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.
By Thomas Hariot
The Second Part
CONCERNING SUCH COMMODITIES AS VIRGINIA
IS KNOWN TO YIELD FOR FOOD AND THE SUSTENANCE
OF LIFE, CUSTOMARILY EATEN BY THE NATIVES
AND USED BY US WHILE WE WERE THERE
FIRST, CONCERNING SUCH AS ARE SOWN AND FARMED.
Pagatowr is a kind of grain. It is called maize in the West Indies; Englishmen name it Guinea wheat or Turkey wheat, after the countries from which a similar grain has been brought. This grain is about the size of our ordinary English peas and, while similar to them in form and shape, differs in color, some grains being white, some red, some yellow, and some blue. All of them yield a very white and sweet flour which makes excellent bread. We made malt from the grain while we were in Virginia and brewed as good an ale of it as could be desired. It also could be used, with the addition of hops, to produce a good beer. The grain increases on a marvelous scale-a thousand times, fifteen hundred, and in some cases two thousand fold. There are three sorts, of which two are ripe in ten, eleven, and, at the most, twelve weeks, when their stalks are about six or seven feet in height. The third one ripens in fourteen weeks and is ten feet high. Its stalks bear one, two, three, or four heads, and every head contains five, six, or seven hundred grains, as near as I can say. The inhabitants not only use it for bread but also make food of these grains. They either parch them, boiling them whole until they break, or boil the flour with water into a pap.
By T.M., a planter and representative from Stafford County
But to return from this digression, the Susquehanoughs were newly driven from their habitations, at the head of Chesepiack bay, by the Cineca Indians, down to the head of Potomack, where they sought protection under the Pascataway Indians, who had a fort near the head of that river, and also were our ffriends.
By Philip Vickers Fithian
From the Journal and Letters of Philip Vickers Fithian, A Plantation Tutor of the Old Dominion, 1773-1774
Editor's note: the spellings are to period and from Mr. Fithian's diary.
La[s]t night we had a Gust of Rain & Thunder; very acceptable—To Day in course Mr. Christians Dance happens here--He came before Breakfast—Miss Jenny Washington came also, & Miss Priscilla Hale while we were at Breakfast
From August 7 to August 14, 1746.
RAN away from the Subscribers on the 31st of July last, Three Servants, viz. Daniel M'Craw, a Scots-Highlander, of a short Stature, speaks broken English, about 5 Feet 2 Inches high, of a swarthy Complexion, with short curl'd Hair: Had on when he went away, a coarse Bear-skin Coat, with Brass Buttons, a Pair of brown Linen Trowsers and Shirt. He belonged to Mr. Charles Dick, in Fredericksburg. John Ross, a Scots-Highland Boy, about 16 Years of age, of a ruddy Complexion, full-fac'd, speaks broken English, and has his Hair cut: He carried with him an Oznabrig Shirt, a Pair of Oznabrig Trowsers and Breeches, a Tartan Waistcoat without Sleeves, lin'd with green Shalloon, a brown Holland and a white Linen ditto, a Silk Handkerchief, a Felt Hat, and a Leather hunting Cap. He belonged to Mr. John Mitchell, in Fredericksburg. Thomas Haily, an Irishman, about 36 Years of Age, of a fair Complexion, about 5 Feet 8 Inches high; had on when he went away, a dark colour'd Broad-Coath Coat, double-breasted with Metal Buttons, a Pair of Trowsers, an Oznabrig Shirt, a white Linen ditto, and a fine Beaver Hat. He belonged to Doctor William Lynn, in Fredericksburg. Whoever apprehends the said Servants and brings them to their Masters aforesaid, shall receive a Pistole Reward for each, besides what the Law allows. Witness our Hands this 21st Day of July, 1746. Charles Dick. William Lynn. John Mitchell.
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.
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.
On Sunday, April 24, 2005, the parade of 19th-century-era coaches came again to historic Stratford Hall, once home to two signers of the Declaration of Independence, a Revolutionary War hero, and Robert E. Lee. The triennial event is a major fundraiser for the National Historic Landmark in Westmoreland County.
Beneath the silt of the Rappahannock and its shores lie objects and structural remains related to the earliest periods of Leaseland and Fredericksburg activity.