Fredericksburg, Virginia 1608-1908/11

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CHAPTER XI.


Ancient and Historical Buildings — Mary Washington Monument — Gen. Mercer's Statue — Mary Washington's Will, &c.



In stating that Fredericksburg has more ancient reminiscent and historical buildings than any other town of its size in this country, we do not fear successful contradiction. Fredericksburg is one of the oldest towns in the State and has from its settlement been the center of refinement and culture. Here the young men of this section of Virginia were taught and imbibed those principles of liberty and justice that made them leaders in the movement against oppression, which resulted in our constitutional rights and religious liberty. Here they were equipped for all the duties of life in whatever station they might be placed. Here was the home and birthplace of men who commanded armies, controlled navies, swayed statesmen, electrified assemblies, and many of those homes and birth-houses are still standing, and it will appear but natural if they shall be pointed out and written about by the inhabitants of Fredericksburg with patriotic pride. Notwithstanding the quaint architecture of many of them, and the ravages of time upon them, they are dear to us and are regarded as heirlooms of the town which have witnessed the advent and exit of many generations.

Among the oldest houses now in Fredericksburg are the residence of the late William A. Little, the Mary Washington House and the Rising Sun Hotel. It is impossible to give the order of seniority of these buildings, because we have no way of ascertaining when they were built. Mr. Little, several years ago, so renewed and extended his residence and adorned it as to almost destroy its ancient identity. This old mansion has recently passed to Mr. John C. Melville.

The Rising Sun Hotel, located on the west side of Main street, just above Fauquier, is one of the oldest buildings now standing. It is of the old style of architecture of wooden buildings that prevailed in the first settlement of the country, which, notwithstanding its hoary age and frequent necessary repairs, has never been changed. In the first of the eighteenth century, and even before the Revolutionary war, it was one of the leading hotels of the town, and was the stopping place of many of the Southern senators, representatives and other dignitaries as they journey to and from Washington city.

It is claimed that the eccentric John Randolph, of Roanoke, has more than once addressed the people of the town from the steps of this building. General George Weedon, long years before he entered the Colonial Army for American Independence, kept hotel in this house. Just prior to that war it became the property of General Gustavus B. Wallace, a Revolutionary patriot, and it has remained in the Wallace family until the death of Capt. C. Wistar Wallace, a public spirited citizen, a little over one year ago. At his death, May 20, 1907, it became the property of the Society for the Preservation of the Antiquities of Virginia, by the provisions of his wilL The Fredericksburg branch of the society has charge of the building, a one and a half story wooden structure, and now has it in good condition and open for the inspection of those who would like to live for a short time in the far distant past, when Mrs. Livingston was the "doctress and coffee-woman" of the town. That society has renovated the building and it is now in good repair. It has not been kept as a hotel since the Civil war.

The handsome residence "erected by Mr. Stannard, on the lot now occupied by Mr. George W. Shepherd, was destroyed by fire in the great conflagration that occurred here in 1807, which is mentioned elsewhere. The fire originated in that house and had made considerable headway before it was discovered. In the year 1815 the large, brick residence now standing on that lot was erected by Mr. Robert Mackay, a merchant of the town and Mayor for two years, from 1817 to 1819. It is said that the cost of erecting that building, and beautifying the grounds, was thirty thousand dollars, and it so embarassed Mr. Mackay that he never recovered from it For a number of years this place was the residence and home of Thomas Seddon, a wealthy gentleman, who died there in 1831.

As is said elsewhere herein, he was the father of James A. Seddon, secretary of War of the Confederate States, who, it is claimed by some persons, was born there, although his biographers say, and it is substantiated by his relatives, that he was born in Falmouth, in Stafford county. It is not disputed, however, that Secretary Seddon spent his boyhood days in that building, having moved there when he was quite young, but his birthplace is beyond doubt as his biographers and relatives state it, as he was born the same year this residence was built, and Mr. Mackay occupied it for some years before Mr. Seddon moved there.

The old, one and a half story frame house, which stands on the east side of Princess Ann street, between Prussia and Wolfe streets, just below Shiloh Baptist church (new site), was at one time owned by James Monroe. He was elected to a seat in the Legislature, and the law required that members of the General Assembly should be owners of real estate. In order to make him eligible his uncle gave him a pocket deed to this house and lot. This was the first civil office, except that of Common Councilman of Fredericksburg, Mr. Monroe ever held. The house at the time stood on a lot in the upper part of the town and was without the wings it has at present. Mr. Monroe's boarding place was located on the same lot on which now stands the handsome residence of Mrs. James H. Bradley. His law office was in the row of low, brick buildings, formerly known as the "City Lunch," on Charles street, in rear of Colonel E. D. Cole's store.

The "Sentry Box," at the lower end of Main street, was the residence of General George Weedon, of Revolutionary fame, and was afterwards owned and occupied by Colonel Hugh Mercer, a son of General Hugh Mercer, who was killed at the battle of Princeton, and a nephew of General Weedon, to whom it was devised by General Weedon. We are unable to state when this house was erected or who built it. It is doubtless one of the oldest buildings in town. It is a large two-story frame house, with a wide hall through the center and overlooks the Rappahannock river. It has been known as the "Sentry Box" as far back as the mind of our oldest inhabitant goes, and the past generations knew it by that name. Tradition has brought the name down to us and we need not stretch our imaginations as to the "why it was so called." From the upper story of the southeast end of this stately building is a beautiful and unobstructed view of the river for some distance, and there sentinels were placed at various times during the Revolutionary war, to watch and give the alarm of the approach of the enemy. It was thus used for three wars to much advantage to the side with which Fredericksburg was in sympathy—the Revolution, as above mentioned, the war of 1812 and the Civil war, or the War between the States. Another thing that gives the "Sentry Box" additional historical interest is the claim that has been made, which may need verification, that in this house has been received and entertained every President of the United States from George Washington to James Buchanan. The property is now owned and occupied by Mr. O. D. Foster, a veteran of the Confederate army.

The splendid two-story brick residence, owned and occupied by Gen. Daniel D. Wheeler, of the United States army, on the east side of lower Main street, was built by Roger Dixon, a gentleman of means, who owned most of the land in the lower end of the town about 1764. A few years after its constmction Mr. Dixon died, and most, if not all of his property, was purchased by Dr. Charles Mortimer. Dr. Mortimer was one of Mary Washington's physicians, and tradition has it that the last visit she made was to her much-loved physician; that upon her return home she was taken down with cancer and after that never left her home.

Of one of the many delightful dinings and balls at this splendid mansion, so frequent in that day with the "well to do folks" of Virginia, Mrs. Roger A. Prior, in "The Mother of Washington and Her Times" says, "Little Maria Mortimer, aged sixteen, was at the Fredericksburg ball. Her father, Dr. Charles Mortimer, issued invitations at the ball for a great dinner to the distinguished strangers the next day but one, and his wife (Sarah Griffin Fauntleroy), being too ill to preside, that honor fell to the daughter of the house. The house, an immense pile of English brick, (?) still stands on the lower edge of the town, facing Main street, with a garden sloping to the river, where Dr. Mortimer's own tobacco ships used to run up to discharge their return English cargoes, by a channel long since disused and filled up. * * * The table, as little Maria described it in after years, groaned with every delicacy of land and water, served in massive pewter dishes, polished until they shone again. The chief sat beside the master of the house at the long table, although at his own house his place was always at the side of the table among his guests. Little Maria, 'with her hair craped high,' was taken in by the Marquis Lafayette, or Count d'Estaing, or Count Rochambeau—they were all present—and the little lady's heart was in her mouth, she said, although she danced with every one of them at the ball—nay, with Bettie Lewis's uncle George himself!"

Dr. Mortimer was the first Mayor of Fredericksburg. His remains are buried near the center of Hurkamp Park, which was for nearly a century a public burying ground. As has been said, he was Mary Washington's physician, but not the only one at her late illness, for it is quite certain that Dr. Elisha Hall, who was the grandfather of Dr. Horace B. Hall, and who lived on the lot now occupied by Dr. J. E. Tompkin's residence, was also one of her physicians in her last days. This is shown beyond a doubt by a letter, still preserved from Dr. Benjamin Rush, of Philadelphia, to Dr. Elisha Hall, his cousin, written July 6, 1789, a short time before Mrs. Washington's death. Dr. Hall had written to him for his experience and advice for cancer treatment and received the following:—

"The respectable age and character of your venerable patient lead me to regret that it is not in my power to suggest a remedy for the cure of the disorder you have described in her breast. I know nothing of the root you mention, found in Carolina and Georgia, but, from a variety of inquiries and experiments, I am disposed to believe that there does not exist in the vegetable kingdom an antidote to cancers. All the supposed vegetable remedies I have heard of are compounds of some mineral caustics. The arsenic is the most powerful of any of them. It is the basis of Dr. Martin's powder. I have used it in many cases with success, but have failed in some. From your account of Mrs. Washington's breast [ breast cancer] I am afraid no great good can be expected from the use of it. Perhaps it may cleanse it, and thereby retard its spreading.

  • [Mary Ball Washington died of cancer.]

You may try it diluted in water. Continue the application of opium and camphor, and wash it frequently with a decoction of red clover. Give anodynes, when necessary, and support the system with bark and wine. Under this treatment she may live comfortably many years, and finally die of old age."

The house on the south corner of Prince Edward and Fauquier streets, purchased in 1898 by Mrs. Beraice Hart, tradition says, was for over one hundred years the clerk's office, and the court records of the trustees of the town were kept there. There may have been a court held in that small place under the Colonial charter of the town, but not a criminal court since that time, as the records show to the contrary. The records of courts held here before the War of the Revolution—if any were held here—and the record of proceedings of the trustees cannot be found at present The house was a small, one and a half story frame building, similar in architecture to the old part of the Mary Washington House. The additions made to it in recent years have completely destroyed its original form and architecture and have given it a modern appearance. No one, of course, knows when it was built, but, judging from its style and the material of which it was constructed, it must take its place with the oldest of our ancient buildings.

"Federal Hill," on Hanover street, owned and occupied by Mrs. H. Theodore Wight, was, in the latter part of the eighteenth and early part of the nineteenth centuries, the home of Thomas Reade Rootes, who was one of the most distinguished lawyers of his day. His third daughter was Sarah Robinson, who married Colonel John A. Cobb, of North Carolina, a son of Howell Cobb, of Virginia. Soon after his marriage Colonel Cobb settled in Georgia, where were born those two distinguished lawyers and soldiers, Howell and Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb. The latter was killed in front of the Stevens House, at the foot of Marye's Heights, on the 13th of December, 1862, it is claimed, by a shell, which was said to have been thrown from a gun stationed at Federal Hill, where his mother was born and married. A recent writer in a Northern journal, however, claims that General Cobb was killed by a shell thrown from the Stafford side of the river. But both accounts differ from the report of General Kershaw, who took command of the line when General Cobb was wounded. In his report of the battle he says General Cobb was killed by a sharp-shooter stationed in one of the houses to his left on Hanover street.[1] As General Kershaw was on the ground a few minutes after General Cobb was wounded, and saw and talked with him after he was wounded, his version is more than likely the correct one.

[1] See War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Vol. 21, page 590.

No one knows when or by whom Federal Hill was built. At one time the property belonged to a gentleman by the name of Lovell, who moved to Fauquier county, and it may be he erected the residence.

The old, one and a half story frame building on the corner of Prince Edward and Fauquier streets, now owned and occupied by Mfrs. Mary Knox Moncure, takes its place among the oldest buildings of the town. It was the birth-place and home of John Forsythe, who made such a brilliant record as a Statesman from Georgia, to which State he moved while a young man. His father was Robert Forsythe, a major in the Revolutionary war, who died in Fredericksburg early in the nineteenth century.

This house was also said to have been the home of John Dawson, an old bachelor, who represented this district in Congress from 1797 to 1814. His success at the ballot-box was due as much, perhaps, if not more, to his declaring himself a friend to the poor man (a hobby much ridden these days by politicians) than to any other one thing. He is said to have created quite a sensation in the courthouse in Fredericksburg during one of his heated campaigns, which gained him many votes. Political feeling ran high, the people were much stirred up, the canvas was exciting and the result doubtful. A public meeting had been extensively advertised to take place at the courthouse, and the building was early filled to its capacity to hear a joint discussion between the Congressional candidates. Mr. Dawson, a few minutes late, reached the courthouse, and, finding his way blocked by the dense crowd, shouted at the top of his voice from the door—"Make way, gentlemen, for the poor man's friend!" All eyes were at once turned to the speaker, and, seeing it was John Dawson, the candidate, the crowd parted and he was escorted through to the stand, amid thundering applause. He was reelected to Congress.

The old, frame building on the south comer of Main and Amelia streets, one and a half stories high, for many years of the first of the nineteenth century was occupied by a Mr. Henderson as a store, and was known for more than a century as Henderson's corner. It is a very old building and prior to the Revolutionary war, while political feeling was almost at fever heat, those who opposed resistance to the Mother Country congregated at this corner and discussed the "state of the country." This gave it the name of "Tory Comer," by which it was known for many years afterwards. This was the only building left in the track of the great fire of 1807, and has not been used as a storehouse for more than half a century.

The venerable brick mansion, known as "Kenmore," facing Washington avenue, and the residence of Clarance Randolph Howard, Esq., was built by Colonel Fielding Lewis, a man of great wealth, and who owned a large body of land west of the town. The bricks of which the house was built, tradition had it, came from England, but that is hardly possible, as elegant bricks were manufactured in this country at that time—in the seventeen forties—and the best of clay is found in that locality, where signs of a brick-yard can now be found. The interior stucco work of this colonial mansion is probably equal in workmanship to the best in this country, and is said to have been done by expert Englishmen. It has stood for a century and a half without repairs, so far as is known, until some fifteen years ago, when Mr. Wm. Key Howard gave it some slight touches, which compare favorably with the old work. Col. Lewis, for his second wife, selected Miss Bettie Washington, sister of Gen. George Washington, and to this beautiful mansion she was taken as a bride, and lived there until a few years before her death. Col. Lewis was an officer in the Patriot army and commanded a division at the Siege of Yorktown, where Cornwallis surrendered and where the Seven Years' war ended. He was an ardent patriot, and during the Revolutionary war, at one time, superintended the manufacture of arms, shells and shot on the north side of the Rappahannock river, just above Falmouth. The ruins of the old forge are still to be seen there, and also the old prison barracks, where some German prisoners were kept during that struggle. The garrison was commanded by Colonel Enever. Colonel Lewis was also a magistrate in the town after the war, a member of the City Council and represented the county in the Legislature.

He died in December, 1781, and, it is said, is buried under the front steps of St. George's Episcopal church. His wife, Bettie, survived him sixteen years. In the latter part of her life she went to Culpeper county and lived with one of her children, where she died and was buried. Colonal Fielding Lewis was the father of Captain Robert Lewis, who was one of President Washington's private secretaries, and Mayor of Fredericksburg from 1821 to the day of his death, February 11, 1829. Captain Lewis delivered the address of welcome to General Lafayette on his visit to the town in 1824.

Mary, the mother of Washington, must have lived in Fredericksburg the most of her widowhood, which was about forty-six years. Some time after her husband's death, on the opposite side of the Rappahannock river, she moved into the town, where she brought up her illustrious son George to manhood. The dwelling she occupied during that time is now standing on the west corner of Charles and Lewis streets. Until some fifteen years ago this old residence was owned and occupied by private individuals, but just prior to the World's Fair in Chicago a party from that city was negotiating for it, with a view of transferring it to Chicago. While a difference of five hundred dollars in the price was under consideration some ladies of Fredericksburg, who opposed its being disturbed, communicated the condition of things to the Society for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, at Richmond, who at once purchased the property at four thousand and five hundred dollars. The Society had the buildings put in good repairs and the purchase is considered a valuable addition to the possessions of the Society.

It is a plain, substantial, old fashioned one and a half story dwelling, of the prevailing order of architecture of that period, and though it has been thoroughly overhauled and repaired, the distinctive features of architecture and general appearance have been faithfully preserved. Mrs. Mary Washington died in the front room of this building in 1789, and was buried on a spot which she had selected for her grave there, on a part of the Kenmore tract, which belonged to the estate of Colonel Fielding Lewis, her son-in-law.

THE MARY WASHINGTON MONUMENT.

Within a few steps of the place where Mary, the mother of Washington, was buried is a ledge of rocks and a beautiful grove of original oak trees, much larger then in area than at present, to which she used often to resort for private reading, meditation and prayer. The grave was marked by a small, marble slab, appropriately inscribed. About forty-five years after her death a stately marble monument, designed to mark her grave and perpetuate her memory, was partly constructed by the private munificence of Mr. Silas Burrows, a wealthy merchant of New York.

The corner-stone of this proposed monument was laid on the 7th of May, 1833, with an imposing military and civic display, by Fredericksburg Lodge, No. 4, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, President Andrew Jackson, Past Grand Master of Masons in Tennessee, being present and participating. This monument, because of the failure of Mr. Burrows in business, remained in a half completed condition for nearly sixty years and was greatly mutilated by time and relic hunters.

An appeal for a Congressional appropriation to restore and complete the structure by the United States Government, made by a bill, introduced in the Forty-third Congress by Hon. James B. Sener, then representing this Congressional district, was unsuccessful, notwithstanding his patriotic efforts were seconded by a strong appeal of the Mayor and Common Council of Fredericksburg and unanimously recommended by a Congressional committee, who visited the place, of which Hon. Horace Manard, of Tennessee, afterward Post-Master General, was chairman. A similar effort was made some years thereafter by Hon. George T. Garrison, representing this district in Congress with the same result.

Upon the failure of the efforts of these two members of Congress, aided by the city authorities, to secure the completion of the monument by the government, came the women's opportunity. They were deeply interested in the subject, and cherished an honest pride in having the monument completed to perpetuate the memory and virtues of the greatest of American women.

In 1889, the centennial year of the death of this venerated lady, an association was formed by the devoted and patriotic ladies of Fredericksburg, with Mrs. James P. Smith as their leader, who resolved to spare no time or effort to raise the necessary money to complete the structure, and thus save the grave of this sainted woman from oblivion. A systematic correspondence and appeals were commenced, and in a short time, mainly, if not altogether, through the influence of the Fredericksburg association, a national association was formed in Washington, with Mrs. Chief-Justice Waite as president. These two associations cooperating, other strong appeals were sent out to the patriotic women of the United States, soliciting contributions, and soon money began to flow into the treasury of the association, until a sufficient sum was raised to complete the work.

A sufficient amount of money being in hand this perplexing question arose—should the old monument be renovated and completed, or should it be set aside and a new one constructed? This gave rise to considerable controversy, because there was quite a division of sentiment, and serious results were feared by members of both associations. This difficulty was met, however, by an order to have the unfinished monument examined by an expert, who, upon a thorough investigation, reported that it was so broken and mutilated that it could not be repaired, and so plans for a new monument were ordered. The plan submitted by Mr. Wm. J. Crawford, of Buffalo, New York, was adopted by the ladies and to him was intrusted the work of erecting the monument on the site of the unfinished structure, under which the remains of this venerable and venerated woman reposed. The monument is a square base, with a solid granite shaft fifty-one and a half feet high—total height, fifty-five feet—with the words "Mary, the Mother of Washington," in raised letters, cut on the base. The material of the old monument was broken up and placed in the foundation of the new one, except such of the fluted columns as remained unbroken, which were donated to different institutions. One of them was given to Fredericksburg Lodge of Masons, of this place, by Mr. Crawford, the architect, which is now in the lodge room.

In due time the monument was finished to the satisfaction of both the Fredericksburg and Washington associations, which was accepted, and the 10th of May, 1894, was designated as the time for its dedication. The Fredericksburg Masonic Lodge, which had laid the corner-stone of the old monument, was invited to conduct the ceremonies of dedicating the new, but it gracefully turned that honor over to the Grand Lodge of Virginia, which performed the work in good style, escorted and assisted by Lodges No. 4 and No. 22 of Alexandria, Va.

The day for the dedication of the monument dawned beautiful and clear and found everything in readiness for the grand event. Besides the National Association being largely represented from Washington, headed by Mrs. Waite, there were President Grover Cleveland, with most of his cabinet and their wives; Vice-President A. E. Stevenson and lady, Chief-Justice Fuller, Justice Harlan, Senators and Representatives, Governor Charles T. O'Ferrall and Staff, the volunteer militia from different portions of the State, the Grand Lodge of Masons of Virginia, with Fredericksburg Lodge, No. 4, and Alexandria-Washington Lodge, No. 22, and distinguished men and Masons from different parts of the country.

The streets of the town were thronged with thousands of people from far and near, eager and anxious to witness the ceremonies. Never before was such a vast number of people seen in Fredericksburg, except at the great battle in December, 1862. The dedicatory services were conducted by the Grand Lodge of Masons of Virginia, Major Mann Page, Jr., Grand Master, which were solemn and impressive. Addresses, appropriate to the occasion, were made by Mayor A. P. Rowe, Governor Charles T. O'Ferrall, President Grover Cleveland and Mr. Blair Lee, who were followed by Senator John W. Daniel, the orator of the occasion.

Fredericksburg Lodge, No. 4, gave a grand banquet at the opera house in the afternoon to the Masonic fraternity and several hundred invited guests, which was presided over by Judge James B. Sener. On that interesting occasion addresses were made by several distinguished guests, including President Cleveland, Vice President Stevenson, Justice Harlan and others. The Marine band was present and furnished music of the highest order for both the dedication and banquet. Since the monument was finished the associations have erected a comfortable granite building on the grounds for a residence and office for the custodian of the monument and the grounds, and Mrs. John T. Goolrick, a descendant of George Mason, occupies that position.

MARY WASHINGTON'S WILL

The last will and testament of Mary Washington has for many years attracted general interest, and numerous visitors call at the courthouse to inspect and feast their eyes upon the original document. So precious does the court regard this relic that an order was made for its preservation, and it is now is a qase and receives the special attention and care of Mr. A. B. Yates, the polite and accommodating clerk of the court. The will is in these words:—

"In the name of God, amen. I, Mary Washington, of Fredericksburg, in the county of Spotsylvania, being in good health, but calling to mind the uncertainty of this life and willing to dispose of what remains of my earthly estate, do make and publish this my last will, recommending my soul into the hands of my Creator, hoping for a remission of all my sins through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind. I dispose of all my worldly estate as follows:—

Item. I give to my son General George Washington all my lands on Accokeek Run, in the county of Stafford, and also my negro boy, George, to him and his heirs forever; also my best bed, bedstead, and Virginia cloth curtains (the same that stands in my best room), my quilted blue-and-white quilt and my best dressing glass.

Item. I give and devise to my son, Charles Washington my negro man, Tom, to him and his assigns forever.

Item. I give and devise to my daughter, Betty Lewis, my phaeton and my bay horse.

Item. I give and devise to my daughter-in-law, Hannah Washington, my purple cloth cloak lined with shay.

Item. I give and bequeath to my grand son, Corbin Washington my negro wench, old Bet, my riding chair, and two black horses, to him and his assigns forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my grand son, Fielding Lewis, my negro man, Frederick, to him and his assigns forever; also eight silver table spoons, half of my crockery ware, and the blue and white tea china, with book-case, oval table, one bed, bedstead, one pair sheets, one pair blankets and white cotton counterpane, two table cloths, six red leather chairs, half my pewter, and one half of my iron kitchen furniture.

Item. I give and devise to my grand son, Lawrence Lewis, my negro wench, Lydia, to him and his assigns forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my grand daughter, Betty Carter, my negro woman, little Bet, and her future increase, to her and her assigns forever; also my largest looking glass, my walnut writing desk with drawers, a square dining table, one bed, bedstead, bolster, one pillow, one blanket and pair of sheets, white Virginia cloth counterpane and purple curtains, my red-and-white tea china, tea spoons and the other half of my pewter, crockery-ware, and the remainder of my iron kitchen furniture.

Item. I give to my grand son, George Washington, my next best dressing glass, one bed, bedstead, bolster, one pillow, one pair sheets, one blanket and counterpane.

Item. I devise all my wearing apparel to be equally divided between my grand daughters, Betty Carter, Fanny Ball and Milly Washington; but should my daughter, Betty Lewis, fancy any one, two or three articles, she is to have them before a division thereof.

Lastly. I nominate and appoint my said son, General George Washington, executor of this my will, and as I owe few or no debts.

I desire my executor to give no security nor to appraise my estate, but desire the same may be allotted to my devisees with as little trouble and delay as may be, desiring their acceptance thereof as all the token I now have to give them of my love for them.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 20th day of May, 1788.


MARY WASHINGTON.
Witness: JOHN FERNEYHOUGH.

Signed, sealed and published in our presence, and signed by us in the presence of the said Mary Washington, and at her desire.


JAMES MERCER,

JOSEPH WALKER."


The will was written by Judge James Mercer, first President of the Court of Appeals, or "Chief-Justice of the General Court."

THE MERCER MONUMENT.

In the year 1906 the government of the United States erected a monument to General Hugh Mercer, who was mortally wounded at Princeton, N. J., while gallantly leading his men in a charge against the British in 1777. He lived one week in great suffering, when he died and was buried near where he fell, but afterwards removed to Philadelphia, Pa., where he now sleeps. Gen. Mercer was bora in Scotland, studied medicine at Aberdeen and graduated with high honors. After graduating he soon rose to distinction as a surgeon and physician and did much service in the army. He was at the battle of Culloden Moor, Scotland, where his party was badly defeated, and those not taken prisoners fled to other countries to save their lives. Gen. Mercer came to this country and settled in Pennsylvania. He was with Gen. Braddock, who was killed at Fort Duquesne, and, being thrown with Gen. Washington, became attached to him and came to Fredericksburg "to be near him," landing here in 1763. He practised medicine and established a drug store at the corner of Main and Amelia streets.[2] Gen. Mercer married Isabella Wallace and lived at the "Sentry Box" with Geo. Weedon, who married his wife's sister, until the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Soon after his death Congress appropriated $5,000 for the erection of a monument in this place to his memory, but the matter was overlooked and the gratitude of the government for his services was not exhibited to the extent of a memorial until the year 1906, one hundred and twenty-nine years after his death.

In 1905 a bill was passed by Congress appropriating $25,000 to erect a monument to perpetuate the memory of the grand hero— two-thirds of the interest of the amount appropriated in 1777— and he now appears in heroic size, on his pedestal, on Washington avenue, in the attitude of a patriot, drawn sword in hand, ready to strike for Home and Country—Liberty and Independence.

We naturally uncover our heads while we "behold this friend of Washington—this heroic defender of America."


[2] One tradition is that this drug store was at the corner of Princess Ann and Amelia streets, where Mr. John Stansbnry Wallace lives; but another tradition locates it at the corner of Main and Amelia, most likely adjoining the corner house. This tradition Is strengthened by finding, some time ago, while repairing the house, many old papers and other things that must have come from a drug store, and no other such store was ever known at that place.