This blog is a reprint of my internet journal from 2001 to 2002 in which I documented my "vagabond" solo journey in a Chevy Conversion Van tracing my roots. I not only traced their paths and found their homes and final resting places, but I did extensive genealogical research in court houses, libraries, historical societies, genealogical societies, cemeteries, and talked to the local people. I traveled with a laptop to upload my notes and photos, and use e-mail. It was a fantastic journey which lasted two years. I had no other home except my van to sleep in...just a bed and video player. My household goods were put into storage for two years. My mail was delivered to me at general delivery when I phoned "MailBox, etc." and told them where to send it. At night I stayed in campgrounds, motels, friends' backyards, friends' homes, and those of the few living relations I've tracked down. As I traveled I collected so much genealogy information, that I had to get rid of items that I had originally thought essential to my travels (like a microwave oven). Between ancestral sites, I visited any tourist sites I could find and got to know alot about the USA. This was a trip of a lifetime and I'm still sorting through all the wonderful memories, photos and invaluable genealogical data I found. I will post to this blog as I can - one or a few days at a time of that journey from 2001 to 2002

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ancestor Tracking -29 May 2001 Virginia

Today I decided to leave the KOA Campground at Fredericksburg, VA early, so by 8:30 I was on the road. But I couldn't resist checking out the geese all around. There was a misty type rain, and overcast.  I drove around Fort A.P. Hill.  Now I know it was named after a Confederate General.  I decided last night, that my visit in Virginia wouldn’t be complete without seeing the birthplaces of George Washington and Robert E. Lee.  So I drove east about 60 miles.  It is interesting that Washington, Madison, Monroe, and Robert E. Lee were all born on this, the Northern Neck of Virginia, which goes out into the Chesapeake Bay.  The area is very beautiful.
Geese at the Campground, Frederisksburg, VA
Pigs at George Washington's farm
Originally tobacco plantations, these estates were very large and wooded.  The views of the Potomac River were beautiful.  Washinton’s birthplace was called “Wakefield” and Lee’s was called “Strattford Hall.”  
View from Washington's house to Chesapeake Bay
Inside George Washington's recreated birthplace

I love this view of the cattle in the river by R.E. Lee's home- it reminds me of the Hudson River Art Movement Style
The Potomac River - now and then
I decided against driving further east to the little village of Hague.  It was tempting to do so because that is my maiden name, but I decided I had better get on back to Fredericksburg because I still wanted to see George Washington’s boyhood home “Ferry Farm” north of the Rappahannock River.     No building survives from George Washington’s day at Ferry Farm in the 1730’s but the foundations of the original house was there.  They had a beautiful view of the river and Fredericksburg on the opposite bank. That's where Washington was supposed to have thrown the dollar across the river and chopped down the cherry tree.  The Union Army used the Ferry at the farm to get troops over the river during several battles of the Civil War a century later.
The foundations of Washington's boyhood home across from Fredericksburg
Continuing west I drove through Culpepper of Minute Man fame, and crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah Mountains. I drove through Luray again, and continued up the Massanutte Mountain to get to New Market, VA.  I wanted to see where the VMI (Virginia Military Institute) military students had bravely fought.  This time I decided to try a campground that wasn’t KOA.  Rancho Campground only cost $17 and included electrical and water hook up.  Just for fun I decided to plug in my thermoelectric cooler container in the van.  I had stopped at a grocery store and bought some food I could keep cool.  I watched TV for 20 minutes, to see if tomorrow the battery will be OK.  I decided I’d better look at a map other than Virginia, and get up north.  I think I’ll go to Gettysburg, PA tomorrow, then Hershey, PA (I could use some chocolate samples), then go up to Scranton, PA and over towards Massachusetts by 8 June when I have my Time Share week there.
Foxglove flowers in Washington's home garden