During the 18th century, the city of Fredericksburg was described as “a considerable town of trade, furnishing the country around.” As such, it was deemed a rather important town and was the site of one of two schools for enslaved children established in Virginia during the Colonial period. The school was located somewhere downtown, likely … Continue reading Stories that Demand to be Told: Fielding Lewis and the Bray School for Educating Enslaved Children
Most of us have heard of Phineas Taylor “P.T.” Barnum, founder of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. During his life, P.T. Barnum was a businessman and politician but was most famously known for being an entertainer. His name became synonymous with circuses, sideshows, and showmanship. Before he introduced bearded ladies and 800-lb … Continue reading “The Greatest Natural & National Curiosity in the World”: Joice Heth, P.T. Barnum, and …George Washington?
“My Dear Brother, I wish you to give Howell some advice how to Proseed in regard to two Negroes that Runaway from me a few days before Christmas…” With those words in the early spring of 1794, Betty Lewis informed her brother, George Washington, of a difficult situation. She also provided us with a few … Continue reading The Christmastime Escape of Stephen and Guile
In our ongoing series of investigations into the lives of Historic Kenmore’s enslaved community during the Lewis era, we recently uncovered another full identity behind what was once just a name. Once again, close examination of long-forgotten documents and analysis of hidden clues revealed this man’s story, and in a rare turn of events, gave … Continue reading Billy at the Door
As part of our ongoing effort to research the enslaved communities that once lived and worked at Historic Kenmore and George Washington’s Ferry Farm, we recently came across some very unusual information pertaining to a young enslaved woman named Charlotte who resided at Kenmore. Charlotte, unfortunately, is a somewhat enigmatic figure. We know only a … Continue reading Charlotte and the Mercury Pills
The staff of Historic Kenmore & George Washington’s Ferry Farm regularly conducts research into the enslaved communities that existed at both Kenmore and Ferry Farm during the Lewis and Washington family occupations. Most of the surviving information about the enslaved is of a statistical nature – numbers, ages, locations, and luckily, names. In comparison to … Continue reading Abraham and The Ropewalkers: Finding Large Stories in Small Details
In this day and age, it is easy to discover the particulars of someone’s life simply with the click of a button. Phone number, age, home address, professional resume and more can easily be obtained by searching through public records on the Internet or at the library. A treasure trove of current primary and secondary … Continue reading Between the Lines: Teasing out Tame’s Story