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DID YOU KNOW, June 2023


June 5th - Ties Between the Free Lance-Star and Dahlgren Naval Base


You probably know that the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star includes King George in its area of coverage. However, there are other, stronger ties between the paper and the base.

As a brief history, The Free Lance and The Fredericksburg Daily Star, although published by the same owner beginning in 1900, were separate papers until 1926, when Josiah P. Rowe, Jr., combined them into The Free Lance-Star. Rowe, a World War I fighter pilot, owned and operated the paper until his death in 1949, when his sons Josiah P. Rowe, III, and Charles S. Rowe inherited the paper and worked as co-publishers and editors. Charles worked at the paper for 48 years, selling his half of the business to his brother when he retired in 1997, and Josiah continued on until he retired in 2010 and the paper was sold in 2014.


We know from the January 28, 1960, edition of The Dahlgren Laboratory Log that Charles was “a Reserve Lieutenant Commander and a member of Naval Ordnance Company 5-10, composed mainly of Dahlgren personnel” and that he gave a luncheon talk about running a newspaper to a Dahlgren management group.


Dahlgren Heritage Foundation President Ed Jones, who worked as managing editor under Charles Rowe, was also with The Free Lance-Star for 48 years, beginning as an intern and spending time as a radio host, film critic, reporter, and editorial page editor.


Included in their list of credentials, both Charles and Ed served as president of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association, were leaders of the Virginia Press Association, and served multiple times as jurors for the Pulitzer Prize.


In addition, Ed Jones spent the first 18 years of his life growing up on the Navy base at Dahlgren.



June 12th - The Settle Family and Westmoreland News


Last week’s fact talked about ties between The Free-Lance Star and the Dahlgren naval base. While all of the local area newspapers covered the big stories, some even covered details that we would never think of including in a newspaper today.


The July 7, 1950, issue of Westmoreland News reported members of the Settle family visiting each other:


"Saturday Mr. and Mrs. James C. Settle, Fax and Mary Ashton Settle came down to the Settle home here. Fax and Mary had been visiting Mr. and Mrs. Settle in Washington and were with them here until Sunday, when Mr. and Mrs. Healy Settle, of Dahlgren, came down for them. They all returned to their homes Sunday evening."


Healy Settle was the Dahlgren School principal with the longest tenure. To learn more about him, read the second installment of our featured "Now You Know" article for June and July.


If you join us for our June 22nd forum, you will probably hear more about him and other prominent figures as panelists reminisce about their experiences in growing up on the base.



June 19th - Ed Jones and the Dahlgren School 8th Grade Promotion Ceremony


Last Thursday, Dahlgren Heritage Foundation President Ed Jones gave the speech for the 8th grade promotion ceremony at Dahlgren School, 61 years after his own ceremony there in 1962. Although he did not reprise his role as Ichabod Crane for the event, he explained that that experience taught him that “maybe, just maybe, [his] comfort zone is bigger than [he] thought.”

Speaking on the theme of transitions, recognizing that “they can be challenging and even a little scary” he reminded the students that “transitions are the way we learn.” Jones spoke of Gladys West and the transitions she went through in her life and her career at Dahlgren: “A career that started in rural, segregated isolation in Southside Virginia, that continued with professional success at Dahlgren, ended up with global recognition by a queen.” He also spoke of his own career and how his experiences at Dahlgren School taught him “not only math, history, and English, but also how to set goals…and help build community.”


Quoting one of Gladys West’s favorite lines by poet Mary Oliver, “Always keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable,” he urged the audience: “Follow your dream! Think big! Prepare to be uncomfortable now and then. Use not only your head but your heart.”


Ed Jones, who grew up on base, will be leading this week’s forum, “Through a Child’s Eyes.” We hope to see you there!



June 26th - New Exhibit “The Dahlgren Way: King George County and the Naval Weapons Laboratory (1945-1974)"


Besides the successful Forum the Dahlgren Heritage Museum held last Thursday on "Through a Child's Eyes" with a panel of guests who shared their stories of growing up on the Base, did you know that there is a new set of panels at UMW Dahlgren documenting the challenges and changes shaping the future of the Base for the years 1945-1974? These panels were created by Dr. Cristina Turdean's spring semester 2023 exhibits class at the University of Mary Washington.


Want to know the details? To learn them – and so much more – visit the new exhibit “The Dahlgren Way: King George County and the Naval Weapons Laboratory (1945-1974) at the UMW Dahlgren Campus.


Although their usual business hours are from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday, their hours are contingent upon the academic and event schedule. You can verify the hours for the day of your visit by calling (540) 663-4030. Please be mindful that classes may be in session during your visit.

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