Ball-Sellers House

Ball-Sellers House The Ball-Sellers House (c.1742), built by John Ball, is the oldest house in Arlington County, VA

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Arlington Historical Society
08/30/2020

Arlington Historical Society

On this day in Arlington history: August 30, 1918, Julia K. Rhinehart was inducted as a yeoman (f) for female, in the US Navy. There were only 11,275 Navy female yeomen, sometimes referred to as yeomanettes, who helped break the gender wall in the military. Julie (Rhinehart) Powell, future owner of the Ball-Sellers House with her husband, Bill was one of them.

In March 1917, the US Navy was ordered to start recruiting women into the Naval Reserve to be clerks, radio electricians, accountants, and factory workers to free men for active duty. Women came from around the country, but the largest contingent was from the Washington area.

When she was inducted, Julia was one month shy of her 37th birthday—old by comparison to most of the other women who were mostly between 19 and 21 years old. Julia was from Rockingham County, Virginia and had moved to Washington a few years earlier. She worked as a dressmaker and clerk.

These first female naval personnel worked six days a week and often late at night and on Sundays as switch board operators, cable decoders, and translators. None ever saw combat and only a few went overseas. In some cases, some were assigned to ships along the coast for administrative duties and Julia was assigned to a tugboat, the USS Triton. The tug patrolled the Potomac to the Naval Proving Grounds and Powder Factory, pushing barges loaded with materials for producing gunpowder.

Julia was on active duty from September 3, 1918 to July 31, 1919. Although recruited for a four year stint, World War I ended on November 11, 1918 and she, along with other yeomen (f), were kept on inactive status until their enlistments expired receiving a retainer of $1 a month. She was discharged from the Navy as a Yeoman 2nd class on February 13, 1920. She died in 1957 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Section 31, Lot 5703. (see photo)

Did you know that colonial Chesapeake women, including the Ball family women, likely distilled their own alcohol? Any co...
08/13/2020

Did you know that colonial Chesapeake women, including the Ball family women, likely distilled their own alcohol?

Any colonial-era farm needed to produce alcohol to be self-sufficient. Early Americans drank it daily because other beverages, such as water, milk, tea, or coffee were often contaminated or unsafe, scarce, or expensive. Households also needed a stock of alcohol for medicinal and cleaning purposes. An inventory completed upon John Ball’s death in 1766 listed the family’s distilling equipment, including a still, tub, cider troughs, tin funnels, bottles, and vessels. It’s likely that the Ball women, which included John’s wife Elizabeth and daughters Stacy, Mary, Milly, Winifred, and Elizabeth, produced the household’s alcohol. In her book Every Home Had a Distillery, historian Sarah Meacham teaches readers that Chesapeake colonists depended on women to make alcohol, mainly because men spent most of their time in the fields and women could easily watch over the distilling process while cooking. Though it’s hard to tell exactly what kind of tasty drinks the Ball family might have created at the Ball-Sellers House, Chesapeake women in particular were known for creating ciders from apples, peaches, persimmons, and other local fruit.

To learn more about Chesapeake distilling during the colonial period, listen to this 15-minute podcast from our friends in Colonial Williamsburg: https://podcast.history.org/2015/04/13/every-home-a-distillery/

Register for this free local history program today!
07/28/2020
Virtual Program: US Civil War “Colored Troops” in Arlington

Register for this free local history program today!

Local historians and reenactors, Edward W. Gantt, Ben Hawley, and Michael Schaffner will give a presentation on African American regiments organized in what was then Alexandria County (now Arlingto…

On this day in Arlington history, July 24, 1838: George Washington Parke Custis spoke at the commencement of Georgetown ...
07/24/2020

On this day in Arlington history, July 24, 1838: George Washington Parke Custis spoke at the commencement of Georgetown College in Washington, D.C. Custis, a vigorous supporter of religious freedom, was an honored friend of the Jesuits who administered Georgetown College.

Custis was a Virginia plantation owner, author, and playwright. He was also the grandson of Martha Washington and step-grandson and adopted son of George Washington, he and his sister Eleanor grew up at Mount Vernon and in the Washington presidential households.

Custis inherited a large fortune from his late father, John Parke Custis, including slaves and a plantation in what is now Arlington. In 1803 he began building a mansion high atop a hill overlooking the Potomac River and Washington, D.C. and he called it Arlington house. He made it a shrine to George Washington and preserved and displayed many of Washington's belongings.

Custis achieved some distinction as an orator delivering a number of patriotic addresses, probably much like he gave to graduating students at Georgetown. He also wrote historical plays about Virginia and he wrote a series of biographical essays about his adoptive father that were compiled and published after his own death in 1857.

His daughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis, married Robert E. Lee. They inherited Arlington House and the plantation surrounding it,

You can hear "On This Day in Arlington History" on Arlington radio's WERA 98.6 FM every morning at 8:30 Learn more about Arlington History at our website: arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org

On this day in Arlington history: July 23, 1788 a hurricane strikes northern Virginia. The hurricane will become known a...
07/23/2020

On this day in Arlington history: July 23, 1788 a hurricane strikes northern Virginia. The hurricane will become known as George Washington’s Hurricane because he recorded it in his journal. It is devastating to Northern Virginia farmers and ships on the Potomac and along in its path.

The center of the hurricane passed right over Washington’s Mount Vernon estate on July 23-24, 1788 where he had returned after winning the War of Independence. He wrote of the storm, “In a word it was violent and severe—more so than has happened for many years.” Washington also wrote about extensive crop damage and several ships that ran aground including a small ship that had been gifted to him. The “Federalist” which he’d owned for only six weeks sank during the chaos. (Image: replica of “The Federalist” on display at BWI)

Washington’s crops weren’t the only ones destroyed and whose property was damaged or destroyed. Throughout present day Arlington and northern Virginia, farmers and families would have all experienced severe losses.

You can hear "On This Day in Arlington History" on Arlington radio's WERA 98.6 FM every morning at 8:30 Learn more about Arlington History at our website: arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org

On this day in Arlington history: July 21, 1861: On this day in Arlington history: July 21, 1861: Spectators--including ...
07/21/2020

On this day in Arlington history: July 21, 1861: On this day in Arlington history: July 21, 1861: Spectators--including men, women, and children from Northern Virginia, some with picnic baskets and libations for an afternoon of entertainment--show up in Manassas, Virginia to watch what they think may be the only battle of the Civil War. They spread their blankets on the grass hoping to see some action between the Union and Confederate troops.

But this first Battle of Bull Run went badly for the Union. Confederate troops broke through Union General McDowell’s lines. Panicked spectators fled back to Washington; their carriages competing on the roads with wounded, dispirited, and frightened Union troops.

Most Union military commanders had encouraged the belief that the “war of the rebellion” as Unionists often called it, would be short-lived. But after this conflict, no one continued to believe the Confederacy could be crushed quickly with little loss of life. The bloodshed on that day—3,000 Union troops and 2,000 Confederates killed—horrified the US government in Washington. This new-found fear set the stage for the ring of defensive forts built to protect the capital city from potential Confederate attack—including those built in what will become Arlington. (Image: First Battle of Bull Run, chromolithograph by Kurz & Allison)

You can hear "On This Day in Arlington History" on Arlington radio's WERA 96.7 FM every morning at 8:30. Learn more about Arlington History at our website: arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org

On this day in Arlington history: July 20, 1945 Arlington Sun’s front page provides the whereabouts of several Arlington...
07/20/2020

On this day in Arlington history: July 20, 1945 Arlington Sun’s front page provides the whereabouts of several Arlington and Falls Church “Fighting Men.” These fighting men included:
-- Corporal Theodore M. Loveless,
-- Lieutenant A.M. “Mack” Rucker, Jr.,
-- Yeoman 2nd class Walter L. Brown,
-- Elbert J. Carson,
-- Lieutenant Jack Woodward,
-- Staff Sgt. Charles Brown,
-- Ensign Robert Kephart,
-- B.M. Hedrick,
-- Tech Sgt. Richard E. Hazel,
-- 2nd Lieutenant John F. Madigan, and
-- Private Jack R. Neal to name but a few on the front page of the paper.

The newspaper reported who was wounded and where they were now. Some of these military men were reported as having died in battles in distant places around the world. The newspaper said it could report it now to the public because their families had been notified. Other men were reported as being discharged from service after having been wounded. Still others were being transferred for training or being shipped to the Pacific Theater.

By this date, in July 1945, victory has been declared in Europe but World War II was still raging in the Pacific. All allied guns were now trained on Japan. The entire newspaper is available for you at the Center for Local History at the Main Arlington Library.
You can hear "On This Day in Arlington History" on Arlington radio's WERA 98.6 FM every morning at 8:30. Learn more about Arlington History at our website: arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org

On This Day in Arlington history, July 19, 1952, Harry S. Barnes, the senior air route traffic controller for the Civil ...
07/19/2020
Flying Saucers Over the Capitol and White House | Ghosts of DC

On This Day in Arlington history, July 19, 1952, Harry S. Barnes, the senior air route traffic controller for the Civil Aeronautics Administration in charge of the National Airport air traffic control center, reported that shortly before midnight that seven “pips” appeared on the control center’s radar about 15 miles southeast of D.C. Three other experienced air traffic controllers confirmed this report and all stated that the lights flew over restricted areas of Washington including the White House and the Capitol.

Before the night was over, an experienced pilot saw them in the sky and radar at both Andrews and Bolling Air Forces Bases also picked up the UFOs. Two Air Force F-94 jets streaked over Washington, searching for flying saucers.

Then, a week later, it happened -- more UFOs on the radar screen. The controllers called again for interceptors. At about 11 p.m. the Air Force again dispatched F-94s to search the sky over Washington but when the jets arrived, the blips disappeared from National Airport's radar screens and the F-94 pilots saw nothing. When the jets returned to their base, the blips returned to the radar screens.

The government was perplexed while President Harry Truman demanded to know who or what was flying over the White House. Experts surmised that it was a temperature inversion -- a layer of hot air between two layers of colder air in the sky -- had bent the radar beam, causing it to mistake objects on the ground for things in the air. Temperature inversions were common in Washington on hot days, and the air traffic controllers were familiar with the phenomenon.

In the absence of information, the Washington Daily News printed a myriad of rumors. The "most persistent" was that the saucers were American aircraft secretly produced by Boeing "at some remote site." Another rumor was that the saucers were alien aircraft that had crashed, had been repaired, and was being flown by the Air Force.

Nobody really knew, but when Major General John Samford, the Air Force Director of Intelligence told the press that he thought it was the "temperature inversion" theory and the press printed the story, concern died down.

The UFOs never returned to the sky over Washington. Four years later, the 1956 science fiction movies like “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers” may have been inspired by the sightings. Experts continue to disagree on what it was that was spotted in the sky from National Airport.

You can hear "On This Day in Arlington History" on Arlington radio's WERA 98.6 FM every morning at 8:30. Learn more about Arlington History at our website: arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org
https://ghostsofdc.org/2018/02/26/flying-saucers-capitol-white-house/

The hot summer of 1952 witnessed some bizarre lights floating over the District. Evidently for many nights in July, sightings were reported of up to seven lights flying around the night sky, including over the Capitol Building. Radar operators claimed they saw strange blips on their screens and ...

On this day in Arlington history: July 18, 1774, Fairfax County—which includes what today is Arlington County--passes a ...
07/18/2020
Founders Online: Fairfax County Resolves, 18 July 1774

On this day in Arlington history: July 18, 1774, Fairfax County—which includes what today is Arlington County--passes a list of resolutions that reject British Parliament authority to tax the colonies without their consent. The House of Burgesses in Williamsburg had just been dissolved by the Virginia royal governor, so the inhabitants of the county of Fairfax (of which present day Arlington is a part) take matters into their own hands. At a general meeting of the “Freeholders and Inhabitants of the County of Fairfax” the Court House in Alexandria, approve the following:
“[T]he most important and valuable Part of the British Constitution, upon which it’s very Existence depends, is the fundamental Principle of the People’s being governed by no Laws, to which they have not given their Consent, by Representatives freely chosen by themselves; who are affected by the Laws they inact equally with their Constituents, to whom they are accountable, and whose Burthens they share; in which consists the Safety and Happiness of the Community.”

George Washington was one of 25 individuals who signed the document.
https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/02-10-02-0080

Fairfax County Resolves, 18 July 1774

On this day in Arlington history: July 17, 1975, the Ball-Sellers House is named to the National Register of Historic Pl...
07/17/2020
Document Historic Arlington: The Ball-Sellers House (2019)

On this day in Arlington history: July 17, 1975, the Ball-Sellers House is named to the National Register of Historic Places. Built in the 1740s by John Ball, its last private owner Marian Rhinehart Sellers donated the house to the Arlington Historical Society with the agreement that it be preserved and open to the public free of charge—except this year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about it https://arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org/2020/02/document-historic-arlington-the-ball-sellers-house-2019/

The Ball-Sellers House is Arlington Virginias oldest house. Built in the 1740s by a farmer, it is a rare example of a middle class colonial dwelling. By some miracle, it has survived for over 270 y…

On July 4th, 1882, "the excursion of the season" took place at a resort on original Ball-Sellers House property! The cel...
07/03/2020

On July 4th, 1882, "the excursion of the season" took place at a resort on original Ball-Sellers House property! The celebration included a string band, baseball games, and refreshments.

The Carlins, who owned the Ball-Sellers House for 105 years, built a resort called Carlin Springs across from Four Mile Run near the springs on their property. Established around 1872, Carlin Springs quickly became a popular place for Washingtonians and Alexandrians to escape city heat during summertime. The resort had everything necessary for a good time, including picnic pavilions, a dance hall, a restaurant, a swimming hole, ice cream parlor and bar. Since Carlin Springs was adjacent to a stop on the Washington and Ohio Railroad, the resort was also only a short train ride away!

Uncover more information about all of Arlington’s springs in the article by Eleanor Lee Templeman in the Arlington Historical Magazine here:http://arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/1988-3-Springs.pdf

Arlington Historical Society
06/19/2020

Arlington Historical Society

On this day in Arlington history, June 19, 1742: Fairfax County was established to accommodate the settlers north of the Occoquan—Fairfax County includes all of what is now Arlington County. Previously the Arlington area had been nominally a part of Northumberland County (1648) and Westmoreland County (1663), and effectively a part of Stafford County (1684) and Prince William County (1731). General Assembly of Virginia authorized the formation of Fairfax County from Prince William County. It will be governed by Lord Fairfax until the Revolutionary War.

Image: Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron (1693-1781)

On this day in Arlington history: June 17, 1975, the Virginia Landmarks Commission places the Ball-Sellers House on the ...
06/18/2020
Ball-Sellers House

On this day in Arlington history: June 17, 1975, the Virginia Landmarks Commission places the Ball-Sellers House on the State’s Register of Landmarks. The Virginia Landmarks Register, established in 1966, is managed by the Department of Historic Resources and manages the state’s official list of properties important to Virginia’s history. Structures such as the Ball-Sellers House embody the historical and cultural foundations of the nation.

The Ball-Sellers House is the oldest house in the county. It is owned today by the Arlington Historical Society and is a house museum open free to the public. Docent-led tours discuss how the house was built, who lived there, and its historical importance to the county and to the country.
https://arlingtonhistoricalsociety.org/visit/ball-sellers-house/

The Ball-Sellers House is closed until further notice due to the corona virus emergency. Hours: 1-4 pm on Saturdays from April through October and summer holidays: Memorial, Independence, and Labor…

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5620 3rd St S
Arlington, VA
22204

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Saturday 13:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(703) 577-7042

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