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Central Rappahannock
Heritage Center Newsletter
A place that loses its history loses it soul
Volume 6, Issue 1
January 2016
In This Issue
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Message From The Chairman
Happy New Year! As we welcome in 2016, it's my honor to be the incoming CRHC Board chair. It's a task that I don't take lightly, especially following the outstanding leadership of our outgoing chairman, Barbara Barrett. Under her guidance, the Center has prospered and, as the baton is passed, I know that I have a truly class act to follow. I'm sure everyone will join me in thanking Barbara, and outgoing Board members Diane Ballman, Bill Beck and Ann Reamy, for their dedication and service in making the Center the success that it continues to be. Diane has agreed to continue to volunteer her expertise as our Technology Coordinator. Reaching out to the community and researchers, through constantly advancing technology, is a huge, ongoing task which is critical to the health of the Center. Using modern methods of communication in order to help preserve our history is truly a perfect melding of the new and old.
And this brings me to what I consider a vital project for the Center to pursue this year...increasing     awareness of the CRHC. While many historical groups in the area, as well as personnel at the city and surrounding county courthouses, routinely refer researchers to our location in the basement of the former Maury School, we find that our existence is unknown to many in the area. We need to get ourselves "out there" through a combination of marketing, technology and good old word of mouth. By this year's end, I hope that we can greatly expand our presence and, by doing so, also find many new friends.
Speaking of friends, the best friends the Center has are all of the wonderful volunteers who give so freely of their time and talents. Their dedication is amazing and we are so thankful for each and every one of them, as well as for our generous donors and members. These are truly the folks that keep the Center going!
In closing, I would like to remind everyone that, in spite of the recent spring-like (or is that summer-like weather?), Mother Nature can always sneak up on us. The Center follows the schedule set by the Fredericksburg Public Schools for weather closings and delays so please check in case of inclement weather. But rest assured that access to our website is always open for business.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!!
Meredith Beckett
CRHC Chairman
Become a Member Today    

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

Virginia's Freedom Of Information Act At Work in the Fredericksburg Area  

Happy New Year. The coming year is filled with possibilities and new adventures. This year, a presidential election year, focuses our attention on government and the election process.
Recently there has been some press coverage on the Virginia Freedom of Information Act or as it is known informally, the open government law. This State law followed a 1976 Federal law known as the Government in Sunshine Act, Public Law 94-409.
Nearly 50 years ago, after several events that included the Watergate Scandal (1974), concern grew that "the peoples' businesses" and government functions that are funded with tax dollars by elected officials should be conducted so that the public could observe the process and the results. A revolutionary idea, what could be more reasonable. The federal and state laws governing open government are complex and cover a great spectrum. The basic premise is that anyone has the right to observe meetings of public officials or review public documents that deal with lawmaking or the expenditures of public money. This includes governments, schools (including state-funded colleges and universities), commissions, and virtually any entity that receives and uses public funds. Transparency in government.
Our newspaper, The Free Lance-Star and twelve other Virginia newspapers have been testing the waters of Virginia's Freedom of Information Act. In early November, representatives from these thirteen papers went to police, local government and school administration offices and asked for criminal incident reports, city manager/county administrators' financial disclosure forms and school principals' salaries. State law requires that all of these items must be available for public inspection. The requests were met with a variety of responses, including denials and delays. It was disappointing that after four decades, Virginia officials were so unaware of their responsibilities to make information available in compliance with the law.
The state Freedom of Information Advisory Council is conducting a three-year review and plans to recommend revisions for the 2017 General Assembly session.
The Heritage Center holds many records regarding public business as well as stories about the people who fought for open government.
The late Charles S. Rowe, editor and copublisher of the Free Lance-Star (1949 - 1997) was a crusader for open government. He discussed this in his oral history interview with Nancy Bruns in 2000. Mr. Rowe's brother, Josiah P. Rowe, also copublisher of the Free Lance-Star, served as mayor of Fredericksburg (1964 - 1972). His papers from his terms as mayor are at the Center. Bill Beck served as Fredericksburg mayor from 1996 to 2000. Mr. Beck also donated his papers to the Center.
Winifred Parrish, Stafford County Supervisor from Hartwood and the first woman to serve on the Stafford Board, was perceived as an impediment and not a team player. Mrs. Parrish wasn't a team player; she was looking out for her constituents and the taxpayers' money. She would not be part of any closed-door deals. Her tenure was marked by openness and diligence. Her dedication had two major results, Curtis Park was established and she was defeated for reelection. Prior to election to the Board, Mrs. Parrish mounted a successful grassroots campaign to force the County to build Hartwood Elementary School. Mrs. Parrish's oral history provides a narrative to the painful transition to more transparent government in Stafford County.
In addition, the Center holds many court records from Caroline County from the eighteenth century through the early twentieth century. There are also papers donated by dozens of other individuals who were involved in local governments.
The days of closed doors and smoke-filled rooms are in the past, but history lives on in the Heritage Center archives.
Resources:; the Freedom of Information Advisory Council ( and the Virginia Coalition for Open Government (

Beth Daly

Can you help identify these photos?
Alvin T. Rowe, Jr. Collection                

Unidentified photo from the Alvin T. Rowe, Jr. Collection. (click on photo to enlarge)
UPDATE! Left to Right: Judge John (Jack) Howison, Unidentified, Phil Hotchkiss, Alvin Rowe and Dan Chichester. Thank you Don Edwards, Ed Allison and The Villas at Snowden!

Macon Rowe, June 26, 1912. Others in the photo are unidentified. Photograph was taken before moving to Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg. From the Alvin T. Rowe, Jr. 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)