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First Quarter Newsletter, January 1 - March 31, 2024

BIG NEWS!!!!!!

Check out our new and improved website! Our website address is the same, but we have changed over to a new web designer, Deborah Newman, Petite Taway Inc. Go take a look! Her website is and she is local! We are still tweaking it, as is always the case when one changes things, but we love what she has done so far!


Battle of Mine Run Events Highlights!

by Beth Stenstrom, Vice-President

It looks so peaceful and tranquil now. That was not the case, however, in November of 1863. This is the field where numerous soldiers lost their lives or sustained serious wounds at Payne's Farm, in Locust Grove, VA.

FOWB has been involved in working with the American Battlefield Trust and the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust in interpreting this interesting, although not well known, battle that took place in November of 1863. The American Battlefield Trust owns the property known as Payne's Farm and they have allowed us to host several events on their property to help the public learn what happened there and why it was so important.

We hosted a Payne's Farm Day on Saturday, September 23, when visitors came out from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, and it was such a success that we offered another one, Payne's Farm Day Two, on Saturday, October 28. We also offered two tours of the Mine Run Battlefield on Saturday, October 21, free to FOWB members, with John Kanaster, owner of Battlefield Tours of Fredericksburg, leading the tours. Both tours were well attended, and the attendees were all very interested and asked a lot of excellent questions!

FOWB Interpreters Jack Ervin (foreground) and Don Shockey (background)) helping visitors understand what occurred in this very field 160 years ago at Payne's Farm Day Two.

Special tour of Mine Run offered to FOWB members and guests led by John Kanaster

On Saturday, November 25, we hosted a special event to commemorate the 160th Anniversary of the Battle of Mine Run

Thedore Savas on the left, and Paul Sacra on the right.

That morning, Eastern National had a book signing at Chancellorsville Visitor Center with Historian and author Chris Mackowski and then John Kanaster gave a special presentation at the New Hope Baptist Church in Locust Grove, VA. The third part of the event was a special tour led by Historian and Publisher Theodore Savas and Paul Sacra at Payne's Farm. It was really cold, but we had a great turnout, and everyone learned a lot.


Veteran's Day Procession November 11, 2023

by Ruth Pavlik, Membership Chair

We truly value veterans, and, since our Annual Meeting did not fall on Veteran's Day this year, we were able to show our support by participating in the Veteran's Day Procession in Fredericksburg, VA, on Saturday, November 11. The Procession started at Memorial Recreation Park (also known as Kenmore Park), located on the corner of Kenmore Avenue and Mary Ball Street at 1401 Kenmore Ave. We lined up on Mary Ball Street and then processed up Washington Avenue, past the Mary Washington Monument and the Confederate Cemetery, crossed William Street, and continued a short block to the Veteran's Memorial Park. There was a special ceremony at the Fredericksburg Area War Memorial Park after everyone arrived.

The Fredericksburg Area War Memorial Park, located at the intersection of George, Barton, and Liberty Streets, includes memorials dating back to 1926. These include the World War I memorial flagpole and plaque, which lists the names of local soldiers who died in that war; a World War II US Navy twin 40mm antiaircraft gun, installed to replace a cannon that was melted down for World War II manufacturing; and the Fredericksburg Area War Memorial, completed in 2008 to expand the scope of the park to honor local soldiers in all of America’s conflicts in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Veterans, Thank you for your service. We appreciate each and every one of you.

FOWB Membership Chair Ruth Pavlik holding the American Flag, FOWB President Bob Lookabill next to Ruth, FOWB Treasurer Jeff Slunt in the red shirt, and FOWB Programs Chair Joe Lafleur holding the other side of the banner.


A Hidden Jewel in Orange County Bloomsbury

by Beth Stenstrom, Vice-President

Right down the road from the Wilderness Battlefield, in Orange, VA, is a hidden jewel called Bloomsbury. The legacy of Jaquelin and Helen Marie Taylor, Bloomsbury is currently managed by the James Madison Museum of Orange County Heritage. The original part of the house was built in 1722, according to family lore, coinciding with the land grant obtained by Col James Taylor,II. However, the home sits on land outside the border of the Colonel’s land on the “Silvannia” tract, purchased by Capt. James Taylor, III, in 1729.

It is believed that eight different families lived at Bloomsbury over the years. The sixth owner, William Quarles, built the addition in 1797. Several generations of Taylors, then the Langham family, then the William Quarles family lived there, all before 1842. On 15 July 1842, Francis Jerdone of Louisa County purchased Bloomsbury at auction for $15,000.00. The Jerdone family lived there for 122 years, and the house was sold back to the Taylor family in 1964. There were enslaved people on the property, and their names are being researched by Right the Record for inclusion in the house archives and history.

A portion of the property served as the winter encampment for General R E Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia from December 1863 to early May 1864. Gen Lee and the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, met at Bloomsbury, and Davis was a guest of the Jerdone family for three days! Personal letters written between Mary Jerdone and Gen Lee are currently on loan to the James Madison Museum in Orange, VA.

The structure is solid and well preserved, although there is still some water damage to be repaired, windows and treatments to be repaired, electricity and plumbing work to be updated and other issues we might expect with a historic house almost 300 years

old. Much research is being conducted and donations are welcome.

Bob Lookabill, Ruth Pavlik, and I had the pleasure of joining a tour hosted by Orange Tourism, with Bethany Sullivan, director of the James Madison Museum of Orange County Heritage leading it, on Wednesday, November 29. She gave a wonderful tour, which we all enjoyed, and we even got to visit two cemeteries!

Bloomsbury is not open to the public, but you can schedule a private or small group tour through the James Madison Museum of Orange County Heritage. Note that it is not handicap accessible and they do not have central heat, so spring or fall is the best time to schedule! Their website is:

L - R: Ruth Pavlik, Bob Lookabill, and Beth Stenstrom


2023 Annual Meeting Highlights!


FOWB held our Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 4, 2023, at the Wilderness Baptist Church in Spotsylvania County, VA. President Bob Lookabill explained why FOWB and the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park are no longer in a partnership after 27 years of working together and members were supportive of that decision. It was noted that FOWB has remained true to our mission and that our organization is healthy and moving forward in a positive direction.

Governance Committee Chair Pete Kolakowski led the election process, and five incumbent board members (Ben Hamm, Pete Kolakowski, Joe Lafleur, Bob Lookabill, and Beth Stenstrom) were reelected to serve another three-year term. We had a great turnout with 52 members in attendance, and, following the business meeting, we enjoyed a delicious meal catered by Generals Quarters Catering.

After stuffing ourselves with a scrumptious meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, rolls, and pie, we were treated to an excellent presentation by historian and author Chris Mackowski about the Battle of Mine Run. Chris also had a nice selection of his books for people to buy and his table was quite busy!


Upcoming Events

Mark your calendars now!

Civil War Impressions, Inc, and the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield will present "A Devilish Entanglement: The 160th Battle of the Wilderness."
May 4th and 5th, 2024
. Wilderness Run Vineyards
11109 Plank Rd
Spotsylvania, VA 22553
Details will be posted closer to the event but mark your calendars now!

First Quarter Newsletter 2024
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