Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Newspaper Tidbits: Haunting Prince William?

January 4, 1873 – Alexandria Gazette

PRINCE WILLIAM ITEMS. –  It is rumored that a ghost of a departed has been seen in this place, causing considerable commotion among some of our people.  We have made some inquiries in regard to the matter but cannot get any particulars about its appearance.

December 15, 1868 – Alexandria Gazette

A GHOST – OR SOMETHING – IN PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VA., Dec. 12.—It becomes my duty to chronicle a most singular and extraordinary series of nocturnal visitations on the part of some ghostly apparition, to the farm of one, who I shall call Silas Brown, esq., a peaceable and intelligent citizen of this county.  Mr. Brown lives in what is known as the forest of Prince William, near the village of Independent Hill, and his residence I completely surrounded with the growth indigenous to that section of the county.

For the past few weeks visions of an alarming character have been seen in the neighboring forest, but more particularly in the copse adjacent to Mr. Brown's barn and stable.  At numbers of times has an immense figure been seen passing to and fro near the barn, with large horns and terrible claws which it contacts to a sort of hoof, and has assaulted Mr. Brown when he attempted after dark to feed his horses and stock, in such a manner, and with such violence, that he has been compelled to flee to his house for safety.  The figure, to the best of Mr. Brown's recollection, seemed about three times as large as a man in its front, and having a back converging from its neck and shoulders, horizontally to the distance of some six or eight feet, and supplied on each side with huge and tremendous arms.  It is of a pale blueish color when first seen, but upon being irritated by the near approach of any person, becomes a deadly white, and issues from its surface a small volume of smoke, accompanied with a sickening smell.  This ghoul or unnatural and horrible animal or demon, has been seen as often as four times near Mr. Brown's stable, and when seen, it has lingered till its deadly effluvia has completely impregnated the surrounding atmosphere.  One evening Mr. Brown desiring to have another beside himself see this terrible visitant, induced a courageous gentleman whom I shall call Siger, who happened with his wife to spend the evening at Mr. Brown's, to go to the stable to feed his horses.  Mr. Siger not believing the story, went without hesitation, when upon entering the stable, he was alarmed by the fall, at or near his feet, with a deep rumbling sound, of a tremendous stone.  Mr. Siger, without looking to see whence the rock came, picked the stone up, and it was so hot that he was compelled to drop it; upon looking up he beheld the unearthly monster not over fifty yards from him, and the air became quickly filled and inoculated with brimstone. (!)  Not wishing to be thought a coward, he did not mention anything of this at the house, but upon walking home with his wife the same night, he told her of what happened at the stable, and instantly she became alarmed and was carried home in a state of apparent insensibility.

The neighborhood is in a terrible state of excitement, and steps have been taken to investigate this frightening matter.

By your next issue it may be possible that some clue can be gained to the identity and character of this hideous monster.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Newspaper Tidbits: Storms in PWCo

June 22, 1860 – Alexandria Gazette

SEVERE HAIL STORM IN PRINCE WILLIAM.—The hail storm of Tuesday last passed over that part of Prince William county between Bacon Race and Dumfries, doing great damage to the growing crops.  The hail stones are said to have been as large as partridge eggs; and the storm lasted about an hour and a half.  Among the principal sufferers are R. B. Merchant, whose loss is estimated at from $500 to $1,000.  A building occupied by the servants of W. H. A. Merchant was blown over by the wind, which was very high.  Warren Davis's crop of wheat and corn is very much damaged—his loss is estimated at 4500.  Richard Stonnell's loss to his crop is about $500.  Z. Kankey had nearly his entire corn crop destroyed and loses about $1000.  The gardens in the village of Dumfries were completely destroyed, and all the inhabitants of the village suffer more or less loss.  The crops all along the path of the storm were very much injured.

May 24, 1874 – Alexandria Gazette

During the thunder storm on Saturday last, a large locust tree, in Mr. John T. Leachman's front yard was struck by lightning, tearing it into fragments and throwing the debries  on and over the house.  Several members of Mr. Leachman's family were very much shocked.  So great was the shock that articles in the house were thrown down.  The rain was very heavy in that section, raising the streams unusually high, and washing away water gaps fencing & c.  Lightning also struck a tree near the house of Mr. Mankins, a quarter of a mile outside the village, and severely stunned his daughter.

Friday, October 26, 2012


February 10, 1846
Alexandria Gazette

AUCTION SALES. PUBLIC SALE OF LAND. By virtue of a decree of the County Court of Prince William, appointing me Trustee in the place of Barnaby Cannon, dec'd, in a deed of trust from Henry C. Slade to said Cannon for the benefit of John Gibson and John Macrae, I will proceed to offer at public sale to the highest bidder, before the front door of the Court-house in Brentsville, on Monday the 6th of April next, that being the 1st day of the April term of the County Court, to be held for said County, a valuable estate, in the aforesaid county, situated about six miles from the town of Dumfries, six from the Potomac river, eight from the Occoquan Mills—twenty two or three miles from Alexandria, and well known as the BELL AIR, and Keefe tract, lately owned by Dr. Davis of Dumfries. This valuable estate, formerly the property of Henry C. Slade and Col. Ewell, contains about six hundred and fifty acres, but will be sold in gross and without reference to quantity. It is one of the most comfortable estates in the lower part of the county, consisting principally of red land, containing a large quantity of low grounds on Neabsco Creek, susceptible of ready and extensive improvement, and about two hundred and fifty acres of fuel, pine and timber sufficiently near the Potomac to be boated to the District.--It is well watered, situated in a healthy neighborhood convenient to the Potomac trade and fisheries, and capable of convenient division into two or more farms. The improvements, besides some out-houses, consist of a large brick DWELLING-HOUSE, with several rooms on each floor, which at an inconsiderable expense can be suited to the purposes of a large family. The purchaser will be required to pay in cash the sum of four hundred dollars, and to secure by bonds, and a deed of trust on the premises, the deferred payments, which will be divided into two equal instalments carrying interest from the day of sale, and payable respectively in one and two years. No estate so convenient to the District offers such a field for speculation.

WM. M. WALLACE, Trustee
Prince William County, Va, feb 10—eots

Bel Air circa 1933
(Library of Congress Historic America Buildings Survey (HABS))
[In April 2012, Bel Air Mansion went up for auction once again. Built by Major Charles Ewell, a friend of George Washington, it is Prince William County's oldest home. Maria Stewart, wife of PWCo Board of County Supervisor's Chairman Corey A. Stewart, placed the winning bid.]

November/December Programs at PW Historic Sites

November 3
Potomac River Blockade Boat Tours
10am–1pm; $30 per person; reservations required
Cruise along the Potomac River shoreline and view sites that were critical to the Confederate forces’ successful blockade of Washington D.C. from September 1861 through March 1862. Local historians will discuss the significance of the blockade, gun batteries and camps that supported the Confederate efforts. The cruise will include the preserved batteries at Freestone Point and Possum Nose, as well as Evansport and Shipping Point. Tour includes lunch.  No pets please. Not appropriate for children under six. Please call 703-792-4754 for more information and reservations.

November 17  
Open-Hearth Cooking Class at Brentsville
10am – 1pm, $40 per person; space limited, reservations required.
Gear up for the Thanksgiving season by learning the skills of open-hearth cooking. Join an experienced open-hearth cooking historian and learn the basic skills needed to prepare food over an open fire. You will learn how to build a fire then prepare and cook three different dishes. End the program by enjoying a taste of the food you cooked. Class will take place in the ca. 1850 Haislip Farmhouse. 
Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre. 12227 Bristow RoadBristow VA 703-365-7895

November 17
The Revolution Comes to Rippon
11am – 4pm, FREE
In 1774 Prince William County Resolved that no person shall be taxed without their consent. A first act against the King.  Rippon Lodge was home to Thomas Blackburn, a Patriot of the American Revolution. 
Revolutionary war soldiers will be camped at Rippon Lodge. See camp life, drill with soldiers, sample camp food, and join the ranks.  Activities and crafts for kids will take place throughout the day.  
Rippon Lodge Historic Site 15520 Blackburn RdWoodbridge VA  703-499-9812

December 8
Slave Holidays
5 pm-7 pm; $10 per person
Learn how the enslaved community celebrated the holidays and how they resisted the institution that kept them enslaved. Living history vignettes will allow some of the enslaved workers at Ben Lomond to come to life, giving you a  unique perspective into this period of American history.  Tours every 30 minutes.  Advanced reservations are suggested but not required.
Ben Lomond Historic Site. 10321 Sudley Manor Dr, Manassas VA  703-367-7872

December 8
A 1940s Christmas                                       
11am–4pm; $7 per person, children under 6 free
What were holiday celebrations like during WWII?  When ration cards and air raid drills were common place.  The Ellis family hosted many a party here at the Lodge during the war.  Join us for music, light refreshments and holiday crafts for kids.  Please dress for the weather.     
Rippon Lodge Historic Site. 15520 Blackburn RdWoodbridge VA 703-499-9812

December 8
Family History Day- History of Santa Claus and the Gift Giver
11am– 4pm; $7 per person
We all know the gift giver as Santa Claus, Saint Nick, Sinter Klaas . . .  there is a gift giver in many cultures.  Learn about the customs and traditions of this mysterious fellow who brings gifts to children.  Crafts, games and stories will be offered throughout the day. 
Rippon Lodge Historic Site. 15520 Blackburn RdWoodbridge VA 703-499-9812

December 15 
Brentsville Christmas 
4pm – 7pm; Free (charge for pictures with Santa)
Join students from Brentsville High School in celebrating the holidays at Brentsville Historic Centre.  Enjoy seasonal music in the historic Union church, enjoy cider and roast marshmallows by a roaring fire and stop by the Ca. 1822 courthouse for a picture with Santa.  This program is free with a nominal charge for photographs.  Stop by from 4-7pm to welcome in the Yuletide Season.
Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre. 12227 Bristow RoadBristow VA 703-365-7895

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

James James aka "Double Jimmy"

Dodge City Times
April 20, 1876

Born in 1764. James James, or "Double Jimmy," as he is more familiarly called, lives on a farm twelve miles south of Weatherford, Parker County, Texas, with his daughter, Mrs. Nancy Wheat, 63 years of age. This old gentleman was born near the Red House, in Prince William County, Virginia, May 10, 1764. His father resided on a plantation near the Potomac, adjoining Lawrence Washington's. Mr. James has seen Washington often at his father's house. He and his brothers were in the war of 1812. Mr. James was a "jack of all trades," as he says he learned to be a carpenter, bricklayer, stonemason, blacksmith, painter and tinsmith. During his long life he has never been one month in bed with sickness. Mr. James was married in Virginia soon after attaining his majority, and raised a family of ten boys and five girls. Leaving his native State some years after the war, he settled in Roan County, Tenn. From that place he moved to Lauderdale County, Ala., thence to White county, Ark., and in 1848, came to Dallas County, Tex., in his 84th year. He continued his residence there until 1872, when, in his 108th year, he selected, as he says, Parker County to spend his old days in. in his 109th year he cultivated an acre patch of watermelons in Parker County, and raised the finest brought to market. He realized $125 from this crop. Mr. James talks very well and his hearing is pretty good. ~Galveston News

Galveston Weekly News
January 6, 1879

Weatherford Times: James James, a resident of Parker county, died at the residence of his daughter, in Young county, on December 2d. He is believed to be the oldest citizen in Texas, or perhaps in the United States. He was born near the Red House, in Prince William county, Va., May 10, 1764, and consequently lived to the age of 114 years, 6 months and 22 days. James James, or “Double Jimmy,” as he was familiarly called, was a hard-working man all his life. In his 100th year he cultivated an acre patch of watermelons in Parker county, and raised the finest brought to market. Smythe's Historical Sketch of Waterford and Parker Counties says that his acre crop realized him $125.

From the Prince William County Historical Marker Guide:

Colonial Roads (78)
Fayette Road and Washington Street, Haymarket
The town of Haymarket, chartered in 1799, owes its location to the
junction of the Old Carolina Road and the north branch of the
Dumfries Road at the site of the Red House. The Carolina Road
developed from the Iroquois hunting path which was abandoned by
the Indians after 1772, when they were forced by treaty beyond the
Blue Ridge. The Dumfries Road was in use as a major trade route
between the Potomac and the Shenandoah Valley before 1740.

[“Double Jimmy” is buried in Gooseneck Cemetery in Young County, Texas. The “Red House” referred to in the newspaper articles was an ordinary erected by William Skinker, son of Samuel Skinker, built of large red brick . Thomas Jefferson's 1787 map of the region names the locality “Red House.” Today it is better known as Haymarket.]

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Primitive Baptist Church, Independent Hill

The Primitive Baptist Church at the corner of Aden and Joplin Roads in Independent Hill is no longer standing but the cemetery remains.

Wife of E. Cheshire
Apr 7, 1840
Dec 13, 1901
(Footstone:  MJC)

Born Mar 14, 1862
Died Mar 21, 1913
Gone But Not Forgotten
(Footstone:  MC)

Born July 20, 1870
Died Dec 31, 1908
38 years 5 mos & 11 das
(Footstone:  EHG)

Wife of
George W. Lowe
Died Jan 1920
Age 85 years
At Rest

Born Jan 4, 1908
Died Mar 30, 1910

Born Jun 3, 1842
Died Feb 3, 1914

Born Mar 11, 1827
Died Nov 10, 1906
(Footstone:  MNL)
[Note:  This is Mortimer N. Lynn]

Born July 18, 1835
Died June 25, 1911
(Footstone:  VGL)
[Note: Virginia (Holmes) Lynn, M.N. Lynn's wife]

At Rest Sister With God
(Footstone:  Sister)
[Note:  daughter of M.N. & Virginia Lynn; first married James W.
Lee; remarried William H. Holmes]

LULU C. His Wife
(2 Footstones:  Father / Mother)

[Note:  daughter of M.N. & Virginia Lynn]

August 1, 1872
March 20, 1967
At Rest
(Footstone:  Mother)

Born March 7, 1838
Died Feb 28, 1910
(Footstone:  RHK)

Wife of R.H. Keys
Born 1853
Died Feb 28, 1910