Barbara Crookshanks

Local Doctor's Hours of Heroism

The time was sunset on Sept. 23, 1779. A full moon was rising. The place was the bloody deck of John Paul Jones’ ship the Bon Homme Richard. There a young Spotsylvanian named Laurence Brooke would show the stuff of which heroes are made.  At age 21, he was the lone surgeon on the Bon Homme Richard as it engaged the 50-gun HMS Serapis in the North Sea off Scarborough, England. The burning Serapis surrendered after a 3 1/2-hour battle during which John Paul Jones proclaimed: “I have not yet begun to fight!”

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.

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

Alum Spring Park: A Walk Through History

Alum Spring Park is a 34-acre woodland retreat off Greenbriar Drive with a playground and hiking trails. Its sandstone cliff, also known as the Alum Spring Rock, is 400 feet long and 40 feet high.

Scented Geraniums Were Stars in Victorian Valentine Bouquets

Scented geraniums' modest flowers are almost invisible among the big blossoms of their flamboyant cousins...but their fragrant leaves made them the secret stars of Victorian Valentine bouquets.

Mary Ball Washington: "His Revered Mother"

Fredericksburg's Mary Ball Washington was an intrepid 18th-century woman who raised five children alone. The oldest became the first President of the United States.

Mary Washington's name and heritage are alive and well in the Fredericksburg area and beyond. Her home is at the corner of Lewis and Charles streets; the Mary Washington Monument is on Washington Avenue, which was originally Mary Washington Avenue.

John Lee Pratt's Frigidaire

 This sizzling summer seems a fitting season to recall the almost forgotten story of John Lee Pratt and the Frigidaire, one of the first "mechanical" refrigerators.

In 1919 Mr. Pratt, a King George County boy who would become a multi-millionaire and owner of Chatham Manor, was a General Motors engineer.

That same year GM had produced the Frigidaire, one of the first mechanical refrigerators for home use. They were called "mechanical" because some were powered by electricity, others by gas.

Downtown Hotels Abounded in the 19th Century

Today, Fredericksburg ponders the building of a single downtown hotel, but during the 19th century, Fredericksburg was known as a town of hotels.

Some were large and elegant. Some catered to specific clienteles. All left their mark on Fredericksburg’s history.

Most people traveling from Washington to points south stopped over in Fredericksburg. So did those who were on their way to the Virginia springs.

Fit for a Queen: The Legacy of Sidney E. King

Sidney King: "It's a colorful country of ours. I've made it my business to make sure Mr. and Mrs. America get a glimpse of things as they happened." - from James A. Crutchfield 's Tribute to an Artist, the Jamestown Paintings of Sidney E. King

John Adams Elder: Fredericksburg's Artist of the Civil War

Image Courtesy of The Library of Virginia

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.