Calendar of Upcoming Local Events

 

Welcome to Historic Vienna and the Freeman Store and Museum – there’s lots to see here.

Please explore this website by using the pull-downs and links.

Historic Vienna Quick Calendar List: (please SCROLL DOWN to see details for events)

Yet another fantastic and successful VIVA Vienna over Memorial Day!!  We thank you for visiting our store, museum and exhibits and for continuing to buy books from our year round Used Book Cellar.  Thanks also to the Madison High School volunteers who really made a difference in keeping things running smoothly. 

The Freeman Store and Museum at 131 Church Street, NE in Vienna, Virginia is open Wednesday through Sunday from 2-4PM, offering a terrific selection of gifts, games, books and old-fashioned candies, as well as our continuing exhibits on the American Suffrage Movement, and Vienna’s History Through Time. The Used Book Cellar is open whenever the Store is open. Enjoy browsing through books, DVD’s, Books on CD’s and vintage prints covering many topics. All profits support Historic Vienna, Inc. events and museum exhibits. Used book donations are welcome; bags or boxes can be placed on the Freeman Store porch or brought into the store. Text books, encyclopedias, magazines, dictionaries and romance novels are not accepted.

In June Vienna Virginia’s Little Library will be open Sunday, June 4.

On Friday, June 16, Vienna will recognize Fairfax County Virginia’s 275th Anniversary and will hold the summer’s first Chillin’ on Church from 6:30-9:30PM. Saturday.

June 17, will be History Day in Fairfax City, and, on Wednesday, June 28, the first of the summer’s Stories and Sprinklers will be held on the lawn behind Vienna’s Little Library at 1:30PM. Kids will listen to a children’s story then, with parent permission, run through the sprinklers on the Vienna Town Green.

HVI’s new USED BOOK CELLAR!!!  Help support our organization year round by purchasing a wonderful used book.  All profits to the operation of our store, museum and events.  Prices are marked very low so that we can sell more books and bring more funding in for exhibits, events and operations.

Historic Vienna, Inc. now offers hundreds of used books for sale year round in the Freeman Store. This on-going sale is conducted primarily from the cellar of the Freeman Store during store hours, Wednesday through Sunday, Noon to 4 PM. A large variety books are offered at very reasonable prices.

HVI’s newest exhibit, “Vienna’s History Through Time,” celebrates the Vienna area’s contribution to local history as Fairfax County celebrates its 275th birthday.  Through a series of photographs, newspapers, historic artifacts, and stories, local events and time periods will be highlighted. Stories of the first county court house, the Virginia secession vote, the local oil strike, and other common and not so common events. If you have any Vienna area artifacts that would help us tell this story, please email Museum Chair Jon Vrana at jvrana@gmail.com and describe what you would like to loan (or donate) for the exhibit.

Our Historic Vienna Inc. board, storekeepers and friends thank all of our supporters for helping us to have a very successful and exciting 2016.  We look forward to serving our community again in the new year by sharing history and sponsoring events that will be enjoyable for all.

HVI Memberships are from January 1 to December 31. Please renew if you are a member or join our group in order to promote history and support Historic Vienna Inc. Annual Memberships: Individual – $20, Family – $25 & Group or Corporate – $35

Fairfax County 275th Anniversary is in 2017! 

Mark your calendars for July 17, 2017, when the county will hold a special event at the Massey Building.

Historic Vienna welcomes new board member GLORIA RUNYON!  We are happy to have you and look forward to fun and rewarding times together.

BEAUTIFUL new 2016 Christmas cards by McLean, VA artist Erik Hottenstein:

Erik Hottenstein 2016 Freeman Store Christmas card

Erik Hottenstein 2016 Freeman Store Christmas card

New Rachel Peden handcrafted ornament – – – VIENNA ARTS CENTER!

Vienna Arts Center 2016 Ornament

Vienna Arts Center 2016 Ornament

Dr. Robert Amsler receives Town of Vienna Volunteer Recognition award on April 18, 2017!

Congratulations to Dr. Amsler for this well deserved award.  “In honor of your service to the community as an outstanding volunteer who has generously and enthusiastically given your time and resources to assist others.”

Dr. Amsler Volunteer Award from Town of Vienna

 Report on the Little Library Research (Vienna, VA’s original library – built in 1897)

By Dr. Robert Amsler

While my effort to solve the mystery of what books are in the Little Library and how they are organized on the shelves started with the creation of spreadsheets of the catalog cards in the Biography and Non-Fiction drawers of the card catalog, it has since progressed to examining the actual books one by one and recording their bibliographic information directly. In part this was necessitated by the absence of copyright dates or publishers on the catalog cards, but also because I’ve discovered that the card catalog is not a complete inventory of the books catalogued in the Little Library.

The first thing one must get used to when dealing with the Little Library is Murphy’s Law. Whatever could go wrong, did go wrong at some point. We not only have catalog cards for books that cannot be found (as of yet), but there are books on the shelves that were indeed catalogued long ago for which there are no catalog cards. There are also uncatalogued books on the shelves that were donated to the Little Library after it closed (continuing the uninterrupted tradition of Vienna residents for well over 100 years of donating books for libraries).

Little Library Interior #1

Little Library Interior #1

The Little Library was truly the product of ‘folk librarianship’ in that unlike every library we have known about since being small children, the call numbers on its books are NOT the basis for where they are located on its shelves. The call numbers, many of which are still legible on the spines of the books as well as written inside the books are actually accession numbers. They aren’t based on any library classification system. They were totally invented and used just in the Vienna Little Library.

These call numbers give an alphabetic category code describing what section of the library the book should be shelved in, such as F for Adult Fiction, B for Biography, or JR for Junior (Children’s books), but then add a letter-number combination below that which represents the first letter of its author or a word from its title and then an integer to indicate how many times that letter has been used in that category. So, the first step in understanding the organization of the Little Library was the very unintuitive observation that the call numbers didn’t explain either specifically where the books would be placed on the shelves, how to reshelve them, or in general indicate a relationship between consecutive numbered books.

The second major discovery was that the card catalog doesn’t really contain alphabetic subject cards. The Little Library librarians always created cards for titles of books, usually for the authors of books, but created no index cards for the subjects of books. For books in the Biography (B) section, the books are alphabetized on two bookcases by what we expect to be their order in a contemporary library, by the ‘biographee’ (the person whose biography the book describes), but that may not be either the author or title of the book. For example, the 1952 biography, “Windows for the Crown Prince” by Elizabeth Gray Vining with call number B V-10 is shelved alphabetically under “AKIHITO” who was the subject of the biography. There are catalog cards for the author (“Vining…”) and for the title (“Windows…), but none for Akihito.

Little Library Interior #2

Little Library Interior #2

For children’s books things are perhaps more difficult, since as far as I can tell, there is no separation of non-fiction from fiction books; they are all shelved in one alphabetical order by their authors. The call numbers are of course something completely different.

Adult Fiction is perhaps the easiest to locate, having catalog cards by author and title, and being shelved alphabetically by authors and within authors by titles. Adult non-fiction is in two bookcases, subdivided into sections roughly by its category letters; but there was a good deal of indecision as to what ‘subject’ some of the non-fiction books belonged under. S (for Science), Bot (for Botany), and even a special shelf for books for the Vienna’s Ayr Hill Garden Club dealing with flowers, trees, shrubs and birds.

To facilitate working with the bookcases they have been given designations according to what wall of the library they touch: North, South, East, West and Center as well as numbering the bookcases from left-to-right and conceptually numbering the shelves from top-to-bottom and the books from left-to-right. And now, most of the bookcases also bear labels indicating what category of books they contain and the range of authors/biographees in that bookcase. The secrets of the books will require book-by-book examination of each one, for many surprises exist in individual volumes.

Note: the books in the collection, while old, are not valuable, as they have been ‘enjoyed’ by many readers over the years, and so are of little interest to book collectors.

The Marco Polo Building a part of life in Vienna   By Connie Stuntz

Because of the seemingly certain fate of Vienna’s Marco Polo building at 245 Maple Avenue West, this article I found in our collection of memories seems timely. It appeared in The Providence Journal, a popular weekly McLean newspaper edited by Richard Smith. His wife Louise Smith wrote “The Grapevine,” a neighborly society column enjoyed by much of Fairfax County.

In her December 7, 1954 column, she describes the interior of the Marco Polo in its first year when my husband Mayo and I hosted a holiday dance there:

The dance was held in the new Garden Room opened in Vienna during the past Fall by Mr. George Copp, and no more agreeable place could have been found. The building features a two-story, semi-circular bay window in the center of its façade. Behind the lower one on Saturday evening twinkled the lights of a Christmas tree. Coats were left below on ample racks, and one went to the second floor for dancing. 

At one end of the ballroom was a great raised fireplace, in which roared at first, and finally glowed, a cheerful fire. The walls have enough variety in finish to lend interest and a certain coziness not usually found in such large rooms. There is red brick, pine paneling, painted plaster, and a large expanse of scenic wallpaper.

We were pleased that George Copp had been inspired to build such a gathering place in Vienna. The spacious second floor room was perfect for the Christmas Dance for several hundred special friends and relations whom we wanted to entertain before our family left Vienna in early 1955 for Japan for several years.

As I’m writing this now, I’m thinking of all sorts of events I’ve attended at the Marco Polo Restaurant on the first floor, particularly Ayr Hill Garden Club May luncheons. They always had good food and plenty of parking. Until now I had not realized how much the 62 years of this building’s history meant to me.

Roger B. Neighborgall – Historic Vienna Friend and supporter passes on.

We at Historic Vienna will miss Roger very much. He was very supportive of our programs and an important inspiration to all.  His devotion to helping others and improving our community were key and very successful missions throughout his life.

Roger B. Neighborgall, Sr.

Roger B. Neighborgall, Sr.

Roger’s obituary from Washington Post:

Roger B. Neighborgall, Sr. On his 93rd birthday, September 13, 2016, after a brief illness, Roger B. Neighborgall, Sr. of Falls Church VA died with his family by his side. A graduate of Duke University, Roger was a member of the greatest generation, a US Army Ranger who fought in Europe including the Normandy invasion and Battle of the Bulge. At the end of the war in Europe he applied his munitions expertise to help recover stolen Jewish treasure stored in German bank vaults. His military awards include the Silver and Bronze Stars and a Presidential Unit Citation. He was recalled to service during the Korean War and spent his civilian career as an executive in the defense industry. Roger’s war experience imparted a profound love of life and a can-do determination to give back to his family, community and country. A community activist and perennial volunteer, he was active in the Lions Club, the American Legion and various city government organizations. He spoke extensively about his experiences to community and school groups, and particularly enjoyed teaching middle schoolers about the War, life, and the qualities of leadership. He was founder and President of the N. VA Tennis League and President of the Friends of the W&OD Trail. He was active in veterans’ organizations and was a USO volunteer and a greeter of Honor Flights bringing his fellow vets to visit the WWII Monument. Roger is survived by his wife of 38 years, Linda; children, Roger Jr., Lisa Mathieu (Stephen), Christa Hyland and daughter-in-law, Rebecca Neighborgall; 8 beloved grandchildren and one glorious great-granddaughter.

The family will receive friends at the National Funeral Home, 7482 Lee Hwy., Falls Church, VA 22042 from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, September 23, 2016. A funeral mass will be held at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, 543 Beulah Rd., Vienna, VA 22180 on Saturday, September 24 at 1:00 p.m. Private interment at Arlington National Cemetery. Roger requested that in lieu of flowers, donations in his memory be directed to the US Army Ranger Assn, Ranger Assistance Fund, PO Box 52126, Ft Benning, GA 31995, note as Roger Neighborgall memorial donation, the USO, PO Box 96860, Washington, DC 20077-7677 or Capital Caring, 2900 Telestar Ct., Falls Church, VA 22042.

Passing of Frank Lancaster – July 16, 2016

We at Historic Vienna will dearly miss our great friend Frank Lancaster and are grateful for his wonderful life.  Frank was born in 1929 in Sheffield, Alabama. His father was a railroad employee, which meant the family moved all around the Southern United States.

Frank attended night school at George Washington University and American University. In 1947, Frank was recruited to the CIA where he worked as the librarian and later became involved in aerial photography Frank was a steady volunteer in the town of Vienna and in the surrounding community. In 1960, he was the first manager of the newly formed Pigtail-Ponytail Girls Softball League. He volunteered first at the storefront library near the Giant and then at Patrick Henry Library when it finally opened in 1971.

Frank’s kindness, patience and experience were shared freely as he served so faithfully on the Historic Vienna board of directors.

Historic Vienna Interview of Frank Lancaster

Frank Lancaster

Frank Lancaster

Washington Post Obituary follows:

LANCASTER ELBERT FRANKLIN LANCASTER, JR. “Frank” (Age 86) II Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” On the evening of July 16, 2016 due to natural causes, Dad went home to be with the Lord Jesus. Surrounded by loving family he passed peacefully from his home of 52 years in Vienna, VA. Frank was born the eldest of three sons to Elbert and Kathleen in Sheffield, AL on November 9, 1929. Born the son of a railroad man, Frank cherished the memories of moving around the south and eventually settled in Ashville, NC. After graduating high school, he moved to the Washington, DC area in 1946 where he met his wife, Lois of 53 years. He loved his career with the CIA where he loyally served for 38 years. After retirement he remained the best of friends with many co-workers. Giving freely of himself he volunteered in the community and his church. He served on the Historic Vienna Board and played the role of Santa Claus for many years at the Freeman Store. He was instrumental in introducing kid”s softball to Vienna, which was a reflection of his love for baseball. Dad enjoyed Bluegrass Music. Stories of trains, life”s hardships and victories, and love of God were lyrics he loved to dwell on. A faithful member of the Capital Baptist Church, he looked forward to his weekly bible study. Dad lived by example, impacting many lives. With God”s promise we are rejoicing in his departure, although he will be dearly missed. Dad was preceded in death by wife, Lois and daughter, Susan. He is survived by his children, Linda Wilborn (Thom), Kathy Robinson (Johnny), Vicki Bell (Tom) and Billy Lancaster (Melanie); grandchildren, Susan Wright, Franklin and Jim Nichols, Amy Bolin, Katy DeCarli, Vicki Moe, Johnny and Davey Robinson, Tommy, Matt, and Josh Bell, Cindy, Sara, and Billy Lancaster; and 10 great-grandchildren. Mr. Lancaster”s Life Celebration will be held at Money and King Funeral Home, 171 W. Maple Ave., Vienna, VA on Thursday, July 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be held at Capital Baptist Church, 3504 Gallows Rd., Annandale, VA on Friday, July 23 at 11 a.m. Interment National Memorial Park. Online condolences and fond memories may be offered to the family at: www.moneyandking.comwww.moneyandking.com.

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Event Complete – thanks to all participants! Country Store Exhibit at the Freeman Store and Museum

Historic Vienna, Inc. The History of the Country/General Store museum exhibit wrapped up in December of 2015.  Please come to our Farming and Agriculture exhibit which will open in early March 2016.  

The exhibit utilized artifacts, period apparel, tools, posters and other materials and told the story of local general stores which often served as grocery, post office, voting precinct, pharmacy, feed and grain supplier, hardware store, as well as filling a role as community centers.

We had many visitors who enjoyed this exhibit from the USA: Florida, Connecticut, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Texas, Arizona, Kentucky, North Carolina, Idaho, California, and Washington, DC. Visitors from other countries include folks from Ireland, England, Brasil, Syria, France, Peru, Kurdistan, Turkey, India, Russia and Wales.

Historic Vienna, Inc. would like to thank Silva’s Patisserie for their generous sponsorship of the exhibit and gratefully acknowledged the donations of Whole Food Market, Caffe Amouri, Giant Food.  Lastly, the exhibit would not have been possible without the contributions of many individuals who loaned artifacts and antiques from their personal collections.  We thank them one and all!

Details from Country Store brochure by Jon Vrana:

The store that you are visiting dates back to pre-Civil War days when Abraham and Susan Lydecker moved down to Fairfax County, Virginia from New Jersey. The Lydeckers built a store in Ayr Hill, alongside the newly constructed tracks of the Alexandria, Loudoun, and Hampshire Railroad (AL&H RR). The AL&H RR, one of four railroads that originated in Alexandria, Virginia, began con-struction in the 1855, ran through the Vienna area, and eventually reached out to western Virginia. The Lydecker Store sat beside the tracks and was within easy walking distance of the Ayr Hill (now Vienna) Station.

Abraham Lydecker purchased a small tract of land from Peter Hen-drick, a tract ideally situated for a country store to serve the local com-munity.

General stores, from their first days, served the local community in a number of ways. Stores of-fered groceries, dry goods, hardware, feed and seed, and general merchandise, as well as provided postal services and as a community center, where news was shared and relationships were built. In some instances, storekeepers grew into greater positions, such as Senator Justin Morrill (R-VT) and Congressman (later President) Abraham Lin-coln (R-IL).

The overall appearance of the Lydecker Store has changed relatively little over the years. It was built originally as a two-story clapboard structure. A two-story extension to the left side of the building was added to serve as a hotel. Eventually, it was sepa-rated from the main building and moved across the street as a separate residence.

What is a Country Store?

Country stores were used for a variety of uses, including a general mercantile store, grocery store, dry goods store, seed and feed store, hardware store, pharmacy, post office community center, and polling station. For small communities with few businesses, the country store served most nec-essary functions that could not be provided directly on the farm.

Post Office

Country stores served a number of functions for local people. One of those functions was as a post office. Prior to the coming of the rural routes and home delivery of mail, mail was delivered to and picked up from local country stores. Often the mail would arrive on the train and be distributed to the public, in some locations, at the country store and, other locations, at the local train station. Josiah Bow-man served, twice, as postmaster and Henry S. Van Wickle served once.

The Local Grocery Store

In the heydays of the country store in Fairfax County, in the 19th century, much of the food consumed by families was grown or raised on the farm. Most families in Fair-fax County had small acreag-es on which they grew vege-table gardens and raised milk cows, from which they produced their own butter. Many farm families grew wheat and Indian corn and carried these crops down to the local grist mills to be ground for flour and meal. Milk cows provided fresh milk, chickens provided fresh eggs, and beef cattle and chickens provided meat. Fruits and vegetables were grown and canned in Ball and Mason jars. How-ever, you could not grow or raise everything and you could not can everything. Folks came to the local country store to buy those grocery store items that they could not produce themselves.

General Mercantile

Country stores sold a variety of general merchandise that ranged from pots and pans to horse shoes and horse collars, dresses and coats to shoes and socks, marbles and jacks to pencils and school books. Almost anything that a person could think of having, the county store had it or could order it through the cata-logue. Stores rarely had a lot of any one thing, but had a little of a lot of different things.

A Place to Vote

Not necessarily a common thing across country stores, Lydecker’s Store was used in the 1860s as a place to vote. On May 23, 1861, a vote was held, at the request of the Commonwealth’s Leg-islature, to determine support for the Ordinance of Secession.

Dry Goods

Country stores sold ready to wear men’s, wom-en’s, and children’s clothes; suits, pants, shirts, and overcoats were available in a variety of men’s and boy’s sizes. At Freeman’s Store, at the turn of the century, Anderson Freeman, Abra-ham Lydecker’s son-in-law, announced in a Fair-fax Herald advertisement, (above) the opening of a new department in his store, a full line of men’s and boy’s clothing, with a man’s “all wool suit in all sizes at this writing only $5.98.” In another Fairfax Herald advertisement, Leon Freeman, made readers aware of assorted dry goods for sale, including notions, groceries, and shoes.

The Pharmacy

Many country stores sold a wide assortment of patient medicines, ones that guaranteed to cure headaches, toothaches, baldness, issues of the bowel, and forgetfulness.

Feed and Seed Store

While you could almost always buy the feed for your hogs, cattle, and horses, it was a special time of the year, in the spring, when the store seemed to be overtaken by muslin and burlap bags of seeds and bags and boxes of vegetable and flower gardens. Large bushel baskets of seed potatoes and onion sets were sent on the floor along one side of the store. Often bags of feed and seed “spilled” out of the store and were kept on the front porch for easy access.

Hardware Store

Country folks of the 19th and early 20th centuries constructed and repaired many of their own tools. However, there were major farm im-plements, such as wood-beamed and steel-beamed plows, that they purchased, often on credit.

Making Purchases

Goods at the store could be purchased by cash, credit, or barter.

Farmers depended on credit until their crops were harvested and sold at the end of each sea-son. The storekeeper kept accounts in a ledger.

If farmers had no cash and credit was not extended, they depended on trading (barter) chickens, eggs, and other agri-cultural prod-ucts for store goods.

The Owners

The Lydecker, and later the Freeman, Store was built in 1858 by Abraham and Susan Lydecker. The Lydeckers moved down from New Jersey and built their store and home, immediately adjacent to the newly constructed Alexandria, Loudoun, and Hampshire Railroad, and near the Ayr Hill Station. The location that they chose was selected with an eye on being able to receive goods easily by rail and being close to the Station where locals would visit, on a “trip to town” to meet visitors at the Station or pick up packages of items ordered from “Sears, Roebuck and Co.”

Abraham (Abram) Lydecker was the first store-keeper of the Lydecker Store. Typical of the store-keepers of those days, he owned and operated the store on the first floor and lived, with his family, on the second floor. Coincidently, with the establish-ment of Lydecker’s Store, Abraham Lydecker ap-plied for and received a permit from the County for a “House of Public Entertainment.” In Fairfax County, a house of public entertainment served food and drink and was required to provide lodg-ing for both person and their horse.

Anderson Freeman married the Lydecker’s daugh-ter and began clerking at the store. In 1874, Ander-son Freeman took over the business. From that point on, the store was known, not as Lydecker’s Store, but as Freeman’s Store.

In 1893, Anderson Freeman’s son, Leon L. Free-man, became a partner in the store and in 1908, Leon moved back from Washington, D.C. to run the store. In 1929, the year of the Stock Market crash, Leon began an insurance company at the Freeman’s Store.

Leon‘s oldest daughter Dorothy and her husband, Lauris Sherburne, remained in the house and oper-ated their insurance business from it until the mid-1950s.

Dorothy Freeman Sherburne, the daughter of Leon Freeman, sold the Freeman Store to the Town of Vienna in 1969.

© Historic Vienna Inc. 2014. Written by Jon Vrana.

 

Historic Vienna’s Exhibits Reach Thousands of History Lovers

It was only ten years ago that Historic Vienna, Inc. opened our first exhibit.  It was a small collection of framed photographs and woodblock prints and we called it “Civil War Scenes and the Freeman Family History.”  In the years since, our volunteers have mounted eight more exhibits, with topics as varied as the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, Vienna’s African American community, Jamestown’s 400th anniversary, World War II, the Civil War, Rails to Roads to Trails and the Country Store.  We have added hand crafted display cases and expanded to mini-exhibits on such things as the War of 1812 and Vienna Woods.  As each successive exhibit opens, we are not only grateful to the many history-loving and community-minded citizens who have entrusted us with the loan of their possessions, but also to the HVI volunteers who have spent hundreds of hours researching not only the factual history behind each exhibit topic, but also educating themselves in display techniques, contacting potential donors and supporters, and actually mounting the exhibits. Our Guest Books tell the story – visitors are finding us and are looking to HVI as a source for interesting, educational and challenging exhibits, right in their own backyard!

Our Oertel painting been successfully restored!

Johannes Adam Simon Oertel’s painting “The Raid” is an important piece of art in the Freeman Store and Museum’s collection.  It has recently been professionally restored to its former glory!

We are seeking donations to help offset the cost for the excellent restoration of this fine work of art.  Please call the Freeman Store at (703) 938-5187 if you are interested in making a tax exempt donation to this effort.

Photograph of “The Raid” painting by Johannes Oertel pre-restoration:

The Raid by Oertel

 

Historic Vienna Volunteers Needed!

Historic Vienna welcomes and treasures volunteers to work one time, regularly, or for special events. It is a great way to meet new people and have fun while providing a very valuable service to your organization.  Please take a moment and browse the many events and activities where we need volunteers from the list below.  If you have some time to devote, we would love to hear from you.  You can specify when, where and how much time you are willing to give.   Thanks so much for considering this–we need your help to continue to thrive!

Please consider the following opportunities for you to help our group provide quality programs and services to our community:

  • Freeman House Tours, including tours of the library and store
  • Little Library – usually open once a month on Sunday afternoons
  • Book sorting for our annual book sale – Saturday mornings in May and early June
  • Book Sale – June 8 through June 10, 2012
  • Walk on the Hill
  • Special events ( reenactments, performances on the lawn, Santa Claus visits, Viva Vienna, Stroll on Church Street, Easter Egg Roll etc.)

For more information, please call (703) 938-5187.

Civil War letter written at Gettysburg – 150 years ago!

 To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the battle at Gettysburg, the following is a four-page letter, written by Pvt. Joseph T. Betts, Musician, Anderson Zouaves, 62nd N.Y. Vol. Provided by Historic Vienna Inc. volunteer Jon Vrana.

Gettysburg   July 2nd, 1863

Dear Mother & Father,

I am writing you this letter on the Picket line on Round Top, we expect to be called in the fight every moment. The first days fight was tremendous, the men was slaughtered by thousands, and maybe before the day is through I may be numbered among the dead but I hope providence may deal with me more lenient, the fighting is something terrible. Four of my company was killed within five feet of me this morning and I was not harmed. I am at present writing 500 feet of the front line expecting every moment to go to the front. The Louisiana Tigers are devils and they show no mercy when they find a wounded soldier on the field they jab the Bayonett through him so to be sure he is dead. Oh I tell you it is awful dead and dying all around you bullets and shells is hitting like hail all around. The Artillery are doing great damage. I saw one officer after he had his death fire the Cannon off and then drop down dead. I hope the war will soon be over so I can be home with you once more only think Grandfather survived the Revolution. Father the War of 1812 and now I have come through Bull Run Harpers Ferry Fredericksbrugh Chancellorsville Fair Oaks and I could not mention the Battles I have been through out a scratch and have been captured by Mosbys Men and got away again. I tell you I have had a great many narrow escapes, and hope I may come through this one safe and sound. The din and groans of the dying is something terrible. We are now called to advance to the fighting is all along the fields good by from your ever Loving and affectionate Son

Joseph T. Betts  –   Anderson Zouaves 62nd N.Y. Vol   –   Battlefield Gettysburgh


This letter is from the Lewis and Lynn Hilder Collection.
Learn more about the Gettysburg Stone Sentinels.