Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

Mechanicsville, VA  High 75  Low 58

P1090154I love walking in the footsteps of those people who have had an impact on our country’s history. Learning about them and why they did or said what they did. This first stop at Saint John’s Episcopal Church was definitely one of the best ever.

This church was built in 1741. Think about that. This church is 273 years old. How proud it must be of the speech that was given within its walls and the important people who sat in its pews.

P1090146Ray was our guide back into history and it was very obvious how much he loved what he was doing. He made you actually believe you were there.

This is the back story behind this famous speech. As tensions with England grew in the 1770s, the Virginia Conventions were held. They were a series of five meetings in which representatives from the colonies gathered to decide the future relationship between the colonies and England.

The first convention was organized after Lord Dunmore dissolved the House of Burgesses when that group called for a day of fasting and prayer as a show of solidarity with the Boston Tea party. Angered by Lord Dunmore’s actions, the Burgesses moved to Raleigh Tavern to continue the meeting.The Burgesses declared support for Massachusetts and called for a congress of all the colonies, the Continental Congress.

Because Lord Dunmore could summon troops to arrest the Burgesses, the second convention met in Richmond which was a two day ride from Williamsburg. St. John’s was chosen because it was the largest public building in the city. (the church has been expanded over the years)

These are the original doors into the church.


Attending this meeting in March of 1775 were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, Patrick Henry and other prominent Virginians.

Patrick Henry had several failures as he struggled to find his way. He started a couple of businesses that failed. His father gave him and his wife a small farm but the house burned down and he gave up on the farm life. His father-in-law offered him a job in his tavern but that didn’t work out either. However, he did succeed in one area – he was the father of 17 children.

P1090145He finally decided to study for six weeks and then take the test to become a lawyer. He passed and needed two professors to sign off on his work.

One of those signers was George Wythe, America’s first law professor and signer of the Declaration of Independence. He is buried in St. John’s cemetery.

Back to the amazing Patrick Henry. He was considered a radical by colonists and England alike. He was a fiery orator and a very persuasive speaker. He became the first governor of the Virginia Commonwealth under its new constitution and served five terms.

He was selected to serve as a delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774. There, he met Sam Adams and, together, they stoked the fires for revolution. During the proceedings, Henry called for the colonists to unite in their opposition to British rule: "The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers and New Englanders, are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American."


Picture yourself sitting in this pew in this church, surrounded by famous historical figures. Several of the men do not want to go to war with England. They want to figure out a way to protect their rights without breaking from the Motherland.


Patrick is sitting in his pew listening to these men and  then stands up and starts into a 25 to 30 minute passionate speech, using no notes, supporting a break from England. His speech ends with these words.

patrick henry“It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Less than two weeks later, the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Patsy and Tom

Mechanicsville, VA  High 79  Low 54

We made our move down to Mechanicsville, VA and that 33 miles just about wore Jim out. We are parked in Patsy and Tom’s driveway. I met Patsy when we were at a Country Jamboree at Bull Run. This was shortly after I met Jim and he decided to go fishing that week-end instead of spending the time with me. So I went to the concert with Randy. I finally figured out how important fishing was to Jim and forgave him. Never did date Randy again. Besides, Jim was a much better dancer than Randy.

Patsy and I just really hit it off and became great friends. She even lived with Jim and I for a couple of weeks so she became his “other” wife. Then she met Tom and the four of us had great times together.


And now we are having more great times. Patsy had corned beef and cabbage fixed for dinner and we visited and caught up on family news and solved world problems.

The backyard.


They have a beautiful home on almost two acres of land. Lots of trees and Patsy has a knack for making everything around her beautiful. Tom keeps busy officiating at volley ball games. They also bought a fifth wheel and took a trip out to Arizona but that was in August. They had a good time but said it was way too hot. I’m trying to convince them to give it a try during the winter months.

Skittlez running up the driveway – headed for Mom and the treats.


Scooter’s idea of heading for home. Let’s mosey up the drive way and see what else I can find to chase out here before I’m forced to go inside.


No harnesses or leashes and they couldn’t be happier. I tried to get another picture of Skittlez running to me. She just tears up the ground as fast as those little legs will go. Ears just a flapping.


Friday we are going to visit one site I’ve wanted to go to for years. I am really excited.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fredericksburg Wrap Up

Milford, VA  High 76  Low 52

This post is a grab bag of places and things we saw and things we did that didn’t fit in with other posts.

Jim is a happy man because he has been able to find the best tomatoes he’s had in a really long time. Here he’s at the Farmer’s Market in Bowling Green.

farmers market

I thought this bumper sticker was a good one.


Also saw this bug (dragon fly???)


Across the street from the National Bank Museum is St. George’s Episcopal Church which was built in 1849. The family of George Washington attended services here.


The door was open and in we went. Linda said to me that the only time she goes to church is when she’s with me. She is Jewish but I’m always dragging her into church’s whenever we are together.


After stopping at the Made in Virginia Store for some country ham, we headed back to the campground. Jim grilled pork chops for lunch and I made stuffing and fried apples. Shortly after Linda had to head back to Maryland. We really had a fun time having her with us.

P1090105Sidney sitting on the slave auction block, one of Fredericksburg’s most controversial monuments. Some people claim that slaves were sold from this block and others say that it was used by women to mount their horses. There are those who say it is an important part of history and others who want it removed because it is a reminder of a very tragic and terrible time in US history.

We extended our stay by one day because we had to go to the bank for some paperwork on the hail damage to the house. I also needed to do laundry and we hoped to see Jimmy one more time.

JimmyMissions accomplished. Jimmy was able to come down to the campground on Thursday morning to have some blueberry pancakes with us. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that he and Jenetta can make it out to Arizona for a visit.

Thursday we had a huge travel day of 33 miles. Love those kinds of days.

Friday, September 26, 2014

National Bank Museum

Milford, VA  High 72  Low 51


This is one of the oldest bank buildings in the Nation. It served as the Union headquarters during the occupation of Fredericksburg and is one of the few buildings to survive the Civil War.

Check Writer


Originally built in 1820, Farmer’s Bank operated in this building until after the war, when it went under because all of the Confederate notes it held were worthless.

Check Perforator

check perforater

President Lincoln addressed troops and citizens from the building's steps on May 22, 1858. I get chills knowing that I stood in the same place that Abraham Lincoln stood.

The original teller’s window from Planter’s National Bank.


This is a small, free museum and Linda made a great comment. She said this museum really made her understand how banks were created. That is something I’ve never thought about either.  They are just always there and available.


I also didn’t realize that ATM’s have been around since the 1970’s. Lots of fun information. But if you don’t hurry, you won’t see these exhibits. In November the building is being vacated and is for sale. At this time they do not know where these artifacts will end up.

Colonial Beach

Milford, VA  High 68  Low 52

Monday, Linda, Jim and I headed out to Colonial Beach. Another trip down Memory Lane for Jim as well as an opportunity for more seafood.

Colonial Beach is on the Potomac River. Jim’s family used to own a place there and he spent a lot of week-ends with his Dad taking their boat out and fishing. Last time he was there was about 47 years ago.


We walked out on the pier and Jim told us about the time he and his Dad were out in the boat and a terrible storm came up. You can see from the picture that this is a huge river. They were in a small boat and it took them two hours to get back to shore. Both of them were afraid they wouldn’t live to see land again.


We drove all over trying to find that house but either it’s been added on to so much that it wasn’t recognizable or it’s been torn down.

This used to be a casino. Virginia doesn’t allow gambling so the owners built this place out over the low tide area which is actually part of Maryland and they did allow gambling.


This is downtown Colonial Beach. It really hasn’t changed a whole lot in the last 47 years.


We stopped at a seafood market and bought four huge crab cakes and some shrimp which are now in our freezer. Jim stopped in a store and asked the clerk for a recommendation for lunch. He recommended Wilkerson’s in Potomac Beach. Jim remembered eating at Wilkerson’s when he was younger. Even after all these years, it is still owned by the same family.


Linda and Jim each had the seafood lunch special – shrimp, oysters and a crab cake. I had the crab cake. Wish we had more time so we could go back again.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bloody Angle

Milford, VA  High 65  Low 52

On Sunday, my friend Linda, came down from Maryland to spend three days with us. She rented one of the cabins here in the RV park for a couple of nights. Per her request, there are no pictures of her in my blog. Linda was with me the night I met Jim so we’ve been friends for a long time.

After getting Linda settled we headed back over to Spotsylvania Courthouse Battlefield. There were four major Civil War battles fought in this area. We were able to make it to three of them during our stay here – Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and now Spotsylvania. The fourth was Wilderness.

P1090079After the battle at Wilderness, both the Union and Confederate soldiers raced toward the crossroads at Spotsylvania Court House which controlled the most direct route to Richmond. Lee arrived first on May 8, 1864. The Confederates built a line they called the Mule Shoe Salient.

P1090084On May 12, Grant broke through this line and for the next 22 hours the two sides were locked in the war’s most intense hand-to-hand combat. Bodies piled up three, four, even five deep in the crimsoned mud and the area became known as the Bloody Angle.

The rifle fire was so heavy that a 22-inch oak tree was felled by the impact of bullets alone. One man had 11 bullets through the soles of his feet alone. Another was so mutilated that friends could identify him only by the unusual color of his beard.

This compass shows the distance to the battles fought throughout this area.


P1090087Grant had hoped for a decisive victory but Lee denied him that victory at Spotsylvania Court House. However, the Union troops destroyed huge numbers of the Confederate troops and with their dwindling numbers, the final surrender at Appomattox Court House was inevitable. We will be exploring Appomattox in about a week.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hugh Mercer Apothecary

Milford, VA  High 76  Low 53

I have just plain run out of time to do much blog reading. I’m really working hard just to get some of my bog posts done before I collapse each night. It will probably be this way until we leave Virginia and things calm down just a bit.

Hugh Mercer (January 17, 1726 – January 12, 1777) was a soldier and physician. He became a brigadier general in the Continental Army and a close friend to George Washington.  Mercer died as a result of his wounds received at the Battle of Princeton.


When Dr. Mercer wasn’t fighting in the Revolutionary War he was a physician in the town of Fredericksburg. His office is now a museum and we took the tour. My maiden name is Mercer and that side of my family came from Scotland. Dr. Mercer escaped from Scotland after the Battle of Culloden. So I figure somewhere along the line, way back when, we are probably related.

They don’t allow pictures so this one of the inside is from the website.

hugh mercer

P1090060What an interesting look into the life of a physician as well as his pharmacy. The docents are in costume and explain what a doctor had to do to treat his patients. They demonstrated some of the common instruments a doctor would use. The younger docent showed us the leeches that were used for blood letting. (Yes, they were alive and she handled them.) But after seeing the other instruments they used for blood letting, the leeches may have been the best way to go.

They also gave a very knowledgeable presentation on the uses of all the herbs that the doctor would have prescribed.

We really enjoyed this tour.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Family Dynamics

Milford, VA  High 77  Low 52

Last Saturday we headed over to Jimmy and Jenetta’s house. Another highly anticipated day because it was see the granddaughters day.

I am amazed at the relationship that this family has. Let me introduce you.

You’ve already met Jenetta. Next is Liz (Jim’s ex-wife, mother of Jimmy), hidden behind the cup is Juliet and, of course, Bella.


This is Jessica (Jimmy’s ex-wife) with Juliet who is 7.


Madison really didn’t want her picture taken. She’s 12 going on 32.


Jimmy with Angel and Juliet.


Jimmy grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone. Jim and Liz got a chance to reminisce and I had a chance to catch up on the girls and how Jessica was coping. It was a fantastic time. 

We had to go back to the campground to take care of the girls. They really do think they need to eat and go out even when we’re busy visiting.

After taking care of them we headed back to Fredericksburg to meet up with Jim’s sister, Nancy, her hubby, Jack, and their daughter Patti. Patti and her Uncle Jim have always been really close.


It was so good to see them again. We are sure hoping to get together again before we leave Virginia. I hinted (very strongly) that Arizona would be a great pace for them to come visit sometime soon.

Jim and Nancy


Then last night we were finally able to connect with my brother, Rob, and my niece, Meredith. Rob works for UPS and with the ten million Iphones that were sold, he had to work Saturday, Sunday, and his day off, Monday. He lives up near Manassa and drove down to meet us in Fredericksburg for a quick bite.

Rob and Me


Meredith is a Sophomore this year and knows what she wants to be when she grows up – an Orthopedic Surgeon. I told Rob not to even think about retiring. He just groaned.


We met up with Rob and Meredith at Friendly’s Ice Cream Parlor. Jim had two wishes (besides seeing family) while here – seafood and a Jim Dandy. This is a Jim Dandy.


And this is Jim with his Jim Dandy. He will be eating a lot of salads and low carbs to make up for it.



We have had an awesome time with family and it sure does make every mile driven to get here worth it. We are going to have more family times when we get down to Roanoke.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Field Trips–John Wilkes Booth and Stonewall Jackson

Milford, VA  High 84  Low 56

Along many of the roads we travel are historical markers. I have an app called Field Trip which buzzes when we pass these markers and tells me what is on them. When we are out West my phone buzzes occasionally. Driving these roads of Spotsylvania County my poor phone never quits going off.

One of the most interesting to me was one about John Wilkes Booth. After he assassinated Lincoln he escaped D. C. and headed south into Virginia. At this spot on Highway 301 near Port Royal, Booth was cornered by Union soldiers and killed on April 26, 1865.

There is so much history and to be able to stand where it all happened makes it real for me. In high school History was just a subject I had to take to graduate. I have a whole different attitude now.

Just picture Union soldiers marching down this road (which has been improved since 1863) shoulder to shoulder, so many of them that messengers couldn’t get through to the front of the line.


Another Field Trip we made was to the Chancellorsville Battlefield. It was here that Robert E. Lee won his greatest victory, but lost his legendary subordinate, Stonewall Jackson.

On May 2, 1863, Stonewall Jackson marched 12 miles around the Union army and destroyed Gen. Joseph Hooker’s right wing in a surprise attack. In the confusion of the darkness, Jackson was accidently shot by his own troops. The surgeons removed his arm and wanted to get him to the hospital in Richmond.

They took him by “ambulance” (a horse drawn wagon) 27 miles to the Thomas C. Chandler’s plantation. They planned to evacuate him to Richmond by railroad, however, the Union had cut the rail line. Once Confederate troops regained control of the rail line, Jackson would board a train at Guinea Station and go on to Richmond.

clockThis clock was put in Jackson’s room by the Chandlers to make the room look more homelike and cheerful. They wind it twice a week and it still keeps perfect time.

Three days after being wounded, Jackson came down with pneumonia. Despite the efforts of five doctors, Jackson was told on May 10, 1863 that he was going to die. His last words were: “It is the Lord’s Day; my wish is fulfilled,” I have always desired to die on Sunday.”

This is the actual bed where Stonewall Jackson died.


The only building left of this plantation is the office building where Jackson died. It is now called the Stonewall Jackson Shrine.


Jackson is buried in Lexington but his arm was buried back in Chancellorsville where it was removed.