On Thursday evening Katherine and I caught up with Jeff (not your brother) in Alexandria. From this point forth I will refer to him as Jeff because Jeff (my brother) doesn’t comment on my site; so, in my mind there is no confusion as to who Jeff is.
Anyhow, Jeff gave us an after dark walking tour of Alexandria, which I think was better than any tour guide could give; albeit a bit cold because of the wind.
Here are some interesting historical titbits about Alexandria:
- Alexandria was named for the family of John Alexander, a Virginia Planter who in 1669 acquired the land on which the town began.
- Alexandria was largely settled by Scottish merchants in the 1700s. Some of the more famous Scots include John Carlyle, John Dalton and William Ramsay. The Scots called it Belhaven.
- From 1801 to 1847 Alexandria was a part of the District of Columbia and in 1847 retroceded to Virginia. As part of DC the people of Alexandria received little financial aid and were not allowed to vote.
- One of the oldest stores in Alexandria is Edward Stabler’s Apothecary Shop. The family-owned business opened in 1792 and shut its doors in 1933 (during the depression) after 141 years of being open. Today the store still exists in its original state as a museum. Some regular patrons included Washington, Mason, Monroe, Custis and Lee families.
- During the War of 1812, the city surrendered to the British naval force and was occupied. To keep the town from being destroyed, Alexandrians paid a ransom of tobacco, flour, cotton, and sugar.
- In 1861 the city was occupied again; this time by Union troops during the American Civil War. It was the first city to be occupied and, the first fatality of the war was Col. Elmer Ellsworth. He was killed while he tried to take down a Confederate flag that was flying atop the Marshall House Hotel. He was shot by the hotel proprietor, James W. Jackson who was immediately killed by Union troops.
- Alexandria was a haven to slaves travelling north in search of freedom.