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Alexandria gazette. [volume] (Alexandria, D.C.) 1834-1974, March 31, 1922, Section II, Image 15

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1922. The Gateway to the South
Section II.
The Hygiene of Old Alexandria
I The advanced thinker of today is
nt to regard with amusement and
gust, the apparent neglect of hy
ne by our ancestors of a few gen
itions ago. Yes from the very in
ition of the town of Alexandria,
irts were made to make it a healthy
ce. By reason of its elevated posi
n on the banks of the Potomac
h rainfall carried impurities into
water, thus, naturally tending*to
*d clean streets. When the found
of Alexandria, constituting a
rd of trustees, met in July 1749.
er selling the lots, and conferring
ds for the same, one of the first
isures adopted was for the care of
streets. The town was divided
> two wards, north and south, a
;tee being appointed to oversee
i. The byways and lanes, for
) were hardly streets, were to be
t free from rubbish and nuisance,
for any neglect of duty the war
was fined 20 Shillings, the fines
e used for the benefit of the town,
trustees had little real authority
were generally supported by the
rinia Assembly, but not always.
1752 the trustees ordered John
t to survey the marsh at the north
of the town, through which the
loka Creek flowed towards the
r. This stream was once navigat
as far as Lannon's corner, it took
ise from a spring near the inter
on of Princess and Pitt streets,
survey was made in order to
"e an act of the Virginia Assembly
jelling its drainage. But the mea
did not receive the King's en
ement, and the marsh remained a
ice to the town's health, for many
s. The people called it in de
n "King Georges Meadows." Not
far from the low grounds of the Ori
noka and just under the banks of the
old canal, was a Chalybeate Spring
supposed to be of great medicinal
value. It was protected by the town
and a heavy penalty imposed upon any
one bathing, washing clothes or in any
way rendering the water impure.
Within the memory of our older citi
zens, this spring was still valued for
its health giving qualities, but dur
ing the civil war it seems to have
failed and to have passed into ob
[ < Previous to the Revolution, so in
timate were the relations between
(church and state, that in many mat
ters apparently appertaining to civil
Jaw< the church had swav. The church
wardens under the direction of the
vestries levied upon all free holders
for'the benefit and maintenance of the
poor, the crippled and blind. Inden
tures were made binding orphan child
ren to those who pledged themselves
! to teach them to read and write and
prepare them for a trade. The re
cords of Old Christ Church Alexan
dria begin in 17(55, and on the first
page we see that Wm. Payne and .John
Dalton had care of the poor of the
parish. As at that time there had
been no home established for the ac
commodation of the poor, thev were
quartered on the people, who boarded
and cared for them and rendered their
bills for expenses to the church war
jdens. Dr. Wm. Ramsey was appointed
physician in I7G5 and his semi-an
nual account of 19 Pounds, 18 Shill
ings and (! Pence was ordered paid.
Margaret Payne and Jemima Copper
assisted as nurses and made salve for
the wounded soldiers brought here
during the Revolution. The burial
permits issued between 1787 and 1796
number -152, of these 1C8 were men,
122 women and 198 children, showing
a deplorable mortality among infants
during the summer months. The
Presbyterian Register between 1789
1815 gives about the same average. In
1787, the authority of the Church in
things temporal ceased, a hustings
court was established, and the ward
ens of the town reported at each
meeting of the court, the condition
land treatment of orphans and paupers.
| Very early in the town's history a
! board of health was established eon
I sisting of 8 members and a healtn
| officer who was a physician for many
I years. Dr. E. C. Dick held this posi
tion. It was the duty of the board of
| health to see that all streets and
I alleys were kept clean and that the
| market master kept the market squai e
i in good and cleanly condition and
' that he condemn alt produce unfit foi
1 Kale. The board of health was ren
j resented at different times by two
i members, to inspect all incoming
stages and packets at such time as any
| epidemic or malignant disease was in
j Ihe country. The health officer had
to take all precautions and not render,
a certificate of health to any vessel
! unless deserved, and for every over
| sight he was fined 5 pounds. He was
I to receive reasonable compensation
| for each dav emwloyed on official
! duties. The' City Council had juris
i diction over the harbor or any pait
! ()f it below "Pearsons Island" for pre
venting and removing nuisances that
! mijrht be prejudicial to the health of
i the town, even if on board of vessels
j lying off the shore.
j In 1790 smallpox having broken out
' in several places in Alexandria, per
! mission was granted by the court to
i introduce inoculation, which took place
! forthwith and within a few days 000
! oeople were inoculated. In 1797 there
! was a very fatal epidemic of yellow
j fever, many prominent citizens suc
! cumbed to it and Governor John Wood
? of Virginia ordered a strict quaren
| tine at Alexandria and appointed Dr.
Dick as superintendent. The news
I papers of the time call attention to the
! bad condition of lower Prince street
; and stringent orders prohibited the
throwing of rubbish and other nuis
ance in the streets. Xo sunken places
such as could contain stagnant water
! were allowed under penalty of a
: heavy fine. A Mechanics Relief So
! cietv met at McKnight's Tavern and
1 all caritable persons were interested
i in freeing the town of this dread dis
! ease. In 1800 an Act of Council was
! passed to procure a suitable house for
1 the poor of the town, and a proper
, keeper for those committed to the
; work house. This was accomplished
the following year, when the com
modious old structure which is still an
ornament of the country side was
built. Ten acres of land adjoining it
J were.-purchased .for a. .small farm to
! be worked by those paupers who were
i able and by those persons committed
' for vagrancy or* small offences
? against the law. At the close of the
I eighteenth century the _ town had
largely outgrown its original limit of
Gl.'< half acre lots, and as the old grave
digger John Nitisjail said "There was
a rijrht smart chance of people here
in 179D."
Alexandria was a loyal old town,
its people bound together by a com
munity of ideas?not progressive,
perhaps, nor as a whole well educated,
: education in ihe higher branches be
j ing confined with but few exceptions
, to professional men. They knew noth
ing of the germs, bacteria or microbes
that lurked in the grass grown
streets, but they were clear minded
men, our old cily fathers, and the
faith ministrations of the family phy
sician, and loving friend, often brought
j about the same results accomplished
j by our modern scientific physicians
and trained nurses, and they no less
deserve the tribute of the sage who
j "He is most nearly akin to the Gods
I who giveth health to his fellow men."
? . ?*-=
i Vast Commerce Between Sections
Handled on Maze of Tracks Into
Which Five Railroads Rush 1,000
cars of Freight Daily?Service Vi
tal to Nation.
"The Gateway Between the North
and the South."
Situated a few miles from Wash
ington on the road to Alexandria are
the Potomac freight yards, among
the biggest yards devoted solely to
the handling of freight in the coun- '
! try. .
These yards are the heart of the!
traffice system which unites the North
with the South. Through them the ;
! industries of the North, turning out
: untold amounts of merchandise, are
linked with the buyers of the South
ern sections of the country, and the!
fruit growers and plantation owners;
of Dixie are connected with their
Northern purchasers.
As through a narrow bottle neck,j
I the results of toil of the two sections j
! are passed through this gateway, I
I never closed and never blocked. My- ?
; raid cars moving in one side and out;
j the other carry the produce to the j
? consumer and the machinery to the;
! user.
Covers Three Miles.
Extending for more than 3 miles i
I along the bank of the Potomac river, j
i the yards, to the layman, seem to be !
! a maze of gleaming tracks, inter-1
spersed with low-lying begrimed j
buildings with hundreds of freight:
cars moving lazily by gravity from j
place to place or being rapidly;
pushed along the tracks by puffing I
switch engines.
While the yards are not the largest!
in the country, their position on a |
direct airline route down the Atlantic J
coast line makes their importance in
the matter of distribution second to \
none. There are other routes from ;
the North to the South and from the i
South to the North while do not come
through the yards, but they are all
much slower and necessitate the use ?
of car ferries in order that the cars !
may reach their destination.
Should anything occur to make it
| impossible to operate through the Po
! eastern section of the nation would
j immediately feel the result.
Vital to North and South,
j Industry in the South -would -suffer (
I because machinery and other products
I of Northern factories could not be
(sent through without considerable de
| lay, necessitated by re-routing and
J distribution over a circuitous route,
i Northerners who have become accrs
j tomed to the luxury of fruit and other '
Southern products would be forced to
forego their luxuries for weeks be
cause the freight in transit at the
1!mi* of the tie-up would be ruined'
Lk f ore it could be re-routed.
An idea of the immense size of the :
yards and the amount of work carried
on in them can be obtained by con
sidering the fact that daily more than
4,000 cars arc handled. Five railroads
converge at the yards and pour into
them a steady stream of trains to be
"broken up" then "rebuilt"' into other
trains and finally dispatched. The
roads which operate into the yards j
from the north are the Pennsylvania
and the Baltimore and Ohio. From the ;
south come the trains of the Southern,
the Chesapeake and Ohio, and the
Richmond, Fredericksburg and Pu- j
tomac, the latter also operating for |
the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard
Air Line. During the month of June
tomac yards, business
Ill 1HIIIIWI1 Ulllll 111
1318 Kin? Street Alexandria. Va.
Monster Potomac Railroad
Yard Links North and South
10-4,8:17 cars were handled through the
While the yard performs as great a
variety of tasks as any other in the
nation, perhaps its biggest feature is
the classification department. An av
erage of 58 trains per day is brought
into the yard from the North and
South. These have been made up at
the train's original yard without re
gard to the kind of freight in the
various cars or the final destination
of those cars. As a result, cars of
perishables are mixed up with dead
freight, there are occasional empty
freight cars in the train, and while
half of the cars in the train may be
destined for the same point, they al
ternate with cars in the train which
are bound for other points.
The trains average ">0 cars each,
although this number has ben known
to run as high as 98. The intricacy
of the problem of properly and ac
curately assorting these cars and re
building them into other trains is
shown by the fact that a train of 50
cars necessitates an average of 10
Experts Handle All ( ars
On one side of the yards all north- j
bound traffic is handled and on the !
other side all southbound traffic is
handled. These general zones are
further broken up into receiving
blocks, classification blocks and ad
vance blocks. . .
As a train arrives at the yards it is
sent into the receiving block. There
it is subjected to a rigid inspection.
While ten experts examine the
mechanism of every car, a score of
clerks examine the way bills and
rates to see that the cargo is in pro
per condition. Passing the inspection
the train moves on to the "hump"
and its various cars are ready for
The hump is situated at the mouth
of the classification block. From in
front of this mound of earth and ce
ment. '50 tracks, each bearing a classi
fication spread out in fan shape. As
the train moves up to the mound a
brakoman climbs abroad the first
"cut." which is then released from
the train. Gravitation carries the car
down the slope.
Cars Are Classilicd
From a high tower on top of the
mound the car is directed through tiic
intricate switching system by means
of pneumatically controlled switches.
After the first cut has passed throujrh
the first switch, the second cut is re
leased and proceeds to its classifica
tion. , ,
After the cars have been properly
classified, and the classification
tracks become crowded, the cam in
each particular classification are
coupled together and are ready to be
pushed to the advance block to await
ihe assigning of locomotives to pro
pel them to their final destination.
With an average of -1,000 cavs com
ing into the yards daily the highes
degreo of efficiency and speed are t en
quired in keeping them moving be
cause it is imperative that rhey be
gotton out the same day as thcr ar
j rival owing to the fact that the
i standing capacity of the yards is
: only -1.800. On May .'51, 1.1 .'16 nun
' were employed in the yards. By
! means of this large force a train can
; be completely reclassified and dis
I patched within three hours of its a:
I rival.
Some Freight Transferred
| The fact that the roads running into
the vards from the south virtually
I all travel through open country,
| while north of the yards there are
j a great number of trunels. adds an
i other task to the many which are
I performed in the yards. Cars which
bring freight from the south and are
bound north, are often found to r<e
too large to enable them to pass
through the tunnels. This necessi
! tatcs their unloading at the yards.
I and the reloading of the freight into
i smaller cars.
! Another feature of the yards is
j the large transfer station which is
! operation in connection with the
I classification work. To this station
' are sent the less than carload lot
! shipments sent by nearby farmers
and manufacturers. 'I hese shipments
| are reloaded into carload lots and
1 then shipnod on to their markets.
' As mam* as 1110 carloads are made
i up at this station daily.
UcfriRerator C ars Keiced
' In the heat of summer, when traf
fic in pershable fruits and foodstuffs
is heavy, (-very means must lie tak? n
to orevent spoilage. I o this end. a
lurge reicing plant is operated at
the vards for the refrigerator car>.
When the ,-nss of traffic requires, a
t car ran !<?? reiced every minute ai
I the plant. Sixty-four ear* v??i _???? ??? -
j iccd at one time. On July ?>, jo;>
cars were reired and I,I???,oimi pounds
of ice wa used in the proces.-.
I C?uf Ims'ii l? h "v ' '
should send a carload of pcaehCs to
! a Northern market, and while tin .
j were in transit find that the market
sn that particular city was bad, he
naturally would not want to send Ins
produ< t then "it a falling market, >>
tIn- >iiri|k also op'iate n "holdinir
I yard," ii> nrtlt1 In liartille 'hi* kind of
freight be lnpp-1 mn
the \ n I, .i' .| ^ 1m ? 11 i,( '"'!d
'ill | ! I ! I IItllt I' I ll 't' t i ll'i ' ? I '? t I
111,, t {oil ii 'o the inn''>?'( in hit b
' t ( in I Mlilpped M? ?Hed 11 out
??t f- ? i
Herp T ' ?*' "? ( hh
i li ?. ?t|! | ' litfdt I'll ni! H i t
ii ii I ?r |t i aiHl i = i'?5 >i ?? on ?
. I. i I. . . . .. , a .? Ill ! 11 I.OIflll
ly be "lost." For as Ions: as an hour
sometimes, track of a car is lost, hut
within two hour? it is always ac
; counted for. Through an efficient
cheeking system, officials of the yard
are enabled to keep in ttouch with a
car for every minute of the time that
it is in the yards. Another checking
system enables them at any time to
tell what particular brakeman has
been in charge of any car while it
was on its way to a classification
In order to keep tne cars moving
and in good condition, three repair
shops are kept in continual operation.
Two of them are gicven over to mak
ing light repairs, while in the third
every kind of repair which could be
j necessary on a freight car is also
made, hi addition to repairing the
ears, running repairs are also made
on locomotives.
Thirty engines are used with-n the
yards in switching cars for classifi
: cation.
j "The people of the United States
I ought to be proud of their Army,"
I said President Cuno H. Rudolph, of
! the Board of Commissioners, of the
| District of Columbia, today He ad
; ded that many are now living who
, would undoubtedly have died in the
| Knickerbocker Theater disaster at
' Washington, on January 28th last, in
. which 9fi persons were killed and .150
! injured by the falling of the snow
! covered roof, had it not been for the
| prompt and efficient assistance given
by the Regular troops under Briga
j dier General H. H. Bandholtz. Uni
? ted States Army, who commands the
District of Washington.
i In an official communication em^
bodying this, Mr. Rudolph thanks the
Army for its work in succoring the
injured and bringing out the dead. Hi\
asks that this expresison of the grat
itude of the Commissioners, on behalf
of the citizens, be made of official re
cord. In referring to the work of
the Army, Mr. Rudloph said:
"Every citizen in the District of
Columbia owes a debt of gratitude
to the Army for the prompt, work
; manlike and unselfish manner in
which it responded to the call for help
J during the Knicekrbocker Theater
: disaster?a debt which our people can
1 never repay The Army furnished
hundreds of willing hands and pro
i vided the tools with which they work
led to rescue with all possible speed
' the scores of dead and dying victims
trapped in the mass of snow covered
' wreckage. Just as the Army answer
ed after the Johnston Flood, the Gal
J veston disaster, the San Francisco
Fire, the floods at Dayton and Pueblo?
j and in the recent West Virginia
mine disorders, so its men came to
I the rescue when Washington needed
help the most. It has been reported
to me that the first acetylene torch
I and the gas to work it, the first
jacks, picks and shovels, were ?'< H
! rushed to the scene of suffering in
Quartermaster C orps trucks by
members of that efficient corps,
i nroof that our Army has its mission
in peace as well as in war, and the
' Nation can count on it in the future
| as it has in the past. I thank Clod
i that the Regulars were as close at
hand when thev were so urgently
needed in the Nation's Capital."
j General Bandholltz has supplement
! ed this with a letter to Major Gene
I ral H. L. Rogers, The Quartermaster
Romance Of The Female Stranger
A newspaper of 1819 in paying: tri
bute to an Alexandria Woman, says:
"But for her inherent modesty her
name would be recorded with a pen
of steel." This tribute was well de
served by one who is still remembered
in our community as the "Good
Samaritan." Mrs Stewart was of the
distinguished Ramsay family and lived
on King1 street in a house built on the
property of her grandfather William
Ramsay who was one of the founders
and trustees of Alexandria in 1740.
! Her reputation as a nurse was so well
I established that she was the first per
! son that Dr. Samuel Richards called
I upon to assist him in the care of the
j "Female Stranger." This romance has
j been so embellished with fictitious ad
I ditions, that the real story is known
j to few. In the summer of 1816 the
I father of the writer, then a young
i General, concerning the work of the
j Quartermaster Corps, the big Supply
1 Department of the Army, in which
| he says:
"Every officer of your Corps on
; duty with this command responded
: immediately and effectively, and the
i services of all of them, as well as
j their personnel, is deserving of the
! highest praise. They worked untir
' ingly during the 36 hours of relief
j work and their prompt assistance
? was the direct cause for the saving
of many lives It must be to you a
| cause of much gratification that a!!
; of the members of your Corps up
; held in such a fine manner the tra
j ditions of the United States Auny"
| Every sick room should be kept
j thoroughly clean at all times, but tlie
I less dust is stirred up in cleaning the
(better. Dry sweeping or dusting
j should not be allowed. If ordinary
, brooms and dust cloths arc used they
j should be dampened or the* broom
| covered with damp clothes, hut dust
j less mops and dusters are better still.
I Vaccum cleaning is very desirable be
cause of its efficiency, and the noise,
j which is the only object is not a
t serious drawback in most cases. The
.cleaning of rooms after a eommuni
icable disease must have an article
to itself.
? A sick room must be kept tidy as
' well as clean. The efl'ect of order is
?quieting, hut it must he maintained
j whether the effect upon the patient is
j apparent or not. Food and medicine
i should not be kept in the sick room.
I and all used dishes, tumblers, soiled
i linen and so forth should be removed
jr.t once. Papers should not he left
I lying about.1 I Unnecessary articles
i should not be found in the room at any
rtLne. and every necessary article
j should be kept in its place which
j should be especially adapted to it.
Maintaining order in the sick room
'does not mean that, patients should
j be made uncomfortable by it. All
1 patients, especially old people, want,
'certain possessions within reach and
others within siyht, and t heir Jr^hvw
j should be considered in spile of the
j fact that the aesthetic ell'ect is gen
orally far from good. There are many
small things about the care of the
! room that may well be decided by the
; comfort of the patient. For instance
a per feet ilv smooth bed is a very de
sirable thing ordinarily, hut it is un
! desirable if in order to make it smooth
' the patient must be tucked in s<i
j tightly that he is uncomfortable,
j And it would be .1 seriutis mistake
| to remove an old man's newspaper
I from the room before he had finished
; reading them, even if he persisted in
j strewing them all over the flour. The
j person who t ares for the sick must
! learn to be indulgent to their whims
and to use tact in managing them.
man., was boarding at "Gadsby's Tav
ern" and it is from him the following
story was obtained. It was in the
latter part of July of that year, that
an Englishman and his young wife
arrived at Gadsby's. She was ill?in
the early stages of typhoid fever, and
Dr. Richards was at once called to
her bed side, seeing that it would
prove a case which would require
careful nursing he called in his friend
Mrs. Stewart, who at once responded"
and with all the tenderness of her
kind heart ministered to the little
English woman to the end. The young
stranger was never masked at any
time and those who entered her room
said she was a pretty English woman
evidently of rank. She lingered for
some weeks during which time she
j was carefully nursed by Mrs. Stewart
j am! the husband who was most at
; tentive. He was a handsome and at
i tractive young man, and easily made
! friends with the people at the tavern.
| and it is not credible that in the
|six weeks of his stay, he gave no name,
j Taking advantage of the sympathy
i shown him, he borrowed a considerable
'sum of money from Mr. Lawrence Hill,
i a young Alexandria merchant, an?f
j gave some kind of security that after
wards proved worthless. The end came
at last on the Ith of October, and the
I bereaved husband made preparation
! for the interment. The grave was
made by Henry Powell, a mulatto, in
' the then new cemetery of St. Paul's
Church and the monument was soon
, put in place with the following beau
? tiful inscription:
To the Memory
Female Stranger
Whose Mortal Sufferings
Terminated on the 1th day of
October. J81 *5
Aired 2.*> years and S months
This stone is ereeted by her dis
: consulate husband in whose arms she
breathed out her last, sigh and who
i under (Jod. did his utmost, to soothe
I the cold dull ear of death.
How loved how honored once avails
j thee not
! To whom related. or by whom begot;
j A heap of dust alone remains of thee
: Tis' all thou art. jind all the proud
i shall be.
"To whom gave all the prophets wit
ness that through his name, whoso
ever believeth (ill Him shall receive
remission of sins."
Soon after the funeral the afflicted
j widower bid :i grateful farewell to his
;manv sympathizers, and leaving all
his bill-; unpaid was seen no more. The
i tradition of his returning each year
j to visit the crave is absolutely wji!1
; out substantiation. Some years after
, this occurrence. Mr. Lawrence Hill
! went to New York to enter into busi
? ness with his uncle Mr. Robert Mc
i ('rea. formerly a merchant at Alexan
! ilria. Mr. Hill had occasion to visit
? Sing Sing, and while going through
i the prison he was accosted with cheer
; !'ul etVrontrv by one of the prisoners,
: who said "you don't remember me
Mr. Hill." Turning he recognized his
! former friend "The Stranger" On in
j (juiry of the prison authorities, the
only information elicited was. that the
j ronvict. was an educated Englishman.
, imprisoned for forgery and theft, but
j that he had many aliases, his real
, name hau never been ascertained. This
is all that is know!! of the Alexan
dria romance, but as years rolled on
' !it<- once beautiful tomb became the
prey of vandals, inside 'he few iron
tails left, grew the wild Ailanthus tree
obscuring the sepulcher with its moss
I grown inscription. Seme years ago 3
I charitable gentleman published a little
? fancy sketch of the "Female Stranger"
fioin the sale of which the tomb was
restored to something of its former
condition. It is now cared for by the
superintendent of St. Paul's Cemetery.
Manufacturer and Dealer in
Ranges and Furnaces. Roofing Guttering and Spouting
Metal Ceilings
No. fiOft S. \V. Corner King and St. Asaph Streets
Alexandria, Virginia.

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