I had an interesting online encounter the other day when I corrected a gentleman about the history of Sligo. What made it interesting is that he was refuting what I was saying by quoting my own, incorrect, material which he had retrieved online from the Department of Historic Resources (DHR). It was the very first form I had filled out in order to start the nomination process for getting Sligo on the National Historic Registry and unfortunately, it was a little less than accurate.
In the end, I was irritated because it was my fault the incorrect information was out there (though for a brief second I was irritated because I felt like I was being mansplained by having a complete stranger tell me about my house). While I still have yet to fully embrace the idea of living in the house I have come to feel a bit protective of Sligo, it’s people, and the history. What is most important to me, though, is getting the history right which has proven to be a lofty goal.
In the beginning all of the information I had of the house came from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of Virginia Historical Inventory. In a nutshell, the WPA was a program meant to employ men and women until the economy recovered from the Great Depression. One of the smallest branches of the WPA was the Historical Records Survey whose official mission statement was the “discovery, preservation, and listing of basic materials for research in the history of the United States” (taken from Wikipedia and if my college professors knew I used it as a source they would die).
Sligo’s WPA report was written by Nettie Moore Deaderick in 1937 and her bibliography lists various persons of Fredericksburg and Deed Books. So, while the information Deaderick retrieved from the Deed Books are certainly valid, I have to take with a grain of salt what statements were given by folks who had simply lived in the area for a long time. It’s through the WPA that I was given misinformation such as the house burning down in 1863 and, who can forget, the infamous skeleton in a cage. In my haste and excitement to get the nomination started I didn’t take the time to fully appreciate what the WPA reports were and how accurate, or inaccurate, they might be.
So, to clear just a few things up: The house burnt down in 1888 and was promptly rebuilt, with construction likely ending in 1889. This was confirmed by the discovery of a newspaper article as well as the inscription carved into the brick of the foundation and an interior brick of the basement. There have only been two dwelling homes on the site, the first one built circa 1760 (this is according to the City of Fredericksburg’s records and I have yet to verify it though Mutual Assurance Society maps of the early 1800s show a single-story structure in the same shape as the current house) and the second house was built in 1889 (as previously stated so remember that date because there may be a pop quiz later).
While I have much more to write in order to clear-up a few of the details of the house I will leave it at this for now. Supposedly, blog posts should never reach more than 600 words and I am rapidly approaching that number. I tend to give more information than necessary like when someone asks for directions and I give them more landmarks than actual directions because I’m trying to be helpful but in reality I’m just making the situation more confusing for the driver of the car, crap I’m over 600 words.