Stafford County Tricentennial

August 1 - 8, 1964

From the Souvenir Program

Submitted By: Larry Brooks


STAFFORD, " THIS LAND IS OURS"

In 1664 because of increasing number of settlers on the Potomac and Aquia Creeks, a new county was formed by a line drawn westward from the Potomac River somewhere below Potomac Creek, although there is no known record of the actual location of this southern boundary. This new county, which included all of the territory between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers from the elusive southern boundary to the Blue Ridge Mountains, was named "Stafford'. This territory came from Westmoreland County and at that time Stafford included all of what was later to become Prince William, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Alexandria (renamed Arlington in 1920).

The name Stafford was taken from "Staffordshire", the home country in England of Captain George Mason and Captain Gerard Fowks, both early leaders in Stafford, and of many other Cavalier followers of Charles II who was denied his place on the throne of England by Oliver Cromwell. Many of the Cavaliers whose property in England was confiscated by Cromwell sought refuge in Virginia, a colony still faithful to the English King despite his displacement by Cromwell. Wanting more land and freedom than they found at Jamestown, a number of Cavaliers, having heard of Giles Brent's village travel up the Potomac to the settlement at Aquia. it was during this period that the population in the region around the Creeks rose sharply, creating the necessity for the formation of the country called "Stafford', the name being brought by the Cavaliers from their home country in England.

The history of this region, however, began long before it was known as Stafford, being at first a part of Northumberland which included the entire Northern Neck, and then a part of Westmoreland which was formed from the upper part of Northumberland County. The records of Captain John Smith, the founder of Jamestown and a great explorer throughout the costal regions of Virginia, touched on the Northern Neck now known as Stafford several times during his explorations along the Rappahannock and the Potomac. Writings made during these travels indicate that there were small groups of Indians located along the shores of the Rappahannock River and also on the Potomac River. On the Potomac, Smith found a small settlement of Indians known as the "Potowamekes" from which comes the name "Potomac". This group was located on what is now Marlboro Point. It was this tribe with which the great Indian chief Powhatan made a treaty of some sort and as was the custom sent his daughter Pocahontas to live with Japazaws, King of the Potowamekes, to show his good intentions. Deceived by Captain Argyle, commander of a British ship, Japazaws gave the Indian Princess to the British for a shiny copper kettle. Captain Argyle led Japazaws to believe that Pocahontas would be returned to her father. However, she was taken instead to Jamestown and held there in order to collect a ransom and to get certain other concessions from Powhatan. Undaunted, the powerful chief threatened to attack the village, and the English soon abandoned their plan. While Pocahontas was in Jamestown, she met John Rolfe and shortly afterwards, in 1614 married him.

An even earlier landing in the area is reported in records of the Spanish Jesuits. In 1570, thirty-seven years before the arrival of the English settlers at Jamestown, a small party of Catholics, apparently coming up from Florida, are said to have landed somewhere around Aquia Creek. Included in this band were several Jesuit priests whose attempts to convert the Indians to Christianity were met with hostility and one by one all of the group was killed with the exception of a small serving boy named Alonzo who somehow rejoined the main part of the Spanish exploration and returned to Spain to tell of his adventure.

Near where the Jesuits are alleged to have landed and where they attempted to build what would have been the first Catholic church in America, Giles Brent, ironically a Catholic himself, having left Maryland over circumstances arising in connection with the land holdings of his Indian wife, built a home. Later he was joined here by his sisters, Margaret and Mary, and other followers from Maryland. Soon on Aquia Creek, at what is now Brent's Point, the group erected a Catholic church around which formed the village of Aquia. Brent's small village thrived at first because of his friendly relations with the Indians. These friendly relations were unusual in the 1640s and were fostered by the fact that Brent was married to an Indian Princess, Kittamaquad. Then in the 1650s the Cavaliers, having lost their land in England when Cromwell took the throne, came to Aquia seeking new land; and Giles Brent, although a Catholic at a time when the only legal form of worship in Virginia was the Church of England, took many of these men in, furnished them with protection from the Indians, and showed them the ways of survival in the New World.

With the influx of the Cavaliers, Aquia became a prosperous village with a stone quarry, warehouses, many homes, and a wharf from which the tobacco from the newly settled plantations was shipped to England and Europe, and thus when Stafford became a county in 1664, over 500 people lived in the area around Aquia and Potomac Creeks.

Strangely Giles Brent, a Catholic in a Protestant state, set the stage fro much of the greatness which was to emanate from Stafford. However, it was from the Cavaliers whom Brent had aided that many of the leaders of Virginia were to come. Many of the Cavaliers, unaccustomed to hard labor, suffered along in the wilds of Stafford until 1660 when Charles II overthrew the followers of Cromwell and returned as King of England. Charles remembered with gratitude the loyalty of the Cavaliers and rewarded many of them with money and land. This firmly established many prominent families in Stafford. Among these William Fitzhugh, the emigrant, and George Mason, ancestor of his famous namesake who wrote the "Virginia Bill of Rights', were particularly outstanding. William Fitzhugh, having come to the country in 1655, acquired widespread acreage throughout the country and at the time of his death left thirty-eight tracts of land which totaled 53,688 acres. The Fitzhughs continued to predominate in the early history of Stafford County. While few of the planters had holdings comparable to Fitzhugh's, many with the coming of slaves, lived grandly.

Soon after the formation of the county in 1664 William Green and Vincent Young were sworn in as "Wardens of the Parish" then Potomac Parish. Soon the country was divided into two parishes, Overwharton to the North, and St. Paul's to the South. In 1667 the Court of the County ordered that the minister preach at three sites in the county. One of these was at the southeastern side of the Aquia near Giles Brent's settlement. Since Aquia was largely a Catholic village, most likely the Episcopal church which was built was a distance away, quite probably near where Aquia Episcopal Church is today. The first minister recorded in Potomac Parish was the Rev. Morgan Godwin who served for a few years after the formation of the county. The Rev. John Waugh followed him some time after 1670. In 1685 when James II, a Catholic, ascended to the throne, Rev. Waugh led an anti-Catholic crusade, primarily against George Brent, a Nephew of Giles Brent. George Brent, who was quite prominent, actually the only Catholic in the Virginia House of Burgesses and the only Catholic County Lieutenant in Virginia, had founded a settlement at Woodstock at the head of the Aquia. However, Rev. Waugh was convinced that the Catholics of Maryland planned to attack and take over Stafford and ultimately all of Virginia. He preached this all over the county and so incited the people that they left their plantations and prepared themselves for a fight against Maryland. He urged that the Catholics in the settlements of Aquia and Woodstock were working with those in Maryland across the river. George Brent's home was searched and even William Fitzhugh, a law partner of Brent, was very unpopular even though he was a Protestant. The point of war with Maryland was nearly reached when Indians, whom Waugh said were working with the Catholics, were seen swimming across the river. This was an annual affair for these Indians who swam over each year to hunt in Virginia. However, the ruckus in Stafford was brought to a halt before a war started when word reached the country that the Protestants, William and Mary, replaced James II on the throne in 1689. Rev. Waugh, who had nearly started a war with Maryland, was harshly reprimanded for his actions and faded from prominence.

This was not the first rebellion to have its origin in Stafford. The famed Bacon's Rebellion against the Indians in 1676 is said to have begun when Col. George Mason and Capt. Gills Brent pursued and killed a man of the Doeg tribesmen when had come from Maryland and filled settlers along the Potomac. The Indians who escaped returned to their tribesmen and their reports to them subsequently led to a massive Indian uprising leading to Bacon's Rebellion.

After this Indian uprising the threat from the Indians seemed to diminish. This and the need for another landing led to the development of a settlement on the point of land between Aquia and Potomac Creeks near where the Potowamekes had a village many years before. With the prosperity of the planters the settlement grew and in 1691 by an act of the Assembly, the town of Marlboro was established on this point, 52 acres being bought from Capt. Malachi Peale. Marlboro was made the Court House of the County. This little village became quite an active port. Warehouses were built in which to store outgoing products. The main export was tobacco, but many timber products were also shipped out. A stone roadway led to the wharf and stone and brick houses were built. However the Court House was a wooden building and in 1715 it burned and the seat of the Court House was moved to where it stands today, and the new location was named Stafford Court House.

One of the most prominent residents of Marlboro was John Mercer who had one of the finest libraries in the young country. George Mason, the author of the "Virginia Bill of Rights", and a nephew of Mercer, did much to educate himself using the books in this library, since he had no formal education. The elder Mercer's two sons, John Francis and James, also became leaders in the Revolution.

By 1728 only a single building was still standing at Marlboro, the Court House having been moved and Indian attacks constantly plaguing the town. Thus the main center of population in the county in 1730, the year the northern part became Prince William County, was around Giles Brent's old village of Aquia and along the first road inland in Stafford. Along this road, which was where Route 611 is today, many houses were built both large and small. One of these homes was that of John Moncure. This house known as Clermont was a fine home located on what is said to be the highest point in Stafford, overlooking Aquia Creek. It was under the leadership of the Rev. John Moncure that lovely Aquia Episcopal Church was built. The original structure was finished in 1751, but ravished by fire in 1754, the building was completely as it now stands in 1757.

Also along this road was Richland a home of the Brents, the Lees of Stratford Hall, and the Fitzhughs. The original house was destroyed during the Revolutionary War, but was replaced soon afterwards. The story goes that while the Fitzhughs lived in the house, having bought it in 1840, President Van Buren stopped at the house in his elegant coach with several liverymen and asked to be received. Mrs. Fitzhugh's servant returned to announce that Mrs. Fitzhugh was not entertaining and President Van Buren drove on. It was likely that President Van Buren was on his way to the spot along the Potomac at the end of this old road. This spot now known as Widewater was famous for its great abundance of fish and many Presidents are known to have come here to fish.

The fishing at Widewater, however, was not done only for sport. Since the days of the early settlers, men had made their living from the fish in these waters. At one time a seine stretched out into the Potomac for five miles, and seldom was this gigantic net pulled in with less than 100,000 fish. The herring caught here were salted and shipped all over the world.

It was at this same location on the river that in 1890s Samuel Langley flew the first heavier than air plane. The plane was launched from a houseboat and traveled in the air for nearly a half a mile. Langley's later attempt at a manned flight was not so successful as the plane shortly after leaving the boat plunged into the Potomac. It is at this same spot, Widewater, that the R.F.&P. tracks emerge from the woods giving the traveler a wonderous view of the Potomac as the tracks run along the rive here for some distance.

Down the Potomac on the southern side of Potomac Creek in St. Paul's Parish William Fitzhugh had build a home, Bedford, where he settled after coming over from England. Fitzhugh's large holdings throughout Stafford were left to his five sons, and the name "Fitzhugh" became entrenched in the lower part of the county. The church which the Fitzhughs attended was St. Paul's parish Church near Choatanck Creek (now in King George County). The first church for this parish was probably built around 1670 and the fine brick building which stands today was erected around 1766. While the Fitzhughs were certainly the predominate family in the area, the Balls, relatives of Mary Ball mother to George Washington, were also quite prosperous and built several fine homes two of which are standing today, Sherwood Forest and Chapel Green. St. Paul's Church apparently had not been used for several years when the county (then King George) in 1813 took it over and used it as an academy.

Across the county, on the Rappahannock, a new settlement had developed Fredericksburg. In 1727 the town which was known as Falmouth was granted a charter. This prosperous little community was then a part of King George County which was added to Stafford in 1778 when a swap of territory was arranged to improve the workability of the two counties.

Falmouth grew rapidly a a port, shipping goods all over the world. Warehouses were built to accommodate the many products brought to the village for export. Industry thrived here as grainery mills developed to process the wagon loads of grain brought in from the Valley of Virginia. Duff Green built a large brick cotton mill believed to be the first in the country. Two of the most active businessmen in Falmouth were the brothers, Samuel and Basil Gordon. The Gordons were in various businesses and Basil Gordon became the first American millionaire.

Another important industry in the county during the early 1700s was the mining and processing of iron. Augustine Washington who had stock in the Principio Company, the largest American exporter of pig iron in the colonial period, came to Stafford in 1738 to manage the Accokeek Iron Mine and Works.

Capt. Washington settled his family on a farm by the Rappahannock just below Falmouth. It was here at Ferry Farms that his famous son George was said to have cut down the now famous cherry tree. George Washington who was six when his family moved to Ferry Farms received much of his early schooling at Master Hobb's School in Falmouth. The boy who was to achieve such greatness began his career as a surveyor while living at Ferry Farms, and it was from the banks of this farm that he threw a silver dollar across the Rappahannock. Throughout his life George Washington visited often in this area, primarily at Chatham, the magnificent home of built by William Fitzhugh, a grandson of the immigrant William Fitzhugh. Chatham still stands on the Rappahannock below Falmouth and is one of the finest mansions in the country.

 

CHATHAM - COLONIAL MANSION

 

Chatham was the center of much of the gentle life in Stafford, for the Fitzhugh had a race track behind his house and a fine stable of horses. A jockey club was formed and Chatham was generally filled with visitors. It was at Chatham years later that Robert E. Lee proposed to Mary Curtis, and when the Union had headquarters there during the Battle of Fredericksburg, Lee refused to fire on Chatham.

Many other fine homes were built around Falmouth such as Belmont, later the home in the early 1900's of the famous artist Gari Melchers, Clear View and Carlton, overlooking Falmouth, and Ellerlie, the home of Dr. Michael Wallace, a famous doctor and leader in the community.

The town of Falmouth had it greatest moments during the Revolutionary period. Many conflicts arose between the citizens and the British sailors whose ships docked nearby. One of these occured when a group of British sailors were being unusually haughty. They entered tavern and the largest among them, billed as a great fighter, began pushing men away from the bar. The colonists enraged by this behavior sent a rider to summon Dr. Michael Wallace, a large man known for his ability as a pugilist. When Dr. Wallace arrived, he challenged the Britishman to a boxing match and they went down to the beach where Dr. Wallace beat the sailor so badly that he had to be carried to his ship by his comrades.

When the Revolution actually began, Stafford was one of the most important ports in the country. It was in Falmouth that the famous Hunter's Ironworks was located. At the time of the Revolution it was one of the finest in the country. This ironworks furnished many of the rifles, kettles, and other utensils used by the fighters for independence. The ironworks was so important that during much of the war, troops were stationed in and around Falmouth to protect it. Stafford furnished support not only for the Hunter's Ironworks, but also in man power as a company of men led by Captain William Payne of Falmouth and, known as the Falmouth Blues, took part in the final fighting at Yorktown. During the war many homes were destroyed by the British, especially along the Potomac. Stafford again felt the effects of war in 1812 as the British destroyed as much as they could along the Potomac on their way to Washington.

After these two wars Stafford repaired the damage and once again began to prosper. Adding this prosperity was the coming of the railroad. The General Assembly of Virginia in 1834 gave a charter to the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad Company to build a railroad from Richmond to Aquia in Stafford. Prior to 1885 the trip from Richmond to Washington was made by stage coach through Falmouth and Stafford Court House. In 1815 steamboat service was begun from Washington to Aquia. The remainder of the trip was made by stage. The railroad was to replace this leg of the trip. Although the work went slowly, the lane was opened to Aquia in 1842. There were regular stations along the line, but the train usually would stop anywhere there were cargo and passengers to be picked up.

The coming of the railroad lifted the economy of the Potomac coast which had been twice stunted by war. However, this was short lived as the Civil War brought Federal troops into the country. When the Federal troops came in, the Confederates destroyed the section of the railroad from Aquia to the Rappahannock. The Federals under the leadership of General McDowell rebuilt the railroad to use in their march to Richmond. Throughout the war the Union controlled the railroad and use it to transport troops and equipment to the Rappahannock from Aquia.

In May of 1862 President Lincoln journeyed to Aquia by steamboat and then rode to McCowell's headquarters at Chatham on a flatcar sitting on a bench. McDowell who was attempting to take Fredericksburg and then march to Richmond had his troops camped all over the county and President Lincoln reviewed the troops in the fields behind Chatham.

 

LINCOLN IN STAFFORD AFTER TROOP REVIEW

 

All during the Civil War, troops were camped throughout Stafford. Most often the troops were of the Union Army although the Confederacy occasionally used the land. When the war was over, the wealth of the county had been completely depleted. The land had been over worked, burned, and scarred, and the land once plentiful with great forests and rich fields of tobacco was barren and poor. Even the rebuilding of the railroad and its completion in 1872 to Washington did not help the county, for it no longer had the products to transport.

However, Stafford was not dead and although the rebuilding process was much slower this time; the people did it again. The one industry which the war had not ruined was fishing and great quantities of herring were brought in by the great net at Widewater.

While the people of Stafford did not have money, there was still money passing through the county on the train, and on the night of October 12, 1894, two men staged a western type hold-up of Mail Train No. 78. The train was held up at Aquia as the two men forced their way into the express car and rifled it. They then unhooked the engine and sent it unmanned with an open throttle down the track. The engine finally ran off the track at Quantico. Soon after their daring robbery the bandits were arrested, convicted, and imprisioned for a long term.

With the coming of the First World War, Stafford's importance and economy rose, for at Quantico the U.S. Marine corps trained and mobilized troops. In 1921 the first school for the study of amphibious warfare was established by the Marines at Quantico. Since then the base at Quantico has continued to grow and has helped the county to regain some of its early luster. During the Second World War the need for any increase in the size of the Marine Corps became obvious and thus the size and the importance of the Marine base caused an improvement of the transportation through the county leading to a more progressive county.

Much that was great in the early history of the county either happened or had it beginning in Stafford. With over three hundred year of outstanding heritage behind it, there is no reason that Stafford should not again reach the heights of leadership and progress that prevailed throughout the county's early history.

FERRIES ARE ESTABLISHED

A ferry was established from the land of Col. William Fitzhugh in Stafford over to Maryland, in 1720.

In 1722 the Assembly provided for a ferry "On Rappahannock river from Mrs. Fitzhugh's Plantation in King George County, to the wharf on the leaseland of Thomas Buckner and John Royston". King George then extended along the Rappahannock, and this ferry landing was in what became Stafford. The lands of Royston then unsettled, called the Leaselands, are where Fredericksburg, now is. And the lands of Mrs. Fitzhugh referred to are the plantation that was later named Chatham.

In May 1730 the Assembly provided for a Warehouse (tobacco), "At Falmouth upon Mrs. Todd's lots".

The ferry which ran from the Stafford side to Fredericksburg was conducted by several people, before it was taken over by Anthony Strother, who with his brother William, lived on land they bought of the Chatham tract, part of which they afterward sold to George Washington's father. Strother's Ferry ran from the place he lived (now owned by Julian V. Brooks), to the foot of Wolfe Street, and he was operating it in 1738. About 1780 the first bridge was built here, a wooden trestle, connecting Stafford with Fredericksburg. Another ferry was being operated after 1740 from the farm of Augustine Washington to Roger Dixon's landing, at the Wharf in Fredericksburg. The first substantial bridge was even later, and was built by William Fitzhugh III from Chatham to Fredericksburg, at William Street, where a bridge now stands.

 

TOBACCO BECOMES KING

At first the settlers did not like the bitter taste of Virginian grown tobacco. In 1612 John Rolfe got seeds of tobacco plants from West Indies. From these seeds he grew a fine leaf which was almost as good as the tobacco grown in the Spanish Colony. Ralph Hamor says that Rolfe's tobacco was as sweet as any under the sun. About six years later Thomas Lambert improved the method of curing the leaf. Instead of curing them like hay, he hung them on log sticks in a line and then hung the sticks on racks in a shed so as the sun and air could get to all the leaves. In this way they dried evenly. Tobacco was as good as money.

Because some planters put out much tobacco, and in 1680-84 the price went low, there was a movement to plant less. It was the staple crop, not only a money crop, but it was money. Everyone was paid in so many pounds of tobacco. This, however, was not literal, for the minister and the taxes and the merchant could not be paid with large bundles of tobacco lugged or hauled to their doors. The tobacco was stored in Public Warehouses, at places fixed by the State and were supervised by the State. Here the Planter, if he did not ship his crop, or his whole crop, could bring his tobacco which was graded, inspected, estimated, and he was issued upon this certificate that he had a certain amount of tobacco. All business then was on credit, at long terms. The Planter then paid off his year's debts. Paid the minister, settled up. For what he wanted from England, he simply sent hogsheads of tobacco over which were sole by his Factor, and as is shown in the letter of William Fitzhugh, ordered what he wanted.

When the price of tobacco went too low, it hurt Virginia, and this was hard on Stafford, where tobacco was by far the largest crop. Men who believed the crop should be controlled made agreements, but none kept them. The Colony tried to regulate the amount planted, but failed -- so crop regulation is not a new idea. And persons, probably hired to do so, went out at night and cut up the plants, and destroyed seed beds. This led to much trouble, and Stafford felt it like other counties. William Fitzhugh refers to this in his letters.

In a report made by Governor Culpeper, in 1683, he had "strictly examined the business of plant cutting', and advised the arrest of Robert Beverly, though he does not say why, the reason being probably that Beverly had incurred his wrath by refusing to turn over books of the Assembly with a proper order. He mentions the faithful execution of an order by "Major General Smythe", who seems to have arrested Beverly who live in Westmoreland, and was interested in Stafford. Culpeper went on to say that General Smythe acted "to his own great loss by the Rabble cutting up his own tobacco plants within two day out of spite". Beverly, Culpeper said, was held for a time but "upon the utmost scrutiny I could find no proof of anything against him". That ended the "Tobacco troubles".

 

EARLY CHURCH OF NORTHERN NECK

Taken from The Northern Neck Magazine written by Beulah Hinton Marsh

"Aquia Church"

 Following the creation of parishes the erection of Churches began. These patriots believed that true religion and good morals are the only solid foundation for public liberty and happiness.

The established Church of England, from the period of colonization until the Revolutionary Period was the recognized Church and was supported by taxation of the people. These Churches, however, carried certain civil responsibilities as the laying of taxes on all things tithable, the decisions in cases involving dishonesty and immorality, the care of the indigent, and the education of the youth. The parish, is seemed, stood on the same footing as the county.

The glebe, which Bishop Meade describes as a good farm near the church and belonging to it, was the area of activity of the ministers who through industrious efforts thereon derived an additional revenue for the care of their families. The churches generally were built on the parish glebes on a location convenient to a spring which furnished refreshment for the faithful worshippers and their horses who traveled over miles of the county to attend church.

The six counties of the Northern Neck are liberally represented in the Colonial, or early church period - each apparently made equal effort to erect suitable places of worship. Now each county points with pride to the buildings of the 17th and 18th centuries that have survived the ravages of time and elements and are still in use. Further, they respect and revere the many locations upon which once stood one of the early churches.

The following survivals are listed Aquia Church in Stafford County, formed before 1680 - destroyed by fire in 1754, but rebuilt in 1757. The communion silver given to the parish in 1759 was burned during three wars 1776, 1812, 1861.

Aquia Church (Protestant Episcopal), in Stafford County Virginia, stands on the very early settled land of the new world.

In 1711 the Rev. Alexander Scott began a notable ministry. A beautiful memorial to the Rev. Mr. Scott is the communion service of wrought silver and very massive, still in possession of Aquia Church and in rugular use. On each of three pieces, flagon, chalice, and paten is inscribed, "The gift of the Rev'd Alexander Scott, late minister of this parish".

The Rev. Mr. Scott's tomb, a stone slab moved in recent years from "Dipple", the family cemetery, to Aquia Church-yard, is surmounted by the Scott Arms, with this motto "Gaudia Magna". Its epitaph is 'Here lies the body of the Rev'd Alexander Scott, and Presbyter of the Church of England, who lived to be minister of Overwharton Parish for 28 years".

The Rev. Alexander Scott was succeeded by his curate, the Rev. John Moncure, a native of Scotland, and descendant of a Huguenot who fled from France on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The present church building of Aquia dates from the long period of conspicuous service that closed with his death in 1764.

Records of the House of  Burgeses of 1757 mention that Mourning Richards in 1751, for an agreed price of 110,900 pounds of tobacco, built a large brick church near Aquia Creek. The Church was burned, after which Mourning Richards rebuilt it "in a neat and workman like manner". The Burgesses decreed that 'the vestry of Overwharton Parish be empowered and directed to levy on the inhabitants sufficiently to pay the cost of the church". Aquia is built in the form of a Greek Cross with two tiers of windows set in very thick walls. There are three double door entrances; one in each arm of the cross, with the Altar in its east end. Against the reredos of the white woodwork are four arched panels in black. Inscribed in English script with the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer. At the southeastern re-entrant angle stands the original "three decker" pulpit with its great sounding board. The pews are square. over the West entrance is the gallery, supported by large pillars and reached by winding stairs. The was the slave gallery of former days. On the front of the gallery a panel bears the names of the first minister and vestry

JOHN MONCURE MINISTER, 1757

 

Peter Hedgeman Benjamin Strother

John Mercer Thomas Fitzhugh

John Lee Peter Daniel, Warden

Mett Doniphan Traves Cook, Ward

Henry Tyler John Fitzhugh

William Mountjoy John Peyton

Outside over the south door is the inscription "Built A.D. 1751. Destroyed by fire 1754 and rebuilt A.D. 1757 by Mourning Richards".

In 1873 Mr. Moncure Robinson, of Richmond, Virginia, endowed Aquia, the church of his forefathers, and it stands today in a most excellent state of preservation, on of the the finest examples of Colonial Church architecture in Virginia. To quote the Reverend John Moncure, D.D. in 1908 "Aquia having come safely through the Wars, and having endured the storms of time stands in majesty, typical of the word which has so often been proclaimed from the old pulpit, promising strength to the causes of righteousness".

Pocahontas and John Rolfe Have Many Descendants In Stafford County Today

Alfred, Archer, Bentley, Bernard, Bland, Bolling, Branch, Cabell, Catlett, Cary, Dandridge, Dixon, Douglas, Duval, Eldridge, Ellett, Ferguson, Field, Fleming, Gay, Gordon, Giffin, Grayson, Harrison, Hubard, Lewis, Logan, Markham, Meade, McRae, Murray, Page, Poythress, Randolph, Robertson, Skipwith, Standard, Tazewell, Walke, West, Whittle, Grigsby, Watson and others.

St. Paul's Church Stafford Co. - Now in King George County

One day in the year 1766 the vestry of St. Paul's met after due deliberation and discussion the following advertisement was agreed upon "To let to the lowest bidder on Friday the 29th of August, the building of a brick church in St. Paul's Parish, Stafford county, in the form of a Cross, of the following dimensions each wing to be 16 feet in Clear for the length and 26 in Breadth, 2 feet high to the Water Table, and 24 to the Ceiling, with three Galleries".

This call for bids appeared in the Virginia Gazette on July 18. The Parish already had a church, near the site now proposed for the erection of the new one, but the thought of erecting a new building was not new, for four years before, on February 12, 1762, the vestry had placed an advertisement in the Virginia Gazette calling for "a Building of a Brick Church in St. Paul's Parish". For reasons not recorded, or at least not known to researchers, the work was not then undertaken. Excepting the Old Parish Register, which is in the Episcopal Seminary in Alexandria, most of the records of the parish of those day subsequently disappeared. Even the names of the Vestryment are not now known. But two years after the second call for bids was issued and perhaps while the new church was nearing completion, the members of St. Paul's Vestry included Samuel Washington, John Washing, Lawrence Washington, the first two being brothers of George Washington and the third his cousin, while others were Colonel Henry Fitzhugh, of "Bedford", Captain John Alexander of "Caleden", Captain Baldwin Dade and Francis Thornton.

We read in Washington's diary that on Sunday, September 4, 1768, and again on May 22, 1769 he attended services at St. Paul's Church. On each occasion he was visiting his brother Samuel Washington, who as we have just seen was one of the vestrymen. What manner of church did Washington see on these occasions? Assuming that the building had been completed, as it probably was by the time at least of the the second visit, the future Father of Our Country, then a man of some thirty-seven years of age, knelt to pray in a church built in the form of a Greek Cross, fifty-eight by fifty-eight feet in the clear, of brick laid in Flemish bond, without glazed headers. The main entry was by the west doorway, with subsidiary doors on the north and the south of the transept, all with rubbed-rick pedimented trim. In the east wing of the cross was the channel, and one of the re-entrant angles of the chancel of the church. The pulpit rose high above the heads of the congregation within full view of all those who sat in the transept, the nave or the three galleries. And doubtless there were the nigh box pews which gave privacy in this house of God to the high and mighty.

St. Paul's Parish was in Stafford County and remained so until 1777, when an exchange of territory between King George and Stafford place St. Paul's in King George County. Rectorship of St. Paul's Parish was held for nearly 80 years by two ministers by the name of Stuart, David Stuart the father and William Stuart the son. Father and son resided at their nearby plantation on the Potomac, "Cedar Grove", where descendants continued to live until the present generation. Descendants of these worthy men continue to form a part of the membership of St. Paul's Church, as do also descendants of the Washingtons, who were vestrymen at the time of the construction of the present church.

 


 

Souvenir Program Cover

 


 

Chatham

 


 

Aquia Church

 


 

Bridge

 


 

Lincoln addresses the troops