Virginia History

Coffee Houses: A Tradition Dating to Colonial Times

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.

1885 Business Directory

This directory was printed in the main body of The Free Lance newspaper. 

The Free Lance.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 1885.

[Entered at the Post-Office at Fredericksburg, Va., as second-class matter.] 

The Business of Fredericksburg.

Our Business Directory is as complete as we can make it for the present. It shows the organization of the city, the courts, the churches partially, the several societies, together with the date of their meetings, and also our active business men, individually, as firms.

August Is National Parks Month

Camping, fishing, hiking, history, grand vistas, and horseback riding--there are so many possibilities in our national parks.

Farmyard Animal Friends

This year's Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair runs from July 23 to August 2, 2009. There will be many things to see and do, but the farm animals, homebaked goodies, and homegrown vegetables are always popular.

Chincoteague Ponies

On the last Thursday in July, the wild ponies on Virginia's Assateague Island will make their annual swim across to Chincoteague Island. Many of the foals will be auctioned off to raise money for the local fire department, just as they have since 1925. The custom of rounding up the ponies is much older, dating back to the 1700s at least, and it has always been held with a lot of celebration. Today, you and your family can visit Chincoteague during Pony Penning, enjoy a carnival and great seafood, and perhaps bring home your very own foal.

The Rattle of Sabers and the Sting of Gunpowder: Virginia's Role in the Civil War

Manassas. Fredericksburg. Chancellorsville. Richmond. Appomattox.

In these places and dozens of others, some too far away from civilization to be remembered, the sound of rifles and the drumming of hoofbeats echoed through the valleys and tore apart towns as the armies of North and South engaged in the terrible conflict that was the Civil War.

A Family Narrative of a Revolutionary Officer

Francis Brooke, later of St. Julien in Spotsylvania County, was only sixteen when he became an officer in General Harrison's artillery regiment. This short memoir of his military service and his days afterward as an eminent jurist is peppered with the names of famous Virginians, many of whom were his friends and family members.

The Ice Harvest

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.

Fannie Richards: Integration Pioneer

From The Journal of Negro History, Volume 1, January 1916

 The following is excerpted from The Journal of Negro History, Volume 1, January 1916, pp. 30-36, which is available online at Manybooks.net.

She was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, October 1, 1841. As her people left that State when she was quite young she did not see so much of the intolerable conditions as did the older members of the family. Miss Richards was successful in getting an early start in education. Desiring to have better training than what was then given to persons of color in Detroit, she went to Toronto. There she studied English, history, drawing and needlework. In later years she attended the Teachers Training School in Detroit. Her first thought was to take up teaching that she might do something to elevate her people. She, therefore, opened a private school in 1863, doing a higher grade of work than that then undertaken in the public schools. About 1862, however, a colored public school had been opened by a white man named Whitbeck. Miss Richards began to think that she should have such a school herself.