Stafford County (Va.)

Civil War Sites in Stafford County

Civil War Sites in Stafford County

Stafford County has a rich Civil War history including a naval battle, cavalry skirmishes, and Union encampments. Many of these Civil War sites can still be visited today.

Samuel Pierpont Langley at Widewater

Samuel Pierpont Langley

1903 was a banner year for aircraft development, and Stafford County was on the bleeding edge of it. On December 17, Orville and Wilbur Wright had the first successful manned flight of a mechanical, heavier-than-air machine at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. But two months before that, on October 7, Samuel Pierpont Langley—with the blessings of Smithsonian—launched his design at Widewater in Stafford County. The only problem was, the well-funded flight crashed, dooming Langley’s dreams of being first in flight.

Stafford's Coal Landing: Center of Commerce

Stafford's Coal Landing: Center of Commerce

By 1900 the forests had recovered sufficiently from the ravages of the Civil War to support a lumber business again. Long boats sailed from Coal Landing to Aquia Creek, up the Potomac and on to Baltimore.

Between 1890 and World War I, wood provided one of the few available cash incomes in Stafford. The locals would cut what timber they could and haul it to Coal Landing by wagon or boat to sell for pulpwood. The stacks of logs waiting at the docks were often forty feet high. Because the docks at Coal Landing were fairly extensive, there were a number of fishing boats that worked out of here, also.

Aquia Landing

Aquia Landing

Aquia Creek would have so many tales to tell if only that were possible. The creek has been a vital part of the development of the county since Giles Brent established his home there in the late 1640s.

Hunter's Iron Works

Hunter's Iron Works

James Hunter (1721-1784) was the son of James Hunter, merchant of Duns, Scotland. His uncle, William Hunter, settled in Virginia in the 1730s and was one of the first Scottish merchants to settle in the Fredericksburg area. James was brought up in the mercantile business and soon began making business trips to Virginia during which time he also bought property here.

Chatham

Chatham

For over 200 years Chatham has stood on the high ridge above the Rappahannock River, a serene sentinel watching over the city of Fredericksburg. The house and its occupants have been involved in most of the critical events of Virginia’s history from the American Revolution through the War of 1812 and the Civil War. The design of the house bespeaks the elegance and dignity of the Virginia plantation era at its height. That dignity was sorely strained during the unwelcome Yankee intrusion of the Civil War; like the spirit of the war-ravaged Southerners, however, it emerged from the experience older, somewhat battered but none the less proud.

Ferry Farm

Ferry Farm

Ferry Farm is best known as the childhood home of George Washington, though it has a history that predates the Washington occupancy.

Sandstone Industry

Sandstone Industry

Just up the creek from Aquia Landing was one of Stafford’s major industries—the sandstone quarries. Located on what is now Aquia Harbor property, the quarries operated off and on from the 1650s until the 1930s and provided building stone for some of the most important buildings in the nation, the White House and Capitol among them.

Hard Use for Houses of Worship

Hartwood Presbyterian Church

As America realized her independence, part of what followed was religious freedom and the chance to worship where one chose. Originally, Anglican worshippers attended a “Chapel of Ease” called Yellow Chapel for poplar wood’s color that was part of King George County’s Brunswick Parish. By 1825, the little church was in use by the Presbyterians who eventually built a brick church nearby, circa 1858.

Quakers in Stafford County

Quakers in Stafford County

Quakers were long associated with iron working and manufacturing both in England and colonial America. In the early 1720s, substantial deposits of high-grade iron ore were discovered around the periphery of the Chesapeake Bay. Several English companies sent groups of skilled and unskilled laborers to build bloomeries and furnaces in Maryland and Virginia. Chief among these was the Principio Company. Governor Alexander Spotswood recognized iron’s financial potential as well.