Saturday, November 3, 2018

Autumnal Fox Chase at Mount Vernon

Today I got to attend my first fox chase. I've been quite interested because of all the influence I see here in Northern Virginia.


We heard numerous stories about how the clever foxes throw the dogs off the scent.

It is important to note that during the American Revolution, General Washington was called the "old fox."

Did you know that there is a legend that even the clever George Washington was outwitted by a fox during fox chases on his plantation? You can read about that in Marguerite Henry's book, Cinnabar, the One O'Clock Fox, which I blogged about here.


In the 18th century fox hunting typically began in autumn.


George Washington began fox hunting with the Fairfax family.


Washington did not always kill the fox.

We then after allowing the Fox in the hole half an hour put the Dogs upon his trail & in half a Mile he took to another hollow tree and was again put out of it but he did not go 600 yards before he had recourse to the same shift-finding therefore that he was a conquered (the] Fox, we took the Dogs off, and came home to Dinner.-December 1785


The purpose of the early fox hunt dates to 1534 in Norfolk, England. It was so that farmers could get rid of pests.


The Marlborough Hunt Club demonstrated for us.


Today's event was not a fox hunt, but rather a fox chase.


Actually no foxes were involved, but we were told it would be interesting if a fox were found while the dogs were sniffing near the bushes.


Fox hunting is also quite common in Middleburg, a town in the western part of Northern Virginia. The entire town is decorated in foxes.


Much of the procedure of the chase that was described at this event is detailed in this article.


I stumbled upon mentions of Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette also enjoying the hunt.


Here I read that the British used fox hunting to train their officers.


This excellent article details Washington and the hunt.


And here is more history on fox hunting.


After the American Revolution, Lafayette gifted several hounds to Washington for the hunt. One of them, however, stole the ham off the kitchen table. Lady Washington was angry about that!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

New HSLDA Online Academy Discount for the 2018-2019 Academic Year

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Autumnal Vintage Jumper...Texas Style

Oh, dear. My hair is a mess and my photographer (my son) didn't tell me. I am constantly moving my headband, because it interferes with the sunglasses that are on my head/off my head so...

Anyway, October was coming, so I put aside all my summer sewing (I still have some to pose in, much to finish the handwork on, and much to begin sewing) to welcome autumn with a new outfit. All of my winter clothes are so old that I was looking forward to this.


The autumn chill definitely reigned on my son's birthday. After church we went to the restaurant of his choice, Smokin' Willies...the best Tex Mex in Virginia!


They even have a picture of Gruene Dance Hall!!!


And funny story...I never wore boots in Texas. In Virginia I need them to stay warm...even if they don't fit. (It's impossible to find any shoes these days to fit me.)

Now for the sewing details. I used some corduroy fabric in the stash. I don't remember where or when I bought it. I had just enough for this. Actually I needed to piece a corner of the skirt to make this work. Why not? I love 18th century methods and employ them all I can.

Simplicity 3673

For the pattern I used a Vintage 1950's pattern from Simplicity 3673. I had made a jumper for my daughter with this pattern a few years ago. I was concerned it might be too young for me, but now that I've worn it, I love it! It definitely hearkens Audrey Hepburn. I'd like to make the other styles as well.

The zipper is handpicked, my favorite method. It sewed up quickly and easily. What else can I say? It's a winner!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Dr. Walter Reed Birthplace in Gloucester

As to drove to Rosewell Plantation, we passed by Dr. Walter Reed's birthplace.

I have been to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. many times, and perhaps you have heard about it too. So, I certainly recognized the name, but certainly didn't expect to see this. We actually drove back to see it at the end of our day of journeys to Rosewell Plantation and Gloucester Point.


This house is available for tours, if you call ahead first. I can imagine the inside, from all the other houses I've toured.


The house was built in 1825. Walter Reed was born here in 1851. His father was a traveling Methodist minister. Reed's boyhood years were spent in North Carolina with his mother's family. Eventually he and his family moved to Charlottesville, where he attended the University of Virginia, Medical School. He was their youngest graduate, at the age of 18. Reed joined the Army in 1875.


In 1896 Reed discovered the cause of Yellow Fever among the men stationed near the Potomac River. Mosquitoes, he confirmed, and not the drinking water of the river, was the cause. We were bitten by so many huge mosquitoes at nearby Rosewell, that had Reed stayed here for his boyhood, he might have discovered this sooner! Or, probably not, but that's all my mosquito bites kept yelling at me!

In 1898 Reed traveled to Cuba during the fighting of the Spanish American War specifically to study diseases in the American encampments. Thus he discovered the cause of typhoid fever. Also Yellow Fever again raised its ugly head.

Further research led to significant improvement for those in tropical areas. Beleaguered builders of the Panama Canal finally conquered the building project at last with lower mortality rates.

In 1902 Reed died of a ruptured appendix. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center opened seven years later, in 1909.



Thursday, October 11, 2018

Gloucester Point Redoubts October 1781

After touring Rosewell Plantation, we drove to Gloucester Point to see the redoubts that were built as fortifications in the American Revolution and Civil War.

A certain Robert Tyndall mapped this area that became renown in the history books in 1608. Thus this point of land that juts into the York River (then called the Charles River) became known as Tyndall's Point. Being strategically located near the river, at a deep sea port, a tobacco warehouse was built in the 1630's. This was the age of mercantilism, which drove the economy of the British colonies.


October was quite a happening month on this point of land. By October 12, 1640, the area became known as Tyndall's Neck and was the first land grant north of the Charles (York) River. By the 18th century the area had been renamed Gloucester Point.

In 1781 Lafayette was sent by General Washington to Virginia to capture the turncoat, Benedict Arnold who escaped on a ship. Instead, Lafayette found himself chasing British General Cornwallis and his troops. With but a small light infantry, Lafayette made use of each opportunity to harrass Cornwallis. Beleaguered...and having been instructed to locate a deep sea port to await British vessels to return his army to New York, British General Cornwallis chose Yorktown. Cornwallis' choice became his folly. which Lafayette again used to his advantage. "The boy" and his light infantry kept him cornered him while the American and French troops, along with Generals Washington and Rochambeau made their way south from New York.

Realizing his predicament, Cornwallis sent Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton and his light infantry across the river to Gloucester Point. Fortifications (like redoubts) were built in both Yorktown and Gloucester Point to protect the expected British ships.

"The works on the Gloucester side are in some forwardness, and I hope in a situation to resist a sudden attack." General Cornwallis to General Clinton, August 12, 1781

In early September the French navy sealed off the mouth of the Chesapeake from the British, even after the Battle of the Capes ended in a draw.. Later in the month the American and French armies had arrived. Washington and Rochambeau had detailed strategy, first at Mount Vernon and then at Williamsburg. Sap miners, including Joseph Plumb Martin, went to work building the American fortifications.

On October 3, the Battle of the Hook ensued at Gloucester Point. The British were defeated.

On October 9, after the Continental redoubts had been prepared, the siege began. Meanwhile the British troops across the river at Gloucester Point watched the daily bombardment.

In desperation, Cornwallis attempted escape, ordering his troops to cross the river to Gloucester Point, October 16-17.  Bad weather descended on the attempt.

"Thus expired the last hope of the British army." -Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton

The British surrendered on October 19, 1781, effectually ending the American Revolution. The World Turned Upside Down.


Although there were fortications here from the American Revolution, the ones we see today are from the  Civil War.













We had hoped to see the York River from this park, but a peek between those trees was the best we could obtain. I can only imagine the view to Yorktown that Lt. Col. Tarleton had.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Rosewell Plantation-The Best House in 18th Century Virginia

For my birthday my kids announced that they wanted to kidnap me for the day. Where would I like to go? Now that's my kind of kidnapping! I chose a historic location that had long been on my list of places to visit, the famed home of the prestigious Pages of Virginia, known as Rosewell which is located near Gloucester Point.

Mann Page I was a third century Virginian who envisioned a home that rivaled that of the majestic Governor's Palace in nearby Williamsburg. Building for such a grand home began in 1725 and was completed in 1738.  It was the largest home in Virginia, and the finest in the colonies.

Bordering the property is Carter's Creek, which flows into the nearby York River, which flows into the nearby Chesepeake Bay, which is near the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors arrived by boat and were then taken by carriage to the estate.

The primary building materials were brick, mahogany and marble, much of which was imported from England. At 12,500 sq. ft., Rosewell was double the size of the Governor's Palace.

It is thought that Mann Page I got his design ideas from the more strictly designed London townhouses built to stringent new building codes after the Great Fire of London. 

After his first wife's death, Mann Page I married Judith Carter, daughter of the infamous Robert "King" Carter.

Mann Page I, served on the Governor's Council, an appointed position from the Crown.

In 1731 Mann Page I died, leaving his son, Mann Page II, to finish the building of the grand estate.

After his first wife's death, Mann Page II married Ann Corbin Tayloe. After their marriage he began building another mansion in Spotsylvania County, known as Mannsfield.

Mann Page II's plan was to leave Rosewell to his oldest son, John, from his first marriage. His oldest son from his second marriage, Mann III, would inherit Mannsfield.

In Colonial Williamsburg I have met both John Page and Mann Page III. Mann Page III was a burgess who rode on his horse from Fredericksburg announcing that blood had been shed in Lexington and Concord...a scene that had been part of Colonial Williamsburg's street theater, Revolutionary City.

John Page attended the College of William and Mary where he met fellow classmate Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was a frequent visitor to Rosewell. It is said that on one of his visits, Jefferson wrote a draft of the Declaration of Independence in the Blue Room. John Page fought under George Washington in the American  Revolution, rising to the rank of colonel. From 1802-1805 John Page served as governor of Virginia.

These lovely renderings of 18th century Rosewell can be seen in the visitor center...

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

In those days Virginia's economy was based on mercantilism which depended on the tobacco trade. Tobacco prices dropped in both the 1720's and 1760's which damaged the family fortune, especially after the expense of building the two mansions. Thus Mann Page II sold some of the land to offset the expenses.

In 1838 the Pages sold Rosewell, itself. The new owners removed walnut paneling, marble mantels, and more. Although it was quite a bit stripped down by the early 20th century, it continued to be the center of social life.

Rosewell Plantation

Unfortunately a fire ravaged the building in 1916. The ruins, overgrown by vegetation, further crumbled from exposure to the elements. In 1979 the ruins were donated to the Gloucester Historical Society. Preservation efforts began.

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Rosewell Plantation

Behind the ruins lie the Page Family Cemetery. Although the tombstones have been moved to Abingdon Episcopal Church for preservation, the burials remain.