By Ruth Fitzgerald*
Blacks first inhabited Virginia in 1619. They came to the sparsely settled Rappahannock Valley long before Fredericksburg was officially founded in 1728.
In colonial times, Fredericksburg and Falmouth, across the Rappahannock River in Stafford County, were important centers of trade. The towns were considered the gateway to the mountains and the way west, and they also served as major seaports.
By the Fredericksburg Area Tourism Department
In 1714, the Stuart dynasty ended in England with the death of Queen Anne. George I, elector of Hanover, Germany, was selected to become the next ruler of England, thus beginning the long reign of the House of Hanover.
Hanover Street, named after the House of Hanover, was developed on part of a tract of land granted in 1671 to early Virginia settlers Thomas Royston and John Buckner. The street was one of Fredericksburg's original eight streets, when the city was granted its charter in 1728.
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.
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, over half of whom were black.
Alex Haley's award winning novel, Roots, cast his African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, as a slave of a Spotsylvania family.
The library's Virginiana Room and other historic research centers, sites, and organizations need volunteers. Come to the Fredericksburg Area Museum's 2009 Volunteer Job Fair on Monday, April 6, to learn more about volunteer opportunities in history and other fields such as health and human services, education, environment, and the arts. For more information on opportunities to volunteer your time to help with preserving the past, check out our article, Helping with History.
This article was first printed in the January, 1979 issue of the Fredericksburg Times magazine and appears here with the author's permission. Hazel Hill no longer stands.
The old Fredericksburg home, Hazel Hill, was built about 1793 by John Minor (1761-1816) at the time of his marriage (his second) to Lucy Landon Carter. It remained the Minor home until about 1855 after which its ownership passed through several hands including Montgomery Slaughter (Fredericksburg Mayor, 1860-1868) and Judge Henry Souther. It was the latter who, in the spring of 1890, sold Hazel Hill to the Honorable Joseph S. Potter.
Mr. Potter was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1866 to 1871 and the Senate from 1871 to 1874. He was appointed to a high government office in Germany where he served until April, 1890 at which time he moved to Fredericksburg. He was described as a man who could spread sunshine among people; who could make two blades of grass grow whe= re none had grown before!