Every year brings a lot of newcomers to the northern Stafford area. At first glance, they may see its many stores, wide roads, and convenient subdivisions. That’s modern Stafford, bedroom community to D.C. and Quantico Marine Corps Base. But Stafford County has a significant place in history, too.
Well-known local historian Jerrilynn Eby’s Land of Herrings and Persimmons is a tremendous volume that chronicles the county’s farming and industrial past, place by place, including Stafford County communities that were enveloped and lost when Quantico was established.
For more than two hundred years, this Spotsylvania farm has stood as a witness to Virginia history. Originally carved from land given to colonial Governor Alexander Spotswood, Ellwood willingly hosted two armies-that of the Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolutionary War and General Robert E. Lee during the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. However, in 1864, during the Battle of the Wilderness, Ellwood became the headquarters for Generals Gouverneur K. Warren and Ambrose E. Burnside. General Grant took his position a few hundred yards away from the house, at a spot still called Grant's Knoll.
Pamela J. Toler’s Heroines of Mercy Street is the true history behind the popular PBS series set in occupied Alexandria, Virginia, during the Civil War. Caveat here: I did read the book before watching a single episode. I found Toler’s narrative to be engaging and an excellent window to the time. With wildly varying levels of training (many, such as Louisa May Alcott, had only nursed family patients while another trained with celebrated British nurse Florence Nightingale), they all had a sense of duty and enthusiasm for the job that did not wane as the war ground on—though it did exhaust them and occasionally kill them.
"I was born on the banks of the Rappahannock River. Taken Home to White Oak where I was raised and educated in the World's finest three-room university, White Oak School--now known as tribal member, artisan and historian D.P. Newton's Civil War Museum. Spent my time there with the other Patawomecks during World War Two getting lessons between the sounds of the big guns being tested at Dahlgren. They rattled the windows as the concussion came up through our Land. It was the sound of Freedom fighting back. We loved it. Attended Falmouth High and graduated from Stafford High. Graduated from a little Indian School in a place once known as Middle Plantation. Turned 78 nearly a year ago. Not much else to say, except, I am known as Johnny Mac."
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.
What would really happen if thousands of people died in a city every day from an illness? Even worse, a city with few to no hospitals and only a bare bones emergency infrastructure? When the illness might leave no mark on a person until he or she fell over dead in front of you? And that’s when you realize, you have been exposed and could be next. What would you do?
“Great-Grandma said we have an Indian princess in the family . . . . “
Since DNA testing for genealogy began nearly 20 years ago, we have made many leaps and bounds with how, when, and why it can be used. Many Americans have a family story that features the marriage of a Native American into the lineage. Frequently, these stories make us wonder about who we are on the inside.
On Tuesday, August 2, at 7:00, Shannon Combs-Bennett, biologist and genealogist, will discuss what DNA testing could tell you about your ancestry, as well as which test you may want to take to verify your genealogy. An author and frequent lecturer on genealogy, Shannon will present her talk in support of the library’s Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Wellness exhibition.
Did Native American barbecue contribute to the success of the English colony at Jamestown? According to author, historical barbecue consultant, and Patawomeck Indian Tribe member Joe Haynes, the answer is yes! Joe will visit the Headquarters Library on Wednesday, August 3.
He will draw upon numerous historical and contemporary sources to explore some of the lesser-known contributions made to Virginia’s culture and cookery by the Powhatan Indians, who called their land Tsenacommacah. According to Joe, many Virginian foods known to us today, such as smoked pork, hoecakes, and barbecue, all exhibit the unmistakable influence of the Powhatans.
Looking to trace your family roots to the Civil War—or learn more about a relative who fought for the Blue or Gray? Let a National Park Service historian show you how.