Historic Prince William

Historic Prince William As Prince William County's Historical Society we focus on educating the public on the historical res

As Prince William County's Historical Society we focus on educating the public on the historical resources in our county, past and present. We maintain and restore cemeteries in need of attention, document locations and events of historical significance, and try to document everything we can on our website related to Prince William County's past.

Our friends in Fauquier County will be presenting a Cemetery Conservation Workshop, open to the public and presented by ...
10/18/2023

Our friends in Fauquier County will be presenting a Cemetery Conservation Workshop, open to the public and presented by the Fauquier County Architectural Review Board and the Department of Community Development. Learn about best practices for historical grave marker and cemetery care, burial identification, and funding opportunities, including the Virginia Historical African American Cemetery and Graves Grant Fund. Modern methods for identifying burials and recent cemetery preservation projects in the Commonwealth will be discussed. Speakers will include Joanna Wilson Green, Cemetery Preservation Archaeologist, and Katherine Ridgeway, State Archaeological Conservator, with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Saturday, October 21, 2023 - 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
PATH Foundation, 321 Walker Drive, Suite 301, Warrenton, VA
For more information, contact the Fauquier County Department of Community Development at (540) 422-8210 or [email protected]

Images from a 1967 report on the Woodbridge Planning Area.
10/14/2023

Images from a 1967 report on the Woodbridge Planning Area.

Pictures from a 1967 report on the Dumfries Planning Area.
10/07/2023

Pictures from a 1967 report on the Dumfries Planning Area.

We recently found a report from 1967 that details the development plan for the "Manassas Planning Area" and it includes ...
10/04/2023

We recently found a report from 1967 that details the development plan for the "Manassas Planning Area" and it includes several, unlabeled images. This is prior to Manassas being an independent city.

On this 1967 transportation plan drawing the planners were planning big. They thought the George Washington Parkway woul...
09/22/2023

On this 1967 transportation plan drawing the planners were planning big. They thought the George Washington Parkway would be extended to run through the Dumfries area and there would be a southern beltway built that would apparently cross the Potomac River at Cherry Hill.

I, and my book, I Can't Tell A Lie, received some very nice press coverage yesterday in the Culpeper Star-Exponent newsp...
08/04/2023

I, and my book, I Can't Tell A Lie, received some very nice press coverage yesterday in the Culpeper Star-Exponent newspaper written by Allison Brophy Champion. Check out this link to the article

Lifelong colonial historian Jim Bish will give away free copies of his new, award-winning book to the first 100 people who stop by to see him at First Fridays.

Jason Graves of the YouTube channel, Exploring History Together toured Moor Green with Sandra, the owner of the 1815 hou...
07/12/2023

Jason Graves of the YouTube channel, Exploring History Together toured Moor Green with Sandra, the owner of the 1815 house.
Check out the excellent video

Moor Green is a beautifully restored historic home in Prince William County, Virginia. It dates back to the early 19th century, and was added to the National...

Our long time board member and friend, Don Wilson passed away last week. He was an employee with the Prince William Coun...
03/13/2023

Our long time board member and friend, Don Wilson passed away last week. He was an employee with the Prince William County Library for more than four decades and was a member of our historical society since its inception in 1989. He was a wealth of information on local history and genealogical research. His dedication can’t be replicated but his contributions will continue to benefit the residents of Prince William County.

A viewing will be held for Don on March 22, 2023 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Pierce Funeral Home (9609 Center Street, Manassas, Virginia 20110). Funeral Services will take place at Pierce Funeral Home the following morning, March 23, 2023 at 10:30 am, followed by interment at The Manassas Cemetery (9317 Center St, Manassas, VA 20110).

Full Obituary https://www.piercefh.com/obituaries/Donald-Wilson-89/ #!/Obituary

Check out the book "I Can’t Tell A Lie: Parson Weems and The Truth About George Washington’s Cherry Tree, Prayer at Vall...
03/02/2023

Check out the book "I Can’t Tell A Lie: Parson Weems and The Truth About George Washington’s Cherry Tree, Prayer at Valley Forge, and Other Anecdotes" on Amazon. You have heard the stories and assumed them to be false. You might want to rethink what you have learned.

01/08/2023

On Saturday we were joined by friends and volunteers to do some vegetation maintenance on the Robertson Cemetery. A very special thank you to Gary Haskins for putting in a ton of work. Also, thank you to Jerry; and his wife for telling him about the planned cleanup. He joined us and went right to work and was a pleasure to chat with.
We made a quick video of the cleanup for your enjoyment.

Volunteers with Historic Prince William will be at the Robertson Cemetery Saturday morning. The cemetery is a family cem...
01/06/2023

Volunteers with Historic Prince William will be at the Robertson Cemetery Saturday morning. The cemetery is a family cemetery that is within the Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park. For several years an elderly Robinson family member was maintaining the cemetery but has since passed away. Historic Prince William would like to honor his dedication of maintaining the cemetery by continuing to maintain the cemetery.
We will be there from about 9 AM to noon or so on Saturday (Jan. 7th) morning. If you happen to be at the park and are interested, stop by for a chat. We will be using some loud power equipment and there will be vehicles parked near the cemetery which may be a surprise to some.
This picture of the cemetery is from May 2021. Currently the cemetery is considerably overgrown and in need of maintenance.

Twenty-five years ago the last privately owned large parcel of land within the City of Manassas was sold, a farm known a...
11/10/2022

Twenty-five years ago the last privately owned large parcel of land within the City of Manassas was sold, a farm known as “Smitherwood”. The property was owned by Virginia and Selwyn Smith, which they called home for more than 45 years. They purchased the 92 acre farm in 1950 and began improvements on the existing farm house, eventually taking that house down and building another in 1959.
Selwyn Smith finished law school at the University of Virginia. He was a World War II veteran, later served as Prince William County commonwealth's attorney, state senator, Virginia secretary of public safety, and circuit court judge. The governors of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina dined together in the house after the centennial reenactment of the Second Battle of Manassas in 1962. After raising black Angus cattle on the farm, the Smiths planted corn and hay on the land until the 1980s, when the property transitioned into a tree farm.
The Smiths raised four children and several grand-children on the farm and just like the Portner property in the early 1900s, Smitherwood was open to local residents and children who enjoyed playing in the fields and fishing and swimming in the pond.
In 1986 the Smiths hosted an event for the American Cancer Society that included music, games, food, and a tour of the property.
By 2005 the property was developed into a planned neighborhood of single and multi-family homes known as Sumner Lake.
This write up pulled heavily from a Washington Post story written by Sewell Chan published on June 21, 1997. If you have memories, stories, or pictures of Smitherwood, we and others would like to read, hear, and/or see them.
Aerial images are dated 1937, 1987, 2000, and 2004.

It's that time of year. Cemeteries are on the minds of many. Some of us have the fortunate proclivity of having the 430+...
10/25/2022

It's that time of year. Cemeteries are on the minds of many. Some of us have the fortunate proclivity of having the 430+ family graveyards and managed cemeteries in Prince William County on our minds every day.
An interesting article about cemeteries for your reading enjoyment. Free article.

Cemeteries are more than final destinations for the dead. Just ask the tombstone tourists who love them.

We are teaming up with the fun folks at the County's preservation division to offer a tour of three cemeteries. The tour...
10/04/2022

We are teaming up with the fun folks at the County's preservation division to offer a tour of three cemeteries. The tour will include Cedar Run, which features several family cemeteries moved when Quantico was expanded, White Hall Cemetery, which is a fantastic example of a small town cemetery, and the cemetery that served the residents of Moor Green, a privately owned home built in 1815. There are lots of stories to tell including everyone's favorite... a scandal! It was investigated by Manassas' favorite resident, George Carr Round in June of 1887.
The tour will be Saturday, October 22nd from 9 am to 12 pm. Registration is $10 and is required at the site below or by calling 703-792-4754.
The tour will be Saturday, October 22nd from 9 am to 12 pm. Registration is $10 and is required at the site below or by calling 703-792-4754.
View the Western County Cemetery Tour at
http://pwcparks.org/historicprograms

Who was Minnie of Minnieville?In 1884 a small post office was established in what was known as the area of “Greenwood”. ...
07/15/2022

Who was Minnie of Minnieville?
In 1884 a small post office was established in what was known as the area of “Greenwood”. Today, that area is the intersection of Cardinal Drive and Minnieville Road. The post office was on the edge of Dewitt Alexander’s farm. Alexander became the first postmaster and likely ran a small store in the same building. The postmaster was also able to name the new location. Dewitt Alexander named it after his oldest child of 12, 10 year old, Minnie. Dewitt died in 1903. His wife, Emma Jane took over as postmaster but around 1905, several small post offices closed, including the Minnieville post office. Minnie married Luther Windsor and had eight children. Unfortunately, she died in 1916, at only 42 years old. Her mother died in 1924, and her husband died in 1938. Minnie, her husband, and her parents are all buried at the same intersection she grew up in, at the Greenwood Primitive Baptist Church, which was also established in 1884. Not many people are able to grow up in an area named after them but Minnie of Minnieville was lucky enough to do just that.

On this day, May 6th, in 1935, then President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order creating the Works Progres...
05/06/2022

On this day, May 6th, in 1935, then President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order creating the Works Progress Administration (WPA). One of the administration’s projects was the Federal Writers' Project (FWP), a federal government project created to provide jobs for out-of-work writers during the Great Depression. Susan Rogers Morton was instrumental in research in Prince William County between 1936 and 1938 that would lead to the publishing of the book titled, Prince William - the Story of Its Places and Its People by The Bethlehem Good Housekeeping Club in 1941. Morton’s work and records are still cited today on research and development projects throughout the area and the book mentioned above is one of the best books written on Prince William County, especially related to structures and cemeteries. Susan Rogers Morton lived in the Haymarket area for little more than a decade but made a lasting contribution to preserving the history of Prince William County. Reprints of the book mentioned are available from time to time in local used book stores. This write up borrowed heavily from a writing in Prince William Reliquary published in July, 2009 by Beverly Veness and super awesome local history and library legend, Don Wilson.

Ron Turner's website has been a great resource for historical documents and information for years. The site is now part ...
02/11/2022

Ron Turner's website has been a great resource for historical documents and information for years. The site is now part of Historic Prince William's website and can be viewed at
https://historicprincewilliam.org/pwcvirginia/

Website of documents and images collected by Ron Turner.

Now is the time to get your copy of Crossroads and Corners and the Historic Map drawn by Eugene Scheel before the price ...
01/26/2022

Now is the time to get your copy of Crossroads and Corners and the Historic Map drawn by Eugene Scheel before the price is increased in early February. Print the order form found on the page below and mail it in today because soon, the current prices will be history.
https://historicprincewilliam.org/publications/

Long time HPW board member and PWC resident Jim Bish, recently relocated to Culpeper where he and a neighbor took on the...
01/24/2022

Long time HPW board member and PWC resident Jim Bish, recently relocated to Culpeper where he and a neighbor took on the task of mapping all known cemeteries in the county. Read about this excellent work below.

https://starexponent.com/news/culpeper-county-cemetery-project-identifies-450-plus-burial-grounds/article_4f352574-03e9-5075-a456-a6c8caf6e474.html

Periwinkle is the first sign of an old cemetery, cedar trees also commonly mark burial grounds, historically planted to control smell of death.

Greenwood Primitive Baptist Church and Cemetery on this snowy January Day. This church and cemetery started in what is n...
01/04/2022

Greenwood Primitive Baptist Church and Cemetery on this snowy January Day. This church and cemetery started in what is now known as the Minnieville area, named for the Post Office that was established across the street from this church in the 1880s. Prior to the Post Office the area was known as "Greenwood". The Greenwood Presbyterian Church was down the road. It was established in the 1840s and had a log structure as early as 1855. This may seem old but this church sat at the entrance to Bel Air, the oldest house still standing in the county, dating to 1740.

Over the past month volunteers have cleaned vegetation from the Bradley Community Cemetery near the Prince William Parkw...
12/16/2021

Over the past month volunteers have cleaned vegetation from the Bradley Community Cemetery near the Prince William Parkway and the 234 Bypass area. It only takes a few short years for vegetation to start obstructing old cemeteries so continued maintenance is needed. There are over 400 cemeteries in the county. Likely one near you that could use some sticks picked up and vegetation removed if you are looking for a worthwhile activity.

Some volunteers helped us clean up the Carter grave area to allow a ground penetrating radar cart to be pushed around in...
11/22/2021

Some volunteers helped us clean up the Carter grave area to allow a ground penetrating radar cart to be pushed around in hopes of determining locations of more graves. Special thanks to the crew.

10/28/2021
The 1822 White House in Brentsville is for sale but the condition of the historic structure is disappointing. There are ...
10/25/2021

The 1822 White House in Brentsville is for sale but the condition of the historic structure is disappointing. There are no other residences in Brentsville that compare in age or workmanship with much of the original moldings still present in the house. The house was built and used by the family of John Williams, the Clerk of the Court before the Civil War. After the war it was used as an Academy where Mr. Ezra Bauder taught courses in engineering and college preparation. In 1931 Agnes Webster and her husband bought the house. At that time it had been vacant for 10 years. They restored it well enough and moved in during WWII. Agnes lived in the house for decades and was a member of the County Historical Commission. This house needs a special person, family, or company to return it to it's former glory and allow it to continue to benefit the historic buildings and dialog in historic Brentsville. Are you up for a rewarding challenge?
https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/12320-Bristow-Rd-Bristow-VA-20136/12443251_zpid/

Chilly weekends are great for exploring cemeteries in the county. Most of these pictures are from the Dumfries Public Ce...
01/25/2021

Chilly weekends are great for exploring cemeteries in the county. Most of these pictures are from the Dumfries Public Cemetery. Other pictures are from Weaver, and Triangle on the east side of the county and Chapman and Dawson on the west side of the county. Follow the links on the images to see more info and pictures, including 150 pictures taken at Dumfries Public Cemetery.

12/17/2020

Recently, volunteers worked on cleaning up of the Duvall Cemetery in the Westridge Development in Woodbridge, Virginia that dates to the 1880s. This Duvall family is related to the actor Robert Duvall. Watch the video to learn more.

This image from the Friends of East End Cemetery in Richmond shows why a light dusting of snow is a great time to look f...
12/09/2020

This image from the Friends of East End Cemetery in Richmond shows why a light dusting of snow is a great time to look for graves in the woods. The snow blows around and settles in the depressions of the graves, making it easy to locate a possible grave.

Volunteers took advantage of the great weather on Sunday to clean up the Thurman Cemetery at the Glen-Gery Brick manufac...
11/30/2020

Volunteers took advantage of the great weather on Sunday to clean up the Thurman Cemetery at the Glen-Gery Brick manufacturing plant on Godwin Drive in Manassas. This property will be transitioning into a new use over the next couple of years so it's important the cemetery stay in focus during the planning and transition phases. This cemetery is one of the oldest with ties to the formation of Manassas. The property is still being used for industrial use, we were granted permission to be on the property to perform our work. This cemetery is not accessible by the general public. The redevelopment of the property will hopefully include a planned management and improvement plan for the cemetery as well as a way for the community to visit.

Missouri Mill was located on the Chopawamsic Creek that divides Stafford and Prince William Counties near the area known...
11/18/2020

Missouri Mill was located on the Chopawamsic Creek that divides Stafford and Prince William Counties near the area known as Joplin. The gristmill was started by Thomas Chapman on land he acquired from a grant by the Virginia Governor. The mill used to be on a well-traveled road that was used as a North-South pathway to Fredericksburg. After Thomas Chapman's death in 1827 other families took over operation of the mill and at some point added sawmill capability. Other families who operated the mill were the Leary and Purcell families. The Purcell family was the last to operate the mill which ended in 1900. Following that, the mill and mill house fell into disrepair and hosted the occasional sightseeing party. A cemetery exists near the mill site known as the Chapman/Abel/Leary Cemetery. It contains the grave of Thomas Chapman and several Leary family members. Today almost nothing remains of the mill site and the land is owned by the United States Government for use by Quantico Marine Base. The structures were removed by the base in the 1970s.

Volunteers with HPW recently installed a new cemetery identification stone at the Greenwood Presbyterian Cemetery on Del...
11/12/2020

Volunteers with HPW recently installed a new cemetery identification stone at the Greenwood Presbyterian Cemetery on Delaney Road in Dale City. A volunteer spent about 16 hours over several months carving letters into the nearly 500 pound Virginia Blue Stone rock. The rock was then transported to the site and installed in the ground. The stone marker replaces a deteriorated wooden marker. The Greenwood Church formed in 1848 with the first burial at the cemetery occurring in 1850. This cemetery could be utilized in the future and is maintained.

Happy Veteran's Day! We have a lot of Veterans in Prince William County who have served and continue to serve all over t...
11/11/2020

Happy Veteran's Day! We have a lot of Veterans in Prince William County who have served and continue to serve all over the world. These pictures were recently scanned for a local resident who's father took them in the 1950s around the Korean War. If you have old slides or pictures we would be happy to help you convert them to digital format. Pictures posted with permission.

Long time PWC resident, local legend, and all around great guy, Manley Garber has died. Our very own Robert Moser record...
09/15/2020

Long time PWC resident, local legend, and all around great guy, Manley Garber has died. Our very own Robert Moser recorded an interview with Manley a couple years ago where he talked about PWC history. View the video on the page below.
http://whatsupwoodbridge.com/manley-garber-passes-away/

Manley Garber, a community member, passed away on Sunday. Garber helped bring electricity to much of Prince William County in the 1940s.

Thank you to all of those who joined us on today’s history tour. We visited four sites and heard a lot of great informat...
08/31/2020

Thank you to all of those who joined us on today’s history tour. We visited four sites and heard a lot of great information from Jim Bish and even some stories from Don Wilson. Also, thank you for the generous donations at the conclusion of the tour. Stay safe and healthy.

Our friends at the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center recently gifted us surveys drawn by Edgar Randall between 1890 a...
08/07/2020

Our friends at the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center recently gifted us surveys drawn by Edgar Randall between 1890 and 1912. A favorite is the S. B. Stonnell survey. This is the 372 acre parcel that holds William Grayson's 1790 tomb and once held the 1890 home known as Belle Air. This parcel was eventually purchased by the Hylton Group and is known as the Marumsco Hills neighborhood. All of the surveys have been scanned and are on the page below. The originals will be given to RELIC.
http://www.historicprincewilliam.org/photos/randall-surveys.html

Land surveys drawn by Edgar H. Randall between 1890 and 1912 in Prince William County, Virginia.

We would like to thank all those who came out for the ancient cemeteries tour yesterday. We had a great group and learne...
06/29/2020

We would like to thank all those who came out for the ancient cemeteries tour yesterday. We had a great group and learned a lot. Thank you all for attending and for your generous donations at the conclusion of the tour.

Landmarks of Old Prince William, printed in 1924 by Fairfax Harrison might be considered the most detailed written histo...
02/19/2020

Landmarks of Old Prince William, printed in 1924 by Fairfax Harrison might be considered the most detailed written history of Prince William County. Originally privately printed and limited to 150 copies of the two volume set, they are hard to find. Luckily, the book was reprinted 40 years after the original printing and combined into one large volume. Copies of this edition are out there but, hard to find. In 1987 the Prince William County Historic Commission reprinted the book. These are easier to find in used book stores or online. In fact, last week there were two copies of the 1987 reprint available at McKay Used Books in Manassas for a very reasonable price. The smaller book, is a personal favorite for it's detail on houses and cemeteries within the county. Originally published in 1941 by the Bethlehem Good Housekeeping Club of Manassas from information compiled by the workers of the Writers Program of the Work Projects Administration of Virginia. It has been updated at least once for a second edition and has been reprinted in 1961 and 1969. Copies can still be found from time to time, scattered about, waiting to catch the eye of a budding or fully bloomed history buff. Do you have a favorite book related to Prince William History?

02/09/2020

As a follow up to the story about Joyce Russell. Joyce visited my classes a couple of times at Woodbridge Senior High School and all of the information posted came from her talks to my history classes including some verification by me because of my interest in local history, much of the verification also came from students that attended by Gar-Field and Woodbridge SHS, as teaching at Woodbridge for almost thirty years, I knew quite a few alumni of both. Most, if not all the information that was posted can be found in her book about integrating Prince William County schools titled, A Blues Song of My Own which can be purchased on Amazon. The last time she visited my class was about 2012-13 and she came with some of her sisters, all who were graduates of WSHS. At that time Joyce lived in Tennessee but I have learned she has since moved to California. She had family in northern Virginia and in Maryland and that is when she was able to talk to my classes at one of visits to see family. She still has one sister that lives in Northern Virginia that I am aware and that is Sylvia living in Loudoun County.

Now something more important, I believe it is time to have a school named after Joyce Russell, or her parents, especially her father, World War II veteran and Reverend James P. Russell as he was the force behind his children’s integrating the public schools in Prince William County in 1961.Three years after the Russell family’s integrating the student body of all three levels of schools, Prince William County started to integrate the teaching staff. In the Fall 1964, four hand-picked teachers, Mary Glaze Porter, Maxine Coleman, Zella Brown, and Fannie W. Fitzgerald, were asked by Superintendent Herb Saunders, selected from the county’s three all-African American elementary schools – Washington-Reid near Dumfries, Antioch-McCrae in Broad Run and Jennie Dean in Manassas in order to begin the integration of the school system. These four teachers started the integration of faculty members which opened the door the following year for more. Currently, two of the four teachers, Mary Glaze Porter and Fannie W. Fitzgerald have schools named in their honor. Prince William County currently has at 100 schools. As I mentioned above, with new schools being planned and built, I think the Russell family should be at the top of the list for the honor, especially Reverend James P. Russell and his daughter Joyce for the courage it took to walk into Gar-Field High School for the first time during the fall 1961. Maxine Coleman and Zella Brown also should have schools named in their honor.

Jim Bish - Historic Prince William

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P. O. Box 1731
Woodbridge, VA
22195

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