Sep 112014

Yesterday was a working day for us, but when you have a job like ours, working is a lot of fun so we weren’t complaining at all.

We drove into Fredericksburg hoping to visit some of the historic sites there for inclusion in a future issue of the Gypsy Journal. If you like history as much as we do, this is one place you really need to visit. It’s everywhere you look!

And unlike Mount Vernon, which did not think a feature story in our publication was worth two media passes, or Colonial Williamsburg, which did not even bother to respond to our request for a visit, the folks in Fredericksburg were eager to help us in any way they could.

Established in 1728 as a shipping port on the Rappahannock River, Fredericksburg is probably best known for two Civil War battles fought here, the first on December 11–15, 1862, when Union troops sacked the town and left much of it in ruins, and again on May 3, 1863. Many of the buildings that survived the fighting still show scars from the battles, and more than one has a cannonball lodge in a wall.

Cannon ball

Cannon ball 2

We started our visit at the James Monroe Museum where we learned a lot about our fifth president. The museum has exhibits on Monroe’s long life of public service, including clothing and the desk on which he signed the famous Monroe Doctrine.

Monroe Museum outside

Monroe clothes

Our next stop was Historic Kenmore, the beautiful Georgian-style brick mansion of Fielding and Betty Washington Lewis, who was the sister of George Washington. Diane Elstein, the Manager of Interpretation, took time out of her busy schedule to give us a private in-depth tour of the carefully restored mansion. Terry and I were both impressed with the elaborate bas relief ceiling in the dining room.

Kenmore outside

Dining room

At the Mary Washington House, docent Barbara Kardatzke, dressed in period costume, told us about the mother of our first president, a remarkable woman who obviously helped mold the man who would wrest America out of British control and lead her into independence.

Barbara Kardatzke

And while many places make the same claim, Washington really did sleep here!

Washington bedroom

This is Cheryl Valdivia, who boasted of the healing qualities of the wonderful natural herbs and concoctions at the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop.

Cheryl Valdivia

Apothecary shop inside

In the next room, Pam Calvin told us all about the good doctor’s medical skills and the tools of his trade. Some of those tools include the leeches in these bowls, which were used for “bleeding” patients, and the curved knife and bone saw next to them, which were used for amputations.

Pam Calvin

In search of something less grim to take our minds off so many things that make you bleed, we wandered a few blocks down Caroline Street to the Rising Sun Tavern, which was built in 1760 by George Washington’s youngest brother, Charles. Jo Atkins spent a lot of time with us, telling about life as a tavern owner and the many important visitors who had graced the establishment.

Jo Atkins

This is her indentured servant Glenn Hyatt who, when he’s not hanging out in the 18th Century, writes books on military history and treasure hunts for Civil War relics on private property around Fredericksburg.

We had a long and interesting day in Fredericksburg and we’ll have feature stories on all of these places and more in a future issue of the Gypsy Journal. Today the heat is supposed to spike upward again and the weatherman says we’re in store for heavy rain and possible strong thunderstorms. In other words, a good day to stay at home and get some writing done.

Be sure to enter this week’s Free Drawing for an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ excellent book, So, You Want to be a Workamper? To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.


Thought For The Day – When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  2 Responses to “Exploring Historic Fredericksburg”

  1. I hated history until we started RVing. Now I have a thirst to learn all I can about history. When you tour a place like this, you can’t help from learning how and why things happened.

  2. Nice look at Fredericksburg Nick. We lived in the county just north, Stafford, before we began FTing.

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