From John Hennessy:

We have this idea that children are newly annoying–that in the good days, children behaved, watched their manners, and never engaged in untoward–God forbid even illegal–behavior.  Here’s some evidence that adults have always complained about the tendency of children not to follow the grown-ups’ rules. It appears in the Weekly Advertiser for January 29, 1859, under the title “Pitching Cents.”

There is an ordinance of the corporation forbidding this game in the streets, and yet it is done on Main street, almost daily, and actually in sight of the officers. The writer of this has several times stopped it in front of his door, not a long walk from the post office.

By far the best image of Fredericksburg's 19th century streets is this 1864 view of William Street between Charles and Princess Anne. By most accounts, the trash and debris seen here was typical even in peacetime. Town council fought a constant battle to keep the streets neat and clear.


The gambling that is still suffered to be carried on in our streets, is on the increase. On Hanover street, between Main [Caroline] and the African Church (on Sophia), crowds of boys, black and white, may be frequently seen though the week, especially on Sunday, to the annoyance of the quiet of this section of town.  We do earnestly hope that he officers will put a stop to this disgusting practice of pitching cents, and playing marbles, which is truly demoralizing.

Council also waged a persistent battle to keep Fredericksburg’s streets clear of hogs. In 1806 council indicated it would have all hogs wandering the streets shot. But the next year, perhaps sensing opportunity, council declared all hogs in the streets would be caught and resold. In 1814, councilmen reverted back to the shooting policy…until finally in 1832 council simply banned hogs in town altogether, though that did little to solve the problem. Several more times over the years council alternately threatened to shoot or sell stray hogs. But still the porkers wandered (though one hasn’t been seen on the streets in a while).

At other times, council passed laws preventing residents from building houses or fences in the streets (1809) and preventing residents from leaving dead animals on public thoroughfares.  But war changed their attitude. In 1862, council gave permission for the streets to be blocked in the construction of Confederate gunboats (none were ever completed here).