Monday, August 6, 2012
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Thursday, June 21, 2012
In order to solve the problem of the "wavy" ceiling, a new ceiling will have to be installed in some manner. During this installation the ceiling will be leveled to the lowest point of the current ceiling. The current ceiling in the Parlor is a modern ceiling dating to the 1930's restoration. We are currently looking at every option available so that we will have as little impact as possible on the overall height of the ceiling. As we work towards a solution, every effort is being made to preserve the historical integrity of "Light Horse Harry" Lee's Parlor. Stay tuned to see how we solve this problem and the how the restoration progresses.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
|Richard Mynatt's indentured contract|
Monday, June 11, 2012
- Mary, Historic Interpreter
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Thursday, May 31, 2012
“Better organized than any intergenerational that I have attended”
“I’ll be recommending this to many friends”
“Staff overlooked nothing…a delight to be part of this program.”
“Great program! Unique.”
“My granddaughter and I had a wonderful time,lots of bonding, fun and learning together.”
“Captivating, content-full, well paced, a gem of a setting.”
- Bill Doerken, Coordinator of Special Programs
Thursday, May 24, 2012
“Resolved, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
We will be holding two teacher workshops. Economic Life in Colonial Virginia: Institute for Teachers of U.S. and VA History/Studies, a residential workshop on economic history of Colonial Tidewater Virginia being held July 26-28, is already at capacity. On August 10th, Stratford will be hosting Sprouting for Success: Ag in the Classroom for the second year. This one-day workshop is free, but pre-registration is required. Click on the link for more information.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
|This photo is in our exhibit "On the Way to Stratford."|
|A view from a nature trail looking out on the mill pond.|
Monday, May 7, 2012
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
It would not be until the mid 19th century that geologists began to piece together information that would lead to geological principles. Of these principles, the most significant is called superpositioning. This is a geological term applied to the observation that the oldest deposits are at the bottom the youngest are found at the top in a layer cake of time. The Stratford cliffs make up a unique layer cake and are part of the geographic region known as the Virginia Coastal Plain. The Virginia Coastal Plain is part of the much larger Atlantic Coastal Plain.
The specific layers at Stratford Hall are known to paleontologists and geologists as the Miocene Chesapeake Group Formations or Calvert Group. At Stratford Hall, these sediments span a time period from about 16 million years to the present day.
The sediment and silts, which formed the cliffs, are the result of millions of years of erosion and ocean sediment accumulation. These sediments were deposited in a prehistoric bay known as the Salisbury Embayment. The Salisbury Embayment was an arm of the Atlantic Ocean which covered what is now Delaware, southern and eastern Maryland, the Virginia Peninsula, and parts of southern New Jersey during Tertiary times (about 65 million to 5 million years ago). Sea level throughout most of this period stood several hundred feet higher than at present and deposition of sediments draining off the continent possibly caused the underlying rocks to sink down, creating the embayment. The shore of the embayment lay inland at the present-day fall line in the region.
|Examples of teeth from an extinct sharks|
The various layers of the Calvert group are seen as bands of various colors rising from the river shoreline. Each color of sediment seen indicates a unique variety of sediments resulting from recurring pulses of marine advances and retreats over the millennia. These pulses were the accumulating deposits of silts, clays, and sands that sealed the remains of the animals and plants. Each of the layers holds a unique groups of fossils.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Liquor was, in fact, distilled on the plantation. It was simply part of life during the 18th century. Crops were grown for the table, livestock raised, and goods produced… be it clothing, furniture, or shoes. Just imagine the possibilities of having a carpenter or blacksmith on site with the skills to custom design interior and exterior features for the property. This was, obviously, long before shopping malls or the Internet! Additionally, the Lees had access to the Potomac River and the world beyond where ships were capable of making deliveries from Europe.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
I had previously seen only two letters written by Ann Carter Lee, wife of Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee and mother of Robert E. Lee. Coincidentally, those letters were also from Ann to her son Smith and were placed on loan to Stratford by Smith Lee’s descendants. Knowing what those letters looked like was very helpful in slowly reassembling the pieces of my brother’s newly purchased fragments.
The letter had split at every fold, but, surprisingly, all of its pieces were in the envelope. We may never know who had saved the letter, but are thankful that its contents are now available to researchers since my brother allowed me to copy and transcribe it along with other letters in our collection.
Ann’s letter was transcribed by library volunteer Maurice Capone and it is very similar in content to her few known letters to Smith, who had embarked upon a career in the U. S. Navy. Evidently, 17-year-old Smith hated writing letters and Ann often used her precarious health (she had tuberculosis) to urge him to do so. Whether or not her imposed “guilt trip” was successful is unknown, but, since few or no letters from Smith survive, Ann’s insistence was probably in vain.
Family news took up a small portion of the letter. Ann’s desire to give her children a good education can be plainly seen—24-year-old Carter was in law school, and 11-year-old Mildred and 15-year-old Robert were both attending classes. Her older daughter Ann Kinloch had been to Philadelphia, getting medical treatment for her arm; although the letter gave a good report on her hand, she eventually had to have part of her arm amputated due to tuberculosis of the bone. Perhaps Ann’s greatest hope for Smith and her other children was for them not to suffer the fate of her former husband, “Light Horse Harry,” who had fallen from the rank of esteemed Revolutionary hero and respected politician to that of an impoverished, broken man. She wished to “hear that all respect & love my Son” and that he “should deserve the esteem of the whole world.”
So…..we never know what letters are still “out there” just waiting to be discovered. Sometimes scraps of paper in an envelope can reveal certain aspects of a family’s dynamics that ultimately influence the course of history. Have you checked your attic lately?
By Judy Hynson, Director of Research & Library Collections
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
As spring arrives a little early here at Stratford Hall, I am preparing for the warmer weather. The first thing I did to prepare for spring, with the help of the Collections Department, was to install the bird nets on the doors of the outbuildings. We install these nets to keep the pesky barn swallows out of the historic buildings but still allow our visitors access. You can read more about our issues with these birds here.
Also as spring arrives the department is currently looking for its annual summer intern. So far we have a great applicant pool and it will soon be time to make the hard decision of who gets to spend 10 fun-filled weeks at Stratford Hall. If you are interested in knowing more about our internships the posting can be found on our website.
I am also gearing up to begin working on the exterior of some of the historic structures again. This work will consist of wrapping up the Slave Quarter restoration and continuing to work on the Great House windows. I am sure I will be getting into some more projects as the season progresses, so check back.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
We've blogged about setting up the Great House for its wintertime scenarios before (and its summertime scenarios and even fall ones too). But what about springtime? It is difficult (and incredibly time-consuming) to continually think of new ideas for room displays in the Historic Area. So much planning goes into the new room projects (like the Parlor project that is now in its restoration and furnishing research phase) and changing them seasonally can be a challenge.
But just like our own houses, the residents of Stratford used their domestic spaces differently and changed things around as the weather changed. I'm currently writing this blog post in my own home office, with the window thrown open and birds chirping outside. I have flip-flops on my feet yet am bundled into a hoodie sweatshirt. The heat has been turned off and the air has a springtime morning chill that is quite delicious. My personal plans this time of year revolve around organizing and deep cleaning the house, as well as making plans for the vegetable and flower gardens. English peas are one of my favorites.
Seasonality is always in the back of my mind when I plan scenarios in the Great House and Kitchen. What foods are in season? Would they have been using the fireplaces for warmth? Would windows have been open for fresh breezes? What little changes are being made (bed coverings switching from heavy to light, for instance)? All adding up to bring a sense of real life to these historic spaces.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
This past week we saw snow and temperatures in the 70s...spring is here at last! Stratford Hall is emerging from our winter season and gearing up for the spring. School trip season is not quite here, but our first school is scheduled be here at the end of the month. In the next couple weeks we will be reviewing program station content, checking on supplies, and cleaning the education spaces.
Public Events Manager Jon Bachman has been putting the finishing touches on our 2012 event calendar. Stratford Hall has already held four programs: Birding at Stratford: Left Out In the Cold, Robert E. Lee's Birthday, Reading Lee with Elizabeth Brown Pryor, and Reflections on Black History: Telling One Story. We have over twenty more programs on the schedule this year! The next program is Growing up Female in the 18th century. Many of our programs are also now free for Friends of Stratford members.
This winter also provided the opportunity to visit other museums for research. Previous blog posts highlighted our trip to Montpelier and Washington, DC. Four members of the staff also recently visited Tryon Palace in New Bern, NC. This two day trip included a visit to their historic site, tour of the North Carolina History Center, and meetings with their staff. The hands-on exhibits provided the opportunity for some fun and competition. The ship was sailed somewhat successfully, ingredients located in the kitchen without angering the cook (see kitchen above), turpentine produced, and quilt created.These trips are extremely valuable as we start to think about what we would like to do as we move forward with our plans.
Check back every Thursday to learn more about what is going on at Stratford Hall. We will be having posts about preservation, the collections, programs, events in the Dining Room, the Gift Shop, and so much more.
Friday, February 10, 2012
The first stop was the International Spy Museum. While this museum covers a different subject, it is a extremely popular destination and incorporates a lot of interactives into the exhibits. Dan Treado (Exhibitions Production Manager) walked us through the exhibits and explained some of the ideas for the future.
The second stop was the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. We really wanted to check out the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. This exhibit had numerous movies, touchscreens, and objects that can be touched by the visitor. One thing we really wanted to check out was MEanderthal - a computer station that morphs your image into a neanderthal. One of our photos is here and you can try it for yourself using a smartphone.
The final stop was the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. There were two exhibits that we wanted to see here: The First Ladies and Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty. You should see the puzzled looks from other visitors we get while crouching down to examine the type of lighting in a museum case or evaluating how easily technicians would be able to access the collection for conservation.
Friday, January 27, 2012
This week the interpretive staff visited James Madison's Montpelier. Our visit stared with a guided tour of the Treasures of Montpelier exhibit with Carole, our fantastic guide, and a screening of the introductory movie. Carole then took us through the first and second floors of Montpelier.
After our tour we returned to the Visitor Center for lunch. We were joined by members of the interpretation and education departments for a question and answer session. For the guides, this was the highlight of the trip. The conversation ranged from the interpreter dress code to what to do when school buses arrive late.
Everyone was let loose for the final hour to explore whatever interested them. Some chose to visit the cemetery, while other walked to the Archaeology Lab. A few decided to check out the outbuildings and explore the gardens.
We all love Stratford, but sometimes it is nice to get out and be a visitor. We are very lucky because there are no shortage of amazing places to visit in Virginia!
Friday, January 13, 2012
Today Stratford Hall welcomed the first of the Red Devons. We first mentioned this project in a blog about a year ago. You can read it here.
This is a breed that would have been found at Stratford in the 18th century. Through a partnership with Lakota Farms, we are now able to give our visitors a chance to see these beautiful animals and learn more about Stratford's agricultural heritage.
Friday, January 6, 2012
Discovery of a tombstone bearing the name Elizabeth Lee in a Canadian cemetery and related family oral history have prompted her descendants to claim kinship with Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, father of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Henry Lee, according to Elizabeth Lee’s descendant, Elise Harding-Davis, is believed to have fathered a slave, Kizzie, who was the mother of Elizabeth’s husband, Ludwell Lee.
Henry Lee, a former Revolutionary War hero, moved to Stratford in 1782 after marrying his cousin Matilda, eldest daughter of Philip Ludwell Lee. Matilda died in 1790 and Henry, who had been elected Governor of Virginia, married Ann Hill Carter in 1793. Henry and Ann’s last child to be born at Stratford was Robert E. Lee. Henry’s financial difficulties, stints in debtor’s prisons, and his son Henry’s claim on the Stratford estate hastened the family’s departure from Stratford to Alexandria in the winter of 1810-11.
Tracing the history of African Americans at Stratford has always been challenging. Slave names gleaned from court records and Lee family documents comprise most of the information that we know about Stratford’s historic slave community. Probate inventories of the first two Lee owners of Stratford, in 1758 and 1776, list the names of their slaves along with other property. An extensive slave list was made in 1782 when Philip Ludwell Lee’s estate was divided between his widow Elizabeth and two daughters, Matilda and Flora (who married her cousin Ludwell Lee, son of Richard Henry Lee). [For further information, see Jeanne Calhoun’s research report, “The African-American Experience at Stratford: 1782” at http://www.stratfordhall.org/learn/african_american.php ] Philip’s estate slave list included names, ages, value, and sometimes occupations of the 137 slaves living on Stratford and two outlying farms. Also, Henry Lee inherited some slaves from other Lees, and these estate divisions are recorded in the Westmoreland County courthouse. Some of these slaves came to live at Stratford. Unfortunately, only a few of these documents indicate family units that existed, and none of them record any surnames. Only one African American family—the Payne family—has been identified as having once been a part of the plantation’s slave population.
Searching for Kizzie:
None of the slaves in the various inventories and lists mentioned above had the name “Kizzie.” However, court clerks and persons entrusted by estate administrators and county courts to make inventories often resort to creative spellings of names in official records. The two Lee probate inventories do not list any slave with a name that could possibly be construed as being Kizzie. In the April 1782 estate division of slaves, there were two girls allotted to Matilda and Flora with names beginning with a “K.” Those names, as far as I can tell, are “Keavy” (age 5) and “Kenny” (age 3). These slaves were born during the American Revolution while Henry Lee was leading his cavalry and before he courted Matilda and married her in 1782.
More promising is a list of slaves that Henry Lee inherited by will from the estate of John Lee of Cabin Point. John Lee’s widow, who had life interest in his estate and slaves, died childless in 1802. Several Lee nephews, including Henry Lee and Richard Bland Lee, received equal portions of the estate, including slaves living there, in 1803. Henry Lee’s 28 inherited slaves included “Kesey” (age 5). The Westmoreland County court records (Book #8, p. 213) show that the same girl slave was listed as “Keseah” in John Lee’s probate inventory.* Could this child, born circa 1798, be the Kizzie who had her own child Ludwell by age 20 in 1818?
If so, Kesey, as one of the Cabin Point slaves, would have led a very precarious childhood. Henry Lee, in perpetual debt, mortaged his Cabin Point inheritance (to Bushrod Washington) in 1798…even before he officially inherited it. A long legal battle with Thomas Rowand over the ownership of Cabin Point resulted in Lee’s eventual loss of the property. Court documents indicate that Lee’s inherited Cabin Point slaves were brought to Stratford after the 1803 John Lee estate division. Henry Lee sold the slaves from Cabin Point to his brother Richard Bland Lee for $2,000 credit against his debt in 1807; Richard Bland Lee hired out the Cabin Point slaves beginning January 1808. However, records of the transaction do not list Kesey as one of those slaves. Nor is she listed when Richard Bland Lee sold the Cabin Point slaves to Henry Lee, Jr. in January 1810. Where was Kesey after 1803?
In 1810, the Federal Census shows that there were only 32 slaves over age 12 at Stratford, a number that had been steadily decreasing as Henry and Ann Lee began selling off acreage not included in the deed of trust to his children by his first wife Matilda. Court records show that many of Henry’s slaves were taken as collateral by persons to whom he owed money, and much of Henry’s time during 1809-1810 was spent in debtor’s prisons in both Westmoreland and Spotsylvania Counties. Henry Lee’s personal property tax return for 1810 showed that he owned no slaves by the end of the year. If Kesey had remained at Stratford after 1803, where was the twelve-year-old girl in 1810? If Henry had given his remaining slaves to his son Henry, Jr., who assumed management of Stratford in 1810, Kesey would probably not have remained at Stratford much longer. Henry Lee, Jr.‘s slave population dwindled to only 4 slaves over age 12 by 1815. Interpreting possible scenarios for Kesey’s fate is tempting, but the sad fact is that Kesey seems to virtually disappear from the historical record after 1803.
It’s possible that combing through Westmoreland County court records might produce some evidence for Kesey’s whereabouts after 1803, but that research project would require a lengthy time investment. And what if Kesey is not Kizzie?
What’s in a name?…..
Ludwell was a surname associated with the Lee family since Thomas Lee’s marriage to Hannah Ludwell in the 1720s. Thomas Lee passed the Ludwell name to two of his sons, and four of Thomas’s sons (one married a Ludwell cousin) passed the name to their sons. Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee named one of his sons Philip Ludwell. Thomas Ludwell , brother of the Philip Ludwell who was agent for the Northern Neck Proprietary, also patented land near the early Lees in Westmoreland County. When the estate of Squire Richard Lee of Lee Hall (just downriver from Cabin Point) was inventoried in 1798, the inventory listed a slave named Ludwell, who was sold to Squire Richard’s nephew, Richard Bland Lee—the same Lee who purchased the Cabin Point slaves. While slaves were often given a diminutive of the names frequently used by their owner’s family, i. e., Harry for Henry, a family name was sometimes used for slaves when it was not used for a member of the slaveowner’s household. While Ludwell may be an unusual name in Canada, it certainly is not unusual in Virginia and elsewhere. Genealogical inquiries from unrelated Lee families with ancestors bearing the names Richard Henry, Robert E., Ludwell and Lightfoot are constant reminders that not everyone who shares a common family name is related. But, combined with an oral history tradition, the Ludwell name link is tantalizing.
Oral histories are important, particularly to black families who are seeking to trace their history in a world where little documentation survives. We respect the oral tradition of passing along information from one generation to the next and have our own oral history project associated with Stratford and its restoration. The Payne family’s history is entwined with that of the Lees and subsequent owners of Stratford, and new findings are shared between the Paynes and the research department here. While oral history can be helpful in directing ancestor searches, it does not take the place of historic documentation. By itself, oral history often leaves many questions unanswered, but it is invaluable as an impetus to document the oral history tradition. We hope that the descendants of Kizzie will continue their quest to discover unknown family names and relationships. Maybe their journey will indeed lead to the Lees of Stratford.
*Other transcribers have read the name as “Kissey” and “Kesiah.”