The Landscape of the Carmichael Letters, Revisited
The following photographs were taken on November 11, 2004, during a visit by Historical Collections & Services staff members to Fredericksburg, Virginia.
- Dr. James Carmichael purchased this house on Hanover Street from Charles Yates, a Fredericksburg merchant who had it built in the 1780s.
- Carmichael added the small brick office in 1820 and used it as his "medicine shop." Four generations of Carmichael physicians treated Fredericksburg residents here.
- The Masonic Cemetery at 900 Charles Street contains the graves of numerous prominent Fredericksburg residents. Many of the family names of those buried here are the same as those found in the Carmichael letters, including Buck, Carmichael, Carter, Chew, Ellis, French, Gordon, Green, Grinnan, Johnston, Jones, Knox, Lewis, Lomax, Maury, Minor, Patton, Shepherd, and Smith. [Extensive 1937 historical inventory of the Masonic Burying Ground by the WPA.]
- The half-acre cemetery is about a quarter of a city block in size and was purchased and enclosed by the Fredericksburg Lodge of Masons for members and their families.
- The inscription on the marker in front of this grave is in memory of Charles Yates, Esq., who sold James Carmichael the house on Hanover Street. Born in England in 1727, he died in Fredericksburg in 1809.
- This is the gravesite of Jessie Somerville Gordon, the daughter of Samuel and Susan F. Gordon. She died in 1822. At least six different Gordons are named in the Carmichael letters including Samuel Gordon, Jr. and Susanna F. Gordon.
- This marker is inscribed with the name of Anthony Buck who died in 1842 at the age of 76. This name appears once in the Carmichael letters because a shipment to Buck included books for James Carmichael.
- This is the burial site for Colonel John Stanard who died in 1834. [Standard's inventory and appraisement in the Fredericksburg County Will Book.]
- The inscription on this gravestone is for Robert Brooke, the fourth son of Phillip T. and Lucy B. Alexander. The Carmichael letters include fifteen written by Lucy Alexander from 1820 through 1828, one of which mentions sending Robert for medicine for Lucy's little granddaughter. If the Robert referred to in the letter is Lucy's son, he would have been ten years old at the time. He died in 1878 at the age of 60.
- Many of the markers, particularly those that are horizontal, have inscriptions that are too weathered to read. This is evidently the case with Dr. James Carmichael's gravestone that Historical Collections staff members were unable to locate. The 1937 WPA inventory of the Masonic Cemetery indicates that Carmichael's memorial stone was inscribed as follows:
Erected to the memory of
Dr. James Carmichael
By his family.
Born, in Glasgow, Scotland on the 30th
of November, 1771 and died in Freder-
icksburg on the 14th June, 1831, in
the 60th year of his life.
James Daniel, Edward Smith, Peter Gordon,
and Harriett Randolph, infant children
of James and Elizabeth Carmichael, Eliza-
beth Hackley, Francis Taylor, William
Henry Taylor, infant children of Edward H.
and Sarah L. Carmichael.
- Most of the horizontal markers are flush with the ground or placed on top of rows of bricks. These gravestones rest only on pillars.
- A stone auction block is at the corner of William and Charles Streets and marks the site where slaves were sold or hired before the Civil War. Slaves were confined in warehouses near here prior to the auction.
- The inscription reads:
Principal Auction Site
Pre-Civil War Days
for Slaves and Property
- Fredricksburg is located along the banks of the Rappahannock River. See www.historypoint.org for information about the river, mill sites, and water power.
- Chatham is an estate located across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg. The construction of the main house was completed in 1771. In the Carmichael letters Chatham is the address for M. Jones, C. Jones, and John Clark.
- This is the view from one of the front terraces at Chatham. The town of Fredericksburg can be seen across the Rappahannock River.
- The Georgian mansion, various outbuildings, and the grounds are now under the stewardship of the National Park Service.