History of Fredericksburg, Virginia

Although the site upon which Fredericksburg now stands was settled by white men,, possibly in 1622, in the location of plantations by the London Company referred to by Capt. John Smith, and certainly in 1681 by the construction of Major Lawrence Smith's fort, yet the town was not incorporated for many years thereafter. That it was a trading station and a place of importance before its incorporation is admitted in the act of incorporation itself, besides earlier writers refer to it as such. If the inquiry should be made as to why the town was not incorporated earlier if it was a place of importance, it might be answered with the fact that prior to that time the authorities did not seem to think it was necessary, as neither Richmond, Petersburg, Norfolk nor Alexandria was incorporated for several years after Fredericksburg had a legal existence.

Fredericksburg was founded by law in 1727 and named for Frederick, Prince of Wales, son of George the Second, by which act the people of the town showed their attachment to the royal family of England. But this was not all; they emphasized that attachment by calling nearly every street in the original survey of the town after some member of the  royal family or of some country to which English royalty was closely allied. Sophia street was named for the sister of George II ; Caroline for his wife ; Princess Anne for one of his daughters, and Prince Edward for his grandson. The cross streets were named, Princess Elizabeth for a daughter of George II; Frederick for his oldest son; William for his second son, and Amelia for a daughter. George was named for the King himself; Charlotte for the wife of George III; Hanover for the House of Hanover, and Prussia for the country of Prussia. This includes every street in the original survey except Charles and Wolfe. We do not know for whom these two streets were named, and we think the evidence is very clear that they were not laid out as streets at the time of the original survey.


Table of Contents

Chapter I

Captain John Smith Explores the Rappahannock River
The Flight of Pocahontas
Major Lawrence Smith's Fort
Governor Spotswood's Miners at Germanna

Chapter II

The Knights of the Golden Horse
Shoe Governor
Spotswood's Expedition over the Blue Ridge Mountains

Chapter III

Fredericksburg Incorporated by the House of Burgesses
Col. Byrd Walks about Town
A Church Building Erected
Rev. Patrick Henry Rector
Augustine Washington a Town Trustee
Stock Fairs
Inaugurated Limits of the Town Extended

Chapter IV

Encouraging Home Industries
Further Extension of the Town
Tobacco Inspectors Appointed
Modes of Punishing Criminals
Military Ardor Under the United States Government
A New Order of Things

Chapter V

Lease of the Market-House Lots
The First Serious Fire
Fredericksburg an Important Center
An Act Concerning Elections
Half of the Town Destroyed by Fire
Fredericksburg an Important Postal Point
How the Mails were Carried
A Congressional Investigation
Amendatory Acts of 1821
The Great Fire of 1822
The Trade of the Town
Contagious Diseases
The Town in 1841
Acts of Extension, 1851, 1852, 1858, 1861

Chapter VI

The War Clouds Gather
Fredericksburg in the Southern Confederacy
Troops Raised and Equipped
Town Surrendered to Federal Authorities!
Citizens Arrested and Held as Hostages
Thrilling Evacuating Scenes
Citizens Flee from their Homes
Bombardment of the Town

Chapter VII

The Great Battle
The Town Sacked by Soldiers
The Federals Recross the River
A Great Revival of Religion
The Battle of Chancellorsville
Gen. Sedgewick Captures the Town
The Wilderness Campaign
Many Noncombatant Citizens Arrested and Imprisoned
A Statement by the Council
The Citizens and Federal Soldiers Released

Chapter VIII

The Armies Transferred to Richmond and Petersburg
Gen. Lee Surrenders his Army
Citizens Return Home
Action of the City Council
Fredericksburg Again Under the Old Flag
The Assassination of President Lincoln Denounced
Reconstruction Commenced
An Election Set Aside by the Military
All Civil Offices Set Aside and Strangers Appointed
The Financial Condition of the Town
The Town Again in the Hands of its Citizens
Splendid Financial Showing

Chapter IX

The Courts of Fredericksburg
The Freedman's Bureau
Court Orders and Incidents
First Night Watch Appointed
Ministers Qualify to Perform Marriage Ceremony
First Notary Public
Fixing the Value of Bank Notes
Prison Bounds for Debtors
Church Buildings

Chapter X

Public Buildings
Court House
The Jail
Town Hall
Fire Department
School Buildings
Wallace Library
Normal School
Government Building

Chapter XI

Ancient and Historical Buildings
Mary Washington Monument
General Mercer's Statute
Mary Washington's Will

Chapter XII

Hotels of the Town, old and new
Agricultural Fairs and Toll Bridges
Care of the Dependent Poor
City Water Works
City Gas Works
Electric Light
Telephone Company
Fire Department

Chapter XIII

Volunteer Militia
The Confederate Cemetery
The National Cemetery
The Confederate Veterans
The Sons of Confederate Veterans
The Schools, Private and Public

Chapter XIV

The Churches of Fredericksburg

Chapter XV

Charitable and Benevolent Societies
Mary Washington Hospital
Newspapers and Periodicals
Political Excitement
Strong Resolutions Against the Administration
An Address Approving the President's Foreign Policy
The Names of Those who Signed the Address

Chapter XVI

Distinguished Men Buried in Fredericksburg
A Remarkable Grave Stone
Three Heroic Fredericksburgers, Wellford, Herndon, Willis
The Old Liberty Bell Passes Through Town
Great Demonstration in its Honor
What a Chinaman Thought of it

Chapter XVII

Visits of Heroes
Gala Days
The Army of the Society of the Potomac Enters the Town

Chapter XVIII

The Society of the Army of the Potomac Continued
Welcome; Address Laying a Corner Stone

Chapter XIX

Doctor Walker's Expedition
Bacon's Rebellion, so-called
The Fredericksburg Declaration
The Great Orator Resolutions of Separation
The Virginia Bill of Rights

Chapter XX

Declaration of Separation
The Declaration of Independence
Washington Commander-in-Chief of the Armies
John Paul Jones Raises the First Flag
First to Throw the Stars and Stripes to the Breeze
Fredericksburg Furnishes the Head of the Army and Navy
The Constitution of the United States

Chapter XXI

The First Proclamation for Public Thanksgiving
Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion
John Marshall and the Supreme Court
Religious Liberty
The Monroe Doctrine
Seven Presidents
Clarke Saves the Great Northwest
The Vast Western Territory Explored
The Louisiana Purchase
The Florida Purchase
Texas Acquired
The War with Mexico and its Rich Results
The Oceans Sounded, Measured and Mapped
The Ladies' Memorial Association
The Mary Washington Monument
General Mercer's Statue

Chapter XXII

Fredericksburg at Present
The Health of the City its Financial Solidity
Its Commercial Prosperity
Its Lines of Transportation
Its Water Power
Its Official Calendar
List of Mayors

List Of Illustrations

Baptist Church 132
Butterfield Monument 288
Capt. S. J. Quinn Frontispiece
Catholic Church 272
Chancellorsville Tavern 82
Charity School 232
Christian Church 240
Church of Ood 304
City Hall 192
Com. M. F. Maury 320
Confederate Cemetery 122
Confederate Monument 264
Court House 22
Eagle Hotel 182
Entrance to Confederate Cemetery 222
Entrance to National Cemetery 250
Exchange Hotel 172
Federal Hill 32
Fire Department 232
First Mayor's Residence 182
Forsythe's Birthplace 102
Fredericksburg College 172
Fredericksburg from Ma rye's Heights 12
Fredericksburg from Stafford Heights 12
Free Bridge 22
Free Lance Star Office 248
Hon. Montgomery Slaughter 72
Jackson Monument 202
Kenmore 212
Marye Mansion 328
Mary Washington House 32
Mary Washington Monument 52
Masonic Lodge 222
Meditation Rock 152
Mercer Monument 92
Methodist Church 162
M. W. M. Lodge 142
Old Planters' Hotel 290
Opera House 290
Post office 280
Power Dam 152
Presbyterian Church 102
Presbyterian Memorial Chapel G2
Public School 288
Remarkable Tombstone 204
R. F. & P. R. R. Bridge 312
Rising Sun Tavern 52
Section Stone Wall 112
Sentry Box 102
Shiloh Church. N. S 304
Shiloh Church, O. S 272
Stevens House 192
St. George's Church 62
Stone House 92
Sunken Road 82
Superintendent's Lodge 250
Trinity Church 240
Trustees' Office 112
Union House 212
View on Princess Anne St 42
Wallace Library 142
Water Power Office 328
Wm. Paul's Gravestone 280


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Col. John Dandridge

In the burial ground of St. George's church, near the northeast corner of the building, lies buried the father of Martha Washington, which fact has only some years since been brought to light, or if it had been before known, it was by the citizens of the past generation of the town. The reason it was unknown to the present generation is accounted for from the fact that the slab over the grave has been covered with dirt for more than half a century, most likely from the erection of the present church building, and was discovered only a few years ago. When the grave was discovered the slab covering it was cleaned off, and the inscription on it was found to read as follows:

"Here lies the body of Col. John Dandridge, of New Kent county, who departed this life the 31st day of August, 1756, aged 56 years."

How he came to be buried in Fredericksburg is not positively known. It has been claimed by some persons that he was here on a visit to his daughter Martha, who married Gen. Washington, and the weather was so hot that his body could not be taken back to New Kent county, but that cannot be true because he was buried here more than two years before his daughter married Washington.

The most satisfactory explanation of Col. Dandridge's presence in Fredericksburg, that we have heard given, is that he was attending the celebrated races at Chatham, held by Wm. Fitzhugh, which drew to the town people from all sections of the country. But be that as it may, this Col. Dandridge is beyond doubt the father of Martha Washington, unless there were two gentlemen by that name and bearing the same appellation residing in New Kent county at that time, which is not probable. Haydon's "Virginia Families" says of Washington:

"Married at White House, New Kent county, Va., Jan. 6, 1759, Martha Dandridge, daughter of Col. John Dandridge, of New Kent county, and widow of Daniel Parke Custis."

Source: Quinn, Silvanus J., The History of the City of Fredericksburg Virginia. Richmond, Hermitage Press, 1908.