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History Blog

11/16/2017 - 11:58am
From the Virginiana Family Files: Nannie Brown Doherty

King George County was not the site of any full-scale battles between the Union and Confederate armies, but Union General Ambrose Burnside made his headquarters in King George. To local residents, the presence of the Northerners was nothing short of an invasion. The local homes were regularly searched—and often burglarized—by Federal troops.

Our first sight of them was one day when three, mounted on fine horses and with swords and many things that made a big noise, dashed through the front lawn, across the backyard to the woodpile where Father was. We children were terrified, for we thought they had come to carry Father and perhaps all of us away…Presently we heard that they were going to search the house for soldiers and ammunition…Father…was so perfectly willing that they should do so, that they began talking instead, and finally said there was no necessity for searching.

11/01/2017 - 1:54am
CRRL Guest Picks: Yvette Blake

Born and raised in Newport News, Virginia, I am a retired military warrant officer, serving 27 years in the United States Army. My family consists of a charming husband, handsome twin boys, a beautiful daughter, and two energetic grandsons. I presently work for the Department of Defense and own a small business, which provides a number of financial services. Additionally, I am a licensed real estate agent associated with the CTI Real Estate firm. I hold an associate’s degree in graphic design, a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management, and a master’s in organizational management.

I have had an interest in art, history, reading, and culture for over 30 years. I am a member of the Sisters Sippin’ Tea Literary and Social Club. This book club has chapters all over the United States, and we not only read books but also participate in community service programs as well. I’ve been a collector of miniature dolls for over 10 years. I use my miniature collection to design historical exhibits for various venues. One of my exhibits ("For Love of Liberty") was in Fredericksburg’s downtown library last year. My newest interest is Civil War reenacting. I am a member of the 23rd Regiment United States Colored Troops, the Women of the American Civil War group, and a board member of the John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center Museum.

10/12/2017 - 12:38pm
The Protestant Reformation - 1517-2017

October 31, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. The 16th century is a fascinating era of big personalities, schisms, and upheavals, many of which led to the birth of the modern world.  Biographies and historical narratives bring the past to life, and many new books are being published to commemorate this crucial time in Western history.

10/04/2017 - 3:37pm
In the Beginning... A Checklist for Genealogical Neophytes

Genealogical research is a profession for some and a hobby for many. With the advent of TV shows such as Who Do You Think You Are? and the multitude of resources available online, there are some interested novices entering the field who need a little help knowing where to start. The following brief overview is for these beginners.

09/15/2017 - 12:38pm
A Small Town Love Story: Colonial Beach, Virginia

As a long-time librarian in Colonial Beach, I'm asked frequently whether we have historical information about our town, which dates back to 1892. We had very little. In 2016, I had a chance to change this, thanks to a conversation with local author Sherryl Woods and the enthusiasm of a group of women whose memories stretch back for decades. This was one of the most memorable and fun activities I've ever been involved with.

10/02/2017 - 1:40pm
Cover to George Washington’s Virginia by John R. Maass

Virginia has long held the nickname of “the mother of presidents,” and surely its most famous native son was the first president, George Washington. His birthplace in Westmoreland County, now a national monument, can be visited today and often features living history performers demonstrating what life was like in the times he knew. George Washington’s Virginia, by John R.

07/25/2017 - 5:35pm
That Time When Salvador Dalí, Henry Miller, and Anaïs Nin Lived Together  in Caroline County (Spoiler Alert: They Did Not Get Along Well)

Home to sprawling plantations, the even more sprawling Fort A.P. Hill, and historic sites such as assassin John Wilkes Booth’s death place and explorer William Clark’s birthplace, Caroline County is an archetypal rural Virginia county, far closer in spirit to the somnolent Clayton County from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind than the avant-garde art and literature communities of cities like New York and Madrid. But for several months back in 1940 and 1941, Bowling Green, Caroline County’s seat, was the unlikely home to artist Salvador Dalí and authors Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin.

10/02/2017 - 1:46pm
The Sword and the Broom: The Exceptional Career and Accomplishments of John Mercer Langston

When Glory came out in 1989, movie audiences were excited to see a relatively unknown side of the Civil War that highlighted the sacrifices of the Massachusetts 54th, a “colored” volunteer regiment. Gripping as the story that unfolded on the screen was, there was much more to it, of course. In real life, other people’s stories became part of the regiment’s history as the Civil War gripped the nation.

John Mercer Langston, along with Frederick Douglass, acted as a recruiter for the 54th. As an abolitionist and orator, he was an excellent choice, and this task was just one of Langston’s civic accomplishments. Although he had spent most of his life in a free state, John was familiar with plantation life. His father had been a white plantation owner in Louisa County, Virginia—not far from Spotsylvania. His mother had been his father’s slave. But his parents’ story was not a common one for the era. His father freed his mother, and, although they were not allowed to marry for legal reasons, they lived together as man and wife for the rest of their days, their children considered to be freeborn.

06/14/2017 - 8:22am
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….

 

10/02/2017 - 1:55pm
Cover to Soldier Song: A True Story of the Civil War

Two armies faced each other in winter camps across the Rappahannock River. The fighting in December had gone very badly for the Union as they tried to take the Confederate position at Marye’s Heights. Friends and sometimes family had been killed, and the Southern town of Fredericksburg was largely left in ruins.

For months, these two enemy armies went about their business on opposite sides of the river. During those long days and nights, they weren’t firing cannons anymore, but they were sending out volleys of music to lift their soldiers’ spirits. Each side had its patriotic songs. Often they had the same tune but different words, and each side would sing and cheer their own bands.

On those winter nights, they might close with a special tune. One that everyone sang the same words to: “Home, Sweet Home.”

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