Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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19th-century Christmas at Ellwood today

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Celebrate the season today, and see Santa as he appeared in his finest Victorian regalia of the late 1800s.

From 9 to 11 a.m.,  St. Nicholas will be at Ellwood in Orange County to talk with children, sit for photos (bring your camera) and answer questions about how Christmas customs have changed since Queen Victoria’s day.  Children can enjoy period activities as they wait their turn with Mr. Claus.

Dale Brown, a Friends of Wilderness Battlefield board member, will portray Santa.

As you step into the plantation home today, it has been 140 years since the Lacy family sold Chatham, their grand home in Stafford County near Fredericksburg, and moved to “Dear Old Ellwood” after the Civil War. Since the Lacy family’s era, Christmas customs and the way the holiday was celebrated have all changed, from home décor to the types of toys and games that children wished for–even to Good Old St. Nick himself.

From noon to 2 p.m. today, enjoy historic interpretation of Ellwood at Christmas from 1861 to 1896. The home will be decorated with Victorian Christmas finery, courtesy of the Fawn Lake Garden Club.  Volunteers will greet visitors and serve refreshments all day.

Ellwood is on State Route 20, a half-mile west of State Route 3. For more on the Friends group, visit their website,

Friends of Wilderness Battlefield is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization devoted to assisting Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park in efforts to preserve the Wilderness battlefield in Orange and Spotsylvania counties. With more than 260 members, the Friends provide advocacy, educational programs and service projects for the park.

Photo credit: Dale Brown