Earth Day and Purple Squirrels, Oh My!

We celebrated Earth Day on Tuesday of this week. Whether you believe in global warming, or not, there is no doubt we have been on a crazy ride weather-wise here in the Northern Neck, just like the rest of the country. But then that is the point, we are not like the rest of the country. Our winters are usually …

Spring-ing into April

The month of March was an eventful one here at Stratford. Not only did we have daily temperatures span from 20 degrees to 70 degrees in just one day, we also experienced a tornado warning! The tornado narrowly missed Stratford, but the strong winds, torrential rain, and hail did do some damage on our property. Even though the tornado passed through in …

Big Brother is watching out for you….

After the death of his father Thomas, Philip Ludwell Lee of Stratford—Thomas’s eldest son—was responsible for the education of two of his younger brothers.  According to Thomas Lee’s will, his executors (Phil was one of them) were to maintain and educate his two youngest sons out of his estate “in such manner as they think fitt Religiously and virtuously and …

Espionage in the American Revolution

While spying or espionage seems to be a popular news item today, it is by no means new. Thousands of years ago the Roman Spartans were sending secret messages by “scytale,” a coded message on a strip of leather which was decoded by wrapping it around a stick and reading it. During the American Revolution 10% of the war effort …

Robert E. Lee and the art world intersect

Spending five days a week immersed in a family like the Lees is amazing, but sometimes a break is needed. That is the reason some museum employees (myself included) do not visit museums on the weekends all that often. A little separation at times is in order. For that reason, I always have two books going at the same time. …

Celebrating a Lee “President”

Did you know that Richard Henry Lee was a President?  When the Articles of Confederation, the first attempt at a constitution for the states, was ratified on March 1, 1781, Samuel Huntington became the first President of the United States in Congress Assembled under the Articles.  The Articles of Confederation created a national government which limited the power of the …

A Romantic Gesture

One of the sweetest narratives relating to the museum collection at Stratford Hall involves a wedding ring that once belonged to Anne Fenton Lee. Daniel Carroll Brent married Anne at Stratford Hall on January 3, 1782. On that day, he gave her a rather elegantly simple gold band engraved with an inscription…“To heaven & thee I’ll faithful be.”’ Indeed, this …

Slave Life in America

The study of American slavery has undergone hundreds of years of analysis and change. This great stigma is now interpreted as a disgrace on the landscape of American History. This was not always the case. Although historians have engaged in great deal of scholarly debate over many years, the consensus of this “peculiar institution” has changed. The older argument that slaves …

Colonial Highways: Virginia Rivers as Trade Routes

Legend has it that the Native American name for the Potomac River is ‘place where people trade.’ It is this trade that made Thomas Lee and his son, Phillip, very wealthy in colonial Virginia. The fastest and cheapest way to send large quantities of materials was by ship, so having access to navigable waters was key for large plantation owners …

Non Incautus Futuri

As winter has set in on the Northern Neck, we are reminded of the squirrel on the Lee family crest and the motto, “Non Incautus Futuri,” or be not unmindful of the future. Whether you celebrated National Squirrel Appreciation Day on Tuesday, or you ran cursing after a squirrel raiding the birdfeeder in a snow storm on that day as …

Washington Winter Show Recap

This past weekend Stratford Hall was featured as the loan exhibit at the Washington Winter Show. Well, after a whirlwind week of transporting, unpacking, installing, and then de-installing, re-packing, and transporting again, we are now back at our desks. The exhibit, Celebrations at Stratford Hall: Family, Food, and Festivities, was a great success in our minds. We showcased some wonderful …

The New Year

While many of us celebrate New Year’s Day on January 1st, this was not always considered the first day of the new year by many Americans. While we currently use the Gregorian calendar which made January 1st the official start of a new year, it was not adopted by the British and their American colonies until 1752. Until then, New …