Thursday, October 31, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Ghosts of Manassas Battlefield

View of Stone House from Henry Hill
Photo by C.G.Lynn
Manassas National Battlefield Park is located at 6511 Sudley Road (Rte. 234) in Manassas, Virginia.  The Visitor Center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas.

As noted on the Battlefield's website, "On July 21, 1861, two armies clashed for the first time on the fields overlooking Bull Run.  Heavy fighting swept away any notion of a quick war.  In August 1862, Union and Confederate armies converged for a second time on the plains of Manassas.  The Confederates won a solid victory bringing them to the height of their power."

Two original buildings, the Stone House and the Brawner Farm are open to the public.  Henry House, on the hill named for the family, is a reconstruction of the home where 85-year old Judith Henry was killed by gunfire.  The family cemetery still stands behind the house site.  It was on Henry Hill that Brig. Gen. Barnard Elliott Bee Jr. is quoted as saying "There is [Thomas Johnathan Stonewall] Jackson standing like a stone wall.  Let us determine to die here, and we ill conquer.  Rally behind the Virginians!"

The Battlefield, twice the scene of bloody turmoil, is now a pastoral setting in the midst of urban Manassas.

Is Manassas/Bull Run Battlefield haunted?

Seriously -- do you need to ask?  Search any popular internet book site and you will find dozens of books on ghosts of Civil War battlefields.  Like Gettysburg, Manassas appears in just about all of them.

One book in particular is devoted to a Manassas Battlefield ghost, "A Yankee Roams at Dusk," by Paula Ann Kirby [ISBN 978-1-61364-194-1].  In 1862, the 5th New York [Zouaves] lost 123 men, "the greatest loss of life in any single infantry regiment in any battle of the Civil War."  The book's author was first introduced to the story of a phantom Zouave soldier on New York Avenue Field in an October 1978 Journal Messenger Halloween article, which claimed, "An indistinct figure wearing a colorful Zouave uniform was claimed to have been seen about two years ago and has been reported by others in later times."  Kirby's book chronicles her search for eyewitnesses that ultimate leads her to a paranormal investigation in search of the spectral Zouave.

Not far from the New York Avenue Field, the old Stone House is also rumored to be haunted.  Originally a tavern on the old Warrenton Turnpike, the house served as a field hospital during both battles.  The October 31, 1990 Weekly Messenger notes that "folk have reported seeing house lights where there is no house and sometimes strange noises come from the Stone House that sits on the corner of Routes 28 and 29."  The October 2011 edition of Prince William Living notes, "There is one story about a seasonal worker who was sitting in Stone House, waiting for any visitors who might have questions.  The employee was reading, and soon fell asleep on what seemed like a quiet day.  Upon waking, the individual's glasses were lung across the room, landing at the opposite end of the hallway."

It should be noted that, sightings and visitor experiences aside, the Park Service does not officially endorse ghosts.  (Which doesn't seem to bother the ghosts.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wednesday's Child: Edward Everet Simpson

Alexandria Gazette
September 17, 1857


"Weep not, he hath gone home, that little one."

September 11th, 1857, in Prince William County, at the residence of his father, EDWARD EVERET, only and beloved child of Colonel Samuel and Mrs. Ella Simpson.  God called him home; earth proved not a genial clime. -- The watchful tenderness could not shield him from disease.  He has been removed from an earthly to a heavenly home, where sickness and sorrow never come.  He is now shielded by that blessed Jesus, who said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven."

Gone home, gone home, how many a prayer of love,
   Breathed out in ardor to detain thee here.
Our fancy's dream, its spell of fondness wove,
   To make thee happy as thou 'wert more dear.
Weep not, mid thornless flowers that never fade.
   In bowers of bliss, where raptures never cloy.
Thou hast thy home, thy changeless mansion made,
   Our transient visitant, our angel boy."


[Sentinel and Intelligencer, please copy.]

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Martin Scarlit

Library of Congress Digital Collection
Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)

M. S. 
Here Lyes Martin 
Scarlit Gent

Martin Scarlit was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1680 to 1695 and a Justice for Stafford County.  He was the owner of Deep Hole Plantation, which included land upon which Rippon Lodge now stands.  

When the HABS photograph was taken, the marker was located in Belmont Bay, Woodbridge, Prince William County.   According to an informational plaque at Rippon Lodge, "in the early 1900's [this] stone was pulled from the Occoquan River and placed in a grove of trees at the wildlife refuge at Occoquan Bay."  The stone was later moved to cemetery at Rippon Lodge in 2005.

The actual location of Scarlit's remains are lost to time. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday's Obituary: James Skinner

Richmond Whig (Richmond, VA)
July 30, 1867

KILLED BY LIGHTNING.  -- James Skinner, a resident of Dumfries, while crossing the Potomac at Sandy Point in a small boat on Sunday evening last, accompanied by two friends, was struck by lightning and instantly killed.  One of his friends was stunned, but soon recovered -- the other one was unhurt.  The boat was not injured.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Will: John Hedges (1804)

Prince William County Will Book I, pg. 24
2 April 1804; proved 7 May 1804

In the name of God amen I JOHN HEDGES of Chappawamsic and the county of Prince William do make and ordain this my last will and testament.

Imprimis; I will and direct all my just debt be paid for the payment of the same I subject all my estate.

Item. I will and bequeath that my executors hereafter named shall sell on such credit as to them shall seem most adviseable all my estate both real and personal and that for my real estate they shall make to the purchaser or purchasers deeds in fee simple.

Item. I will and desire that my said executors after paying my debts shall divide the proceeds of the sale of my real and personal estate into six equal parts of which one part or sixth of my real and personal estate after paying my debts funeral charges and expenses of administration, I bequeath in trust to my executor aforesaid their executors & administrators to receive the interest and profits of the same and to pay annually the interest and profits thereof to my son ROBERT during his life and at his death to divide the said sixth among his children living at his death or the child or children of any one of his children who may die in his life time having one or more children.

Item. One other sixth or share of my estate after my debts funeral expenses & charges of administration are paid. I bequeath unto my daughter Mrs. AMEY BOTTS accounting for the negroes now in her possession all of which she has held on loan.

Item. One other sixth or share after the same deduction or debts & charges are paid I bequeath unto my son ISHAM HEDGES.

Item. One other sixth after deducting the same charges & debts I bequeath my executors afsd. In trust to receive the interest and profits thereof annually and to pay the same over to my son SOLOMON annually during his life and at his death to divide the said share or sixth among his children.

Item. I bequeath one other sixth of my estate after a like deduction for debts, charges & expenses to my daughter POLLY HEDGES to her and her heirs.

Item.  And I bequeath the other sixth of my estate after a like deduction for debts charges and expenses to my son FREDERICK to him and his heirs.

Item. To my son JOHN I bequeath my best wishes thinking I have already given him his share.

And lastly I appoint my son ISHAM HEDGES and my son in law SETH BOTTS my Executors of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking and annulling all former wills and testaments.  Given from under my hand and seal this 2 April in the year of our Lord 1804.


Signed sealed & published in presence of us who attested this will at the same time by the request of the testator


April 2, 1804.  My desier is that this shall make part of my last will to wit my desier is that a sertain man slave which I now possess named HENSON shall receive annually from the person who by any means may hereafter possess him the just sum of five pound current money to be paid to him the sd. HENSON on or before the twentyeth day of September in every year.  Also my desier is that a woman slave named JANE shall receive from the person who may hereafter poses her by any means the just sum of fifteen dollars to be paid to her annuly on the twentyeth day of September.

Also my desier is that a female slave named AGGY now about ten years old shall belong to and be posesed by my son ROBERT HEDGES and his heirs till she shall arrive to the years of twenty five & if the said ROBERT HEDGES or any of his heirs should think proper to detain her the said AGGY any longer in slavery then the time as above mentioned my desier is that she the said AGGY shall receive from such detainer the just sum of ten dollars for every year served after & my desier that if she the said AGGY shall have any children during her servitude that they serve in the same manner til they arrive to the age of twenty five years, and after that time if detained in servitude as before mentioned to receive each the same sum of ten dollars annuly at the same time in the same manner as before mentioned.




At a Court held for Prince William County May the 7th 1804.

This last will and testament and codicil of JOHN HEDGES deceased was presented to the court by SETH BOTTS and ISHAM HEDGES the Executors therein named who made oath thereto according to law and the said will being proved by the oaths of JOHN BRONAUGH and MATHEW HARRISON was ordered to be recorded and the codicil to sd. Will being proved by WM. GRANT was also ordered to be recorded and the said executors having performed what is usual in such cases certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.  This writing purporting to be the last will & testament of SARAH DAVIS decd. was presented to the Court and being proved by the oath of DENNIS ENSEY was ordered to be recorded.



Friday, October 25, 2013

Friend of Friends Friday: Estate Inventory of John Hedges (Slaves)

(Slaves only)
Prince William County Will Book I, pg. 25
8 May 1804

IN OBEDIENCE to an Order of the Worshipful Court of Prince William County dated the 8th day of May 1804.  We the Subscribers being first sworn have Inventoried and appraised the Estate of JOHN HEDGE decd. which was presented to our view by his Executors as follows Viz.

1 Negro man named BIG PETER about 52 years of age - $150
1 Negro man named LITTLE PETER about 44 years of age - $133.33
1 Negro man named HENSON about 32 years old - $300
1 Negro boy named MOSES about 16 years old - $300
1 Negro Man named SIGH about 22 years old - $250
1 Negro Boy named MAT about 4 years old - $100
1 Negro Boy named LITTLE MOSES about 3 years old - $80
1 Negro Boy named HENRY about 2 ½ yers old - $90
1 Negro Woman named WINNEY about 60 years old - $60
1 Negro Woman named LETTICE about 45 years old - $150
1 Negro Woman named NANNY about 45 years old - $150
1 Negro Woman named BETTY about 40 years old - $150
1 Negro Woman named MILLY about 29 years old - $200
1 Negro Woman named HANNAH about 56 years old - $80
1 Negro Woman named JENNY about 29 years old - $280
1 Negro Woman named OLD FAB about 70 years old - $30
1 Negro Woman named OLD SUE about 70 years old - $20
1 Negro Woman named OLD BET about 80 years old – Nothing
1 Negro Girl named SUCKE about 12 years old - $150
1 Negro Girl named LOUISA about 2 years old - $70
1 Negro Girl named UZZA about 6 years old - $120
1 Negro Girl named DELPH about 18 months old - $70
1 Negro Girl named KATE about 6 years old - $120
1 Negro Girl named SARAH about 10 Mos. Old - $60
1 Negro Girl named TAMAR about 10 years old - $140
1 Negro Girl named AGGA about 10 years old - $140

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Ghosts of Rippon Lodge

Rippon Lodge Historic Site is located at 15520 Blackburn Road in Woodbridge, Virginia.  Built circa 1747 by wealthy land owner, Richard Blackburn, it is one of the oldest homes in Prince William County and is open to the public from May until October.   Once a thriving plantation near the port of Dumfries, overlooking Neabsco Creek, the present day 43 acre site interprets the history of the house its owners from 1747 to 2000.  Visitors are welcome to stroll the grounds and gardens.

Thomas Blackburn, the son of Richard, was a Revolutionary War soldier and later a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses.  (And yes, George Washington did sleep here.)  The house was also owned by Blackburn's descendant, Antarctic Explorer Richard Blackburn Black, before being sold to the County in 2000.

There are several tragic stories associated with Rippon Lodge, one of which involves an unfortunate slave child and Mrs. Blackburn.  In a fit of temper, the mistress struck or pushed the child, who fell against the stone jamb of the fireplace and died shortly there after.  There was an inquest but the court determined the death to be accidental.  The child's ashes are said to be buried in the family cemetery.

In 1765, John Baylis supposedly insulted the father of Cuthbert Bullitt, Reverend James Scott, and was challenged to a duel for the insult.  The newspapers report that Baylis's gun failed to go off and then, after having asked for mercy, instead shot at Bullitt when he hesitated -- and missed.  Baylis was shot in the groin and brought to Rippon Lodge where he died from his wound.   

Standing for over 250 years, is Rippon Lodge haunted?

The October 2011 edition of Prince William Living reports that "over the years, people have reportedly seen figures in the windows and heard footsteps where there is no one around to make them.  Carpenters working on the restoration of the buildings claimed to have seen a person in the upstairs windows on various occasions."

In Marguerite Dupont Lee's book "Virginia Ghosts," is an account of Miss Atkinson, former owner, who said "she never saw anything unusual but sometimes heard strange and disturbing noises."

~ ~ ~ 

Spirits of Rippon Lodge
October 25 and 26, 2013

Rippon Lodge has a diverse history rich with ghostly tales.  A 1930 account of the Lodge says, "the house is said to be haunted in such a ghostly and sinister fashion that no one will occupy it."  Rumor has it that the course of Route 1 was altered to avoid its ghostly residents.  Come experience a unique opportunity to tour the house and grounds by candlelight.  You'll meet several historical characters along to way to hear their tales of sadness and triumph.  Cost is $10 per person and reservations are recommended.  Call 703-499-9812. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Notice to Bridge Builders

Washington Daily Intelligencer (Washington, DC)
September 3, 1828


The County Court of Prince William having determined that it is expedient to erect a Wooden Bridge across Cedar Run, near Brentsville, at the place where a Stone Bridge has been lately attempted, have authorized the undersgined to advertise for sealed proposals for the same, until the first day of September next.

The length of the Bridge will be eighty-two between the abutments, and its height above low water mark twenty-five feet.  The abutments now standing are to be taken down, and the work to be entirely new; for which, the materials collected for the stone bridge are supposed to be suitable and abundant.

Proposals will be received for building both an open and a covered Bridge, when the Court will select that which is preferred. Communications on the subject of this notice will be addressed to John Williams, Brentsville, Prince William County, Va. or to Bernard Hooe, Alexandria, until the 1st of next month.

John Williams
Bernard Hooe

Aug 14 - 181

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday's Obituary: Ann H. Merchant

Alexandria Gazette
February 26, 1845

DIED, At Neabsco, Prince William County, Virginia, on the night of Thursday, the 20th instant, Mrs. Ann H. Merchant, wife of Wm. C. Merchant, and daughter of the late Richard Speake, Esq., of Charles County, Md., leaving a disconsolate husband and four children to mourn their irreparable loss.  The deceased bore her afflictions with christian fortitude and resignation, and died in the full triumphs of Christ.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friend of Friends Friday: Gerard Mason, Slave Owner

In 1849, Gerard Mason, slave holder and owner of "Wood Bridge" plantation, was killed by Agnes, a slave woman.  The accounts of the day vary, from self defense (in Northern newspapers) to murder (Southern).  Agnes was tried, convicted, and hanged in 1850.  Her ghost is rumored to haunt the Brentsville Jail, where she was confined and later executed.

~ ~ ~

Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, MD) - December 21, 1849 - Mr. Gerard Mason, living near Colchester, Prince William county, was killed on yesterday by one of his servant women.  It appears Mr. M. had been from home, and returned under the influence of liquor.  He became offended with something the woman had done, and threatened to kill her with an axe; she warded off the blow, and wresting the axe from him, struck the blow that killed him.  The poor negro made no effort to escape.

Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, VA) - January 10, 1850 - At the County Court of Prince William on Monday last, Agnes, a negro woman, the property of Gerard Mason, deceased, was tried for the murder of her master, found guilty, and sentenced to be hung.  In the absence of the attorney for the Commonwealth, the prosecution was conducted by Francis L. Smith and E. Hunton, and the defence by Daniel Jasper.  We learn from one who witnessed the trial that the evidence established, beyond a rational doubt, that Mr. Mason was killed in his bed, most probably whilst asleep, by blows inflicted with an axe by the accused.

~ ~ ~

Alexandria Gazette - February 9, 1850 - NEGROES FOR SALE - I will offer for sale on the 14th inst., at Woodbridge, near Occoquan, Prince William Co. Va., seventeen likely young negroes.  Terms Cash.  - Richard Atkinson, Administrator of Gerard Mason, dec'd., Prince William County, feb. 9 - eots

Alexandria Gazette - January 19, 1850 - NEGROES FOR SALE - I will offer for sale, to the highest bidder, on the first Monday in February next, in Brentsville, before the front door of the Court House, for cash, two Negro Men belonging to the estate of Gerard Mason, dec'd. - Richard Atkinson, Adm'r of Gerard Mason, dec'd, Prince William Co., jan 7 - eots

Alexandria Gazette - September 20, 1823 - Twenty Dollars Reward. Ran Away from the subscriber, livingin Prince William County, Va. on the 15th instant, a negro man named BILL, about 5 feet 7 or 8 inches high, between 20 and 25 years of age, one of his hands has been much burnt when a child, which prevents him from opening it.  His clothing consisted of country cloth much worn.  i will give the above reward for apprehending and securing said fellow so that I get him again, and reasonable charges if brought home.  Masters of vessels and others, are cautioned against carrying him off.  Gerard Mason, Sept. 18.

Alexandria Gazette - January 4, 1823 - RANAWAY from the subscriber on Sunday, the 3d of November, a black man named WILL, about five feet 7 or 8 inches high, between 40 and 45 years of age, had on when he went away a white round-about and black trowsers of trilled country coth.  He has lost two of his front teeth, has a down look when spoken to, and a scar on his nose.  He lived a few years ago with mr. Wm. McCarty, in Loudoun county.  I will give the above Reward for securing said Negro in any jail and all reasonable charges paid if brought home.  Gerard Mason.  Prince William County, (Va) dec 21

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Ghosts of Brentsville Courthouse and Jail

Brentsville Courthouse
Photo: Carolyn G. Lynn
Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre is located at 1229 Bristow Road in Bristow, Virginia, approximately three miles from the Bristoe Station Battlefield.  The 28 acre site includes the fully restored Courthouse, one of the oldest in the United States.  It served as the county seat from 1822 until 1892 when the court was moved to Manassas.  Public auctions frequently occurred in front of the Courthouse doors, including the sale of real estate and slaves, and during the Civil War Confederate units were formed here (notably, Co. A., 4th Virginia Cavalry and Co. A, 49th Virginia infantry). 

In addition to the Courthouse, the site includes the Brentsville Jail which housed a wide variety of miscreants, from town drunks to murderers, both male and female.  The gallows, built behind the Courthouse, were well within sight of the prisoners in the jail awaiting their final reckoning.  Several inmates are known to have successfully escaped from the building’s confines, often by setting fire to the cells.  In 1872, the jail was the scene of a sensational  murder when commonwealth attorney James Clark, awaiting trial for abducting and then abandoning 15 year old Fannie Fewell, was shot in his cell by the young lady’s brother.  Clark died three days later of his wounds.  (The brother, Rhoda Fewell, was later acquitted of the murder.)

After Manassas became the county seat and there was no longer a need for a Brentsville jail, the building was repurposed and underwent a series of renovations, at various times serving as a women’s dormitory, private residence, and office building.  Now closed to the public, it is currently being restored to its 1822 heyday as a county jail.

With a rich history of crime, punishment, and murder, are the Brentsville Courthouse and Jail haunted?

In the Courthouse, there are tales of a phantom figure seen standing by the window of the Judge’s office on the second floor and the sound of phantom chairs sliding across wooden floors when no one is upstairs.

The June 14, 2004 issue of the Prince William News & Messenger relates the story of a time when the jail served as the County Clerk’s office.  A secretary who was alone in the building “saw a woman outside dressed in Civil War clothing.  The woman came up the sidewalk … and said ‘Where’s my soldier? … They said he’s back here.  I’ve come for my soldier.’  Then the woman vanished.”

Another legend tells of a different secretary who looked up from her desk on the second floor of the jail to find a young African American male standing in front of her.  The youth asked her for his shoe buckles.  In the moment that she glanced away, he vanished.  Could this have been the shade of a former inmate looking for the return of the property that had been confiscated during his imprisonment?

Still another eyewitness describes having turned to look at the jail and being startled to see the face of a female slave looking back.  Is this the spirit of Agnes, who was imprisoned there and later hanged behind the Courthouse for the murder of her master, Gerard Mason?

Whatever activity is (or isn’t) going on in the jail, it has enticed investigations by several paranormal groups, among them The Atlantic Paranormal Society (“TAPS”) which featured the building in an episode of Ghost Hunters.

~ ~ ~

Spectral Stories at Historic Brentsville
October 18, 2013 – 7:00pm until 9:00pm
$5/person and free for children under six
Details:  703-365-7895

Do you love scary movies and hearing ghost stories?  Join site staff for a fun filled evening spent around a campfire as you hear spooky stories about Historic Brentsville and other haunts in and around Prince William County.  Apple cider and cookies will be provided.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday's Child: Mabel Lee Kincheloe

Manassas Journal
October 24, 1913


Mabel Lee, little daughter of Willie and Ruth Kincheloe, died at her home in Dumfries, October 5, 1913, after a few days' illness.  She was six years, eleven months and five days old.  Little Mabel was a bright, loving little girl, and loved by all who knew her.  She leaves father, mother, one sister and brother, and many other relatives and friends to mourn their loss.  But we feel sure that our loss is her eternal gain, and that she is now resting in the dear Saviour's arms, who said "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven."  "The Lord gaveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord."  We know that she is better off, but oh! we did hate to give our darling up.  Her little body was laid to rest on Tuesday evening in the burying-ground at the Episcopal church, Dumfries, Va., to await the resurrection mourn.

Parents, weep not for your darling,
  Mabel is supremely blest,
Jesus Christ, the faithful Shepherd
  Folds her gently to His breast.

Written by her aunts,
Nannie and Lucy

[Mabel Lee Kincheloe was born October 20, 1906 and died October 6, 1913.  She is buried in the Dumfries Public Cemetery.  Her memorial on Find A Grave can be found here.]

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Virginia Midland Railroad/Charles Keys

Cincinatti Daily Times (Cincinatti, OH)
August 18, 1876

A water-spout struck the Virginia Midland railroad near Melver's station yesterday morning, carrying away a culvert and leaving a gap into which a freight train was precipitated.  The engineer and a brakeman were killed.  A special dispatch to the Baltimore Sun says of the accident:  "The train to which the disaster occurred was an empty train of twelve cattle cars which left Gordonsville to load with cattle at Lynchburg and beyond, for Baltimore last night.  The accident occurred about 2 o'clock this morning.  The engine was overturned and the whole train wrecked, twelve cars being mashed up.  In addition to the two fatalities several of the train hands are injured, but none of them seriously.  The wreck still encumbers the track and will somewhat delay the movement of trains.  Charles Keys, the engineer, who was killed, resided in Alexandria for some time, and is brother-in-law of Mr. Wm. King, residing on Cameron street, near Patrick.  He is a native of Prince William county, and has of late resided in Gordonsville, where he leaves a family.  Anderson has also resided at Gordonsville.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mystery Monday: Rauz Alley

Western World (Kentucky)
May 28, 1807


WHEREAS there was a man by the name of Rasmers, or Rauz. Alley, moved from Prince William county, Virginia, to this state, and left his eldest son in that country with his aunt, until he could send for him; which son is now in this state, and has made great search, but cannot find him; therefore, those who have any knowledge of said Rauz Alley, are requested to give him information, or information directed to Henry Alley, or Robert Breckinridge, within two miles of Paris, will be thankfully received.

May 5th, 1807

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday's Obituary: Mary H. Hoy

Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Ohio)
January 6, 1866

In Newport, Ky., at the residence of her son-in-law, Mr. O. P. Furslow, No. 138 Madison street, Mrs. Mary H. Hoy, widow of the late John Hoy of Gallipolis, O., in the 70th year of her age.

Funeral services at 2 1/2 o'clock P.M., Saturday 6th inst.  Friends of the family are respectfully invited to attend.

[Gallipolis, O., Charleston, W.Va., Rochester, N.Y., Jacksonviklle, Ill., papers please copy.]

Mrs. Hoy was a native of Prince William Co., Va., where she married, and removed thence to Ohio in 1831.  She was for many years a very great sufferer, and during the last two months of her life, her painful illness was borne with heroic fortitude and Christian patience.  She was for many years a member of the Methodist Church, and departed this life in the sure hope of that immortality which was purchased by her Savior.

She leaves a large family to mourn her loss.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friend of Friends Friday: Public Sale

Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, VA) - January 5, 1816 - NEGROES FOR SALE - To enable the subscriber to close his administration on the estate of the late Mr. Edward Carter, of Prince William county, Virginia, by discharging a debt still due from the said estate, will be sold to the highest bidder for cash, at Hay-Market, in the said county, on Tuesday the 16th of January next, about thirty slaves, belonging to the said estate, consisting of men, women and children.

E. Brooke, Administrator,
  with the will annexed, of E. Carter, deceased.
December 18

Alexandria Gazette - April 1, 1846 - PUBLIC SALE OF NEGROES -- On the first Monday in April next, I will sell to the highest bidder, for cash, before the front door of the Court House of Prince William County, negroes REUBEN and NANCY.  Reuben is between fifty and sixty years of age, an excellent manager and waggoner. Nancy, the wife of Reuben, is valuable as a seamstress and dairy hand.

J. H. Reid, Adm'r of
John Hooe, Jr. dec'd
Brentsville, Va., mh 20-eots

Alexandria Gazette - December 5, 1856 - NEGROES FOR SALE -- Will be sold for cash on the 16th inst., at the residence of the late Thomas Wilkins, Prince William county, Va., (three miles below Brentsville), five or six likely negroes.

James W. Wilkins,
Administrator of Thos. Wilkins, dec'd.
Prince Wm. co, Va., dec 5 -- eo2w

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Ghosts of Ben Lomond

Photo by Carolyn G. Lynn
Ben Lomond Historic Site is located at 10321 Sudley Manor Drive, approximately two miles from the Manassas Battlefield.

Once owned by Robert "Councillor" Carter III, the plantation was inherited by Benjamin Tasker Chinn in 1830 who built the house that stands there today.  Before the Civil War, the farm was worked using slave labor, producing corn, wheat, and Merino sheep.

Before the Civil War, the farm was leased to the Pringle family.  In the days after the Battle of First Manassas, the Pringles and all of their possessions were crammed into a single bedroom while the house was commandeered and converted into a Confederate field hospital.  For approximately a month after the battle, the house and its grounds were crowded with wounded soldiers, many of whom did not survive.  In 1862, at the time of the Battle of Second Manassas, Union troops occupied the house, destroying furniture and scrawling graffiti on the interior walls. 

After the Civil War, the house passed through several hands, including those of a distant cousin of mine, Charles Craig Lynn, who operated a successful dairy farm in the late 1930's.

Now owned by Prince William County, the house and grounds were "restored" to replicate the appearance and conditions of a Confederate field hospital of 1861 and is open to the public May 1 through October 31. In addition to the main house, several outbuildings remain -- including a slave cabin -- and a rose garden that contains one of the largest collections of Old Garden Roses in the DC Metropolitan area.

With so much history and trauma, is Ben Lomond/Pringle House haunted?   

In the October 30, 1985 Manassas Journal Messenger, the gentleman leasing the house from the county "...says that the house is haunted by a ghost which he feels is a Civil War soldier."  He explained that there was a baby grand piano in the house at the time; several times he found the lid raised when there was no one else in the house.  "I'd put it back down and go back and find it up again," he said.

Volunteers working on the rose garden behind the house have described the sensation of being watched and one turned to see a figure standing by an upstairs window when no one was in the house.  Other claims include hearing the sound of footsteps walking on hardwood floors where no footsteps should have been.  I myself have heard those phantom footsteps and have no explanation for them!

Who walks the halls of Ben Lomond?  Is it a weary surgeon, making his rounds among the wounded and dying crowded into every room and up the stairway?  Or is it one of the farm's many owners?  

Are you brave enough to find out for yourself?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Battle of Bristoe Station 150th Commemorative Weekend (Oct. 12-13, 2013)

Battle of Bristoe Station 150th Commemorative Weekend
Saturday – Sunday, October 12-13, 2013
Free, donations encouraged

To commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Bristoe Station, tours, musical performances, lectures, tours and living history demonstrations and encampments to represent the soldiers and units present at the battle in 1863. Weekend kicks off on Saturday at 10am with a dedication ceremony featuring keynote speaker Dr. James I. Robertson Jr. The Virginia History Mobile will be available on Saturday and a Youth Activity Tent will also be available all weekend.   Contact Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park at 703-366-3049 for more information.  Schedule included below.

Parking located at the Bristow Shopping Center with shuttle bus service to the Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park.

For the event schedule and information, please go here.

Event Location:
Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park
10708 Bristow Road, Bristow, VA 20136

Parking at Bristoe Shopping Center:
Nokesville Road (Rte. 28) and Bristow Road (Rte. 619)

Wednesday's Child: Thomas H. and Jane Elizabeth Golding

Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, VA) - November 1, 1856 - At Kinderhook, Prince William County, October 28th, Thomas H. Golding, infant son of Thomas Golding, esq., aged one year and seven months.  "Suffer little children to come unto me, of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."

Alexandria Gazette - November 10, 1856 - At Kinderhook, Prince William county, Va., on Tuesday 4th day of November 1856, Jane Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas and Catherine Golding, aged 3 years and 11 months and nine days

A light is from our household gone,
   A voice we loved is still'd.
A place is vacant at our hearth
   Which never can be fill'd.
A gentle heart that throbbed but late
   With tenderness and love,
Has hush'd its weary throbbing here,
   To live in bliss above.
Yes, to the home where angels are,
   Her ransomed soul has fled;
And yet we bend about her tomb
   With teas, and call her dead.
We call her dead, but ah! we know
She dwells where living waters flow.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Rail Road Meeting in Prince William

Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, VA)
June 30, 1854

Rail Road Meeting in Prince William

At a meeting in the lower part of Prince William County, at Cole's Precinct, held on the 24th, Seymour Lynn, in the chair, and P. D. Lipscomb, Secretary, the following resolutions were adopted:

Resolved, That this meeting cordially approve of the proposed extension of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, from some point on the said road, to a point on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad at or near Manassas Station in Prince William County, and we pledge ourselves to do all in our power to facilitate said extension.

Resolved, That William P. Cole, Robert Hodgkin, Lawrence Cole, George F. Carney, William Botts, and Seymour Lynn, be appointed a committee to procure grants of the right of way for said road through this county; and said committee are requested to report progress to a meeting to be held at Bertrnd E. Francis's in this county on Saturday the 8th day of July 1854, at 2 o'clock P. M.

Col. Eppa Hunton, Charles E. Sinclair, esq., and Seymour Lynn, esq., addressed the meeting very ably and eloquently in favor of the proposed extension.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mystery Monday: A Ghost - Or Something - in PWCo

It's October once more!   A time for pumpkins and a nipping chill in the air, shorter days and longer nights, and one of my very favorite celebrations -- Hallow'Een.   In honor of this spooky, wonderfully creepy time of year, I'll be posting stories about unusual events and haunted places in Prince William County.

Today I bring you one of my favorite newspaper articles.  Hoax or haint?  You decide.

Alexandria Gazette
December 15, 1868

A Ghost -- Or Something -- In Prince William County, Va.

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 is 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 contracts 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 gentlemen 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 up, 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 of the character of this hideous monster.


[The sensational story was picked up by other newspapers of the time, including the Memphis Daily Avalanche.]

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday's Obituary: John H. Milstead

Washington Herald (Washington, DC)
October 30, 1913

John H. Milstead, seventy-one years old, a former resident of this city, died this morning at his home in Washington.  The body was brought here this afternoon and taken to the home of his son-in-law, J. Edward Shinn, 26 South Royal Street, where the funeral will be held at 1 o'clock Friday afternoon.  Services will be conducted by the Rev. R. P. Phillips, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

Mr. Milstead was a native of Occoquan, Prince William County, Va., and had lived forty years in Alexandria.  At the time of his death he was an engineer at the laboratory at Benning.

 Besides his wife Mr. Milstead leaves the following children:  John, Bruce, Wilton, and Mahlon Milstead, Mrs. J. Edward Shinn, Mrs. Grace Talbot, and Mrs. Marguerite Fisher.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friend of Friends Friday: A List of Negroes Confined in Military Prisons

Richmond Times Dispatch
October 8, 1862

A List of Negroes Now Confined in the Military Prisons, in Richmond

J A Emery, free, Salem, Mass.
E Boyen, free, Maryland
E B Williams, free, Philadelphia, Pa
Geo Washington, free, Baltimore
Daniel Carter, slave of T McCormick, Clarke co, Va
Andrew Williams, free, New York
Joe Brown, slave, of Z Ailes, Miss
Alfred Jones, slave of Newton Ladd, Charles co
Isaac Webster, free, Washington, DC
Joe James, free, Henrico co, Va
L McCoy, free, New York city
Ben Dangerfield, slave of James Riley, Jefferson co, Va
J Johnson, slave of Wm Crump, New Kent co
Jas Kranty, slave of Wm Kranty, Loudoun co
Nathan, slave of Chas Barley, Loudon co
Jim Johnson, free, Connecticut
Leana Johnson, woman, slave of Mrs M Howard, Fairfax co
Wm Norris, slave of Robt Allison, Fairfax co
Wm Hensby, free, Annapolis, Md
Robert ---, free, Maryland
L Hawkins, slave of John Mitchell, Maryland
R B Wilson, free, Ohio
Wm Joe Burk, free, boy, New York
Wm H. Richards, free, Baltimore, Md
Jno Cox, slave of Rich’d Lyons, King and Queen co
Chas Montgomery, free, DC
Reed Harrison, free, Prince William co, Va
Thos Jackson, free, New York state
Carter Freeman, slave of John Wood, Fauquier co, Va
Jas Barnes, free, Pennsylvania
Chas Boswell, slave of Wm Davis, Prince William co, Va
Richmond Roane, slave of Dr Fontleroy, Hanover
Dan, slave of Sam’l Humphreys, Stafford co, Va
Alex Johnson, free, New York
Mary Cook, slave of Mrs Randolph, Fredericksburg
John, slave of Capt Stevens, Fredericksburg
Abram Spencer, free, Strasburg, Va
Charley ---, free, Prince William co, Va
Sam’l Hill, free, Washington
John Read, slave of Mrs Stillston, Front Royal, Va
Esau, slave of Wm Bowen, Fauquier co, Va
Ed Hamilton, slave of Dan’l Meltinger, Romney, Va
Thos Gessus, free, White Hall, NY
Geo Jordan, free, Philadelphia
David Jones, free, New Jersey
John Henry, free, Alexandria
Jim Green, free, RI
John Clark, free, Washington
Thos Mitchell, free, Ohio
Green Jones, free, Ohio
George Cook, free, Prince William
William Lipscomb, slave of Mrs S Gordon, New Kent
Jerry Lomax, slave of Wm Pratt, Virginia
Horace, slave of Geo Taylor
John Williams, free, Alexandria, Va
Gibson Gracy and three children, slave of widow Goodwin, Fairfax co
Chas Murphy
Andrew Jackson, free, Pennsylvania
Edmond, slave of John Sanderson, Norfolk co, Va
Jess, slave of Maj Wm Allen, Jamestown Island
Jim West, slave of Geo R Cox, King William co
Jackson, slave of Richard Bailey, Sandy Point
Nat, slave of Albert Hawkerds, York river
Aug D Pretley, free, Phila.
Joe Hall, slave of Dr Chas Seldon, Richmond
Isaac Wood, slave of Chas Wood, no county
King Abel, slave of Thos M Candish, Williamsburg
Eliza Gaskins, Louisa, Wm H Gaskins – free, and children, Prince William
Tom Dickerson, slave of Chas Dickerson, Greenbrier county, Va
Susan Gaskins, free, and D Gaskins, H Gaskins, and Catherine Gaskins, her children, Prince William
Jim Johnson, free, Connecticut
Harrison Read, free, Prince William
Joe Bush, free, New York
Jas West, slave of Geo R Cocke, King and Queen
Oliver Pleasants, free, Charles City county
Chas Montgomery, free, Washington, DC
Wm H Richards, free, Baltimore, md
John Cox, slave of Richard Lyne, King and Queen
Richard Hudgins, slave of Cap Jno Taylor, Charlottesville
Sam’l Hill, free, Washington, DC
Thos Jackson, free, New York
Joe Boykin, slave of Graham Pearce, New Kent co
Joe Marringo, free, Westmoreland
Dan’l Henderson, slave of Frank Ruffin, Richmond city
Baldwin Lee, slave of Richard Baylor, Sandy Point
David Young, slave of Richard Baylor, Sandy Point
J Beeden, slave of M Stilluts, Front Royal
R. Western, slave of Thos Evans, York co

The history here given is obtained from the negroes themselves.
 Jno. H. Winder, Brig. Com.

Friend of Friends Friday: Will: William Scott (1795)

Prince William County Will Book H, pg. 126
3 Jan 1795; Proved 7 April 1795

I WILLIAM SCOTT of Dumfries in the Commonwealth of Virginia do make this my last Will and Testament; I give to my wife during her life two negroes, SALL and PETER, and at their death to be divided among the children of my daughter LETITIA COLQUHON.  My other negroes to wit, RATE, RALPH, DINAH and FANNEY, I give to the children of my daughter LETITIA COLQUHON to be among them divided at such time and in such manner as shall be just, which division is to be made by my son CHARLES.

I give to my said daughter LETITIA COLQUHON one third part of the lands in Virginia or elsewhere, which came to me by the death of my brother ROBERT, hereby desiring that the said lands may be sold with all convenient speed by my son CHARLES, and that one third part of the money be secured to the use of my said daughter for support to her, during her life and afterwards to be equally divided among her children.  All the remainder of my estate I give to my said son CHARLES on condition that he pay to his mother the sum of Fifty pounds current money yearly in lieu of dower in my land and the payments to be made quarterly, and punctually for her further support in comfort so long as she shall live, and also that he pay to my niece MARY CHINN fifty pounds like money.

The household furniture is not to be sold, but is set apart for the use of my wife and daughter.  In Witness that this is my last Will and Testament I do hereunto set my hand this third day of January Seventeen hundred and ninety five.  I appoint my son Executor of this Will.


Published and declared by the Testator to be his last Will in the presence of and Interlined first


At a Court continued and held for Prince William County the 7th Day of April 1795.

This last Will and Testament of William Scott dec’d was presented to the Court by CHARLES SCOTT his Executor who made oath to the same and the said Will being proved by the Oaths of Alexander Henderson and HECTOR ROFZ is ordered to be recorded and the said Executor having performed what is usual in such cases, certificate is granted him for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thriller Thursday: G. W. Speake

Washington Post (Washington, DC)
May 21, 1896


The Death of a Young Man Near Manassas Through a Sad Accident

Manassas, Va., May 20. -- G. W. Speake, a young man whose home was at Buck Hall, near this place, died yesterday afternoon as the result of a dose of corrosive sublimate, a deadly poison, which was administered to him on Tuesday of last week by his sister through mistaking the fatal drug for quinine.

Drs. Iden and Simpson were called in as soon as the mistake had been discovered, which was only a few hours thereafter, and did all in their power to save the life of the unfortunate young man, but without avail.  The young man's sister is prostrated with grief over her fatal error.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wednesday's Child: Davies / Wheat / Weedon

Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, DC) - February 28, 1843 - At Neabsco, Prince William county, Virginia, on Sunday, the 13th instant, in the sixth year of her age, of croup, Virginia, eldest daughter of William and Virginia Davies, of Louisville, Kentucky.

Daily National Intelligencer - November 6, 1844 - On the 18th October last, in Prince William county, Virginia, Richard W., son of Dr. R. W. and Ann L. Wheat, in the 5th year of his age.

Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, VA) - September 17, 1853 - DIED, of putrid sore throat, at the residence of her father, Rose Hill, Prince William County, on Wednesday, the 14th instant, Sarah C. E., eldest daughter of F. A. and H. C. Weedon, in the 13th year of her age.  "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away."

Alexandria Gazette - September 20, 1853 - On the 14th instant, at the residence of her father, in Prince William County, Va., Sally C. E., eldest daughter of F. A. Weedon, esq., in the 14th year of her age.  The sweetness and amiability of her disposition, her frank and unaffected manners, the purity and loveliness of her character had endeared to her many friends, who deeply lament that one so young and fair should have been marked by the insatiable Archer.  Btu it is our consolation to know with calm resignation, after an affecting and affectionate leave of relatives and friends, she met her fate in peace, with the assurance of a better life hereafter.  J. T. E.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tech Tuesday: Find A Grave Acquired by

In a press release dated September 30, 2013,, the mega fee-subscription genealogy site, announced that it has acquired the free, contributor-based burial index site Find A Grave.

I have to admit that my first reaction was, "Oh no, there goes another one."  Over the years, the Ancestry corporate powerhouse has built its service and beefed up its fee-only content by "acquiring" smaller sites in the genealogy/family history industry.  I do recognize the advantages to having Ancestry's convenient collection of genealogical information at one's cyber fingertips (and yes, I am a subscriber), but it is still extremely sad and disappointing to see smaller, volunteer-based websites being assimilated.

So -- what does Ancestry's acquisition of Find A Grave really mean?  One can only speculate, but in yesterday's Press Release, Ancestry CEO Tim Sullivan stated,

     "Find A Grave is an amazing phenomenon supported by a passionate and engaged community of volunteers around the world ... We at are so excited...honored take on the responsibility of supporting this community. We will maintain Find A Grave as a free website, will retain its existing policies and mode of operation, and look forward to working with Jim Tipton and the entire Find A Grave team to accelerate the development of tools designed to make it even easier for the Find A Grave community to fulfill its original mission to capture every tombstone on Earth." 

Find A Grave founder, Jim Tipton, states on the site's FAQ:

     "Ancestry approached me a few months ago about working together and I was impressed with the creative, bright people they have that were really excited about the thought of being involved with Find A Grave. We have come up with an arrangement where Find A Grave will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ancestry, but we will continue to operate in the same way we always have. I'm going to keep running the site and all of the familiar admins that many of you have come to know over the years will still be here. But, I'll be armed with a full Find A Grave team that should allow us to push out improvements in a much at a much faster pace. Customer support should improve drastically, too."

Tipton and Ancestry both explain that they have exciting plans for the future of Find A Grave, including a much-longed-for mobile app that can be used on site by volunteers to record burial information.  Also, consider that the two sites have had a licensing agreement in place for over a year, with Find A Grave memorials appearing on Ancestry index searches, including active links to the memorials.

I suspect that the greatest concern generated by the announcement in the minds of Find A Grave volunteers/contributors such as myself is, "Will Find A Grave remain a free resource?"  Both Tipton and Ancestry have made multiple assurances that Find A Grave will continue to be a free resource and that "Find A Grave plans to continue its focus on honoring user's privacy and protecting their user generated content."  While I hope that both sites will honor this commitment and continue Find A Grave's free-access policy, ultimately only time will tell.