Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chancery Order of Publication

You've probably seen a few of these when browsing the Notices section of your local newspaper.  Then, as now, Chancery and other estate and court proceedings were published so that all parties could be made aware of the Order (especially if they were out of State or hard to locate).

This Order of Publication concerned a chancery case between James Lawrence Cole, Executor of Jane Cole, deceased (his mother and my gggreat-grandmother) versus S. B. Howell and M.C. Howell.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Will: Richard Gray

Prince William County Will Book H, pg. 493
20 Nov 1798; proved 6 Dec 1802

In the name of God amen I RICHARD GRAY of County of Prince William & State of Virginia being very sick of body but perfect sound mind and memory and calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is once appointed for all men to die do make this my last will and testament and do devise and dispose of what it hath pleased God to bless with in this life in the following manner and form as follows Viz.

And first of all I recommend my soul to God that first gave it me nothing doubting but I shall receive the same at the General Resurrection at the last day & my body to be buryed in Christian manner at the discretion of my Executors whom hereafter I shall appoint.

Item.  I give and bequeath unto my loving wife MARY GRAY all & every part of my estate as it now stands both real and personally during her natural life and at her death as follows. 

Item I give & bequeath unto my loving son WILLIAM GRAY one negro man named ADAM one negro boy named ANTHONY & one negro girl named JANNEY to him and his heirs for ever.

Item I give and bequeath unto my loving son JAMES GRAY one negro woman named SARAH and one negro boy named DANIEL but if the above mentioned negro woman SARAH should have any more children hereafter they are to be equally divided between my son RICHARD GRAY and my son JAMES GRAY but at the death of my son RICHARD GRAY the hole of them with increas is to return to my son JAMES GRAY forever and as to my least lott of lands whereon I now live and my stock of every kind and my houshold and kitchen furniture and plantation & essentials my just debts are justly to be paid out of them and at the death of my wife the lott of land stock of every kind house hold furniture of every kind and plantation essentials of every kind is to be equally divided between my three sons WILLIAM GRAY, RICHARD GRAY, and JAMES GRAY as to my five children that are married and gone from me I have given them their parts allready that is to say my daughter ELLENDER NELSON & my son BENJAMIN GRAY & my son SAMUEL GRAY and my son CHARLES GRAY and my daughter EMLEY CALVERT and I do hereby appoint and ordain my son WILLIAM GRAY my son RICHARD GRAY & my son JAMES GRAY my whole & sole Executors of this my last will and testament and do hereby revoke disannul and disallow all & every bequeath or bequest legacy will or testament before this time mentioned ratifying and confirming this and kno other as witness my hand & seal this 20th day of November 1798.

RICHARD [his mark] GRAY  {seal}



Interlined before signed

At a Court Held for Prince William County the 6th day of December 1802.

This last will and testament of RICHARD GRAY decd. was presented to the Court and being proved by the oath of SAMUEL JACKSON & was ordered to be recorded WM. And JAMES GRAY given as Executors.



Ct Cur

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Did You Know?

Like most Virginia counties, birth and death records for Prince William no longer exist between 1896 and June 1912.   Only the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, and Richmond have records spanning those dates.  That's not to say that you'll never find out when your ancestor was born or died if the event falls somewhere during that time period.  Fortunately, there are other sources for those records, like family Bibles, church records, cemetery records, draft cards, marriage bans, and obituaries.

Washington Times (DC)
March 17, 1897

An old man named J. Werner, living near Independent Hill, in Prince William county, yesterday evening drank a portion of a bottle of liniment, which had been given him by an acquaintance named Rosebury, and died from the effects of the dose before a physician could be summoned.

The Free Lance (Fredericksburg, VA)
March 30, 1901

Mrs. Kate Latimer, who died in Prince William county Monday, was buried at the Manassas cemetery Wednesday.  She was the only daughter of M. B. Sinclair, for many years clerk of the courts of Prince William county.

The Free Lance (Fredericksburg, VA)
March 4, 1905

Miss Carrie Patterson, formerly of Prince William county, died in Alexandria Thursday, aged 18.  The remains were sent to Quantico for interment.

Times Dispatch (Richmond, VA)
February 9, 1911

Alexandria, VA. February 8 – Rev. William D. Delaney of Portsmouth, was the celebrant of mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church this morning at the funeral of his father, Dennis W. Delaney, who died Sunday last at Hoadly, Prince William county.  Rev. Martin O'Donoghue, of Washington, was deacon and Rev. H. J. Cutler, of this city, was subdeacon.  Burial was made in St. Mary's Cemetery.

The Washington Times (DC)
February 9, 1911

The funeral of Ida Virginia Brawner, widow of John P. Brawner, who died at her residence, 113 South Alfred street, yesterday, will be held from the family residence tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 o'clock, the Rev. Edgar Carpenter, of Grace Church, conducting the services.  Interment will be made at Bethel Cemetery.

Mrs. Brawner was the daughter of John A. Stonnell, and a native of Prince William county, although she has lived in Alexandria for many years.  She is survived by three sons, Philip Brawner, George Brawner, and Emory Brawner, and one daughter, Mrs. Effie Clements.  She was fifty-five years of age.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Marriage License: Edgar Lee Moler and Olive E. Long

This marriage license between Edgar Lee Moler and Olive E. Long, daughter of Simeon and Margaret Long of Independent Hill, was Exhibit A in a 1921 chancery case in Prince William County.  Mrs. Moler (aged 34) was suing for divorce from her husband because he "gambled and staid away from home all the time." 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

150 Years Ago Today

Virginia Ordinance of Secession

April 17, 1861

To Repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution:

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the 25th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eight-eight, having declared that the powers granted them under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.

Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the Ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that the said Constitution of the United State of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.

This Ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this State, cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule hereafter to be enacted.

Done in Convention, in the city of Richmond, on the seventeenth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and in the eighty-fifth year of the Commonwealth of Virginia

Sec'y of Convention.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Will: Basil Brawner (1817)

After posting yesterday's newspaper account regarding the Sad Accident at Alexandria to Basil Brawner in 1891, I thought I'd share this Will of another (older) Basil Brawner.

Prince William County Will Book L, pg 95
24 Jun 1813; proved 01 Dec 1817

In the name of God Amen I BASIL BRAWNER of the County of Prince William & State of Virginia being in good health of body and of sound and disposing mind and memory and being desirous to settle my worldly affairs whilst I have strength and capacity so to do, do make and publish this my last will and testament in form and manner following.  Viz:  1st I give and devise to my son WILLIAM BRAWNER the tract of land which I purchased of JAMES KEMPE and on which he the said WILLIAM now lives to his own proper use and behoof forever also I give and bequeath to him a negro boy named NED now in his possession.  2nd I give and devise to my son JOHN BRAWNER two tracts or parcels of land Viz the one on which I now live being the tract which I bought of MILTON and the one on which he the said JOHN BRAWNER now lives being the tract which I purchased of MARJORAM, these tracts of land I do devise to his own proper use and behoof forever together with a negro girl named CELIA now in his possession.  3rd To my daughter SARAH GAINES I give and bequeath two negro girls named HANNAH & MARY already in her possession, also one horse valued $50.  4th to my daughter NANCY GAINS I give and bequeath negro girl DINAH and negro boy JEERRY already in her possession.  5th The remainder of my estate I leave and will to be equally divided amongst my children and lastly considering the tract of land above devised to my son WILLIAM as being more valuable than the two parcels herein devised to my son JOHN, I do hereby will and determine that in case I should die before the payment for said tract is fully made that the said WILLIAM be bound in his person and effects to complete the same.  In witness whereof I have here unto set my hand and affixed my seal this  day of December in the year of our lord one thousand eight hundred and twelve.

Witness present.

My will & desire is that there shall be another crop made at each place beside the present crop growing before a division of the estate shall take place & the money arising from the sales of the said crops shall be appropriated to the payment of my debts.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand affixed my seal this 24th day of June 1813.


Signed, sealed, delivered and acknowledged as & for my last will & testament


At a Court held for Prince William County Decemr. 1st 1817.  This last will and testament of BASIL BRAWNER decd. was presented to the Court and being proved by the oath of DADE HOOE and the handwriting of GEORGE GRAHAM a witness thereto who is dead being proved by the oath of CHS. EWELL and the handwriting of WM. H. WINTER another subscribing witness thereto who is absent without the Commonwealth of Virginia was proved by the oath of NATHAN HAISLIP and is ordered to be recorded and administration with the will annexed of BASIL BRAWNER decd is granted to JOHN BRAWNER who took the oath of an administrator and entered into and acknowledged a bond with security according to law.

Teste, PHIL. D. DAWE

Friday, April 15, 2011

Newspaper Tidbit

Richmond Dispatch
June 23, 1891

SAD ACCIDENT AT ALEXANDRIA. A Runaway Results in the Mortal Injury of Colonel Basil Brawner.

ALEXANDRIA, Va, June 22. - A runaway near the Fayette and King-street crossing this morning led to the mortal injury of Colonel Basil Brawner and the serious bruising of Mr. W. C. Richards.  Mr. Richards was driving his wagon on King street about 9 o'clock this morning when a passing train on the Washington Southern railway frightened his horse, which ran upon the sidewalk between Fayette and Payne street and struck the venerable Mr. Brawner, who was tottering along the sidewalk.  Mr. Brawner's head was driven against the wall and his skull fractured.

Mr. Richards was struck by a stove which was in the wagon and seriously but not fatally hurt.

Colonel Basil Brawner was about ninety years of age.  He had in other days been a prominent man in Virginia, having represented Prince William county in the Legislature and filled many other public stations.  Since the war he has resided here, and his venerable figure, bent with age, has been a familiar sight on the principal streets of this city.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Prince William Historic Preservation

Here's the Summer 2011 issue of the PW Historic Preservation Newsletter, which includes a calendar of events for the 150th commemoration of the start of the Civil War. 

If you have any questions about the Historic Preservation Division or would like more information, please contact their main office via e-mail at  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Newspaper Tidbit

Alexandria Gazette
January 12, 1903

Four Virginia physicians, one from Alexandria and the other three from near there, have just been appointed assistant surgeons to serve in the navy for three years.  They are Dr. Julian T. Miller, of Alexandria; Dr. Walter H. Janney, of Occoquan; Dr. Harry W. Judd, of Culpeper, and Dr. Walter P. Keene, of Brentsville.  All of them passed excellent examinations and all of them were highly recommended by Congressman Rixey, of the Eighth district.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

WWII: Old Man's Draft

My grandfather, Earl(e) Lynn, is one of my most elusive ancestors when it comes to finding information.  I'm anxiously awaiting next year's release of the 1940 Federal census so that I can follow him one step further.  I know that somewhere between 1930 and 1940, he divorced (or left) my grandmother and left Rockingham county, Virginia.  But where did he go?

When I posed that question to the RELIC staff, I was asked, "Have you checked the Old Man's Draft?"

The what??   I had no idea what he was talking about.

Perhaps you, too, are hearing that term for the very first time. 

Unlike the Selective Service Draft that was signed into law after the attack on Pearl Harbor, draft cards from the Fourth Registration were only submitted by men between 45 and 64 years of age.  Hence the term "old man's draft."

When I found it, the registration card told me that on April 24, 1942, Earl Lynn was 50 years of age, born Oct. 11, 1891 in Independent Hill, Virginia.  He was white, 5'7", 130 lbs, with black eyes, brown hair, and a ruddy complexion.  He registered in Kecoughtan, Elizabeth City, Virginia (in the Hampton Roads area).  The "name and address of person who will always know" him is Thomas H. Easton, Elkton, Virginia.  Now I know for a fact where he went and have a few more breadcrumbs to follow.

More information on the "Old Man's Draft" and a searchable database can be found here, at  (NOTE:  You must be an Ancestry member to see the actual record.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Free Civil War Records (for a limited time)

Check it out! is offering free access to records in their Civil War collection until April 14th.

According to the site:

What is this collection?

Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers labeled with each soldier's name, rank, and unit, with links to revealing documents about each soldier. Collections include records for soldiers from over 50 territories and states.

What can I find?
  • Returns, rosters, payrolls, appointment books, hospital registers
  • Union prison registers and rolls
  • Parole rolls
  • Inspection reports
  • Originals of any papers relating solely to a particular soldier
  • Military unit

Thursday, April 7, 2011

PWCo. Calendar: Upcoming Events at Historic Sites

April 10           
Slavery on Sunday Tours
11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.; $7 per person, free for children under six
            Staff will provide unique hands-on tours about slavery on Sundays.  Learn about the various activities that the enslaved community at Ben Lomond would have taken place here on Sundays.  See the farm and house through the eyes of those who were enslaved and kept the plantation running.  Tours begin on the hour.  Last tour at 3 pm. 
Ben Lomond Historic Site, 10321 Sudley Manor Drive, Manassas, VA 20109; (703) 367-7872

April 16           
Easter in Historic Brentsville
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.; $5 per child, free for children under two
     Children will participate in an Easter egg hunt and play games and make crafts that children might have done in the 19th century. 
Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre, 12229 Bristow Road, Bristow, VA 20136, (703) 365-7895

April 16           
Nature Trail Walk
1:00 p.m.; $5 per person, free for children under six
     Take a guided tour along the nature trails at Brentsville and learn about plants and animals that live in this part of Virginia. 
Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre, 12229 Bristow Road, Bristow, VA 20136, (703) 365-7895

April 23
Spring Egg Hunt at Rippon Lodge
11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.; $7 per child, free for children under two
     Spring has sprung and colorful eggs have been hidden all over the grounds of Rippon Lodge.  Children are needed to help us hunt them up.  In addition to egg hunts, children can enjoy crafts, games and other activities.  Bring a basket for egg collecting.  Last egg hunt begins at 3 pm.  Outdoor activity.  Please dress for the weather.  Advanced registration recommended.
Rippon Lodge Historic Site, 15520 Blackburn Road, Woodbridge VA 22192, (703)499-9812

April 28
Keeping Time 
7:00 p.m.; Free
     April is the month we usually prepare to turn our clocks forward for daylight savings time.  Time is kept on a standard today that simply did not exist in 1861.  Join historian and author Art Candenquist for a unique and informative lecture on how time was kept during the American Civil War.
Old Manassas Courthouse, 9248 Lee Avenue, Manassas, VA 20110, (703) 792-5618

Flyer: Brentsville Civil War 150th Anniversary Weekend

Click on the thumbnail for the full flyer.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Another Newspaper Tidbit

The Commoner (Lincoln, Nebraska)
March 27, 1903

TWO FLINT LOCK PISTOLS WHICH WERE owned by George Washington are the subject of a dispute as to ownership and incidentally to the settlement of an estate in Prince William county, Virginia.  A writer in the Kansas City Journal says that the weapons, which are a perfectly matched pair, are in the possession of Miss Monnie Marsteller, who lives in Washington.  Some time before his death, General Washington gave the pistols to Mr. Dandridge, hsi secretary, and when Mr. Dandridge died, they were disposed of at public sale with the rest of his effects, under the direction of Bushrod Washington.  The grandfather of Miss Marsteller bought the weapons , and in due time he left them to his son, Samuel A. Marsteller, of Prince William county, Virginia.  Samuel was the father of Miss Monnie, and when he died, a short time ago, one of her brothers brought the pistols to her and said that she should have them.  Other relatives, however, have insisted upon forcing a sale of the property left behind by Samuel, and a suit, with this end in view, has been brought in the circuit court of Prince William county.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Newspaper Tidbit

 The (Richmond) Times
August 24, 1890

Alexandria, Va, Aug. 23 - [special] - Invitations were out for a wedding to take place in Prince William county to-morrow, the contracting parties being Mr. Gummy Cole and Miss Addie Holmes, who have been considered engaged for a long time.  But of late Miss Addie has been accepting the attentions of a certain old widower, but nothing serious was thought of it until one night recently, when the couple were seen going towards Bakersville to take the train for Washington.  When passing out of the house Miss Holmes said she was merely going out in the yard, and her mother had no suspicion aroused until several days had elapsed.  The couple are now Mr. and Mrs. Halsey Reid.  The bride is of seventeen summers, while the groom has two children already.  Late advices from Manassas say that they have not returned from their honeymoon yet.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Will: William Brown

Prince William County Will Book I, pg. 319
08 Jan 1807; proved 02 Feb 1807

In the name of God Amen I WILLIAM BROWN of Prince William County being sick tho of sound memory do make and ordain this my last will and testament.  First it is my will and desire that after all my just debts and funeral expenses are paid it is my will and desire that my Executors pay to ANN EVANS twenty five pounds it being a sum due her for her services.  Item I give to my son JOHN BROWN all that tract of land in said County of Prince William lying in Tarripin Forest containing four hundred & eighty acres be the same more or less I give to the sd. JOHN BROWN and his heirs forever.

Item I give to my son THOMAS BROWN the lands whereon I now live containing one hundred and ninety six acres be the same more or less I give the same to my said son THOMAS BROWN & his heirs forever having given to my daughter MARY ANNE TEBBS two negroes named SARAH and STEFNY one horse and a feather bed and furniture shall not give her any thing more.  Item its my will and desire that the remainder of my estate of every kind whatever consisting of one thousand acres of land in the state of Kentucky fourteen slaves and their increase stocks of every kind household & kitchen furniture plantation utensils money debts due me and every thing else to me belonging or which I have a right to be equally divided amongst my three children to wit my son JOHN BROWN my son THOMAS BROWN and my daughter LYDDA BURN and each childs part I give to him or her and him and her heirs forever.  I constitute and appoint my two sons JOHN BROWN THOMAS BROWN and my son in law URIAH BURN my Executors of this my last Will and Testament.  In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affix my seal this eight day of January 1807.


Signed sealed published and declared before us


At a Court held for Prince William County Feby 2nd 1807

This last will & testament of WM. BROWN decd was presented to the Court by URIAH BYRNE and of the EXORS therein named who made oath thereto according to law and the same being proved by the oaths of FRANCIS MONTGOMERY, GRIFFIN MATHEWS and RICHARD MARSHALL is ordered to be recorded and the said Byrne having taken the oath of an Exor. and entered into bond with security according to law certificate is granted him for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.



Sunday, April 3, 2011

Amnesty Oath: Chloe Flatford

The following Amnesty Oath was included in the Pension Application by Thomas Flatford's wife, Chloe.


State of Virginia
Prince William County, to wit:

I Chloe Flatford do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Union of the States thereunder; and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all laws and Proclamations which have been made during the existing rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves - So help me God.


Chloe [X her mark] Flatford

Basil Cole
Joseph N. Cole

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 5th day of December A.D. 1865.

M. B. Sinclair, Clerk
Cty Court Prince Wm. Cty

Friday, April 1, 2011

Newspaper Tidbit: 45 Years After

The Free Lance. - Fredericksburg, VA
March 17, 1910


Three companies of Mosby's men, under Capt. Baylor, were engaged in a fight in Fairfax, near Reynolds Cross Roads, two days after Lee's surrender.  In this fight were W. B. Lynn, W. N. Tansill and E. D. Cole.  After the fight was over Messrs. Tansill and Cole were missing and Lynn reported both of them killed or captured.  On Saturday, 45 years afterwards, Lynn wrote here and obtained the signatures of Cole and Tansill to his application for a Confederate pension.

We knew Mr. Tansill was a good sleeper, but did not know he had ever been reported as gone to his long sleep.

Will: David Woodyard

Prince William County Will Book  M, pg 445
19 Jul 1826; proved 02 Oct 1826

In the name of God Amen I DAVID WOODYARD of Prince William County & State of Virginia being sick and weak in body but of sound mind and disposing memory thanks be given unto God therefore calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die do make and ordain this my last will and testament that is to say principally and first of all I leave my body to be buried in Christian like burial at the discretion of my Executor and as touching such worldly estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me with in this life I give and dispose of the same in the following manner and form first I give to ELIZABETH WOODYARD my beloved wife all my stock of every discription together with all my household goods debts and moveable effects during her natural life and it is my will and desire that she shall keep the same without security.  I give and bequeath to my beloved son JOHN WOODYARD whom I likewise constitute and ordain my sole Executor of this my last will and testament one feather bed stead and furniture and my shot gun.  I give and bequeath to my beloved son WALTER WOODYARD one feather bed and furniture and two head of sheep.  I also give to my beloved daughter SUSANNAH WOODYARD one feather bed stead and furniture and two head of sheep and it is my will and desire that what remains at the decease of my wife shall be equally divided amongst my five children and I do hereby revoke and disannul every other former testaments wills and bequests and Executors by me in any ways before named confirming this to be my last will and testament in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and date above written.


Signed sealed published and declared by the said DAVID WOODYARD as his last will and testament, in presence of us the subscribers,

At a Court held for Prince William County this 2nd day of October 1826.  This will of DAVID WOODYARD deceased was presented to the Court and being proved by the oaths of WILLIAM WOODYARD and DOUGLASS CONNER, is admitted to record.

Teste, P. D. DAWE