Roy Butler

By the King's Patent Granted

"By the King's Patent Granted" was a common embossing on English medicines of the 18th century. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries patent medicines reigned supreme as cures for everything from "hooping" cough to kidney ailments.

Early Ice Houses

The inhabitants of early Fredericksburg enjoyed a cool drink during the hot summer months, just as we do today -- hence the massive excavations referred to as ice houses. These brick-lined, wood-floored structures were generally 15 to 20 feet in depth and 12 to 15 feet in diameter.

Dairy products, meats, and other perishables had to be kept cool, and what better way to do it than to cut the ice from the Rappahannock or a local pond during January, store it in a circular, subterranean cavity, cover it with straw, and preserve it for the warm months ahead.

Toll Bridge Across the Rappahannock

 Fredericksburg bridge toll token with cost given of eight centsSince the body of water known as the Rappahannock River separated two important areas of commerce and trade, it had, of course, to be crossed constantly. The Indians had their canoes and the early settlers had their boats and ferries. The first bridge was built about 1800 and was referred to as Scott's Bridge.

Colonial Wild Pig

This article first appeared in the Fredericksburg Times magazine. It was later rebound with a collection of other articles on archaelogy by Mr. Butler and others as the book, Fredericksburg Underground. It is reprinted here with Mrs. Elizabeth Butler's permission.

The Heritage of Sophia Street

Archaeologist Roy Butler explores the historical significance of this early street, believed to have been named for Sophia Dorothea, sister of George II and mother of Frederick the Great of Prussia.

When we think of Fredericksburg history as it relates to Sophia Street, we immediately bring to mind a few specific remaining structures and sites as we see them today: The Toll House at the foot of Rocky Lane; the present Half Way house at Wolfe and Sophia Streets, once an early tavern. The Center for the Creative Arts, referred to as the Silversmith's House; and the Sandstone Warehouse at the bridge at Sophia and William Streets.

Waterfront Story

Beneath the silt of the Rappahannock and its shores lie objects and structural remains related to the earliest periods of Leaseland and Fredericksburg activity.

Saturday Night on Pleasure Island "Where the Birds Sing and the Cool Breezes Blow"

There are Fredericksburgers living today who well remember the carnival activity of Scott's Island. Most of those interviewed had difficulty pinpointing the exact dates of its beginning and end; however, judging from a handbill from the 1920s, the emphasis appears to have centered around Saturday night.