Virginia History

07/18/2011 - 3:03pm
Cover to We Were Always Free

Fiction authors sometimes begin historical narratives by announcing the discovery of a long-forgotten strong box in a dusty attic containing purportedly true accounts of times passed handily preserved for the modern reader’s enjoyment.  T.O. Madden, Jr.'s  We Were Always Free starts with just such a scenario, but unlike historical fiction, this is no ploy.  The history unearthed is real and traces back to colonial Virginia when Mary Madden, an Irish woman, gave birth to a child of mixed race on August 4, 1758 in Spotsylvania County.

Because of the laws of the time, just as the mother was free so would Mary’s child, Sarah, be considered free, as would all of Sarah’s descendents.  Mary and her newborn were first tended at the Collins farm in Spotsylvania, and the church vestry paid the Collins for their year of upkeep with 600 pounds of tobacco taken in tithes from the parishioners.  In 1759, still being paupers, Mary was sent along with her baby, to the local workhouse where the poor labored to support themselves. 

04/26/2011 - 2:50pm
CRRL Presents: Al Conner, Stafford County Historian and Author

This interview airs beginning April 26.
Many years of work with the Stafford County Historical Society, an extensive collection of historic artifacts, and authoring a definitive history of the county have made Al Conner an authority and the person to talk to about Stafford County history. Debby Klein does just that when she visits Al Conner on CRRL Presents, a Central Rappahannock Regional Library production.

03/01/2011 - 2:21pm

George Mason, future patriot, spent part of his childhood in Stafford County. His father died by drowning when he was very young, so he sometimes stayed with relatives including his uncle, John Mercer who lived at Marlborough Point. His uncle was a lawyer and landowner. He had a large library for the time—more than 1,500 books—and 11-year-old George enjoyed the library, including law commentaries his uncle had written. 

After studying at a private school in Maryland and with tutors (including his uncle), George Mason took control of his family’s lands. He was the second largest land owner in Fairfax County—the largest being George Washington. When Washington went to serve as head of the Continental Army, George Mason took his place in the Virginia legislature. 
02/09/2011 - 1:10pm
Library of Congress Picture of Fugitive Slaves Crossing the Rappahannock

Civil War Sesquicentennial programs at the library kick off with a lecture series, "The Civil War Comes to Stafford," to be presented at the England Run branch. Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park Historians will bring the Civil War to our backyard.

Join us for the first lecture in this series:

The Crossing: Slaves, Stafford, and the Great 1862 Exodus to Freedom, lecture by John Hennessy

England Run, Thursday, February 10, 7-8pm

In the spring and summer of 1862, Fredericksburg and Stafford witnessed one of the greatest flights to freedom in American history. As many as 10,000 slaves fled homes, farms, and plantations in nearby counties, bound for the Union army along the Rappahannock River. For individual slaves, the exodus represented an immense risk and an uncertain journey into freedom. For white residents, the exodus meant rapid and profound social change--the end of a labor system more than 200 years old. And for the army and federal government, the flood of freedom seekers--months before the  Emancipation Proclamation--raised a profound and simple question for: what now? This program will look at the great 1862 exodus across the Rappahannock from the human level, men and women forcing change on a community, state, and nation unprepared.

Find out more about Civil War Sesquicentennial events and resources.

01/31/2011 - 10:27am
CRRL Presents: Louellen Whitefeather Young Silver, Discovering Your Heritage

This interview airs beginning February 2.
Caring and curious about her ancestry and her extensive family's place in the history of White Oak, in Stafford County, Lou “Whitefeather” Silver has explored her genealogy on a journey back through 400 years and 16 generations. She shares her extensive knowledge and amazing memory in an interview with Debby Klein on CRRL Presents, a Central Rappahannock Regional Library production.

01/18/2011 - 3:15pm

This interview airs beginning January 19.
Jack Edlund has been slowly uncovering the secrets of Fredericksburg’s Old Stone Warehouse. He is also a collector of old and interesting artifacts and an artist. Jack talks about his dedication to discovery and digging in the dirt to learn about the past.

08/16/2015 - 8:14pm

Lake Anna State Park is a favorite local destination for campers, boaters, and families who just want to spend a summer day at the lakeside beach. For most of us, the way to the lake runs down Lawyers Road. These days, there’s not much to take in with the view from this one-lane road, which passes through as quiet a stretch of Spotsylvania countryside as remains in the 21st century. But in centuries past, the western part of the county was the scene for tribal wars, slave labor, religious awakenings, whiskey barrel politics, gold mining, and Civil War armies on the march.

08/27/2010 - 2:57pm

If your early education taught you something about Thomas Jefferson, it likely included facts on his part in authoring the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Jefferson was an ideas man—a deep thinker. Well-educated in the classics at the College of William and Mary, he stayed out of the usual undergrad troubles by keeping at his studies and socializing with the professors while classmates spent their time drinking, gambling, and racing their horses through the streets. As historian Michael Kranish relates in Flight from Monticello, he made plenty of friends, but they were from the same landed gentry class as himself.

He first encountered an upstart farmer named Patrick Henry at a friend’s dinner party. Jefferson was not impressed by his dress, candid manners or frank speech, which drew a crowd of admirers. Not so much the classical scholar, Patrick Henry was already a practicing attorney while Jefferson was still in school.  While Jefferson carried on learned conversations with his professors, Henry was winning cases—not with references to Greek and Roman scholars but by spelling out the plain merits of the case and the rules of law. Jefferson found his courtroom arguments crude but admired his ability to turn a phrase and set a crowd on fire.
07/02/2010 - 11:50am

CRRL History is pleased to announce a new history resource, Virginia History for Kids.  This set of selected books is targeted for children and includes such popular topics as the founding fathers, women's history, frontier life, spies, the American Revolution, colonial life, slavery, the Civil War, and even pirates!  The list lets you choose topics that interest you and see books the library has to check out. 
Put a book on hold by clicking the 'Reserve this title' link.  You can take a look at this new resource here

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