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19th century

05/11/2017 - 1:40pm

More than 150 years ago, life was turned upside-down for residents in our communities. Stafford County was occupied by Union troops. Fredericksburg changed hands many times between Union and Confederate and was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Spotsylvania County had the battles of Spotsylvania Courthouse, the Wilderness, and Chancellorsville. Thousands of men encamped and fought here. Many died here. Our state—even just our own area—has some of the most fought-over ground in the country.

04/07/2017 - 9:19am
Cover to This Dark Endeavor

A slim volume of poetry was published in 1798; it was Lyrical Ballads, by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The formal language of verse was gone; the subject matter changed. The effect was similar to when punk rock burst on the rock scene in the 20th century. No more gods, nymphs, or royalty; beggars, the mad, wretches, and convicts peopled Romantic poetry. Revolution was in the air, with the recent overthrow of the monarchy in France and the establishment of Swiss and Italian republics. Coleridge wrote so enthusiastically about the onset of liberty in France and elsewhere the authorities took notice, and he was watched for many years by officers of the state. Radical personal lives and politics gave their words power not seen in previous formalistic poetry. This first generation grew more conservative as they grew older, especially Wordsworth; in 1810, he and Coleridge had a falling out. A second generation of Romantic poets were beginning to write, more radical in their outlook and writings.

03/31/2017 - 1:19pm
Cover to Prairie Day

Are you looking for warm and classic stories to entrance little ones? Introduce them to Laura Ingalls and her family with My First Little House Books. The original Little House series has been beloved for generations, so why, fans of the chapter book series might ask, do we want to look at a series rewritten and freshly illustrated for small children? Why not just read the original?

My First Little House Books have a different intended audience and therefore a different method of telling the story of the pioneering Ingalls family, who move from territory to territory, looking for a better life and being willing to work hard for it—but also having fun.

Perfect for a lap-sit storytime, these 14 books joyfully recreate the atmosphere of the original Little House books, while Renée Graf’s glowing illustrations faithfully follow and enlarge upon original illustrator Garth Williams’ gentle style.

10/28/2016 - 3:31pm
Three for Thanksgiving

Our libraries will be closed on Thanksgiving and the day after, so now's the time to pick up some reading to take you through the holiday. We have many cookbooks to help plan the feast, but of our other collections these three books tell stories especially true to life and true to the heart to help make your holiday a warm one.

08/23/2016 - 12:03am
Cover to Land of Herrings and Persimmons: People and Places of Upper Stafford County, Virginia

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.

09/12/2016 - 8:43am

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.

02/07/2014 - 1:13pm
Gold in Stafford County

Gold was discovered in Stafford during the eighteenth century. In 1787 Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Notes on Virginia, “I know a single instance of gold found in this state. It was interspersed in small specks through a lump of ore, of about four pounds in weight, which yielded seventeen pennyweight [1/20 ounce] of gold, of extraordinary ductility.” This gold was found in Stafford about four miles below Fredericksburg on the north side of the Rappahannock.

04/02/2013 - 9:56am

Free Lance, Tuesday, March 6, 1888

VIRGINIA EDITORS IN A DEADLY DUEL

A Newspaper War Ends in a Tragedy—Ellis Williams Shot Through the Heart, and Edwin Barbour Seriously Wounded— [illegible]

CULPEPER, VA, March 1. — One of the most desperate and deadly shooting affrays that ever happened in this vicinity occurred here this morning, between Edwin Barbour, editor of the Piedmont Advance, and Ellis B. Williams, son of Governor Williams, editor of the Culpeper Exponent, resulting in the death of Williams and the serious wounding of Barbour.  Both are young men and their families are highly-connected. The cause of the trouble seems to have grown out of a newspaper article, in the shape of a letter, dated from Washington and Signed “Jack Clatterbuck,” which was published some weeks ago in the Piedmont Advance.  The letter made some sharp and caustic allusions to Mr. Williams, of the Exponent.  Last Friday’s issue of the Exponent contained a bitter article denouncing the editor of the Advance and all connected with it, saying the editor was more an object of pity than of resentment, and that he was not the principal, but was put up to it by someone else.  To day’s issue of the Advance contains an editorial in which the editor brands Mr. Williams as a liar, and further says that “his conduct in this matter has been cowardly in the extreme, and highly unbecoming a gentleman, of which class we shall no longer consider him a member,” and winds up the article in this wise “At times it becomes necessary for a gentleman to turn and strike the dog that is barking at his heels.”

01/28/2013 - 6:18am
The Founding Foodies: How Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin Revolutionized Ame

The Founding Foodies, by Dave DeWitt, is an easy-going chat on matters historic and gastronomic in the Old Dominion and beyond. DeWitt dismisses some food writers’ contentions that colonial food was poor stuff.  Having attended Mr. Jefferson’s university and being thus familiar with the third president’s many accomplishments, he knew that this common opinion was surely an overgeneralization.  Jefferson, as well as Washington and Franklin, were trend-setters—learned men who easily absorbed and promulgated cultured styles of fashion, philosophy, architecture, and, yes, food, derived European trends, especially their French allies.

Besides these Founding Fathers’ culinary preferences, DeWitt also looks at curious historical periods of Virginia history where food, or lack of same, played a noteworthy role.  At Jamestown, the horrors of spoiled ships’ rations and the colonists’ inexperience with hunting and fishing made them very dependent on the native tribes’ shared knowledge. They did learn to hunt and fish which was well since the supply ship was delayed, nearly resulting in John Smith being hanged.  Desperate to turn a profit in the days before tobacco, the settlers took up fishing on a grand scale—thousands of pounds of salted cod to England and dried fish to Spain.

10/26/2016 - 9:00am

When Benjamin Henry LatrobePresident Jefferson's Surveyor of Public Buildings of the United States—needed local material with which to construct the nation's Capitol and other Washington buildings, he eagerly tapped a sandstone quarry in Stafford County that became known as Government Island.  His scientific comments on that geologic feature and others in our area were set down in this scholarly paper written in 1809, the same year the blocks of sandstone were brought to Washington by barge to be utilized. Today, the quarry at Stafford County's Government Island park may be seen by visitors who can also enjoy its nature preserve and trails.

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