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Central Rappahannock
Heritage Center Newsletter
A place that loses its history loses it soul
Volume 6, Issue 4
April 2016
In This Issue

Mark Your Calendar!
May 3, 2016 

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Message From The Chairman

Many people know that February is Black History Month and March is Women's History Month. Many people may not know that April is National Volunteer Month and that it includes National Volunteer Week, which this year is April 10-16.  President Richard Nixon created the first National Volunteer Week in 1974 and the impact of volunteerism has grown tremendously since then.  Here at CRHC, we are a 100% all volunteer staff, which is very unique for a non-profit and a source of great pride!
One of the best aspects of volunteerism at the Center is that there are so many ways to do it.  Some examples of our volunteer opportunities are the preparation of documents, data input and helping researchers with genealogical requests. Another key way to volunteer is by assisting with the Center's fund raising efforts. This, too, can take many forms. Volunteering and donating are both forms of "giving freely", giving with your time, your money or both.  On May 3, you can volunteer to help CRHC in a unique way by participating in The Community Give, a 24 hour online event for local non-profits to raise money.  Your monetary donations are crucial to the Center and, if you wait until May 3 to donate to CRHC, each unique donation of $25.00 or more may help us win additional prizes during the event.  An equally important way to volunteer for The Community Give is to help us as "ambassadors" for the Center.  We will need everyone to "get the word out" to friends, family and co-workers through phone calls, e-mails and on social media.  A small voluntary investment of your time can reap big rewards for the Center! Watch for additional details about this opportunity to support CRHC.  For more information, click on the following link:
Thanks to all of you who dedicate yourselves to preserving our heritage!

Meredith Beckett
CRHC Chairman

Welcome New Members  
Judy Burns

CRHC memberships support the important work done by the Center.  The Center fills a unique role in the region:  the preservation of our people's history, which we make available for research.  We are a 100% all volunteer, non-profit organization.

Please join us as part of the Heritage Center's preservation team!  As a CRHC member, you will be helping to preserve our priceless local history.  Click here to become a member today! 

Thank you for your support,

The Central Rappahannock Heritage Center

Early Medicine and Cures         

Illnesses and remedies, how things have changed. Looking back through old documents, health conditions, including the terminology, is quite different from what we hear now. The lack of public health standards caused or contributed to many illnesses and deaths. Most of the diseases and conditions have been eradicated and we find ourselves having to look up things like Bright's Disease (kidney failure), dropsy (heart failure), consumption (tuberculosis), confinement (pregnancy), palsy, infant cholera (indigestion and dehydration), black canker (diphtheria), quinsy (sore throat) and catarrh (inflammation of the nose and throat). The Civil War seemed to have specific illnesses, camp fever and coast fever which were caused by impure food, water and wildlife. And then there was the bilious attack (a digestive disturbance) frequently attributed to over eating or rich food.
Even more surprising and sometimes alarming, were the cures and treatments. We all learned in school that George Washington died after having been bled (nearly five pints in sixteen hours) to relieve symptoms of a severe throat infection. Today this seems barbaric, but wait, things got much worse before they got better. In "The Civil War Letters of the Knox Family of Fredericksburg," it is obvious that both Mrs. Knox and her daughter, Virginia suffered from migraine headaches. They mentioned how they spent days in bed, sick with blinding headaches. What else could they do to combat them besides bed rest? In January 1864 James Knox wrote, "I think my last tour on Picket was rather injurious to me, as I had a slight chill the day I received your letter and a very high fever, and horrible headache but have been taking 6 drops of Fowlers Solution of arsenic three times a day." Could this have contributed to James' death from Bright's disease in 1909? Robert Knox's daughter, Austina was diagnosed with "melancholia," and was sent by court order to Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg. She likely had depression and perhaps a severe form of what we now recognize as bipolar disorder. Austina lived her last years sinking deeper and deeper into her condition. Prior to 1894, the facility was known as the Eastern Lunatic State Hospital and Eastern Lunatic Asylum. By act of the General Assembly in 1894, it is now the Eastern State Hospital.
During the Civil War disease killed more people than combat. When the young soldiers from the rural south came to towns and urban areas, they were exposed to diseases they had never encountered. They also brought with them small pox, scarlet fever and measles. The Union soldiers from the northern cities proved to be more resistant. Neither Union nor Confederate soldiers were resistant to cholera, typhus or food poisoning. Families frequently sent treats to their loved ones in the military. One private received a basket of food from home. By nightfall the young man was dead. (Krick, Robert K. The Virginia Regimental Histories Series: 30th Virginia Infantry.) Refrigeration was virtually unknown, people depended upon, and not always successfully, salting, drying and smoking perishable food.
Fredericksburg had a severe epidemic of scarlet fever in the winter of 1861- 62. The outbreak coincided with the arrival of Confederate soldiers from Arkansas, Mississippi, and the Carolinas. About one hundreds deaths, many of them children, were attributed to scarlet fever. Some families, like the Doswells, lost two young children in less than a week.
What, besides arsenic, did people use to treat these maladies? Some of remedies did have value. Quinine is still in use and leaches have been brought back with some success. Although some potions were effective, most did little good and some did great harm. People who survived were probably physically strong before becoming ill and they were lucky. Remedies were homemade, patent medicines or potions compounded by druggists and doctors. Druggists and doctors would mix the ingredients and used molds or forms to make pills.
We have come a long way in the last 150 years, but, imagine what people will say 150 years from now about our current medical practices.
The Center has several collections which deal with medicine. The John T. Rector Estate, donated in 2002, consists of records of area doctors, dentists and pharmacists. John Rector was a dedicated Heritage Center volunteer, historian and the descendant of local doctors and druggists.

Beth Daly
Thank You to Our Volunteers

National Volunteer Week is April 10 - 16 and solutes the millions of people who donate their time to make the world a better place. What would the Center do without volunteers? We wouldn't exist. The Center is staffed solely by volunteers. Currently there are 40 active volunteers who come to the Center at least once a week. These volunteers contributed over 6,500 hours in 2015.  CRHC is truly grateful for our wonderful volunteers.

Fredericksburg Wall of Honor Nominations

The Fredericksburg Memorials Advisory Commission is seeking nominations to the Fredericksburg Wall of Honor for 2016.  Nominees must have made significant contributions to the welfare of the city and the betterment of society.  They must have been deceased for at least one year.  Nominations may not be made by family members.  The Wall of Honor application form can be found on the city website, www.fredericksburgva.govPlease submit names and supporting information by May 1, 2016, to Tonya Lacey, Clerk of the City Council.  Tonya's email address is

Correction to April's Newsletter

JoAnn Brown, a Center volunteer, careful newsletter reader and former King George resident, found an error in last month's newsletter. Ruby Brabo may be the first woman chair of the King George Board of Supervisors, but she is not the first woman to be elected supervisor. Diane Shields was the first woman to be elected to the King George Board of Supervisors.  Thank you JoAnn!

Can you help identify these photos?

Unidentified photo from the Barry Fitzgerald Collection. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Unidentified photo from the Barry Fitzgerald Collection. (Click on photo to enlarge.)
The Circle Unbroken: Civil War Letters of the Knox Family of Fredericksburg

On sale now at the Heritage Center 
$29.70 for members 
$33.00 for non-members 
You can also purchase the book online from the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation
                         (click on image to order online)