Keepers of Rappahannock’s history

In 1964, more than 50 people met at the Rappahannock County courthouse to organize the Rappahannock Historical Society. Judge Raynor Snead chaired the meeting, and William Carrigan and Dorothy Davis helped run the meeting to explain the reasons for the formation of the society. In 1965, the Virginia Telephone and Telegraph Company was occupying a very old building on town lot 43 that had been one of the outbuildings to the Baggarly manor house. This brick two-story building is believed to be one of the earliest brick structures in the town of Washington.

The telephone company planned to raze the building, but Carrigan argued that it should be preserved and the Company agreed to give it to the Rappahannock Historical Society, providing that the building bemoved. There was no lot to move onto, so they agreed to donate 2,250 square feet of their land to the society in 1965. Shortly thereafter, a moving contractor was engaged, a basement dug, foundation poured, and the building was placed on the donated lot, at a cost of $2,750 for moving and an additional $2,750 for landscaping. In 1974, the building underwent renovation, including repairs to the foundation, roof, and floors at a cost of $7,419. In 2000, the building was moved closer to Gay Street and an addition was constructed at the back that approximately doubled the size of the building.

During the 1970s the society was not very active, but when Howard and Helen Holschuh came to the county, they were influenced in bringing the society back to life. Catherine Knuepfer, Arland Welch, Lucia Kilby, and Misty Hitt were some of the devoted volunteers. Donna Fisher was employed as an administrative assistant to manage the society offices and answer historical and genealogical inquiries until her death. After that, Judy Tole became the executive director, with her husband John Tole as president of the society’s board of directors.

The Rappahannock Historical Society & Museum building now houses the society’s offices, research library, museum and gift shop. Many visitors enter the doors of that building to learn more about the Town of Washington and about Rappahannock County. The society collects, preserves, and interprets the unique history and heritage of the area. The gift shop features books, historical maps, memorabilia, and products from the county.

An important task of the society is assisting individuals doing genealogical research. Material on about 1,000 county families has been gathered. Early volunteers abstracted Rappahannock County birth, marriage, and death records, wills, and chancery records to have information readily on hand. Part of the collections are Rappahannock County censures and a large number of investigated graveyards in the county and identified thousands of individuals buried there. The society also collects and maintains historical information on county churches, schools, houses, mills, businesses, wars, towns, and many other topics.

The society has obtained oral histories from many county residents to supplement published information. Another project of the society is conducting research on the history of specific homes and properties in the county, tracing the land and its owners back to when Rappahannock County was still part of Culpeper County and even back to the original land grants from Thomas Lord Fairfax and King George II. The society has also undertaken online digitization of the collections, with a visual interface to the digitized information accessible through the society’s website.

Editor’s note: This information was excerpted from Maureen I. Harris’ book, “Washington, Virginia, a History, 1735-2018.”

Book Barn open for business

The Book Barn is open for business on Saturdays from 10 a.m.  to 2 p.m. Please stop by if you are looking for books or music. Recent and vintage fiction, history, sports, science, humor, CDs, DVDs, and children’s books are all available at low prices. Gardening books are “Buy One, Get One Free.” Masks are recommended.

Testimony time

Brother Steve Foster will be giving his testimony at Love and Faithfulness Church on Friday Sept. 10, at 7 p.m.  at 111 Water Street in Front Royal. A testimony of a life that was wild and crazy, until he met a man named Jesus. David Clanagan of Washington, is the pastor of the church. All are welcome to attend. For more information, call Pastor Clanagan at 540-247-1739.

WVFR buffet breakfast

The Washington Volunteer Fire and Rescue having an All You Can Eat Breakfast Buffet on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. at their station. Come enjoy pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, sausage gravy, coffee, and orange juice cooked by your local fire and rescue volunteers. Adults and  kids 11 and older $10, kids 10 and under eat free. They look forward to seeing all of their  friends and neighbors there. Questions please call 540-675-3615 and speak with one of their members.

Enjoy the cooler weather this week.


Recommended for you