondered questions from the political to the classical.