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Title: Seaport in Virginia - George Washington's Alexandria
Author: Moore, Gay Montague
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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By Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick. A painting in oil after a pastel by James
Sharples. (_Courtesy Mount Vernon Ladies' Association_)]


George Washington's Alexandria




Drawings by Worth Bailey

Photographs by Walter Wilcox

The University Press of Virginia

The University Press of Virginia

Copyright © 1949 by The Rector and the Visitors of
the University of Virginia

Second printing 1972

ISBN: 0-8139-0183-9
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 73-188711

Printed in the United States of America

                     TO MY HUSBAND

                     CHARLES BEATTY MOORE

                     AND LIVED IN THE OLD HOUSES IN



Twenty years ago on a hot and sultry July afternoon, my husband and I
started to Mount Vernon to spend the day. On our return to Washington,
we lazily drove through the old and historic town of Alexandria--and
bought a house!

The town at once became of vital interest to us. We spent months and
years going through every vacant building into which we could force an
entrance. Our setter dogs could point an empty doorway as well as a
covey of quail, and seemed as curious about the interiors as we were
ourselves. I became obsessed with a desire to know the age of these
buildings and something of those early Alexandrians who had lived in

Old maps and records littered my desk. Out of the past appeared clerks
on high stools wielding quill pens and inscribing beautiful script for
me to transpose into the story of one of America's most romantic and
historic towns. It has been impossible to write about every house in
Alexandria--even about every historic house. I tried to recall the old
town as a whole. A succession of hatters, joiners, ships' carpenters,
silversmiths, peruke makers, brewers, bakers, sea captains, merchants,
doctors and gentlemen, schoolteachers, dentists, artisans, artists and
actors, began to fill my empty houses. Ships, sail lofts, ropewalks,
horses, pigs, and fire engines took their proper places, and the town
lived again as of yore--in my imagination.

Everywhere I turned I found General Washington: as a little boy on his
brother Lawrence's barge bringing Mount Vernon tobacco to the Hunting
Creek warehouse; on horseback riding to the village of Belle Haven; as
an embryo surveyor carrying the chain to plot the streets and lots. He
was dancing at the balls, visiting the young ladies, drilling the
militia, racing horses, launching vessels, engaging workmen, dining at
this house or that, importing asses, horses, and dogs, running for
office, sitting as justice; sponsoring the Friendship Fire Company, a
free school, the Alexandria Canal, or other civic enterprises. He was
pewholder of Christ Church and master of the Masonic lodge. To town he
came to collect his mail, to cast his ballot, to have his silver or his
carriage repaired, to sell his tobacco or his wheat, to join the
citizenry in celebrating Independence. His closest friends and daily
companions were Alexandrians. The dwellings, wharves, and warehouses of
the town were as familiar to him as his Mount Vernon farm.

In Alexandria Washington took command of his first troops. From the
steps of Gadsby's Tavern he received his last military review, a display
of his neighbors' martial spirit in a salute from the town's militia. An
Alexandrian closed his eyes, and Alexandrians carried his pall.

Washington belongs to Alexandria as Alexandria belongs to him. This is
_George Washington's Alexandria_.


     Alexandria, Virginia
     September 1949



     PREFACE                                                 vii





     1: William Ramsay: Romulus of Alexandria                52

     2: John Carlyle and His House                           62

     3: The Married Houses                                   71

     4: The Fairfaxes of Belvoir and Alexandria              77

     5: The George William Fairfax House                     87

     6: John Gadsby and His Famous Tavern                    99

     7: The Michael Swope House                             112

     8: Dr. William Brown and His Dwelling                  119

     9: The Peruke Shop                                     127

     10: Historic Christ Church                             131

     11: The Presbyterian Meetinghouse                      139

     12: Presenting The Sun Fire Company                    147

     13: Captain John Harper and His Houses                 156

     14: Dr. Elisha C. Dick and the Fawcett House           162

     15: The Benjamin Dulany House                          173

     16: Dr. James Craik and His Dwelling                   184

     17: Alexandria's Old Apothecary Shop                   195

     18: Spring Gardens                                     197

     19: William Fitzhugh and Robert E. Lee                 202

     20: George Washington's Tenements                      210

     21: The Georgian Cottage                               217

     22: The Vowell-Snowden House                           222

     23: The Edmund Jennings Lee House                      225

     EPILOGUE: Washington in Glory--America in Tears        230



     24: The Yeaton-Fairfax House                           232

     25: The Lafayette-Lawrason-Cazenove House              239

     26: Enter the Quaker Pedagogue: Benjamin Hallowell     247

     27: The Alexandria Lyceum                              254

     28: The Sea Captain's Daughter and Her House           259

     Acknowledgments                                        263

     Chapter References                                     265

     Bibliography                                           272

     Index                                                  275


 CHAPTER 1: Ramsay house. After restoration plans by Milton L. Grigg.

 CHAPTER 2: Keystone from Carlyle House, basement level.

 CHAPTER 3: John Dalton's frame house. Hypothetical restoration with false
   front removed.

 CHAPTER 4: Fairfax coat of arms. From Belvoir fireback. Preserved in the
   Mount Vernon collection.

 CHAPTER 5: George William Fairfax house, south façade.

 CHAPTER 6: John Gadsby's famous hostelry and tavern sign, "Bunch of

 CHAPTER 7: Michael Swope house, showing flounder type ells.

 CHAPTER 8: Dr. William Brown house, west façade.

 CHAPTER 9: Peruke shop. Hypothetical restoration with false front removed.
   Showing an Alexandria alley house adjoining.

 CHAPTER 10: Christ Church through open gates of churchyard.

 CHAPTER 11: Presbyterian meetinghouse before fire of 1835 and subsequent
   enlargement. _From an old print._

 CHAPTER 12: Fire engine of Friendship Fire Company, said to have been
   presented by George Washington. This old rotary type pumper is preserved
   in the Maryland Building at Druid Hill Park, Baltimore.

 CHAPTER 13: Ship model, believed to represent the _Lexington_ owned and
   commanded by Captain James MacKenzie, who presented it to the Alexandria
   Library Association.

 CHAPTER 14: Fawcett house, south façade.

 CHAPTER 15: Benjamin Dulany house, south façade.

 CHAPTER 16: Dr. James Craik house, north façade.

 CHAPTER 17: Old Apothecary Shop Museum and adjoining antique shop.

 CHAPTER 18: Spring Gardens, north façade.

 CHAPTER 19: Robert E. Lee house, south façade.

 CHAPTER 20: George Washington's tenements, appearance before remodeling.

 CHAPTER 21: Flounder house of the type said to have been the nucleus
   of the Georgian Cottage. Example shown (demolished 1944) stood
   on the grounds of the Alexandria Hospital.

 CHAPTER 22: Vowell-Snowden house, east façade.

 CHAPTER 23: Edmund I. Lee house, showing wisteria-covered gallery.

 EPILOGUE MEMORIAL MOTIF, incorporating swords used on Washington's
   casket, owned by Alexandria-Washington Lodge of Masons.

 CHAPTER 24: Yeaton-Fairfax house, south façade.

 CHAPTER 25: Lafayette-Lawrason-Cazenove house and doorway detail.

 CHAPTER 26: Alexandria Boarding School (1834) of Professor Hallowell.
   _From an old print._

 CHAPTER 27: Alexandria Lyceum, classic portico.

 CHAPTER 28: Wax flowers under glass dome, made by Melissa Hussey Wood.



An Account of the First Century of The Seaport of Alexandria

[Illustration: A typical Alexandria shipping merchant's home: Bernard
Chequire, called the "count," built his dwelling and storeroom under the
same roof]



In the middle of the seventeenth century when the English King, Charles
II, was generously settling Virginia land upon loyal subjects, what is
now the port of Alexandria was part of six thousand acres granted by the
Royal Governor, Sir William Berkeley, in the name of His Majesty, to
Robert Howsing. The grant was made in 1669 as a reward for bringing into
the colony one hundred and twenty persons "to inhabit."

Howsing did not want this land but John Alexander did. He had surveyed
the tract and knew its worth. Howsing doubtless thought himself well out
of it when Alexander paid six hundredweight of tobacco and took it off
his hands within a month.[1]

The growth and development of the colony of Virginia into a great
agricultural population occupied in the cultivation of tobacco was not
at all what the London Company had in mind. It visualized a colony of
towns. But the possibilities offered by the great rivers emptying into
Chesapeake Bay and the development of the tobacco trade were responsible
for a civilization unique to Englishmen. True that the establishment of
towns as trading centers was a recognized need--generally agitated by
the Burgesses and planters from interested motives--but little came of
it. Planters whose lands and domiciles lined the Virginia waterways
found the direct trade with English ships a facile, if expensive,
convenience. It was so easy to dispose of a cargo of tobacco and receive
at one's door in return delivery of a neat London sofa, greatcoat, or a
coach and harness. So instead of towns, great tobacco warehouses were
built at convenient centers where tobacco was collected, inspected, and
shipped. Such a warehouse was established by act of Assembly in 1730 and
1732[2] at the mouth of Great Hunting Creek, where it empties into the
Potomac River, on the land of Hugh West, Sr. (a member of the Alexander
clan) and where there was already a ferry to the Maryland side of the
river. Almost immediately a little village grew up--a group of small
houses and a school--known then as Belle Haven.

Tobacco was currency in the colony, tendered as such, and it constituted
the first wealth. Salaries and fees were paid in tobacco, fines were
levied in tobacco; it was the medium of exchange in England as well as
in Virginia. When the colonists wrote the word, they used a capital T!

His Majesty's government of the New World was much occupied with the
cultivation, housing, and transportation of this natural weed. The
importance attached to tobacco is best illustrated by a most
extraordinary law. When Englishmen, whose homes are their castles,
permitted the right of search of citizens' private dwellings, some idea
of the value of this commodity may be realized. The Burgesses resolved
early "that any Justice of Peace who shall know or be informed of any
Package of Tobacco of less than----weight made up for shipping off,
shall have power to enter any suspected House, and by night or by day
and so search for, and finding any such Package, to seize and destroy
the same; and moreover the Person in whose Possession the same shall be
found, shall be liable to a Penalty."[3] Inspectors of tobacco held
their appointments under the King; theirs was the responsibility of
watching the crop, estimating its yield and weight, maintaining the
standard of quality and inspecting the packing. Moreover, no tobacco
could be "bought or sold, but by Inspector's Notes, under a Penalty both
upon the Buyer and Seller."[4]

In 1742 the Burgesses, lower house of Virginia's Parliament, in session
at Williamsburg, became exercised about the tobacco trade and "Resolved,
That an humble address of this house be presented to His Majesty, and a
Petition to the Parliament of Great Britain; representing the distressed
state and decay of our Tobacco Trade, occasioned by the Restraint on our
Export; which must, if not speedily remedied, destroy our Staple; and
there being no other expedient left for Preservation of this Valuable
Branch of the British Commerce, to beseech His Majesty and His
Parliament, to take the same into Consideration; and that His Majesty
may be graciously pleased to grant unto his subjects of this Colony, a
Free Export of their Tobacco to Foreign Markets directly, under such
Limitations, as to His Majesty's Wisdom, shall appear Necessary."[5]

From 1742 a series of petitions from the inhabitants of Prince William
and Fairfax[6] counties, asking authority from the Assembly at
Williamsburg to erect towns in the county, were presented to the
Burgesses. Several years passed before any notice was taken of these

At a General Assembly, begun and held at the College in Williamsburg on
Tuesday, November 1, 1748 (sixteen years after the establishment of the
warehouse at Hunting Creek) in the twenty-second year of the reign of
George II, a petition was presented from "the inhabitants of Fairfax in
Behalf of Themselves and others praying that a Town may be established
at Hunting Creek Ware House on Potomack River."[7] On Tuesday, April 11,
1749, a bill for establishing a town at Hunting Creek Warehouse, in
Fairfax County, was read for the first time.

The bill went through the regular proceedings and was referred to
Messrs. Ludwell, Woodbridge, Hedgeman, Lawrence Washington, Richard
Osborne, William Waller, and Thomas Harrison. On April 22, the ingrossed
bill was read the third time, and it was "resolved that the Bill do
pass. Ordered, that Mr. Washington do carry the Bill to the Council for
their concurrence."[8] On May 2, 1749 the bill came back from the
Council (the upper house) with additional amendments to which the
Council desired the house's concurrence. Washington was again sent up to
the Council with the approved amendments, and on Thursday, May 11, 1749,
Governor Gooch commanded the immediate attendance of the house in the
Council chamber. The Speaker, with the house, went up accordingly; and
the Governor was pleased to give his assent to the bill "for erecting a
town at Hunting Creek Ware House, in the County of Fairfax."[9]

The act stated that such a town "would be commodious for trade and
navigation, and tend greatly to the best advantage of frontier
inhabitants."[10] Within four months after passage of the act, sixty
acres of land belonging to Philip Alexander, John Alexander, and Hugh
West, "situate, lying and being on the South side of Potomac River,
about the mouth of Great Hunting Creek, and in the County of Fairfax,
shall be surveyed and laid out by the surveyor of the said County ...
and vested in the Right Honorable Thomas, Lord Fairfax, the Honorable
William Fairfax, Esq., George Fairfax, Richard Osborne, Lawrence
Washington, William Ramsay, John Carlyle, John Pagan, Gerard Alexander,
and Hugh West, of the said County of Fairfax, Gentlemen, and Philip
Alexander of the County of Stafford, Gentleman, and their successors in
trust for the several purposes hereinafter mentioned."[11]

These same gentlemen were "constituted and appointed directors and
trustees, for designing, building ... the town"[12] and the trustees and
directors or any six of them were to have the power to "Meet as often as
they shall think necessary, and shall lay out the said sixty acres into
lots and streets not exceeding half an acre of ground in each lot; and
also set apart such portions of the said land for a market place, and
public landing as to them shall seem convenient; and when the said town
shall be so laid out, the said directors and trustees shall have full
power and authority to sell all the said lots, by public sale or
auction, from time to time, to the highest bidder so as no person shall
have more than two lots."[13] The money arising from the sale was to be
paid to the two Alexanders and to Hugh West, the proprietors.

It was further enacted that purchasers of every lot or lots should
"within two years next after the date of the conveyance for the same,
erect, build and finish on each lot so conveyed, one house of brick,
stone or wood, well framed of the dimensions of twenty feet square, and
nine feet pitch, at the least or proportionably thereto if such grantee
shall have two lots contiguous, with a brick or stone chimney ... and if
the owner of any such lot shall fail to pursue and comply with the
directions herein prescribed for the building and finishing one or more
house or houses thereon, then such lots upon which such houses shall not
be so built and finished shall be revested in the said trustees, and
shall and may be sold and conveyed to any other persons whatsoever, in
the manner before directed, and shall revest and be sold as often as the
owner or owners shall fail to perform, obey and fulfill the directions
aforesaid, and the money arising from the sale of such lots as shall be
revested and sold applied to such public use for the common benefit of
the inhabitants of the said town as to them shall seem most proper; and
if the said inhabitants of said town shall fail to obey and pursue the
rules and orders of the said directors in repairing and mending the
streets, landing, and public wharfs, they shall be liable to the same
penalties as are inflicted for not repairing the highways in this

The county surveyor wrote on July 18, 1749:

   By Virtue of an Act of the General Assembly ... I, the Subscriber did
   Survey and lay off sixty acres of land to be for the said town, and
   divided the same into lotts, streets, etc., as per the plan thereof

        JOHN WEST, JR.
        Dept. S.F.C.[15]

George Washington had been living with his half-brother, Lawrence, at
Mount Vernon for some time and studying engineering under Mrs. Lawrence
Washington's brother, Colonel George William Fairfax. It is a safe
assumption that the three young men sailed up the Potomac numerous times
to see the layout for the prospective new town; or, that wanting an
afternoon's ride, they set their horses towards Belle Haven. It was not
a strange journey. For years the Hunting Creek warehouse had handled
tobacco from Mount Vernon, Belvoir, Gunston Hall, and the neighboring
estates. Tradition has it in Alexandria that Washington aided John West
when he was struggling through the underbrush and tree stumps staking
out the lots. So familiar did the embryo engineer become with the future
town site that he drew a map, and added the names of lot purchasers to
the side of his drawing.[16]

News traveled throughout the colony, from the Tidewater to the
Shenandoah, of the town to be built near the Hunting Creek warehouses.
Advertisements were inserted in the colony's gazettes. Auction of lots
was to take place on the site, in the month of July, on the thirteenth

On the morning of the sale people on horseback began pouring into the
village of Belle Haven from all the nearby plantations and estates.
Tidewater was represented by Ralph Wormley of Rosegill in Middlesex;
from Westmoreland came Augustine Washington; from Fredericksburg,
William Fitzhugh; from Gunston Hall, George Mason; from Belvoir, the two
Colonels Fairfax; and from Mount Vernon, young George Washington and his
half-brother, Augustine, up for the proceedings.

Lawrence Washington was not present, possibly away in England at the
time. His brother, Augustine, however, stood proxy and the letter in
which he reported the day's proceedings throws a new light upon the
sale. It is believed never to have been published; here is the portion
relating to the Alexandria auction:

        Mount Vernon July 19th 1749

   D^r Brother

   I have this day returned from Goose Creek, and the Vessel by whom
   this comes being under way alows one but a short time to write. As to
   your family I need only to say that they are well as my Sister &c
   wrote to you by the same ship whilst I was up the Country. You have a
   very fine prospect for a Crop of Corn & I am in hopes you have made a
   worse Crop of Tob^o than you'll make this year if the fall is
   Seasonable, but that depends very much upon the fall. As to Belhaven
   or Alexandria I understand my Brother George has left much to say
   upon that head. I purchased you two lots near the water upon the
   Main street, as every one along the rode will be trough that street.
   I thought they would be as agreeable to you as any, as M^r Chapman
   was determined upon having the Lot on the point. I had a Plan & a
   Copy of the Sale of the Lots to send you, but as my Broth^r has
   sent both & I am [torn] very exact, I need not trouble you with any
   more; you will see by the amount of the Sale that your part cleared
   three hundred & eighty three pistoles [torn] sensible if Alexander
   had Stood to the sale of them he would not have made half the Sum by
   th [torn] every one seem'd to encourage the thing, upon y^r and
   M^r Chapman's account, as they were sensible what you did was
   through a Publick Spirit & n [torn] of interest; the reason the lots
   sold so high was River side ones being sett up first which were
   purchased at a very extravagant price by the prop [illegible] Your
   two, M^r Carlyles M^r Dortons M^r Ramseys [illegible] M^r
   Chapmans sold at different prices, as you may se by the Sale, but we
   agreed before the Sale to give any Price for them & to strike them
   upon an average so that by adding them up & dividing them by five you
   will se what your two lots Cost. M^r Chapman was obliged to pay
   Phil Alexander the money for your & his bond last Stafford Court
   (before the Sale) or other wise was to have George the Second upon
   his back. M^r Chapman took into Partnership M^r Ramsey Carlyle &
   Dorton, Ramsey has a fourth, Dorton & Carlyle the other fourth....

   The price is £10 12_s._ 10_d._

Here assuredly are the circumstances surrounding the plan of the town in
the youthful George Washington's hand, still preserved among the
Washington papers in the Library of Congress, as indeed is the relevant
letter. If this was not the actual map sent by George to Lawrence, it
most certainly was the copy which he retained for his personal files of
the eighty-four lots divided by seven streets running east and west; and
three north and south, checkerboard fashion, which comprised the
contemplated town.

The bell was rung. Business got under way. John West was crier and
announced that the lots put up would be sold within five minutes. The
hot crowd pressed in to hear and see all that took place. The disturbed
dust blanketed man and beast.

Bidding was brisk; and twenty-four lots were sold in short order. Among
the first day's purchasers, besides those mentioned above, were William
Fitzhugh, the Honorable William Fairfax, and Colonel George Fairfax.

The trustees met again the next day, July 14, and wasted no time. At
once seventeen lots were sold. The trustees agreed to adjourn "till 20th
of September next,"[17] at which time the "deeds are to be executed for
the above lots and the remaining lots to be sold, and that the Clerk
prepare blank deeds for the same."[18]

As for the prices paid for the lots--it is surprising to find a foreign
coin, the Spanish _pistole_, as the basic unit of currency. This was due
to a situation where hard money was seriously lacking in colonial
Virginia. As early as 1714 a general act had been passed to attract
foreign specie, which was declared _current_ according to weight. Thus
the legal valuation of the _pistole_ was slightly in excess of 21s. or
approximately $4.34.[19] Its purchasing power in the eighteenth century
was about five times as great as today. Lots purchased at auction on the
first day brought from 16 to 56-1/2 _pistoles_. On the second day, they
went for as little as six _pistoles_, the highest bidder for that day
being Henry Salkeld, who purchased lots Nos. 38 and 39 for 23 _pistoles_
(present-day normal evaluation about $282.00).



For many months the trustees were primarily concerned with the disposal
of the lots and "advertisements were set up to that purpose,"[20] in the
gazettes. Sales were numerous, houses began to go up speedily. By
January 1750, eighty lots had been sold with two lots set apart for the
town house and market square. In August 1751, Colonel Carlyle was
"appointed to have a good road cleared down to Point Lumley and to see
the streets kept in repair."[21] On July 18, 1752, the trustees "Ordered
on Coll. George Fairfaxe's motion that all dwelling houses from this day
not begun or to be built hereafter shall be built on the front and be in
a line with the street as chief of the houses now are, and that no gable
or end of such house be on or next to the street, except an angle or
where two streets cross, otherwise to be pulled down."[22]

While the trustees were feverishly building the new port, the Assembly
at Williamsburg was discharging the purchasers of marsh lots from the
necessity of building on and improving them; approving the proposition
"for appointing fairs to be kept in the Town of Alexandria."[23] Fairs
and lotteries were the principal source of municipal income in early
years; the journals of the House of Burgesses contain frequent requests
for such from many of the Virginia towns.

[Illustration: Plan of the Town of Alexandria by George Washington.
(From the Washington Papers in the Library of Congress)]

On March 10, 1752, a committee reporting to the House of Burgesses
"Resolved That it is the opinion of the Committee that the Proposition
from the County of Fairfax, in opposition to the proposition from that
county, for appointing the Court of the said County to be held at the
Town of Belhaven, be rejected."[24] A somewhat complicated manner of
ordering the court to be held at Alexandria.

[Illustration: The good ship Metamora of Alexandria, John Hunter,
builder and owner. He was the founder of Hunter's Shipyard, "the most
complete private establishment of the kind in the country."]

Four days later the Burgesses rejected "the proposition from the Town of
Alexandria for altering the name of that town to Belhaven."[25] There
had been much talk about this, and for long "The Town at Hunting Creek"
was the only designation. The Alexander family, which was both numerous
and important (the head of the clan bearing the title Lord Stirling),
and the bulk of the land upon which the town was built having been a
part of its patent,[26] it was deemed appropriate to name the new town
Alexandria. Save for an occasional slip in some old letter (Washington
dated some letters Bellehaven) Alexandria is the name by which the town
was called since this time.

By 1753 a village had become a town with the market place located
exactly in the middle. The first courthouse of frame was built on the
east side of lot No. 43, at the intersection of Cameron and Fairfax
Streets. South of the Town House on Fairfax stood the jail, stocks, and
whipping post for the use of those who failed to keep the law. Directly
behind these buildings the market square, or green, occupied all of lot
No. 44. Here the town militia drilled, here were held the carnivals, and
public gatherings, and here was the larder of Alexandria. To this day
the market square caters to the appetites of hungry townsmen. Across
Royal Street, facing the square, stood the City Tavern or Coffee House;
southward on the same side of the street was the Royal George, after the
Revolution called George Tavern. Already substantial wharves and
warehouses appeared along the water front, and private houses and stores
were beginning to fill the empty lots.[27]



As the passage of four years marked physical growth in Alexandria, so it
made a difference between a lad barely seventeen and an officer in His
Majesty's Militia. Early in November 1753, Major George Washington, aged
twenty-one, and an Adjutant General of the Colony, was sent by the Royal
Governor to the Ohio to "visit" the commandant of the French forces and
deliver a letter asking him to withdraw from the lands "known to be the
property of the Crown of Great Britain." Up to town came Major
Washington to busy himself acquiring the "necessaries" for the
expedition. Once equipped, he set out from Alexandria and was gone about
two months, returning on January 11, 1754. January 16 found him in
Williamsburg making his report to the Governor. The report was of such a
nature that His Excellency alerted the Virginia troops; it was deemed of
such importance as to be published in both Williamsburg and London

When Washington returned he carried a commission from His Excellency of
a lieutenant colonelcy in the Virginia regiment "whereof Joshua Fry,
Esquire, was Colonel," and joined his command in Alexandria. The market
square took on a militant atmosphere. "Two Companies of Foot, commanded
by Captain Peter Hog and Lieutenant Jacob Van Braam, five subalterns,
two Sergeants, six Corporals, one Drummer and one hundred and twenty
Soldiers, one Surgeon, one Swedish Gentleman, who was a volunteer, two
wagons, guarded by one Lieutenant, Sergeant, Corporal and twenty-five
soldiers," were all under the command of Lieutenant Colonel

Many brave young men newly outfitted in the colorful uniforms of His
Majesty's Militia, short clothes and white wigs, drilling in the market
square, swaggering around the town, filling up the new City Tavern.
Dances and dinners for the officers were the order of the day. Then came
the command for Washington to join Fry in defending British possessions
against the French, who had continued their depredations despite the
earlier diplomatic parley, and had not removed from the lands claimed as
the property of Great Britain.

Came April 2, and from the market place crowded with citizens, "Every
thing being ready," the commander, aged twenty-two, gave the order and
the company set forth to the strident beats of one drummer.[29] As the
creaking wheels of the two wagons and the tramp of marching feet faded
out of hearing, Alexandria had sent her sons off to her first war.

While Lieutenant Colonel Washington was occupied in so spectacular a
fashion, the town trustees were not without their troubles, also. People
were delinquent about complying with the Assembly laws. In June 1754,
the trustees ordered that various lots not built upon be put up at
auction and sold to the highest bidder. They were in earnest about this
dereliction on the part of purchasers, and seven lots were forfeited at
this time. Among those paying such a penalty was George Washington's
half-brother, Augustine Washington.

By December 1754, public buildings were well under way, the courthouse
lot was ordered "paled in with Posts and Rails in a workman-like
manner," and John Carlyle, John Dalton, George Johnston and William
Ramsay were appointed to see what was necessary to be done to the
finishing of the courthouse.

Within the year, his expedition defeated, Washington was back at Mount
Vernon, and very irritated by army orders demoting colonials of the same
grade and rank below the British regulars. Despite a vote of
commendation by the Burgesses and the sum of £50 voted for his services,
he threw up his commission.

The French continued hostilities, stirring up the Indians and causing no
end of trouble. His Majesty's government became sufficiently exercised
to dispatch an officer of the line, Major General Edward Braddock, two
warships in which were stowed a fine arsenal of powder, rifles, and
cannon, and two regiments of regulars. Word reached Alexandria in
February of Braddock's arrival in Williamsburg and that he and the
Governor were in conference. The first result of this conference was a
letter to "Mr. George Washington" written on March 2, 1755, and
dispatched in the person of General Braddock's aide-de-camp, Lieutenant
Robert Orme, requesting the presence of _Mr._ Washington as a member of
the General's military family. This, thought the Governor and the
General, would do away with any unpleasantness due to difference in
rank. A second decision reached in Williamsburg was one that resounded
along the Atlantic seaboard--to call a conference of the colonial
governors to consider ways, and especially means, of waging the coming
campaign. Alexandria was chosen as a meeting place and the day set was
April 14, 1755.

In the meantime, the English warships _Sea Horse_ and _Nightingale_
under command of Admiral Keppel arrived in Alexandria. Two of His
Majesty's regiments disembarked from the sea-grimed ships and the
Redcoats in formation marched to the "northwest of the town" led by
Colonel Sir Peter Halket and Colonel Dunbar. The humbler citizens had
never seen such a sight; neither had the Redcoats, and up went British
noses for all things Colonial. The regulars promptly dubbed the militia

After the exchange of several letters, Colonel Washington "volunteered"
to go unpaid with General Braddock on the campaign, and he came to
Alexandria to attend the governors' conference and whip his militia into
shape. Again he occupied the City Tavern as headquarters.

All at once the town was overrun with governors, His Majesty's royal
representatives. From Williamsburg came Dinwiddie; from Maryland,
Governor Sharpe; from Massachusetts, Governor Shirley; from New York,
Governor De Lancey; and from Pennsylvania, Governor Morris. Neither
dress nor ceremony had yet been curtailed by the drabness of Democracy.
Each governor arrived with a retinue of secretaries, attendants, and
aides; each by coach, decorated in gilded scrolls and colorful arms,
drawn by four to six horses; each governor resplendent in wig and
powder, silken hose, coats of brocade, velvet or broadcloth, waistcoats
of satin or damask, embroidered and braided, shirts of finest linen,
betucked and belaced, and attended by servants in livery as colorful as
their masters. The town was packed. Taverns were full, and private
houses were put at the disposal of these visitors. Dinners and balls
followed the serious councils of the day, which lasted until eleven or
twelve o'clock at night. The market place rang with the continuous
drilling of the Bobtails. Redcoats were everywhere. The ladies of the
town vied with one another in presents of potted woodcock and delicious
cake to the distinguished guests.

It has been one hundred and ninety-four years since the citizens of
Alexandria were treated to the panoply of five of His Majesty's royal
governors, two warships, and the presence of Major General Edward
Braddock with Mr. George Washington as part of his military family.
These days established the little seaport in history and furnished
sights and subjects resulting in tales and traditions more firmly
established than the printed word. Amid the scratching of quills and the
dipping of snuff, the destiny, not only of this hemisphere but of the
world, was changed, for the five governors assembled decided to tax the
colonies to support Braddock's expedition. It was not a popular
decision, and great difficulties arose in collecting the allotted sums.
It was a fateful step which led eventually to revolt by the colonies.

The conference over, pomp and pageantry departed, but not before Mr.
Washington and General Braddock had disagreed heartily on the fashion of
waging warfare. The heavy cannon brought by the British were dumped
overboard, notwithstanding, or were otherwise abandoned as too
cumbersome for the long trek west. General Braddock purchased from
Governor Sharpe of Maryland "an old English chariot and six horses" for
the march.

On April 20 the Redcoats and Bobtails (six companies, two from
Alexandria and the nearby countryside) set out. To Sir Peter Halket's
regiment were assigned Captain Stephens', Captain Peyronny's and Captain
Cock's Company of Rangers, and Captain Polson's Company of Artificers.
The heavy coach lumbered over the rough country roads, shaking poor
General Braddock almost to pieces and "greatly increased his
discomfort." Mr. Washington, desiring time to arrange his private
affairs at Mount Vernon, was unable to depart with his military family
for eight days after they left.

This tragically ill-fated expedition resulted in heavy casualties. On
July 9, Braddock was attacked unexpectedly near Fort Du Quesne by a body
of French and Indians, some three hundred strong, which so surprised the
British regulars they were struck with a "deadly panic" and
ignominiously fled. "The officers behaved with incomparable bravery ...
there being near 60 killed and wounded. The Virginian Companies behaved
like men and died like Soldiers ... scarce 30 were left alive ... The
General was wounded behind in the shoulder and into the Breast, of which
he died three days after."[30] George Washington miraculously saved the
army from complete rout. He afterwards collected his decimated
Virginians and marched them back to the market square in Alexandria. The
reception was a sad one.



The minutes of the trustees for 1755 announced that by this time the
first frame courthouse was fenced--it had taken two years--and the
gentlemen justices of Fairfax County, sitting on November 17, 1756,
ordered John West, John Carlyle, and William Ramsay, Gentlemen, to be
paid five thousand pounds of tobacco; John Doonas, Alexandria's first
policeman, was to receive 120 pounds for patrolling twelve days.

For the next hundred years the great municipal interests were to be
tobacco, wheat, and ships; the rapid and proper dispatching of the
produce stored in the great warehouses occupying the river front; the
housing and sale of the vast diversity of goods coming to anchor with
each new sail. But in these earliest days, tobacco and ships to
transport it were the motivating forces of the town.

Turning the pages of a journal of long ago, one gets this glimpse of the
fit setting:

   In the evening we returned down the river about fifteen miles to
   Alexandria or Belhaven, a small trading place in one of the finest
   situations imaginable. The Potomac above and below the town is not
   more than a mile broad, but it here opens into a large circular bay
   of at least twice that diameter. The town is built upon an arc of
   this bay; at one extremity of which is a wharf; at the other a dock
   for building ships; with water sufficiently deep to launch a vessel
   of any rate or magnitude.[31]

On May 19, 1760, George Washington "went to Alexandria to see Captn.
Litterdale's ship launched, wch. went off extreamely well."[32] Again on
October 5, 1768, he "went up to Alexandria after an early dinner to see
a ship [the _Jenny_] launched, but was disappointed and came home."[33]
Next day, the 6th, he "went up again, saw the ship launched; stayd all
night to a Ball and set up all Night."[34] His expense account shows a
loss of 19 shillings at cards for the evening.

Alexandria's importance as a seaport was phenomenal and after a few
years it was ranking third in the New World--greater than New York, the
rival of Boston. Master shipbuilders turned out vessels to sail any
sea--manned, owned, and operated by Alexandrians. Down the ways of
Alexandria shipyards glided as good vessels as could be built. From her
ropewalks came the rope to hoist the sails made in her sail lofts.
Chemists' shops specialized in fitting out ships' medicine boxes for the
long voyages, and bakeshops packed daily thousands of ships' biscuits.
Ship chandlers forsook older ports for the new one; planters rolled in
tobacco in ever increasing bulk to fill the vessels crowding the harbor.
With greater wealth came the means to fill the need and desire of
Alexandrians for good clothes and fine furnishings. And so back to
England with each cargo went orders for the newest taste and the latest

It took months, sometimes longer than a year, to complete an order for
goods. Each voyage was a stupendous adventure. Ships with full cargoes
often disappeared and were neither seen nor heard of again. George
Washington's writings serve as a good history of Alexandria. His
voluminous letters reveal what our first citizens needed, bought, and
used, what various articles cost, and how business details were handled:

        November 30, 1759

        To Robert Cary & Company

   Gentn: By the George and Captns Richardson and Nicks who saild with
   the Fleet in September last I sent invoices of such Goods as were
   wanting for myself Estate etc, but knowing that the latter
   unfortunately foundered at Sea soon after her departure from Virginia
   and that the former may probably have suffered by that Storm or some
   other accident, by which means my Letters &c would miscarry I take
   this oppertunity by way of Bristol of addressing Copies of them, and
   over and above the things there wrote for to desire the favour of you
   to send me a neat Grait (for Coal or small Faggots) in the newest
   taste and of a size to fit a Chimney abt. 3 feet wide and two Deep,
   and a fender suited to Ditto. Steel I believe are most used at
   present; also send me a New Market Great Coat with a loose hood to be
   made of Blew Drab or broad cloth with Straps before according to the
   present taste, let it be made of such cloth as will turn a good
   shower of Rain and made long, and fit in other respects for a Man
   full 6 feet high and proportionately made, possibly the Measure sent
   for my other cloths may be a good direction to these. Please to add
   also to the things ordered for Mrs. Dandridge 12 yds of Silver cold
   Armozeen or Ducape and cause it to be packed up with the Rest of her
   things charged with them. &ca.

   Five days ago I dropt a letter at Williamsburg, to take the first
   Conveyance to you, desiring Insurance on 50 Hhds Tobo pr. the Cary
   since then I have got 4 more Inspected and all on Float ready to
   deliver at the Ships side. You will therefore Insure that Quantity
   and dispose of them in the best manner for Our Interest. If Captn.
   Talman uses that Dispatch in Loading of his Vessell, which I am sure
   he now has in his power to do this Tobo. wl come to a very good
   market, I hope.

   It is almost as much trouble and expense getting Goods from any of
   the Rivers round to Potomack as the Original Charges of Shipping them
   amount to, unless they are committed to the charge of very careful
   Captains who has an Interest in forwarding. I should be glad
   therefore if you would take the oppertunity of some Ship to that
   River of sending my Goods for the Future.

   Your favour of the 6th Augt. I have had the pleasure of receiving,
   and acknowledge myself particularly obliged to you for your polite
   Congratulations on my Marriage, as I likewise am for your Dispatch of
   my Goods.

   I am Gentn.[35]

[Illustration: A Suffer to Pass of the ship Polly and Nancy of
Alexandria; John McKnight, Master. Signed by George Washington.
(Courtesy Mount Vernon Ladies' Association)]

An invoice of goods of earlier date sent by the same firm for the use of
George Washington contained 194 items. Wearing garments, ornaments for
the chimney place, busts, drugs, sugar, carpenter's and plowman's tools,
candy, a case of pickles containing anchovies, capers, olives, "salid
oyl" and a bottle of India mangoes; tea, harness, saddles, corks, six
pounds of perfumed powder, three pounds of the best Scotch snuff,
ribbons, gloves, sword belt, nine dozen packages of playing cards, paint
and brushes, one and one-half dozen bell glasses for the garden; one
mahogany closet stool case in the newest taste, with place for chamber
pot, etc.; soap, garden seeds, nuts and condiments, locks and two dozen
H&L hinges and three pounds of bird lime, were but a few of the items

In addition to his own orders, the General supervised the shopping for
the two Custis children and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Dandridge. Not only
were clothes and materials ordered, fine ivory combs, stockings, etc.,
but toys. Here is a selection made by the Cary firm--a child's fiddle, a
coach and six in a box, a stable with six horses, a toy whip, a filigree
watch, a neat enameled watch box, a corner cupboard and a child's huzzit

General Washington was a Virginia gentleman who lived in a fashion
similar to his neighbors; like orders, we may be sure, went from
Alexandria, and like articles were bought and received into its homes.
Perhaps the system was not always so direct, for the average townsman
doubtless relied more upon local merchants as agents. Washington
followed this course at various times, but until the American
Revolution he rather steadfastly depended upon Robert Cary & Company of

With the growth of trade and population came the necessity for expansion
of the town, and we see the Assembly approving the petition of the
trustees and sundry inhabitants of the town of Alexandria in 1762,
"Praying that an Act may pass to enlarge the Bounds of the said
Town."[36] All lots save those in the marsh were then built upon.

On May 9, 1763, the trustees proceeded to sell the new lots, which had
been added by act of Assembly. The town property was enhancing in value
and for that reason the lots were sold with a twelve-month credit,
hoping to increase the sale value. Forty-six lots were disposed of,
among the purchasers being George Johnston, Robert Adam, Francis Lee,
John Dalton, John Carlyle, and George Washington, who at thirty-one
years of age became a _bona fide_ citizen of Alexandria. The town which
he had honored returned the compliment four years later when the city
fathers meeting on December 16, 1766, "proceeded to elect as Trustee in
the room of George Johnston, decd, and have unanimously chosen George
Washington, Esq., as Trustee for the town aforesaid."[37]

Fifteen years after the laying out of the town, at a session of the
House of Burgesses, November 5, 1764, in the fifth year of the reign of
George III it was "Resolved, That it is the Opinion of this Committee
that the Petition of divers Proprietors of Lots, and other Inhabitants
of the Town of Alexandria, in the County of Fairfax, praying that so
much of the Act of Assembly for establishing the said Town as obliges
the Purchasers of Lots therein to build and improve the same in a
limited Time, may be repealed, and the Purchasers left at Liberty to
build thereon when convenient to them, is reasonable."[38] George
Washington found it convenient to build a house on one of his lots in
1769; the other was not built upon until almost thirty years later.

The prodigious development of the new port was accompanied by a growing
civic pride and the demand for better public buildings. A
story-and-a-half brick town hall was erected in 1759 by funds raised by
lottery, tickets selling at ten shillings each, the trustees making
themselves responsible for a sum adequate for the purpose. At the
trustees' meeting of April 1767, John Dalton and John Carlyle produced
an account of moving the courthouse amounting to £52 7_s._ 5-1/2_d._;
while William Ramsay presented his account for a "scheme of a lottery to
build a Church and Market house" in the amount of £11 12_s._[39] The new
town house with its clerk's office and assembly room stood on the
northeast corner of the square; nearby on Cameron Street stood the
Fairfax Court House, which town promotion had brought to Alexandria. The
church and market did not materialize so early.

[Illustration: The addition to the town in 1763 and 1767. (Library of


Space in the lower floor of the town hall was provided for a grammar
school soon after the completion of this building in 1760. Seven years
later the town fathers found that the schoolhouse was so misused that
repairs were urgent and minutes for the meeting of February 2, 1767,
record how they considered it necessary to put it in better condition,
"also to make some additions in order to make the upper room usefull not
only for meeting of the Trustees but for such other purposes as may be
thought necessary." Apparently a separate entrance for the schoolroom
dates from this time; other improvements included the raising of the
roof for greater utility upstairs. The trustees further resolved: "As it
appears to us that the House has been very much injured by the
negligence of the School Masters it is now determined that each Master
give security to repair any injury that the House may sustain during the
time they have it." Robert Adam and Thomas Fleming were appointed
overseers of the property for a term of twelve months.

[Illustration: Corner mantel at 211-1/2 Prince Street in the house built
about 1786 by William Hickman. The builder was trying to cram into a
given space every motif in the _Builder's Handbook_: Greek entablature
at the top of the pediment, crowded center panel, broken pediment, and
the top of the pediment jammed into the cap fretwork. The whole is very
amusing but interesting and altogether charming.]

A grammar school reputed to have been supported by public funds was in
existence at Belhaven in 1739, just ten years before Alexandria was
founded. Presumably the Alexandria school of 1760 was put into operation
under identical conditions and it may be that special classes beyond the
mere rudiments of education were conducted for children whose families
could pay extra tuition. Such a plan would closely approximate the
tutorial arrangement prevailing on outlying plantations. For orphaned
children and the very poor who had to earn while they learned, provision
was usually made for a little schooling within the framework of the
apprenticeship system, and church wardens were charged with
responsibility for placing orphans with individuals to learn a useful
occupation. At a court held March 18, 1770, "James Gameron, five years
old the last of this month and Sarah Gameron three years old" were bound
out "to William Wren who is to learn them to read and write, and the
said James the trade of a shoe maker."[40]

After the Revolution, the town's educational system centered in the
Alexandria academy, which stood on the east side of Washington Street
between Wolfe and Wilkes, where now stands the present Washington Public
School. The old Marsteller house, acquired by the public school system
in 1882, when the present school building was erected, has by many been
confused with the old academy building. The Alexandria academy was a
one-story brick structure. Its cornerstone was laid September 7, 1785,
by the Alexandria Lodge of Freemasons, Robert Adam, Esquire, Worshipful
Master of the Lodge. Mrs. Powell, in her _History of Old Alexandria_,
states that after the stone was laid "a gratuity was distributed among
the workmen." The school was incorporated in 1786 by act of the Virginia
Assembly and the trustees were to be chosen by those gentlemen who had
contributed five or more dollars for the use of the academy, thirteen
fit and able men to serve beginning in 1788. In the meantime,
Washington, Dr. Brown, and twelve other generous public-spirited
citizens were appointed by law as trustees until the annual elections
should begin. The letter asking Washington to serve is extant.

General Washington, always a believer and a patron of learning,
contributed for many years prior to his death, £50 annually toward a
free department for poor students. In his will he left one thousand
dollars or "20 shares of stock which I hold in the Bank of Alexandria,
towards the support of a free school established at and annexed to the
said Academy, for the purpose of educating such orphans or children of
such poor and indigent persons as are unable to accomplish it with their
own means, and who in the judgment of the trustees of the said Seminary
are best entitled to the benefit of this donation."

[Illustration: A Mantel in the home of the late Miss Saidee M. Field,
316 Duke Street, in the Adam-McIntyre manner. The house was built prior
to 1795, at which time a trust to secure William Stoggett of
Carnelsford, County Cornwall, England for £253.16.9 is cited. Note the
large brick in the worn hearth and bit of original pine flooring. The
fireback has been rebuilt.]

By 1791 the school established by his bounty was caring for thirteen boy
and seven girl pupils. One graduate, John Weylie, wrote to thank the
General for his benevolence. This same young man later became tutor for
the children of Dr. David Stuart. In January 1800, following
Washington's death the month previous, the Alexandria council voted to
provide a suit of mourning for each of the poor scholars educated at his
expense that they might join in the memorial exercises scheduled for
February 22.

George Steptoe Washington and Lawrence Augustine, sons of the General's
deceased brother, Samuel, were both sent to the academy. They were
boarded by Washington with one of the trustees, Samuel Hansen, who
frequently reported to their uncle on their interests and behavior. In
1789, Hansen wrote to the General recommending for George one Cleon
Moore as teacher of the violin at £12 per year.

These gentlemen were not as circumspect when students as was Lorenzo
Lewis, who was cited in 1819 for "general deportment and propriety of
conduct." Young Lewis was the son of Nelly Custis and Lawrence Lewis,
the former Mrs. Washington's granddaughter and the General's ward, the
latter the General's nephew. Robert E. Lee perchance might be included
in this Washington family circle, by virtue of his subsequent marriage
to the daughter of George Washington Parke Custis, brother of Nelly. Lee
attended the academy from about 1820 until 1824, and was remembered by
his teachers as an exemplary scholar.

Education for the opposite sex was not overlooked. Through the interest
and encouragement of Washington, Mrs. Eliza Harriot O'Conner opened an
academy for young ladies as early as 1788. Quaintly worded announcements
appearing in local gazettes early in the nineteenth century reveal an
ever-increasing number of girls' schools.

Female scholars clad in blue worsted dresses, black aprons, muslin
handkerchiefs, leather shoes and colored hose, capes, blue lined straw
bonnets, sporting crimson ribbons, studied the exotic subjects of
"Painting in inks and colors on 'tiffany.' Embroidered landscapes both
plain and fanciful in chenile, gold and silver, wrought maps in
'ditto'--printed work in Tambour and needlework--made fringe and


Alexandrians were not without their lighter side. There were plays in
town at least as early as 1768, for on September 20 of that year George
Washington took Mrs. Washington and the Custis children to Alexandria to
see "The Inconstant, or, Way to Win." They remained overnight and the
next day attended the theatre again to see "The Tragedy of Douglas." The
cost of the two entertainments was given as £3 12_s._ 6_d._

In 1789 the _Virginia Journal and Alexandria Advertiser_ announced the
presentation of the "Tragedy of Jane Shore, with the musical farce of
the Virgin Unmasked." Mr. McGrath opened the Alexandria Theatre for four
seasons beginning in 1791. On November 6 he presented Garrick's comedy,
"The Lying Valet" and on November 19, 1793, the American comedy, "The
Contrast: or, the True Born Yankee." The theatre doors opened at six,
and the curtain was raised promptly at half-past six--or so the
announcement read, and it continued, "no money to be received by the

In 1797, Thomas Wade West, Manager of "The Virginia and South Carolina
Comedians Companies" and Margaret, his wife, came to Alexandria for the
purpose of erecting a theatre. A lot on the north side of Cameron
Street, fronting thereon fifty-four feet, was purchased on July 8, 1797,
from Thomas and Sarah Porter, the ground rental of which was 108 silver
dollars yearly.

The patrons of this enterprise, some twenty-nine of the first citizens
of Alexandria--among them Edmund I. Lee, William Herbert, Josiah Watson,
Ludwell Lee, Elisha Cullen Dick, Joseph Riddle and Jonah
Thompson--agreed with one another to contribute the sum of two hundred
dollars each to be laid out and expended for the erection of a theatre
upon the aforesaid piece of ground. The subscribers had free tickets of
admission to every performance with the exception of benefits and
charities. This was to continue in effect for one season after
reimbursement at six per cent interest. Thomas Wade West agreed to
furnish all the decorations, scenery and furniture to the value of £500.
This was the New Theatre as shown on the early maps of the town.

Cockfights and horse racing, too, were popular, the latter attended by
women and children. But in 1816 the council forbade these activities
taking place within the town limits, and ruled that "every person who
shall trim, heel, or pit any cock so fought and every owner of such cock
consenting thereto and every person who shall bet on such a match or
main shall severally forfeit and pay for every offense the sum of twenty
dollars."[41] Since horse racing could not be easily secreted in cellars
and walled gardens, no such drastic penalties accompanied that
pertinent part of the act. Blooded horses were imported by John Carlyle
as early as 1762. Alexandria races attracted the best horses in the Old
Dominion. Famous Maryland and Tidewater stables participated in the
Jockey Club races. George Washington was steward of the Alexandria
Jockey Club. The gazettes were full of notices concerning the races and
frequently gave pedigrees of certain horses advertised for sale or stud.

[Illustration: Doorway of the supposed Jockey Club of which Washington
and Dulany were stewards. (814 Franklin Street)]

After the races, especially those of the Jockey Club, there was sure to
be an Assembly Ball at one of the larger taverns, followed by a fine
supper. In Gadsby's time the Jockey Club used his tavern as
headquarters. After dining, the members were frequently entertained by
"The Players" or "Jugglers and Tumblers." Maryland neighbors as well as
nearby Virginians turned out for these festivities.

[Illustration: Mantel in the home of the late Mr. and Mrs. Norman H.
Davis, 804 Prince Street. Late 18th and early 19th Century reeded
carving, typical of the Federal House. The decoration is achieved by the
returns around the pilasters, the reeded trim and diamond motif in the
center panel.]

Fox hunting was indulged in frequently by Alexandria gentlemen who went
often to Mount Vernon, Belvoir and to other estates near Alexandria for
the sport.

Fairs and circuses from time to time filled the town with excitement.
Feats of horsemanship, vaulting and dancing were performed every Fair
Day during the visitation of Messrs. Pepin and Breschard in April 1810.
The doors opened at half-past three and the performance commenced at
half-past four; beginning with a Grand Military Manoeuvre by eight
persons well mounted, and ending with the admired "Scene of the Domestic
Horse" (by the famous Conqueror) who brought chairs and baskets when
commanded, and the "Ladies Fireworks," composed by Mr. Condit.

Of course, there was much wining and dining out, followed by cards
rendered more spicy when played for stakes. Taverns and oyster houses
furnished recreation for those less affluent. Fields and streams
furnished rare sport for fishermen; the successful fisherman or hunter
could always dispose of his excess catch at the market. Fish fries were
common entertainment.



As the population grew, the markets were abundantly supplied. Great
vessels packed with ice for sale in the town tied up at the wharves;
open spaces devoted to gardens and outbuildings gave way to dwelling
houses, and the town became more compact. Twelve or more servants were
necessary for the maintenance of large establishments, varying in number
according to the size of the family and the house. There was generally a
butler, who acted as major-domo, a cook and kitchenmaid, body servants
or valets for the head of the house and the young gentlemen, a ladies'
maid, chambermaid, nurse and nursemaids, a coachman, stable boy,
gardener, yard boy and laundress.

During the first twenty years of the city's development, an entire block
might contain not more than four homes. Each of these units functioned
as a miniature and self-supporting estate, surrounded by flower and
vegetable gardens and the usual outbuildings--necessaries, kitchen,
dairy, ice house, smokehouse, fowl house, servant quarters and stable.
The following advertisement appearing as late as 1828 illustrates the
traditional layout:

        TO LET

   An elegant two story Brick House, with kitchen, wash house, bath
   house, stable and carriage houses, an elegant garden, and a well of
   excellent water, a pump in the middle or centre of the square, a
   cistern for wash water and every convenience, equalled by few and
   exceeded by none of its size in Alexandria and suited only to a
   genteel family.

   It stands on Prince Street. It will be let for one or more years as
   best suits the tenant and possession given at once.


In spring the gardens were prepared, the herring salted and packed. In
summer great quantities of preserves, jellies, and pickles were put up
for the long winter. At the first frost the smokehouses were filled with
hams and great sides of bacon. Game was plentiful, and during the season
venison, duck, partridge, wild turkey, and woodcock appeared in market
and graced the tables of the well-to-do. With tea from China and India,
coffee from Brazil, oil and condiments from Spain, sugar and fruits from
the West Indies, Alexandrians fared sumptuously.

By 1770 Alexandria's tobacco trade had largely given way to wheat, and
the local shipping merchants were finding their supplies farther and
farther west in the valley of the Shenandoah. George Washington was one
of the first planters on the upper Potomac to change his money crop from
tobacco to wheat. He enlarged his mill and took advantage of the latest
mechanical advances of his time. However successful he became as a wheat
farmer, he never escaped the trials and grief caused by those middlemen,
his agents. In 1767 he wrote a nine-page letter roundly berating Carlyle
and Adam for the destruction of his bags and for delay in paying him for
his wheat.

A list of merchants and factors doing business in Alexandria in 1775
emphasizes the transition from tobacco to wheat. Of twenty-one firms
enumerated, fourteen were purchasers of wheat:

     1. Hooe and Harrison--_wheat_ purchasers.
     2. Steward and Hubard--_wheat_ purchasers.
     3. Fitzgerald and Reis--_wheat_ purchasers.
     4. Harper and Hartshorne--_wheat_ purchasers.
     5. John Allison--_wheat_ purchaser.
     6. William Sadler--_wheat_ purchaser.
     7. Robert Adam and Co.--_wheat_ purchasers.
     8. Henby and Calder--_wheat_ purchasers.
     9. William Hayburne--_wheat_ purchaser.
     10. James Kirk--_wheat_ purchaser.
     11. George Gilpin--_wheat_ purchaser, inspector of flour.
     12. Thomas Kilpatrick--_wheat_ purchaser, inspector of flour.
     13. McCawlay and Mayes--import British goods which they sell
     14. William Wilson--seller of British goods who buys tobacco.
     15. John Locke--seller of British goods who buys tobacco.
     16. John Muir--seller of British goods who buys tobacco.
     17. Brown and Finley--they import goods from Philadelphia and
         purchase tobacco and _wheat_.
     18. Josiah Watson--he imports goods from Philadelphia and purchases
         tobacco and _wheat_.
     19. Robert Dove and Co.--distillers.
     20. Carlyle and Dalton--import Rum and Sugar.
     21. Andrew Wales--brewer.[42]

It is said that Virginia wheat was the best to be procured and all
Europe was a market for Alexandria flour. It was not long before the
great wagons that had formerly carried wheat from Tidewater to
Philadelphia and the Delaware found the Potomac port as good a market
and a shorter journey. Numerous bakehouses appeared and Alexandria
packed and shipped large quantities of bread and crackers along with
flour to Europe and the Indies.

Alexandria had been a port of entry since 1779 and time was when the
Potomac from mouth to port was so crowded with vessels that navigation
was difficult. The early gazettes constantly referred to the crowded
condition of the river. The water front seethed with activity. One finds
the notice in a newspaper of 1786 of the arrival from St. Petersburg,
Russia, of the ship _Hunter_ of Alexandria. She was advertised to ply
her trade between these two places. This ship was built, owned, and
sailed by an Alexandrian, and was but one of many claiming Alexandria as
home port. Far corners of the earth were united in this ancient harbor
for a hundred years or more. "Commerce and Shipping" columns in the
local journals were as well read then as are our "classifieds" today.
Ships from China lay beside ships from Spain; flags from Holland,
Jamaica, Portugal, Germany, France and Russia flaunted their gay colors.
Private as well as public wharves were built. Large and rich shipping
firms were numerous. Great warehouses of brick lined the river front. A
kinsman of President Washington wrote him in 1792 that the "port of
Alexandria has seldom less than 20 square-rigged vessels in it and often
many more. The streets are crowded with wagons and the people all seem

Sloops, brigs, barques and schooners unloaded osnaburgs, wild boars,
moreens, brocades and damasks, bombazines, Russian and Belgian linens,
Scottish wools, French and Italian silk, caster hats, morocco leather
slippers, pipes of Madeira wine, casks of rum and port from Spain,
spices, fruits, and muscovado sugar from the West Indies, chests of
Hyson tea from China, neat sofas, bureaus, sideboards, harpsichords and
spinets from London, along with other things "too tedious to mention."

By 1816 decline in the importance of the port had set in, but no less
than 992 vessels entered and cleared the customs that year. This number
did not include the "vast number of inland packets, coal traders, lumber
vessells, wood d^o, grain d^o, etc." Of these 992 vessels, 195 were
foreign--ships, brigs, schooners, sloops--while coastwise entrances and
clearances reached 797. On January 22, 1817, the account of vessels in
the port of Alexandria stood:

        Ships        9
        Barques      1
        Brigs       11
        Schooners   30
        Sloops      15
        Total       66

These figures do not include a number of small craft in the port or the
steamboats _Washington_ and _Camdon_.



Participants in the Revolution made more impress upon Alexandria's
history than the war itself. The town was divided in its sentiments.
Many of the Scottish people remained loyal in their sympathies to the
mother country. Old Lord Fairfax, a Tory of Tories, became incensed with
young Washington, whom he had practically brought up, and 'tis said,
refused ever to see or speak to him again. His heir, Parson Bryan
Fairfax, of Mount Eagle, afterward Eighth Lord, remained on the
friendliest terms with the household at Mount Vernon, while holding the
strongest of Loyalist convictions. Tradition has it that Washington
personally saved him from molestation by the American troops.

[Illustration: An early cartoon representing John Bull collecting
indemnity from Alexandrians during the War of 1812. By Wm. Charles.
(_Library of Congress_)]

The Alexandria Committee of Safety obtained and outfitted fifteen
vessels for the protection of the town and the Potomac. On two occasions
the people became much excited and badly frightened. Rumor was rife in
1775 that Governor Dunmore had dispatched an expedition of warships up
the Potomac to "lay waste the towns and the country, capture Mrs.
Washington, and burn Mount Vernon."[44] Martha Washington remained calm,
and though finally persuaded by Colonel Mason to leave home, she stayed
away one night only.

The second scare is revealed in a letter from the General's manager,
Lund Washington, written in January 1776. "Alexandria is much alarmed
and indeed the whole neighborhood," he wrote. "The women and children
are leaving the town and stowing themselves in every hut they can find,
out of reach of the enemy's cannon. Every wagon, cart and pack horse
they can get is employed. The militia are all up, but not in arms, for
indeed they have none, or at least very few."[45]

[Illustration: Mantel in the house of the late Mrs. Davidson Maigne, 220
South Royal Street, dates about 1800 and is a good example of the
period, showing grace and restraint. Attention is drawn to the center
panel in an interesting way.]

La Fayette, De Kalb, Rochambeau, John Paul Jones, and "Light Horse
Harry" Lee, were in and out of Alexandria many times. On May 4, 1781,
the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army recorded in his diary: "A
letter from the Marq^s de la Fayette, dated at Alexandria on the 23rd,
mentioned his having commenced his march that day for Fredericksburg"--that
desertion had ceased, and that his detachment was in good spirits.[46]
High morale and grand strategy brought victory for the Continental cause
that October. Something like thirty-odd officers of the Revolution lived
in or near Alexandria, or came to live here after the war. Sixteen of them
became members of the Society of the Cincinnati, of which Washington was
President General.

The Peace of 1783 revived strangulated commerce and construction. The
harbor came to life. The brickmason and the carpenter took up their
tools. Wheat and tobacco rolled in to fill again the empty warehouses.
The citizens were gay and indulged themselves in festivities, as witness
an old letter written from Alexandria on February 13, 1787:

   Last Evening there was an elegant Ball in this Town, being the
   anniversary of General Washington's birth. No less than fifty Ladies
   elegantly dressed graced the Ball Room, tho the mud in our
   intolerable Streets was up to the Knees in Shoes (rather Boots) &

   Mr. Jenckes attended--says the Ball was agreeable for one so
   numerous. He has formed considerable acquaintances with the ladies,
   who are very agreeable but in general they talk rather too broad
   Irish for him.[47]

Brissot de Warville, who visited America in 1788, was impressed by the
possibilities of Alexandria:

   ... where thirty or forty years ago there were only one or two
   houses, is now indeed smaller than Baltimore, but plans to surpass
   her. She is already quite as irregular in construction and as muddy.
   But there is more luxury evident at Alexandria, if a miserable
   luxury; you see servants in silk stockings, and their masters in

   At the end of the war the people of Alexandria imagined that the
   natural advantages of their situation, the salubrity of the air, the
   depth of the river channel and the safety of the harbour which can
   accomodate the largest ships and permit them to anchor close to the
   wharves, must unite with the richness of the back country to make
   their town the center of a large commerce. In consequence they are
   building on all sides, they have set up superb wharves and raised
   vast warehouses.

   At the moment the expected commerce languishes. This is attributed to
   the heavy taxes. Whatever may be the cause many citizens are
   emigrating or planning to emigrate. Some ships of Alexandria are now
   trading regularly with the West Indies and at New Orleans.[48]

[Illustration: Classical Revival in mantel and doorway]


It was not long after the Revolution that the seat of the new federal
government was selected near Alexandria. In fact, one old story has it
that Alexandria was chosen as the site, and the patriot Washington was
twitted with the advantages that would accrue to him, with such vast
holdings of land so near the new capital. The tales go on that
Washington waxed very angry and replied that never, if he could help it,
should a public building be put south of the Potomac.

Be this as it may, the Virginia Assembly ceded to the federal government
on December 3, 1789, a generous slice of Fairfax County to be
incorporated with the State of Maryland's larger portion into a district
for the federal capital, ten miles square. The Congress of the United
States was pleased to accept this, and later an additional act of
Congress of March 3, 1791, amended and repealed a part of the first act,
naming Alexandria part of the ceded territory. And so for the next
fifty-six years we have no longer Alexandria in Virginia, but Alexandria
in the District of Columbia.

The Federal City (afterward Washington) which did not officially become
the nation's capital until 1800, was an undrained marsh in 1790.
Travelers visiting Alexandria about that time described it as having
"upwards of three hundred houses," many "handsomely built."[49] In 1795
Thomas Twining passed through Alexandria and commented: "What struck me
most was the vast number of houses which I saw building ... the hammer
and the trowel were at work everywhere, a cheering sight."[50] The Duc
de la Rochefoucauld in the following year stated: "Alexandria is beyond
all comparison the handsomest town in Virginia and indeed is among the
finest in the United States."[51] That same year, 1796, Isaac Weld
remarked, "Alexandria is one of the neatest towns in the United States.
The houses are mostly of brick."[52]

Virginians were largely their own architects. Thomas Jefferson designed
Monticello, the University of Virginia, and the Capitol at Richmond;
George Mason built Gunston Hall; and George Washington directed the
transformation of Mount Vernon from a simple villa into the famous
mansion it is. Alexandria "Undertakers," or contractors, did the
work--James Patterson in 1758 and Going Lamphire from 1773 onward for a
number of years. One Mr. Sanders, was called in about roof troubles and
afterwards dismissed. John Carlyle was the great gentleman architect and
builder of Alexandria. He built his own fine house, he took over Christ
Church in 1773 when James Parsons failed to complete his contract, and
he also superintended the erection of the Presbyterian meetinghouse.

James Wren, Gentleman, is remembered as the designer of Christ Church in
1767. Thomas Fleming is referred to as a ship's carpenter and "one who
is inclined to serve the Town." A story goes that George Coryell built a
gate in Philadelphia which so pleased the first President that he
persuaded him to move to Alexandria. True or not, the local _Gazette_
carried Coryell's advertisements of building materials and he is known
to have built a number of houses. Robert Brockett was building in 1785
the Presbyterian Manse. Benjamin Hallowell, William Fowle, and William
Yeaton at a later time proved themselves able architects.

The designs of Alexandria houses derived from the Old Country, and
follow the type of eighteenth century architecture found in the British
Isles, especially Scotland. The general floor plans of Alexandria's
homes are similar. With the _Builder's Companion and Workman's General
Assistant_, it was well-nigh impossible to go wrong. This series of
pamphlets, reprinted in 1762 by William Pain of London, offered the
purest and best of classical designs. The Scottish founders adapted them
to their needs, with the result that Alexandria differs from other
Colonial towns in Virginia, as Scotland differs from England. The
spiritual and physical variations are keenly sensed.

The interior trim of Alexandria's houses is simple and severe compared
to the plantation houses lining the Virginia rivers; to the elaborate
carving of the fine eighteenth century Charleston homes it seems plain
and austere. Nonetheless, there is a substantial dignity about these
houses that produces an atmosphere of calm, gracious peace not unlike
the interiors of meetinghouses. Even the little brick-and-frame cottages
partake of this same feeling and are remarkable for the charm of their
inviting and harmonious rooms. The simple overmantels, chair rails, wide
and low six-paneled doors hung on the proverbial H&L hinges, well
proportioned rooms and large, hospitable fireplaces, all done in
miniature, form interiors rare in scale, surprising in elegance, perfect
in balance.

For the better part of ten years after the Revolution, buildings
continued going up as rapidly as bricks could be made and artisans found
to put them together. As the town grew, the gaps along the streets were
filled. Alexandria assumed the character, not of Williamsburg or
Annapolis, but rather of Philadelphia or some Old World town. By 1795 it
wore an air of stability as row after row of fine brick buildings went
up. Alexandria houses were city dwellings and homes of merchants.
Comfortable and inviting they were, too, with a wealth of detail in
finish and appearance. Doorways and cornices for the outside; arches,
mantels and paneling within. Very sad it is to relate how much of this
has found its way into the museums of the country, and sadder still to
tell how much has been wantonly destroyed. The New York Metropolitan
Museum of Art houses one of the great rooms from Alexandria; the St.
Louis Museum another; and some interior woodwork has found its way to

[Illustration: Varied were the designs and never were the twain alike]

Conceived and built as a trading center, by 1796, almost without
exception, the first floor of every building was used as a place of
business while the upper floors served as the family dwelling. This
accounts for the more elaborate woodwork found on second floors. The
Mutual Assurance Society archives reveal many instances of a store,
countinghouse, office or shop located in a wing or attached building;
likewise warehouses on the premises as well as along the water front.


Alexandrians owned and operated shipyards, sail lofts, ropewalks, lumber
yards, brick kilns; print and apothecary shops; manufactories of
harness, saddles, boots, shoes, mattresses, and cloth. And of course
there were the taverns and hotels, inns and oyster houses, markets,
stables, ferries, and fish wharves (where millions of herring were
packed for export). Its citizens maintained churches, schools,
academies, banks, fire companies, counting houses, and newspapers. They
supported ministers, lawyers, doctors, dentists, oculists,
cabinetmakers, artists, musicians, actors, merchants and a town militia.
Mention has already been made of the important building professions--to
the activities of house and ship carpenters, and the "undertakers," or
contractors of the day.

Among the tradesmen and artisans of the town were watchmakers and
clockmakers, jewelers, goldsmiths, coppersmiths, gunsmiths, blacksmiths,
and ironmongers; confectioners, bakers and brewers; hatters, and
wig-makers. Cottom & Stewart was a firm of publishers and vendors of the
latest in literature. Joshua Delacour was a bookbinder who carried on
his business in all its branches, not only supplying ladies with
bandboxes, trunks, pasteboard stays and stomachers, but he also papered
rooms in the neatest fashion. Books and stationery were imported by
Joshua Merryman, who also advertised blotting paper, quills, ink powder,
inkpots, sealing wax and wafers--in fact, all the adjuncts of polite

Margaret Greetner set great store by her newly imported mangle, by which
"silk, linen and cotton stockings, and other articles were smoothed and
glossed in the most expeditious manner." She took in washing at
"moderate terms" and apparently was the eighteenth century counterpart
of our modern laundry. Joseph Delarue was her competitor in the
dry-cleaning field, offering his services to ladies and gentlemen of the
town and adjacent country as a scourer of silks, chintzes, and woolen
clothes. Coachmaking was carried on by E.P. Taylor and Charles Jones.
Unfortunately, records relating to Alexandria's early artisans are
pathetically scanty or altogether lacking.

Alexandria in its heyday boasted as fine silver as could be found in the
colony, and while there is a quantity of English silver thereabouts,
much was made by her own craftsmen. It exists today in families who,
while cherishing it for generations, have used it commonly for a century
or more.

A partial list of silversmiths includes some nineteen or twenty names,
for the earliest of whom there is any record, we must thank "the
General," for it is in his ledgers that these first five names are
found, noting some work done for Mount Vernon, usually of a repair
nature. Salt spoons and ladles evidently saw hard service, or were kept
so spick and span they had to go to the silversmith for frequent
mending. In 1773 the Washington silver chest was the richer for a punch
ladle made by William Dowdney. While this was in the making, one Edward
Sandford was restoring a salt and mending a punch ladle. He also
repaired Mrs. Washington's watch and made her a silver seal. The salt
spoons were in the hands of one Charles Turner in 1775; and Mrs.
Washington had a gold locket from one Philip Dawe. The punch ladle was
out of order again in 1781 and had a new handle made by "Mr. Kanat."

[Illustration: The Federal Period interpreted in iron]

About this time the Adam family of silversmiths began to attract
attention. The first of that name in Alexandria was James Adam
(1755-1798). He was working in Alexandria as early as 1771, and he who
has an original Adam piece is either one of an ancient family in the
town or a fortunate collector. The work of his son, John Adam
(1780-1843), is more frequently found, and of the best type. The Adam
grandson, William W. (1817-1877), followed the trade of his
progenitors, turning out good work certainly but in the Victorian idiom.

Charles Burnett, working in Alexandria in 1793, and probably as early as
1785, produced sauceboats, urns, tea sets, tankards, and so on. His
flatware is usually distinguished by a shell motif, and gadroon edges
finish and decorate many of his pieces. His work is very similar to his
Philadelphia contemporaries.

Adam Lynn (1775-1836) was born in Alexandria, of Alexandria parents, the
son of Colonel Adam Lynn, a Revolutionary officer and a member of the
Society of the Cincinnati. He inherited property from his father, two
lots of land on King and St. Asaph Streets. At the age of twenty-five,
in 1800, he advertised himself as:

       ADAM LYNN

   Jeweler, Silver and Goldsmith, Silver Tea sets may be had to any
   pattern at short notice, warranted to equal any in America.

It is noted that in 1801 he "respectfully informs the public that he has
commenced the clock and watchmaking business, in addition to that of
jewelry. He has laid in a large assortment of the best materials in that
line and is determined to give general satisfaction." Lynn's work is
delicate and fine. Strangely, very little remains but what there is is
satisfactory. He frequently decorated his flatware with a refined
etching or gravure, his hollow ware with reeding. To the jewelry
business Lynn combined another. In 1810 his advertisement read:

      New Hardware Store Adam Lynn & Co.

   Have received by the Ship "Dumphries" from Liverpool, via Baltimore A
   Large and General Assortment ... which they now offer for sale at
   their store corner King and Royal Streets--late occupied by Peter

Lynn held several offices in the Masonic lodge and served for years as
vestryman of St. Paul's Church. He had the added distinction of being
drawn by M. de St. Mèmin.

A few spoons and ladles survive Mordecai Miller, 1790; John Duffey,
1793; George Duffey (1845-1880); James Ganet (1820-1830); William Cohen,
1833; Benjamin Barton, 1833; R.C. Acton, 1840; William A. Williams
(1787-1846). The last-named craftsmen made the famous silver cup
presented by the "grateful City Council" to the lovely Mrs. Lawrason for
entertaining La Fayette in her home. John Pittman is listed in a deed
in 1801 as a goldsmith and silversmith, while the census for 1790 gives
the names of Thomas Bird, William Galt, John Piper and John Lawrason. In
addition, from other deeds and advertisements, the names of John Short
(1784); James Galt (1801); Josiah Coryton, "late of this town" (1801)
are gleaned as watchmakers and clockmakers.

[Illustration: _Top_: Creamer, sugar and bowl by Charles Burnett.
_Center_: Sauceboat and sugar urn by Charles Burnett, creamer by I.
Adam. Owned by Mrs. John Howard Joynt. _Bottom_: Service by I. Adam.
Owned by the Misses Snowden.]

Slate roofing seems to have made its initial appearance around 1800. In
1805 Joseph Riddle's dwelling house was "covered in copper" and John
Janney's warehouse in slate, and at least one building in "composition."
At this date an insurance plat shows a tinsmith and coppersmith's shop.
The early roofs were covered in wood (_i.e._, wooden shingles).



With the death of George Washington in 1799, which emphasized the close
of the eighteenth century, the city whose prosperity seemed in some
mystic fashion to have developed and grown with him began a decline.

In 1803 came yellow fever, leaving desolation and mourning in its wake.
An English traveler wrote in 1807:

   Alexandria was about eight years ago a very flourishing place, but
   the losses sustained from the capture of American vessels by the
   French in the West Indies, occasioned many failures. In the year
   1803, the yellow fever, which broke out there for the first time,
   carried off a number of its inhabitants. These shocks have so deeply
   affected the mercantile interest, that the town has but two or three
   ships in the trade with Great Britain; and there is little prospect
   of its ever attaining to its former prosperity.[53]

Alexandria was further subjected to plagues. Cholera broke out in 1832,
and people dropped dead in the streets while the population shuddered.
Illness, death, and burial was the fearsome sequence of only a few
hours. There was a Board of Health and a Quarantine Officer, but
ignorance of sanitation laws and preventive medicine resulted in
appalling epidemics brought in by visiting vessels.

Fire, too, ravaged the town. There were two major conflagrations in the
early nineteenth century, one in 1810 and another in 1824, in each of
which at least fifty buildings were consumed. The fire in the latter
year all but demolished the west side of Fairfax Street between King
and Prince Streets. George Washington is credited with having founded
the first fire company and giving to the city what was then the finest
of modern hand pumpers--a magnificent affair of red paint, brass
trimmings, and leather buckets. A law of the town made it mandatory for
each householder or proprietor of a dwelling or storehouse to furnish
leather buckets of at least two-and-one-half-gallon capacity at "his or
her expense"--in quantity equal to the stories of his house; no
proprietor was expected, however, to provide more than three buckets.
The buckets were numbered and lettered with the names of the owners,
whose duty it was to send or carry them to any place where a fire broke
out, or to "throw them into the street so that they may be taken

The fire companies at the first alarm, in scarlet shirts, turned out on
shortest notice, at a dead run on "shanks' mare." Woe betide the member
who was late, for he was fined right heavily. Pumping by hand to put out
a fire was a laborious affair and slackers were not tolerated. Even with
the best of will and the most earnest of pumpers, the fires got out of
hand and took a terrible toll of the early buildings. While insides were
gutted, the walls often remained to contain again an interior of beauty
and dignity.

Alexandria suffered more from the War of 1812 than from the Revolution.
Before Washington fell to the British in 1814, Alexandria was forced to
capitulate and had to pay a high indemnity for physical protection. This
disaster, coupled with the failure of the canal which was to open up the
vast Ohio country, all but wrecked the best financial hopes and plans of
the city.

The opening of the Potomac River for navigation, to connect with the
Ohio, was a project close to General Washington's heart. He had
entertained this dream from the time of his first western venture in
1754. He calculated, plotted, and surveyed distances, and from 1770
onward his mind was set upon the accomplishment. In July of that year he
was in correspondence with Thomas Johnson, to whom he wrote: "Till now I
have not been able to enquire into the sentiments of any of the
Gentlemen of this side in respect to the Scheme of opening inland
navigation of the Potomac by private subscription."[55] Washington's
trips to the Ohio, in October 1770 and again in September 1784--on both
occasions accompanied by Dr. Craik--while in the interest of his western
land holdings were also to forward this canal business.

All of this resulted in the founding of the Potomac Navigation Company
in 1785, and Alexandria subscribed heavily to the bond issue. By 1829
the first steam locomotive was operating in America and the coming of
the steam engine was followed by the collapse of the canal project.
Thousands of local dollars were thus lost. When the deflation was
complete, financial stagnation followed, from which Alexandria never
entirely recovered. During these trying 1830s and 1840s many of her
younger men departed for the west hoping to better their fortunes.

Alexandrians did not take kindly to federal jurisdiction of their
affairs, and within half a century from 1800--on February 3, 1846--a
petition was presented from the citizens of the county and town of
Alexandria to the Virginia General Assembly, stating that they had
pending before Congress an application for recession to the Commonwealth
of Virginia. They asked the Assembly for a law to accept them back into
the fold should their request be granted. By act of Congress, dated July
9, 1846, it was provided that: "With the assent of the people of the
County and Town of Alexandria, that portion of the territory of the
District of Columbia ceded to the United States by the State of Virginia
... receded and forever relinquished to the State of Virginia ..."[56]

Virginia welcomed the recession as a mother would welcome home a
maltreated and divorced daughter. Alexandria County (later Arlington
County) and the City of Alexandria were accepted on March 13, 1847, just
two years short of the latter's centenary.

Fourteen years later the first blood of dreadful civil war was spilled
in Alexandria and the city found itself a pawn to arbitrament by the
sword. When General Robert E. Lee accepted the command of Confederate
forces, a host of Alexandrians followed him into battle. To the
citizenry with Southern sympathies, war meant bitter severance once
again from Virginia. For the duration of the Civil War, Alexandria,
under federal jurisdiction again, became the capital of that part of the
state (West Virginia) which refused to secede with the Richmond
government. To the old city came a governor and legislature with
Northern sympathies, making welcome any federal forces camping on the
outskirts of town. Old prints show the Union flag in the hands of
marching soldiers on King Street, and camps and cantonments, beginning
at the "Round House," extending for miles.

Even so, the best and noblest donned the gray, and Alexandria's own
marched out to become part of the 17th Virginia Infantry, C.S.A., upon
the bloody battlefields of the South.

With the close of the Civil War, prosperity departed. Fewer and fewer
ships came to anchor in the Potomac port, until finally nothing remained
to show the important part that Alexandria played for a century in the
sea commerce of the world save rotted piles that once supported wharves,
and a few grimy, scarred old warehouses whose collapsing roofs and loose
bricks threatened the very life of the pedestrian.

Other wars have come and gone and each has had a conspicuous effect upon
the town. The tragic era of 1861-65, binding our great nation into an
indissoluble union, began likewise the process of cementation which
steadfastly links Alexandria to the District of Columbia by bands that
are basically nonpolitical (maybe stronger for that same reason).
Paradoxically, Alexandria is a free city--part of Virginia, though not
characteristic of the State; allied to the District, but no part of it.

Alexandria's cultural heritage has appealed for many reasons to
Washington officialdom, and many persons prominent in national affairs
have crossed the river to settle and to restore the gracious old homes
of bygone days. George Washington's Alexandria is a city at once assured
and self-conscious. Confident in its background, its venerable
traditions, and its associations with the great in the country's
development, Alexandria ponders its destiny.

[Illustration: Adam Lynn, Silversmith. (By Saint Mèmin)]

All faithful sons and daughters, whether native or adopted, fondly hope
that this bicentennial year of the city's existence may bring closer to
fulfillment the famous toast voiced by La Fayette in 1824: "The City of
Alexandria: May her prosperity and happiness more and more realize the
fondest wishes of our venerated Washington!"


Where is the great seaport that was Alexandria? Where are the ships that
plied their trade to the four corners of the earth, built, outfitted,
loaded from this port, officered and manned by the men of this town?
Where the great shipyards down whose ways slipped vessels of any
magnitude; the ropewalks where black slaves trod the weary miles
twisting the hemp to lift the sails made in Alexandria sail lofts? Where
the great docks, wharves and warehouses that lined the water front?

Only phantom vessels, locked in the eternal secrets of the deep, float
at anchor and crowd the harbor with a pale tracery of masts and rigging.
Only the voices of sailors long silent float ashore on the breezes in a
polyglot of languages, while ghostly laughter and oaths of those held in
taverns by rum and sugar at three pence ha'penny disturbs the sobriety
of the water front.

Gone are the shipyards. Upon ways destroyed by rot will rise no more the
skeleton ribs of sloop nor barque nor brig.

Silent are the sail lofts. Long ago the last workman at day's end put
down the canvas and the thread.

Empty are the ropewalks of docile slave and pungent hemp.

Cold are the bake ovens--crumbled the last biscuit....

The worn and polished cobbles are destitute of coach and four, of
chariot and chair. Nor does the mail arrive by stage.

No more will hoops and wigs add allure to the progress of beauty--nor
peruke nor smallclothes invest the beau with grandeur.

The factor and the sea captains have departed. The weary clerk has put
up the last shutter; empty stools and blunted quills abandoned. Only the
ledgers remain, free of blot and blemish to attest the skill and
patience of the forgotten scribe.

An autumn moon lights the old town, turning to silver the tiny waves
lapping the old sea wall, shimmering on the panes of dormer windows,
silhouetting the high brick facades against the white night, outlining
trim and cornice. Lighted transoms dimly reveal the white paneled
doorways.... Let us enter....



The Presence of George Washington 1749-1799


Chapter 1

William Ramsay: Romulus of Alexandria

[Historic Ramsay House, once the home of Alexandria's first mayor and
oldest building standing in the city, miraculously escaped destruction
by fire in 1942. Later threatened by the "wheels of progress," it was
saved by heroic efforts of Alexandria antiquarians who persuaded the
city fathers to purchase the structure as a gesture to the 1949
anniversary. As this book goes to press an active campaign is under way
by Alexandria historical societies to raise funds for restoration.]

Some two hundred years ago a sturdy-bottomed little sailing ship riding
at anchor in the port of Dumfries in Scotland, and bound for the port of
Dumfries in Virginia, was boarded by a young Scotsman. No _parvenu_
voyager he, but a young man of settled background and promising future,
educated for his calling and going out to take his place in one of the
Scottish firms trading in Virginia.

Our adventurer belonged to the Ramsay family of the noble house of
Dalhousie, which goes back into Scottish history of the thirteenth
century. King Edward I, in July 1298, spent the night at Dalhousie on
his way to battle with William Wallace; and in 1400 Sir Alexander Ramsay
defended the walls of Dalhousie against Henry IV. In 1633 William,
Second Lord Ramsay, was created First Earl of Dalhousie. This young
adventurer bore the name of the Second Lord, William. He was born in
1716 in Kirkendbrightshire in the Galloway district of Scotland, and he
was destined to play no small part in his own particular sphere. He
brought the integrity and industry of his native land to the new world
shores, and was one of that band of Scotsmen of whom President Madison
said, "Their commercial edicts served the colony as substantial
legislation for many years."[57] These traits, added to vision, wisdom,
sound morality and a tender nature, formed the character of the future
first citizen of Alexandria.

The year 1744 found William Ramsay settled in business with John
Carlyle, trading under the name of Carlyle & Ramsay in the village of
Belle Haven. This little settlement lay on the banks of the upper
Potomac behind the Great Hunting Creek warehouse.

Ramsay early sensed that the large harbor of Belle Haven with its deep
water and fine approach was a better situation for a town than many then
being agitated before the Burgesses. Forming friendships with Colonel
Fairfax, Lawrence Washington, George Mason, George Johnston, and other
large planters, he impressed them with the importance of this situation
as a site of great promise for a city and a port.[58]

When this dream became an accomplished fact it was a natural conclusion
that William Ramsay was one of the seven men chosen by the Virginia
Assembly for the purpose of laying out the town at Hunting Creek

His faith in Alexandria was supported by his pocketbook. At the first
auction of lots on July 13, 1749, he bought lots Nos. 46 and 47; and he
never lost an opportunity to invest his hard and dangerously earned
money in the soil of his begotten city.

At the outbreak of the French and Indian War he was appointed (on George
Washington's recommendation) Commissary in 1756. Many letters dealing
with commissary affairs, and more interesting, the movement of troops,
written from Rays Town are among the Washington papers.

His partnership with Carlyle was followed by one with John Dixon which
was dissolved in 1757, when Dixon returned to England and his native
Whitehaven. Ramsay incurred a large debt by buying Dixon's interests. He
wrote to Washington in July 1757, saying he had been extremely
unfortunate in all his affairs, and asking for a loan of £250, saying,
"I have made application to the monied ones--My L^d Fx, M^r Speaker, M^r
Corbin, M^r Cary and many others with^t success wch I put to the Acco^t
of my perverse fortune, not to the want of ability to serve me." These
gentlemen were among the richest and most influential men in the colony,
but George, a young colonel of militia, scraped up £80 in August and
another £70 in September, to lend his good friend and mentor.

William Ramsay had given Washington some sound advice in September 1756,
when the young Colonel was somewhat upset by criticism of militia
officers and not too happy in his official duties. Ramsay wrote, "...
Know sir, that Ev'ry Gent^n in an exalted Station raises envy & Ev'ry
person takes the Liberty of judging or rather determining (with judging)
from appearances (or information) without weighing circumstances, or the
proper causes, on wch their judgem^t ought to be founded.... Upon the
whole, S^r, triumph in your innocency, your disinterestedness, your
unwearied Application & Zeal for your country's good, determine you to
continue in its service at a time there may be the greatest call for
you, & when probably some signal Day may mark you the bravest (as
hitherto you have been) of persons ..."[60]

Ramsay served Alexandria some thirty-six years as a public servant. He
was town overseer, census taker, postmaster, member of the Committee of
Safety, colonel of the militia regiment, adjuster of weights and seals
with John Carlyle at Hunting Creek warehouse in 1754, town trustee,
mayor, and did his duty as gentleman justice for many years, beginning
that service prior to the settlement of Alexandria. Tradition has it
that he was the most beloved citizen of Alexandria, which is certainly
confirmed. In 1761 he was elected by his fellow townsmen their first and
only Lord Mayor. The enthusiastic inhabitants decorated him with a
golden chain bearing a medal. "Upon one side was represented the infant
state of Alexandria and its commodious harbour, with these words in the
legend, '_Alexandria Translate et Renate Auspice Deo_,' and in the
exerque, '_Condita Reg^o Geo. II. An. Dom. 1649_.' The reverse has this
inscription: '_Dig^mo Dom^no Guilielmo Ramsay. Romulo Alexandriae
Urbisque Patri, Consuli Primo. Bene Merenti. An. Dom. 1761_.'"[61]

The election and investment over, the _Maryland Gazette_ tells us, "the
Lord Mayor and Common Council preceded by officers of State Sword and
Mace bearers and accompanied by many gentlemen of the town and county,
wearing blue sashes under crosses, made a grand procession ... with
drums, trumpets and a band of music, colors flying." The shipping in the
harbor displayed "flags and banners while guns fired during the
afternoon." A "very elegant entertainment was prepared at the Coffee
House," where the new Lord Mayor and his entourage sat down to a
sumptuous repast. This was followed by a ball given by the Scottish
gentlemen "at which a numerous and brilliant company of ladies danced."
Ceremonies ended with fireworks, bonfires, and "other demonstrations."
Perhaps this enthusiasm may be somewhat explained by the fact that this
celebration took place on St. Andrew's Day.[62]

In 1765 Ramsay went back to Scotland, whether to see again his family or
on business is not revealed. But that he had a most remarkable reception
cannot be questioned. Dumfries and Kirkendbright conferred
extraordinary honor upon him. Yellowed by age, two pieces of engraved
parchment are treasured by his descendants. These towns each made him a
"Burgess," the most signal distinction to be conferred upon a visitor.

Besides the original lots which William Ramsay purchased on July 13,
1749 (Nos. 46 and 47 for forty-six _pistoles_), he later purchased lot
No. 34. Augustine Washington forfeited his lots, Nos. 64 and 65, for
neglecting to build within the required time, and Ramsay bought this
property. When William Seawell, the peruke-maker, lost his holdings for
indebtedness, Ramsay also acquired lot No. 61. He owned the Royal
George, a tavern of importance, and had numbers of slaves and indentured
workmen. In 1749 he paid taxes on seven blacks and seven whites. In 1782
he owned twenty-one blacks, four horses and a coach. His will, dated the
month before his death, enumerated seven slaves by name, specifying
special considerations for two, _viz_: "that they may be better cloathed
both in Winter and Summer than is common for slaves, and that they be
particularly taken good care of as a reward for their long and faithful

William Ramsay married Ann McCarty, daughter of Dennis McCarty Sr. and
his wife Sarah Ball, who was a kinswoman of George Washington and sister
of Mrs. George Johnston. Ann McCarty Ramsay was one of those women of
the day who by the laws of the land lost their property and identity
with marriage. Yet, when this retiring, gentle person was called upon to
raise funds in Alexandria and Fairfax County, no modern matron working
for bond drive or Red Cross ever did a more successful work. Thomas
Jefferson, as Governor of Virginia, in a letter from Richmond written on
August 4, 1780, to General Edward Stevens, attached a list of "female
Contributions, in aid of the War, Probably in 1780." Among the thirteen
ladies who gave their watch chains, diamond drops and rings is the name
of "Mrs. Anne Ramsay (for Fairfax), one halfjoe, three guineas, three
pistareens, one bit. Do. for do. paper money, bundle No. 1, twenty
thousand dollars, No. 2, twenty-seven thousand dollars, No. 3, fifteen
thousand dollars, No. 4, thirteen thousand five hundred and eighteen
dollars and one third."[63]

This excellent wife took her Presbyterian husband into the Established
Church and we find Washington crediting him with £33 for pew No. 20 in
Alexandria (Christ) Church in January 1773. But the Presbyterian citadel
of learning was the choice over William and Mary College when time came
for the eldest son, William Jr., to prepare for a professional career.
The strict discipline of Old Nassau was more to the liking of Scottish
conservatism than the laxness reported among students and faculty at the
Williamsburg institution. At Princeton young William studied medicine
under Dr. Benjamin Rush. In 1775, after joining the General in winter
headquarters at Cambridge, Mrs. Washington wrote the family that she had
seen young Ramsay as she passed through Princeton and that "he was very
well but did not talk of comeing home soon."[64] Maybe this was a
woman's subtle way of breaking the news of young William's plans to
follow the Continental cause wherever it might lead. As surgeon in the
army, he served throughout the Revolutionary War.

Following the custom, the elder William Ramsay placed his second son in
trade with the firm of Jennifer & Hooe in Dumfries. From Alexandria, on
December 5, 1774, he sent young Dennis, then a lad of eighteen years,
the following letter brimming with sound parental advice and Scottish
business acumen:

   Dear Dennis

   Tho' you have been but a short time from us, I cannot help informing
   you that we are all well--But as a Parent, I must say more but I hope
   you are so well grounded in the principals I would inculcate, that it
   need only put you in mind of the duties we owe to the supreme Being &
   our fellow Men--your first duty my dear Son, is to your God, do not
   by any means neglect your duty in paying your adorations &
   supplications to him for a blessing on your endeavors, & your
   gratefull acknowledgements for every benefit and money you receive,
   which you & I every day experience--Your next duty is to your
   Parents, who, I hope you will pay that respect to, you always have
   done, & continue to listen to their advice with proper attention,
   because you must be assured, it flows from the parental and
   affectionate regard they have for you and your welfare here &
   hereafter. Your next duty is to your fellow Men, more especialy to
   your employer, his interest demands your justice, your diligence and
   utmost attention to his business and interest, your secrets & his
   relating to your affairs you must religiously keep, mind his business
   only, do not intermedle with that of other peoples, and avoid
   entering into any dispute with them: you may gain much observation &
   society, but nothing by disputetation. Let your intimates be few and
   those well chosen, for the formation of youth depends on the
   companions they chuse, therefore in this be very cautious. I will not
   say any more to you on this head but hope that you will conduct
   yourself as hitherto you have done & shun even the Appearance of
   evil. When y^o lodge by yourself be cautious in securing your Windows
   and doors, and if you cou'd, as probably you may, get some agreeable
   young fellow to sleep with you if not always, very often; he wou'd be
   company to you, and made your time less lonesome, but your own
   prudence will suggest to you these things better than I can--When
   your Bed and Chest comes down, I will send Anthony down to you, he
   can make your fire, clean your Shoes, fetch you water &c.... As I
   mentioned to you, that what you now get from your industry shall be
   your own, besides, I will help you all that I can 'till you are of
   age, please God to bless me & you with the sight of that day, I will
   strain every nerve to set you forward in the World, your behavior I
   hope will entitle you to it, and give your Mother and me the highest
   pleasure we can hope for here, that is, your doing well--If you want
   a Waistcoat and Breeches you may get them in town yourself. Mr. Hooe
   says that he will immediately send you some Rum & Sugar on their
   Acco^t to dispose off in the Wholesale way, that you may take your
   choice out of it to retain on your own Account--Be cautious and do
   not trust. I do not know my dear Dennis anything I can say more to
   you at this time. I expect to hear from you next Post and that you
   will be particular with regard to your situation &c. Your Mother
   gives her blessing to y^o, all your sisters,

   I am, my dear Dennis, your most Affectionate Father,

        WM RAMSAY[65]

[Illustration: Bill of Lading to William Ramsay at Bellehaven, dated
1751. (Ramsay Papers)]

When war came, Denny Ramsay, like his brother, threw his lot with the
cause of liberty and served with distinction in the army, reaching the
rank of colonel.

Dennis Ramsay closely followed in the footsteps of his father. Both
served as mayor of the town and it was the official duty of both to
address General Washington upon commemorative occasions--William in 1781
after Yorktown, and Dennis in 1789 when the General paused in Alexandria
on his way to be inaugurated as President of the new republic. Both
father and son were Freemasons and members of the Sun Fire Company.

After the death of Martha Washington's little daughter, Patsy Custis,
her empty heart sought solace in association with the young daughters of
her friends. The girls of Alexandria kept the carriage wheels rolling
to Mount Vernon, where they were joyfully received, and where they were
nearly always numerous enough to make a gay evening. The young ladies
from the houses of Carlyle, Dalton and Ramsay were near neighbors in
Alexandria and frequenters of Mount Vernon, as were the Misses Craik,
Herbert, Fitzhugh, Lee, and Fendall, whose presence brightened the
mansion house with girlish laughter and confidences. At these gatherings
none was held in more affection than the young daughter of William and
Ann McCarty Ramsay. Where could a more charming letter be found than
this written by the hand of Martha Washington one hundred and
seventy-four years ago, within the sounds of the guns of Bunker Hill, to
Mistress Betty Ramsay:

       Cambridge December the 30th 1775

   Dear Miss

   I now set down to tell you that I arrived hear safe, and our party
   all well--we were fortunate in our time of setting out as the weather
   proved fine all the time we were on the road--I did not reach Phila^d
   till the tuesday after I left home, we were so attended and the
   gentlemen so kind, that I am lade under obligations to them that I
   shall not for get soon. I dont dout but you have seen the Figuer our
   arrival made in the Philadelphia paper--and I left it in as great
   pomp as if I had been a very great some body.

   I have waited some days to collect something to tell, but allass
   there is nothing but what you will find in the papers--every person
   seems to be chearfull and happy hear--some days we hear a number of
   Cannon and shells from Boston and Bunkers Hill, but it does not seem
   to surprise any one but me; I confess I shuder everytime I hear the
   sound of a gun--I have been to dinner with two of the Generals, Lee &
   Putnam and I just took a look at pore Boston--& Charlestown--from
   prospect Hill Charlestown has only a few chimneys standing in it,
   there seems to be a number of very fine Buildings in Boston but God
   knows how long they will stand; they are pulling up all the warfs for
   fire wood--to me that never see any thing of war, the preparations
   are very terable indead, but I endevor to keep my fears to my self as
   well as I can.

   Your Friends Mr Harrison & Henly are boath very well, and I think
   they are fatter than they were when they came to the Camp--and Capt.
   Baylor is a lusty man to what he was when you see him. The girls may
   rest satisfied on Mr. Harrisons account for he seems two fond of his
   country to give his heart to any but one of his Virginia Friends,
   there are but two Young Laidis in Cambridge, and a very great number
   of Gentlemen so you may guess how much is made of them--but neither
   of them is pritty I think.

   This is a beautyfull Country, and we had a very pleasant journey
   through New england, and had the pleasure to find the G[eneral] very
   well--we came within the month from home to the Camp.

   I see your Brother at princeton he was very well but did not talk of
   comeing home soon.

   Plese to give my love and good wishes to your mamma & grand mamma,
   Mr. Ramsay and Family, my compliments to all enquiring Freinds, the
   good gentlemen that came with me up to Baltimore, and Mrs.
   Herbert--in which the general and Mr. and Mrs. Custis join, please to
   remember us to Mr. and Mrs. McCarty and Family.

   I am Dear miss your most affectionate Friend and Well &C


Ramsay did not wait for death to close his eyes ere he provided for his
children. As early as 1777, and probably before, he divided his original
purchase of lots Nos. 46 and 47 among his eight children. There is a
much-worn old plat still in the hands of his descendants showing this
division; on file at Fairfax Court House there is a deed to his youngest
son, Dennis, for that part of his lot No. 47 fronting on Fairfax and
King Streets, "Beginning at the S.W. corner of said lot extending north
up Fairfax 90 feet more or less to Ramsay's Alley, then east down said
alley 75 feet more or less, then South 90 feet to King Street, and then
West with King 75 feet to the beginning with all houses warehouses
Buildings, etc."

To his eldest son and namesake he gave his dwelling house and lot lying
to the north of the alley. As the custom of primogeniture prevailed it
was but natural that William Jr. fell heir to the dwelling house of his
father. At the time of this gift in December 1784, William reserved to
himself an "absolute right and title to take away as much earth or dirt
from said ground even up to my Dwelling House, if necessary without
prejudice to the said House to be applied towards filling up my wharf
and Peers until they are finished ..."[67] After the death of his
father, William Jr., bachelor, "farm let" to his brother, the married
Dennis, for the full term of ten years from the 10th day of May last
[1785], "the rent to be fixed by Robert McCrea, John Allison, or any
other person whom they shall choose--the lot lying and being on the
north side of King Street and the east side of Fairfax, beginning upon
Fairfax Street ten feet south of the south end of the Kitchen, which
stands upon the said street belonging to William Ramsay, then running
east sixty-six feet parallel to King, then north parallel with Fairfax
twenty-five feet, then with a line parallel to King West twenty-two
feet, including a Brick Smoke House, then with a line parallel to
Fairfax north to a four-foot alley lately laid out in the said lott by
William Ramsay, Esq., deceased, then East with the line of the alley 84
feet, then south to Ramsays Alley then West parallel to King until it
reaches Fairfax Street, then with Fairfax and binding there upon to the
beginning and all Buildings, Houses, Yards, Gardens, Stables, to the
said premises belonging or in any wise pertaining. Furthermore Dennis
Ramsay may erect upon the premises a Kitchen in such part as will be
most convenient, and at the expiration of the lease Dennis Ramsay has
Liberty to remove the same from the premises."[68] Ten years later, on
July 6, 1795, William Ramsay Jr. sold this property to Guy Atkinson.
This gentleman owned the property until his death in 1835 and requested
in his will, probated July 14 of that year, that his children reside "in
my present mansion."

This is the house standing today at 113 North Fairfax Street,[Owner:
Miss Frona Matthews.] and unless other research at a later day denies
the assumption that this brick mansion was the last home of the Romulus
of Alexandria, it is so declared.

The little white frame clapboard house with the Dutch roof, standing on
the northeast corner of King and Fairfax Streets was certainly the
property of William Ramsay--probably his office or kitchen, and later
occupied by the descendants of his son, Dennis, after additions and
improvements. The architect who is restoring this ancient and quaint
house thinks that it is far older than the town of Alexandria, and that
it is not now established upon the original foundation, but has been
moved over from another location. It is interesting to think that it
might have been part of Carlyle & Ramsay's original office in Belle
Haven in 1744.

On February 12, 1795, George Washington was at Mount Vernon happily
engaged in planning his garden and planting his shrubs when he "Received
an Invitation to the Funeral of Willm. Ramsay, Esqr., of Alexandria, the
oldest Inhabitt. of the Town; and went up. Walked in a procession as a
free mason, Mr. Ramsay in his life being one, and now buried with the
ceremonies and honors due to one."[69]

A few days later the town's newspaper carried the following tribute:


   On the 10th, instand departed this Life, in the 69th year of his age,
   WILLIAM RAMSAY, Esq., a Gentleman generally esteemed for the humane
   and generous sentiments of his heart, as well as for his uprightness
   and integrity, throughout a long and active life.

   This Gentleman first proposed and promoted the establishment of the
   town of Alexandria, and was its first inhabitant. He was consoled on
   the verge of life, with the reflection of having acted his part well,
   and of having reared and leaving to represent him a numerous and
   amiable family, in possession of as much happiness as generally falls
   to the lot of humanity. Thus he met the lingering, but certain
   approach of death with a composure and resignation of mind very
   remarkable and truly exemplary.

   His remains were interred on the 12th, in the Episcopal Church Yard,
   and attended by a very numerous and respectable company, preceeded by
   the Brotherhood of Free Masons in procession with the solemnities
   usual on such occasions.[70]

Within less than two months, Washington, still at work upon his garden,
grafting cherry trees, was interrupted to go to Alexandria to "attend
the Funeral of Mrs. Ramsay who died (after a lingering illness) on
Friday last.... Dined at Mr. Muir's and after the funer^l obseques
were ended, returned home."[71] Again was spread upon the sheets of the
town paper an obituary:


   On Saturday last departed this life, Mrs. ANN RAMSAY, relect of the
   late WM. RAMSAY, Esq., in the 55th years of her age.

   The amiable character of this lady, exemplified in her conduct as a
   wife, a mother, and a neighbour, as it procured her through life the
   general esteem and affection of all who knew her, will render her
   loss long regretted not only by her nearer relations, but by the
   inhabitants of this town, and neighbourhood of every rank and
   description, to whom her benevolence and humanity displayed in
   numberless good offices, and her agreeable deportment have heretofore
   been a social blessing and comfort.

   On Monday her remains were interred with every mark of respect,
   contiguous to the grave of her late deceased husband.[72]

[Illustration: Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Ramsay]

The General had seen the "Romulus of Alexandria" to the grave. Fourteen
years later the latter's son served as honorary pallbearer for the
Father of His Country at Mount Vernon, on that fateful December 18,


Chapter 2

John Carlyle and His House

[Like nearby Ramsay House, the home of John Carlyle has also been
threatened by business interests and was in danger of demolition just
before the outbreak of World War II. It was saved by Mr. Lloyd L.
Scheffer who acquired the property from the Wagar estate and continues
to maintain the residence as a historic house museum. Entrance to the
Carlyle Home is through the lobby of the Wagar apartments at 123 North
Fairfax Street.]

In an ancient will book at Fairfax Court House is the inventory of a
gentleman's estate--household fabrics, mahogany and walnut furniture,
family pictures, maps, prints, books, silverware, glassware, chinaware,
and all manner of utensils, and drawers of "Trumpery!" More personal
items imply a rich wardrobe and a man who doubtless cut a figure in
society, for the list of apparel is long, containing, "1 scarlet cloth
jacket with broad gold lace," "1 crimson velvet jacket with broad gold
lace," "1 pair scarlet breaches with gold knee bands," "1 silver tobacco
box," "1 tortoise shell ditto with silver top," "2 pair silver shoe
buckles and 1 pair gold studds," "24 silver large coat buttons and 1
stock buckle," "1 box with 4 wiggs," etc.[73]

Another entry in a more ancient tome reads:

   At a court held for the County of Fairfax, 19th March, 1754. Present
   John Colvill, Geo. Wm. Fairfax, John West, William Ramsay and Thomas
   Colvill, Gentlemen Justices.

   Mr. John Carlyle produced a commission from the Honorable the
   Governor under the seal of the Colony appointing him Commissary of
   provisions and stores for an expedition intended to the River Ohio
   pursuant to which he took the oaths according to Law, repeated and
   subscribed to the Test.... Lieutenant Col^o George Washington,
   Lieutenant John West Jr. and James Townes pursuant to their military
   commissions from the Honorable the Governor took the oaths according
   to Law and subscribed to the Test.[74]

[Illustration: John Carlyle's Alexandria Mansion]

Military echoes are not lacking from the inventory of his possessions.
Is it possible that "1 Blue cloth coat with vellam holes"[75] related to
his military service as major of Virginia militia? Was this perchance
the coat worn by Major Carlyle in 1755 when the Redcoats of His
Britannic Majesty's forces and the Virginia Militia fought under General
Edward Braddock and met defeat at Great Meadows at the hands of the
French and Indians? Major Carlyle was quartermaster in those days, with
the mission of scouring the countryside for horses and forage. Objects
of military use more easily picked out of the list taken by his
executors include a spyglass, guns, pistols, swords, saddles,
saddlebags, holsters, a powder horn and "2 spontoons." It is a local
tradition that a store of these latter antique weapons were left behind
in Alexandria by Braddock's direction and that they constituted part of
the equipment of the town watchmen until the outbreak of the War Between
the States.

[Illustration: Mantel in the dining room]

John Carlyle was a Scotsman of gentle birth, of the Limkilns branch of
Carlyles of Torthorwald Castle. He left his home in Dumfrieshire for
Dumfries in Virginia at the age of twenty to enter one of the Scottish
shipping firms in that town in the year 1740. Foreseeing the end of that
port, he moved to the village of Belle Haven, and with John Dalton set
up in the mercantile and shipping business by 1744. This firm, under the
name of Carlyle & Dalton, was destined to become the most important one
in the new port, and John Carlyle the leading citizen. He was one of the
influential men in Fairfax County who agitated for a town at Belle
Haven, at the Hunting Creek warehouse. He was selected by the assembly
as one of the incorporators of the town of Alexandria, and as one of the
first trustees. Active in the town from the beginning, he helped build
the courthouse and market place. He was the town's first "Overseer." In
1755 he was ordered to build a warehouse at Point Lumley, a hundred feet
long, twenty feet wide, with thirteen-foot pitch, as well as to build
roads and clear streets.

[Illustration: John Carlyle's shell and silver snuffbox. Listed and
described in the inventory of his estate]

Carlyle bought the third lot put up for auction on July 13, 1749, No.
41, paying thirty _pistoles_. As the auction continued, he purchased
another lot adjoining the first for sixteen _pistoles_. Upon his two
lots he erected in 1752 the greatest private house in Alexandria for two
or more decades, and furnished it with the best his ships could carry.

The Carlyle house stands high above the river and so strong and thick
are the foundations that tradition has it they were early fortifications
against the Indians. The house of stone is oblong, being almost as long
again as it is wide and is believed originally to have had connecting
wings. Two-and-a-half stories high, large twin chimneys rise out of the
hipped roof and three dormer windows break the front and back. Double
galleries stretch across the river end, and before modern buildings
obstructed the view, the river could be viewed for miles in each

[Illustration: Portrait of John Carlyle's mother, Rachel Carlyle, which
hung always above her son's bed]

Inside, a large hall divides the house. A stairway that has neither the
appearance nor character of so old a house, and is doubtless an
"improvement," winds up to the second floor. Four rooms open into this
hall--fine rooms, too--but the blue or drawing room is the gem,
architecturally and historically. This is paneled from floor to ceiling.
There are three windows with low window seats and heavy paneled blinds
which become a part of the jambs when closed. Over the doorways are
elaborate pediments, with broken arches. The chair rail is carved in a
fret pattern and the dog-eared fireplace mold in the familiar
egg-and-dart design. In the overmantel, double dog-eared molding
outlines the center panel and two flat fluted pilasters reach from
mantelshelf to the heavy modillioned cornice which is carved in
alternating modillions and rosettes. The room is sixteen by eighteen
feet, painted a light slate blue with white or cream trim. On the second
floor five comfortable bedchambers open upon a narrow hall.

To this home Carlyle brought his first wife, Sarah Fairfax, whom he
married in 1748. She was the daughter of Colonel William Fairfax of
Belvoir, sister of Ann Fairfax Washington and George William Fairfax.
After her death in 1761, when Carlyle married Sybil West, he named their
only son for his well loved brother-in-law, George William Fairfax. When
his will was opened, it was by the side of Sarah he wished to be buried:
"As to my Body, I desire it may be interred under the Tombstone in the
enclosed ground in the Presbyterian Yard near where my first wife and
children are interred."[76]

This house was the social and political center of Alexandria. Such men
as Charles Carroll, Aaron Burr, John Paul Jones, John Marshall, Thomas
Jefferson, George Mason, George Washington, and the two Fairfaxes are
but a few of those who gathered here for good food, good wine, and
better talk. Any visitor of importance was entertained at "coffee"; the
house was often filled with music, and "balls" were common.

The "Congress of Alexandria" met here Monday, April 14, 1755, and on the
following Tuesday and Wednesday, when with Braddock and the five
colonial governors plans were made for concerted action against the
French and Indians. Here that famous letter, still in existence, was
written, urging upon the British government the necessity of taxing the
colonies. This letter set into movement a chain of events disastrous to
the mother country. It resulted in the loathed Stamp Act and led
ultimately to the Revolution of 1775.

[Illustration: Mantel in the music room. Probably a later "improvement"]

Carlyle was appointed collector of His Majesty's customs on the South
Potomac in 1758, succeeding his father-in-law, William Fairfax. In 1762
he was importing race horses into the colony. These were imported, "just
as they imported Madeira wine and other luxuries." One of the early
Maryland gazettes of July 29, 1762 carries the following advertisement:

   Imported by Carlyle & Dalton in the ship _Christian_, Captain Stanly,
   and for sale, three horses [Thorne's Starling: Smith's Hero, and
   Leary's Old England] and three mares [the other two being the
   Rock-mares Nos. 1 and 2] of full blood, viz: A _ch. m._ with a star
   and two white heels behind, eight years old: Got by Wilson's Chestnut
   Arabian: her dam by Slipby, brother to Snap's dam; and out of Menil
   [sic] the dam of Trunnion. Menil was got by Partner: out of
   Sampson's-Sister, which was got by Greyhound: her grandam by Curwen's
   Bay Barb: her g. grandam by Ld. D'Arcy's Arabian: her dam by
   Whiteshirt: out of a famous mare of Ld. Montagu's.

        JOHN CARLYLE[77]

        Alexandria, Va., July 1762.

In 1772 Carlyle took over the incompleted work on Christ Church and
carried it to completion. In 1773 he bought pew No. 19. In 1774 he built
the Presbyterian meetinghouse. In between times he was hunting at
Belvoir and Mount Vernon, dancing at Alexandria assemblies, sitting as
town trustee and gentleman justice, journeying to England and back,
laying out and planting his garden, taking part in long, hot arguments
with his family and neighbors in the ever-widening breach between the
colonies and the mother country, breeding race horses, and joining in
the frolics of the Jockey Club. Heir to a title old and honorable as it
was, he ardently espoused the cause of the colonies. Too ill for active
military service, he nevertheless served as a member of the Committee of
Safety until his death in 1780, at the age of sixty.

John Carlyle divided his lands, named after the Scottish family
holdings, Limkiln, Bridekirk, Torthorwald Taken, between his two
grandsons, Carlyle Fairfax Whiting and John Carlyle Herbert. To his
daughter, Sarah Herbert, he left thirty feet on Fairfax Street and one
hundred feet on Cameron Street, to include his dryware house. The
mansion and all other property were for a brief period the property of
his only son.

In his will he expressed the utmost concern for the education of this
boy, George William Carlyle, and urged his executors to spare no expense
and to send him to the best schools. Alas, for the plans of men! The
lad, fired by the talk of father and friends, was serving in Lee's
Legion in 1781, and ere John Carlyle was moldering in his grave this boy
of seventeen years, spirited, brave, heir to large estates, great
fortune and honorable name, and to the title of Lord Carlyle, was dead
at Eutaw Springs, led by that boy hardly older than himself "Light Horse
Harry" Lee.

Enough of serious and sad history; let us in lighter vein go once more
into the lovely paneled blue room where not only weighty conferences
occurred, but where, in lace and satin, noble figures threw aside the
cares of state and trod a measure to the tinkling of the spinet; where
games of cards were indulged in and the _pistoles_ changed hands. Let us
go into the dining room with its fine Adam mantel and its mahogany
doors, and visualize again the terrapin and the canvasback, the Madeira
and Port so abundantly provided from that great kitchen below, and the
most famous wine cellar of its day in Alexandria. Let us stroll in the
still lovely garden where the aroma of box and honeysuckle mingle, and
turn our thoughts once more to the inmates of this fine, old house.
Built in the days when Virginia was a man's world, when men who wore
satin, velvet and damask were masters of the art of fighting, riding,
drinking, eating, and wooing. When a man knew what he wanted, and got it
by God's help and his own tenacity, enjoying himself right lustily in
the getting. Perchance Major John Carlyle, clad in Saxon green laced
with silver, will be wandering up and down his box-bordered paths with
his first love, Sarah Fairfax, watching the moon light up the rigging of
Carlyle & Dalton's great ships at anchor just at the foot of the garden.



Chapter 3

The Married Houses

[209-211 North Fairfax Street. Owner: Mrs. Herbert E. Marshburn.]

When the new town of Alexandria was laid out, John Dalton purchased, on
July 13, 1749, the first lot put up for sale (No. 36) for the sum of
nineteen _pistoles_. The lot faced the Potomac River and was bounded by
Water (now Lee) Street, Fairfax Street and lot No. 37. When the latter
lot, which lay on Cameron and Fairfax, was put up later in the day, it
was purchased by Dalton for sixteen _pistoles_.

Within three years Dalton had finished a small frame-and-brick cottage,
neatly paneled, in which he is purported to have lived and died. The
house faced on Cameron Street, standing about the middle of lot No. 37,
with an extensive garden running the depth of the premises to the river,
surrounded by outbuildings, orchards, wells, and so on, as was the
custom of the times. His will mentioned the fact that he lived on this
lot and left to his daughter, Jenny Dalton (later Mrs. Thomas Herbert),
his new brick building on the corner of Fairfax and Cameron. His will
further stated that the house must be finished out of his estate. To his
daughter, Catherine (later Mrs. William Bird), he left the remainder of
the lot which included his dwelling and another house on that same lot,
at the time occupied by John Page.

On February 27, 1750, John Dalton succeeded Richard Osborn as a trustee
of the town. His appointment was the first after the original selection
of trustees by the assembly in Williamsburg.

John Dalton was a partner of John Carlyle in the firm of Carlyle &
Dalton, which for many years acted as agent for the Mount Vernon
produce. He was a pew owner with George Washington at Christ Church,
which he served as vestryman. With his wife and daughter, he was a
frequent visitor at Mount Vernon and a later chronicler has asserted
that he barely missed becoming the General's father-in-law. A fox-hunter
and horse-lover, in a company of Alexandria gentlemen or alone, he
hunted with Washington and bred his mares to the blooded Mount Vernon

[Illustration: The old Clapboard House on the John Dalton property and
believed to have been his original house. (_Courtesy of Mr. Frank

On January 12, 1769, Washington went up to Alexandria to "ye Monthly
Ball." He lodged with Captain Dalton and the next day being very bad he
was "confined there till afternoon by rain."[78] Sometimes when
attending court he "lodged at Captn. Dalton's."[79]

John Dalton's bequest to his daughter, Catherine, included the home
place. On April 24, 1793, Catherine and her husband, William Bird, sold
to Jonah Thompson and David Findley for £1,500 (about $7,500) the
property described as being in Fairfax Street, 60 feet to the north of
Cameron, and extending north upon Fairfax Street 119 feet 3 inches to
the line of Herbert, Potts and Wilson, thence East parallel to Cameron
to cross Water and Union Streets into the Potomac River, thence with a
line parallel to Fairfax south 119 feet 3 inches, and included houses,
buildings, streets, lanes, alleys, and so on. But the Birds reserved the
right to the "use and occupation of the dwelling House now occupied" and
the kitchen and garden, until the "1st day of October next" and also
reserved unto Lanty Crowe the house "demised unto him to the end of his
term, he paying the annual rent thereof unto the said Jonah Thompson and
David Findley."[80] Findley died within the year and Jonah Thompson
bought from Amelia Findley, the mother and heir of David Findley, equal
and undivided portion of the already described lot and paid her the sum
of £500 12_s._

[Illustration: Jonah Thompson's House purchased from John Dalton's
daughter, Catherine Bird]

Jonah Thompson was an important citizen of Alexandria. He was a shipping
merchant, banker and large property owner. He married Margaret Peyton
and they had three sons, Israel, William Edward, and James; a daughter,
Mary Ann, married a Mr. Popham, and another daughter, Eugenia, married a
Mr. Morgan.

In 1809 Jonah Thompson mortgaged this property to the Bank of Alexandria
for $13,500, which he paid within four years. In May 1850, the heirs of
Jonah Thompson sold to Benjamin Hallowell for $4,600 a lot beginning at
the south side of the alley which divided the block, running south 43
feet 7 inches. Benjamin Hallowell, in turn, sold to James S. Hallowell
for nine thousand dollars in April 1854, and from James S. Hallowell and
his wife the property passed through various hands until it became St.
Mary's Academy.

The Jonah Thompson house, part of it at least already built in 1793, is
one of the most interesting houses to be found anywhere. It is unusually
large and has two handsome arched stone entrances. One, although
similar, obviously was added, as the line of demarcation is plainly
visible between the bricks.

The house has been sadly abused with no thought given its architectural
merits and much of the woodwork has been removed. The stair is perhaps
the finest in Alexandria, with spindles and risers carved in a more
elaborate fashion than was the practice of the thrifty Scotsmen of
Alexandria. At the rear of this large house, separated only by a narrow
area, stands another house, facing the long garden and originally the
river. The front of this house boasts the loveliest bit of Georgian
architecture left in the old seaport. A pure Adam loggia, executed in
stone, runs across the garden façade. While arches are now filled in and
clothes hung to dry flap on the gallery, the outline is so chaste in its
classic form that nothing can destroy the illusion of beauty.

No search of records reveals how or why these two houses stand back to
back. Whether Jonah Thompson built the first for his bank or business
offices, or whether his family outgrew the house and he needed more room
is not known. The two are treated as one house in all the documentary
evidence, and one's curiosity, interest, and imagination are excited by
the twin or married houses. One story has it that Jonah Thompson built
the rear or twin house for his eldest son so that the two families might
be together but with separate ménages.

[Illustration: The Adam Loggia. Originally open between column and

Captain John Dalton forged a link between Mount Vernon, his family, and
his posterity that was stronger than he knew. It was his granddaughter
who was so deeply distressed at the ruin and desolation of the home of
Washington that she fired her daughter's imagination with an idea that
saved the spot for the nation. This great-granddaughter of John Dalton
was Ann Pamela Cunningham, whose name will ever be indissolubly
connected with Mount Vernon. In 1853 she formed the Mount Vernon Ladies'
Association, and as its first regent stirred the women of America with
her ardor and directed the entire campaign until adequate funds were
collected. In 1859 John Augustine Washington sold the Mount Vernon
estate to Miss Cunningham for two hundred thousand dollars--after the
Virginia Legislature and the federal government had both refused to
acquire it.

This sale was negotiated by the Alexandria banker, John W. Burke, who
was appointed executor and guardian of John Augustine Washington's
estate after he was killed during the Civil War while on active duty as
a member of General Robert E. Lee's staff.

When the war broke out, Alexandria was occupied by Union troops. The
Union authorities knew of the sale of Mount Vernon and repeated but
futile efforts were made to find the securities. Mr. Burke's home was
searched no less than three times. The funds were never found in their
hiding place of the soiled-clothes basket. There they reposed until Mrs.
Burke (_née_ Trist, great-granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson) and Mrs.
Upton Herbert (_née_ Tracy), both Philadelphia-born ladies, sewed the
bonds in their petticoats and with high heads carried them through the
Union lines to Washington and delivered them to George W. Riggs, who
held them for the duration of the war, when he returned them to
Alexandria--and Mr. Burke.

An interesting sequel to the story occurred only a short time ago when
the last of John Augustine Washington's children died. Mr. Taylor Burke,
grandson of John W. Burke, and president of the Burke & Herbert Bank,
administered the estate of the late Mrs. Eleanor Washington Howard, and
distributed her estate, composed of the remainder of that purchase
price, among her heirs.[81]



Chapter 4

The Fairfaxes of Belvoir and Alexandria

Of the families in Virginia closely associated with George Washington,
none bore so intimate a relation as that of Fairfax.

William Fairfax, founder of the Virginia branch of the family, was born
in 1691 in Towlston in Yorkshire, England, the son of the Honorable
Henry Fairfax, Sheriff of Yorkshire, and grandson of the Fourth Lord
Fairfax. Educated as a member of the governing classes, he began his
career in the navy, later entering the colonial service. Before he was
twenty-six he had acted as chief justice of the Bahamas and Governor of
the Isle of Providence. Prior to 1717 he married Sarah Walker of Nassau,
daughter of Colonel Walker, by whom he had four children, George
William, Thomas, Anne, and Sarah. In 1729, Colonel Fairfax was appointed
Collector of the Port of Salem, Massachusetts, and removed to that
colony. In 1731 his wife died, and very shortly afterward he married
Deborah, widow of Francis Clarke and daughter of Colonel Bartholomew
Gedney of Salem, by whom he had three children, Bryan, William Henry,
and Hannah.

In 1734 Fairfax came to Virginia as agent for his first cousin, Thomas,
Sixth Lord Fairfax (who, by direct inheritance from a royal grant of
Charles II, had come into possession of some five million acres of
Virginia land lying between the Rappahannock and the Potomac, and
extending from Chesapeake Bay to the foothills of the Blue Ridge
Mountains, known to Virginians as the Northern Neck); and to serve as
Collector of Customs for the South Potomac. Fairfax first went to
Westmoreland, where he was associated with the Washington and Lee
families. Next he moved to King George, and lived at Falmouth. By 1741
he was representing Prince William County in the House of Burgesses.
Colonel Fairfax was elevated to "His Majesty's Council of State" three
years later. Becoming President of the Council in 1744, he continued in
that office until his death.

About this time William Fairfax completed his dwelling house, Belvoir,
situated on a high bluff overlooking the Potomac River, halfway between
Mount Vernon and Gunston Hall. It was described by Washington in an
advertisement as having "four convenient rooms and a wide Hall on the
first floor." In one of these "convenient rooms," more than two hundred
years ago on July 19, 1743, Anne, eldest daughter of Colonel Fairfax was
married to Lawrence Washington of Mount Vernon.

A few years after his marriage, Lawrence (to whom George Washington owed
his start in life) took his impecunious young half-brother into his home
at Mount Vernon, whereupon the in-laws became intimately concerned with
George's future. Young George was wise enough to realize that the way of
advancement led through this important family and he never lost an
opportunity to cultivate the President of the Council. Colonel Fairfax
became a benefactor of the young man's fortunes, an inspiration to his
ambition, and was truly and wholeheartedly attached through his
affections to the gangling youth. To the end of his life Fairfax signed
his letters to George, "Y^r very affect^e & Assur^d Friend."

In 1747 George William Fairfax, the Colonel's eldest son, returned home
from England, where he had received his education, with the promise from
Lord Fairfax of falling heir to his father's agency of the Northern

The fifteen-year-old George took a great liking to young Fairfax, and
despite a difference in age, a friendship began which was destined to
last throughout their lives. A letter from George William Fairfax to
Lawrence Washington stated, "George has been with us, and says he will
be steady and thankfully follow your advice as his best friend. I gave
him his brother's letter to deliver with a caution not to show his."[82]
Doubtless this was the occasion when George was seriously considering
the navy. Lawrence had served under Admiral Vernon, William Fairfax was
trained for the navy, and Lord Fairfax was in Virginia to add either
persuasion or influence as needed. Mary Washington was set in her
determination that George should not become a sailor. Thus it was
decided that surveying or engineering was the best outlook for the young
man's future career, and Mount Vernon and Belvoir the seat of his
further learning. Lord Fairfax would employ the embryo engineer as soon
as he had sufficient instruction to be useful. The pupil was adept, the
instructors efficient, and we see young Washington setting out with his
new friend, George William, in March of 1748, upon his first surveying
mission in the employment of Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax.

On his return from this mission, serious, sober young Fairfax (he was
twenty-three at the time) offered himself as a burgess for Frederick
County and was duly elected. He followed his father to Williamsburg,
where he found attractions more absorbing than lawmaking. After "several
opportunities of visiting Miss Cary" he fell a victim to the wiles and
graces of the belle of the season. _The Virginia Gazette_ for December
1748 carried this bit of social news: "Married on the 17th inst., George
William Fairfax, Esqr., eldest son of the Honorable William Fairfax of
His Majesty's Council to Sarah, eldest daughter of Colonel Wilson Cary
of Ceelys."

Of all the colonial belles whose shades furnish theme for pæan and
lighten the pages of history, none is more colorful than Sally Cary.
This girl, only seventeen, with head of red-brown hair, great
intelligent eyes shaded by long, thick lashes, long rounded throat and
beautifully modelled hands, arms and shoulders, had an intellect which
far surpassed her husband's.

When not at Williamsburg attending the assembly, the young Fairfaxes
resided at Belvoir, where Sally acted as hostess for her widowed
father-in-law or the bachelor Lord from Greenway Court. This house,
after the Palace at Williamsburg, was the center of the social and
political life of Virginia. The Fairfaxes were of ancient, noble
lineage, with ample fortune, representing the very best in Old World
culture. William Fairfax, as President of the Council, was second only
in importance to the royal governor, serving as head of the state during
the absences of His Excellency. Naturally, his home was the gathering
place for men of eminence in the colony, as well as visitors of state.

[Illustration: Colonel George William Fairfax]

Belvoir was a rendezvous for neighborhood gaiety. Overflowing with the
young people of the family, more were attracted. George Washington was
a daily visitor--Sally, but two years older than himself, filled him
with delight. At Belvoir he met with the heads of government and gleaned
from these meetings knowledge and inspiration to carry him through
ordeals never experienced by his preceptors. Here, too, the feminine
contacts smoothed the rough edges; George learned to turn the music for
young ladies performing upon the harpsichord, to rescue times without
number skeins of silk and balls of wool as well as lacy bits of linen
continually dropped by fair hands; he was taught the latest dance step
from London and learned the most elegant of court bows. In those days
the turn of a wrist and the flip of a lace ruffle were not considered
inconsequential. It was here he acquired that never-failing interest in
the "newest taste and the latest fashion."

[Illustration: Mrs. George William Fairfax. (Sally Cary)]

Under this hospitable roof in early and formative years, associated with
the cavaliers in daily intercourse, Washington developed an ease of
manner and a dignity of deportment that became him well. In the library
of this home he became familiar with the best in literature, his love of
beauty was aroused, his knowledge of homemaking and gardening acquired,
for this household wielded a highly civilizing influence, and awakened
George Washington to the charms of culture and refinement. To appreciate
the influence of this family upon Washington, it is only necessary to
recall how brief was his schooling, how limited his prospects, how poor
his pocket when, at the age of fifteen, he came to make his home at
Mount Vernon.

At Belvoir and at Mount Vernon, George Washington first learned of the
new port to be built at Hunting Creek warehouse. Long and often the talk
was concerned with the progress being made before the assembly by
Lawrence Washington and the two Colonels Fairfax. The latter gentlemen,
being engineers, were both familiar with the construction of the towns
in Great Britain and on the Continent. To Belvoir came Colonel Carlyle
and Colonel Ramsay, as well as other gentlemen from Dumfries and the
county, occupied with the same interest, who hoped to better their
fortunes by the shipping trade which they expected the new town to
attract, and willing to gamble time and money upon the erection of
dwellings, warehouses, and docks.

These men were all purchasers of lots at the first auction on July 13,
1749, and at once began carrying out the mandate of the assembly,
_i.e._, to build within two years or forfeit their holdings.

Within six years the town, so neatly built, so strategically situated,
was "honoured with 5 Governors in Consultation; a happy presage I hope,
[wrote George Washington to William Fairfax at Williamsburg] not only of
the success of this Expedition, but for our little Town; for surely such
honours must have arisen from the Commodious and pleasant situation of
this place the best constitutional qualitys for Popularity and increase
of a (now) flourishing Trade."[83]

That Sally Fairfax was in residence in Alexandria and evidently in her
own house taking part in the festivities arranged for General Braddock
at the Carlyle house, dancing at the assembly balls, attending reviews,
is indicated by a communication from her friend, young Washington:

         Fort Cumberland May 14, 1755

   Dear Madam:

   I have at last with great pains and difficulty discovered the Reason
   why Mrs. Wardrope is a greater favorite of Gen^l Braddocks than Mrs.
   Fairfax; and met with more respect at the late review in Alexandria.

   The cause I shall communicate, after rallying you for neglecting the
   means that introduced her to his favour which ... to say truth were
   in [?] a present of delicious Cake, and potted Woodcocks; that
   wrought such wonders [?] upon the Heart of the General as upon those
   of the gentlemen that they became instant Admirers, not only the
   charms but the Politeness of this Fair Lady.[84]

After his father's death on September 3, 1757, George William Fairfax
came a step nearer the title of Lord Fairfax. He went on a very curious
mission to England to refute in person a rumor that he was a black man,
and to show any doubting relations the hue of his skin was exactly the
same as theirs. This was especially strange, for William Fairfax had
taken Sarah Walker Fairfax, his wife and mother of George William, to
England in 1717, and certainly they must have met representatives of the
family on that visit. Nevertheless, it is to Sally that the knowledge of
this peculiar circumstance is due. In 1802, writing to her nephew in
Virginia in reference to an inheritance of her husband's she says, "He
[Henry Fairfax, William Fairfax's older brother] would have left it to
your uncle William Henry Fairfax [George William Fairfax's younger
half-brother] from an impression that my husband's Mother was a black
woman, if my Fairfax had not come over to see his Uncle and convinced
him he was not a negroe's son."[85]

While in England on this or other equally private affairs relating to
his inheritance, George William wrote his wife from London on December
12, 1757:

   Dear Sally:

   I am sorry to say I have not succeeded and that it is uncertain
   whether I shall. But be as it may, I find it was necessary to be
   here, and I should not have excused myself if I had not. Mr. Fairfax
   went down to Leeds Castle yesterday and left me to push my own way,
   and then to follow to spend my Xmas and to prepare for his embarking
   with me in March. Therefore I beseech you'll employ Old Tom, or get
   some person to put the garden in good order, and call upon Mr.
   Carlyle for his assistance in getting other necessary things done
   about the house in order to receive so fine a gentleman. And I must
   further recommend, and desire that you'll endeavor to provide the
   best provision for his nice stomach, altho I suppose he will spend
   chief of his time with his brother.

   However to make his and other company more agreeable I shall
   endeavour to engage a butler to go over with me at least for one

   My Dear, I have often wished for your company to enjoy the amusements
   of this Metropolis, for I can with truth say, they are not much so to
   me in my present situation and that I now and then go to a play only
   to kill time. But I please myself with my country visits imagining
   the time there will pass more agreeable.

   Permit me Sally to advise a steady and constant application to those
   things directed for your welfare, which may afford me the greatest
   satisfaction upon my arrival.

   Your affect. and loving husband

        GO. WM. FAIRFAX[86]

Back in America within the year, at a court held for Fairfax County on
August 19, 1758, George William Fairfax "presents a commission from his
honor the Governor appointing me Lt. Colonel of Militia" of the county
and at the same court he took the oaths according to law as a vestryman
for Truro Parish.[87] In 1760 he went back to England again and remained
nearly two years. On this occasion Sally accompanied him.

All the while, George William Fairfax was occupied with his English
inheritance, he was gradually losing interest in his Virginia life.
Although he is credited with being loyal to the colonial cause
(certainly he never failed in loyalty to his colonial friends) it is
more than possible that the friction between the two countries swayed
him somewhat in his determination to quit Virginia for the more settled
state of the Old Country.

On a June afternoon in 1773, George William and Sally set out from
Belvoir to Mount Vernon for the last time to take leave of George and
Martha Washington. Dr. Craik arrived in time to meet them and say
goodbye. The next day, June 9, in the afternoon, Martha and George went
to Belvoir to see these old and devoted friends "take shipping."[88] As
the breeze lifted the sails and the sturdy little ship faded out of
sight down the Potomac, it carried the Fairfaxes away from Belvoir

Until his own affairs became too involved, Washington supervised George
Fairfax's Virginia interests. In August 1774, a year after the master's
departure from Virginia, the contents of Belvoir house were sold.
Washington himself bought many things--the sideboard, card tables, and
other things. Other Fairfax furnishings came to Alexandria; Dr. Craik
became the possessor of a Wilton carpet which Washington bought for him.

George and Sally Fairfax settled in Bath in a red-brown sandstone house
at 11 Lansdown Crescent, where they became a part of the gay parties
taking the waters at the Pump Room and attending assembly balls in the
fashion of Jane Austen's most aristocratic characters. Friendly letters
went back and forth between Bath and Mount Vernon. After the Revolution,
Fairfax wrote to Washington: "I glory in being called an American,"
regretted his inability to contribute to the "glorious cause of Liberty"
and offered his "best thanks for all your exertions ... to ... the End
of the Great work ..."[89]

Washington replied from New York on July 10, 1783: "Your house at
Belvoir I am sorry to add is no more, but mine (which is enlarged since
you saw it) is most sincerely and heartily at your Service till you
could rebuild it" and expressed his pleasure at George William's
approbation of his Revolutionary actions.[90]

Fairfax, after becoming involved in lawsuit after lawsuit and dissension
with his relatives, died in 1787 before inheriting his title. Sally
lived on at Bath for twenty-five years after her husband's death. The
damp English climate crippled her joints with rheumatism, but did not
distort her slender, erect figure, and she maintained her beauty to the
end. A year before his death, Washington penned his last letter to
Sally, his affection for her undiminished, and his pride in Alexandria

        Mount Vernon, 16 May, 1798

   My dear Madam,

   Five and twenty years have nearly passed away, since I have
   considered myself as the permanent resident at this place, or have
   been in a situation to indulge myself in a familiar intercourse with
   my friends by letter or otherwise.

   During this period, so many important events have occurred, and such
   changes in men and things have taken place, as the compass of a
   letter would give you but an inadequate idea of. None of which
   events, however, nor all of them together, have been able to
   eradicate from my mind the recollection of those happy moments, the
   happiest of my life, which I have enjoyed in your company.

   Worn out in a manner by the toils of my past labor, I am again seated
   under my Vine and Fig-tree, and wish I could add, that there were
   none to make us afraid; but those, whom we have been accustomed to
   call our good friends and allies, are endeavoring, if not to make us
   afraid, yet to despoil us of our property, and are provoking us to
   Acts of self-defence, which may lead to war. What will be the result
   of such measures, time, that faithful expositor of all things, must
   disclose. My wish is to spend the remainder of my days, which cannot
   be many, in Rural amusements, free from the cares from which public
   responsibility is never exempt.

   Before the war, and even while it existed, although I was eight years
   from home at one stretch (except the en passant visits made to it on
   my march to and from the siege of Yorktown) I made considerable
   additions to my dwelling-house, and alterations in my offices and
   gardens; but the dilapidation occasioned by time, and those neglects,
   which are coextensive with the absence of Proprietors, have occupied
   as much of my time the last twelve months in repairing them, as at
   any former period in the same space;--and it is matter of sore
   regret, when I cast my eyes towards Belvoir, which I often do, to
   reflect, the former Inhabitants of it, with whom I lived in such
   harmony and friendship no longer reside there; and that the ruins can
   only be viewed as the memento of former pleasures; and permit me to
   add, that I have wondered often, (your nearest relatives being in
   this Country), and that you should not prefer spending the evening of
   your life among them, rather than close the sublunary scenes in a
   foreign country, numerous as your acquaintances may be, and sincere,
   the friendships you may have formed.

   A century hence, if this country keeps united (and it is surely its
   policy and interest to do it), will produce a city--though not as
   large as London--yet of a magnitude inferior to few others in Europe,
   on the banks of the Potomack, where one is now establishing for the
   permanent seat of Government of the United States (between Alexandria
   & Georgetown, on the Maryland side of the River) a situation not
   excelled, for commanding prospect, good water, salubrious air, and
   safe harbour, by any in the world; & where elegant buildings are
   erecting & in forwardness for the reception of Congress in the year

   Alexandria, within the last seven years (since the establishment of
   the General Government), has increased in buildings, in population,
   in the improvement of its streets by well-executed pavements, and in
   the extension of its wharves, in a manner of which you can have very
   little idea. This shew of prosperity, you will readily conceive, is
   owing to its commerce. The extension of that trade is occasioned, in
   a great degree, by opening of the Inland navigation of the Potomac
   River, now cleared to Fort Cumberland, upwards of two hundred miles,
   and by a similar attempt to accomplish the like up the Shenandoah,
   one hundred and eighty miles more. In a word, if this country can
   steer clear of European politics, stand firm on its bottom, and be
   wise and temperate in its government, it bids fair to be one of the
   greatest and happiest nations in the world.

   Knowing that Mrs. Washington is about to give an account of the
   changes, which have happened in the neighborhood and in our own
   family, I shall not trouble you with a repetition of them.

        I am

        G^o WASHINGTON[91]



Chapter 5

The George William Fairfax House

[207 Prince Street. Owners: Colonel and Mrs. Charles B. Moore.]

The 200 block of Prince Street is probably the finest left in Old
Alexandria, in that it has suffered less change. No less than seven
brick eighteenth century town dwellings remain in almost pristine
condition. A small and fine Classical Revival building, and Mordecai
Miller's "double three storied wooden buildings" make for diversity,
while the old textile mill, later Green's furniture manufactory, adds
the practical Scottish note to the locality.

On the north side of the street, on lot No. 57, separated today from Lee
Street on the east by garden and the former Old Dominion Bank Building,
and flanked by John Harper's gift to his daughter Elizabeth on the west,
stands a three-storied dormer windowed town dwelling, battered by time
and the elements. It stands after nearly two hundred years, a silent
sentinel--the Fairfaxes' contribution to the erection of the town at
Hunting Creek warehouse.

The house was originally nearly square. The wing, added after the main
structure was built, was standing in 1782 at which time the house is
described as it stands today. Due to the loss of one deed, that of
father to son, it can be questioned whether the house was built by
William Fairfax before 1752 or by George William, to whom it was deeded
at that time. Like most old houses occupied by a succession of owners,
much damage has been done to these old walls. The brick is worn and
soft; paint is necessary to preserve them. The front door and stairway
were changed a hundred and fifty years ago, as well as mantels and much
of the trim and woodwork. The chimneys and dormers were blown down in
1927 and replaced in 1929. When the house was renovated at that time and
the plaster removed from the drawing-room walls, wooden blocks or stobs
were exposed in the bricks, indicating paneled walls.

The house has had some fourteen owners, each with his own idea of
"improvements." The occupants of the house for the first hundred years
are interesting as having been the founders and builders of the old
trading port. Let us begin with the original purchaser of lots Nos. 56
and 57 and learn a little of the early inmates of the premises
identified in Alexandria today as the Fairfax or the George William
Fairfax house.

William Fairfax and his son, Colonel George William Fairfax, both
purchased lots at the first auction held on July 13, 1749. The former
had purchased the lots numbered 56 and 57 for thirty-five _pistoles_,
while the latter had acquired two others across the street, lying south
and designated Nos. 62 and 63 on the plat of the town. At the meeting of
the trustees held the following day, it was ordered that deeds be made
for September 20, 1749, for all lots disposed of. George William Fairfax
retained his property until March 1750, when he sold the lots to
Willoughby Newton, Gent., for £41 18_s._ 6_d._ Newton conveyed them, on
November 10, 1752, to George Johnston for £44.

Lot No. 58, adjoining Colonel Fairfax's purchases on the west, was early
the property of Colonel Champe, but the fact that it soon passed to
Fairfax ownership can be established by two references in the minutes of
the trustees.

On May 30, 1763, it was "ordered that Robert Adam Gent^n be overseer of
the Main street [now Fairfax] from the upper part of Mrs. Chews Lott to
the lower part of her Lotts and that he make so much of the said Main
street dry and fitt for traveling for Waggon & foot people by the
first of Septem^r Next or pay for his failure twenty Shillings to the
Trustees for the use of the Town ... And that W^m Ramsay Gent. in like
manner and under the same penalty put the said main street in order from
the upper part of his own lott to the lower part thereof together with
half the next street and that William Ramsay continue his district down
to Col George Fairfaxes lott ... And that John Carlyle in like manner
and under the same penalty put the main Street in order from the corner
of Mr. Fairfaxes Lott to the lower corner of the said Fairfax's Lott and
one half of the adjacent street."[92]

[Illustration: Entrance hall and stair detail]

On December 16, 1766, it was resolved that, "Whereas deeds were granted
by William Ramsay and John Pagan two of the trustees of the town of
Alexandria bearing date of the 28th day of March Anno Domini 1752 to the
Hon Geo W^m Fairfax Esq^r for two Lotts of Land in the said Town No. 56
& 57, on the motion of Geo W^m Fairfax Esq^r it appears to us the above
mentioned Trustees that No. 56 should have been included in Lott No. 57
as one lott liable to the Conditions of improvement by act of
Assembly--and that he never having had a deed in his name or his fathers
for Lott No 58 It is now ordered that one Deed of Conveyance be made out
to the said Geo W^m Fairfax his Heirs and Assigns and that M^r W^m
Ramsay and M^r John Carlyle be appointed and are hereby authorized to
make good the said deed of Conveyance for these Lotts being improved
agreeable to the Act of Assembly for constituting and erecting the said

That deed, bearing date of January 30, 1767, cited that on March 1,
1753, lots Nos. 56 and 57 were conveyed to George William Fairfax, Esq.,
and that as lot No. 56 was only part of a lot it should be holden as
parcel of the lot numbered 57 and that the purchaser hold the same
without being compelled to make any improvements other than what was by
law required on one whole and entire lot.

In 1771, when Fairfax by reason of prospective inheritances of land and
titles, was contemplating removal to England he turned to Robert Adam, a
successful businessman, for assistance in disposing of his Alexandria
property. Court records reveal that George William Fairfax and Sarah,
his wife, sold on November 25, 1771, to Robert Adam, lots Nos. 56 and 57
with all "Houses, buildings, orchards, ways, waters, water courses" for
£350 current money of Virginia.[94]

The transaction deed was witnessed by George Washington, Anthony Ramsay,
and James Adam, and it is interesting that the entry for that day in
Washington's diary reads: "went a hunting in the morning with Jacky
Custis. Returned about 12 o'clock and found Colo. Fairfax and Lady here,
Mrs. Fanny Ballendine and her nieces, Miss Sally Fairfax, and Mr. R.
Adam, Mr. Jas. Adam, and Mr. Anthy. Ramsay, all of who went away in the
afternoon, when Miss Scott came."[95] This deed was recorded at Fairfax
Court on September 23, 1772, with another deed from John Carlyle and
George William Fairfax, executors of the estate of William Fairfax, to
convey lot No. 58 with all houses, building, etc., to Robert Adam for
£125. Up to this time only one house stood on lots 56 and 57.

It may well be that Adam acted only as agent for George William Fairfax,
or that he assured title to the property for cash advanced. Within the
month he had sold half of the lots to Andrew Wales, a brewer, for £331
17_s._ 6_d._, nearly as much as he paid for the entire property. The
other portion he sold to John Hough, Gentleman, of Loudoun County,

Robert Adam was quite the man of affairs in Alexandria. Born in
Kilbride, Scotland, in 1731, the son of the Reverend John Adam and wife
(_née_ Janet Campbell), he came to Maryland at about twenty years of age
and was in Alexandria before 1758, associating himself with that
merchant prince of the town, John Carlyle, as early as 1760. The firm of
Carlyle & Adam acted as agents for Mount Vernon as well as Belvoir,
handling the wheat and tobacco from these plantations. Washington was
close to both men until he was outraged by treatment accorded his wheat
and bags, though he afterward did Adam the honor of dining with him.

Following Colonel William Fairfax's death, Robert Adam succeeded to his
place as a town trustee. In 1782, with others from Alexandria, he was
active in founding the Masonic lodge. At the opening of the lodge in
1783, he was elected and served as its first Worshipful Master, along
with Robert McCrea as Senior Warden, Elisha C. Dick as Junior Warden,
William Herbert as Secretary, and William Ramsay as Treasurer. The year
1785 saw the erection of the Alexandria academy and Robert Adam laying
the cornerstone.

Like Adam before him John Hough had only a passing interest in the
property of George William Fairfax. He disposed of two small lots, one
to Benjamin Shreve, a hatter, and one to George Gilpin, the
colonel-to-be. He sold the remainder of lots Nos. 56, 57 and 58,
fronting on Prince Street to John Harper, a sea captain of Philadelphia,
in June 1773 for the munificent sum of £780, with all and every
improvement and all houses, buildings, and so on.

[Illustration: The small parlor, restored. A blending of old and new]

It is possible that Harper occupied George William Fairfax's house, but
it is certain that he let it to Colonel William Lyle of Prince Georges
County, Maryland, in 1782--probably before--and also as late as 1789,
when Lyle returned to Maryland. Tax records show that Lyle was renting
from Harper on Prince Street during this time. In 1782 he was taxed for
"2 whites, 13 blacks, 2 horses, and 12 cattle."[96] He is mentioned
several times in Washington's diaries as being at Mount Vernon, and at
least once Washington came to Alexandria and dined with Colonel Lyle.

For a time Colonel Lyle was associated with Colonel John Fitzgerald in
the shipping trade under the firm name of Lyle & Fitzgerald. During the
Revolution he served on the Alexandria Committee of Safety. From 1783
until his departure to Maryland, Lyle was an active member of the Sun
Fire Company. He owned considerable property in Alexandria. At one time
he determined to build a dwelling house on part of lot No. 57 on the
corner of Prince and Water [now Lee] Streets, which he had purchased
from John Harper, but he sold the lot without fulfilling his intentions.

When peace came in 1783, Captain John Harper, whose real-estate plans
had been deferred by hostilities, began the division of his Fairfax
property into building lots. At amazing speed and increasing prices he
sold off what had formerly been gardens and orchards, and as soon as
George William Fairfax's house was vacated by Colonel Lyle, Harper
disposed of it to William Hodgson of Whitehaven, England, in 1790. Now
our story of the Hodgson tenure must leave Alexandria to combine for a
brief moment with the great house of Lee.

[Illustration: The front room: The excellent Adam mantel from the Jonah
Thompson House is an improvement to replace a later one with a Latrobe

Among the famous sons of the sire of Stratford Hall (Westmoreland
County, Virginia), Thomas Lee, and his wife Hannah Ludwell, was William
Lee, who was born in 1739. He went to England about 1766 as a Virginia
merchant selling tobacco and acting as London agent for his Virginia
clients. In London in 1769, William Lee married his cousin, Hannah
Phillipi Ludwell (daughter of Philip Ludwell and Frances Grymes of Green

William Lee took an active interest in politics and was elected as an
alderman of London in 1774. This did not prevent him from doing all in
his power to aid the American colonists. We find him going to Paris in
April 1777 as commercial agent for the Continental Congress and working
with his brother, Arthur Lee, on various diplomatic missions. While
serving at The Hague he was ordered to the courts of Berlin and Vienna,
but his services were thought to be so valuable it was decided to leave
him in Holland. Arthur Lee was sent on to Berlin in his place, but
later William Lee was appointed to the Austrian capital.

[Illustration: 200 block of Prince Street. The Old Dominion Bank and the
houses of George William Fairfax, Dr. James Craik and Dr. Elisha Cullen

The four children of William and Hannah Phillipi Lee were born abroad.
The first child, William Ludwell (1775-1803) was born in London; Portia
(1777-1840) either in London or at The Hague; Brutus (1778-1779) at The
Hague; and Cornelia (1780-1815) at Brussels. William Lee remained abroad
until 1783, when he returned to his plantation, Green Spring, near
Williamsburg. Peace had not then been concluded and he had such
difficulty in obtaining passage for himself and family to Virginia that
he was forced to purchase a ship for the voyage. The Lees set sail from
Ostend on June 30, arriving home September 25.[97]

While living in London William Lee was thrown into contact with William
Hodgson, formerly of Whitehaven. This gentleman was an "active friend"
of America, a "fire-eating radical," and a member of "The Honest Whigs,"
a supper club of which Benjamin Franklin was a member, and the
"presiding genius." Hodgson, also a member of the Royal Society, then
composed of the intellectuals of the day--the premier scientific society
of the English world--rendered valuable aid to the American
commissioners in Paris by correspondence with Franklin in which he
passed on much useful information.

An enthusiastically outspoken recalcitrant, Hodgson was not content with
his contribution to the American cause, but took up the cudgels for the
French, and was promptly launched into very hot water. Two years in
Newgate prison followed his hearty toast "The French Republic," and the
epithet he applied to His Majesty, George III, of "German
Hogbutcher."[98] After this experience, it is not surprising that
Hodgson removed himself beyond the seas. He turns up at dinner at Mount
Vernon in June 1788. Two years later we find him buying a house and lot
for £1,650 from John Harper on Prince Street. The evidence is that he
was already in this house as a tenant. Here he set up in the dry-goods
business, using the first floor for his store and countinghouse, and the
upper part as his dwelling.

What could be more natural than Mr. Hodgson looking up his friends, the
Lees, on his arrival in Virginia? His old friend, William, had died.
Portia, now an orphan, was a young lady of handsome estate. Mr. Hodgson
was dining rather frequently at Mount Vernon in 1798, and the General
was writing of him always as "Mr. Hodgden."[99] Twice he was in company
with Portia, the last time appearing in a diary entry of June 1799 with
his wife at dinner. Mrs. Hodgson was, of course, the former Miss Portia
Lee. Sometime this same year he brought her to his dry-goods store and
dwelling house on Prince Street. Built some forty-odd years before, this
house was doubtless in need of numerous repairs.

The Hodgsons resided for upward of twenty-five years in the old town
house of the Fairfaxes. They were the parents of eight children, so many
that Hodgson found it necessary to give over to his family the lower
floor of the house that he had been using as his store and countinghouse
and to confine his activities to his warehouse and wharf on Union and
Prince. About this time the house seems to have undergone many changes.
A new front entrance was added, the stairway changed, a fashionable arch
and reeded mantels appeared. In other words, the house was "done over"
in the newest taste and latest fashion.

In 1816 Hodgson was forced to sell his house due to his inability to
meet a trust placed on the property in 1807. It was purchased in 1816 by
John Gardner Ladd, senior partner of John Gardner Ladd & Company. Ladd
appears to have come to Alexandria from Providence, Rhode Island, late
in the eighteenth century. He is mentioned in Washington's diary as
dining at Mount Vernon on February 1, 1798. A little glimpse into his
private affairs is revealed by an old customs house record for the year
1817. Under the entry for Thursday, January 2, we discover that the ship
_America_, Captain Luckett in command, sailed for the West Indies and
that "John G. Ladd, Esq., of the house of J.G.L. & Co. goes out in this
ship, with a view of benefitting his health." His will, bearing date of
February 18, 1819, and leaving to his wife, Sarah, for her life "the
entire use and emoluments of my dwelling house and lotts on Prince and
Water Streets (formerly the property of William Hodgson)," seems to
indicate that this wish was not realized. The home remained in the Ladd
family for the better part of thirty-five years.

       *       *       *       *       *

To Alexandrians of later days, 207 Prince Street was known for many
years as the home of the Honorable Lewis MacKenzie. This house had the
first bathroom and tub in Alexandria. A niece of MacKenzie has stated
that her childhood had no more enthralling experience than leaning out
of the third story window and watching the water pour into Prince Street
from a hole in the wall. It was hit or miss with the pedestrians below!
MacKenzie also had the first heated halls in Alexandria, and nearly
burned up the house in consequence. He simply bricked up a small chimney
in a corner of the hall and installed wood stoves. Despite the hazard,
the warm halls were a great luxury in those days, for before the advent
of central heating all Virginians regarded halls in the wintertime as
places to pass through as quickly as possible.

Lewis MacKenzie, who owned the Fairfax house until 1891, was one of the
eight children of Captain James MacKenzie, mariner. The unique wedding
of his father and mother had been reported by the _Times and Alexandria
Advertiser_ almost a century earlier (1798). Its nautical motif arrests
our attention and carries us to the wharves of Alexandria in the time of
George Washington:

   We have to record an event of unusual interest which took place in
   our harbor yesterday, on board the good ship "Lexington" which lay in
   the stream opposite the town.

   The "Lexington," dressed in her gayest rig, was loaded with a full
   cargo of tobacco, in hogsheads, and only awaited the arrival of her
   commander, Capt. James MacKenzie, before proceeding on her voyage to
   Holland. The wind was fair, and the sun shone brightly. The jolly
   tars had donned their holiday garb, and as the first officer walked
   the deck and looked anxiously towards the town, it was evident that
   an unusual event was about to occur.

   The shipping in port showed the flags of all nations, and on the
   British man-of-war, which lay close to the "Lexington," could be seen
   the bright uniforms of the marines marshalled by their officers.

   Precisely at ten o'clock several boats put off from Conway's wharf,
   and on rounding under the stern of the "Lexington," the rolling of
   the frigate's drums could be heard as the crew manned the yards. A
   gay company passed up the gangway, led by the commander of the
   "Lexington" who was accompanied by Miss Margaret Steel and a
   clergyman from Maryland.

   On the order of the officer on board the frigate, the marines came to
   "present arms" in handsome style. It was then that Capt. MacKenzie
   received his bride, the fine band of the frigate discoursing its
   sweetest music as the guests departed. The order to "weigh anchor"
   was then given, and the gallant captain, accompanied by his youthful
   bride, "squared away" for his port of destination, with many good
   wishes for his safe return.


[Illustration: Gadsby's Tavern doorway comes home after four decades in
the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, as Alexandria celebrates its
200th anniversary]


Chapter 6

John Gadsby and His Famous Tavern

[Gadsby's Tavern is controlled today by the Gadsby's Tavern Board, Inc.,
under the auspices of the American Legion. The patriotic organizations
of Alexandria have joined in the restoration of this building. In 1932
the Alexandria Chapter of the Colonial Dames of America, the Alexandria
Chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Washington
Society, restored the first floor, which included the famous dining
rooms of the City Hotel.

Due to the untiring efforts of the late Mrs. C.A.S. Sinclair, State
Regent of the Virginia D.A.R., and Mrs. Robert M. Reese, one of the most
worthwhile restorations in Virginia was completed in the fall of 1940 in
the replacement of the woodwork in the ballroom. Happily, the floor is
original. The inventory called for a coal grate, and in the attic the
original grate, of Adam design, was found.

In 1937-38, the Alexandria Association made a careful restoration of the
roof, cornice and dormers, enabling other much needed work to go forward
and before this book goes to press the original doorway in which
Washington stood to receive his last official tribute in Alexandria will
have been brought back from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (where it has
been for four decades) to its rightful location. This patriotic
restoration of the doorway by the Alexandria Association has been made
possible by the past president and Honorary President of the
Association, Colonel Charles B. Moore, U.S.A., Ret.]

When Alexandria was one of the three largest seaports in America, a busy
city of shipping merchants, a rendezvous for travelers, soldiers, and
people of note, it was from necessity a city of taverns and hotels.

Many are the tales, handed down from the late eighteenth and early
nineteenth century travelers, and from the advertisements of the
journals of that time, that, put together, form a very complete picture
of this early American hostelry.

The most famous tavern in Alexandria, perhaps in America, are the
buildings on the corner of Cameron and Royal Streets, generally known
and spoken of today as Gadsby's Tavern. Built in 1752, the smaller of
these buildings was known for fifty years or more as the City Tavern,
and sometimes as the Coffee House. John Wise built the large brick
addition adjoining the City Tavern in 1792. On February 20, 1793, the
_Alexandria Gazette_ carried the following announcement of Mr. Wise's
City Tavern:


   The Subscriber informs the public in General that he has removed from
   the Old House where he has kept Tavern for four years past to his new
   elegant three story Brick House fronting the West end of the Market
   House which was built for a Tavern and has twenty commodious,
   well-furnished rooms in it, where he has laid in a large stock of
   good old liquors and hopes he will be able to give satisfaction to
   all who may please to favor him with their custom.

       *       *       *       *       *

David Rankin Barbee says that the hotel was opened on February 11 with
festivities commemorating the birthday of General Washington: "As the
guests assembled they were amazed as well they might be, at the internal
arrangements of the new Hostelry."[100]

       *       *       *       *       *

In Wise's new hotel, Alexandria architecture reaches its highest
expression. For its day and time it was the ultimate in comfort and
elegance; more than that, it was in exquisite taste. A well known
architectural historian has written of the ballroom, "One can sense that
it was built as an Assembly room for Gentlefolk";[101] and gentlefolk
used it for near a century.

When the Jockey Club races were run on November 6, 1793, we find the
members dining at Wise's inn, "the dinner to be on the table at three
o'clock."[102] For the better entertainment of the guests, "Mr. Card
performed wonderful feats at the Tavern every evening during the races.
Feats in cards, slack-wire, celebrated equilibrist, ground and lofty

And for the benefit of the ladies, November 6: "Information is hereby
given that there will be a dancing assembly this evening at Mr. Wise's,
to which are invited the ladies of Alexandria and its vicinity on both
sides of the river. Tickets for the gentlemen, without which none can be
admitted, may be had at the bar."[104] Out turned crimson velvet
breeches, green damask coats laced with silver, or cinnamon damask with
broad gold lace, while ladies in failles, lena gauzes, velvets, lace and
ribbon took their places beside the dandies. Logs and coals glowed,
candles burned, while the gossips sat against the wall and passed on the
grace of this or that gallant and his lady. When the gentry came to the
races, they remained for the dance!

High above the floor, attached to the wall, hung the musicians'
gallery[105] and to the strains of fiddle, flute, and banjo, the quality
of the neighborhood bowed and glided. Upon these boards skipped little
satin slippers and many times the heavy tread of the first citizen of
America, for this gentleman was ever fond of the dance. Here gathered
the Masons from Gunston Hall and Hollin Hall; the Lewises from
Woodlawn; the Dulanys from Shuters Hill; the Lears from Wellington; the
Ramsays, Herberts, Fairfaxes, Craiks, Browns, Roberdeaus, Lees,
Fitzhughs, Diggeses, Custises, Swifts and many other of the town's
Scottish gentry and their neighbors across the river.

[Illustration: The doorway from hall to ballroom stands invitingly open]

In 1794 an Englishman, one John Gadsby, took over the tavern under a
long lease. As fine as the tavern had been under Wise, it was to reach
new heights of public entertainment. Running the two taverns as one,
under the name of Gadsby's, he brought its culinary fame to such a state
of perfection that the odors of his dinners linger in the memory and
titillate the palate to this day.

There was always a fine stock of game, fish, oysters, terrapin, turkey
and ham; Madeira, Port and brandy on hand for the traveler. Our own
great Washington sat down to a very good dinner in his last days, if his
adopted son, George Washington Parke Custis be correct, for on being
assured of a plentiful supply of canvasback ducks about which he had
just made inquiry, he gave the following order: "Very good, sir, give us
some of them with a chaffing-dish, some hommony, and a bottle of good
Madeira, and we shall not complain."[106]

The fame of the tavern went out through the country and from Boston to
New Orleans the traveler bent his efforts to make Gadsby's. John Gadsby
established his own coach line from Alexandria to Philadelphia, and it
was necessary to be a guest in City Tavern or his associated inns to get
seat or ticket. Then he inserted the following notice in the _Gazette_:

   March 1st, 1796.--John Gadsby informs the Gentlemen of Alexandria
   that he has fitted up a large and convenient stable well provided
   with hay, oats, etc., and an attentive hostler, and those who may
   send their horses may depend on proper attention being paid to them
   on moderate terms.

This was very enticing to gentlemen traveling by horseback as well as
those in the city not having private stables.

Such men as George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, George
Clinton, Benjamin Franklin, Braddock, the Byrds, Grymeses, Fitzhughs,
Lees and Washingtons are among those who came here. One fine old tale
has it that in 1777, in the old tavern courtyard, John Paul Jones met
two bewildered Frenchmen in a dreadful dilemma--strangers in a strange
land, speaking a strange tongue, unable to make themselves understood
and doubtless very cross. By his knowledge of French, our brave
privateer was enabled to smooth the way for these gentlemen, none other
than Baron de Kalb and the Marquis de la Fayette, and the tale goes on
that this assistance was so gratefully received that a friendship
lasting a lifetime resulted from the encounter. The two taverns housed
and fed most of the important persons visiting the country from 1752 for
the next hundred years.

[Illustration: Ballroom of Gadsby's Tavern, purchased and taken from
Alexandria by the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, where it is
now on exhibit]

The Fairfax Resolves were prepared here--those resolves that eventually
grew into the Virginia Bill of Rights. In this tavern met the little
convention called by General Washington to settle the import duties upon
the Potomac River commerce which led in time to the convention in
Philadelphia which prepared the Constitution of the United States.

In 1802 Gadsby entered into a new lease with Wise for fifteen years. In
the indenture, reference is made to a three-story brick house and a
two-story brick house, a brick kitchen and several wooden houses. Gadsby
at this time was granted permission by Wise to erect at his own expense
a brick stable one hundred feet long and twenty-seven feet wide and of
a suitable height. He was also given permission to erect at his own
expense another brick house forty-five feet long and fifteen or sixteen
feet wide and two stories high, finished in a neat and decent manner so
as to be habitable, and he also agreed to extend a wall thirty feet long
and of the same height. The annual rent was to be two thousand dollars,
and Gadsby agreed to paint the three-story brick house and the two-story
house outside and inside, and he had permission to remove what wooden
buildings were necessary and to keep the remainder in good repair.

[Illustration: In the ballroom the musicians played from the balcony
suspended from the ceiling. This is the restored ballroom]

That Gadsby did not desire to keep the tavern so long is borne out seven
years later when on November 13, 1809, John Wise, N.S. Wise, and R.I.
Taylor leased the tavern to William Caton for three months and then for
nine years for two thousand dollars a year, and stated the tavern was
"formerly occupied by John Gadsby."[107] But the following year Caton
had had enough and the _Alexandria Gazette_, on March 9, 1810, carried
the following advertisement:

   To the Public

   The Subscriber has taken for a term of years that noted and eligible
   establishment known by the name of the City Hotel, and once occupied
   by Mr. Gadsby whose distinguished abilities as a Publican gave it an
   éclat which the subscriber hopes to preserve by his unremitting
   exertions.... James Brook.

[Illustration: Ballroom fireplace containing original grate before which
the gentry were wont to stand on winter nights]

In 1811 an Englishman traveling incognito, put up at the tavern,
formerly Gadsby's, became ill, and after it was discovered that he
belonged to the Masonic fraternity, he was nursed by the gentlemen of
the Alexandria lodge. Making a happy recovery, the gentleman departed,
and apparently that was the last of him. Four years passed. One day
there arrived by ship an enormous packing box for the lodge. It
contained twenty-five hundred pieces of cut glass, decanters of all
sizes, and glasses for any liquor distilled. The bottom of each piece
was engraved with the Masonic emblem and the initials and number of the
lodge. The enclosed card read simply: "From an English Gentleman and
Brother in appreciation for fraternal courtesies." One hundred and
seventy-five pieces remain in the Masonic Museum today, after more than
a hundred years of use, and excellent crystal it is.

One of the most romantic stories told of Gadsby's, a true one at that,
is the mysterious tale of the Female Stranger. On a day in early autumn
of 1816 a ship docked at the wharf in Alexandria, purported to have come
from the West Indies. Down the ways came a striking couple. Luxuriously
apparelled, they presented figures of great elegance. The handsome young
"milord" was all tender solicitude for the fragile beauty clinging
weakly to his arm in a state of collapse. Bystanders were considerably
intrigued and greatly impressed by the distinguished strangers.
Unquestionably they were rich, and certainly noble. It was indeed
curious that such important people had no attendants, neither manservant
nor maidservant, and the young lady sadly in need of assistance. Even
while the sailors were busy with the great ropes and anchors the
handsome stranger was making arrogant inquiries for the best tavern in
the town and demanding a carriage for transporting the lady there with
the least delay. First impressions were borne out, the gentleman was
undoubtedly English, and he was a person of importance!

[Illustration: In the Coffee House. A fine mantel and panelled chimney

[Illustration: Doorway to Coffee House or City Tavern]

Naturally the strangers were directed to the best the town afforded, and
to "Mr. Gadsby's City Hotel" the young people came looking for rooms.
The gentleman evidently took mine host into his confidence and was
provided with the most elegant accommodations. The young woman was put
to bed and a physician ordered in attendance. She was truly very ill.
Two of Alexandria's good Samaritans were informed of the pitiful little
sick girl's condition and Mrs. John S. Wise and Mrs. James Stuart took
their turns with the invalid. The husband proved himself devoted and
fairly daft with anxiety, and 'twas said rarely left the bedside. The
young woman grew rapidly worse. The skillful nursing, the constant
and faithful attendance of the physicians were all useless, and after an
illness of several weeks, the Female Stranger died. Thus she has been
remembered in Alexandria, for a very curious thing had occurred. The
doctors and volunteer nurses were asked to take an oath before ever they
entered that sick chamber, and swore never to reveal aught that they
heard, saw, or learned. That oath they kept. The young woman's name, her
destination, her former habitation, have never been revealed, and her
secrets lie buried with her.

[Illustration: The Coffee House or City Tavern which later was run as
one with Gadsby's Tavern and City Hotel. Headquarters for Washington and
the Alexandria Militia in 1754]

Many are the stories that survive. Some say the husband decamped without
paying his host, doctors, and nurses. Others that he had eloped with
this girl of good family and destroyed her reputation, and so brought
about her death. One story claims that he was a criminal and was seen in
prison by a gentleman from Alexandria, and others far more romantic
tell of his reappearance at stated intervals in Alexandria when he was
observed prostrate upon the tomb. Whatever his own story, he placed the
mortal remains of the little stranger in St. Paul's Cemetery and covered
her with a table tomb which is inscribed with the equally mysterious

   To the memory of a Female Stranger Whose mortal sufferings terminated
   On the fourteenth day of October, 1816.

   This stone is erected by her disconsolate Husband in whose arms she
   sighed out her last breath, and who under God did his utmost to sooth
   the cold, dull hour of death.

        How loved, how honor'd once avails thee not,
          To whom related or by whom begot.
        A heap of dust remains of thee
          'Tis all thou are, and all the proud shall be.

In 1808 the celebrated actress, Anne Warren, known as the "ornament of
the American stage," was acting at the new theatre, Liberty Hall, just
across from the Tavern on Cameron Street. While stopping at Gadsby's she
became ill and died. (Not all the Tavern's patrons were so afflicted.)
It is said that her interment was the last in old Christ Church yard.

On October 16, 1824, La Fayette was entertained by the Alexandrians
"amid the wildest popular demonstration of joy and affection,"[108] and
again in February 1825, he returned to Alexandria and Gadsby's for a
farewell entertainment by the Masonic lodge. The tavern at this time was
run by a Mr. Claggett.

Washington's association alone is sufficient fame for Gadsby's. In the
little tavern he recruited his first military command, when as colonel
of Virginia Militia in 1754 he set out to protect the Virginia frontier
from the French and Indians. Again in 1755, as aide to General Braddock,
he established headquarters at the City Tavern. Here, prior to the
Revolution, he celebrated the King's birthday anniversary balls, an
institution subsequently replaced by festivities of his own birthnight

   February 11th, 1799 [22nd, new style] went up to Alexandria to the
   celebration of my birthday. Many manoeuvres were performed by the
   Uniform Corps, and an elegant Ball and Supper at Night.[109]

At Gadsby's he was entertained right royally by proud and patriotic
citizens on his way to New York to be inaugurated as President, and on
his return to Mount Vernon and private life. Throughout his life he
attended the assembly balls, and from the steps of the new building he
gave his last military order and took his last military review.

John Gadsby left Alexandria for greater fields--his hotels in Baltimore
and Washington were in time more important than the City Hotel. He had a
positive talent for Presidents, and knew them all from Washington to
Polk. On the least provocation, it was said, he could put on an
entertainment that would furnish food for gossip for a week.

In 1836 Gadsby bought the Decatur house in Washington, and proceeded to
entertain the élite of the town with the finest his kitchen and wine
cellar could produce. President and Mrs. Polk often attended these
functions. Again to quote Barbee: "The Chevalier Adolph Bacourt,
Minister from France, attended one of these functions."[110] The
gentleman was not very happy about it, and denouncing Gadsby, he wrote
of him:

   He is an old wretch who has made a fortune in the slave trade, which
   does not prevent Washington Society from rushing to his house, and I
   should make myself very unpopular if I refused to associate with this
   kind of people. This gentleman's house is the most beautiful in the
   city, and perfect in the distribution of the rooms; but what society,
   my God![111]

Gadsby died in the Decatur house in Washington in his seventy-fourth
year, leaving his widow (a beautiful third wife!) to reign in this
mansion some years after his death. He is buried in the Congressional
Cemetery, surrounded by his children and grandchildren.



Chapter 7

The Michael Swope House

[210 Prince Street. Owners: Mr. and Mrs. Hugh B. Cox.]

There is an ancient house in Alexandria whose rusty rose brick façade
and beautifully hand-carved eighteenth century doorway add ornament and
distinction to the 200 block of Prince Street.

Not many years ago Mrs. Alexander Murray (the daughter of a former
owner) who had spent her girlhood in this old house remarked to the
author, "You know, the house has a ghost. There is a story that an
American Revolutionary spy who was executed by the British haunts the
place." Every proper old mansion should have a ghost--and what could be
nicer than an American patriot--blue coat and cocked hat?

Time passed. Mrs. Murray's story remained to be written, when about 1930
General Dalton came into possession of 210 Prince Street. Hearing that
his house had been broken into, he requested his friend, Mrs. Sheen, the
wife of Colonel Sheen, to examine the house and have the lock repaired.
Mrs. Sheen with her son, Gordon, and a Negro went to General Dalton's
empty house to repair the door and to lock the mansion. While the Negro
was working on the lock, he said, "I certainly does feel funny. There's
something strange about this house. Let's hurry and get out o' here."
Whereupon Gordon Sheen pooh-poohed the idea, standing by the Negro to
reassure him. Suddenly he saw (or said he saw) in the doorway at the end
of the hall a soldier in Revolutionary uniform walking toward him. When
the apparition reached the music room or library, it turned sharply to
the right into the room and disappeared.

[Illustration: Doorway to Colonel Michael Swope's House]

Some time after this Mrs. Sheen was showing General Dalton's house to
friends who had been living abroad and wanted a home. The two ladies had
been through the lower floors and started to the third story. At the top
of the steps the visitor said, "I can't go farther. Something is pushing
me back." Mrs. Sheen at once descended the stairs, thinking her friend
ill. When they reached the first floor the lady from abroad said, "A
force was pushing me backward. I am quite psychic, you know, and the
ghost who inhabits this house would make it impossible for me to live
here. I love the house and should like to own it, but I should not be
permitted to do so."

At the second auction of lots held on July 14, 1749, Augustine
Washington, brother of Lawrence Washington and half-brother of George,
bought lots Nos. 64 and 65 for fifteen _pistoles_. At a meeting of the
trustees on June 15, 1754, lots Nos. 64 and 65, the property of
Augustine Washington, along with other lots were ordered to "be sold to
the highest bidder at a Public Vendue, the several Proprietors thereof
having failed to build thereon according to the directions of the Act of
Assembly in that case made and provided and it is further ordered that
the Clerk do give Public Notice that the sale of the said lotts will be
at the Town aforesaid on the first day of August next."[112] In the
minutes of the trustees for September 9, 1754, lots Nos. 64 and 65 were
entered as sold to William Ramsay for 39-1/2 _pistoles_, or £37 1_s._

The next document in regard to these lots is an indenture made July 21,
1757, between William Ramsay, of the County of Fairfax and the Colony of
Virginia, merchant, and Anne, his wife, of the one part, and John Dixon
of the County of Cumberland in the Kingdom of England, merchant, of the
other part, whereby William Ramsay in consideration of the sum of £810
_7s._ sterling money of Great Britain to him in hand paid by John Dixon
releases, grants, confirms, etc. to John Dixon certain lands described
fully (1,261 acres) and "also the following lotts or half acres of land
situate lying and being in the town of Alexandria in the County of
Fairfax to wit Lott number thirty-four, forty, forty-six, forty-seven,
and the lotts number _sixty-four_, _sixty-five_ [author's emphasis] as
the same are numbered in the plan and survey of the said Town
originally made by John West Junr., as also the following Negro and
mulatto slaves with their increase (to wit) Peter the joyner, Jacob,
Sophia, Whitehaven, Moll, Sall, Peter, Imanuel, Winnifrid and her child,
Zilla, Phillis, and Clarisa, all which said lands and tenements lotts of
land and slaves are now in the actual possession of the said John Dixon
by virtue of one indenture bearing date the day before the date of these
presents and by force of the statute for transferring uses into
possessions to have and to hold the said lands tenements and all and
singular other premises with them and every of their appurtenances
together with the aforesaid slaves unto the said John Dixon, his heirs
and assigns forever,"[113] provided always that if William Ramsay shall
pay or cause paid to John Dixon of the town of White Haven, England, the
just sum of £810 7_s._ with interest at five per cent per annum on the
first day of July next, he will again come into possession of this vast

[Illustration: The Great Room]

In the following August, Dixon appointed Harry Piper of Alexandria his
true and lawful attorney to collect and receive for him all sums of
money or tobacco which might become due, "and furthermore for as much as
I have taken a Deed of Mortgage from Mr. William Ramsay of the town of
Alexandria in the Colony of Virginia, Merchant, for sundrie lotts or
half acres of land in the town of Alexandria with ye houses, gardens and
other improvements thereon, together with sundrie slaves as also one
tract or parcel of land...."[114]

In 1757 by a letter of attorney, dated August 8, John Dixon, merchant,
of the town of White Haven in the Kingdom of Great Britain, authorized
and empowered his attorney, Harry Piper of Alexandria, to take all legal
means of foreclosure to receive the sum of £810 from William Ramsay who
had mortgaged certain part of lots Nos. 64 and 65 with sundry slaves to
secure that amount.

John Dixon in turn sold this property to the Scottish firm of shipping
merchants, Robert McCrea, Robert Mease, & John Boyd in 1774, and in 1778
Boyd released his part of the property to McCrea and Mease for the sum
of £253, with all houses, alleys, profits, commodities, and so on.

That William Ramsay built at least a part of this house seems almost
indisputable. First, Augustine Washington had forfeited the property by
not complying with the law to build thereon, and it seems hardly
possible that Ramsay should have owned the property from 1754 to 1757
without complying with this act of the assembly. Furthermore, in the
appointment of Piper as Dixon's attorney on August 16, 1757, the
property is referred to as consisting of houses, gardens, and other
improvements thereon. Dixon disposed of the property in 1774 to McCrea,
Mease & Boyd, and four years later Boyd released his part for £253, with
all houses, alleys, and so on. Little construction was done in
Alexandria from 1775 to 1783, for this was the period of the
Revolutionary War and no capital was going begging in the colonies at
this date. Besides this evidence, the house has every appearance of a
colonial building and the woodwork is all mid-eighteenth century in
design. William Ramsay was an original trustee, appointed by the
assembly for laying out the town. For a time he was successful and
prosperous, owning much property, until overtaken by great misfortunes
and compound interest!

All of which brings us to Michael Swope of York, Pennsylvania, a worthy
gentleman of ancient lineage, patriotic inclinations, and distinguished
service. The family Bible attests the fact that he held many offices of
trust--judge of the Orphans' Court; justice of the peace; member of the
assembly; Colonel, First Battalion, First Brigade, Pennsylvania Flying
Camp Regiment, being but some of them. He was captured at Fort
Washington and kept a prisoner of war for a number of years, suffering
great hardship and privation.

[Illustration: Stairway and kitchen at Colonel Michael Swope's]

When the Revolutionary War was over, Colonel Swope's health was
undermined and he found the severe Pennsylvania winters unbearable. With
his wife and family he moved south to Alexandria, where he set up in the
ship chandlery business with his sons. He purchased from Robert and Ann
McCrea and Robert Mease the property already described as a residence in
1783. In a later deed of June 29, 1809, it is recited that Michael Swope
erected a large three-story brick building on these premises in 1784.

This house at 210 Prince Street is a fitting memorial to this officer.
The doorway to the dignified old town mansion is one of the best
examples of Georgian woodwork in Alexandria, and remains, save for one
small patch and a new fanlight, in its original state.

The back drawing room is splendidly proportioned. The paneled mantel
flanked by fluted pilasters is in keeping with the other woodwork which
is good throughout the house. Some of the best, a cupboard, was found on
the third floor and brought down to replace one missing in the great
room. Since it fitted perfectly, it is quite possible that it has only
been returned to its original place. The rear wing of the house seems
older and more worn than the front, giving the feeling of earlier

During Colonel Swope's occupancy fine furniture filled these rooms. In
the Alexandria clerk's office an inventory of Colonel Swope's
possessions, taken in 1786, fills several pages of legal paper when
copied in its entirety. Such things were listed as "one clock and case,
one mahogany dining table and eight chairs, one spinnett, one large
looking glass, four small ones, one dressing table, one desk and
drawers, five beds with all their furniture and linen belonging to them
and bedsteads, two Franklin stoves, one riding chair and harness, sundry
china and Queensware, eight decanters, 75 pounds of pewter, sundry
silver furniture, to wit, two cream pots, five tablespoons, six
teaspoons, two soup laddles, one tankard, and also one Negro woman and
her child named Jude."[115] These are but a few of the Colonel's
possessions, scattered these many years among his descendants.

Michael Swope and his sons were successful in the thriving seaport of
Alexandria, and when Adam Walter, the second son, was married he moved
to Philadelphia, where he set up in the shipping business as a partner
of his father. His father built for him a home at 31 Catherine Street
and 'tis said that the architecture very much resembles the Prince
Street house.

Michael Swope died in 1809, aged eighty-four years. The body of the old
hero was taken by boat from the port of Alexandria to the port of
Philadelphia where he was interred in the Swope family vault in Union
Cemetery at Sixth and Federal Streets. About 1858, during the yellow
fever epidemic, the city board of health issued orders to have this
vault cleaned out. It is said that the metal casket containing the
earthly remains of Michael Swope was then in good condition. Perhaps,
after all, Colonel Swope is the ghost that haunts this old house and
chooses its inmates.


Chapter 8

Dr. William Brown and His Dwelling

[212 South Fairfax Street. Owners: Honorable and Mrs. Howard R. Tolley.]

Between George Mason's house, Gunston Hall, and Mount Vernon, on Highway
1, about seventeen miles south of Alexandria, stands the colonial church
of Pohick. There is an old cemetery behind a brick wall, beginning at
the very door of the church and rambling over an acre or so of the yard.
Among the tombs is that of one man peculiarly and intimately connected
with the town of Alexandria.

He was one of the forty-odd officers of the Revolution to go from here,
one of the twelve or more charter members of the Society of the
Cincinnati, prominent for his contribution to his profession, and
remembered for his friendship and association with Washington. His tomb
was not originally placed at Pohick. It stood for many years in the
private graveyard at Preston, now the site of the Potomac railroad
yards, and was removed when that vandal of our port, "Progress" claimed
the site.

Let us trace the worn letters on the old stone:

   In Memory of/William Brown, M.D./(Formerly Physician General to the
   Hospital of the United States)/who died on the 11th day of Jan'y
   1792/in the 44th year of his age;/This Tablet is inscribed/by/his
   affectionate & afflicted widow/His zeal & fidelity as a Patriot/His
   patience, diligence & skill as a Physician/His benevolence, curtesy &
   integrity as a Man/Secured him/the applause of his country/the honor
   & emoluments of his Profession/the respect of the Wealthy/and/the
   veneration of the Poor/Let/the grateful witness of his virtues in
   domestic life/add/that as a Husband, Father & Master he was tender,
   instructive & humane/that he lived without guile/and died without

Dr. Brown's grandfather was Dr. Gustavus Brown who emigrated to Maryland
in 1708 and in 1710 married Frances, the daughter of Colonel Gerard
Fawke. Their son, Richard Brown, returned to England to prepare himself
for the church. Richard's son, William, was born in Scotland in 1748;
was educated at the University of Edinburgh, graduated in 1770, and came
to America. This is Alexandria's Dr. Brown.

This young Scotsman, gentle born, learned, traveled, handsome, came to
Virginia at the age of twenty-two. He began to explore the south side of
the Potomac, and his path often led to Dumfries and to the homes of his
relations there, the Reverend James Scott's family, at the rectory, and
the Blackburns at Rippon Lodge. Sometimes the carriage was brought out,
or the horses saddled, or even the barge manned, and off to Mount Vernon
the family would go.

It was always pleasant at Mount Vernon for young people. Never the week
went by but some of them gathered for dinner or to spend the night, and
often both. When Washington returned from Alexandria, where he was
attending court on May 19, 1772, he found his guests included Colonel
Blackburn and lady, from Rippon Lodge, Miss Scott, Mrs. Blackburn's
sister (both were daughters of James Scott, rector of the Church at
Dumfries), Miss Brown and young Dr. Brown. "This company spent the night
and went away the next morning."[116]

Whether this was the beginning or the culmination of the romance, none
now can tell, but by 1774 Miss Scott was already Mrs. Brown, and the
mother of two very small sons, William Jr. being born that year. The
young family was doubtless residing in General Washington's town house,
and for this there is the authority of the General himself. In a letter
to his nephew, Bushrod, dated November 1788, he writes, "If you could
accomodate yourself to my small house in Town (where Doctr. Brown
formerly lived) you shall be very welcome to the use of it rent

Previous to this, in 1785, Lund Washington's ledger reveals that he had
received £40 from Dr. Brown on account of Gen^l Washington for "Rent of
House in Alexandria."[118] In the General's own account ledger he refers
to Dr. Brown's rent as having been fixed by "M^r L^d Washington at £60 a
year for My House," and the sum is cancelled due to advances made by Dr.
Brown and for professional services.[119]

In July 1783, Dr. Brown purchased from John Mills the white clapboard
house that has been identified as his Alexandria home. He purchased
twenty-six additional feet south on Fairfax Street adjoining his
dwelling house, from Robert Townshend Hooe and Richard Harrison,
merchants, on July 10, 1790. This property became his garden.

[Illustration: Dr. William Brown's clapboard residence]

An Alexandria tradition and the Brown family belief is that the house
was built by him prior to the Revolution. It is, indeed, very old and
probably dates between 1757, when the property was mortgaged by William
Ramsay to John Dixon of White Haven, England, and 1783, when the
property was sold to Dr. William Brown by John Mills, for the sum of
£280, indicating a substantial structure. There was at least one house
on lot No. 65, and Dr. Brown's house is the only one standing on that
lot today at all indicative of a pre-Revolutionary dwelling. If the
house was not built by Ramsay, the probability is that it was built by
Mills between 1777 and 1783, which is doubtful, as building during the
Revolution was so difficult as to make it almost impossible.

The home of the young Browns was the gathering place for the élite of
Alexandria and the countryside. The Washingtons dined and passed the
evening frequently. The Blackburns came often from Rippon Lodge, the
Brown cousins from Port Tobacco, and of course Dr. Craik from around the
corner. Colonel Fitzgerald, Colonel Swope, and Colonel Lyles were all
near neighbors.

The Doctor was a man of fine attainments. Active in the church, he
served as vestryman at Christ Church; public spirited, he was the moving
force in the founding of the Sun Fire Company; and the Alexandria
academy was largely his idea. It was in great part due to his efforts
that Washington was aroused to take an active part in this project, to
contribute £50 annually, and at his death to will £1,000 to this

At the outbreak of the war with England, Washington showed his
confidence by appointing Dr. Brown Physician-General and Director of
Hospitals of the Continental Army. He served throughout the Revolution.
Brown wrote and published the first _American Pharmacopoeia_ in 1778,
"For the sake of expedition and accuracy in performing the Practice, and
also to introduce a degree of uniformity therein throughout the several
hospitals," the title pages read.

It was due to hardships suffered at Valley Forge that he died in 1792 at
the age of forty-four years. The following notice appeared in the
_Virginia Gazette and Alexandria Advertiser_ for Thursday, January 19,

   On Friday, last, after a tedious and excrutiating illness, the iron
   hand of relentless Death arrested and hurried that amiable citizen,
   DR. WILLIAM BROWN, to the World of Spirits, "from whence no Traveller
   returns!" All the love we bore him could not add one "supernumerary
   gasp." He long felt the approaches of vital dissolution--no vain
   laments--but sustained it with religious intrepidity, such as marks
   the dignity of a Christian Hero.

   He felt the force of Republican Principles early in life, and stept
   forth, in the infancy of the American war, to oppose the British
   King.--How often have I heard him, with the ardour of a Patriot,
   expatiate on the firmness and virtues of a Hampden and a Sidney!
   Viewing with horror the piteous situation of our virtuous and wounded
   Soldiery--the derangement of the hospitals and medical department--he
   relinquished his domestic ease and lucrative employment, and offered
   his services to the Continental Congress. They were accepted--How he
   conducted the interesting and important charge, the testimony of that
   respectable body and his grateful country have long declared. Having
   arranged and reformed the constitution of the army allocated to his
   care, and reduced the wild and extravagant practice to system and
   order, he left the service, and resumed his vocation in this Town; in
   which he discovered the most exemplary tenderness, and unusual depth
   of professional knowledge. He was sagacious by nature, inquisitive
   and comprehensive, improved by study, and refined by sentiment. He
   was equalled by few in the social and domestic virtues of politeness
   and benevolence. He was the accomplished Gentleman, and finished
   Scholar--the best of Husbands, and the best of Parents. The Poor and
   needy ever experienced the humanity of his tender and sympathetic
   soul. He was a man to hear "Afflicktion's cry." The loss of so much
   charity, friendship and beneficence but claims the tributary tear;
   But, temper your grief, ye pensive Relatives, and afflicted Friends--

        "The toils of life and pangs of death are O'er;
        And care, and pain, and sickness are no more."

   He is gone, we fondly hope, to chant anthems of praise to an
   approving God! Though the struggles of nature are agonizing and
   prevailing, yet disturb not his gentle shade by impassioned
   woe!--"The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; Blessed be the
   name of the Lord."

[Illustration: Hall and stairway in Dr. Brown's House]

There are not many reminders left of the good Doctor. In the Library of
Congress a few bills rendered to Colonel John Fitzgerald for outfitting
ships' medicine boxes and attending sick sailors; a letter from one
Thomas Bond of Philadelphia written in April 1784 to Colonel Fitzgerald
stating that his brother "goes to Virginia to study Physic under Dr.
Brown." In the Virginia State Library is a tax report showing that for
the year 1784 he owned eight slaves and one cattle, and that in 1789 the
Doctor had three blacks and two horses. The minutes he wrote as clerk
and treasurer of the Sun Fire Company are preserved and, of course, a
few copies of his _Pharmacopoeia_.

The Dr. William Brown house stands today much as it stood during his
lifetime. Architecturally and historically it is one of the most
interesting in Alexandria. No great house, this modest home built of
white clapboard over brick and sitting close to the ground, rises two
and one-half stories, hiding behind its stout doorway some of the best
and certainly the most original woodwork in the old town.

One enters a spacious hall, the wide board floors of which are worn with
the passing of many years, and colored by use and time a deep amber.
Running around the hall is paneled wainscoting in alternating vertical
and horizontal panels. The stairway rises from about the middle of the
hall in easy steps to the second floor, the spindles are rather
primitive and the entire stairway has a provincial air. The white
baluster rail is matched by a handrail and supported by half a matching
newel post; wherever the cornice breaks, it turns against itself. An
amusing feature, one found sometimes in old houses, is an inside window
opening from the back drawing room into the hallway.

If the stair is simple, certainly the woodwork in the upstairs front
room is most ambitious. Mantel, overmantel and matching cupboards cover
one entire wall, the chimney end of the room. The mantel is flanked by
two fluted pilasters, reaching from floor to denticulated cornice. Above
the shelf is a rectangular dog-eared panel, in each of the four ears of
which is a rosette. Under the shelf, oblong panels carry out the same
design, divided by a carved half urn. The shelf is supported by consoles
and decorated by a fret that returns around the urn. The cupboards on
each side of the mantel have, at the top, circular glass doors,
surmounted by an arch and keystone. The bottom doors are wood paneled.
The remainder of the woodwork is conventional, plain chair rail,
baseboard and trim.

[Illustration: Dr. Brown's upstairs parlor]

The kitchen with its Dutch oven in the great brick chimney; the large
fireplace where the old crane still hangs sturdily enough to support
Mrs. Brown's best dinner, are in an excellent state of preservation. One
is intrigued by some very ancient and peculiar waterworks that formed a
part of the sanitary equipment in the culinary department and which
function to this day. There is a heavy hand-hewn stone sink and a copper
caldron with its own firebox and ashpit. Formerly a large oaken bathtub
stood in the back room off the kitchen and the water heated in the
copper caldron was available to both rooms. An old brass spigot that
served the bathtub remains.

At Dr. Brown's death the house passed to his widow. She left it in trust
for her daughter, Sarah Maynadier, and the Maynadier grandchildren at
her death in 1813. The house remained in the Maynadier family until
April 26, 1842, when the property was purchased by James Green for
seventeen hundred dollars. In 1940, the present owners, the Honorable
and Mrs. H.R. Tolley, acquired the property.

Dr. Brown's home has fallen into sympathetic hands. Today Queen Anne
chairs and piecrust tables grace the parlor. From the hall comes the
vibrating tick-tock of a fine old clock. Logs blaze cheerfully in open
fireplaces, the flames reflected in old and polished silver. The hall
window frames Catherine Brown's garden, which is divided into three
sections, one shut off from the other by wall or fence, making private
living areas of each. Old trees, brick walks, ivy and flowering shrubs
add their attractions. A tall brick smokehouse stands sentinel, all that
remains of a number of outbuildings which clustered, village fashion,
about the dwelling.

[Illustration: Dr. William Brown. From a miniature.

(_Courtesy Mrs. Bessie Wilmarth Gahn_)]


Chapter 9

The Peruke Shop

[405 Prince Street. Owners: The Moore Family.]

This house is completely surprising. Many years ago the owners put on a
new pressed-brick front and changed the sash from the usual small lights
to two single lights of large dimensions. The transition from this 1890
front to an eighteenth century interior in a perfect state of
preservation, produces upon one crossing the threshold the sensation of
walking straight through the looking glass. And whither does the looking
glass lead? Right into the parlors of Mr. William Sewell!

The stairway rises on the far side of a fine arch in the entrance hall.
Halfway up, it becomes obscured from view, leaving one gazing at a
paneled ceiling, as it makes an abrupt about-face. The rooms on the
second floor are quaint. Low-pitched, sloping ceilings, off-center
mantels with odd panels and chimney closets and six-paneled doors with
H&L hinges, are amusing as well as charming.

Two parlors on the ground floor, opening off the hall, are formal and
elegant. Fine paneled chimney breasts dominate these rooms. Dentils and
fret trim cornices and mantels. Chair rails, six-panel doors, wide board
pine floors, and double doors opening flat against the walls, making the
two rooms into one, are found here. In the front room the interesting
feature is a Franklin stove set in the fireplace--quite the last word in
comfort in the 1780s.

On July 14, 1749 the Reverend John Moncure bought lot No. 61 for £5
_9s._ On March 28, 1752, the deed for this property was filed at Fairfax
Court House and described as lot No. 61, a half acre of land on Royal
and Prince Streets, as surveyed and platted by John West. Two years
later, June 15, 1754, the Reverend John Moncure, along with other
gentlemen of prominence in the colony, lost his lot for having failed to
comply with the directions of the assembly to build thereon within three
years. The following September there took place an auction of these
forfeited lots, and No. 61 passed to William Sewell for £5 7_s._ 6_d._

At a court held at Fairfax, on April 18, 1759, with five gentlemen
justices presiding; _to wit_, John Carlyle, John West Jun., John Hunter,
Robert Adam, and William Bronaugh:

   William Sewell brings into court his servant Elizabeth McNot for
   having a base born child. Ordered that she serve for the same one
   year and she agrees to serve her said master six months in
   consideration of his paying her fine.[120]

Thus out of the mist of one hundred and ninety years emerges again the
dim figure of William Sewell. And who, pray, was William Sewell?
Peruke-maker! So called in a deed of trust dated 1766, "William Sewell
Peruke Maker," and Elizabeth, his wife. The same Elizabeth?

Nearly two hundred years have passed since William dressed a wig or
powdered a head, but if these parlors were his shop, and certainly they
were, all the gentry in the town waited his pleasure here. Visitors who
came to Alexandria and took part in the balls testified to the elegance
of the ladies' apparel (almost always) and a lady to be elegant must
have a well dressed head. It was rare, too, to see a gentleman without
his peruke. William must have had a very large business. One likes to
think that Major Washington dealt with Sewell, and it is not difficult
to imagine on ball evenings Mrs. Carlyle's maid rushing in, making a
hasty curtsy and breathlessly demanding Madam's wig; or perhaps Mrs.
Fairfax's maid presents Mrs. Fairfax's compliments and "Please, will Mr.
Sewell come at two o'clock to dress Mistress Fairfax's hair?" Nor, is it
difficult to picture William, when the shop day is over, with his
apprentices bent over the fine net, meticulously crocheting, by
candlelight, the white hair into a lofty creation that will, in about
six months time, take a lady's breath away.

Alas! Alack! Peruke-making and hair-dressing were not all they ought to
be. Poor William owed a lot of money. He was indebted with interest to
John Carlyle and John Dalton for £42 15_s._ 7_d._; William Ramsay for
£83 14_s._ 4_d._; John Muir for £23 7_s._ 9_d._--all merchants of
Alexandria. But that was not all; the Kingdom of Great Britain was
concerned. He owed one Henry Ellison, of White Haven, merchant, £62
10_s._ 7_d._, and Joshua Pollard of Liverpool, shipmaster, £17. Poor
William put up for security lot No. 61, with all buildings thereon,
water rights, watercourses, etc., which led, eventually, to a sheriff's
sale. By due process of law, and to satisfy and pay sundry mortgages,
lot No. 61 fell to William Ramsay.

[Illustration: Mantel in home of William Sewell, peruke-maker]

Ramsay sold a part of this lot on Prince and Royal Streets in 1785 to
Colin McIver, and the property was described as bounded today:
"Beginning 24 feet 6 inches west of Royal and running West on Prince 24
feet, 6 inches, thence 88 feet North to a six foot alley, etc., for
£225, with all houses, buildings, streets, lanes, allies, profits, etc."

In 1795 Colin McIver's son, John, sold the property to a Philadelphia
merchant named Crammond for £450 and Crammond agreed to give up the
house and land within a stated time to anyone paying more, or to pay the

After twenty-three years the property was bought by another merchant of
Philadelphia, Thomas Asley, for $750.00, and within two years Mr. Asley
sold it to John Gird of Alexandria, in the District of Columbia, for
$1,300. In September 1819, John Gird had a note endorsed for $4,100 by
Isaac Entwistle, and mortgaged some of his personal possessions which
were listed as "one clock, one sideboard, two mahogany dining tables,
two tea ditto, one pair card tables, one secretary, two bureaus, one
writing desk, one dozen rush bottom chairs, one ditto with settee to
match, one sofa, two looking glasses, carpets, brass andirons, two
fenders, shovel, tongs, window curtains, three bedsteads and beds,
chair, wash stand, chest, house linen, one set gilt tea china, four
waiters, one half dozen silver teaspoons, one set plated castors, sundry
glass and earthen ware, kitchen furniture, etc."[121]

Six years later this debt was not cleared up and John Gird secured the
debt with his house and lot. Thus ended Gird's tenure and the property
passed on through other hands for twenty-four years to the Miller
family; thence to Isaac Rudd, until the Moore family purchased the house
about 1892.



Chapter 10

Historic Christ Church

Earliest parish records shed little light upon the spiritual life of the
infant settlement of Alexandria. First mention of services held in the
town turns up in the old Truro Parish vestry book, under date of June 4,
1753, when it was "ordered that the Rev. Mr. Charles Green do preach
every third Sunday."[122] Later entries in 1754 and 1756 respectively
for "building the desk at Alexandria"[123] and "to have seats made for
the Church at Alexandria"[124] are puzzling since no mention occurs for
any levies or appropriations for building or repairing. The inference
would seem that some individual had provided a meeting place for
services, though local tradition is firmly entrenched that a Chapel of
Ease stood on Pitt Street near Princess.

Fairfax Parish emerged in 1765 as a daughter of the mother parish of
Truro. Whatever previous arrangements for church attendance were
provided for in Alexandria, an increasing population now demanded a
more appropriate and commodious place of worship. James Wren,
gentleman, designed the church and a contract to build it was originally
let to one James Parsons in 1767 for the sum of £600. For some reason,
Parsons failed to fulfill his contract and in 1772 the vestry
appropriated an additional £220 and gave Colonel John Carlyle the task
of finishing the building.

Wren proved himself an able architect and Carlyle a great builder. No
cathedral in Europe conveys greater serenity than this little church.
Cherished by Alexandrians for one hundred and seventy-seven years, the
ancient interior expresses all the spiritual and sacred qualities of
man. The reredos is centered upon a Palladian window, included as an
element of the design. The window is flanked by the tablets for which
James Wren was paid eight pounds "to write" the Lord's Prayer, the
Creed, and the Golden Rule. Fluted pilasters frame the windows and the
tablets. A hexagonal wine-glass pulpit rising on its slender stem is
surmounted by a hexagonal canopy. The pews, originally square, were
divided in 1817. The balcony was added much later, but is in perfect
harmony with the earlier woodwork. The brick tower and interesting
"pepper pot" steeple were built in 1818.

In an old deed at Fairfax Court House, dated 1774, between John
Alexander of Stafford County, gentleman, of the one part, and Charles
Broadwater and Henry Gunnell, church wardens, of the other part,
Alexander, for and in consideration of the sum of one penny, current
money, gave to the parish:

   All that piece or parcell of Land situate lying and Being near the
   Town of Alexandria in the parish of Fairfax aforesaid where the new
   Church built by James Parsons stands, containing one Acre, Beginning
   at a locust post in a north west Corner from the northwest corner of
   the Church standing on the said Land and at the Distance of Twenty
   three and one half feet from the said Corner thence South Seventy
   eight Degrees East and parallel to the north wall of the Church,
   Twelve poles and Sixteen and a Quarter links, thence South 19 deg. W.
   12 poles and 16 and 1/4 links, thence N. 75 deg. W. 12 poles and 16
   and 1/4 links, thence N. 12 deg. E. 12 poles and 16 and 1/4 links to
   the Beginning to have and to hold the aforesaid piece or parcell of
   Land with all and Singular its Appurtenances unto them the said
   Charles Broadwater and Henry Gunnell and their successors Church
   Wardens of the said Parish of Fairfax forever, to and for the use and
   Benefit of the said Parish, and the said John Alexander for himself
   his Heirs Executors and Administrators the aforesaid piece or parcell
   of Land against the right, Title interest, claim and Demand of him
   the said John Alexander and his Heirs, and of any person claiming or
   to claim by from or under him the said John Alexander or his Heirs,
   to them the said Charles Broadwater and Henry Gunnell and their
   Successors Church wardens of the said parish of Fairfax, to and for
   the use of the said Parish of Fairfax, will warrent and for ever
   Defend by these Presents.

   In Testimony whereof he the said John Alexander hath hereunto set his
   hand and affixed his Seal the Day and year aforesaid.

        John Alexander [Seal]

   Signed, Sealed and Delivered in presence of I. Kirk, David Henley,
   Rd. Harrison, Rob. H. Harrison.

   Received this 10 day of October 1774 of the within named Charles
   Broadwater and Henry Gunnell Church Wardens of Fairfax parish the
   Consideration Money in the within Deed.

        John Alexander

   Witness I. Kirk, David Henley, Rd. Harrison, Rob. H. Harrison.

   At a Court held for the County of Fairfax 20th March 1775 This deed
   and Receipt was proved by the oath of David Henley, James Kirk and
   Robert Hanson Harrison to be the Act and Deed of John Alexander and
   ordered to be recorded.

        Test P. WAGONER, Cl. Ct.

[Illustration: Christ Church where both Washington and Lee worshipped]

As early as 1762, General Washington was chosen vestryman for Truro
Parish and at the first election held in March 1765, for the newly
created Fairfax Parish (including Alexandria) he was elected to that
office. This development stemmed from the terms of an act of the
Virginia Assembly which set the boundaries in such a way that Mount
Vernon lay within the new parish. As repealed and revised four months
later, legislation returned Mount Vernon to Truro. Technically, then,
Washington was vestryman-elect in the new parish for less than three
months, yet his association with the Alexandria church was always close.
Even before the new church (later to be known as Christ) was finished
and delivered to the vestry, he had purchased pew No. 15, for which he
paid £36 10_s._, thought to be the highest price paid for any pew.

Pohick Church in Truro Parish was completed about the same time as
Christ Church in Alexandria. It was Washington's home church until after
the Revolution, when it was practically abandoned by the Episcopal
congregation. The General's habitual attendance at Christ Church
apparently dates from about April 1785, when he bound himself to pay an
annual pew rent of "five pounds, Virginia money."[125]

An anecdote told in Alexandria of how a group of girls tried to save the
silver marker from the Washington pew during the War Between the States
is worth repeating. The town was under Union jurisdiction. A group of
half-grown girls of whom the leaders were Molly Gregory (Mrs. Robert
Powell) and Connie [Constance] Lee (Mrs. George E. Peterkin, wife of
Bishop Peterkin) banded together to help the Confederate cause in any
way they could. One of their ideas was to go to Christ Church and remove
the silver plate marking Washington's pew and take it home for
safekeeping. No one was taken into their confidence. In very short order
the Yankee provost marshal arrived at Cassius Lee's house and demanded
the return the plate. Of course, Lee knew nothing whatever of the
removal, but he summoned his children, lined them up, and demanded if
any of them had any knowledge of the plate. There was silence for some
time. The provost marshal became threatening before admission was made
that the removal of the plate was not a theft, but had been taken for
safekeeping. The plate was returned to the church. The next day it
disappeared and nothing has ever been known of it since.

[Illustration: The Holy Interior of the old church]

Interesting and distinguished men have occupied the pulpit of Christ
Church, beginning with the Reverend Townsend Dade, rector (1765 to
1778); and including such men as David Griffith (1780-1789), Bryan
Fairfax (1790-1792), and Thomas Davis (1792-1802). The last named
officiated at General Washington's funeral. But in the second year of
Davis' ministry, President Washington had received the following

        Alexandria. 22^d Feb^y 1793


   The Episcopal Congregation of this Town and Neighborhood, being
   extremely pleased with the induction of that Respectable Character
   and accomplished Preacher, Mr. Davis, wish to compleat their
   satisfaction by the acquisition of an Organ.

   As no one can be more desirous of obtaining it than myself, I have
   been requested to undertake the Collection of Subscriptions; and I
   have been instructed to leave a place at the head of my Paper for a
   Name which has always been foremost in every undertaking both of
   private and public munificence.

   I think it necessary to mention my being only an Agent in this
   business, that, should there be any impropriety in the present
   application, no more than a due share of it may be imparted to me. I
   may have been mislead by the Opinions of others, and seduced by my
   own Eagerness to accomplish a favorite purpose, but I beg of you Sir,
   to be persuaded that no Earthly consideration should tempt me to
   violate, wittingly, those Sentiments of perfect respect with which I

               Your most obliged & obedient Servant
                                     Sm Hansen of Sam^l

        Docket: From
            Col^o Sam^l Hanson
            22^d Feb. 1793[126]

The letter was long in passage, but it elicited the desired result the
following April. The President entirely approved this measure and
affixed his name to the paper, regretful at the same time that public
subscriptions of all sorts limited the size of his contribution.

This instrument, now preserved in the Smithsonian Institution, has had
an engaging history. Built in England in 1700, it was first used in the
colonial church at Port Royal and from thence was acquired for
Alexandria. After considerable service at Christ Church, it went to the
Episcopal church at Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and about the middle
of the nineteenth century passed to St. Thomas Episcopal Church at
Hancock, Maryland. It was presented to the Smithsonian by the vestry of
the latter church in 1907.

Christ Church is proud of its association with the Reverend William
Meade, afterward the Virginia bishop of beloved memory. His pastorate
was short, from 1811 to 1813, but his fame as preacher, gentleman, and
scholar forecast his later attainments. The Reverend Charles B. Danna
was another nineteenth century divine who faithfully served the
congregation. Dr. Danna occupied the pulpit from 1834 to 1860, when he
left to take a church at Port Gibson in Mississippi. He later removed to
Natchez, Mississippi, in 1866 to be rector of Trinity Church. He was a
trusted friend of Mrs. George Washington Parke Custis and Mrs. Robert E.
Lee, and he baptized the children at Arlington House. It was during his
pastorate that Robert E. Lee was confirmed on July 17, 1853, by Bishop
Johns. When word was received in Alexandria of Dr. Danna's death, in
1873, Christ Church was draped in mourning.

There is an odd and sad sequel to Dr. Danna's pastorate in Natchez. Some
years ago there occurred an astounding and mysterious death in Natchez,
Mississippi. A very prominent woman whose father had represented his
country at a foreign court was found in her own home brutally murdered.
Suspicion at once fell upon her nearest neighbors, a man and a woman,
eccentric characters, who shared the same house. They were arrested and
tried for murder. Their house immediately attained notoriety as "Goat
Castle" and was so known over the United States from the manner in which
the inmates lived. The strange fashion in which dogs, goats, chickens,
or any animal on the place was made welcome in the drawing room was very
queer and gave cause for the name.

[Illustration: The open door marks Robert E. Lee's pew. Here he came for
spiritual guidance]

The murdered woman had objected to the presence of her neighbors' pets
on her place, especially the goats, which were prying and curious, as
well as other tame animals which belonged by right in the barnyard, but
preferred the drawing room. Ill feeling sprang up, quarrels, lawsuits,
all the dreadful sequel of a neighbors' feud. At the trial
circumstantial evidence piled up and up. It was not enough for
conviction. The inmates of "Goat Castle" were acquitted. Even so, black
distrust was their portion from many of their fellow townsmen.

Some people from Alexandria were making the Natchez pilgrimage and came
unwarned upon "Goat Castle." Lovely strains of music could be heard,
coming from an old piano, sometimes improvised, sometimes a bit of Bach,
Mozart, Chopin, played with much feeling. As the strangers approached
the house they were shocked at the dilapidation--sash missing in the
windows, doors off hinges, boards decayed and missing from the house and
porch. Embarrassed, they hesitated to enter when to the door came a man,
the musician. Speaking in a quiet voice, he asked them in. Upon the
piano a large hen was standing, perfectly at ease. The deterioration of
the interior was more pronounced than that of the outside--springs
bursting through upholstery, beds unmade and without linen, neither
carpets upon the floors nor curtains at the windows. Animals wandered in
and out at will. Yet upon the walls hung some portraits and the
furniture had been good. There were many books. The man was obviously
cultivated in his speech and manner. The host collected the stipend for
entering the place and proceeded to show the tourists the house, which
was interesting, and his inventions, which were not; a collection of
senseless, pitiful, useless things.

Upstairs, and downstairs, into this room and that they were taken to be
shown an "invention." Each room was more squalid than the last. Finally
the end in sight, escape near at hand, the gentleman said, "I'll show
you something," and took the Alexandrians into a room opening off the
hall. There was a large mahogany bookcase, sealed by a court order,
which the host opened at will, carefully replacing what he took out
after it had been examined. One of the strangers, flipping the pages of
an old book, saw the signature of Robert E. Lee, Alexandria, Virginia.
Startled, she asked where the book had come from. "It was my father's,"
was the simple reply. "That is my father," pointing to an old oil
portrait of a clergyman. "He lived in Alexandria. He was rector of
Christ Church."

Not long after this a Negro, arrested in the West, but formerly employed
in Natchez, was purported to have confessed to the murder for which
these people had been tried and acquitted.



Chapter 11

The Presbyterian Meetinghouse

[In 1928 the church was restored as a shrine and the cemetery put in
order by a group of persons, many of whom were descendants of the
original society members. In 1940 the Alexandria Association replaced
the missing pulpit with one, which while not a replica, conveys the
spirit if not the pattern of that destroyed. Ecclesiastical settlement
has vested the property in the name of the Second Presbyterian Church of

Before this book goes to press the Old Presbyterian Meetinghouse will
have opened its doors again for regular services.]

One does not associate religious intolerance with America; nevertheless,
the Act of Toleration which permitted religious freedom of worship was
not signed until 1760. French Presbyterians were seeking refuge in the
New World as early as 1562. The Church of England was the official form
of worship in Virginia from 1607 until after the Revolution. Prior to
1760 worship not of the Established Church was done secretly and behind
closed doors, generally in the fastness of a citizen's private home or
place of business, though from time to time one finds permission given
to preach. For example, in 1699, Francis Makemie was granted permission
from the colonial authorities to preach Presbyterianism at Pocomoke and
Onancock on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Francis Doughton preached in
Virginia as early as 1650-59, and is considered the father of British
Presbyterianism in the middle colonies, having begun his work as early
as 1643.

Here in the little town of Alexandria, the population was largely
composed of Scottish agents, shipping merchants, and sea captains,
sincere followers of Dr. John Knox. Outwardly they conformed to the
Episcopal Church, punctually attending services, by compulsion or
otherwise. At the same time they adhered to the Scottish faith they had
brought with them, meeting where and when it was expedient, until the
day came when unmolested they were free to emerge from secret places and
publicly worship as they pleased. That they practiced the liberty of
conscience, which they won the hard way, is proclaimed in an
announcement carried in _The Columbian Mirror and Alexandria Gazette_ of
November 28, 1793: "At 12 o'clock on Friday the 30th instant a charity
Sermon will be preached in the Presbyterian Church, by the Rev. James
Muir, for the benefit of the Poor without respect to country or sect."

Major John Carlyle, after completing Christ Church in 1772 for his
Church of England friends, undertook the direction of the Presbyterian
meetinghouse, so-called, doubtless, to distinguish it from the Church of
England. According to a report written in 1794 by the pastor, Dr. James
Muir, "No church was yet built ... to accomodate them in worship
[_i.e._, in 1772]. It was determined to build one; Mr. Richard Arrell
and his wife, Eleanor, presented the Society with a lot of ground ...
the members of the Society came forward with generous subscriptions and
loans; some assistance was afforded by their brethren of other
denominations; they were thus enabled to erect and cover in a brick
building sixty feet long and fifty feet broad."[127] This was partially
completed by 1774. Not until after the Revolution was the church
plastered and finished off.

The first minister of the congregation, the Rev. William Thom, was
ordained in Pennsylvania in 1772 and called to Alexandria. But in one
year the "Little Minister" was dead of a pestilential fever. Further
steps to improve the House and organize the Society were interrupted,
according to Dr. Muir's report, by the war which commenced between Great
Britain and the colonies.

In 1780 the Rev. Isaac Stockton Keith was invited to remain with the
Society during the winter. He remained nine years. The "Contract for the
erection of the manse was let in July, 1787, to Mr. Robert
Brockett."[128] In March 1789, Dr. Muir was called to the pastorate and
remained until his death, serving for thirty-one years. Dr. Muir was a
trustee of the Alexandria academy. As president of the board of
trustees, he rendered to Washington satisfactory accounting on how his
donations were being applied and what good was being accomplished, after
a rather sharp letter of inquiry. As chaplain of the Masonic lodge, he
assisted Dr. Dick with the Masonic ceremonies at the funeral of George
Washington on December 18, 1799. Ten days later the _Gazette_ carried
the following notice: "The walking being bad to the Episcopal Church the
funeral service for George Washington will be preached at the
Presbyterian Meeting House tomorrow at 11 o'clock." This was a memorial
service, one of a countless number held throughout the length and
breadth of the land. The Rev. James Muir's "Funeral Sermon on the Death
of George Washington" was widely circulated in its day by means of a
printed broadside.

When Dr. Muir died on August 8, 1820, he was held in such great
affection and respect that it was decided to bury him under the pulpit
and to erect a suitable monument to his memory. The committee appointed
for this purpose was working at least five years and submitted reports
again and again on the cost of altering the pulpit for the memorial. The
last mention of the subject in the Committee Book reads: "Mr. Mark
reports that the bannisters of the Cupola have been taken away as
ordered at last meeting ... Rev'd E. Harrison, Mr. Jno. Adam & Mr. Jos.
B. Ladd are appointed a Committee to make all necessary arrangements for
procuring and erecting a suitable monument to the memory of the late Dr.

An old table gravestone with its inscribed eulogy formerly marked the
spot where Dr. Muir was buried under the pulpit. It was removed to the
burying ground to the lot beside the tombs of his wife and children
after the restoration of the church building following the fire of 1835.
A mural tablet under the gallery on the north wall now bears eloquent
testimony to his beloved memory.

Dr. Muir's widow was allowed to continue on in the manse where she
conducted a school for several years. Near the end of her life she moved
from the manse with expressions of gratitude, and her daughters took up
and continued the school for some years after her death. These ladies
might have stepped out of the pages of Barrie's _Quality Street_ so
gentle and so inadequately equipped were they to battle with cold
dollars and cents and naughty children. Eleven years after the good
doctor's death, this announcement in the _Gazette_ shows Dr. Harrison
and Mr. Hallowell giving a helping hand:

   Female Board School (The Misses Muir)

   Tendering to the public their grateful acknowledgements for the
   liberal patronage hitherto received, take this method of giving
   notice that their school will re-commence, on Monday next the 5th of
   September. The course of instruction will be as heretofore, and very
   similar to that of all other respectable Female Seminaries in the

   The higher classes besides being examined twice a week by the Rev.
   Mr. Harrison, will have also the privileges of attending the lectures
   of Mr. Hallowell on Astronomy and Chemistry. And in addition to all
   the ordinary branches of a solid education, they are prepared to
   teach and do teach, the more ornamental ones of Music, Drawing,
   Painting, and French.

   Terms of boarding and tuition, as usual, moderate.[130]

On a hot Sunday afternoon in July 1835, during an electrical storm, the
meetinghouse was struck by lightning. On that day the pastor, Dr.
Harrison, had been invited to Georgetown to preach, and the usual Sunday
afternoon services were postponed. Imagine his horror upon returning to
discover the "severe and Awful calamity which had befallen the church
and congregation." In the session book of the meetinghouse, we find this
vivid description:

   It has pleased God in his inscrutably mysterious yet wise and
   adorable providence to permit that on this day consecrated to holy
   rest, and to public services of devout worship in his earthly
   sanctuary, their venerable Church Edifice--for so many years, the
   place of hallowed devotion for their fathers and themselves, should
   be totally consumed by the lightening of Heaven.

   This melancholly event took place about a quarter before three
   o'clock in the afternoon--a few minutes previously to the time
   ordinarily set apart for the ringing of the bell for the exercises of
   Public Worship. It was just at the close of a refreshing shower of
   rain, attended as is usual at this season of the year, with peals of
   thunder and flashes of vivid lightening. The Electric fluid seems to
   have been attracted by the spire of the Steeple, which--running up
   from the centre of a four-sided roof rising in the form of a
   pyramid--was rapidly conducted by means of a large quantity of iron
   used for the security of the timbers, to the shingles and other
   combustible materials of three of the corners of the building, almost
   directly under the eave. There entirely inaccesible for some minutes
   to any efforts which could be made use of for the purpose of
   quenching it, and continually fed by the qualities of the matter with
   which its work of desolation, with a rapidity which was truly awful
   and appalling. In a space of time too brief almost to be deemed
   credible by such as were not witnesses of the sublime and fearful
   spectacle, the entire roof exhibited to the immense multitude
   gathered around to mingle their sympathies and tender their
   assistance, nothing but one mighty map of living fire--curling in
   rapid and terrific volumes around the still suspended tho tottering
   steeple; and smiling at every effort towards extinction, save that of
   Him--that Dread and Aweful Being, by whom the flame had been
   enkindled. A period of two hours had not elapsed from the
   commencement of the conflagration, before the whole edifice except
   the walls, was involved in one shapeless mass of smoking ruin,
   presenting a scene, as desolating and repulsive to the common
   citizen, as it was tearful and heart-rending to the church and
   congregation. Our holy and beautiful house where our fathers praised
   the Lord--to use the language of the Prophet,--was thus burned up
   with fire; and all our pleasant things laid waste.

   With the exception of the lamps, a venerable clock in front of the
   Gallery opposite, the pulpit, the books and cushions, a part of the
   windows, the Stoves, a large proportion of the pipes of a Splendid
   Organ which was split open with an axe for that purpose, and some of
   the plank broken from the pews--all was destroyed; and but for the
   real and practical sympathy of many of our esteemed citizens in
   braving dangers of no common magnitude, a like destruction had been
   the fate of these also.

   The house had been standing for more than 63 years--the steeple and
   galleries had been built somewhat later--and except the Episcopal
   church on Washington Street, generally known by the name of "Christ's
   Church"--was the oldest of all the ten places of religious worship in
   town. For many years its bell was the only Church-going signal within
   the limits of the corporation; and owing to this circumstance,
   connected with its peculiarly clear and inviting tones, the
   destruction of it--which was caused by its fall from so lofty an
   eminence--seemed the occasion of regrets to the public at large, more
   immediately expressed than for the edifice itself. To the
   congregation, no loss besides the house, was more deeply deplored
   than that of the large and richly toned Organ. Not only because of
   its superior worth as an Instrument of Music, the difficulty of
   replacing it by another, and the sacred uses to which it was applied,
   but equally because it had been presented by a few venerated and much
   esteemed individuals, most of whom are now sleeping in the dust.

   For several years, there had been an Insurance effected on the
   building to the amount of five thousand dollars--two thousand five
   hundred on each of the Offices in town. But it so happened in
   providence, that one of these Policies, which had expired about four
   or five months previous, had never been renewed;--so that with the
   exception of twenty-five hundred dollars, the loss to the
   congregation was total.

   Yet there was one circumstance which ought to be recorded with
   emotions of adoring gratitude. The calamity took place at a time when
   on ordinary occasions, some individuals would have been in the
   house--as it was so near the hour of the afternoon's service,--and
   had that been the case now, there is much reason to fear, that it
   would have been attended, if not with loss of life, at any rate with
   serious injury to not a few. But it had been so ordered by Infinite
   Wisdom no doubt, that, for the first Sabbath in more than two years,
   the Church was closed during the whole of that day--the Pastor having
   been providentially called away to supply the pulpit of a sick
   brother in the neighboring city of Georgetown. So that no individual
   was in the house, and no serious injury occurred to any individual
   during the progress of the fire--and thus, while there is much to
   produce sadness and to call for deep humiliation before God, the
   Session would feel, that there is still something to awaken emotions
   of gratitude and praise; and that however severely the loss may be
   felt, yet it has not been unattended with significant expressions of
   kindness and regard.

[Illustration: The old Presbyterian Meetinghouse showing the new tower]

Dr. Harrison's lamentations, while justified, were not for complete
demolition. In the minutes of the trustees, the fact is stated that the
roof and cupola burned and fell in, destroying much of the interior
woodwork, but not all. The walls and part of the galleries remained
intact, Dr. Muir's tablet was uninjured, many windows were not broken,
and the organ, at first thought destroyed, was very little injured; it
remains in use to this day, and likewise the old clock. However, the
damage was terrific and there was only a nominal insurance to cover the

Part of the congregation wished a new building site and it was given
some thought, but the "siller" [silver] was found to be inadequate for
the purpose. The amount in the treasury did cover the cost of
restoration, and on April 5, 1836, it was "Resolved, That the
congregation of the Church be called to meet at the Lecture room on
Friday evening next at 1/2 past 7 o'clock, to decide permanently on the
location of the Church."[131] In November the committee minutes recorded
that "The location of the Church was permanently fixed on the old
site,"[132] and on February 7, 1837, "Mr. Smith, from the committee
appointed to consult on the propriety of lowering the gallery, reported
that it was thought to be inexpedient to do so."[133] The final notation
on the new church read: "It was, on Motion Resolved that our New house
of worship, be solemnly Dedicated to the Worship of Almighty God on the
last Sabbath of July next--it being on that day two years before, that
our former house of worship was consumed by fire...."[134]

It is distressing to think of the eighteenth century interior destroyed
on that hot afternoon of July 1835, but we must be grateful for what the
rebuilders of 1837 preserved as an outstanding example of Georgian
architecture. In 1843 the tower was added: it was in the approximate
location that the pulpit had stood for many years. In 1853 the front
vestibule was constructed.

Dr. Harrison was a delicate man and for a long time his health was far
from good. In 1848 he was so wretched that it was recommended he go
south for his health. The firm of Lambert & McKenzie offered Dr.
Harrison a free passage to and from the Barbados on the barque
_Archibald Gracie_. The minutes of the committee record the motion of
appreciation to the owners.

Mr. Robert Bell of the old printing firm of that name made a gift of
letter paper to Dr. Harrison every Christmas for many years. In his
latter years the Doctor in thanking Mr. Bell always said that he never
expected to see another Christmas. He saw at least three after the first
of these communications, for that many letters exist containing the same
mournful allusion.

In 1862 the Civil War disrupted the Church. Dr. Elias Harrison died in
1863 after forty-three years of ministering to his congregation and with
his death the Church ceased to function and its congregation scattered.
During the Battle of Bull Run, it was used as a hospital for wounded
soldiers, and from time to time it was used by other faiths, including a
Negro Baptist congregation. Neglected, uncared for, the prey of thieves
and vandals, the doors were finally closed.

The cemetery lies between the Church and the manse. Here John Carlyle
sleeps. Cofounder and trustee of Alexandria in 1748; son-in-law to
Colonel William Fairfax; brother-in-law to Lawrence Washington;
commissary of the Virginia forces under Braddock in 1755; collector of
customs on the South Potomac, and major in the Revolution; a Scottish
gentleman, heir to a title, he cast his fate with the colonies. Nearby
lies the tomb of William Hunter, founder of St. Andrew's Society, and
that beloved friend and physician of General Washington, Dr. James
Craik. Ramsay, McKenzie, Muir, Vowell, Harper, Hepburn and Balfour are
among the names found inscribed upon the old stones. Their dust makes of
this soil a part of Old Scotland.



Chapter 12

Presenting The Sun Fire Company

In the eighteenth century calamities visited Alexandria, and of these
nothing was more feared than fire. To prevent and control such
catastrophes the gentlemen of the town formed themselves into several
companies of fire fighters. How and with what means the raging
holocausts were controlled is revealed in an old, mutilated,
leather-bound minute book of the Sun Fire Company.[135] The first entry
in this treasure is part of the damaged record for the March meeting in
1775. The next page is numbered 9 and contains the minutes for the April
meeting. This is evidence that the Company was formed in 1774 between
August and December.

At this March 1775 meeting it was agreed to limit the number of the
Company to forty-five persons. The clerk for this meeting was John
Dalton; members served as clerks in rotation. Absent members were fined
one shilling three pence. Members were to be provided with two buckets,
a brown linen or oznaburg bag containing at least four yards of
material, and a wicker basket as soon as possible after admittance.
These were to be hung up in good order and always in place. There was a
forfeiture of money for any neglect. The Company took some several
months to acquire proper ladders and hooks. In April the "propriety of
purchasing an Engine" was discussed and at the June meeting it was
agreed to postpone the matter. Three ladders were then finished but most
of the buckets were at the painters being marked with owners' names and
numbers. By August the ladders had been completed by Thomas Flemming,
and John Dalton was ordered to procure locks with proper staples for
securing the ladders under the "piazza of the Court House."

As the Revolutionary War got under way many of the members were excused,
"being frequently abroad on the Servis of Their Country." Among these
were Captain Valentine Peirs, Captain John Allison, Colonel John
Fitzgerald and J. Windsor Brown.

Unfortunately the clerks took for granted that everybody knew when there
had been a fire and rarely are these important events mentioned in the
minutes. In January 1777, "William Wilson lost a bucket at the late
fire" and he was authorized to purchase another at the Company's
expense; Robert Adam, who was clerk, forgot to "warn the Company and was
fined Ten Shillings"; several members neglected to put up lights when
the late fire happened at Zael Cooper's and the fine was two shillings.
The next clerk was "desired to Enquire of the several members if they
had candles at their windows and to collect Fines from such of them as
had not."

The light begins to break--at the first hint of fire the Company member
must, at the fastest possible speed, put lighted candles in the front
windows of his dwelling. This was Alexandria's first alarm system! The
member then dashed for four yards of material in an oznaburg bag, two
leather fire buckets (they each weighed as much as a saddle) and a
wicker basket and, without stopping, he raced to the fire, where he
either pumped water, formed spectators in ranks for passing buckets,
removed goods from burning houses in his bag or basket, climbed ladders
or pulled down adjoining houses when necessary; and last but not least
watched to "prevent evil minded persons from plundering sufferers." The
only tranquil occupation was that of the "sentinels" who kept watch over
goods removed from the conflagration wherever such goods were deposited.

What a spectacular sight a fire in Alexandria presented when one
remembers the elegant dress of the day; short clothes, elaborate jackets
or vests, ruffled linen, full skirted coats, perukes, queues braided and
beribboned, powdered heads in three-cornered hats, silken and white
hose, buckled shoes; and that fires generally occurred in winter upon
the coldest days and in the worst weather, often at night, and that
these firemen were the élite of the town, the serious, responsible
merchants, doctors, masters, ship captains and owners.

There was some reward now and then for their efforts. At the April
meeting in 1777, the "Succeeding Clerk is desired to warn the Company to
meet next month at the _Ball Room_ and to Desire the Treasurer to
purchase Ten Gallons of Spirits, and one Loaf of Sugar Candles etc. The
Clerk to have the Ball Room cleaned and put in order." Alas, the members
were either not warned or invited for only six showed up. The next month
was worse, again no warning and only four came. The clerk was ordered to
warn again and provide what spirit, sugar and candles may be necessary
for the next meeting and "that the same be held in the Town House." The
clerk was reimbursed "one pound Two Shillings for white washing and
cleaning the Ball Room."

On February 22, 1779, a resolution was passed to fine the clerk refusing
or neglecting his duty forty-two shillings, and absent members three
shillings. There was a fine called the "Moreover Fine," which was
increased from five shillings to nine shillings, and the Company voted
to dispose of any sum not exceeding £5 "when less than 2/3 of the
members are met." Besides funds in cash, the Company had 1,000 pounds of
tobacco on hand. The following July the Company ordered the tobacco

On Monday, October 27, 1783, nine years after the founding of the
Company, the succeeding clerk is ordered to give notice that at the next
meeting a proposal will be made to dispose of the money in stock in the
purchase of an engine. Two months later, undaunted by the recent
unpleasantness, the treasurer was requested to "Import from London on
account of this Company a fire engine value from seventy to eighty
pounds sterling." It took two years for the engine to arrive.
Preparatory to its reception, officers were appointed for its direction.
Nine stalwart members were chosen, and they were ordered to serve nine
months. Six shillings each was collected from the members to help make
up the deficiency, and a committee was appointed to wait upon the county
court with a petition requesting ground sufficient for building an
enginehouse upon the courthouse lot. This was granted and the
enginehouse was built on Fairfax Street "adjoining the school House."
The members were called on for a dollar each for this purpose and it was
later necessary to borrow another dollar. Two keys were ordered labeled
"Sun Fire Company."

The April minutes in 1786 contain the invoice for the engine:

  To a Fire Engine Imported from London with 2 dozen buckets
     Amt p. invoice                                             £ 72.14
  Commission on shipping D^o--5%                                   3.12. 8
  Insurance on £76 @ 2-1/2pc                                       1.18
  Freight from London                                              6. 6
                                                                £ 84.10. 8
  Exchange 40 pc^1                                                33.16. 2
                                                                 118. 6.10
  Freight from Baltimore                                           1. 4

It was incorporated into the articles that the engine was to be worked
for two hours every Monday of the meeting, and anyone neglecting to
attend and work the engine was penalized nine pence. Moreover William
Herbert, Dennis Ramsay and Isaac Roberdeau were charged with getting the
engine to fires.

About this time (1788) the Virginia Assembly passed an act authorizing
the different towns in the state to elect fire companies.

In May 1789, Dr. William Brown was elected treasurer to succeed William

The first mention by the Sun of other fire companies in Alexandria is in
the minutes of February 28, 1791. In July specific reference is made to
the Friendship Fire Company and the Relief Fire Company.

In May 1793, the Sun Company was dissatisfied with the English engine,
and they began correspondence with a Mr. Mason of Philadelphia with the
intention of selling the old engine and acquiring a new one. Mason
manufactured three engines. They contained 190, 170 and 160 gallons of
water, respectively, which they discharged in one minute and a half and
they were worked by twenty-four, twenty-two and eighteen or twenty men,
respectively, and varied in price accordingly. The Sun Fire Company
purchased the smallest engine for £125. It seems to have arrived in
April 1794. Later the old engine "with the suction pipe" was thoroughly
repaired by Mason and returned to the Sun Fire Company.

By 1796 such confusion reigned at fires that the three companies
associated themselves together to make and sustain certain plans and
rules for the management of fires. It was decided to have three
directors or commanders, one chosen from each company, only one of whom
was to act at a time, who were to have control of the engines, fire
hooks, ladders and to be the judges of the expediency of pulling down
adjacent buildings. In order that these gentlemen be more conspicuous
(distinguished was the word) it was decided to "elevate their voices
above the ordinary clamour on such occasions," each of them in action
was ordered to carry in his hand a "_speaking trumpet, painted white,
and not less than three feet long_." Each company was to keep such an
affair in the enginehouse.

There were then chosen three subordinate directors who had immediate
charge of the engine under the commander, then four persons from each
Company, to be called regulators, who were to "_be diligent in searching
for the most convenient source of water_, in forming lanes for the
supply of the engines, and _preventing the use of dirty puddle water_."
Upon these gentlemen fell the unpleasant task of "noticing remisness in
the members and others and being obliged to give information to their
respective companies whenever such shameful instances occured to their
observation." Trustees were responsible for the removal of property, and
the entire company was obliged to wear "at times of fire" by way of
distinction, black caps with white fronts with letters thereon
designating their company. Moreover these companies pledged themselves
to "respect" the other companies when their property was in danger from
fire, "in preference to persons who are members of neither."

Doctor Dick stated that he lost his fire bucket at the fire at William
Herbert's house, then occupied by Edmund Edmunds, and the treasurer
reimbursed the good Doctor eighteen shillings on October 24, 1796.

In July 1797, Dennis Ramsay was ordered to lower and enlarge the engine
house to receive the old engine; the floor had given way in 1793. He
presented his bills the following February for a total of £43 9_s._

In 1799 it was decided to hold meetings at the courthouse, from May to
October at half after seven o'clock, and from November to April at six

One of the last mentions of the engines was in 1800. The engines were
both worked at the January meeting, found to be in good order, except
that the old one leaked a little.

Governed by a set of "articles" framed by themselves, to which they
faithfully adhered, these firemen fined themselves and paid their fines,
cheerfully or otherwise (they were mostly Scotsmen) when neglectful of
their duty. A roster was kept each year, month by month, marking the
members present or absent. The A's predominate. It was from these fines,
plus others for neglect of duty that the Company's funds were formed.
Many of these rosters have been destroyed, but enough remain to give an
idea of the citizens who were members of the Sun Fire Company and lived
near each other within a certain radius of the water front.

       *       *       *       *       *

List of members of the Sun Fire Company of Alexandria for January
1777--being the first intact roster in the minutes:

     William Ramsay
     John Dalton
     Robert H. Harrison
     James Hendricks
     Thomas Fleming
     Richard Conway
     William Hartshorne
     James Kirk
     Patrick Murray
     Mathew Campbell
     James Buchannan
     William Hunter
     David Jackson (Doctor)
     John Mills
     John Carlyle
     John Harper (Capt.)
     George Gilpin
     Robert Mease McCrea
     William Rumney
     Richard Harrison
     William Wilson
     Thomas Kirkpatrick
     Andrew Steward
     James Stewart
     Josiah Watson
     William Herbert
     Robert Mease
     John Finley
     William Brown (Dr.)
     William Hepburn
     Cyrus Capper
     Robert Allison
     James Muir
     Robert Adam
     George Hunter
     Edward Owens

     _Added 1778_

     Dennis Ramsay (Col.)
     John Fitzgerald (Col.)
     David Arrell
     Valentine Piers

     _Added 1780_

     James Adam
     William Hunter, Jr.
     Colin MacIver
     David Steward (Doctor)
     Peter Dow
     Daniel Roberdeau (Gen.)

     _Added 1783_ [_Pages from 48 to 72 missing_]

     William Bird
     R. Hooe (Col. Robert T. Hooe)
     William Lyles (Col. Committee of Safety)
     Samuel Montgomery Brown
     Joseph White Harrison
     Jesse Taylor
     Charles Simms
     Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick

     _Added 1784_

     John Sutton
     Henry Lyles
     John Hendricks (Col.)
     George Richards
     John Oliphant
     Michael Ryan (Col.)
     John Allison
     John Hawkins
     Daniel McPherso

    _Added 1785_

     Thomas Williams
     Jonathan Swift
     Randle Mitchel
     William Baker (Doctor)
     William Lowry
     Michael Madden
     William Ramsay (Doctor)
     Edward Harper
     Jonah Thompson

     _Added 1786_

     James Woodward (Capt.)
     W.H. Vowel
     Philip Marsteller
     Joseph Greenway
     William H. Powell
     Cleon Moore
     John Rumney
     John Potts
     Robert Donaldson

     _Added 1787_

     Baldwin Dade
     Francis Peyton
     John Long
     John Love
     George Deneale

     _Added 1789_

     Joseph M. Perrin
     Richard Harrison
     John Gill
     John Forster

     _Added 1790_

     Jonathan Mandeville
     John Carson Seton
     Bernard Ghequiere
     James Lawrason
     Gustavus Brown Campbell (Doc.)
     Joseph Riddle

     _Added 1793-4-6_

     James Douglas
     John D. Orr (Doc.)
     Stephen Cook (Doc.)
     Robert Young
     Henry Rose (Doc.)
     Leven Powell, Jr.
     James McRea
     Augustine J. Smith (Doc.)
     Jesse Wherry
     Robert Hamilton
     John Dunlap
     Charles R. Scott
     Abraham Faw

     _Added 1798_

     William S. Thompson
     Joseph Saul
     James Russell
     William Hodgson
     Nicholas Voss
     Amos Allison, Jr.
     Charles I. Stur
     John T. Ricketts
     Cuthbert Powell
     John Ramsay
     William Byrd Page
     Joseph Mandeville
     Guy Atkinson
     Jacob Hoofman
     Antony Vanhavre
     Peter Wise, Jr. (Doctor)
     Thomas Magruder
     James Bacon
     John Watts
     Alexander Kerr
     Walter Jones
     Thomas Swann

     _Added 1799_

     William Groverman
     John Dunlap

     _Added 1800_

     Michael Flannery

(Note: _Not all members at the same time._)

By the turn of the century, the city of Alexandria boasted three fire
companies whose membership rosters included the most responsible
citizens. The year 1774, marking the formation of the Sun Fire Company,
also saw the organization of the better-known Friendship Fire Company,
claiming Washington as honorary member. The Star Fire Company was
founded in 1799.

Alexandria property owners were quick to realize the advantages of
membership in the Mutual Assurance Society, established in December 1794
and offering protection "Against FIRE on BUILDINGS in the State of
Virginia." At the Alexandria office, leading citizens enthusiastically
subscribed to a plan so soundly conceived and efficiently administered
that the company which pioneered it is in operation to this day. The
archives of the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia constitute a mine
of valuable information for the researcher. From General Washington's
own files derives a broadside listing early subscribers throughout the
state.[136] The Alexandria section includes a number of citizens whom we
know to have been conscious of the ever-present danger of fire:

     _Name_                                   _Insured_    _Value_
     Wm. Hartshorne                                  3      7000
     John Potts                                      4     10000
     Isaac McPherson                                 8     17700
     Rob. Hamilton                                   4      6000
     J. B. Nickols                                   6      2000
     Ch. Simms                                       4      3000
     Lemuel Bent                                     1       400
     Thomas Rogerson                                 2      1000
     R. T. Hooe                                      7     23500
     John Dunlap                                     1      2000
     Wm. Hodgson                                     3     10000
     Rob't Young & Co.                               2      8000
     Tho's Patten & Co.                             12     14600
     John R. Wheaton                                 2      3000
     John Mandeville                                10     15000
     Charles Lee                                     2      6000
     Wm. Herbert                                     6     16000
     John Longden                                    3      3000
     Richard Weightman                               4      4000
     R. Weightman for the heirs of Ray's Estate      3      1000
     Wm. Summers                                     5      8000
     Wm. Brown                                       3      5500
     Henry Stroman                                   1       300
     Diedrich Schekle                                2      3400
     E. Deneale                                      1      2000
     Korn & Wisemiller                               3      6000
     Rob. Lyle                                       4      7300
     Wm. Ramsay                                      2      2000
     Henry McCue                                     3      4000
     Philip Wanton                                   1       800
     Ephriam Evans                                   2      1600
     Dennis Foley                                    2      2000
     Wm. Hartshorne                                  1      4000
     Philip G. Martsteller                           2      3300
     Joseph Thornton                                 1      2000
     Stump, Ricketts & Co.                           3     10000
     Samual Davis                                    1      2000
     Thomas Richards                                 5     15000
     Adam Lynn                                       2      2000
     Mathew Robinson & Co.                           2      3000
     Wm. Hoye                                        1      1600
     John Harper                                     4      8000
     Benjamin Shreve                                 3      9000
     John Dundas                                     2      7000
     Henry Walker                                    1       800
     John & Tho's Vowell                             2      3000
     Ricketts & Newton                               2      5000
     George M. Munn                                  2      5000
     Jonah Thompson                                  5     14000
     Adam S. Swoope                                  1      2000
     Mordecai Miller                                 1      3000
     Wm. Bushby                                      2      4500
     Philip Richard Fendall                          7     10000
     Wm. Hepburn                                     9     13500
     Tho's White                                     2      1600
     Richard Conway                                  8     15000
     Wm. M. McKnight                                 1      3000
     Charles McKnight                                1      2000
     P. Marsteller                                   1      2000
     Adam Faw                                        1      2000
     Wm. Halley                                      1      3000
     Jacob Schuch                                    3      1000
     Peter Wise                                      3      9000
     John Fitzgerald                                 3      6000
     Thomas Forrell                                  1       800
     Wm. Wright                                      3      2700
     James Kennedy                                   2      6000
     Joseph Riddle & Co.                             2      3500
     Guy Atkinson                                    1      3000
     James Patton                                    2      6000
     James Lawrason                                  1      1500
     Shreve & Lawrason                               7     12000
     Geo. Hunter                                     5      2700
     Jacob Cox                                       4      3000
     Geo. Gilpin                                     3      6000
     Isaac McPherson for N. Elliot                   4     12000
     George Slacum                                   3      3000
     Geo. Slacum for Gabriel Slacum                  1      2000
     Samuel Harper                                   1      1200
     Jamieson                                        1       400
     Chapin                                          2      2600



Chapter 13

Captain John Harper and His Houses

The streets of the old port of Alexandria bear royal names. Prince is
one of those streets, shown in the first map of the town as surveyed in
1749. The 100 block is still paved with cobblestones "big as beer kegs"
purportedly laid by Hessian prisoners during the Revolution.

The brick houses which sprang up in early days set the standard for the
town. Many of these houses were erected prior to the Revolution and
immediately after the signing of the peace in 1783. All original lots
had been built upon by 1765 but there remained between these first
houses empty spaces. There was a constant effort to have all vacant
spaces of the lots built upon, so as to present an unbroken front. By
1790 the 100 and 200 blocks of Prince Street stood, very much as they
stand today, the visible expression of the Scottish and English towns
that our ancestors had left behind them.

These houses were nearly all built by Captain John Harper, and when not
built by him, built on his land at a stipulated ground rent. The north
side of the 100 block was part of lot No. 56 and until after 1771 no
houses stood there. The ground rose here in a high bank above the
Potomac, and the original lot contained less ground than a quarter of an
acre. Bought by the Honorable William Fairfax at the first auction in
1749, in 1766 he was released from building thereon, as it was stated
the improvement on his lot No. 57 was adequate for the two lots and
"such was the true intent and meaning of the Trustees."[137]

The Honorable William Fairfax deeded this property to his son, Colonel
George William Fairfax, who sold it on November 25, 1771, to Robert
Adam. Adam in turn sold to John Hough of Loudoun County on December 11
and 12, 1771; and Hough, after disposing of several parts of the Fairfax
lots, sold in June 1772, the remaining parts of lots Nos. 56, 57 and 58,
fronting on Prince Street, to Captain John Harper of Philadelphia.

This is our first introduction to John Harper in the records of
Alexandria. Apparently he must have made this purchase through someone
else, for nearly a year later Washington received the following letter:

                  Philadelphia, May 5th 1773

      Esteemed Friend
         Colonel Washington

   From the little acquaintance I had with thee formerly, I take the
   liberty of recommending the bearer Cap^t John Harper who is in
   partnership with William Hartshorne--John Harper comes down in order
   to see the country, if he likes, they propose to come down and settle
   with you; they are Men that have a verry pretty Interest--W^m
   Hartshorne lived with me some Time--They are Industrious, careful,
   Sober men; if Cap^t Harper should want to draw on this place for Five
   hundred Pounds, I will engage his Bills shall be paid--Any Civilitys
   shewn him will be returned by

          Thy Friend

                   REESE MEREDITH[138]

Harper did nothing with these newly purchased lots until after the
Revolution, when he began to sell and to build at astonishing speed. The
number of deeds in the clerk's office in Fairfax and in Alexandria of
property transferred to or from him fill page after page in the records.
A book on John Harper's activities would be a good history of early town
housing. Twice married, he had twenty-nine children--and to every one he
left a house and lot.

[Illustration: 211 Prince Street was John Harper's gift to his daughter,
Peggy Harper Vowell, April 10, 1793. Here Dr. Dick lived from 1796 to
1804. As he was here in 1815 it is safe to assume that he occupied this
house for nineteen years. He paid John Harper £70 a year rent.]

John Harper's property housed many of Alexandria's important citizens.
Two of Washington's physicians occupied adjoining houses built by him on
Prince Street, though not at the same time. Dr. Craik lived at least
three years and probably five at 209 Prince Street--from 1790 to 1793,
and doubtless until 1796, when he moved to the house he purchased on
Duke Street. Dr. Dick lived at 211 Prince Street from 1798 certainly
until 1804, and then again at the same house in 1815. Surely it is
safe here to domicile the restless Doctor, for these ten undocumented
years between 1805 and 1815. The Doctor paid for this house £70 per

[Illustration: The Harper-Vowell Houses or the Sea Captains' Row]

The early Harper houses which fill lower Prince Street are known in
Alexandria today as "the Sea Captains' Houses" or "Captains' Row" and in
truth they were either owned or occupied by captains or masters of
vessels. After weathering the storms of a hundred and fifty years or
better, their sea legs, or foundations, are well established in the soil
of Alexandria, and they present one of the attractive sights of the
town. The street slopes at a steep angle from the top of the hill, at
Lee Street to the river, and the quaint old houses go stair-step down
toward the Potomac in an unbroken line; sometimes a roof or a chimney
sags with age, or a front façade waves a bit. The first house in the
block on the northwest corner of Prince and Union was our stout
Captain's warehouse and his wharf jutted out into the Potomac across the
street from his place of business. A few years ago a great oil tank
buried in the ground forced its way to the surface, bringing with it the
enormous beams of John Harper's wharf and part of an old ship rotting in
the earth. Real estate was only a side issue with the Captain. His main
interest was the sea, his ships, and their cargoes.

On February 23, 1795 Harper sold to John Crips Vowell and Thomas Vowell,
Jr., for £150, that part of lot No. 56 fronting on Prince Street, 24
feet 6 inches, 88 feet 3-1/2 inches in depth, which begins on the "North
side of Prince, fifty feet to the Eastward of Water Street, upon ye
Eastern Line of a ten-foot alley, and all houses, buildings, streets,
lanes, alleys, etc...." The Vowells agreed to lay off and keep open
forever an alley upon the northern back line of the premises, nine feet
wide "Extending from the aforesaid ten-foot alley to the line of ...
William Wright."[139] This described property was one of those houses
built by Harper. The two Vowells were his sons-in-law and both gentlemen
in the shipping trade.

By this circuitous route we arrive at 123 Prince Street,[Owner: Miss
Margaret Frazer.] the house with a pure _Directoire_ tent room,
practically a duplicate of that at Malmaison, and another room with a
magnificent painted Renaissance ceiling. How such work became a part of
the sturdy two-story "Sea Captains' Houses" is one of Alexandria's
mysteries. It is true that both rooms were in a deplorable state of
repair, and it was necessary to trace the work on paper, repair the
plaster and then continue the interrupted design. Naturally, the colors
were freshened. It was exciting to watch this discovery unveiled, when
sheets of shabby paper were pulled from the walls, and the artist
repaired and restored the work of some itinerant master whose name has
vanished with his dust these hundred years or better.

John Harper, a Quaker, was born in Philadelphia in 1728, and he was
living in Alexandria in 1773, if not before. By his first wife, Sarah
Wells of Pennsylvania, he had twenty children. He married at her death
Mrs. Mary Cunningham, a widow, the daughter of John Reynolds of
Winchester. By this lady he had nine children. In 1795 he was living at
his residence on Prince Street, for William Hodgson's property was
described in his insurance record as being next door to John Harper on
the west. Captain Harper's house is now known as 209 Prince Street and
today bears, erroneously, a plaque to the memory of Dr. Dick. This is
the house in which Dr. Craik was living in 1790-93. Incidentally, no
record viewed in a search of hundreds mentions Dr. Dick as occupying 209
Prince Street. On the contrary, Dr. Dick in 1796 was paying insurance on
his dwelling on Duke Street.

In his old age Captain John Harper built two brick houses on the east
side of Washington Street, south of Prince. In one of these he died in
1804, aged seventy-six years. Dr. Dick attended John Harper in his last
illness and was paid sixty-five dollars by the executors for this
service. Wine for the funeral was eleven dollars, the coffin and case
cost twenty-six dollars, and the bellman received one dollar for crying
property to be sold. Captain John Harper lies buried in the cemetery of
the old Presbyterian meetinghouse near two of his daughters, Mrs. John
C. Vowell and Mrs. Thomas Vowell.

Captain Harper was an ancestor of Mrs. Mary G. Powell, author of _The
History of Old Alexandria_. She tells of his patriotic action in
procuring ammunition from Philadelphia for the independent companies of
Prince William and Fairfax Counties: "Eight casks of powder, drums and
colors for three companies."[140] His religion prohibited his taking
part in combat, but his sympathy was manifested in a very practical
fashion. John Harper was a member of the first city council in 1780 and
of the congregation of the old Presbyterian meetinghouse. He was one of
General Washington's Alexandria agents for Mount Vernon produce, doing
an extensive business with the General in the matter of "Herring." At
Washington's death he took part in the Masonic ceremonies at the
funeral, and his son, Captain William Harper, commanded the artillery
company on that eventful day. This son took an active part in the
Revolution at the battles of Princeton, Monmouth, Brandywine, and Valley
Forge, and crossed the Delaware with Washington. He succeeded to the
business at Prince and Union. John Harper's third son, Robert, was a
lawyer and married a daughter of John W. Washington, of Westmoreland
County. John Harper, Jr., married Margaret West of West Grove, daughter
of John West, and while acting as foreign agent for the Harper firm in
the West Indies, was drowned in 1805.

Alexandria's Malmaison, or the Harper-Vowell house, listed as 123 Prince
Street, was the residence of the eminent architect, Ward Brown, until
his death in 1946.



Chapter 14

Dr. Elisha C. Dick and The Fawcett House

[507 Prince Street. Owners: The Fawcett Family.]

The dashing Dr. Dick first appeared in Alexandria fresh from the
tutelage of Drs. Benjamin Rush and William Shippen of Philadelphia. He
was just twenty-one and of a figure to set feminine hearts aflutter;
five feet ten inches, of commanding presence, very handsome, "playing
with much skill upon several musical instruments" and singing in a sweet
voice of great power; skilled and learned in his profession, "a strong
and cultivated intellect," a genial spirit, witty and charming.[141]

The son of Major Archibald Dick (Deputy Quartermaster General in the
Revolutionary Army in 1779) and his wife, Mary Barnard, Elisha Cullen
Dick was born on March 15, 1762, at his father's estate near Marcus
Hook, in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

His primary education was gained at the Philadelphia Academy, in the
home of the Rev. Robert Smith, D.D., at Pegnea, and in his father's
home, tutored by the Rev. Samuel Armor. In 1780 he began the study of
medicine, graduating on March 21, 1782. Two days later he lost his
father and came into his inheritance of half the estate. A year later he
disposed of his Pennsylvania interest to Isaac Dutton and started for
Charleston, South Carolina, with the expectation of settling there.

[Illustration: Floor plan of house]

Armed with letters of introduction to General Washington, Colonel
Fitzgerald, and Colonel Lyles, he stopped en route in Alexandria "to
call upon a female relative" and to present his letters. He got no
farther. "Influential persons" caused him to abandon his plans and
remain in Alexandria, where the recent death of old Dr. Rumney left an
opening which Dr. Dick filled for better than forty years. Alas, for the
belles of Alexandria! In October 1783, Dr. Dick married Miss Hannah
Harmon, the daughter of Jacob and Sarah Harmon of Darby in Chester
County, Pennsylvania.

Two years after beginning his professional life in Alexandria, he pulled
a tooth for one of the Mount Vernon house servants, and the following
entry taken from Washington's diary for February 6, 1785, tells the
results which do not seem to have been entirely satisfactory:

   Sunday, 6th, Doctr. Brown was sent for to Frank (Waiter in the
   house), who had been seized in the night with a bleeding of the mouth
   from an orifice made by a Doctr. Dick, who some days before attempted
   in vain to extract a broken tooth, and coming about 11 o'clock stayed
   to Dinner and returned afterwards.[142]

So far as Washington's diaries show, Dr. Dick never crossed the
threshold of Mount Vernon again until fourteen years later on a raw,
cold day in December when the snow lay thick on the ground, he was sent
for by Dr. Craik to attend Washington in his last illness. It was Dr.
Dick who advised against additional bleeding and it was he, who, when
Washington's last breath escaped, walked to the mantel and stopped the
hands of the clock. This clock, with arrested hands, stands today in the
George Washington National Masonic Memorial in Alexandria.

On March 28, 1788, Dr. Dick was offering a reward of eight dollars for a
runaway servant:

   I will give the above to any person who will secure in Alexandria
   Gaol a Negro fellow named Ned, who ran away from me about three weeks
   ago. He is between thirty and forty years of age, about 5 feet 7 or 8
   inches high and was formerly the property of Mrs. Clifford of whom I
   bought him. Having a wife in Maryland, belonging to Mr. Samuel H.
   Bean, I imagine Ned will be inclined to make a nightly resort to her
   quarters. His winter clothes were made of a mixed cloth of a gray
   color and it is probable he will be found with a soldier's old
   napsack upon his back in which he carries his provisions.

Dr. Dick was one of the founders of the Alexandria Masonic lodge, to
which Washington belonged. In 1791 he was Worshipful Master when the
cornerstone of the District of Columbia was laid. Arm in arm with the
President of the United States, who acted as Master, Dr. Dick led the
procession with George Washington in 1793 at the laying of the
cornerstone of the Capitol. This same year, as Master of the lodge, he
solicited the President to "set" for the portrait by William Williams,
which still graces the lodge room. In 1794 he commanded a company of
cavalry raised in Alexandria and under "Light Horse Harry" Lee marched
into Pennsylvania to help quell the famous Whiskey Rebellion. In 1795 he
was superintendent of quarantine, an office he held for many years. In
1798 he was appointed coroner; in 1802, justice of the peace.

Dr. Dick amassed a great deal of property and was constantly buying and
selling land, houses, ships, and so on. In April 1797 he disposed of the
brig _Julia_ to Robert Mease for ten thousand dollars, "with all her
rigging and materials, together with the cargo of flour and corn now on
board as she lies at Ramsay's Wharf in the Port of Alexandria."[143]

Two letters to the governor, written during his service as quarantine
officer reveal the fact that he was alert to his responsibilities and
give some idea of how grave they were:

                       Alexandria 4th Sept, 1795

               Hon Robert Brooke

   Having received from various persons pretty certain information that
   a malignant fever is now prevalent in the town of Norfolk, I take the
   liberty of soliciting your instructions with regard to the propriety
   of interrupting the intercourse by water between that place and this.
   The inhabitants of Alexa. discover considerable signs of
   apprehension, and the corporation have entered into some temporary
   arrangements until more permanent ones can be obtained.

   I have not yet received a compensation for the last year on account
   of my services as Superintendent of quarantine. Such sum as you may
   think me entitled to for last year as well as the percent you will
   oblige me by placing in the hands of Mr. Thomas Majore [?] subject to
   the order of Mr. Charles Turner of this place.

        I am with great regard
           Your Excellys
             Obed Servt

                        ELISHA C. DICK

       *       *       *       *       *

                       Alexander, 24th July 1800

               Hon James Monroe

   The Ship Two Brothers on her voyage from New Orleans to this point
   having put into Charleston S.C. there contracted the yellow fever or
   some other infectious disease, by which two of her crew have died.
   Exercising a discretionary power given by the quarantine laws to the
   Superintendant, I have caused this ship to commence her quarantine
   near this place between Rozins Bluff and Jones Point. As the removal
   of vessels from this port to the mouth of Elizabeth River has been
   found to be attended with considerable inconvenience, the Executors
   have hitherto authorized me to use the situation above mentioned as
   the anchorage ground for all vessels bound here. I shall thank you
   sir for such instruction as you may deem it advisable to communicate
   on this subject, as well with regard to my present and future

     I have the honor to be with the highest regard

         Your obed. servt.

             ELISHA C. DICK
             Superintend. of quar.
             Port of Alexa.

In 1801 Dr. Dick was declared bankrupt, but in 1811 he was setting free
his Negro slave, Nancy, aged about forty. During these years he tended
the sick (a bill for sixty-five dollars was tendered to John Harper's
widow in 1804), fought the plague and fever, epidemics, and prescribed
for his friends with time out for a song or a sketch. His copy of James
Sharples' George Washington, now in the Mount Vernon collection, is a
competent, artistic portrait. He was fond of good food, good talk,
people and music. His genial spirit and charming wit graced many a
festive board, and that he was hospitable as well needs no further proof
than the following invitation:

   If you can eat a good fat duck, come up with us and take pot luck. Of
   white backs we have got a pair, so plump, so sound, so fat, so fair,
   a London Alderman would fight, through pies and tarts to get one
   bite. Moreover we have beef or pork, that you may use your knife and
   fork. Come up precisely at two o'clock, the door shall open to your
   knock. The day 'tho wet, the streets 'tho muddy, to keep out the cold
   we'll have some toddy. And if perchance, you should get sick, you'll
   have at hand, Yours,

               E.C. DICK[144].

Surely this friendly medical advice is well worth including in any
sketch of Dr. Dick. A mature physician, he wrote to James H. Hooe:

                       Alexandria 20 of 2nd Month 1815

     Respected friend:

   I am in great hopes that the instructions I shall be able to give
   thee with regard to the general treatment of the prevailing disease,
   will be found on trial to be so far successful as to quiet in a good
   measure thy present apprehensions. Having received applications by
   letter from several physicians at a distance requesting information
   as to the character of the disease and the plan of treatment
   possessed by myself, I have thrown together a few practical remarks,
   which I shall here transcribe, and then add such other observations
   as may seem more especially necessary for thee in the present

   The disease usually commences with a chill, succeeded by fever and
   accompanied either in the beginning or at a subsequent stage with
   pain in the head back breast or sides, and sometimes with an
   affection of the throat.

   Though it is a disease attended sometimes if not generally with signs
   of local inflammation, yet owing to some peculiar affection or
   tendency of the nervous system, blood letting is in my opinion
   inadmissible. Of those who have been bled it has appeared that they
   either die or have tedious recoveries.

   The disease is frequently though not always of a bilious
   character--that is an abundance of bile is found floating in the
   stomach or intestines. There seems to be neither torpor nor
   enlargement of the liver which have characterized the diseases of
   this country for 21 years past; hence culomel especially in the
   beginning has been avoided.

   Emetics, if employed at all, (and in some cases they may be
   necessary) should not be given till the intestines have been well
   evacuated. The leading curative indication is purging, for which
   purpose Glaubers Salt has been preferred as acting upon the bowels
   with most ease and certainty. The purging process to be diligently
   persisted in, day and night or day after day according to the force
   and duration of the disease.

   Warm, stimulating drinks such as toddy, made of whiskey, is
   frequently, though not in every case, indispensible. This stimulus,
   is to be resorted to whenever there are signs of prostration of body
   or mind, both in the beginning and after stages of the disease.

   Excessive pain in the trunk may be generally mitigated in every stage
   of the disease by anodyne injections; for an adult two or three
   teaspoonsful of laudunum with a half pint of warm water. A beneficial
   persperation often follows this exhibition. Spontaneous sweats are
   commonly useful, but I have not found them critical.

   Blisters may be employed for the mitigation of pain, and perhaps
   ought not to be omitted when ... is either fever [?] is obstinate,
   but I have not found them in this disease to evidence their usually

   If the disease be attended with sore throat, swelling of the tonsils
   or palate, stricture of the trachea, with or without external
   swelling, a gargle of warm strong toddy, in the water of which has
   been boiled a pod of red pepper, will it is believed from past
   experience, be found uniformly and promptly effectual even in cases
   when suffacation seems immediately threatened. When this affection
   has existed to any considerable extent, I have generally with the use
   of the gargle also applied a blister around the throat.

   In order that thou may not easily be discouraged in the prosecution
   of the purging plan, it is necessary to inform thee that I often find
   it expedient to give 3 to 6 ounces of salts in 24 hours. I usually
   divide 2 ounces into three portions giving one every two hours
   dissolved in a teacupful thin gruel. When the bowels are brought
   readily and freely into operation I have little difficulty in the
   management of the case--but I never discontinue the process till all
   fever and pain have subsided. Sometimes when the salts appear to be
   in operation I interpose with 60 or 70 grains of the cathartic powder
   repeated at intervals of two or three hours. When there is a
   despression of the pulse and something of coldness of the
   extremities, especially of the feet, I use with advantage mustard
   plaster to the feet, to which in such cases may be added with
   advantage hot bricks or bottles of hot water to various parts of the

   There is one thing which particularly deserves thy notice and that is
   that this disease is in a majority of instances I believe preceeded
   by certain premonitory signs; such as flying pains about the chest or
   some other part, head ache, etc. A reasonable resort under such
   circumstances to one or two cathartics will pretty certainly avert a
   more serious attack.

   I have directed Archy to forward thee a supply of salts and cathartic
   powder and I feel a persuasion that by the aid of the foregoing
   observations thou wilt be able to manage this disease to thy
   satisfaction. It indeed may be not expected that none should die of
   so formidible an epidemic, but I think I can with truth state to
   thee, that under this treatment 19/20s of those who fall under my
   care recover.

   With regard to thy wife's present situation, I think it would be
   advisable for her to take occasionally a gentle laxative, and for
   that purpose I send a package or two of my saline purgative powders.
   Let her take one in a cup of gruel and repeat it as may be necessary.

   Hoping that thou may be at least as successful as I have been in thy
   future management of this complaint, and that thy family may furnish
   no more victims is the sincere wish of

               Thy friend

                    ELISHA C. DICK

     Tobacco       1
     Magnesia      1.50
     Newspaper        7
     Ginger Cake     12
     Tavern        1.50
     Turnpike        18

   Tablespoon vingar with 10 gns of salts of Tartar in teacup swallowed
   in effervescent state--slight sweat.

[Illustration: The Fawcett House where Dr. Dick lived]

Dr. and Mrs. Dick were the parents of two children, Julia and Archibald.
Julia married Gideon Pearce of Maryland and their son, James Alfred
Pearce, became a United States senator from Maryland.

Dr. Dick, who began life as an Episcopalian, became a Quaker and Mrs.
Dick became an Episcopalian. His dueling pistols are among the curios in
the Masonic museum, but if he ever used them, it is not known in

Writing to her son, Smith Lee, April 10, 1827, Mrs. R.E. Lee commented:
"Poor Alexandria has suffered much by fire this winter. Mr. Dulaney will
give you the particulars, it has lost some of its old inhabitants too.
Capt. Dangerfield, Mr. Irvin, dear Dr. Dick, and Sam Thompson ..."[145]

Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick rests in the Friends burial ground in an unmarked
grave, but his spirit hallows several houses in Alexandria. With such a
wealth of dwellings to choose, it has been difficult to settle Dr. Dick
for long; nor really does he want to be settled. He was full of
surprises during life, and it will be another to most Alexandrians when
we place him in the old clapboard house known for better than a century
as "the Fawcett house."

On December 20, 1774, John Alexander sold to Patrick Murry a certain lot
or half acre of land situated and adjoining the west side of a lot or
half acre of land lying in the town of Alexandria and represented by lot
No. 112. This lot, lying on the north side of Prince Street, between
Pitt and St. Asaph Streets, was described as: "Beginning on the
Southwest corner of the said lott No. 112 and running thence with it to
the Northwest corner thereof 176 feet 7 inches, thence Westerly with a
line at right angles with the last 123 feet 5 inches thence Southerly
with a line parallel to the first one and of the same extent thence
Easterly with a straight line to the beginning."[146]

There was a ground rent upon this property every year forever of £13
5_s._, and the provisions that Patrick Murry or his heirs should build
within the space of two years from the date of purchase a brick, stone
or wooden house, twenty feet square, to cover four hundred square feet,
with a brick or stone chimney or chimneys. At the same time John
Alexander bound himself to lay out and keep free forever a street
sixty-six feet wide binding on the west side of the granted lot or half
acre of land, by the name of St. Asaph Street: "Beginning at a straight
line produced and extended from the termination of Cameron Street in the
said town of Alexandria until it extends sixty-six feet to a direct line
to the Westward beyond the breadth of the other lott or half acre of
land, thence Southerly and parallel to Pitt Street in the said town,
until it intersects a street of the same width called Wilkes Street

Patrick Murry built and resided in this completely charming clapboard
house until the year 1786, when the wheels of fortune forced him to
dispose of all houses, yards, gardens, ways, advantages, and so on, to
Ann English and William McKenzey, executors of Samuel English to secure
the payments of the sum of £348, Virginia currency, with interest from
August 22, 1775. Alas, for compound interest! Ann English and her
husband, James Currie, did convey and sell the lot with all improvements
unto Elisha Cullen Dick on April 15, 1794. Two years later Dr. Dick and
his wife, Hannah, disposed of the house and grounds to John Thomas
Ricketts and William Newton for and in consideration of £1000 current

[Illustration: Patrick Murray's parlor. The picture over the mantel is
needleworked, a polite accomplishment taught to females and the product
of the gentle hands of a Fawcett ancestor]

On July 2, 1806, William Newton and wife conveyed the property
"including all that framed dwelling house lately occupied by the said
William Newton" for the sum of four thousand dollars to William
Smith;[148] thence again in 1816 the Smiths, William and Margaret,
disposed of the frame dwelling house for three thousand dollars to John
D. Brown.

The descendants of John Douglas Brown have occupied the home for the
past one hundred and thirty-three years. His great-grandchildren, the
Fawcett family, are the present owners of the house. The Fawcett house
has been little changed, and is kept in excellent repair. The woodwork
in the drawing room is true to the period; that throughout the house is
quaint and interesting. In the great room the fire breast is outlined
with a dog-eared mold. The mantelshelf, attached without brackets, has a
punch-work motif. The heavy raised panels on each side of the chimney,
and the paneled closets enclose the entire west wall.

[Illustration: Dear Dr. Dick. By Saint Mèmin.

(_Courtesy Corcoran Gallery of Art_)]

There are many levels, and the house goes back in a surprising brick ell
that is not seen from the street. The exterior presents the appearance
of a story-and-a-half cottage. Two windows, with their uncommon blinds,
break the wood-shingled roof. The blinds' slats are wide and heavy, and
the shutters are held in place when opened by the traditional molded
iron holdbacks. The east gable end of the house is shiplap. From this
side projects the entrance porch, added about 1816, and protected by

Portraits, old silver, glass, and china, prints and mahogany, with great
grandmama's best brocade dresses, are the fruits of more than a century
of the family's inheritance. The picture over the mantel is done in
embroidery--the product of one of the Fawcett ancestors, worked in 1814,
while a pupil at one of Alexandria's schools where young ladies were
taught the fine arts, and the curriculum included every form of

[Illustration: Benjamin Dulany's Town House]


Chapter 15

The Benjamin Dulany House

[601 Duke Street. Owners: Mr. and Mrs. John Howard Joynt.]

On February 15, 1773, George Washington wrote to a friend, "Our
celebrated Fortune Miss French, whom half the world was in pursuit of,
bestowed her hand on Wednesday last, being her birthday (you perceive I
think myself under the necessity of accounting for the choice) upon Mr.
Ben Dulany, who is to take her to Maryland in a month from this

Miss French, the heiress, was a ward of Washington and lived at Rose
Hill, not far from Mount Vernon. Benjamin Dulany Sr., a wealthy and
cultured gentleman of Maryland, born of distinguished Irish parentage,
was of the third generation in America. He and the celebrated Miss
French moved to Alexandria before the Revolution and settled at Shuter's
Hill overlooking the town, where they reared a large family. Ben Dulany
is often mentioned by General Washington in his diaries. He was a
frequent visitor at Mount Vernon, a companion in the chase and the
race, at dinner and overnight, sometimes with his lady, but more often

[Illustration: Benjamin Dulany of Shooter's Hill and Alexandria]

In 1785 Washington concluded a bargain for the exchange of some land
with the Dulanys and made several references to the transaction in his
diary. Under the entry for Monday, February 21, 1785, he wrote:

   Went to Alexandria with Mrs. Washington. Dined at Mr. Dulaney's and
   exchanged deeds for conveyances of land with him and Mrs. Dulaney,
   giving mine, which I bought of Messrs. Robert Adam, Dow and McIver,
   for the reversion of what Mrs. Dulaney is entitled to at the death of
   her Mother within bounds of Spencer and Washington's patent.[150]

[Illustration: Entrance hall, Dulany House. Fine woodwork in arch and

Tradition says Dulany served with Washington as steward of the Jockey
Club. An amusing anecdote has come down to us of a race in which both
gentlemen had entered horses. The race was close--Washington's horse
won. For some reason the governors awarded the prize to Dulany. The
General left in high dudgeon and wrote a letter resigning from the club,
saying that he was under the impression that he belonged to a club the
members of which were gentlemen. Whereupon the governors reversed their
decision and awarded the General the prize! This extraordinary action is
reported to have placated him, for he appears to have continued a member
of the Jockey Club.

Mr. Dulany's house, now 601 Duke Street, is one of those famous houses
where it is claimed General Washington slept. An agent of the General,
Peyton Gallagher, occupied this house at one time, and--so the story
goes--when Washington had sat too long at accounts and the evening was
bad, his man of business put him up for the night.

The tradition is firmly entrenched that the Marquis de la Fayette
addressed the citizens of Alexandria from the front steps of this house
in 1824. The General was occupying the house across the street, which
was given to the Marquis and his party by the owner, Mrs. Lawrason, for
the duration of his visit. Alexandria was more excited by this visit
than any other occurrence in her history, and gave La Fayette a
resounding welcome. When citizens came surging in great crowds around
the Lawrason mansion to do him honor, the old gentleman, finding the
steps too low for speechmaking, walked across the street, climbed the
steps of 601 Duke Street, where he could be seen, and there made his
expressions of good will and appreciation in broken English to "the
assembled multitude."

Tradition also reports that Benjamin Dulany was a handsome, arrogant
gentleman, a fine horseman, superbly mounted. In those days the streets
of Alexandria were not as smooth nor as dry as today. Irate pedestrians
often found themselves bespattered and befouled by some passing horseman
or vehicle and in danger of their very lives. "Bad Ben" Dulany thundered
up and down the streets, riding a spirited horse, sparing no wayfarer,
causing men to rush for safety to the nearest doorway. At Shuter's Hill,
his estate just outside Alexandria, he maintained well appointed stables
and owned fine-blooded horses. A "stranger" traveling in America records
a rather interesting horse story in connection with one of Mr. Dulany's

   Throughout his campaign he [Washington] was attended by a black man,
   one of his slaves, who proved very faithful to his trust. This man,
   amongst others belonging to him, he liberated, and by his will, left
   him a handsome maintenance for the remainder of his life. The horse
   which bore the General so often in battle is still alive. The noble
   animal, together with the whole of his property, was sold on his
   death under a clause in his will, and the charger was purchased by
   Daniel Dulaney, Esquire, of Shuter's hill, near Alexandria, in whom
   it has found an indulgent master. I have often seen Mr. Dulaney
   riding the steed of Washington in a gentle pace, for it is now grown
   old. It is of a cream color, well proportioned, and was carefully
   trained to military manoeuvres.[151]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: The beautiful drawing room]

[Illustration: The original dining room at Mr. Dulany's, now the

The Dulanys were hospitable folk, and many were the guests entertained
both at their country estate and at their Alexandria home. A revengeful
guest, or a malicious wit, startled the town one morning by the
following poem entitled


By A.X.--Georgetown

     Ben Dulany of Shooter's Hill,
     Once said to his wife, "Our rooms we'll fill
     With all the beauty, and all the style
     And all of the rank and some of the file
     That flourish in Alexandria
     Alias 'Botany Bay',"
     (Which was ever his subsequent say
     When speaking of Alexandria).
     Mrs. Dulany said with a sigh
     "If such is your fancy, so will I".

     Ben Dulany of Shooter's Hill
     Said to his wife, "We will fulfill
     Our social trust and invite them all,
     The great and the wealthy to come to our ball,
     The handsome and ugly, the pretty and plain,
     The learned and the silly, the wise and the vain."
     He was a man of great learning and wealth
     And the name that he bore was a power itself,
     For his Tory father was great among men
     And smote hard on the rebels with voice and pen,
     But Mrs. Dulany said with a sigh,
     "This fancy of his, I cannot tell why".

     Ben Dulany of Shooter's Hill
     Said to his wife, "I wish you to fill
     The pantry and larder, the shelves and the table
     With all the most excellent things you are able,
     And spare neither trouble or money, for when
     (Tobacco remember was currency then),
     I offer a banquet my guests must behold
     Something more on my table than china and gold"
     And Mrs. Dulany said with a deep sigh,
     "This fancy of his, I cannot tell why".

     Ben Dulany of Shooter's Hill,
     Said to his wife, "Of course we will
     Have music, the best that can be found
     And we, dear wife, will dance one round.
     Many years have passed since you agreed
     To slide down from your window and marry with speed,
     And we'll show our children how to dance
     After the fashion I learned in France".
     Mrs. Dulany sighed and said
     "What could have put this whim in his head".

     The guests arrived at Shooter's Hill,
     Names of renown the chambers filled,
     Masons and Carters, Stevens and Balls,
     Rosiers and Fendals, Marshalls and Halls,
     Daingerfields, Herberts, Craiks, Tuckers a few,
     Platers, Custis, and Randolph and Washingtons, too,
     Blackburns, Hunters and Forrests and Taylors a lot,
     Lees, Seldons, Fitzhughs, Wests, Dandridge and Scott,
     Pope, Ramsey and Graham, French, Lewis and Key,
     Lloyd, Taylor and Wellford, Ridout, Beverly,
     Simms, Peters and Lightfoot, Lyles, Murray and Beall,
     Fauntleroy and Grey and Carroll they tell,
     Berkley, Fairfax and Bladen, Powell, Chase, Montague,
     Bassett, Harrison, Tasker, Gant, Stoddert and Chew,
     Spotswood, Lomax and Taliaferro, Grymes, Rutherford,
     Snowden, Fontaine and Pendleton, Moncure and Bushrod,
     But if all were put down, the unlearned might insist,
     The names had been taken from off the tax list.

     Ben Dulany of Shooter's Hill,
     Received them with grace and courtly skill,
     When all of a sudden he started to dance,
     And teach them the lessons he learned in France,
     He drew them up in a regular line
     And marched them around while he kept time,
     Shouldered a blunderbuss, stuck on a hat,
     Called it a helmet, and drilled them in that.
     Thundered and threatened and ordered them all
     To know he was giving a marching ball.
     Round through the parlors, out on the grass
     Down through the garden and back did they pass,
     Not for a moment he left them to rest,
     Forward and backward, and wearied he pressed.
     Mrs. Dulany appealed to his pride,
     But unceremonious he thrust her aside.
     Many the terrors, the words and the fright,
     But he marched them and marched them till far in the night.
     Mrs. Dulany again essayed
     To urge him to cease his desperate raid,
     Then bending before her his handsome form,
     He declared no lovelier woman was born
     Than she, his own, his beautiful wife
     Then he vowed to love and cherish through life;
     And to prove to all how he loved her then,
     He'd embrace her before all those women and men,
     Which he certainly did, for he clasped her waist,
     And raising her high, strode off in haste.
     In vain she screamed, in vain besought,
     All her entreaties he set at nought,
     Into the pantry he quickly passed
     And stuck her up on the vinegar cask
     Then locking her in, he lovingly said,
     "Dear wife you are tired, 'tis time for bed".

     And away he stalked to pick up his gun
     For a panic and flight had already begun,
     He ordered a halt, but they faster ran,
     Urging each other, woman and man.
     Wholly regardless of dresses and shoes,
     Thorns or stones, or damps or dews.
     Halt! he cried again more loud
     Then fired his blunderbuss into the crowd,
     Which only helped to increase their speed.

     They thought he was crased, and he was indeed!
     Into the town at dead of night
     Forlorn and weary, half dead with fright,
     Into the town the company came,
     Draggled and straggling, half dead with shame,
     That they should have marched and tramped about
     At a lunatic's whim, now in, now out,
     The livelong night, through garden and hall,
     Would they ever forget Ben Dulany's ball!

     Mrs. Dulany in grief had passed
     The rest of the night on the vinegar cask.
     Trembling the servants unlocked the door,
     And the wrathful lady stood before
     Her ... lord, but never a word
     Between them passed, or afterward was heard.
     He ordered his horse and from that day,
     As I have heard the old people say,
     He rode unceasing, nor ever still,
     Was Ben Dulany of Shooter's Hill.[152]

[Illustration: The front bedroom, Dulany House]

On August 5, 1779, the executor of John Alexander, William Thornton
Alexander, granted by deed to David Arrell the tract of land located at
the northwest corner of Duke and St. Asaph Streets, which held an annual
ground rent of £14 10_s._ On September 6, 1783, David Arrell of
Alexandria and Fairfax County in the Dominion of Virginia, sold this
same lot on Duke and St. Asaph Streets for £50 to Benjamin Dulany of the
same place, charged with an annual ground rent of £14 10_s._, payable on
the fifth of August forever. Very shortly thereafter the house now known
as 601 Duke Street was completed for a town residence. During some
recent repairs letters and bills for purchases made by Mrs. Dulany were
found under a partition, bearing dates from 1785 to 1796. Two of these
are quoted:[153]

     Mrs. Delasia                Balto. 24 Feby 1793
     For Mrs. Dulaney Bo^t of George Wily
     1 pair of sattin shoes 16/8             £    16. 8
     1 p^c Roses     22d                       1. 1. 18
     Rec^d payment                           £ 1. 18. 6

     Benjamin Dulany Esq.    *  *  *      GEORGE WILY
     Bo^t of Bennett & Watts
     1 pr Slippers 9/--3-1/2 yds Lute string @ 10/        £ 2. 4.
     Alex^a May 25^th 1796

Probably the best example of Georgian architecture in Alexandria, the
plan of the house is common to this town. Two-storied, dormer-windowed,
detached brick, the house faces south with a large garden to the left
taking up half a square.

A hall runs the length of the house. Two large parlors, one behind the
other, on the right, open into the hall. The dining room, in an ell at
the rear, is entered from the hall by a small flight of steps leading to
a lower level. The long, narrow, low-pitched room has an off-center
fireplace and is papered at both ends in old wallpaper of Chinese
design. When seen from the front doorway, the room presents an
unexpected and charming view. This wing was added after 1800, probably
1810. A very nice tradition exists about the building of this wing.
Robert I. Taylor bought the house from the Dulanys in 1810. He was a
vestryman of St. Paul's Church and very much interested in its
construction. Benjamin H. Latrobe was the architect for the church and
it is believed that he designed the wing connecting the kitchen with the
big house. The story is more than plausible since the high, narrow
arches and pilasters are characteristic of his work.

The woodwork in the two parlors is massive. The heavy cornice is similar
to that in the blue room at the Carlyle house. A thick dentil cornice is
surmounted by modillions, and they in turn are surmounted by a heavy
molding. The drawing room mantels, capped by the traditional broken
arch, dominate these rooms. All openings are dog-eared, as well as the
panels of the chimney breasts. The hall arches, wainscoting, handrails,
and stairways are noble examples of early craftsmanship. Upstairs the
woodwork is equally good, though more delicate, while the paneled
mantels lack the broken arch.

It is a satisfaction to see these old rooms, graced by fine furniture,
draperies, portraits, and silver of local origin, restored again to the
dignity and graciousness of days long past.


Chapter 16

Dr. James Craik and His Dwelling

[210 Duke Street. Owner: Mr. Merle Colby.]

Of the many quaint, historical figures whose memories haunt the old
streets and houses of Alexandria, none is more interesting than Dr.

He is remembered as a "stout, hale, cheery old man, perfectly erect,
fond of company and children, and amusing himself with gardening work."
But this was when the sands were running out. The good Doctor had passed
fourscore years, and his share of history-making was over. Let us turn
back some two hundred years and begin.

There is a little village near Dumfries in Scotland called Arbigland or
Obigland. In the year 1730 on a cold December day a baby boy began an
eventful life. He was destined to bring to the New World the skill to
heal and succor the wounded, to ease the dying, to administer the
primitive hospitals of the American Revolution, and to move for a span
of forty-five years as the close and intimate friend of George

The names of his parents have been lost in the Scottish fogs. A story
that his father employed a gardener by the name of John Paul, sire of
another young Scotsman who distinguished himself in our naval history
under the patronymic of John Paul Jones, is all we can glean of our
Craik's paternal parent.[154]

The Scottish baby, christened James Craik, grew to young manhood in his
native country, going in proper time to the University of Edinburgh and
there was educated in medicine for service in the British Army. After
leaving the university he set sail for the West Indies; from there he
came to Virginia in 1750 and settled in or near Winchester.

We pick up his trail four years later on an April morning in the town of
Alexandria. The occasion is both historic and dramatic. The market
square was filled with "two companies of foot," a hundred and twenty
soldiers; a drummer wielding his sticks fiercely; two wagons, loaded
with provisions, and well guarded by officers and soldiers; a captain, a
lieutenant, five subalterns and a "Swedish Gentleman" going along as a
volunteer, and one _surgeon_. This military assembly under the command
of Lieutenant Colonel George Washington was marching out of Alexandria
for points west "to the Ohio" to fight the Indians and the French, to
build forts, and to defend the possessions of His Majesty. The commander
of the purposeful outfit was twenty-two years old, and the surgeon, Dr.
James Craik, twenty-four.

Did the two meet in the City Tavern, in the market square, or upon that
first day's march of six miles when the troops bivouacked for the night?
Wherever the acquaintance was made, the beginning of a friendship that
was to last the lives of both men was cemented on this expedition. From
the battles of Great Meadows and Fort Necessity, our warriors returned
to accompany Braddock to the Monongahela and Fort DuQuesne where Dr.
Craik nursed Washington through an illness and was with Braddock from
the time he was wounded until his death.

In August 1755 Dr. Craik was back from two unsuccessful expeditions. He
was one of a group of officers addressing the august assembly sitting at
Williamsburg, by letter, who informed the Burgesses that they had lost
horses, furniture, tents, marquees, clothes, linens--in short, all their
field equipage--and asking that body to compensate in some measure for
their misfortunes, reminding the House that it was customary among
British troops by way of a contingent bill, and suggesting that the
colonial troops were equally deserving. The letter was ordered tabled,
but later £30 was voted as compensation.

After this second disastrous campaign, Dr. Craik was lured into
domesticity by Miss Marianne Ewell, whom he married in 1760. This young
lady drew the ties closer to Mount Vernon. Her mother, first cousin to
George Washington, was Sarah Ball Conway, who married Charles Ewell.
After his marriage, Dr. Craik moved across the Potomac to Port Tobacco,
Maryland, where he built a house and proceeded to raise a family of six
sons and three daughters.

In 1754 Governor Dinwiddie offered as bait to officers who would enlist
for service in the French and Indian Wars, two hundred thousand acres of
land in the Ohio country. Sixteen years later this land had not been
distributed. Washington was selected as agent to represent the officers
of the First Virginia Regiment, and at their request, he left early in
October 1770 to inspect and locate lands to be patented in their names.
He was accompanied by Dr. Craik. The two set off on horseback with three
Negro servants, two of the General's and one of Dr. Craik's, and a pack
horse, spending two months in surveying and plotting these wild lands.
Despite bad weather, cold, and early snow, it was a journey enjoyed by
both men.

The route was charged with memories of Fry and Braddock's campaign.
Washington wished to retrace these rivers and streams. The possibility
of connecting the Potomac with the west by canals, opening up the
country for settlement and trade had come to the engineer even while the
soldier was fighting. As they rode he dreamed of tilled fields and
settled communities in the path of his horse and used his instruments to
measure distances and to plumb the depth of streams. That he revealed
his plans to this congenial friend of his travels seems certain.
Fourteen years later, in 1784, he took Dr. Craik over the same terrain
when these dreams appeared to attain realization in the contemplated
canal to connect the Potomac with the Ohio.

During his entire life, Dr. Craik was a steady visitor at Mount Vernon,
on social occasions or on professional calls. He could be counted on for
a visit at least once a month; sometimes he remained four or five days
at a time, but more frequently he only passed the night. It is rather
strange that the good Doctor is never mentioned as a companion of
Washington's favorite sport. That he was an able horseman, covering the
roughest terrain in arduous campaigns, a seasoned sportsman, a hardened
athlete but no fox-hunter, seems borne out by the fact that he is never
mentioned as sharing in the chase, although the gentleman to whom it
meant so much noted almost every hunt and rider in his daily journals.

Politically the two friends were united. When Virginians were becoming
dissatisfied and impatient with England, Dr. Craik and Washington
thought alike, attending county meetings and councils, acting together.
When the colony was disrupted by revolt and Washington appointed
commander in chief of the Continental forces, he at once had Dr. Craik
appointed Surgeon-General in the Continental Army. In 1777 he was made
Assistant Director General of the Hospital of the Middle Department of
the Army. Throughout the war he was part of Washington's military

At Cornwallis' surrender, Dr. Craik was in command of the hospital corps
at Yorktown and present on that occasion. It was his painful duty to
attend the fatally injured Hugh Mercer at Princeton, to dress the wounds
of La Fayette at Brandywine, to nurse during his last hours young Jacky
Custis, only surviving child of Martha Washington. It was Dr. Craik who
learned of the Conway Cabal in 1777 and warned Washington of the
conspiracy to remove him from command. To him we also owe the Indian
legend of Washington's immortality. When Braddock was defeated and
killed at Monongahela, Washington, with four bullets through his coat
and two horses shot from under him, the chosen target of the Indian
chief and his braves, was unharmed, and the Indians believed him immune
to poisoned arrow or blunderbuss.

It is said that Washington persuaded Dr. Craik to move to Alexandria
after the Revolution. We find him renting a house on Fairfax Street from
one Robert Lyles in 1788 for £45. In 1789 he rented a house on Prince
Street from John Harper for £25, and in 1790 one on the same street for
£35. He rented and occupied a house belonging to John Harper from 1793
to, or through, 1795, for £60, a residence which has been so closely
associated with Dr. Dick that it bears a memorial tablet in his memory.

In October 1795, Dr. Craik bought the property on Duke and Water (now
Lee) Street, which he occupied for several years, and owned until 1810.
Tradition, in this case false, says the house was built by George
Coryell, and the story of how he came to Alexandria as a builder is a
very interesting anecdote. On one of Washington's trips to Philadelphia
after the Revolution, the story goes, he admired a well designed and
constructed gate at the house of Benjamin Franklin, and inquired the
name of the artisan. It was the work of one George Coryell of Coryell's
Ferry. The young man's father, Cornelius Coryell, had acted as guide
during the New Jersey campaign and the family had rowed Washington
across the Delaware in that surprise attack upon the Hessians on
Christmas Night, 1776. The General, interested in building, and
something of an architect himself, with an eye to securing competent
workmen near home, is said to have persuaded George Coryell to move to
Alexandria. Here Coryell bought a lot on Duke Street in 1794 where he
lived for many years. That Coryell set up in the building and lumber
business and was very active is better documented, for this
advertisement appeared in the _Gazette_ for October 23, 1793:

     George Coryell
     Has for Sale
     At His Board Yard on Mr. Mease's Wharf and
     at his Dwelling House on Duke Street
     Two-inch, Inch, and Half-Inch and
     etc. Plank. House frames of different
     sizes, Cypress shingles
     Locust and Red Cedar Post

Many houses in the town are perhaps his handiwork, but the statement
that he built Dr. Craik's house or the frame cottage next door, which
tradition says was his Alexandria home, is open to grave doubt. Recorded
deeds at Fairfax Court House testify that the house and lot east of Dr.
Craik were owned by Joseph Robinson, a sailmaker, in 1783, and used
descriptively in a deed dated 1795. Coryell's lot was two doors below
Dr. Craik's house (the lot now in possession of General Carl Spaatz)
which Coryell purchased from William and Sarah Lyles of Prince Georges
County, Maryland.

Coryell served for a time as clerk of the market and sealer of weights
and measures. He did some repair jobs on Washington's town house. At the
General's funeral, when Lieutenant Moss was unable to carry the heavy
weight of the casket, George Coryell took his place as one of the
pallbearers. He remained in Alexandria some fifty-odd years, returning
to Coryell's Ferry a few years previous to his death in 1850, at the
advanced age of ninety-one.

At the first auction of lots in Alexandria town in 1749, the lots
numbered 80 and 81 were sold to Anne West. The trustees upset this sale
in 1754, reselling lot No. 80 to George Mercer for £9 13_s._ 10_d._ and
lot No. 81 going to Daniel Wilson for £10 10_s._ By devious transactions
these parcels of land were divided and sold. The property of Dr. Craik
was in the ownership of John Short, a watchmaker, in 1783. Due to
inability to repay John Harper money advanced, Short, then of the
borough of Norfolk, sold his house and lot at auction on November 30,
1789 to John Murry for £234. This same property was sold by John B.
Murry and Patty, his wife, of the city and state of New York on October
26, 1795, along with another lot belonging to Murry, to Dr. James Craik
for £1,500. Allowing for the additional lot, for which Murry had paid
£71 10_s._ 1_d._ in 1787, and on which Dr. Craik's stable stood, for
inflation and increase in value of property in Alexandria following the
Revolution, this price of approximately $7,500 indicates beyond question
that John Murry made very substantial improvements upon this property.
It was subject to a ground rent of £11 forever, and it is only within
the last few years that the present owners have satisfied this rent.

[Illustration: Rear of house and courtyard built by John B. Murray and
bought by Dr. James Craik. The leanto at right replaces the frame
building of Joseph Robinson, sailmaker]

The house is a typical Alexandria town mansion. With three stories,
dormer widows, of salmon brick, laid in Flemish bond, it faces the
street as sturdily as when first built.

All the chimneys in Dr. Craik's house are handsomely paneled, as well as
the window frames. Cornices, chair rails, stairway, six-panel doors, old
pine floors, H&L hinges are part of its attractions. It is believed that
Dr. Craik used the front rooms on the first floor of his house as his
office. Washington was a visitor in this house. He frequently mentions
in his journal dining or supping with his friend. The last time seems to
have been in July 1798, when he "went up to Alexa. with Mrs. W. and Miss
Cus[tis] dined at Doct^r Craik's, ret^d in y^e aft^n."

One of the Craik boys was named after George Washington. In September
1785, Washington makes this entry in his diary: "Wed. 31st.... This day
I told Dr. Craik that I would contribute one hundred dollars pr. ann. as
long as it was necessary towards the education of his son, George
Washington, either in this country or in Scotland."

       *       *       *       *       *

George Washington Craik studied medicine, and was, for a time during
Washington's second administration, his private secretary. He was one of
the young people of the town who was a constant visitor at Mount Vernon
up to Washington's death. In 1807 and 1808 he was postmaster at
Alexandria. He married Maria D. Tucker, daughter of Captain John Tucker,
and their son, James Craik, was an Episcopal clergyman. Another son,
William, married the daughter of William Fitzhugh and became the
brother-in-law to George Washington Parke Custis. William Craik was a
member of Congress, judge of the District Court of the United States,
and chief justice of the Fifth Maryland Judicial Circuit Court. Craik
lost two sons, James and Adam. James Craik Jr. set up in the drug
business in Alexandria, dissolving his current business of James Craik &
Company in 1787, but continued "the drug business at his store next door
to Col. Ramsays'." At the time of this announcement he advertised for a
young man well recommended as an apprentice for the druggist profession.
He died, poor young man, without attaining any great success. The Doctor
was appointed administrator and failed to give any accounting of the
estate. As a result Dr. Craik was haled before the court to show the
cause of his failure to comply with the order. He was somewhat riled as
appears from the following:

   James Craik this day appeared at the Register office and being duly
   sworn, gave the following statement: That when the said James Craik,
   Jr., departed this life all the personal estate he had consisted of
   a Medical Shop furniture, and medicine, to what amount or value he
   cannot ascertain, nor did he ever think it necessary he should render
   any appraisement of them, as he was security for the payment of the
   money they were purchased for, and since the deceased death has paid
   the same, and every debt he owed; in speaking of the said shop
   furniture and medicine being all the personal estate of the deceased
   his cloathes are excepted of which the said administrator saith he
   considered it unnecessary to render any account for the reasons above
   mentioned. Sworn to before me at the Register office on Tuesday, the
   26th day of April, 1803.

                         CLEM MOORE

     James Craik Adms.[155]

[Illustration: "To my compatriot in arms, and old intimate friend, Dr.
Craik I give my Bureau, (or as the cabinet makers call it, Tambour
Secretary) and the circular chair--an appendage of my study." (_Mount
Vernon Ladies' Association_)]

Of the three daughters, one married a Mr. Harrison, one Daniel of St.
Thomas Jenifer, and the third married Colonel Roger West of West Grove.
The daughter of this union married John Douglas Simms, son of Colonel
Charles Simms of Revolutionary fame. Mrs. James Craik Jr., was Sarah
Harrison, daughter of Robert Hanson Harrison, one of Washington's
military secretaries.

On November 27, a little over two weeks before Washington's death, Dr.
Craik delivered Nellie Custis, wife of Washington's nephew and private
secretary, Lawrence Lewis, of a daughter, her first child.

December 12, 1799, was a bad day. General Washington, making the usual
rounds of his farms, was not deterred by snow, sleet, nor the cold rain
that followed. Coming in late to dinner, which was awaiting him, his
clothes soaked, snow clinging to his hair, he did not take time to
change his wet things. The next day he had a sore throat and was very
hoarse. During the night he felt ill and awoke his wife. As soon as it
was daylight, Mrs. Washington sent a messenger posthaste for Dr. Craik.
Before he arrived, Washington insisted upon being bled, and his
secretary, Tobias Lear, sent across the river to Port Tobacco for Dr.
Gustavus Brown. When Dr. Craik arrived he was alarmed at the condition
of his friend, bled him twice, and asked to have Dr. Dick called for
consultation. The three doctors battled with their primitive knowledge
as best they knew how. Dr. Craik rarely left the room, sitting by the
fire, his hand cupped over his eyes. Mrs. Washington sat at the foot of
the bed, while Tobias Lear noted every passing moment for posterity and
gave what aid he could to make the patient comfortable. About five
o'clock Washington said to Craik, "Doctor, I die hard but I am not
afraid to go. I believed from my first attack that I should not survive
it. My breath cannot last long." Life dragged five hours more, and when
the end came Dr. Craik closed the eyes of him who was his best
friend.[156] The watch which ticked off these awful moments is
preserved in the Museum at Mount Vernon. When the General's will was
opened one of the clauses read:

   To my compatriot in arms, and old & intimate friend, Doct^r Craik, I
   give my Bureau (or as the Cabinet makers call it, Tambour Secretary)
   and the circular chair--an appendage of my Study.[157]

[Illustration: Mantel in the house at 209 Prince Street which John
Harper rented to Dr. Craik from 1790 to 1795 at £60 per annum and which
bears a plate erroneously marking the domicile of Dr. Dick, who lived
next door]

This desk and chair migrated with a later generation of Craiks to
Kentucky and afterward the heirloom chair was presented as a token of
esteem to General Andrew Jackson. Happy to relate, both pieces are again
united in the library at Mount Vernon.

There remained for Dr. Craik one more duty to perform at Mount Vernon.
In May 1802, two and a half years after the death of her husband, Martha
Washington fell ill. This old friend of her married life of forty years
watched over her for the seventeen days that remained and was with her,
too, when she breathed her last.

Doctor Craik lived for fifteen years after the death of his friend and
patron, hale and hearty to the end. In 1810 he put up his Alexandria
house as security for a loan and it was sold at public auction March 23,
1810, to Rebecca Taylor.

Doctor Craik died on February 6, 1814, in his eighty-fourth year at his
country estate, Vauclause, near Alexandria. He lies in the graveyard of
the old Presbyterian meetinghouse.

His house in Alexandria, at 210 Duke Street, was fittingly enough in
1943 made habitable once again by another physician, Dr. Laurence A.
Thompson, and Mrs. Thompson.

[Illustration: Dr. James Craik and Dr. Elisha Dick]


Chapter 17

Alexandria's Old Apothecary Shop

[With the settlement of the Leadbeater estate in 1933, these two
adjoining buildings were acquired by the Landmarks Society of Alexandria
and the contents purchased by the American Pharmaceutical Association.
Under the direction of Mrs. Robert M. Reese the buildings have been
restored and opened to the public as a museum with displays generously
lent by the American Pharmaceutical Association. Entrance at 107 South
Fairfax Street.]

Among the Quakers who settled in Alexandria there was a young man by the
name of Edward Stabler, who came from Petersburg, Virginia. By 1792 he
had established himself in the drug business on Fairfax Street between
King and Prince. The major portion of his first stock of drugs came from
London and cost about £106. Today his shop is famous as the second
oldest apothecary shop in the United States in continuous operation and
has been conducted by five generations of Stabler's descendants, the
name of the proprietor changing to Leadbeater in 1852.

Always the proprietors maintained the most unique relations, business
and social, with their patrons. Extant today are orders for one quart of
castor oil from Martha Washington, an order for paint from George
Washington Parke Custis, and many other curious and historical records,
including the comments on a bad debt. In 1801 Mr. Stabler ordered from
his dealer in London:

   One medicine chest, complete with weights, scales, bolus knives, etc.
   I want this to be mahogany, of good quality as it is for the
   granddaughter of the widow of General Washington, the cost to be
   about 12 guineas.

[Illustration: Alexandria's Old Apothecary Shop, where Georgian and
Victorian meet]

There is a story in Alexandria that it was in this shop that the
messenger, Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart, from the War Department, found
General R.E. Lee chatting with the proprietor, his old friend, the
senior Leadbeater, and delivered to the then Colonel Lee sealed orders
from General Winfield Scott ordering him to Harpers Ferry to take
command during John Brown's raid. It may be safely said that this shop
was commonly used as a place of meeting by the gentlemen of the town who
gathered there to exchange views and hear the latest news.

There remain in the old pharmacy early hand-blown bottles, counters and
showcases, weights and scales, mortars and pestles, prescriptions, old
ledgers, and much unidentified impedimenta of these early apothecaries.
The decoration of the interior is indicative of the five generations who
have lived and worked here. Georgian and Victorian blend in a harmonious
whole. The exterior has been admirably restored to eighteenth century
correctness--semicircular windows and all. The shop proper is the ground
floor of a three-story business structure. Adjoining is an associated
gift shop, also on the ground floor of a three-story building, and the
two structures must appear very much as they did when built.


Chapter 18

Spring Gardens

[414 Franklin Street. Owners: Mr. and Mrs. Harry W. Harris.]

The stranger arriving in Alexandria by ship, coach, or horse could be
sure of a welcome. The old port was noted for her taverns. They were
numerous and good. At the taverns the gentlemen of the town were wont to
gather for an oyster supper, a turtle feast, or a cockfight. The Masonic
brothers sought these places for their banquets, and often for their
meetings. Here stagecoaches drew up with bustle and excitement to put
out the mail, change the horses, set down and take up the passengers,
and let the traveler call for a draught of ale. Here the mail was
collected and distributed. Here sailors could find a berth, the stranger
a roaring fire, a glass of grog, food, bed and forage for his weary

In 1753 at a court held at Fairfax, the rate for a night's lodging with
clean sheets was fixed at 6_d._, "otherwise 3 pence." For a quart of
punch with loaf sugar, 1_s._ 3_d._; for a quart of punch with brown
sugar, 10_d._ For a hot dish with small beer or cider, 1_s._; for a cold
dish, 4_d._ Stablage and fodder for a horse for twenty-four hours,
6_d._; pasturage for twenty-four hours, 4_d._ It was ordered that "the
several and respective ordinary keepers in this county do sell according
to the above rates in money or tobacco at the rate of twelve shillings
and six pence per cubic weight, and that they do not presume to demand
more of any person what so ever."[158]

Among the Alexandria taverns of note that flourished in the late
eighteenth century was Spring Gardens or Yates' Tavern, as the place was
known in comparatively recent years. The little brick buildings were
surrounded by spacious grounds, the walks edged in box, arbors covered
with vines, grapes, fruit and shade trees all but hiding it from view.

In the _Columbia Mirror and Alexandria Gazette_ of Saturday, January 12,
1793, the following advertisement appeared:

   Oyster House--Spring Gardens. The subscriber informs his Friends and
   the Gentlemen of Alexandria that he intends providing oyster suppers
   at his house this winter on the most moderate terms and at the
   shortest notice. Those who may incline to favor him with their
   custom, may rest assured that there shall be nothing wanting on his
   part to give general satisfaction.

                        ABEL WILLIS

Again Spring Gardens figured in the news of October 5, 1795, when this
advertisement appeared in the _Virginia Gazette and Alexandria
Advertiser_ of that date:

   To be sold by Private Contract. The unexpired term of the lease or
   covenant of that desirable lot called Spring Gardens with all its
   extensive improvements. The lease or covenant has many and great
   advantages annexed to it. Apply to the proprietor on the premises.

                         H. WILBUR.

Some time previously, in 1793, H. Wilbur in the same publication
announced that the "Late Master of the Steine House Academy
Brighthelm-stone, Begs leave Respectfully to inform the Public in
General that his Academy will open on Monday next, the 27th, inst. for
the reception of ten young Ladies at Two Dollars per month, pens and ink

Was Spring Gardens a young ladies academy as well as oysterhouse, tavern
and jockey club?

The tradition that Spring Gardens was the second Jockey Club seems to be
borne out in the announcement of the spring races which appeared on
Saturday, May 20, 1797:

       Red House Spring Races

   To be run for on Thurs. 25th inst. over Jockey Club course. A
   subscription purse of 100 dollars, three mile heats, free for any
   horse, mare or gelding. Aged horses to carry 126 lbs; six year old
   118; 5 years old 110; 4 years 98 and three years old feather.

   On Friday, a Purse of $50.00, 2 mile heats, Saturday a Purse of
   $50.00, mile heats. The Purses shall be at the Post.

   The horses to be entered the day preceding each race with me or pay
   double on entrance; the winning horse on each preceding day only
   excepted. I have expended a great deal of money in altering and
   improving the course it is now approved by the best judges of
   racing. No exertion shall be wanting to give satisfaction by the
   publics devoted servent.

                         JAMES GARDINER

   Last day a feather.

   N.B. The Jockey Club Races will commense on Wed. 20th, Sept. next.

   The Races were intended for the 18th, 19th, and 20th, but the
   commencement of the District Court being altered from the 12th to the
   18th inst. was only known this day by the public's obedient servant.

                         JAMES GARDINER

   N.B. On the 15th June following a colts purse or sweepstake will
   certainly be run for; each subscriber putting five guineas in the
   purse the day before starting. Several are already entered. The Colts
   that are admissable may be known by an application to J.G.

[Illustration: Rear of Spring Gardens or Yate's Tavern]

General Washington was a visitor many times and on July 4, 1798, he
recorded in his diary: "Went up to the Celebration of the Anniversary of
Independance and dined in the Spring Gardens near Alexa. with a large
Compa. of the Civil and Military of Fairfax County."[159] His cash
accounts for the day set his expenses in Alexandria "at the Anniversary
of Independance" as £1 4_s._[160] A Philadelphia newspaper gave a full
account of the festivities:

   _Alexandria_, July 7--The 23rd [_sic_] Anniversary of American
   Independence was celebrated by the inhabitants of this town, on
   Wednesday last, with the greatest harmony and conviviality.--Every
   thing conspired to render the business of the day a varied scene of
   patriotism and social joy; and the dignified presence of the beloved
   WASHINGTON, our illustrious neighbor, gave such a high colouring to
   the tout ensemble, that nothing was wanting to complete the picture.
   The auspicious morning was ushered in by a discharge of sixteen guns.
   At 10 o'clock the uniform companies paraded; and, it must be
   acknowledged, their appearance was such as entitled them to the
   greatest credit, while it reflects honor on their officers and the
   town--it was perfectly military: ... The different corps were
   reviewed in King street by General Washington, and Col. Little, who
   expressed the highest satisfaction at their appearance and
   manoeuvring; after which they proceeded to the Episcopal Church,
   where a suitable discourse was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Davis. Of
   this discourse I may say, with the expressive Collins, it was

                   "Warm, energetic, chaste, sublime."

   A dinner was prepared at Spring Gardens by Mr. John Stavely; which,
   considering the number of citizens and military that partook of it
   (between 4 and 500) was conducted with the greatest propriety and
   decorum.--Ludwell Lee, esq. presided at the head of the table--the
   foot was honored by Col. Charles Little.... GEN. WASHINGTON was
   escorted into town by a detachment from the troop of Dragoons. He was
   dressed in full uniform, and appeared in good health and spirits. The
   troops went through a number of military evolutions during the day,
   with all of which the General was particularly pleased, and bestowed
   many encomiums on their martial appearance.--_Claypoole's American
   Daily Advertiser_, July 19.[161]

In the last years of his life, the General again "Went up to Alexa. and
dined with a number of the Citizens there in celebration of the
Anniversary of the declaration of American Independence."[162] And again
the Philadelphia newspaper reported:

   _Alexandria_, July 6.--The 23rd anniversary of the American
   Independence was celebrated in this town with the greatest harmony
   and decorum. The military commands agreeably to orders previously
   given, mustered in the court house square, and the line was formed in
   Fairfax street. After going through the manual, which was performed
   with the strictest exactitude, Col. John Fitzgerald, accompanied by
   John Potts, Esq., passed the line in review, and expressed his
   satisfaction at their military and elegant appearance. The battalion
   then marched, by sections, up King street, and formed the line there
   to receive their beloved chief General GEORGE WASHINGTON. On his
   passing the line the usual military honors were paid; and it is with
   pleasure I remark, that the Cincinnatus of America appeared in
   excellent health and good spirits.

   Lieutenant General Washington dined at Col. Kemp's tavern, with a
   select party of friends.--_Claypoole's American Daily Advertiser_,
   July 11.[163]

Whether Colonel Kemp at this time kept the Spring Gardens Tavern, the
deponent sayeth not!

       *       *       *       *       *

Thrilling tales of long departed patrons who haunt the old red house are
told by the Misses Lewis and Evans, who lived in this house for several
years. When the family of three sat down for their evening meal, they
were disturbed by the consciousness of the presence of unseen persons.
Often they raised their wine glasses in a silent toast to the invisible
guests and empty chairs. On several occasions a brave spirit clad in
buff and blue was clearly seen, only to vanish into the heavy six-panel
door--to the utter astonishment of three pairs of eyes. Once on a clear
moonlight night, a great brick barn appeared in the place of a modest
wooden structure which stands today. The lady who first saw it called
her companion and asked her what she saw. The immediate reply was "An
enormous brick barn." For a while they thought it an optical illusion
produced by moonlight and clouds and waited at the window to see the
bricks disintegrate into the factual wooden structure. But the ladies
retired leaving the great brick apparition still standing. Colonel W.H.
Peake, the recent owner, when told this story, confirmed it to the
extent of admitting that there was a large brick foundation under the
present frame building.

Colonel and Mrs. Peake added a half story to the two wings and increased
the length of the ell. The old tavern faces the street bravely, and the
sturdy, paneled front door swings on H&L hinges as in days long past. In
the brick-walled garden behind, arbors are fragrant with grape and
wisteria. Hollyhocks flourish in the borders. A modern garage replaces
the stables where the gentry of Alexandria and the neighborhood put up
their horses when they frequented the "Oyster House." In this mellowed
atmosphere of Spring Gardens, it is pleasant to turn one's thoughts
backward and reflect on the gay evening when it cost the General £1
4_s._ to celebrate "Independance."


Chapter 19

William Fitzhugh and Robert E. Lee

Another fine example of late eighteenth century federal architecture in
Alexandria is the residence at 607 Oronoco Street,[Owners: Mr. and Mrs.
Robert C. Goodale.] commonly spoken of as the boyhood home of Robert E.
Lee. This house abounds with memories of Alexandria. Her history,
romance, and past are interwoven here in a perfect pattern. Washington,
perhaps, frequented this house more than any other save Dr. Craik's
after the Fitzhughs moved to Alexandria from Chatham near

Built by John Potts in 1795 on land purchased from Charles Alexander,
the date is attested by the stone fixed high in the wall under the
carved cornice. Potts and his wife, Elizabeth, deeded the property to
William Fitzhugh in 1799 for the sum of twelve thousand dollars.

The house and garden occupy half a city block. A central hall runs
through the house and every room opens by window or door into the
garden. The woodwork in the house, while simple, is in the best
tradition and, save for two missing mantels, is undisturbed. The
stairway rises on the left of the hall in a series of easy steps to a
landing that crosses one end of the hall and then mounts on the right
side to the second floor. The decoration of the risers and landing, in a
diamond motif paneled in a delicate mold, is reminiscent of the
designer, Adam. Two superb rooms open off the hall on each side, and the
dining room and offices are in an ell on a lower level. There are Adam
mantels of great beauty in the two master bedrooms on the second floor.
The doors, chair rails, cornices, floors, and locks are in a fine state
of preservation throughout the house.

In the kitchen is the brick oven with patent doors made in England and
inserted in the chimney about the time the house was built. A few years
ago, the former owners, Dr. and Mrs. R.R. Sayers, went to the address of
the manufactory at Stratton, 173 Cheapside, London. It was still in
operation and there they were able to purchase needed parts for the
faithful old oven.

Virginia is more like the mother country in the relations that exist
between her aristocratic classes, than any other part of the Union save,
perhaps, South Carolina. These people moved in one large circle,
marrying and intermarrying, related and associated as one enormous
family. Welcome in one another's homes, they kept alive family ties by
visits and letters, both of considerable length. It was quite possible
to go away from home for several years for a series of visits, moving
from one estate to another and remaining for the season--all the while
renewing associations within the chosen orbit.

Of this hierarchy was William Fitzhugh. A man of charm and culture,
reared in the days and traditions of the great planters, he kept open
house at Chatham, near Fredericksburg, the year around. Travelers en
route to and from Williamsburg and Richmond were entertained in a lavish
fashion. With the formation of the new government, the stream of
visitors increased to such an extent that the Fitzhughs were being eaten
out of house and home, and found it necessary to escape from their
friends. They selected Alexandria as a place of domicile. Chatham was
placed on the market in 1796.

A lifelong friend and associate of George Washington, there was great
intimacy between the two families. Fitzhugh contributed two fine does to
the Mount Vernon deer park in 1786, and the same year forwarded a supply
of orchard grass seed for the General's use. A year before Washington's
death his good offices as neighbor and friend were directed toward the
acquisition of a horse that would best serve Washington's purpose.
Entries in George Washington's diaries attest the many times that the
Fitzhughs were at Mount Vernon, and the Washingtons at Chatham or
Alexandria. On January 3, 1798: "Mrs. Washington, myself, etc., went to
Alexandria and dined with Mr. Fitzhugh,"[164] and on April 3, 1799,
"went to Alexandria and lodged myself with Mr. Fitzhugh";[165] the next
day he "returned to Alexandria and again lodged at Mr. Fitzhugh's."[166]
The last mention in Washington's diary of his old friends is in the last
month of his life, dated November 17, 1799, "went to Church in
Alexandria and dined with Mr. Fitzhugh."[167]

[Illustration: The Alexandria home bought by William Fitzhugh of Chatham
to escape from his friends]

To Fitzhugh's house came Washington Custis wooing, and successfully,
too, Mary Lee Fitzhugh. George Washington did not live to see the
marriage between the daughter of this old friend and his adopted son,
George Washington Parke Custis; nor the splendid Arlington mansion,
following that new fashion of likeness to a Greek temple, that was to
house the Custis and Lee families for three generations. He knew those
rolling acres of the Arlington plantation, but never dreamed they were
destined to become the emerald pall for America's warrior dead.

In the _Alexandria Daily Gazette, Commercial and Political_ of Friday,
January 12, 1810, appeared the following advertisement:

   On Wednesday, the 17th instant will be sold between the hours of ten
   and eleven at the house of William Fitzhugh, esquire, deceased, a
   quantity of

                        Household Furniture

   consisting of carpets, chairs, tables, bedsteads, etc., as also a
   carriage and one or two horses. Of all sums of twenty dollars or
   under, immediate payment will be expected, on all over a credit of
   six months will be given, and bond with approved security required:

           Robert Randolph
           Executor of Wm. Fitzhugh

[Illustration: The Alexandria home of "Light Horse" Harry Lee's widow.
The house that General Lee loved]

William Fitzhugh's will was probated on December 23, 1809. To each of
his two daughters who had "made themselves as dear as children can be to
an affectionate Father," he left the sum of two thousand pounds, certain
slaves (about sixteen) and lands containing eight hundred acres, for
since they were "equal in his affections" he wished them to have an
equal quantity. After other bequests, the residue of his estate passed
to his only son, William Henry Fitzhugh, with the admonition and hope
that he would make proper use of it. He appointed his two sons-in-law,
William Craik and George Washington Parke Custis, also Edmund I. Lee and
Robert Randolph, as guardians of his son's estate until he came of age,
and as executors of his will. The inventory of the contents of his house
is that of a rich man, who lived in the comfort and elegance of his
time. Appropriately enough, a pair of his knife boxes have found their
way to Mount Vernon.

[Illustration: General Lee's bedroom, showing the railing of the little
stair leading to his mother's room]

William Henry Fitzhugh married Anna Maria Goldsborough of Maryland and
built the house on the Ravensworth estate so intimately associated with
the Fitzhughs and Lees. In September 1820, he sold the house in
Alexandria to William Brent of Stafford for ten thousand dollars.
William Brent Jr., lost the house by indebtedness to the Mechanics Bank
of Alexandria in 1824. The bank was the highest bidder at $3,500.

Young Fitzhugh met an early death shortly after his marriage when thrown
by his horse. He was an only son and he died childless so that branch
of the clan ended with the death of Mrs. George Washington Parke Custis.
Fitzhugh's widow lived for forty years at Ravensworth.

[Illustration: The mantel in Mrs. Harry Lee's bedroom]

Later William Hodgson and his family owned the Oronoco Street house for
a couple of generations and in turn sold the house to William C. Yeaton,
who owned it for some twenty-odd years. This family planted many
tropical trees, the unique magnolia and the lemon trees among them. In
1883 the house was sold at public auction for one thousand dollars to
Mary E. Fleming, widow of Dr. Robert F. Fleming, "she being the highest

It is a strange coincidence that to this Alexandria home of the
Fitzhughs came, about 1818, the widow of a gentleman active in the
affairs of the nation. He had commanded, during the Revolution, a Legion
bearing his own name; he had served as governor of his state from 1792
to 1795; as a member of Congress from 1799 to 1801, and he it was who
prepared the memorial resolutions which were presented when word reached
Philadelphia of Washington's decease, declaring him in immortal words:
"First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his fellow
citizens." In fact, he liked the phrase himself and used it with a
slight modification in the halls of Congress when making his celebrated
eulogy of Washington.

This widow then resident in the former home of William Fitzhugh was Mrs.
Henry Lee, born Anne Carter of Shirley. Exiled from Stratford when her
eldest stepson came into his patrimony, she and her husband, General
Lee, known to all Virginians as "Light Horse Harry," moved to
Alexandria. The Lees occupied several houses from time to time, but on
October 14, 1824, Mrs. Lee was at home in the house on the northwest
corner of St. Asaph and Oronoco Streets and she received a visitor of
such importance that it made history. The guest, who was no less a
personage than General the Marquis de la Fayette, came to pay his
respects to the wife of his friend. This visit was witnessed by the
young Quaker, Benjamin Hallowell, who had moved into the house next door
with his bride of a day, and stood in the doorway to watch the Marquis
go by. Moreover, the Marquis saw the young couple and "made a graceful

Mrs. Henry Lee, with her family of boys, occupied this house for seven
years. Robert Edward's room adjoined hers, on a lower level, being
connected by a small stairway.

Shortly after Mr. Hallowell opened his school, Robert E. Lee went to him
in February 1825, for instruction in mathematics, preparatory to going
to West Point to prepare himself for the Army.

Naturally the friendliest intimacy existed between the family at
Arlington and the house on Oronoco Street. And so, two years after
leaving West Point, Lieutenant Robert E. Lee, Corps of Engineers,
married, on June 30, 1831, Mary Custis, granddaughter of William
Fitzhugh, and great-granddaughter of Martha Washington.

General Lee always loved this house and after defeat he came back to
Alexandria, which for some time had been in command of the Union forces,
to take farewell of his family and friends and went again to look once
more upon the scenes of his childhood. The story is told that people
next door were startled to see a man peeping over the wall. Upon
investigation, it proved to be General Lee, who had climbed upon the
wall to look into the garden. He apologized, saying, "I just wanted to
see if the snowballs were in bloom."

To this day the garden, as the house, retains its integrity. All the
growing things associated with old gardens are there--the lilacs,
boxwood, magnolias, lemon trees, iris, syringa, lilies, jonquils,
jasmine, honeysuckle--and General Lee's remembered snowballs.

[Illustration: George Washington Parke Custis; grandson of Martha;
adopted son of George Washington; husband of Mary Fitzhugh;
father-in-law of Robert E. Lee. By Saint Mèmin. (_Courtesy Corcoran
Gallery of Art_)]


Chapter 20

George Washington's Tenements

[123 South Pitt Street. Owners: Mr. and Mrs. Fred Latimer Hadsel.
125 South Pitt Street. Owners: Mr. and Mrs. Harlan Trott.]

On the corner of Pitt and Prince Streets stand two little frame houses
that possess the distinction of being the only buildings in Alexandria
built on George Washington's lots and dating back to his time. Their
history is fairly complete and may be compiled by anyone taking the
trouble to search the records housed in the Alexandria clerk's office
and balancing those data against the well kept accounts and writings of
General Washington.

Alexandria had outgrown her swaddling clothes by 1761 when the trustees
petitioned the assembly for permission to extend the limits of the town.
This was promptly granted. New acreage was added, divided into lots and
sold at auction as formerly. General Washington bought, at the sale held
on May 9, 1763, two half-acres of ground, numbered on the plat as 112
and 118, which he took up later for approximately £48. For the former,
the subject of this sketch, on the northwest corner of Pitt and Prince,
he paid £38. On the latter lot at Pitt and Cameron Streets he built his
town house six years later. As early as 1760 Washington spoke of "my
House in Town," but this earliest reference[168] is believed to have
related to Lawrence Washington's estate, for which he was one of the
executors. Its subsequent story has not been unwound, but all facts
point to the house at South Lee Street as having been built by Lawrence.

General Washington acquired the deed to lot No. 112 in 1765 and mention
was made of it in his will and in the accompanying inventory of his
property. At the time of his death the lot had been subdivided for
building and let on ground rent, for purposes of revenue. The two small
frame houses standing today at 123 Pitt and 501 Prince Streets
unquestionably date from this period.

Time did not deal gently with these little houses and a few years ago
they were condemned by the city council as unfit for habitation and
ordered to be destroyed as they created a fire menace. Former owners
succeeded in allaying the ultimatum of the council, reclaiming them from
oblivion. Unaware that the story of Washington's ownership was true, the
wing of one was demolished, the other is a new addition and replaces a
smaller one too dilapidated to restore. The floors, mantels, much of the
trim, some hardware and two chimneys are original. The uprights were
found to be mortised together and numbered in Roman numerals. Handmade
nails and split wood laths formed part of the original construction.
Preservation of the structure was the urgent concern.

In her _History of Old Alexandria_ Mrs. Powell tells an interesting
anecdote relating to the construction of these houses. The mention of
"Mr. La Fayette" identifiable as the son of the Marquis, fixes the
period at 1797. It seems that the coach had been sent to Alexandria from
Mount Vernon for repairs and stood in the courtyard of the coachmaker's
waiting to be called for. Two little children, Hannah Taylor and Joe
Peters, were playing hide-and-seek in the courtyard. The little girl
opened the door and hid in the coach. Joe failed to find her, and she
fell asleep. The carriage was called for, the horses hitched and driven
to Mount Vernon, without awakening the child. Only when the coach came
to a standstill in the stable yard did she awake, much frightened and in
tears. She was carried at once to the house, soothed and petted. The
General dispatched a servant on horseback to tell Mr. and Mrs. Taylor
that the little girl was safe and would be returned in the morning. She
dined with the family, sat next to Miss Nelly, and was laughed at by a
young man called "Mr. La Fayette" whom she did not like. She was put to
bed by the Negro maid, Caroline Brannum, in a little room at the head of
the stairway, wearing one of Miss Nelly's gowns, much too large, but
with beautiful lace on neck and sleeves, her sheets warmed by the first
copper warming pan she had ever seen. Caroline left the candle burning
until Hannah fell asleep, to keep the little girl from being frightened.
She had a splendid breakfast and was returned home in the coach wrapped
in a large shawl and with a piece of cake as booty.

After that she frequently saw General Washington on the streets of
Alexandria. "He often walked past her father's shop to the corner of
Pitt and Prince, where two small frame houses were being built, and he
seemed to be giving some directions to the carpenters, but he did not
recognize Hannah who stood in too much awe of the great man to make
herself known."[169] Hannah was all of seven years old at the time of
the visit. Her trip to Mount Vernon furnished her with conversational
matter for the rest of her life.

[Illustration: Washington identified this sketch: "Col^o Fitzgerald
respect^g my Vacant Lot-in-Alexandria" and the notation under Prince
Street is also in his handwriting. This rough draft seems to have been
done by Fitzgerald pursuant to the General's letter to him, dated June
12, 1797. (_Courtesy Library of Congress_)]

The little houses, known in Alexandria for many years as the Washington
Tenements, fell to the lot of his nephew, Lawrence Washington, in the
division of the estate.

Now to explore the title for those whose time does not permit or whose
inclination does not incite to delving into old and dusty records.

In February 1767 Washington, in an irate letter to Carlyle & Adam, who
had neglected to pay for some wheat, soundly berates them, complaining
that in September 1764, he passed his bond for the wheat for "some lotts
in Alexandria as payment," only to have the money demanded again with
interest and "was at some pains to convince Mr. John Alexander of the
unreasonableness of paying twice for the same thing."[170]

[Illustration: The Washington Tenements]

Writing to his friend, the Secretary of War, Henry Knox, in January
1785, he says, "... Rents have got to such an amazing height in
Alexandria, that (having an unimproved lot or two there) I have
thoughts, if my finances will support me in the measure, of building a
House, or Houses thereon for the purpose of letting."[171] Later in that
same year he confides to Knox that his finances were not equal to
undertaking the projected building in Alexandria.

Ten years later the lot was still unimproved, when Halley, who owned
abutting property, was desirous of acquiring ten feet of Washington's
land for an alley. The deal did not go through and a year later William
Summers offered the owner three thousand dollars for the lot in
question, which was declined. President Washington wrote Tobias Lear,
his secretary, under date of March 21:

   I have no wish to part with the lot unless I can do it upon
   advantageous terms, and can dispose of the Money in a more productive
   manner. I had thoughts of building on it, but this would be attended
   with trouble, and perhaps a good deal of impositions; as it could not
   be properly attended to in the execution of the work. And besides
   workmens wages and materials are very high at this time.[172]

Shades of a later postwar era!

By June 1797, Washington had determined upon the subdivision as a
solution. This was time-honored practice locally. To John Fitzgerald, on
June 12 he wrote, "If you have had leizure to examine my unimproved lot
in Alexa, more attentively, and have digested any plan in your own mind
for an advantageous division of it, I would thank you for the result, as
I wish to fix on a Plan." A plot plan, docketed by Washington "my vacant
lot in Alex" has been found among his papers preserved in the Library of
Congress,[173] and is worthy of reproduction. That this plan was carried
out almost to the letter is revealed by the text of an advertisement
prepared in July to be set up in the gazettes:

   The Subscriber having resolved to lay off the half acre lot which he
   holds in the town of Alexandria (bounded by Prince and Pitt Streets)
   into convenient building squares, gives this public notice thereof;
   and of his intention to lease them forever, on ground Rent. Five and
   a half feet extending from Prince Street, will be added to the alley
   already left by Mr. Rickets, across to Mr. Halleys lot; and another
   Alley of ten feet will be laid out about midway the lot from Pitt
   Street until it intersect the former Alley. All the lots on Prince
   Street will extend back to this Alley, and be about 83 or 4 feet in
   depth. And the lots North thereof will extend from Pitt Street to the
   first mentioned Alley, and be four in number of equal front (about 21
   feet each). The other lot will have a breadth of 26 feet on Prince
   Street and about 83 or 4 on Pitt Street, or may be divided into
   [illegible] remaining front on the former street will be divided into
   [illegible] lotts, equal in size and abt. 24 or 5 feet front each. If
   any persons should be inclined to make offers for the lots here
   described, or any of them, Mr. Jas. Anderson (my manager) will
   receive the same [illegible] shortly, the lotts will be exposed at
   public sale, of which notice will be given.[174]

The following September, writing to James Harrison, he said, "The Ground
Rent of the lot I have offered to Lease, in Alexandria, is three dollars
a foot, for what it measures on _each_ Street. This I must obtain as an
annual Rent or the lot will not be disposed of in that way."[175]

Washington died on December 14, 1799, and his will, written July 9,
1799, was probated January 20, 1800. In an annexed schedule of property
which he directed be sold (some conditionally disposed of) with
explanatory notes relative thereto appears this entry:


   Corner of Pitt & Prince Stts. half an Acre--laid out into build[in]gs
   3 or 4 of wch. are let on grd. Rent at $3 pr. foot. 4,000(t)[176]

Under the note "t" the property is further described: "For this lot
though unimproved, I have refused $3500.--It has since been laid off
into proper sized lots for building on--three or 4 of which are let on
ground Rent--forever--at three dollars a foot on the street,--and this
price is asked for both fronts on Pitt & Princes Street."[177]

These lots were included in the estate left to his wife for her
lifetime. Martha Washington died on May 22, 1802. On June 7, 1803, the
executors of Washington's estate sold this half-acre lot divided into
nine lots, Nos. 1 to 4 on Pitt and Nos. 5 to 9 on Prince. An alley ten
feet wide separated the Prince Street lots from those on Pitt. Only one
lot was unimproved. The executors submitted this sale along with others
made the same day to be recorded at Fairfax July 15, 1811.

The lot at the intersection of Pitt and Prince, bearing the number 5 in
the division, was sold to L.A. Washington for $1,613.33, bringing more
by nearly four hundred dollars than any of the other eight.

Lawrence Augustine Washington's deed for this property was dated August
7, 1804, and calls for "twenty-five feet four inches on Prince Street,
beginning at the intersection, running in depth parallel to Pitt
eighty-three feet to a ten-foot alley, and all Houses, Buildings,
Improvements, Streets and Allies."[178]

On the death of Lawrence A. Washington the little houses and the lot on
the corner of Prince and Pitt Streets became the property of his son,
Robert W. Washington. He in turn sold the property to Alexious Johnson,
at whose death it was sold at public auction by Samuel Bartle,
commissioner, to William Gregory for $605.00 on July 11, 1844. Three
years later, September 13, 1847, Will and Mary Gregory sold the same
property to Benjamin Huges. Benjamin and Susan Huges divided the
property, selling 30 feet 10 inches on Pitt Street to Joseph Francis
Cook on July 15, 1874, and on July 26, 1887, the Huges sold the house
and lot on the corner of Prince and Pitt, running 25 feet west on Prince
and 52 feet north on Pitt to J. Frank Taylor. On July 17, 1874, Joseph
Francis Cook and his wife, Georgeanna, conveyed to Taylor the part they
had previously bought from the Huges.

On April 20, 1897, J. Frank Taylor conveyed this same property to Walter
G. Rogers, and on April 20, 1900, Walter G. Rogers and his wife, Matilda
A. Rogers, sold to George T. Klipstein. In 1935 the property was
purchased by Charles B. and Gay Montague Moore, and in 1945 the property
was again divided, and the house on Pitt Street was sold to Mr. Charles
Francis Alexander, and the Prince Street House to Colonel Hubbard.

[Illustration: In England a Georgian Cottage, but in Alexandria a great


Chapter 21

The Georgian Cottage

[711 Prince Street. Owner: Mrs. Andrew Pickens.]

Alexandria was never a large town. The thrifty merchants of this
Scottish trading center built well, and their dwellings abound in
architectural interest, but really great houses are rare. On the 700
block of Prince Street, behind a picket fence, guarded by a tall
magnolia and several gnarled box trees stands what is called in England
a "Georgian cottage," which in Alexandria is an important house.

On November 2, 1797, William Thornton Alexander and Lucy, his wife, sold
to James Patron, of Fairfax County, half an acre of land situated in
Fairfax County in the state of Virginia, adjacent to the town of
Alexandria and bounded as follows:

   Vizt: On the South by Prince Street, on the West by Columbus Street.
   Beginning at the corner formed by the intersection of the East side
   of Columbus Street and with the North side of Prince Street and
   running Eastwardly with Prince Street 123 feet 5 inches, thence
   Northerly and parallel with Columbus Street one hundred and seventy
   six feet seven inches, thence Westerly and parallel with Prince
   Street 123 feet 5 inches thence Southerly with Columbus Street to the
   point of beginning.[179]

This was subject forever to a ground rent of £30 in good and lawful
money of Virginia. On this lot James Patton erected a type of house well
known locally as a "flounder," because of its narrow width. Such a
building was usually set back from the street, anticipating fuller
architectural development when the flounder became the ell of the larger
house. Patton's home, though diminutive, was comfortable and it had
convenient gardens and pleasant surroundings. Here he lived until
overtaken by that ogre of all Alexandria shipping merchants--compound

He became indebted to the firm of Marsteller & Young to the amount of
ten thousand dollars and sundry notes discounted for his use at the Bank
of Alexandria to the amount of nine thousand dollars. To afford full
indemnity, he sold in November 1809, to Robert I. Taylor, twenty-five
shares of Potomac Bank stock, six shares of Little River Turnpike stock,
ten shares of Great Hunting Creek bridge stock, a house and lot on
Fairfax Street, and two squares of ground under the charter of
Alexandria, adjoining Spring Gardens, bought of Jesse Sims, and the brig
_John_ of Alexandria. Also relinquished to Taylor in the settlement of
his debts was the half-acre on Prince and Columbus Streets "with the
buildings and improvements thereupon erected."[180]

A year later William Fowle with "the consent and concurrance of all
parties," purchased the said lot of ground and improvements from James
Patton at the price of $6,550.

William Fowle had come to Alexandria in 1800 from Boston to enter, as a
partner, the important shipping firm which became Lawrason & Fowle. He
married Miss Esther Taylor, daughter of George Taylor of Broomalaw and
they are purported to have had eighteen children, eight of whom they
reared to maturity. Fowle's father-in-law is remembered as the last
gentleman in Alexandria to hold to the fashion of knee breeches and silk
stockings. As he lived well into the nineteenth century, his figure clad
in "short clothes" and leaning upon a high cane (similar to those
associated with the Court of Louis XVI) was a familiar sight upon the
streets of Alexandria long after such a costume had become a curiosity.
Taylor entertained no idea of giving up the habits of his ancestors, nor
of complying with any such folderol as high choker collars and
pantaloons so tightly strapped under a gentleman's gaiters that someone
had to invent a machine for jumping into them.

The Fowles were agreeable hosts and the Georgian cottage was the scene
of many gay gatherings and fine dinners. The family took part in all the
festivities of the town--balls at Gadsby's, the theatre; trips to
Boston, doubtless in their own ships, were frequent. William Fowle was
senior warden at Christ Church for many years.

[Illustration: Elegance and grace, harmony and beauty in brick and wood
and iron. Regency at its best in Alexandria]

Thirty-six years after Fowle moved to Alexandria the following notice
appeared in one of the papers. It is interesting to observe that the
firm was now "William Fowle & Co."

   The splendid ship Alexandria, about 500 tons burthen, built under the
   superintendence of Captain William Morrell, for William Fowle & Co.,
   and others, and to be commanded by Capt. Charles W. Turner was
   launched in beautiful style on Thursday.

[Illustration: The stair sweeps up, circular wall, window and door in

William Fowle was a man of taste as well as means. He improved his
garden by acquiring adjoining property and extending his grounds as far
east as Washington Street and as far north as King, adding several new
outbuildings. Nor did he stop with horticulture. He took up architecture
and deftly transformed his home to the ample size and satisfactory
design all admire. The earlier flounder house became one of the fine
houses of Alexandria--and one of the loveliest. By the addition of a
wing to the left of the present doorway, a beautiful Palladian window,
and new entrance porch set in a gabled bay, Fowle changed the front
façade into the latest mode. The house has an individuality and appeal
unlike anything else in town.

The outstanding architectural interest is in this entrance. Inside as
well as out the design and wood carving are chaste and elegant. Four
slender columns support a shallow balcony whose grace and lightness is
produced in a great measure by the fragile spindles carrying the weight
of the projection. The delicate inclosure of wrought iron is Regency at
its best in this medium. It is said he imported the plans for this
arresting doorway from New England. The interior focal point is again
the doorway, for here the beauty in design and wood carving equal the
elegance of the exterior. An added interest is the circular wall, window
and door in the entrance hall.

The drawing room mantel is of gray marble, early Empire in design, a
style which dominates the lower floor. The walls support the original
old whale-oil lamps, complete with engraved shades and prisms.
Interesting family portraits and fine furniture have occupied the same
places for over a century and a quarter. The Sheraton sideboard is

In the garden court, box bushes cluster close to the doorway, perfuming
the air after a summer's shower. Enormous pink poppies, phlox, and roses
grow in riotous abandon, while old-fashioned periwinkle covers the roots
of ancient trees.

It is a satisfactory thought that Fowle's descendants still inhabit his
house, using many of his possessions, for this is one of the few old
residences in Alexandria still in the family. Five generations have
called it home. Two wings, or dependencies, of this house have been
demolished and the garden reduced by time and the inroads of "progress."
What is still a large city garden, no longer touches Washington and King


Chapter 22

The Vowell-Snowden House

[619 South Lee Street.]

Presently the residence of Mr. Justice and Mrs. Hugo L. Black, this
house has been known in Alexandria for about a hundred years as the
Snowden home; and so it was from 1842 to 1912 when it passed from the
hands of that family.

The Snowdens have long been prominent in the old town. Samuel Snowden
became sole owner and editor of the _Alexandria Gazette_ in 1800, a
paper that traces its ancestry back to 1784, and boasts of being the
oldest daily newspaper printed continuously, still in circulation in the
United States. Edgar Snowden succeeded his father as editor, at the age
of twenty-one years. Active in civic affairs, interested in politics, he
was the first representative of Alexandria to the Virginia Assembly
after the retrocession of Alexandria to Virginia in 1846. He ran for
Congress on the Whig ticket when Henry Clay was defeated for the
Presidency and went down with his party.

He was mayor of Alexandria in 1841, and Mrs. Powell states in her
_History of Old Alexandria_ that in a collection of silhouettes in
London is one of "Edgar Snowden, Mayor of Alexandria."

Snowden married Louisa Grymes of the prominent family of Grymesby,
Brandon, and Marmion on the Rappahannock. From this union there were
three sons, Edgar, Jr., Harold and Herbert, "each of whom in turn upheld
the traditions and honor of the old paper."[181]

[Illustration: The Vowell-Snowden House. The widow's walk is missing]

Edgar Snowden purchased the Lee and Franklin Streets property from
Lawrence B. Taylor, who had the house from Thomas Vowell Jr. In a deed
granted August 29, 1798, William Thornton Alexander and Lucy, his wife,
let this property with all houses, buildings, streets, lanes, alleys,
and so on, to Thomas Vowell Jr., for the yearly ground rent of $61.66.
The fact is cited that William Thornton Alexander had the property from
his father, John Alexander. In 1802 Thomas Vowell was released from this
obligation upon payment of £200.

In 1826, in a deed of trust, the house is referred to specifically as a
two-story brick dwelling, with other buildings and improvements. There
is doubt as to whether the present house was built by Alexander or by
Vowell. William Thornton Alexander mentions in the deed of 1798, "all
houses, buildings, streets, lanes, alleys, Etc." The front of the house
is a typical federal house, hardly earlier than 1790 to 1798, and
similar to the New City Hotel, built in 1792. The doorway is almost a
replica of the doorway taken from the tavern to the Metropolitan Museum
of Art and since restored. The transom above the entrance door, in a
deeply recessed arch, is interesting in design. The unusual cornice
excites attention.

Thomas Vowell, in partnership with his brother, John, operated for a
long while a successful mercantile business. The firm of John & Thomas
Vowell owned a large wharf on the east side of Union between Prince and
King Streets and sent out its own ships to the far corners of the earth,
advertising its wares upon their return. George Washington ran an
account with the Vowells and receipts preserved at Mount Vernon tell of
purchases made by James Anderson, his manager. One of Anderson's
dockets, dating from 1798, reaffirms in the inscription the age-old
system of barter, "For Lint seed Sold them & Salt in Exchange." Lean and
hard times were Thomas Vowell's lot. He overreached himself in
speculation--buying and selling property until "by reasons of losses and
misfortunates in trade" we find him mortgaging his warehouse and wharf,
even his house; finally he was forced to part with his home.

Thomas Vowell's first wife, Mary Harper, died in 1805, aged twenty-three
years, and was buried in the old Presbyterian meetinghouse graveyard.
She was the daughter of Captain John Harper; her sister, Margaret,
married Thomas Vowell's brother, John. The graves of the two sisters lie
near the north wall of the church, while their father's remains rest

The Vowell-Snowden house, in splendid condition, stands flush with the
street, surrounded by a half-acre of garden, defying the elements as
well as the hand of time. Much of the fine woodwork has been removed or
destroyed, but the perfect proportion of the rooms is indestructible.
The hall arch and stairway remain untouched and convey some idea of the
former beauty of the woodwork and elegance of the house.

There are people still living in Alexandria who as children played on
the "Widow's" or "Captain's Walk" that formerly topped the old mansion.
A magnificent view up and down the Potomac River could be had from that
vantage spot, long since disappeared.


Chapter 23

The Edmund Jennings Lee House

[428 North Washington Street. Owners: Mr. and Mrs. Franklin F. Korell.]

Many of the citizens of this community bore the greatest names in the
Commonwealth. Henry Cabot Lodge's description of Virginia society in the
eighteenth century might aptly be applied to Alexandria: "We must go
back to Athens to find another instance of a Society so small in numbers
and yet capable of such an outburst of ability and force."

Among the great Virginia names closely associated with Alexandria is
that of Lee. Virginia's (and America's) patriot, Arthur Lee, was born at
Stratford, in Westmoreland County, on December 20, 1740, and died at his
residence, Lansdown, in the old town of Urbanna, Middlesex County, on
December 12, 1792. These fifty-two years he filled with deeds and
action. His primary education was gotten at Eton. From there he went on
to the great University of Edinburgh to study medicine. For a while he
practiced this profession in Williamsburg, but in 1766 we find him
reading law at the Temple in London. By 1770 he had begun his role as a
barrister in London and there he practiced until 1776. For five years of
this time he acted as London agent for Virginia and Massachusetts. Thus
began his diplomatic career. With Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane he
was one of the commissioners to France in 1776, and from this he went on
to other negotiations between America and Europe.

Arthur Lee returned to America in 1780, and from 1782 to 1785 he served
as a member of Congress. During these years he entered somewhat into the
real-estate business in Alexandria. When his will was probated, he left
to his niece, Hannah Washington, wife of Corbin, a half-acre lot on
Washington and Oronoco Streets.

Hannah and Corbin Washington sold a half-acre lot to Charles Lee on
March 19, 1796. It is described as beginning at the intersection of
Washington and Oronoco on the southwest side, running west on Oronoco
123 feet 5 inches and south on Washington 176 feet 7 inches.

Charles Lee and Anne, his wife, sold this property to their brother,
Edmund I. Lee, for five thousand dollars in January 1801. Part of the
lot was rented at that time to Henry Zimmerman, subject to a ground
rent, and part to Howard Beale, and there were houses, ways, advantages,
and so on.

Edmund Jennings (always called Edmund I., following the eighteenth
century usage of I for J) Lee was born just prior to the Revolution in
1772, when great events were stirring. He grew to young manhood in the
post-Revolutionary days, and developed into an able lawyer, one of those
stalwart citizens, giving his time and energy to his family, his church,
and his city. He has been overshadowed by his more famous brothers,
"Light Horse Harry" and Charles Lee, Attorney General in Washington's
cabinet, and his immortal nephew, Robert Edward Lee.

At twenty-four, Edmund Jennings Lee married Sarah Lee, daughter of
Richard Henry Lee of Stratford, his near cousin, and that same year,
1796, settled in Alexandria. Nearly everyone of local prominence dined
at Mount Vernon on some occasion or another--and so did Edmund Lee and
his wife. Washington's diaries record three dates when the former was
present and one when the latter accompanied Attorney General Charles Lee
and his wife. Mrs. Edmund Lee as "Miss Lee" had visited General and Mrs.
Washington innumerable times with her father. As a matter of statistical
interest, the General's diaries enumerate more than one hundred visits
of various Virginia Lees to Mount Vernon.

Edmund I. Lee is remembered in his native city for saving the Glebe
lands for Christ Church. Glebe lands were property belonging to the
Church of England, and used for the support of the rector and the needs
of the parish. After the Revolutionary War the Virginia Assembly
confiscated these lands for the use of the poor. On behalf of the
Alexandria church, now called Christ Church, Edmund I. Lee took this
case to the United States Courts in 1814, protesting the
unconstitutionality of the act. His eloquence, legal knowledge and
labors resulted in the return of the Glebe lands to Christ Church. The
case was won on a technicality, _i.e._, the Virginia Assembly had no
jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, and Alexandria lay in the

In 1810 Lee was president of the common council of the city, a thankless
task which he performed faithfully and cheerfully. The year 1832 saw
"his house and half an acre lot at Washington and Oronoco Streets in
which he now resides for sale or rent." It was not sold, for in his
will, Lee left this dwelling and lot to his two daughters, Sally Lee and
Hannah Stewart, jointly. To his son he left the family Bible and a
cane-bottom settee, formerly owned by William Lee of Green Spring, and a
house and lot at the "bottom of his garden" on Washington Street, and
the "arm-chair" from his drawing room. His son, Cassius Lee, fell heir
to his father's home and there brought up a large family of handsome

Family tradition names Edmund I. Lee as the builder of his home, which
would fix the date of the house at 1801 or later. Everything about the
house is typical of a late eighteenth century federal building. It is
certain that Charles Lee built the mansion around 1796 and that Edmund
I. Lee lived there from the time of his marriage. The price of five
thousand dollars at the time of purchase is also indicative of a
substantial and elegant residence.

This house is a fine federal example and is handsomely fitted out. The
Lee family seems to have had a leaning toward brass hardware, and like
the hinges in the great hall at Stratford, unusual brass latches and
locks are here plentiful. Unquestionably the handsomest brass locks in
Alexandria are in this house. A rare latch in addition to the great
locks is attached to the Washington Street door. This double doorway,
deeply recessed, in a hand-carved Georgian frame, arched and paneled,
challenges the attention of every passer-by. The colonnaded rear gallery
is hung with festoons of wisteria and is the most picturesque and lovely
spot when the great lavender bunches of bloom are scattered and draped
around the vine and against the white columns and railings. The woodwork
throughout the house is in keeping with the dignified exterior. The
rooms are large and inviting; the mantels' trim and stairway are better
than pleasing.

[Illustration: Edmund I. Lee's doorway, an inviting entrance]

Robert E. Lee was first cousin to Cassius Lee. They grew up together,
were of the same age and generation, devoted and sympathetic friends
throughout their lives. For advice and counsel they sought each other.

On April 21, 1861, the Sunday following General Lee's resignation from
the United States Army, he attended Christ Church in Alexandria, and
left his carriage and horses at Cassius Lee's house. Sometime during the
morning, commissioners sent by the Virginia convention arrived at
Arlington House and found General Lee gone to church in Alexandria. They
followed him to the home of Cassius Lee, and there awaited his return
from church. When the two Lee gentlemen, who had walked home from church
together, entered the house, they found the waiting delegation.
Realizing at once that only grave considerations had brought these
gentlemen to his home, Cassius Lee left the room, and dispatched his
family of children to the house of his sister, Mrs. Lloyd. General Lee
had written to General Scott only the day before--on April 20:

   Since my interview with you on the 18th inst. I have felt that I
   ought no longer to retain my commission in the Army. I therefore
   tender my resignation, which I request you will recommend for
   acceptance. It would have been presented at once but for the struggle
   it has cost me to separate myself from a service to which I have
   devoted the best years of my life, and all the ability I
   possessed.... Save in the defense of my native State, I never desire
   again to draw my Sword.[182]

For this purpose the commissioners from the governor and convention had
come, to ask Robert E. Lee to draw his sword--to accept the office of
commander in chief of the Virginia forces.

General Lee arrived in Richmond on April 22, and the next day accepted
from the Secession Convention the command just offered him:

   Trusting to Almighty God, an approving conscience and the aid of my
   fellow citizens, I will devote myself to the defense and service of
   my native State, in whose behalf alone would I ever have drawn my





The effect of the sudden news of his death upon the inhabitants of
Alexandria can better be conceived than expressed. At first a general
disorder, wildness, and consternation pervaded the town. The tale
appeared as an illusory dream, as the raving of a sickly imagination.
But these impressions soon gave place to sensations of the most poignant
sorrow and extreme regret. On Monday and Wednesday the stores were all
closed and all business suspended, as if each family had lost its
father. From the time of his death to the time of his interment the
bells continued to toll, the shipping in the harbor wore their colors
half mast high, and every public expression of grief was observed. On
Wednesday, the inhabitants of the town, of the county, and the adjacent
parts of Maryland proceeded to Mount Vernon to perform the last offices
to the body of their illustrious neighbor. All the military within a
considerable distance and three Masonic lodges were present. The
concourse of people was immense. Till the time of interment the corpse
was placed on the portico fronting the river, that every citizen might
have an opportunity of taking a last farewell of the departed
benefactor.--_The Alexandria Times and District of Columbia Advertiser_,
December 20, 1799.



Five Sketches of the Nineteenth Century


Chapter 24

The Yeaton-Fairfax House

[607 Cameron Street. Owners: The Misses Crilly.]

William Yeaton was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1766, and
migrated to Alexandria to enter the shipping business when a young man.
In the early nineteenth century he launched into the building trade--an
"undertaker" he would have been called in the eighteenth century--an
architect and contractor today.

On July 15, 1805, he purchased from Cuthburt Powell a part of a lot,
granted unto Levin Powell by James Irvine in a deed dated September 10,
1795, and described as situated at the intersection of Cameron and St.
Asaph Streets, running west on Cameron for the distance of one hundred
feet and north on St. Asaph for ninety-eight feet. The consideration
involved one thousand one hundred dollars.

[Illustration: Recessed and panelled doorway to my Lord Fairfax's town

The elegant three-storied square brick house which William Yeaton
erected upon his land is a monument to his talent as a designer. His
residence is an individualized interpretation of the best Georgian
traditions. The façade of the house is broken in the middle by a long
recessed shallow arch, beginning flush with the first belt line, and
continuing nearly to the modillioned cornice. In this recess the middle,
second and third story windows, are centered, giving the effect of a
very high Palladian window. Large arched windows flank each side of the
entrance, while windows of the second and third stories are quite
ordinary, save in proportion. Every window has outside shutters and
molded iron holdbacks.

[Illustration: Washington's Tomb at Mount Vernon. From a sketch
appearing in a letter of William Yeaton to Lawrence Lewis under date of
April 4, 1835. (_Courtesy Mount Vernon Ladies' Association_)]

The entrance, a flat arch flush with the house, opens into a deeply
recessed and paneled vestibule. Side lunettes, leaded transom, double
doors supported by reeded half columns, and an elaborate fret decorate
the arch and door trim, making the doorway a very important element of
the design. Stone front steps and double flights of outcurving steps,
banded by iron railings, contribute emphasis. The watersheds and belt
lines are white, as is the recessed arch, adding a dramatic touch to the
dull red masonry.

To the right, upon entering, runs a long room the entire length of the
house; to the left a small chamber faces the street. A large arch frames
a graceful stair, which winds up to the third floor in a circular
movement. Newel post and stair ends are carved. While woodwork
throughout the house is elaborate, the difference between the first and
second floors is marked. That of the first floor is massive, rather more
dull than interesting, but the second floor, especially the large room,
is startling in that mantel, door trim, chair rail, and baseboard are
carved with the delicate lightness of Adam. The feature of this room is,
of course, the mantel which is centered between two large shell-like
shallow recessed arches, reaching from the floor to the ceiling. The
room might have been done by McIntire at his best.

In 1814 the Yeatons sold their home to a man who immediately disposed of
his interest in the property to the Bank of the Potomac for ten thousand
dollars. Sixteen years later, on December 9, 1830, the house was
purchased as a town residence by Thomas, Ninth Lord Fairfax, for five
thousand dollars, and remained in the Fairfax family for thirty-four
years. Thomas, Ninth Lord Fairfax, in 1800 married Margaret Herbert,
eldest daughter of William and Sarah Carlyle Herbert and granddaughter
of John Carlyle. They had ten children. Mrs. Robert E. Lee (_née_
Custis) was an intimate of the girls of this family and a frequent
visitor in the house.

[Illustration: William Yeaton produced this fine Federal Mansion. A
sample of the interior woodwork]

Doctor Orlando Fairfax succeeded his father as owner from 1848 to 1864.
He bore the title of the "Beloved Physician." The following
advertisements, taken from the files of the _Alexandria Gazette_, give a
brief glimpse of his activities in the 1830s:

   Dr. Fairfax has returned to Alexandria, and is ready to resume the
   practice of his profession in the town and its neighborhood. His
   office is at the N.W. corner of Pitt and Cameron Streets.

   Dr. Fairfax in his late absence of five months, has been constantly
   engaged at Philadelphia in increasing his medical acquirements.

   Dr. Fairfax has returned to Alexandria and is ready to resume the
   practice of his profession. He has, during his late absence from
   Alexandria, witnessed many cases of the epidemic cholera. [1832]

In 1829 Dr. Fairfax had married Mary Randolph Cary, daughter of Wilson
Jefferson Cary. They had nine children.

[Illustration: Arch and staircase in the Yeaton-Fairfax House]

In a deed of April 14, 1864, the fact is revealed that this property was
condemned according to an act of Congress in 1862 "to suppress
insurrection, to punish treason and rebellion to seize and confiscate
property of Rebels and for other purposes."[184] It further records that
on the preceding day, April 13, 1864, Gouverneur Morris, attorney for
Patsy J. Morris, of Westchester County, New York, purchased for four
thousand dollars, he being the highest bidder therefor, all the right,
title, interest and estate of Dr. Orlando Fairfax.

Gouverneur Morris was a brother-in-law of Dr. Orlando Fairfax, and while
living in France sent the Fairfaxes from the palace at Versailles a very
large and elegant mirror which hung in the drawing room, filling one of
the alcoves from floor to ceiling. This mirror is still in existence and
in the possession of Dr. Fairfax's granddaughter, Mrs. Donald MacCrea.

Mrs. Burton Harrison in her _Recollections, Grave and Gay_, relates the
wartime experiences of her uncle and his family who were forced to seek
refuge in Richmond, of their sufferings and privations, and of the death
of the young son of the family, Randolph, barely twenty, killed in
action in mid-December 1862.

During the years of Fairfax occupancy, this mansion was one of the
social and cultural centers of the town; the Fairfaxes were the
important noble family of the "upper reaches of the Potomac." They
intermarried with the Carlyles, Washingtons, Herberts, and Carys. Their
contribution to Alexandria cannot be overrated, for in their personal
lives and public service, they set an example of chivalry and courage.
They have been distinguished by handsome men and beautiful women, by
gentleness and courtly bearing. They have had great wealth and used it
generously; have lost great wealth and borne it nobly. The family is
represented in England today by Thomas Brian, Thirteenth Lord Fairfax,
great-great-grandson of Thomas, Ninth Lord Fairfax.

Let us return to William Yeaton, builder of the mansion on Cameron
Street. It is of vital interest that he was the designer and contractor
for the inclosure of the Tomb of the _Pater Patriae_.[185] The archives
at Mount Vernon contribute a number of papers dealing with this
construction. Here is the proposal which Yeaton addressed to Major
Lawrence Lewis, of Woodlawn, General Washington's nephew and the
executor who supervised the work:

                         Alex April 4th 1835.

   Dear Sir

   I have sent you a sketch of the wall & have anticipated a _Gate_ way
   on one of the sides which I expect will be necessary.

   If you wish the Gate, one something like the sketch will be
   appropriate, you may have the gate made solid--or open as you prefer,
   to releive the dead wall, between the arch and copen there may be
   placed a slab of stone 4 Feet long & one foot wide, or a pannell may
   be formed in the wall.

   I will engage to have the wall erected and find all materials, say
   Forty Five Feet square, ten Feet high, from the bottom of the
   foundation, which is to be two Bricks thick 2 feet high, the peirs to
   continue the same thickness to the copen, the pannells between the
   piers to be one brick & one half thick, the copen to be formed with
   best Brick three courses above the square--the Gateway & Gate similar
   to the sketch the work to be well done, & materials of the best
   quality--For Six hundred dollars,--

     Very respectfully
     Your Obed Servt

                         W. YEATON

This addition was completed by the end of the year at a cost just
slightly in excess of the original six-hundred-dollar estimate. Designed
primarily as a protective wall to inclose the burial vault built in
1831, it contributed an appropriate architectural character to the tomb
lot. The Gothic arch of the completed entrance was in sympathy with a
funereal scene enhanced by willowlike foliage observable in certain
views of the period.

Alterations were made in 1837 which created a vestibule between the
vault and the outer wall and gateway constructed by William Yeaton. It
is not known whether Yeaton again participated in the construction. It
was in 1837 that the bodies of General and Mrs. Washington were removed
from this closed vault behind and permanently entombed in marble
sarcophagi, which the visitor views today in the outer chamber at Mount

[Illustration: William Yeaton, builder and "undertaker" (architect) of
Alexandria. By Saint Mèmin. (_Courtesy Corcoran Gallery of Art_)]


Chapter 25

The La Fayette-Lawrason-Cazenove House

[301 South St. Asaph Street. Owners: Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Wallack.]

The presence of La Fayette was nothing new to Alexandria, yet his
official visit in 1824, as the nation's guest, created a turmoil in the
town. As soon as the news was received of his arrival in New York (it
took two days to reach Alexandria) Captain A. William's company of
artillery arose before dawn to fire a national salute at sunrise, and at
noon the same company fired seventy-six rounds. During the day the
harbor presented the spectacle of all ships displaying their flags at
masthead. When the Marquis reached Baltimore, on October 8,
representatives from the Alexandria city council were on hand to extend
an invitation (in the form of an address) to visit the town, which the
distinguished visitor was pleased to accept.

He was met on the south side of the Potomac River on the 16th by that
same Captain Williams and his company, firing a salvo in salute, and was
addressed in a "neat and handsome" manner by General Jones and suite.
He "then entered a splendid barouche, drawn by four fine grays, with
postilions dressed in white with blue sashes," and thus was escorted by
a company of cavalry under the command of Captain Andrews and a civilian
escort led by Captain James Carson, dressed in blue "with sashes of the
same color." To this splendor add marines, fire companies, the
Alexandria Battalion (1,500 men) all saluting, firing salvos, presenting
arms--two bands playing, reception committees, constant alighting from
and entering the barouche, and you have some idea of the excitement as
the procession passed under the triumphal arch spanning Washington

[Illustration: _Left_: Thomas Lawrason, builder, and the first owner of
the La Fayette House.

_Right_: Mrs. Thomas Lawrason _née_ Elizabeth Carson]

This arch was a masterpiece. It has been described by Benjamin Hallowell
in his _Autobiography_ and by the _Alexandria Gazette_ at the time, and
memories of it linger in old tales told in many homes. Built in three
sections, a large arch spanned the street, with smaller ones the
sidewalks. The columns were decorated with portraits of Washington and
La Fayette. Noble and patriotic sentiments were inscribed: "Welcome La
Fayette--A Nation's Gratitude Thy Due"--"For a Nation to be Free, it is
Sufficient that she wills it." A fully rigged ship hung beneath the
central span, and the whole was decorated with cedar, laurel and oak,
set off by a Liberty cap and "a real mountain eagle which had been
politely furnished by Mr. Timothy Mountford of the Museum." When the
column passed under the arch, the eagle "politely furnished" opened wide
his wings and gave a mighty screech, produced, 'tis said, by a small
boy and a pin placed in close proximity for this very purpose. From the
windows of the houses ladies waved handkerchiefs and threw nosegays in
fiesta fashion.

[Illustration: The doorway to the elegant house built by Thomas Lawrason
and loaned by his widow to La Fayette]

When the parade reached Royal Street and Gadsby's Tavern, we are told
that a ceremony took place there which, "in sublimity and moral effect
surpassed all." "One hundred young girls and one hundred boys from seven
to twelve years of age were arrayed in lines extending to the Reception
Room." They were neatly dressed, the "females" in white with blue sashes
and badges and leghorn bonnets, the boys in blue with pink sashes and
badges. As the General approached, a little girl, Rosalie Taylor,
stepped out and "spoke with becoming grace and manner" a poem several
verses long that began:

     Fayette, friend of Washington.
     _Freedom's_ children greet thee here;
     Fame for _Thee_ our hearts has won
     Flows for thee the grateful tear.
     Happiness today is ours;
     Strew, ye fair! his way with flowers!

After being wined and dined at Claggett's Hotel, formerly Gadsby's, the
barouche was again brought forward and General La Fayette, escorted by
the procession, "moved on to the house which had been procured for his

And so we arrive at the home of Mrs. Thomas Lawrason, the most elegant
house of its day and time in Alexandria, lent by this charming Irish
lady to the great Frenchman, thereby endowing it with imperishable fame
as the La Fayette house.

On August 5, 1779, the executors of John Alexander sold to Thomas
Wilkinson "a half acre lott lying and being upon the South side of Duke
Street and the West Side of St. Asaph Street and described by the number
175," the ground rent of which was £14 _10s_. In September 1795, William
Thornton Alexander, one of the heirs of John Alexander, released
Benjamin Shreve and James Lawrason from this ground rent upon the
payment of the sum of £300, and in this indenture of September 14, the
fact is cited that this was the property sold by Thomas Wilkinson and
that Shreve and Lawrason divided the property.

[Illustration: The hall]

On September 27, 1819, in an indenture between James Lawrason and Alice,
his wife, and Elizabeth Lawrason, widow of Thomas Lawrason, son of the
said James, lately deceased, and their five children, the fact is cited
that Thomas Lawrason bought for five hundred dollars the lot at the
intersection of St. Asaph and Duke Streets, described as running "West
on Duke 120 feet to an alley 6 feet wide 10 inches to be held in common
with the heirs of Benjamin Shreve, thence on said alley South 55 feet,
thence East, parallel to Duke 120 feet to St. Asaph and thence on St.
Asaph North to the beginning." This same document further described that
"the said Thomas entered on said lott and erected thereon a three story
brick tenement and other buildings and improvements and afterwards
departed this life intestate without having received a deed for the
same," which deed James was at this time executing, conveying this
property to his son's widow and orphans.

The three-story brick tenement, built by Thomas Lawrason for his young
wife, is one of the important federal houses in this ancient seaport.
High upon the roof a white railing incloses the "Captain's Walk" from
which point of vantage the Fowle & Lawrason ships could be sighted far
down the Potomac. The doorway is the outstanding feature of the house.
The fanlight over the door is a true fan in shape and design, and the
lunettes on each side of the double doors are unique. The interior of
the mansion is commodious and comfortable with well proportioned rooms
of agreeable size and beautiful woodwork.

James Lawrason of Sussex County, New Jersey, married Alice Levering.
Their son, Thomas Lawrason, builder of the house, was born in Norfolk,
Virginia, in 1780. The Lawrasons lived for a while in Canada, where life
for those with Tory sympathies was more agreeable, but after the
Revolution, and prior to 1795, the family returned to Virginia and
settled in Alexandria, where the senior Lawrason was associated for a
time with Benjamin Shreve.

Thomas Lawrason, a member of the important shipping firm of Lawrason &
Fowle, married Elizabeth Carson, the sixteen-year-old daughter of Dr.
Samuel Carson of Armagh, Ireland, in October 1808. To them were born
five children: Samuel Carson, October 18, 1809; James Thomas, July 28,
1811; William Wilson, 1814; George Carson, 1816; and Anne Carson, 1818.

Thomas Lawrason died on June 7, 1819, before he could enjoy his fine,
new home, leaving Elizabeth to struggle with a house and family. She
never remarried, remaining in Alexandria until her children were reared
and settled in life. Then she followed her youngest son, George Carson
Lawrason, to New Orleans. An entry in the family Bible reads: "Elizabeth
Lawrason, consort of Thomas Lawrason died at the residence of her son
George C. Lawrason in New Orleans on the 11th of April, 1851, aged 59
years." A curious and sad sequel to her death is that some years later
her grave was washed away and swallowed by the Mississippi. When General
Lee's body lay in state at Washington College (now Washington and Lee
University) her grandson, Samuel McCutcheon Lawrason, then a student at
Virginia Military Institute, was one of the bodyguards at the bier.

[Illustration: The rear parlor. These rooms are spacious and well
proportioned, the woodwork in style of McIntire after Adam is worthy of
the master builders]

The original portraits of Elizabeth and Thomas hang in the Lawrasons'
Louisiana plantation home at St. Francisville. Some of the family
silver, made in Alexandria by I. Adam, belongs to her granddaughter,
Mrs. Kirkpatrick.

The La Fayette-Lawrason association rightfully includes the name
Cazenove to commemorate the role played by Alexandria's noble
French-speaking citizen on the happy occasion of La Fayette's visit.
Really his name was De Cazenove for his family was both Huguenot and
noble. They had fled France in 1688 and settled in Geneva, Switzerland,
where they were prominent bankers for over one hundred years. When the
French Revolution broke out, the radical Swiss threw the French
aristocrats into jail; then, becoming frightened at their tyranny, they
released the patricians. Among those incarcerated were the De Cazenove
family. After their release Antoine Charles de Cazenove and his elder
brother were sent by their parents to America to avoid the Revolution.
They landed in Philadelphia and were the guests of some cousins there by
the same name. The two brothers married sisters, the Misses Hogan of

Later, the elder brother returned to Geneva. Antoine Charles Cazenove
(for by this time our young Frenchman had become imbued with the spirit
of republicanism and dropped the De as un-American), moved to Alexandria
about 1794 and founded the banking house of Cazenove & Company. Head of
a large shipping business, he maintained his own wharf and warehouses;
was French consul; one of the founders of the Alexandria Water Company
and of the cotton factory; and an active member of the old Presbyterian
Church. He owned three or four black slaves who spoke only French.
During the yellow fever epidemic in 1803, when forty to fifty people
were dying in a day, Cazenove refused to leave Alexandria. He contracted
yellow fever and was one of the few persons to have the disease and

After Mrs. Lawrason put her Alexandria home at the disposal of General
La Fayette, Antoine Charles Cazenove was invited to act as host. When
the Alexandrians crowded outside the Lawrason house demanding a sight of
and a speech from La Fayette, Cazenove introduced him. La Fayette was
"_chez lui_"; the whole visit passed off with great _éclat_.

The great General on departure referred to his entertainment in
Alexandria as "the most pleasing hours of his life." A gratified city
council presented Mrs. Lawrason with a silver cup in recognition of her
generous and hospitable act. This, duly inscribed, is cherished to this
day by her great-granddaughter, Mrs. Donald M. Hamilton of Georgetown,
in Washington, D.C.



Chapter 26

Enter the Quaker Pedagogue: Benjamin Hallowell

Benjamin Hallowell came to Alexandria in 1824 to open a school for boys.
He was then twenty-five, with no fortune, a large debt, a dependent
mother, a new and young bride.

For his first school he rented the building on the northeast corner of
Oronoco and Washington Streets, next to the house where the widow of
General Harry Lee resided!

Alexandria was in a turmoil of hospitality, welcoming the Marquis de la
Fayette. Hallowell and his wife of a few hours stood in their front door
the morning after their marriage and saw the famous Frenchman paying his
_devoirs_ to Mrs. Lee. Hallowell's autobiography pictures the occasion:
"When he got opposite," he wrote, "he looked at us, took off his hat,
and made a graceful bow, not knowing it was to a lady who had been
married the day before." Nor that his liking for a fresh smiling face
inspired the schoolmaster to immediately express his emotions in the
following verse:

     Each lover of Liberty surely must get
     Something in honor of LaFayette
     There's a LaFayette watch-chain, a LaFayette hat,
     A LaFayette this, and a LaFayette that.
     But I wanted something as lasting as life
     As I took to myself a LaFayette wife.[187]

The school of Benjamin Hallowell filled slowly at first. The ninth boy
to enroll was Mrs. Harry Lee's son, Robert Edward. Edmund Lee and Thomas
Swann sent their boys, who were "ten dollar" scholars. The time was to
come when Hallowell would turn away more than a hundred applicants, but
that was after Robert Edward Lee had gone to West Point and
distinguished himself.

At the end of his year in Alexandria, Hallowell's child was born. Both
he and the mother were very ill, "seemingly with bilious fever." Then,
for the first time, Hallowell heard that the "situation on Oronoco
Street, on the edge of town as it was, had always been regarded as
unhealthy."[188] He could not bear the idea of his wife and family
continuing in a place that was so evil, or of inviting his scholars to
share such an environment. Then it was that he got in contact with the
widow Hooe, made arrangements to give up his first schoolhouse and
immediately engaged the more healthy situation on Washington Street.

The house which was so "unhealthy" is a replica in almost every respect
of Mrs. Harry Lee's house, but there is no record of Mrs. Lee
complaining of the situation nor of the health of her boys.

The new schoolhouse, so commonly spoken of as the Lloyd House [220 North
Washington Street.] by Alexandrians, was built by John Hooe in 1793. In
1826, Benjamin Hallowell rented it from the widow Hooe and in the spring
vacation with his ill wife in his arms, moved into this building so
admirably adapted to his purpose.

"My school room," he tells us, "was on the first floor, north end, all
across the house. I having obtained permission of my Landlady, in our
arrangements, to remove the partition on condition of replacing it by
one with folding doors, when I should leave the property, which was
done. My lecture room was the back room over the school room.... The
very day the quarter's rent was due the widow Hooe's carriage was at the
door, and this continued to be her custom as long as she lived. If I had
not the money, which was generally the case, I would frankly tell her
so, and add that the first money I could get, and could possibly spare,
I would take to her, with which she was always satisfied. She never said
a word like urging me, or being disappointed in not getting the rent
due, and I did take her the very first I received, never permitting it
to be in my possession over night."[189]

The frail Mrs. Hallowell opened a school for girls in the front room
over the schoolroom, and Hallowell lectured to her scholars. Money
being very scarce with them at this time, they could not afford two
stoves, so Hallowell and the servant, Nancy, carried the stove from
schoolroom to lecture room as needed.

[Illustration: Entrance to Benjamin Hallowell's first school. A fine
type of Georgian doorway]

"On the 17th of Ninth month, 1830," the autobiography continues,
"commenced giving private lessons to Angela Lewis, daughter of Major
Lawrence Lewis (who was a nephew of General Washington, and it was said
a good deal resembled him in appearance). These lessons continued
through the year, for which I charged fifty dollars, and the Major
promptly sent me his check for the amount. Eleanor Lewis, Angela's
Mother, always attended at her daughter's recitations in English
Grammar, Parsing, Natural Philosophy, etc., so that her influence, which
she afterwards exerted in my favor, and her praise of my method of
teaching, was of greater value to me than the amount I received in hand
for teaching her daughter."[190]

[Illustration: The Lloyd House and Benjamin Hallowell's second school]

In the meantime, he struggled along with debt, with illness, with
sorrow. Scarlet fever wiped out three of the four little Hallowells in
nearly the same number of weeks. He witnessed the cholera in Alexandria
and had the unhappy experience of seeing a man drop dead of the plague
before his eyes; he heard the market square echo to the feet of soldiers
mustering and drilling in preparation for war in Mexico.

This man had the most singular relationships in his business dealings.
When he bought the lot and buildings of his school from the bank, it was
two years before any papers were signed, interest paid, or deed given,
although he had made extensive improvements during that time. He never
failed to meet an obligation although at the beginning it took him ten
years to pay back the two hundred dollars plus five per cent interest,
that he had from his Uncle Comly in Philadelphia. Everyone trusted him,
the merchants in Philadelphia from whom he had his school supplies and
chemical apparatus; his grocer in Alexandria, John P. Cowman, not only
never dunned him, but invited him to come to his store and get what was
necessary, and never sent bills unless requested.

[Illustration: When the blast of winter chilled the great rooms at
Woodlawn the Lawrence Lewises came into warmer quarters in Alexandria
and occupied this cottage. 'Twas here that Benjamin Hallowell came to
improve the mind of Nelly Custis' daughter]

Hallowell was city surveyor, but accepted no fee because it afforded a
fine opportunity to instruct his pupils in "Field Practice with the
Odolite and Level." He was something of an architect, improving every
place he occupied, and building two fine structures in the town.

In 1831 the widow Hooe died and in the spring of 1832 the house which he
had acquired for a school in 1826, was put up at auction. Hallowell
hoped to possess this property, having put both his time and money into
the remodeling. He had already enlarged and improved a sugar house
adjacent to the building. His school was growing in reputation and size,
he becoming more prosperous. Gathering together all the cash he could
put his hands on, he attended the auction where he had the misfortune to
be outbid. The property was purchased by John Lloyd, and remained in the
Lloyd family for nearly one hundred years.

[Illustration: Early nineteenth century mantel in the home of Mr. and
Mrs. Ford Swetnam at 815 Franklin Street. The original use of reeded
work to form a beautiful design, the shell-like ornamentation and
diagonal bands make this an attractive piece of wood carving. (Nelly
Custis Town House)]

Ancient mahogany filled the rooms, portraits of ancestors lined the
walls. General Lee was a frequent visitor in this house. The Lloyds
intermarried with the Lees, and Mrs. Lloyd was General Lee's first
cousin. His daughter, Miss Mary Custis Lee, always stayed here when
visiting in Alexandria. The last Lloyds to live in this house were two
very old ladies. What follows will serve to reveal why their neighbors
considered them "quaint."

Following the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort, a
fashion grew up in Virginia affecting widows. At the death of the
husband a real Victorian Virginia lady simply went to bed and awaited
death. It did not always follow that a broken heart put her in her grave
as readily as was anticipated, and many of these brokenhearted widows
lived to a ripe old age. Such was the case with one of these piously
saddened ladies. When she heard the doorbell, she at once put herself
between the sheets of her high poster and covered herself to the chin.
Under the cover went such things as high button shoes, a "reticule" and
any other regalia that was in service at the moment. If the caller was
familiar, or after the formalities had been observed, proper sympathy
for the heart palpitating between the sheets, the head languishing upon
the pillow noticed and condoned, the sufferer would arise, hop out of
bed fully clothed and partake of cookies and wine passed by the black
dwarf, Selena. This small creature, after fulfilling her part in the
social amenities, seated herself upon a small stool, joined in the
conversation, and when amused (which was often) broke into a high
falsetto laugh. In the last years of these two ladies she gained a most
unholy influence over her charges and took cruel advantage of their

Another peculiarity of this household was the fashion of being admitted
to the mansion. After repeated ringing of the bell, a second-story front
window would open--those not in the know often left--and in a leisurely
fashion a grape basket was lowered by a long string. Inside the basket,
those who were familiar with the proceeding would find the front-door
key, a large, heavy iron affair, somewhat like that to the Bastille, now
on display at Mount Vernon, and with this they let themselves in.

The Lloyd house, a large rectangular brick building, divided by a
central hall with rooms on each side, is two and a half stories high.
Three dormer windows pierce the roof, front and back, and four great
chimneys rise from the gable ends. Flush with the street, on a corner,
with a handsome garden behind a pale and paneled fence adjoining to the
left, the house is a model federal town mansion. Pedimented doorway,
window caps, keystones, cornice and dormer trim follow the best
mid-Georgian tradition. This house is one of Alexandria's finest homes.
It was for many years the residence of Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Smoot.


Chapter 27

The Alexandria Lyceum

[201 South Washington Street.]

Benjamin Hallowell, our Quaker pedagogue, was not content with improving
the minds of the young. He soon realized the necessity of furbishing up
the cranial contents of his associates.

An able propagandist, Hallowell set himself to interest his friends in
founding a lyceum. This was accomplished in 1834, just ten years after
his entrance as a schoolmaster. Naturally he was the first president and
naturally the early lectures were held in his school. Here the erudite
of the town were wont to gather to express themselves in lecture and
debate. Hallowell does not give the date of the actual building of the
lyceum, saying merely:

   At length a lot was purchased on the Southwest corner of Washington
   and Prince Streets, on which was erected a fine building, a little
   back from the street, with a pediment front supported by four fluted
   Doric columns with a triglyph cornice, and surrounded by an iron
   railing, and a beautiful yard of flowers and ornamental shrubbery. In
   this building was placed the Alexandria Library, and there was
   besides, on the first floor a large reading room, and a room for a
   cabinet of minerals, and specimens in Natural History. On the second
   floor was a well arranged and handsome lecture room, with marble
   busts of Cicero and Seneca, one on each side of the President's desk
   and seat. In this room lectures were given by John Quincy Adams,
   Caleb Gushing, Dr. Sewell, Samuel Goodrich (Peter Parley), Daniel
   Bryan, Robert H. Miller, William H. Fowle and several others. I gave
   the introductory lecture (which was published) and several others
   afterwards. Attending the Lyceum was a very interesting and improving
   way of spending one evening in the week (Third-day evening), and the
   citizens would adapt their visiting and other arrangements so as not
   to have them come on Lyceum evenings.[191]

Thus came into being one of the finest examples of the Classical Revival
in American architecture. When the portico was under construction,
bricks salvaged from old St. Mary's Catholic Church were used for the
columns (afterwards plastered). This is an interesting fact, but another
Quaker-Catholic relationship merits recalling here. Old St. Mary's
Church stood on South Washington Street on land donated by Robert
Townsend Hooe, a Quaker. Built in 1793, it was abandoned in 1826 when
the new church on Royal Street was opened, but the early graveyard which
adjoined the old church continues in use. A small detail this of the
bricks--yet it commemorates the friendly ties ever maintained in
Alexandria between the two congregations.

It was appropriate that the new lyceum should provide facilities for the
Alexandria Library Company, the city's first organization for the
advancement of learning dating back to 1794. Insight into the early
efforts to establish a library and the bid made for its public support
is revealed through announcements of the type which follow. This one
appeared in the local gazette for the year 1797:


   The President and Directors of the Alexandria Library Company
   desirous of promoting the influence which they conceive eminently
   calculated to diffuse useful knowledge, establish the morals of the
   rising generation, and afford rational entertainment for a vacent
   hour, earnestly recommend it to the attention and support of their
   fellow citizens. The utility of a public circulating library is too
   obvious to need arguments to demonstrate it. The friends of
   Literature, of Virtue, and refinement of manners, will, no doubt duly
   appreciate its value, and interest themselves in its advancement.

   The addition of a number of valuable books has lately been made to
   the former selections; to which the American edition of the
   Encyclopoedia is directed to be super added as soon as it can be

   The President and Directors have ordered a catalogue of all the books
   in the library forthwith to be printed, with their respective prices
   annexed; to which will be prefixed the existing laws of the company,
   together with the names of all the actual subscribers to the
   institution. As they can determine between real and nominal members
   only by the fulfillment of their engagements, they solicit those who
   are in arrears to come forward and pay their respective balances to
   Samuel Craig, Treasurer, before the fifteenth of the next month,
   otherwise their names will be omitted in the list and their shares,
   agreeably to the condition, will be deemed forfeited to the company
   without respect of persons. Also all such as incline to become
   subscribers are desired to call on Mr. Craig on or before the above
   date, and pay their subscriptions, that their names may be inserted
   with the rest.

     Signed by order

                         JAMES KENNEDY, Librarian.

That the Alexandria Library Company merited and met with cordial and
generous support is shown by the fact of its perpetuation to this day
within the structure of the Alexandria library system. The Library
Company has been called one of the "time-honored heirlooms of the

The Alexandria Library has had a nomadic existence from the time it was
called into existence in 1794 until it was moved into its new home on
Queen Street in 1937. At least five buildings other than the lyceum have
doubled for home during this period; but the lyceum is the first
location mentioned in the extant minutes of the company. The author
nostalgically hopes the lyceum may know a renaissance and that it may
again serve as the city's library and a historical museum.

Hallowell tells us that the books were housed on the first floor. His
autobiography also contributes an interesting note on the busts of
Cicero and Seneca which stood in the lecture room upstairs: "The marble
busts spoken of above," he added, "were purchased in Italy in the time
of Cromwell by one of the Fairfax family; they were brought to this
country by Lord Fairfax, and had come into the possession of Daniel
Herbert, whose mother was a Fairfax. I purchased them of him for the
price he asked (one hundred and twenty-five dollars), but permitted them
to remain in the Lyceum while it continued in operation." Benjamin
Hallowell served as president of the lyceum until 1842.

After the War Between the States, the lyceum was abandoned, the society
dissolved. The town was rife with rumors that a Negro organization was
making plans to acquire the building. By order of the court in 1867, the
stockholders of the Alexandria Lyceum Company were compelled to sell the
property. Advertisements were set up in the _Gazette_. W. Arthur Taylor
and Reuben Johnston were appointed commissioners, and having given
thirty days' notice of the time and place of sale, the building was
offered at public auction in front of the mayor's office on May 16, 1868
and "struck off" to John B. Daingerfield for the sum of $6,800.00, being
the highest bid. The sale was confirmed by the court and the deed
ordered executed, describing the lot of ground with buildings and
improvements, southwest corner of Prince and Washington Streets,
commonly called the Lyceum Hall, fronting on Washington Street 92 feet 7
inches and on Prince 101 feet 5 inches and bounded on the south by the
property of H.W. Vandergrift and on the West by Mr. Henry Daingerfield's
estate.[193] John Bathurst Daingerfield and his brother, Henry, owned
almost the entire square bounded by Prince, Duke, Columbus and
Washington streets, where now stands the Alexandria Hospital.

[Illustration: The old Lyceum and Library]

John B. Daingerfield turned the lyceum into a residence for his
daughter, Mary, at the time of her marriage to Captain Philip Beverly
Hooe, 17th Virginia Regiment, C.S.A. The house remained in the Hooe
family until 1900, when John Daingerfield Hooe and his wife, Mary, the
daughter of Colonel Arthur Herbert, sold the property to Sara J.
McGuire. In 1913 Mrs. McGuire transferred the property to her husband,
the late Dr. Hugh McGuire. The lyceum was used for many years as a
private residence by Dr. and Mrs. McGuire, and the interior has been
much changed. The exterior is quite untouched, triglyph cornice, Doric
columns, all well past the century mark. It stands today one of the best
examples of the Classical Revival in architecture, not only in
Alexandria but in America.

The corner of Prince and Washington Streets is hallowed ground to
Alexandria. From here the 17th Virginia Regiment, C.S.A., marched
gallantly off to war, and when the fighting and turmoil died, the
remnant of this regiment was wont to gather on Confederate Memorial Day
and hold services for those left behind on Virginia's bloody
battlefields. This custom continued long after the bronze monument of a
Confederate soldier was placed in the center of the street. If, today,
hurrying automobiles are forced to slow up to pass the circle enclosing
the Confederate warrior, it is well. For this spot, while marking a lost
cause, does not mark a forgotten one.



Chapter 28

The Sea Captain's Daughter and Her House

[617 South Washington Street. Owners: Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Westcott

This large, almost square house, rises three stories in a stately pile
of soft red brick, flanked by two ancient tulip trees towering
twenty-five feet above the pavilion roof, while a great box hedge
partially hides the front façade and large garden. Five generations of
the same family have called it home.

It is a romantic and interesting house. Built prior to 1853 by Reuben
Roberts on a half-acre of unimproved ground, it lay "in the country" for
some years. Roberts, a Quaker of the family of Cameron Farms, died in
1853; his widow moved to New Jersey, and the house stood new and
tenantless until 1857, when it was purchased by Captain Samuel Bancroft
Hussey of Portland, Maine, as a bridal gift for his only daughter,
Melissa Ann. And thereby hangs a tale.

Gallant Captain Hussey is reported to have been a descendant of that
Christopher Hussey who arrived in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1630
and became one of the large proprietors. Intended for the Navy at an
early age he ran away to sea and became a master of Clipper ships that
raced the seas in the China trade. Captain in succession of the
_Reindeer_, the _Strabo_, earlier and smaller vessels, he became Captain
of the _Westward Ho_ on which, in 1854, he made a record trip of
eighty-five days from Canton to New York. In 1857 he speeded the same
vessel from Boston around the Horn to San Francisco in a hundred days.
Two years later he died on the _Stag Hound_ of which he was master and
part owner.

[Illustration: _The Stag Hound_, one of the great clipper ships in the
China trade]

The _Westward Ho_ was a great and beautiful ship of sixteen hundred
tons, outfitted with every comfort and luxury of her day, including
crystal, books, silver, and a melodeon on which to while away the hours
at sea. Captain Hussey was frequently accompanied on his voyages by his
wife, and for a time they lived in India, as well as many other far-off
and curious ports.

Melissa Ann Hussey[194] after her graduation from the Charlestown Female
Seminary, near Boston, made the grand tour with her father. This was not
her first voyage, as he had entrusted her to Captain Creesy, master of
the _Flying Cloud_ on a long journey from China. But on the occasion of
this grand tour graduation gift, he directed the _Westward Ho_ up the
Potomac and anchored in the then busy port of Alexandria. The city of
Washington was not very sophisticated in those days, so the official
and social set of the capital sought the theatres, taverns, and balls
of Alexandria. Statesmen had apartments at the new and elegant Braddock
House or Green's Mansions on Fairfax Street, and at this hotel the
Captain engaged a suite for himself and daughter.

[Illustration: To this house came the Portsmouth bride, Melissa Ann
Hussey Wood, with parakeets and nonpareils]

While in Alexandria, a romance developed which resulted, in 1857, in
the marriage of Melissa Hussey and Robert Lewis Wood. Their wedding took
place in New York, and the young couple returned to take up life in
Alexandria. No colonial house was desired by this bride of nineteen. She
must have something new and fresh and modern, and as though preordained,
they came upon the large red brick house at Franklin and Washington
Streets, much like those so well known to her in Portland, Longfellow's
"beautiful town that is seated by the sea."

With Melissa came to her new home a collection of rare birds in such
numbers that the room over the kitchen was devoted to the cages of
cockatoos, parakeets, parrots and nonpareils. Here these feathered
friends in spectrum-hued plumage lived among the potted plants and
charmed the little bride with their beauty and sweet tricks. Other
appendages included a chimpanzee, and a small Chinese slave boy, bought
by her father from one of the innumerable sampans in the harbor of
Canton. "Chinese Tom" was reared and educated by Melissa Wood and after
the War Between the States she gave him his freedom. For years he was
the only Chinaman in Alexandria. Mrs. Wood's granddaughter remembers the
visits of this man to her grandmother. He would station himself at the
entrance to her door and a long conversation would go on between the
guttural-voiced Oriental and the gentle little "Missey" whom he adored.

Almost unchanged is Melissa Hussey Wood's house. Her exquisite wax
flower arrangements, colored and molded by her hands, her mother's
tête-à-têtes, made in England and purchased in India, paintings of her
father's ships and his ivory chessmen, her silver wedding bouquet
holder, her baby's shoulder clips, her brass and crystal girandoles, her
pictures, books and chairs, have all been used by her two daughters, her
granddaughter, and her great-granddaughters. Old pressed brass cornices
decorate the windows above the lace curtains. Unusual, too, are the very
large silver daguerreotypes, made in California for the new house, and
the haircloth "pouf" rocking chairs. An Italian clock, bought by her
father in Florence, which arrived in Bangor, Maine, on the day Melissa
Ann was born in 1838, stands on its original music box base upon the
dining-room mantel. Strangest contrast of all, above the doors of this
high-ceilinged room are steel engravings in their contemporary oval
frames of Generals Joe Johnston, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee,
placed there by the Yankee bride, who after three years in Alexandria
became an ardent champion of the Confederacy and never took the oath of
allegiance while Alexandria was under Union jurisdiction.


It would be impossible to write a book of this kind without a great deal
of help from many sources. This help was given by very busy people with
knowledge or documents, which inspired the historian to further
impositions upon their useful persons.

An expression of appreciation, always banal, is nevertheless an attempt
to express gratitude--and this is my only means of acknowledging my
obligations to friend and stranger. Without such help this book, such as
it is, would never have been written and so my lasting gratitude goes:

First, to my father, who said I would never finish it, and to my
husband, who said I would.

To Mr. Walter Wilcox, American Photographical Society, and Royal
Photographical Society, for his labors and beautiful photographs which
illustrate this book.

To Mrs. George Kirk, for endless and patient typing and sustained

To Miss Virgila Stephens, for intimating that I might be able to write
anything that anybody would ever care to read, and to Mrs. Worth Bailey,
who said I had.

To Mr. Worth Bailey, curator of Mount Vernon, for numerous historical
contributions, rare and authentic, for the finished seal of Alexandria,
the endpapers, the charming drawings, for editing; and lastly, for wise
and useful advice. Mr. Bailey's historical knowledge and artistic
training have been invaluable.

To Mrs. Louis Scott, for permission to see the scrapbook of her mother,
Mrs. Mary G. Powell, and family papers; for the Harper family records,
for her gracious assistance and advice, and for the use of her late
mother's _The History of Old Alexandria, Virginia_.

To Mrs. Robert M. Reese, for long and helpful hours and the generous use
of the Ramsay family records, and historical documents.

To the Lady Regents of Mount Vernon and to Mr. Wall, the superintendent,
for the use of the Mount Vernon library, the photograph of Lawrence
Washington, the choice bill of lading, and Dr. Dick's _George

To Miss Frances Herbert, for information about the Carlyle, Herbert and
Fairfax families, and for the photograph of John Carlyle's mother,
Rachel Carlyle.

To the late Mrs. Charles R. Hooff, for loan of the Carlyle genealogy and
for permission to photograph John Carlyle's snuffbox.

To Mrs. William Boothe, for Lee family notes and Christ Church

To Mrs. Charles Baird, and her sister, Mrs. Gerhard Dieke, for
permission to quote from the books of their father, the late Fairfax
Harrison, and from the books of their late grandmother, Mrs. Burton
Harrison; for photographs of Sally Gary, George William Fairfax and Ben

To Mr. Taylor Burke, for the anecdote of the purchase money for Mount

To Judge Walter T. McCarthy, for permission to open court-sealed deed

To the late clerk and assistant clerk of the Fairfax Court House,
Messrs. F.W. Richardson and Alton R. Holbrook, and to the present clerk,
Mr. Thomas P. Chapman Jr., for documents, photostats and unfailing
patience and courtesy.

To the attendants of the manuscript division, the map room and the rare
book room of the Library of Congress.

To the attendants of the Virginia state archives in Richmond, for
assistance in uncovering Alexandria records.

To the ladies at the Alexandria library.

To Miss S. Frances Leary, for the Michael Swope family notes.

To the late Mr. Charles Callahan, and to Mrs. Callahan, for permission
to quote from Mr. Callahan's works and for many inspirational talks with
Mr. Callahan.

To Captain George H. Evans for old photographs.

To Mrs. Arthur Herbert, for photographs of Herbert furniture from the
Carlyle house.

To Mr. Courtland Davis, for generous aid and valuable Alexandria records
and the use of his personal manuscripts and to Mr. Davis and the
Reverend Doctor William B. McIllwayne, for access to the old
Presbyterian meetinghouse session books.

To Miss Cora Duffy, for the records of the Sun Fire Company.

To Mrs. Margaret Gill Davis, for use of an old customs house journal.

To the late Mr. Ward Brown, for loan of architectural documents.

To Messrs. I.D. Matthews and Milton Grigg, for floor plans.

To Mrs. Howard Tolley, for the photograph of Dr. Brown and his obituary.

To Mr. Gardner L. Boothe and the vestry of Christ Church, for permission
to photograph the church.

To Mrs. Helen Lawrason Kirkpatrick, Miss Margaret Lawrason and Mrs.
Edward Butler, for a wonderful day at the Lawrason plantation,
Greenwood, in Louisiana, and the photographs of the Lawrason portraits.

To the Misses Carne, for the loan and use of valuable Alexandria

To Miss Belle da Costa Green, of the Pierpont Morgan Library, for use of
an important Martha Washington letter.

To Dr. St. George L. Sioussat, chief of the division of manuscripts of
the Library of Congress.

To Mr. Allen L. Reese, for exciting finds among the Washington papers in
that library.

To Mrs. Andrew Pickens, for notes on the Fowle family.

To Mr. Louis de Cazenove, for information on the Cazenove family.

To the late Mr. Cazenove Lee, for the story of General Robert E. Lee and
the Edmund I. Lee house.

To Mr. W.B. McGroarty, for the letters and biographical information on
Dr. Dick and permission to quote from his works.

To the Corcoran Gallery of Art for photographs of St. Mèmin's

To Mr. John O. Brostrup, Mr. Thomas Neil Darling, Mr. Lewis P. Woltz,
and others, for the use of photographs.

And last but not least, to Lena Harris, my old and faithful maid, who
made it all possible.

Chapter References


_An Account of the First Century of the Seaport of Alexandria._

[Footnote 1: Caton, _Jottings from the Annals of Alexandria_, 3-4; and
Powell, _The History of Old Alexandria, Virginia_, 25.]

[Footnote 2: Hening, _Statutes at Large_, IV, 268.]

[Footnote 3: _Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia_, Session
1727-34, 1736-40, 204.]

[Footnote 4: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 5: _Ibid._, Session 1742-47, 1748-49, 30.]

[Footnote 6: Fairfax County was formed from Prince William in 1742
(_Journals of the House of Burgesses, Virginia_, 1742-47, 70; and
Hening, V, 207-8) after numerous petitions to this effect had been
presented to the Burgesses, beginning as early as 1732 (_Ibid._,
1727-34, 1738-40, 146), with a request to divide the county into two

[Footnote 7: _Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia_, 1748-49,
1742-47, 265.]

[Footnote 8: _Ibid._, 375.]

[Footnote 9: _Ibid._, 404-5.]

[Footnote 10: Hening, _Statutes at Large_, VI, 214; and Caton's
_Jottings_, 6-8.]

[Footnote 11: Caton's _Jottings_.]

[Footnote 12: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 13: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 14: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 15: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 16: In 1748 George Washington made a survey of the site of
Belle Haven, and the following year, 1749, a plan of the town, doubtless
for his brother, Lawrence, who purchased lots. Now with the Washington
papers in the Library of Congress.]

[Footnote 17: _Minutes of the Trustees of Alexandria_, 1749-1767.]

[Footnote 18: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 19: From data contributed by Robert C. Gooch, Chief of General
Reference and Bibliography Division, Library of Congress, Letter dated
April 11, 1947.]

[Footnote 20: _Minutes of the Trustees of Alexandria_, 1749-1767.]

[Footnote 21: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 22: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 23: _Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia_,
1752-1755, 1756-1758, 21, 24 and 31.]

[Footnote 24: _Ibid._, 27.]

[Footnote 25: _Ibid._, 34.]

[Footnote 26: Analoston Island, formerly My Lords Island, was part of
the Alexander purchase.]

[Footnote 27: _Minutes of the Trustees, Recorded Deeds_; and Carne's
_Tiny Town_ notes.]

[Footnote 28: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries of George Washington_, I, 74.]

[Footnote 29: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 30: _Fitzpatrick, Writings of George Washington_, I, 148-150,
Washington's Report to Governor Dinwiddie, July 18, 1755.]

[Footnote 31: Burnaby, _Through the Middle Settlements in North America_
(1759-60), 40.]

[Footnote 32: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries of George Washington_, I, 163.]

[Footnote 33: _Ibid._, 294.]

[Footnote 34: _Ibid._, 294.]

[Footnote 35: Fitzpatrick, _Writings of George Washington_, II, 338.]

[Footnote 36: _Minutes of the House of Burgesses_, November 5, 1762, 76,
(Vol. 1761-1765); _Minutes of the Trustees of Alexandria,_ 1749-1767.]

[Footnote 37: _Minutes of the Trustees of Alexandria,_ 1749-1767.]

[Footnote 38: _House of Burgesses Journal,_ 1761-1765, 246.]

[Footnote 39: _Minutes of the Trustees of Alexandria,_ 1749-1767.]

[Footnote 40: _Order Book_, Fairfax Court House, 1768-1770, 338.]

[Footnote 41: _The Charter and Laws of Alexandria, Va._, 78.]

[Footnote 42: Harrison, _Landmarks of Old Prince William_, II, 416, note

[Footnote 43: Letter to George Washington from Lund Washington, April
28, 1792. _Toner Transcripts_, Library of Congress. Copied from notes in
Mount Vernon Ladies Association Library.]

[Footnote 44: Wilstack, _Mount Vernon_, 138.]

[Footnote 45: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 46: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries of George Washington_, II, 209.]

[Footnote 47: Letter of Olney Winsor to his wife in Providence, Rhode
Island. Original in archives, State Library, Richmond, Virginia.]

[Footnote 48: Harrison, _Landmarks of Old Prince William_, II, 409.]

[Footnote 49: Morse, _The American Geography_, 381.]

[Footnote 50: Harrison, _Landmarks of Old Prince William_, II, 408.]

[Footnote 51: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 52: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 53: _A Stranger in America_ (Anonymous), 213.]

[Footnote 54: Snowden, _The Laws of the Corporation of the Town of
Alexandria from 1779 to 1811_, 32.]

[Footnote 55: Fitzpatrick, _Writings of George Washington_, III, 18.]

[Footnote 56: Caton, _Jottings_, 115.]


Chapter 1. WILLIAM RAMSAY: _Romulus of Alexandria_.

[Footnote 57: Harrison, _Landmarks of Old Prince William_, II, 371,
quoting President Madison in 1827.]

[Footnote 58: Harrison, _Landmarks of Old Prince William_, II, 406.]

[Footnote 59: _Ibid._, 663. Alexandria, 1749. Record Hening, I, 214,
C.O. 5, 1895, No. 20. Description: "60 Acres ... parcel of the land of
Philip Alexander, John Alexander, and Hugh West, situate ... on the
south side of Potomack River about the mouth of Great Hunting Creek in
the county of Fairfax." Trustees: Thomas, Lord Fairfax, William Fairfax,
George William Fairfax, Richard Osborne, Lawrence Washington, William
Ramsay, John Carlyle, John Pagan, Gerard Alexander, Hugh West, Philip

[Footnote 60: Hamilton, _Letters_, II, 164.]

[Footnote 61: Harrison, _Landmarks_, II, 414; Hayden, _Virginia
Genealogies_, 88; _William and Mary College Quarterly Historical
Magazine_, IV, 17; _Maryland Gazette_ (_Copy in Ramsay Family

[Footnote 62: _Maryland Gazette_, December 1761, Ramsay Family records.]

[Footnote 63: Lipscomb, _The Writings of Thomas Jefferson_, IV, 90,
Memorial Edition.]

[Footnote 64: Letter of Martha Washington to Betty Ramsay, dated
Cambridge, December 30, 1775. Courtesy Pierpont Morgan Library.]

[Footnote 65: _Ramsay Family records._]

[Footnote 66: See reference No. 8, _supra_.]

[Footnote 67: _Deed Book P_, 365, December 20, 1784. Fairfax Court

[Footnote 68: _Deed Book B_, 168, July 14, 1785. Alexandria Land

[Footnote 69: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries of George Washington_, II, 342.]

[Footnote 70: From a newspaper clipping in _Ramsay Family records_.]

[Footnote 71: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries_, II, 356.]

[Footnote 72: From a newspaper clipping in _Ramsay Family records_.]

_Alexandria Deed Book F_, 331.

_Alexandria Will Book 4_, 92.

_Fairfax Deed Books_: _D_, No. 1, Part I, 436; _D_, 380; _M_, No. 1,


[Footnote 73: _Will Book I-D_, 368. Fairfax Court House.]

[Footnote 74: _Minute Book_, 1753 Fairfax Court House.]

[Footnote 75: _Will Book, I-D_, 368. Fairfax Court House.]

[Footnote 76: _Will Book I-D_, 203-207. Fairfax Court House.]

[Footnote 77: Harrison, _Early American Turf Stock_, I, 152, 155-156.]


[Footnote 78: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries_, I, 308.]

[Footnote 79: _Ibid._, 366.]

[Footnote 80: _Deed Book E_, 63. Alexandria.]

[Footnote 81: From information furnished by Mr. Taylor Burke.]

_Alexandria Deed Books_: _43_, 445; _E_, 90, 316; _L-3_, 474; _P-3_,
650; _Q-3_, 19; _T-3_, 537; _V-3_, 383; _W_, 398; _W-3_, 453.

_Alexandria Will Book 4_, 63.

_Fairfax Will Book D_, 17-20.


[Footnote 82: Neill, _The Fairfaxes of England and America_, 49.]

[Footnote 83: Fitzpatrick, _Writings_, I, 166.]

[Footnote 84: _Ibid._, 122-123.]

[Footnote 85: Cary, _Sally Cary_, 50.]

[Footnote 86: Neill, _The Fairfaxes of England and America_, 95-97.]

[Footnote 87: _Minute Book_, Court held August 15, 1758, 501-502.]

[Footnote 88: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries_, II, 118.]

[Footnote 89: Fitzpatrick, _Writings_, XXVII, 58].

[Footnote 90: _Ibid._, 57.]

[Footnote 91: _Ibid._, XXXVI, 262-265.]


[Footnote 92: _Minutes of the Trustees of Alexandria, 1749-1767_; _Deed
Book G-1_, 116. Fairfax Court House.]

[Footnote 93: _Minutes of the Trustees of Alexandria, 1749-1767_.]

[Footnote 94: Fairfax Court House Records. Missing Liber K (now in the
Library of Congress), 124-127.]

[Footnote 95: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries_, II, 42.]

[Footnote 96: Personal Property Tax, Fairfax County (1782-1793).
Virginia State Library Archives, No. 400.]

[Footnote 97: Lee, _Lee of Virginia_, 235-254.]

[Footnote 98: Shepperson, _John Paradise and Lucy Ludwell_, 98.]

[Footnote 99: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries_, IV, 270, 280.]

_Alexandria Deed Books_: _B_, 364; _D_, No. 2, 177.

_Alexandria Will Book 2_, 278 (Orphans' Court).

_Fairfax Deed Books_: _C-1_, 382; _G-1_, 116.

_Fairfax Deed Book K_, 119-127; 302-307, 368, 370. Now in Library of


[Footnote 100: _Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine_,
XVI, No. 4, 233.]

[Footnote 101: So-called by Thomas T. Waterman, author of _The Mansions
of Virginia_.]

[Footnote 102: _Columbia Mirror and Alexandria Gazette_, October 30,

[Footnote 103: _Ibid._, November 6, 1793.]

[Footnote 104: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 105: A number of years ago the Metropolitan Museum acquired by
purchase the woodwork of the great ballroom, where so many of
Alexandria's social events had taken place. It is an outstanding exhibit
in the American wing.]

[Footnote 106: Custis, _Recollections and Private Memoirs_, 451-452.]

[Footnote 107: _Liber R_, _No. 2_, 372. 1809. Alexandria.]

[Footnote 108: _Alexandria Gazette_, October 19, 1824.]

[Footnote 109: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries_, IV, 298.]

[Footnote 110: _Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine_,
XVI, No. 4, 238.]

[Footnote 111: _Ibid._]

_Alexandria Liber P_, No. 2, 421. Indenture, July 8, 1802.


[Footnote 112: _Minutes of the Trustees of Alexandria,_ 1749-1767.]

[Footnote 113: _Liber D_ (1755-1761), 452. Fairfax Court House.]

[Footnote 114: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 115: _Liber B_, 375. July 25, 1786. Alexandria.]

_Alexandria Deed Book X_, 330.

_Fairfax Liber I_, No. 1, 321-322; _N_, No. 1, 226.

Chapter 8. DR. WILLIAM BROWN _Author of the First American
Pharmacopoeia_ AND HIS DWELLING.

[Footnote 116: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries_, II, 64.]

[Footnote 117: Fitzpatrick, _Writings_, XXX, 133.]

[Footnote 118: Lund Washington's ledger, 148. Manuscript Collection of
the Mount Vernon Ladies Association.]

[Footnote 119: Washington's Papers, Ledger B, 119. Library of Congress.]

_Alexandria Liber B_, No. 3, 273; H, No. 1, 140.

_Fairfax Deed Books_: _D_, No. 1, Part 1, 436; _M_, No. 1, 25, 261; _O_,
No. 1, 82.

_Fairfax Liber M_, 259; _S_, No. 1, 419.


[Footnote 120: _Order Book_, 333-334. (April 18, 1759.) Fairfax Court

[Footnote 121: _Liber J_ (I), 236. Alexandria.]

_Alexandria Deed Books_: _F_, 483; _S_, 420; _V_, 114.

_Alexandria Liber O_, No. 2, 453.

_Fairfax Deed Books_: _C_, 306; _G_, 119; _P_, No. 1, 385.

_Fairfax Liber D_, 169.


[Footnote 122: Truro Parish Vestry Book (Manuscript), _sub._ June 4,

[Footnote 123: _Ibid._, November 22, 1754.]

[Footnote 124: _Ibid._, November 29, 1756.]

[Footnote 125: Slaughter, _Truro Parish_, 96-100.]

[Footnote 126: Papers of George Washington, Library of Congress, Vol.


[Footnote 127: Dr. Muir's Report, in the files of the Presbyterian
Historical Society, Philadelphia.]

[Footnote 128: _Minutes of the Session._]

[Footnote 129: _Committee Book_, October 4, 1825, 132.]

[Footnote 130: _Alexandria Gazette_, 1831.]

[Footnote 131: _Committee Minutes_, 208.]

[Footnote 132: _Ibid._, 209.]

[Footnote 133: _Ibid._, 212.]

[Footnote 134: _Session Book_, Session 210, 134 (April 29, 1837).]

_Fairfax Liber L_, No. 1, 215.


[Footnote 135: _Minutes of the Sun Fire Company._ Courtesy of Miss Cora

[Footnote 136: Papers of George Washington. Library of Congress. Vol.
275 (August 24-October 19, 1795), _sub._ October 7, 1795.]


[Footnote 137: _Minutes of the Trustees of Alexandria, 1749-1767_; _Deed
Book G. No. 1_, 116. Fairfax Court House.]

[Footnote 138: Hamilton, _Letters to Washington_, IV, 196.]

[Footnote 139: _Liber G_, _No. 1_, 28, Fairfax Court House.]

[Footnote 140: Powell, _Old Alexandria_, 313-314.]

_Alexandria Deed Book E_, 128.

_Alexandria Land Book_ (1798-1800), Virginia State Library and Archives.

_Alexandria Will Book B_, 16-161.

_Fairfax Liber K_, No. 1, 270-275.


[Footnote 141: Letters of his great-grandson, J.A. Pearce, to Dr. A.M.
Toner, August 30, 1885. From copies given the author by Mr. W.B.

[Footnote 142: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries_, II, 340.]

[Footnote 143: _Deed Book I_, 41. Alexandria.]

[Footnote 144: Lindsey, _Historic Homes and Landmarks of Alexandria,
Virginia_, 37.]

[Footnote 145: Freeman, _R.E. Lee_.]

[Footnote 146: _Liber M_, 121. Fairfax Court House.]

[Footnote 147: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 148: _Liber N, No. 2_, 42. Fairfax Court House.]

_Alexandria Deed Books_: _A_, 53; _B_, 23; _C_, 113; _V_, 445.

_Fairfax Deed Books_: _B_, 336; _G_, 39-42.

_Fairfax Liber D_, No. 2, 25.


[Footnote 149: Fitzpatrick, _Writings_, III, 114. Letter to Burwell

[Footnote 150: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries_, II, 339 and 344.]

[Footnote 151: _A Stranger in America_ (Anonymous), 212.]

[Footnote 152: Contributed by Mr. W.B. McGroarty.]

[Footnote 153: Courtesy Mr. and Mrs. John Howard Joynt.]

_Alexandria Deed Book T_, 508.

_Fairfax Deed Book O_, 75.


[Footnote 154: From an address on James Craik, Physician General, by
Major General Robert A. Patterson in _The Military Surgeon_, February

[Footnote 155: Will Book A, 128, April 13, 1803. Alexandria.]

[Footnote 156: Ford, _Writings of Washington_, XIV, 245-258; Callahan,
_Washington: the Man and the Mason_, 188-191.]

[Footnote 157: Prussing, _The Estate of George Washington, Deceased_,

_Alexandria Deed Book BB_, 349.

_Fairfax Deed Book Y_, No. 1, 224.



[Footnote 158: _Order Book_, 1753. Fairfax Court House.]

[Footnote 159: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries_, IV, 279.]

[Footnote 160: Washington's Cash Memorandum Book, Toner Transcript in
Library of Congress.]

[Footnote 161: Baker, _Washington After the Revolution_, 361.]

[Footnote 162: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries_, IV, 309.]

[Footnote 163: Baker, _op. cit._, 383.]


[Footnote 164: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries_, IV, 269.]

[Footnote 165: _Ibid._, 301.]

[Footnote 166: _Ibid._, 301.]

[Footnote 167: _Ibid._, 318.

_Alexandria Deed Books_: 13 (1883-1884), 399; _K_, No. 2, 234; _M_, 162;
_M_, No. 2, 343; _O_, No. 2, 231.

_Alexandria Will Book C_, 308, 318.]


[Footnote 168: Fitzpatrick, _Diaries, sub._ April 28, 1760, I, 157.]

[Footnote 169: Powell, _Old Alexandria_, 76-78.]

[Footnote 170: Fitzpatrick, _Writings_, II, 448.]

[Footnote 171: _Ibid._, XXVIII, 25.]

[Footnote 172: _Ibid._, XXXIV, 503-504. George Washington to Tobias

[Footnote 173: Papers of George Washington, 245. Library of Congress.]

[Footnote 174: Fitzpatrick, _Writings_, XXXV, 496.]

[Footnote 175: _Ibid._, XXXVI, 25.]

[Footnote 176: Prussing, _Estate of George Washington, Deceased_, 73
(page 30 of Will).]

[Footnote 177: _Ibid._, 81 (page 40 of Will).]

[Footnote 178: _Liber M_. _Folio 140_ (1804). Deed recorded June 17,
1805. Fairfax Court House.]

_Alexandria Deed Books_: _4_, 206, 209; _8_, 459; _19_, 10; _45_, 205;
_120_, 464; _218_, 532, 550; _G_, 256; _I_, No. 3, 165.

_Alexandria Liber F_, No. 3, 190-192; _M_, 140; _X_, No. 2, 524.


[Footnote 179: _Liber M_, 103. Alexandria.]

[Footnote 180: _Deed Book W_, 10 and 103. Alexandria.]


[Footnote 181: Powell, _Old Alexandria_.]

_Alexandria Deed Books_: _B_, 195, 485; _B-3_, 329; _L_, 209; _Q-2_
(1826), 195.


[Footnote 182: Lee, _Lee of Virginia_, 374; Lee, _Recollections and
Letters of General Lee_, 24.]

[Footnote 183: Lee, _Recollections And Letters_, 28.]

_Alexandria Deed Books_: _A_ (1801), 264; _H_, 460.

_Alexandria Will Book 4_, 320.



[Footnote 184: _Deed Book K_, 264. Alexandria.]

[Footnote 185: Information contributed by Mr. Worth Bailey. The author
is indebted to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association for permission to
quote Yeaton's letter which follows in the chapter text.]

_Alexandria Deed Books_: _D_, 81; S-2, 669.

_Alexandria Liber V-3_, 470.


[Footnote 186: _Alexandria Gazette_, October 19, 1824.]

_Fairfax Deed Books_: _G_, 358, 383; K, 181.


[Footnote 187: Hallowell, _Autobiography_, 99 and 100.]

[Footnote 188: _Ibid._, 104.]

[Footnote 189: _Ibid._, 105.]

[Footnote 190: _Ibid._, 108.]


[Footnote 191: Hallowell, _Autobiography_, 128-129.]

[Footnote 192: _Alexandria Gazette_, December 2, 1876.]

[Footnote 193: _Liber Y_, No. 3, 410. Alexandria.]

_Alexandria Deed Book 45_, 406.

_Alexandria Will Book 10_, 414.


[Footnote 194: The material for this sketch was contributed by Mrs.
George R. Hill, Sr., daughter of Mrs. Melissa Hussey Wood.]



_Alexandria Court Records_; Deed Books, Will Books.

[Alexandria], _Custom Record Journal of the Port for the Year_
1816-1817. Privately owned.

[Alexandria], _Minutes of the Trustees and the Council_, 1749-1780;

[Alexandria], _Minutes of the Sun Fire Company_. Privately owned.

[Alexandria], Personal Tax List, 1782. _Virginia State Library and

_Fairfax County Court Records_; Deed Books, Will Books, Minutes and

[Fairfax County], Census and List of Tithables for 1749; Personal Tax
List, 1782-1793. _Virginia State Library and Archives._

[Fairfax County], Liber K. _Library of Congress._

[Fairfax County], Truro Parish Vestry Book. _Library of Congress._

Lawrason Family Bible. Privately owned.

Letter, Olney Winsor to his wife. _Virginia State Library and Archives._

Letters of J.A. Pearce to Dr. A.M. Toner, his great-grandfather.
Typescripts prescribed by Mr. William B. McGroarty to the author.

_Mount Vernon Ladies' Association_, Miscellaneous manuscripts.

_Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia._ Microfilm records. _Virginia
State Library and Archives._

_Presbyterian Historical Society_, Philadelphia, Pa., Dr. Muir's Report;
_Minutes_ of the Session (210); Committee Minutes.

_Ramsay Family Records._

_Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop_, Archives. Courtesy of the
Alexandria Landmarks Association.

Washington, George, Accounts, Cash memoranda; Ledgers A and B. _Library
of Congress._

Washington, George, Papers. _Library of Congress._

Washington, Lund, Ledger in the collection of the _Mount Vernon Ladies'

Washington, Martha, Letter to Miss Betsy Ramsay, dated December 30,
1775. _Pierpont Morgan Library._


_Alexandria Gazette_, established as _The Virginia Journal and
Alexandria Advertiser_ and underwent many changes of proprietors and

_American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine_, March, 1830.

Carne, William E., "Tiny Town Notes," _From Ramsay Family Records._

Carne, William E., "Washington As a Burgher," _Harper's New Monthly
Magazine._ February 1880.

_The Magazine Antiques_, special issue devoted to Alexandria, February

_Maryland Gazette_, Annapolis, Md.

_Records of the Columbia Historical Society_, Washington, D.C.

_Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine_, Richmond, Va.

_Virginia Magazine of History and Biography_, Richmond, Va.

_William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine_, series I and
II. Williamsburg, Va.


[Alexandria], _The Charter and Laws of the City of Alexandria, Va., and
Historical Sketch of Its Government_, published by the city council,
Alexandria, 1874.

Baker, William Spohn, _Washington After the Revolution_, Philadelphia,

Blanton, Wyndham B., _Medicine in Virginia in the Eighteenth Century._
Richmond, 1931.

Brockett, F.L., _The Lodge of Washington_, 1783-1876, Alexandria, 1890.

Burnaby, Rev. Andrew, _Travels Through the Middle Settlements in North
America, 1759-1760_, London, 1775.

Callahan, Charles H., _The Memorial to Washington: an Historical
Souvenir_, Alexandria Memorial Committee, c. 1923.

Callahan, Charles H., _Washington: The Man and the Mason_, published
under the auspices of the Memorial Temple Committee of the George
Washington Masonic National Memorial Association, 1913.

Cary, Wilson Miles, _Sally Cary, A Long Hidden Romance of Washington's
Life. With Notes by Another Hand_. New York, 1916. Privately printed.

Caton, James R., _Legislative Chronicles of the City of Alexandria, or
Jottings from the Annals of Alexandria_, Alexandria, 1933.

Conway, Moncure D., _Barons of the Potomack and the Rappahannock_, New
York, 1892.

Custis, George Washington Parke, _Recollections and Private Memoirs of
Washington_, New York, 1860.

Davis, Deering, Stephen P. Dorsey, and Ralph Cole Hall, _Alexandria
Houses_, 1750-1830, New York, 1946.

_Dictionary of American Biography._ Edited by Allen Johnson and Dumas
Malone, New York, 1928-36. 20 Vols. and supplement.

Fairfax, Thomas, _Journey from Virginia to Salem, Massachusetts_, 1799,
London, 1936. Privately printed.

Fitzpatrick, John C., ed., _The Diaries of George Washington 1748-1798_.
Published for the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. New York, 1925. 4

Fitzpatrick, John C., ed., _The Writings of George Washington.
Bicentennial Edition_. Washington, D.C., 1932. 37 Vols. and index.

Ford, Worthington Chauncey, ed., _The Writings of George Washington_.
New York and London, 1889-93. 14 Vols.

Freeman, Douglas Southall, _R.E. Lee_, New York, 1934. 4 Vols.

Hamilton, S.M., ed., _Letters to George Washington_, Boston and New
York. 5 Vols.

Harrison, Constance (Cary), "Mrs. Burton Harrison," _Crow's Nest and
Belle Haven Tales_. New York, 1892.

Harrison, Constance (Cary), "Mrs. Burton Harrison," _Recollections Grave
and Gay_. New York, 1916.

Harrison, Fairfax, _The Background of the American Stud Book_. Richmond,
1933. Privately printed.

Harrison, Fairfax, _Early American Turf Stock, 1730-1830_. Richmond,
1934. 2 Vols. Privately printed.

Harrison, Fairfax, _The Equine F.F.V.'s_, Richmond, 1928. Privately

Harrison, Fairfax, _Landmarks of Old Prince William_, Richmond, 1924.
Privately printed. 2 Vols.

Harrison, Fairfax, _Virginia Land Grants, Richmond_, 1928. Privately

Hayden, Rev. Horace Edwin, _Virginia Genealogies_, Washington, D.C.,

Hening, William Waller, comp., _The Statutes at Large Being a Collection
of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature
in the Year 1619_. Richmond, 1810-23. 13 Vols.

Hallowell, Benjamin, _Autobiography_, Philadelphia, Pa., 1883.

Jackson, Rev. Eugene B., _The Romance of Historic Alexandria_.
Alexandria, 1923.

Janson, Charles William, _The Stranger in America_. London, 1807.

Kettell, Russell Howes, ed., _Early American Rooms ..._ Portland, Me.,

Knox, Katharine McCook, _The Sharples, Their Portraits of George
Washington and His Contemporaries_, New York, 1930.

Lee, Edmund Jennings, _Lee of Virginia_, 1642-1892. Philadelphia, 1895.

Lee, Robert E. Jr., _Recollections and Letters of Robert E. Lee_, New
York, 1905.

Lindsey, Mary, _Historic Homes and Landmarks of Alexandria, Virginia_.
1931. Privately printed.

Lipscomb, Andrew Adgate, ed., _The Writings of Thomas Jefferson_.
Washington, D.C. (_Memorial Edition_) 1903-04. 20 Vols.

Lossing, Benson J., _Mount Vernon and Its Associations_. New York, 1859.

MacDonald, Rose Mortimer E., _Mrs. Robert E. Lee_, Boston, 1939.

McGroarty, William Buckner, _The Old Presbyterian Meeting House at
Alexandria, Virginia_ 1774-1874. Richmond, 1940.

McIlwaine, H.R., ed., _Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia_.
11 Vols.

McIlwaine, H.R., ed., _Legislative Journals of The Council of Colonial
Virginia_, Richmond, 1925-28, 3 Vols.

Morrison, A.J., ed., _Travels in Virginia in Revolutionary Times_,
Lynchburg, Va., 1922.

Morse, Jedidiah, _The American Geography_, London, 1792.

Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, _Annual Reports_, 1938-48.

Neill, Edward D., _The Fairfaxes of England and America_. Albany, N.Y.,

Norfleet, Fillmore, _St. Mèmin in Virginia_, Richmond, 1942.

Powell, Mary G., _The History of Old Alexandria, Virginia_. Richmond,
Va., 1928. Privately printed.

Prussing, Eugene E., _The Estate of George Washington, Deceased_,
Boston, 1927.

Ramsay, A.M.H., _A Short Life of Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie_.
From Ramsay Family Records.

Ritson, Mrs. A., _A Poetical Picture of America Being Observations Made
During a Residence of Several Years at Alexandria and Norfolk in
Virginia_, London, 1809.

Scott, Sir Walter, _Historical Passages in the Life of Sir A. Ramsay_.
From Ramsay Family Records.

_The Scottish Tartans_, Edinburgh and London, 1886. From Ramsay Family

Shepperson, Archibald Bolling, _John Paradise and Lucy Ludwell_,
Richmond, Va., 1942.

Slaughter, Rev. Philip, _The History of Truro Parish in Virginia_,
Philadelphia, 1907.

Smoot, Mrs. Betty Carter (McGuire), _Days in an Old Town_, Alexandria,
Virginia, 1934. Privately printed.

Snowden, Samuel, _The Laws of the Corporation of The Town of Alexandria
from 1779 to 1811_. Alexandria, 1811.

Snowden, W.H., _Some Old Historical Landmarks_, Philadelphia, 1894.

Spencer, Richard Henry, _Carlyle Family_, Richmond, Va., 1910.

Swem, Earl G., _Virginia Historical Index_, Roanoke, Va., 1934-36. 2

Wedderburn, Alexander J., _Historic Alexandria, Va., Past and Present,
Souvenir of Virginia Tercentennial_, 1907.

Wilkes, Marion R., _Rosemont and Its Famous Daughter_, mimeographed
edition, 1947.

Wilstach, Paul, _Mount Vernon_, Garden City, N.Y., 1916.


Acton, R.C., 44

Adam, James, 43

Adam, John, 43

Adam, Robert, 21, 25;
  disposition of property, 91;
  real estate transactions, 90, 157;
  Masonic activities, 91;
  migration to Virginia, 91

Adam silversmiths, 43f

Adam, William W., 43

Advertisements, 32, 40, 44, 69, 100, 102, 104, 188, 198, 204, 220, 235

Alexander, Charles Francis, 215

Alexander, Gerard, 5

Alexander, John, 3;
  donation of land to Christ Church, 132;
  real estate transactions, 169, 182, 242

Alexander, Philip, 5

Alexander, William Thornton, 182;
  real estate transactions, 217, 223, 242

Alexandria Academy, 25

Alexandria, Town of. _See_ Town of Alexandria

Amusements, 28f

Anderson, James, 224

Apothecary Shop, 195f

Apprentices, 25

Architecture (_See_ entry of specific structure);
  ability of citizens, 39;
  influence of English design, 40

Arrell, David, 182

Barcourt, Adolph, 111

Bakeries, 33

Balls, 29, 100

Barbee, David Rankin, 100

Bartle, Samuel, 215

Barton, Benjamin, 44

Beale, Howard, 226

Belhaven, name rejected, 12

Belle Haven, 4

Belvoir, settlement by Fairfax, 78;
  visitors to, 79

Berkeley, Sir William, 3

Bird, Thomas, 46

Black, Hon. & Mrs. Hugo L., 222

Bounties of land, 186

Braddock, Gen. Edward, 14;
  expedition, 16

Braddock House, 262

Brissot de Warville, 37

Brockett, Robert, 40, 140

Brook, James, 104

Brown, Dr. Gustavus, 192

Brown House, 119f;
  visitors to, 122

Brown, John, raid of, 196

Brown, John Douglas, 170

Brown, Ward, 161

Brown, Dr. William, antecedents, 120;
  civic services, 122;
  epitaph, 119;
  medical writings, 122;
  migration to Virginia, 120;
  necrology, 122;
  real estate transactions, 120;
  treasurer of Fire Company, 150

Building, delinquency in, 14

Buildings, municipal. _See_ Public Works

Burke, John W., 76

Burnett, Charles, 44

Capital, National, establishment, 39.
  _See_ also District of Columbia.

Capitol, cornerstone laid, 164

Captains' Row, 159

Captains' Walk, 244

Carlyle House, 62f;
  visitors to, 67

Carlyle, John, 5, 14, 17, 21;
  ability as architect, 39, 69;
  bequests, 67, 69;
  builds Christ Church, 132;
  civic services, 62, 64, 67f, 69;
  death, 69;
  mercantile activities, 64;
  real estate, 65

Carlyle, Sarah Fairfax, 67

Carlyle, Sybil West, 67

Caton, William, 104

Cazenove, Antoine Charles de, civic services, 246;
  migration to Virginia, 245

Chatham, 203

Christ Church, 131f;
  attended by R.E. Lee, 229;
  lands of, 226-227

Cincinnati, Society of the, 37

Circuses, 31

City Tavern. _See_ Gadsby's Tavern

Civil War, effect on town, 48f

Claggett's Hotel, 242

Coachmaking, 42

Cockfights, 28

Coffee House. _See_ Gadsby's Tavern

Cohen, William, 44

Committee of Safety, 35

Confederate States Army, contribution to, 48

Conway Cabal, 187

Cook, Joseph Francis, 215

Coryell, George, 40, 187;
  civic services, 188

Coryton, Josiah, 46

Cox, Mr. & Mrs. Hugh B., 112

Craik, George Washington, 190

Craik House, 184f

Craik, Dr. James, 47;
  antecedents, 184;
  attends Mrs. Washington, 194;
  attends Gen. Washington, 192;
  children of, 190;
  death, 194;
  migration to Virginia, 185;
  militia service, 185;
  real estate transactions, 187;
  Revolutionary services, 187

Crilly, Misses, 232

Cunningham, Ann Pamela, 75

Currency, use of pistoles, 9

Currie, James, 170

Customs, taboos, 223

Custis, George Washington Parke, 102

Custis, Nelly, 27

Custis, Washington, 204

Dade, Rev. Townsend, 135

Daingerfield, John B., acquires Lyceum, 256

Dalton, General, 112

Dalton House, 71f

Dalton, John, 14, 21;
  bequests, 71, 72;
  civic services, 71;
  mercantile activities, 71;
  real estate transactions, 71;
  visits by Washington, 72

Danna, Rev. Charles B., 136

Davis, Rev. Thomas, 135

Dawe, Philip, 43

Decatur House, bought by Gadsby, 111

De Cazenove. _See_ Cazenove

De Kalb, Baron, 37

Delacour, Joshua, 42

De Lancey, Governor, 15

Delarue, Joseph, 43

Dick, Dr. Elisha Cullen, 28;
  attends Washington, 163, 192;
  Masonic services, 164;
  medical advice, 166;
  migration to Virginia, 162f;
  militia service, 164;
  real estate transactions, 170

Dick, Hannah Harmon, 163

Dinwiddie, Governor, 15

District of Columbia, cession of land to, 39;
  withdrawal from, 48

Dixon, John, real estate transactions, 114

Domestic economy, 31f

Doughton, Francis, 139

Dowdney, William, 43

Duffey, George, 44

Duffey, John, 44

Dulany, Benjamin, acquaintance with Washington, 173;
  behavior, 176;
  poem dedicated to, 178;
  steward of Jockey Club, 176

Dulany House, 173f

Dunmore, Governor, 35

Du Quesne, Fort, 16

Education, early, 22.
  _See_ also Schools

English, Samuel, 170

Epidemics, 46, 164

Fairfax, Anne, 77

Fairfax, Bryan, 35, 77, 135

Fairfax, Deborah Gedney Clarke, 77

Fairfax family, antecedents, 77;
  contribution to Alexandria, 237;
  intermarriages of, 237

Fairfax, George, 5, 8

Fairfax, George William, 7, 77;
  aspersions on birth, 83;
  letter to Sally, 83;
  move to England, 84;
  real estate transactions, 88

Fairfax, Hannah, 77

Fairfax (George William) House, 87f

Fairfax, Henry, 77

Fairfax, Dr. Orlando, 235

Fairfax, Sally Cary, social activities, 79

Fairfax, Sarah Walker, 77

Fairfax, Thomas, 5, 53, 77;
  incensed with Washington, 34;
  real estate transactions, 234

Fairfax, William, 5, 8, 77;
  civic services, 78;
  Fairfax Street home, 60;
  migration to Virginia, 77;
  real estate transactions, 88, 157

Fairs, 31;
  source of income, 9

Fawcett, House, 162f

Female Stranger, legend of, 106f

Fire companies, 47

Fire engines, purchase of, 149f

Fire fighting techniques, 150

Fire insurance, list of properties covered, 154

Fires, 46

First Virginia Regiment, 186

Fitzhugh House, 202f

Fitzhugh, Mary Lee, 204

Fitzhugh, William, 7, 8, 202f;
  association with Washington, 203;
  bequests, 205;
  real estate transactions, 202

Fitzhugh, William Henry, 206

Fleming, Mary E., 207

Fleming, Thomas, 25, 40

Fowle, William, 40, 218

Fox hunting, 31

Frazer, Margaret, 160

Freemasons, Lodge of, 25, 91;
  contribution to, 106;
  entertains La Fayette, 110

French, hostile attitude of, 14

Friendship Fire Company, 150, 154

Fry, Joshua, 13

Gadsby, John, 99f;
  buys Decatur House, 111

Gadsby's Tavern, 242, 99f;
  fame of, 102;
  fare, 102;
  meetings held in, 103;
  patrons, 100f, 102;
  visit of Female Stranger, 106;
  Washington's association, 110f

Galt, James, 46

Galt, William, 46

Ganet, James, 44

Georgian Cottage, 217f

Ghost, of Spring Gardens, 201;
  of Swope House, 112f

Glebe lands, 226

Goat Castle, 137

Goldsborough, Anna Maria, 206

Goldsmiths. _See_ Silversmiths

Gooch, Governor, 5

Governors, conference of, 15

Great Hunting Creek warehouse, 3

Green, Rev. Charles, 131

Green's Mansions, 262

Greetner, Margaret, 42

Gregory, William, 215

Griffith, Rev. David, 135

Hadsel, Mr. & Mrs. Fred Latimer, 210

Halket, Col. Peter, 15

Hallowell, Benjamin, 40, 208, 240;
  civic services, 251;
  describes La Fayette's visit, 247f;
  early difficulties, 248;
  financial difficulties, 250;
  migration to Virginia, 247;
  reputation grows, 251;
  sponsors Lyceum, 254

Hamilton, Mrs. Donald M., 246

Hansen, Samuel, 27

Hardware merchants, 44

Harper Houses, 156f

Harper, John, 91;
  civic services, 161;
  family history, 160;
  division of Fairfax property, 93;
  real estate transactions, 157, 160

Harrison, Mrs. Burton, 237

Harrison, Rev. Elias, 142

Herbert, William, 28

Hill, Mr. & Mrs. Malcolm Westcott, 259

Hodgson, William, disposition of Fairfax property, 96;
  migration to Virginia, 95;
  political offenses, 95;
  real estate transactions, 207

Hog, Peter, 13

Homes, designed layouts, 41

Hooe, James H., 166

Hooe, John Daingerfield, 258

Hooe, Robert Townsend, 255

Horse racing, 28, 176, 198

Horses, importation of, 29, 69

Hough, John, real estate transactions, 157

Houses, distinguished:
  Apothecary Shop, 195f;
  Braddock House, 262;
  Brown House, 119f;
  Captains' Row, 159;
  Carlyle House, 62f;
  Christ Church, 131f;
  Coffee House, 99;
  Craik House, 184f;
  Dalton House, 71f;
  Dulany House, 173f;
  Fairfax House, 87f;
  Fawcett House, 162f;
  Fitzhugh House, 202f;
  Gadsby's Tavern, 99f;
  Harper Houses, 156f;
  La Fayette-Lawrason-Cazenove House, 239f;
  Lee House, 225f;
  Lloyd House, 248;
  Married Houses, 71f;
  Marsteller House, 25;
  Peruke Shop, 127f;
  Presbyterian Meetinghouse, 139f;
  Ramsay House, 52f;
  Sea Captain's Daughter's House, 259f;
  Sea Captains' Houses, 159;
  Spring Gardens, 197f;
  Stratford Hall, 93;
  Swope House, 112f;
  Thompson House, 71f;
  Vowell-Snowden House, 222f;
  Washington Public School, 25;
  Yeaton-Fairfax House, 232f

Howsing, Robert, 3

Huges, Benjamin, 215

Hussey, Melissa Ann (Wood), 259f

Hussey, Capt. Samuel Bancroft, 259

Imports, 33f

Indians, hostile attitude of, 14

Industries, 42

Janney, John, 46

Jefferson, Thomas, ability as architect, 39

Jewelers, 44

Jockey Club, 29, 198;
  Washington's disagreement with, 176

Johns, Bishop, 136

Johnson, Alexious, 215

Johnson, Thomas, 47

Johnston, George, 14, 21, 53

Jones, Charles, 42

Jones, John Paul, 37

Joynt, Mr. & Mrs. John Howard, 173, 183

Keith, Rev. Isaac Stockton, 140

Klipstein, George T., 215

Knox, Henry, letter from Washington, 213

Korell, Mr. & Mrs. Franklin F., 225

Ladd, John Gardner, 96

La Fayette, Marquis de, 37;
  entertained by Masonic lodge, 110;
  toast to town, 49;
  visit to Alexandria, 176, 239;
  visit described by Hallowell, 247f;
  visit to Henry Lee, 208;
  visit to Lawrason home, 239f

La Fayette-Lawrason-Cazenove House, 239f

Lamphire, Going, 39

Latrobe, Benjamin H., 183

Laundries, 42

Lawrason, Mrs. Elizabeth, 44, 242

Lawrason family, origin of, 244

Lawrason House, visit of La Fayette to, 239f

Lawrason, James, 242

Lawrason, John, 46

Leadbeater, Mr., 195

Lear, Tobias, 192

Lee, Arthur, bequest, 226;
  civic services, 225f

Lee, Cassius, 134, 227

Lee, Charles, 227;
  real estate transactions, 226

Lee, Edmund (I.) Jennings, 28;
  bequests, 227;
  civic services, 227;
  real estate transactions, 226, 227;
  visitor to Mount Vernon, 226

Lee (Edmund Jennings) House, 225f

Lee, Francis, 21

Lee family, connection with Mount Vernon, 226

Lee, Henry ("Light Horse Harry"), 37, 208

Lee, Ludwell, 28

Lee, Mary Custis, 208

Lee, Robert Edward, 27, 196, 202f, 227;
  accepts Confederate command, 229;
  association with Lloyds, 252;
  attends Hallowell school, 248;
  confirmed at Christ Church, 136;
  member of Christ Church, 229;
  resigns from Army, 229

Lee, Thomas, 93

Lee, William, civic services, 93

Lewis, Lawrence, 27

Lewis, Lorenzo, 27

Library, municipal, 255

Lloyd family, association with Lees, 252;
  idiosyncrasies, 253

Lloyd House, 248

Lloyd, John, 251

Lodge, Henry Cabot, description of Virginia society, 225

Lodging, cost of, 197

London Company, 3

Lots, auction of, 7f;
  division of town into, 6;
  prices paid for, 9

Lotteries, source of income, 9, 21

Lyceum, municipal, 254f;
  sold to Daingerfields, 256

Lyle, William, 92;
  civic services, 92;
  mercantile activities, 92

Lynn, Adam, 44

MacCrea, Mrs. Donald, 237

MacKenzie, Lewis, 96

Madison, James, comment on immigrants, 52

Makemie, Francis, 139

Married Houses, 71f

Marshburn, Mrs. Herbert E., 71

Marsteller House, 25

Mason, George, 7, 53;
  ability as architect, 39

Matthews, Miss Frona, 60

McGuire, Dr. Hugh, 258

McGuire, Sara J., 258

McIver, Colin, real estate transactions, 130

McKenzey, William, 170

Meade, Rev. William, 136

Mercer, George, 188

Merchants, activities of, 42

Meredith, Reese, letter to Washington, 157

Merryman, Joshua, 42

Militia, attachment to Braddock's command, 16;
 composition, 14

Miller, Mordecai, 44

Moncure, Rev. John, real estate transactions, 127

Moore, Col. & Mrs. Charles B., 87, 99, 215

Moore family, 127;
  acquisition of Sewell property, 130

Moore, Cleon, 27

Morris, Governor, 15

Morris, Gouverneur, 236

Morris, Patsy J., 236

Mount Vernon, associated with Lee family, 226;
  funds hidden, 76;
  visitors to, 57f, 120

Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, 75

Muir, Rev. James, 140;
  burial of, 141

Murray, Mrs. Alexander, 112

Murry, John, 189

Murry, Patrick, real estate transactions, 169

Mutual Assurance Society, 154

New Theatre, 28

Newspapers, 28;
  _Alexandria Gazette_, oldest, 222

Newton, William, 170

O'Conner, Eliza Harriot, 27

Organ, Christ Church, 136

Orme, Lt. Robert, 15

Osborne, Richard, 5

Pagan, John, 5

Pain, William, 40

Parsons, James, 39;
  builds Christ Church, 132

Pastors, distinguished, 135f

Patterson, James, 39

Patton, James, 217;
  indebtedness, 218

Peake, Col. W.H., 201

Peruke Shop, 127f

Peterkin, Constance Lee, 134

Pew marker, Washington's, 134

Pickens, Mrs. Andrew, 217

Piper, John, 46

Pistole, use in Colony, 9

Pittman, John, 44

Pohick Church, 134

Port of Alexandria, activity, 33;
  decline in activity, 46f;
  importance of, 17f

Porter, Thomas, 28

Potomac Navigation Company, 47f

Potomac River, navigation of, 47

Potts, John, 202

Powell, Mary G., 25, 161, 211, 222

Powell, Molly Gregory, 134

Presbyterian Cemetery, 146

Presbyterian Manse, 40

Presbyterian Meetinghouse, 39, 69, 139f

Public works, 12, 21

Publishers, 42

Railroads, 48

Ramsay, Alexander, 52

Ramsay, Ann McCarty, memorial to, 61;
  patriotic activities, 55

Ramsay House, 52f

Ramsay, William, 5, 14, 17, 21;
  activities of sons, 56f;
  bequests, 59;
  civic services, 54;
  family, 55;
  funeral, 60;
  initial founder, 52f;
  letter to Dennis, 56;
  memorial to, 60;
  mercantile activities, 53;
  real estate transactions, 55, 114f, 130

Reese, Mrs. Robert M., 99, 195

Relief Fire Company, 150

Religious tolerance, 139

Revolution, aftermath of, 34

Ricketts, John Thomas, 170

Riddle, Joseph, 28, 46

Roberts, Reuben, 259

Robinson, Joseph, 188

Rochambeau, Count de, 37

Rochefoucauld, Duc de la, 39

Rogers, Walter G., 215

Roofers, 46

Rush, Dr. Benjamin, 56, 162

Saint Mary's Church, 255

Saint Paul's Church, 183

Salkeld, Henry, 9

Sandford, Edward, 43

Sayers, Dr. & Mrs. R.R., 203

Scheffer, Lloyd L., 62

Schools, 22, 141;
  Hallowell's, 247f

Scott, Gen. Winfield, 196

Sea Captain's Daughter's House, 259f

Sea Captains' Houses, 159

Servants, 31, 128

Seventeenth Virginia Infantry, 48, 258

Sewell, William, indebtedness, 128;
  real estate mortgaged, 130;
  real estate purchases, 128

Sharpe, Governor, 15

Sheen, Gordon, 112

Shipbuilding, 18

Shippen, Dr. William, 162

Shipping. _See_ Port of Alexandria

Shirley, Governor, 15

Short, John, 46, 188

Shreve, Benjamin, 242

Shuter's Hill, anonymous poem, 178f

Silversmiths, 42

Sinclair, Mrs. C.A.S., 99

Slaves, 115, 164, 165, 262

Smith, William, 170

Smoot, Mr. & Mrs. W.A., 253

Snowden, Edgar, civic services, 222

Snowden, Samuel, 222

Spaatz, Gen. Carl, 188

Sports, 31

Spring Gardens, 197f

Stabler, Edward, 195

Star Fire Company, 154

Stratford Hall, 93

Stuart, Dr. David, 27

Stuart, Lt. J.E.B., 196

Sun Fire Company, 147f;
  membership, 151

Swope House, 112f

Swope, Michael, civic services, 116;
  migration to Alexandria, 117;
  real estate transactions, 117

Taverns, fame of, 197

Taylor, E.P., 42

Taylor, George, 218

Taylor, J. Frank, 215

Taylor, Lawrence B., 223

Taylor, Robert I., 104, 183, 218

Theatres, erection of, 28

Thom, Rev. William, 140

Thompson House, 71f

Thompson, Jonah, 28;
  real estate transactions, 74

Tobacco, supplanted by wheat, 32;
  use as exchange, 4, 17

Tolley, Hon. & Mrs. Howard R., 119, 126

Town of Alexandria, building of, 9f;
  capital of West Virginia, 48;
  decline and resurgence, 46f;
  early growth, 17f;
  effect of Civil War, 48;
  effect of War of 1812, 47f;
  enlargement, 21;
  establishment, 5;
  genesis, 3f;
  name adopted, 12;
  paradox of location, 49;
  part of federal district, 39;
  post-Revolution building, 40;
  re-ceded to Virginia, 48

Towns, colonial, authority asked to erect, 5

Tradesmen, activities of, 42

Trott, Mr. & Mrs. Harlan, 210

Turner, Charles, 43

Twining, Thomas, 39

Van Braam, Jacob, 13

Virginia Bill of Rights, 103

Virginia Colony, development of, 3f

Vowell, John Cripps, 160

Vowell-Snowden House, 222f

Vowell, Thomas Jr., 160;
  real estate transactions, 223

Warren, Anne, 110

Washington, Augustine, 7, 14;
  letter to Lawrence, 7;
  real estate transactions, 114

Washington, city of. _See_ District of Columbia

Washington, George, 7;
  ability as architect, 39;
  activities as farmer, 32;
  advice to Braddock, 16;
  association with Fitzhughs, 203;
  attends Ramsay funeral, 61;
  bequests, 193, 212, 214;
  association with Fairfaxes, 78f;
  disposition of real estate, 215;
  domestic purchases, 19f;
  education as surveyor, 79;
  elected town trustee, 21;
  encourages navigation, 47;
  envisions waterways, 186;
  last illness, 192;
  letter from Meredith, 157;
  letter to Cary & Company, 18;
  letter to Knox, 213;
  letters to Sally Fairfax, 82, 85;
  Masonic funeral, 140;
  mercantile interests, 212;
  necrology, 230;
  patron of Gadsby's, 110f;
  patron of learning, 25;
  patron of Spring Gardens, 200;
  pew marker saved, 134;
  real estate transactions, 210f;
  resigns commission, 14;
  service as vestryman, 134;
  steward of Jockey Club, 29;
  supervises Fairfax interests, 84;
  tenements owned by, 210;
  tomb designed by Yeaton, 237;
  visit to French commandant, 13;
  warned of Cabal, 187

Washington, George Steptoe, 27

Washington, John Augustine, 76

Washington, Lawrence, 5, 7, 53

Washington, Lawrence Augustine, 27;
  real estate transactions, 215

Washington, Lund, 35

Washington, Martha, 35;
  attended by Dr. Craik, 194;
  letter to Betty Ramsay, 58

Washington Public School, 25

Washington, Robert W., 215

Washington, Samuel, 27

Watchmakers, 44

Watson, Josiah, 28

Weld, Isaac, 39

West, Anne, 188

West, Hugh, 4, 5

West, John, 8, 17

West, Thomas Wade, 28

West Virginia, town becomes capital of, 48

Weylie, John, 27

Wheat, supplants tobacco, 32

Wheat brokers, 32

Widows, fashion affecting, 253

Wilkinson, Thomas, 242

Williams, William A., 44

Wilson, Daniel, 188

Wise, John, 99f

Wise, N.S., 104

Wood, Melissa Ann Hussey, 259f

Wood, Robert Lewis, 262

Wormley, Ralph, 7

Wren, James, 40; designs Christ Church, 132

Wren, William, 25

Yates Tavern. _See_ Spring Gardens

Yeaton, William, 40;
  designs Washington's Tomb, 237;
  migration to Virginia, 232;
  real estate transactions, 232, 234

Yeaton, William C., 207

Yeaton-Fairfax House, 232f

Yellow fever epidemic, 46

Zimmerman, Henry, 226

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Seaport in Virginia - George Washington's Alexandria" ***

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