On this day in Arlington history, June 26, 1791: While surveying northern Virginia--and the area that will eventually become Arlington County--to determine the boundaries of Washington City, the new US capital, Andrew Ellicott comments disparagingly on the area's overwhelmingly rural nature. He writes to his wife, Sally from their "Surveyors Camp, State of Virginia" that “The country through which we are now cutting one of the ten-mile lines is very poor; I think for near seven miles on it there is not one House that has any floor except the earth.”
(Apparently he missed John Ball’s house—by now, occupied by his widow, Elizabeth. The Balls had not only a floor but a root cellar and loft—all of which you can still see today at 5620 Third Street, South).
Ellicott goes on to write to his wife, “Labouring Hands in this Country can scarcely be had at any rate: my estimate was twenty; but I have to wade slowly thro’ with six… As the President is so much attached to this country, I would not be willing that he should know my real sentiments about it.”