History Feature Articles

The Ghosts of Fredericksburg

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.

African-American History of Spotsylvania, Virginia

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, overhalf of whom were black.
Alex Haley's award winning novel, Roots, cast his African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, as a slave of a Spotsylvania family.

Walk Through History...Mill Sites and Water Power

By Fredericksburg Area Tourism Department

INTRODUCTION

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.

Walk Through History...Washington Avenue

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.

The Army of the Potomac in Stafford County, 1862-1863: A Driving Tour

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.

Coffee Houses: A Tradition Dating to Colonial Times

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.

Hands-on Colonial Crafts

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.

Mapping the Past

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, the Sanborn fire insurance maps, is available online to our patrons at no charge.

The Weddings of Five Famous Virginia Brides

These five brides from three centuries left distinctive imprints on Virginia history. One was a humble serving girl; another was an Indian princess. The other brides were a mother, granddaughter and great-granddaughter whose marriages would place them in the forefront of national affairs.

For each, their weddings were times of celebration. The future would take them along unexpected and divergent paths.

Anne Burroughs
Jamestown — Autumn, 1608