We at the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center are trying something new: a blog.
Writers for the blog will be the volunteers at the Center. We hope to stimulate discussion, uncover new material and provide a forum for people interested in local history and historic preservation.
The Center is a local archive. The Center collects and preserves all things paper from Stafford, King George, Caroline, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg. The material includes letters, diaries, business and club records, maps, photographs, architectural drawing, books, genealogical research – anything that documents the local grass roots history of our area.
We will have two blogs; one will be devoted to a variety of subjects and the other, to the book we published last year in concert with the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc, The Circle Unbroken: Civil War Letters of the Knox Family of Fredericksburg.
This blog will be devoted to the Knox family. The book contains 117 letters written by family members between April 1861 and July 1865. The donor of the material, a great grandchild, had cared for the letters for many years, realized their value and wanted them to come home to Fredericksburg. By donating the letters to the Center, the donor ensured that the letters would be preserved and would also be available for research and study. We are very grateful for the donor’s foresight and generosity.
The entire Knox collection contains many more letters and documents starting in the 1830s and continuing through the 1940s. While the book focuses on the Civil War, the collection provides an intimate look at a family spanning over 100 years, including the Spanish-American War and World War I. We are unaware of any direct descendants living here, but perhaps we will discover some through this blog.
A little background on the Knoxes. Thomas Fitzhugh Knox, Jr., the patriarch of the Knox family was born in Culpeper County at “Windsor,” in 1807. His wife, Virginia Ann Soutter was born in Norfolk in 1814. Their ancestors had come from Scotland and were merchants. Thomas continued the tradition importing bone, rags, sumac and guano. He also had a gristmill in the vicinity of Old Mill Park. He and Virginia married in 1832 and settled in Fredericksburg. By 1860, they had eight living children and Thomas Knox was one of the wealthiest businessmen in the city. The family lived at 1200 Princess Anne Street, now the Kenmore Inn. Mr. Knox served on several boards and was a vestryman at St. George’s Episcopal Church for over 50 years.
The next posts will cover more information on the family, the letters and how we deciphered some of the mysteries in the letters (who was Mr. Hale and how we found him). That said, we continue to gather information.
We hope to generate comments, questions and discussions about the Knoxes and Fredericksburg of 150 years ago.