In antebellum Fredericksburg, the Knox family was rather well-off and respected by their community. The family home at 1200 Princess Anne Street, now the Kenmore Inn, was nigh unto their house of worship at St. George’s Episcopal Church. They ran a successful business and had a pleasant life filled with many luxuries.
Yet by the time the Civil War was over, sons Robert and James Knox had experienced the dire consequences of battle from trench to prison camp. The rest of the family, forced to evacuate the Fredericksburg several times, learned to live as refugees and take care of themselves as well as the people they met.
From The Fredericksburg News, Thursday, January 10, 1878
THE ICE HARVEST is a large one, and the business activity of the past few days to gather it in, has been a stirring scene on our wintry streets. Men and horses, waggons and carts, have improved the fleeting hours in the most rapid manner and the rumble of wheels over the icy ground has been unceasing from morning till night. Mr. A. P. Rowe's pond has furnished a large amount of excellent ice, about five inches thick, and all the Ice houses in town and country will be filled with this indispensable luxury, of home production this Season.
From the Central Rappahannock Regional Library
- America's Forgotten Architecture by Tony P. Wrenn and Elizabeth D. Mulloy.
- This book teaches how to look for architectural beauty in old buildings which may have been forgotten and whose loveliness deserves to be preserved. It features crisp black and white photos from across America. The authors explain early architectural styles and define preservation terms. Wonderful for browsing.
With Google's now infamous detailed photos, it's rather easy to see how a town is laid out today. But what about 50, 100, or 150 years ago? Where are the maps that show how the towns and counties grew through the years? One excellent source of information is the Sanborn fire insurance maps.
From the Central Rappahannock Regional Library
- A Different Story: A Black History of Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania, Virginia by Ruth Coder Fitzgerald.
- These chapters are of particular interest: Chapter 2, Occupations and Owners (Antebellum period) and Chapter 13, Occupations (post-Civil War).
- Economic Challenge and Mercantile Enterprise in a Southern Urban System: A Case Study of Fredericksburg, Virginia, 1835-1880 by Keith Edward Littlefield.
- A doctoral dissertation written under the auspices of the University of Maryland, Graduate Studies in Geography. 380 pages.
- Fifty Years of Service in the Printing Business, 1894-1944: Fiftieth Anniversary, May 10th, 1944 by Robert A. Kishpaugh.
- Mr. Kishpaugh noted important local dates in the city's history in his 31-page book.
- Four Mayors of Fredericksburg: An Oral History collected by Archer Williams.
- Mayors Cowan, Rowe, Cann, and Davies recall the events of their administrations in 20th-century Fredericksburg.
- Spotswood's Iron by Ralph C. Meima.
- Alexander Spotswood's blast furnace was an important early step for industrialization in the Virginia Colony.
- Fredericksburg Business Directories
- The library has the 1852 directory (photocopies) and the 1888-89 directory (combined with Alexandria). The 1892, 1910 (copied), and 1921 directories are also available. CRRL has a run of directories from 1938 to the present with the exceptions of 1957, 1960, 1963, and 1988 which are missing.
- The Fredericksburg Fire of 1807 by Edward Alvey, Jr.
- The 1807 fire destroyed six city blocks, including 45 homes, plus warehouses and stores.
- The Fredericksburg Times.
- This local magazine often featured articles by local historians. A separate index is available.
- The Fredericksburg Wood Working Plant by Peter Pockriss.
- Built in 1896 and shut down in 1904, the wood working plant produced milled lumber and house trim for orders that were shipped as far as New York City and Boston. It was adjacent to the old Bridgewater Mills, near Amaret Street.
- The Free Lance-Star Historical and Industrial Number: Portraying the Glorious Past and Future Possibilities of Fredericksburg, Virginia (1907) edited and compiled by Albert E. Walker.
- This intriguing glimpse into Fredericksburg's industrial past is complete with photos. An index, compiled by Robert Hodge, is available separately.
- Historic Fredericksburg by Oscar H. Darter.
- A 55-page account, written in the 1950s, by a local historian and college professor. Each year, the University of Mary Washington's history department gives a scholarship in honor of Dr. Darter’s memory.
- History of Fredericksburg, Virginia by Alvin T. Embrey.
- A history written in the 1930s that includes biographical notes.
- The History of the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia by S.J. Quinn.
- This lengthy 1908 history is often affectionately referred to as "Quinn." Also available online.
- The Journal of Fredericksburg History.
- Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc.'s annual, illustrated, and scholarly volume.
- Oral History Index, 1997-1999 indexed by Ruth Coder Fitzgerald.
- An index to Historic Fredericksburg Foundation's oral history project. Click here for a listing of titles.
- Reference Materials for Historic Preservation 463 Laboratory in Museum Design and interpretation compiled by John N. Pearce, Tad Czyzewski and Kathy J. Beard.
The Industries of Fredericksburg, c1720-1996
Fredericksburg Business Data
City/Battlefield Industrial Park (Fredericksburg Industrial Park)
Fredericksburg Businesses: Major Employers
Fredericksburg: All Businesses, by Street
Documents relating to the creation of an exhibit with the working title, "Industrial Fredericksburg," at the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center
Major headings from A History of Technology, Volumes III, IV, and V, and from Technology and Society in Twentieth Century America
The year 2002 celebrated the 250th anniversary of the foundation of "George Washington's Mother Lodge." According to the authors of The History of Freemasonry in Virginia, "Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 stands out as one of the brightest Lodges in the early history of Freemasonry in Virginia." Since 1752 it has maintained a continuous Masonic presence in Fredericksburg. Many of the town's prominent citizens have been members, and many of its prominent buildings have Masonic cornerstones.
“She was always very generous with her time and hospitality to me, and I loved working with her. She helped me with my walking tour as well. I have not been in touch with her over the past several years, but to this day whenever I give one of my walking tours downtown, I make sure that all on the tour with me are made aware that the basis for most of the information shared on the walking tour is the result of the great work and passion of one Ruth Coder Fitzgerald and her book -- A Different Story. In my view, Ruth was always a caring and powerful voice for the underdog, the ‘little guy,’ and her lifelong commitment to inform, to teach, and advocate for that particular constituent speaks volumes about her makeup, her sense of fairness for all, and her heart of gold. My admiration and love for Ruth, and what she stood for, is never-ending.”
--Jervis Hairston, former City Planner and local historian
On April 10, 2013, a highly-regarded pioneer in local African American history died at her home in downtown Fredericksburg. Ruth Coder Fitzgerald was well-known throughout the community for her historical research and writings as well as for her championing of an important cause for Vietnam veterans.
FREDERICKSBURG IN REVOLUTIONARY DAYS
We come now to the record of one of the most important of Virginia's institutions for the prosecution of the war: the manufactory of small arms established by ordinance of the Convention of July, 1775. The facts here presented are those discovered in files of correspondence at present in the Department of Archives of the Virginia State Library, Richmond. There are large gaps in the record of this manufactory: the books and papers of the director seem to have wholly disappeared, and we are forced to rely on the ordinance of Convention establishing this institution, a few subsequent laws and single documents for its history prior to September, 1780; but, from that time forward there remains the correspondence of Charles Dick, on whose shoulders rested the burden of keeping up this institution.
In November, 1775, Harrower tells us of a muster of the minute men of the district, composed of the counties of Spotsylvania, Caroline, King George, and Stafford, which was held at "Belvideira," below the town. In the list of members of the Spotsylvania committee of safety chosen by direction of ordinance of convention on November 17th, of this year, by an assembly of freeholders of the county, meeting in Fredericksburg we find the town represented by Fielding Lewis, Charles Washington, George Thornton and Hugh Mercer. Throughout the Revolutionary War Fredericksburg was a center of distinction. "There is not one spot in the State so generally useful in our military operations," wrote James Mercer in April, 1781. The spring of 1781 witnessed in Virginia that remarkable campaign of the gallant young Marquis de LaFayette; the wonderfully conducted retreat from Richmond leading Cornwallis away from that important center and attempting a juncture with Wayne, who was on his way from Pennsylvania with reinforcements.
William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine (William and Mary Quarterly)
Volume XXVII, No. 2. October 1918. pp. 73-95. Parts II and III may also be read online.
FREDERICKSBURG IN REVOLUTIONARY DAYS
In a charming diary kept by him while under indentures to Colonel William Daingerfield, of Belvideira (a plantation on the river about seven miles below Fredericksburg) John Harrower a clever Scotchman, and schoolmaster to the youth of the Daingerfield and other neighboring households, was wont from time to time to copy letters which he had addressed to his "kith and kin" across the seas. In a letter to his wife in Lerwick in Scotland, sent under date of December 6, 1774, Harrower, after alluding to the "hote war" on the frontier which had terminated in the sanguinary battle of Point Pleasant: the conflict known to history as Dunmore's War, refers to the trouble then brewing between the Mother Country and her American colonies.