In the early twentieth century, a group of people in Richmond commenced a discussion about erecting a monument to a popular actor, Joseph Jefferson, recently deceased. John Newton Harper, whose wife owned the Rock Rimmon Freestone Quarry on Aquia Creek, heard of the plan and wrote to the individual in charge of the project:
“I see by the papers of your city that you are at the head of the friends of our late Joseph Jefferson, of theatrical notoriety, to erect a suitable monument in the city of Richmond, Va., to his memory. I am willing to give you the right to send your workmen down to my stone quarry, on the Aquia Creek, a half mile above the railroad bridge, and get and dress all the stone you may need for the foundation, etc., for said monument. This I give you free of all cost; you can freight it to your city by railroad, free of freight, I presume…P. S.–In my youth I have been on the stage with our mutual friend, Joseph Jefferson, and knew him well. He was a good man and a gentleman” (Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 16, 1905).
Abraham Howard (c.1800-1876) was a highly skilled African American blacksmith who repaired and fabricated parts used in the flour and textile mills in Falmouth. Where he obtained his training isn’t known, but he operated a large facility behind modern Amy’s Cafe and very near the row of mills that paralleled the Rappahannock River. He paid taxes on a number of slaves during his years in Falmouth. Abraham placed the following newspaper notice:
“Again the Subscriber, who has long served the Public in his line of business, informs that he yet carries it on in this place, with Five Forges in full blast; where he can execute, in the neatest style–All kinds of Wrought-Iron and Steel Work for Farmers or Millers; Cast-Steel Edged Tools for Coopers, Carpenters, or other mechanics: New Screws and Boxes for Smiths’ Vices, and Blacksmiths’ Tools made and repaired; Mill-Screws made and repaired, with or without Swivels, and Wrought or Composition Boxes for the same. He continues to keep on hand, McCormick Ploughs, made in the best style, from Nos. 6 to 12, warranted to run well; makes and cuts Branding-Irons for Mills and Inspectors; Saw-Mill Cranks, Rag’d Wheels, &c. &c. made and repaired. He has on hand at this time two Horse Carts, a light and heavy one; also a Wagon suitable for two or three horses; all of which are well made, ironed and painted, which he will dispose of to suit the times; as he also engaged to do with all the first-named articles. For capacity to complete Mill work, reference can be had to Mr. Hugh Arthur of Baltimore, who has built some of the best Manufacturing Mills in the State, and is now completing a large and extensive one for Capt. John P. Kelly in Culpeper County; also to Mr. Nathaniel Monroe and Mr. Samuel B. Starkey of Fauquier and Culpeper Counties. He is moreover willing that his work shall undergo the strictest scrutiny much of which has been vended without complaint at distances from 20 to an 100 miles of this place. To those who have heretofore encouraged him, he returns most grateful thanks, and begs a continuance of patronage. All Orders promptly attended to.
A. Howard Falmouth
(Virginia Herald, June 2, 1832)