Significant as well as lesser events worth remembering have occurred in or affected Ravensworth.
1730 – Virginia Tobacco Inspection Act established a system of tobacco warehouses with appointed inspectors to receive, process, inspect and set payment for tobacco. New communities soon grew from the seeds of these commercial centers, e.g., Alexandria, Occoquan and Georgetown.
1742 – Fairfax County established, divided from Prince William County. County courthouse soon built on site near today’s Tysons Corner. The first meeting of the new county Court, of which William Payne, Sr. was a member, occurred on December 16, 1742.1
1749 – Alexandria established.
1752 – Fairfax County court moved to site in Alexandria.
1754-1763 – French & Indian War
- Leaseholder John Hollis and sons William and Burr served in the Virginia Regiment under George Washington, whose military prominence stemmed from his leadership of the regiment and in Braddock’s disastrous campaign.
- 1755 – British Major General Edward Braddock staged and led combined British-Colonial forces from Alexandria to Fort Duquesne (today’s Pittsburgh), where they were defeated and he died in battle. Braddock’s expedition marched near but not through Ravensworth.
1774-1783 – Revolutionary War
- July 18, 1774 – A convention of Fairfax County citizens approved the “Fairfax Resolves”, authored by George Mason. They met as part of Virginia’s response to events in Massachusetts that led to the end of British government in Virginia and to the Revolutionary War. Number 26 of the 27 resolutions established the Fairfax County Committee of Safety to govern and defend the county. The 25 elected members included George Washington, George Mason, and brothers William Payne, Jr. and Edward Payne.
- July 4, 1776 – Declaration of Independence
- William Fitzhugh (of Chatham) represented Virginia in the Continental Congress in 1779.
- William Payne (Colonel) served for a year in the Virginia naval service and then in the 1st Virginia Regiment of the Continential Army, in which he was severely wounded.
New U. S. Government and End of Absentee Ownership
- 1783 – Nicholas Fitzhugh became the first Fitzhugh to live on Ravensworth, ending 100 years of absentee family ownership
- 1787-1789 – David Stuart assisted in publishing Federalist essays in Virginia favoring ratification of the proposed U.S. Constitution – part of what became known as The Federalist Papers. Fairfax County freeholders voted to approve the proposed Constitution in October 1787 meeting at Price’s Ordinary. Constitution ratified in June 1788; became effective in March 1789.
- 1790 – Creation of U. S. Capital city authorized by Congress on land donated by Maryland and Virginia on the Potomac River. David Stuart appointed by President George Washington as one of the original three commissioners to oversee its creation. They chose to name the new city Washington to honor the President.
- 1790 – Richard Fitzhugh built Oak Hill c. 1790, the sole survivor of Ravensworth’s three manor houses.
- 1796 – William Fitzhugh (of Chatham) built Ravensworth Mansion c. 1796.
- 1797 – First Ravensworth landowners outside the Fitzhugh family: April 4, Colonel William Payne, 25 acres (Parcel 188.8.131.52/Payne’s Mill); September 1, Henry Rose and Augustine Smith, 3009 acres, parts of Parcel 1.1.1 and Parcel 1.1.7.
- March 1800 – Fairfax County Courthouse moved from Alexandria to current courthouse site in today’s City of Fairfax on former Ravensworth land obtained from Richard Ratcliffe.
- April 1804 – President Thomas Jefferson visited Oak Hill
January 1805 – Town of Providence, promoted by Richard Ratcliffe on his land, authorized by State of Virginia. Colonel William Payne, Richard Fitzhugh and David Stuart appointed to 14-member trustee panel. Providence was known as Fairfax Court House throughout much of the 19th century and particularly during the Civil War, because of the Fairfax County courthouse’s location there.
1806 – Little River Turnpike, under construction since 1802, completed over 10 miles of the 34-mile route from Alexandria to Aldie and began collecting tolls. Colonel William Payne helped guide construction as a company director.
1812-1815 – War of 1812
- William Henry Fitzhugh served in the 1st Corps D’Elite Brigade, Virginia Militia.
- Edmund Payne served as a private in Gunnell’s Company, Virginia Militia
- Augustine Smith served as a sergeant in unknown unit, Virginia Militia.
- August 1814 – About 10 miles from Ravensworth, British forces attacked and burned the new Capital, Washington, DC, and occupied nearby Alexandria for several days.
1850-1851 – Sixty-one newly freed slaves registered as free Blacks with the Fairfax County Court, manumitted by the provision in William Henry Fitzhugh’s 1830 will: “After the year 1850, I leave all my negroes unconditionally free…”
1861-1865 – Civil War
Regional reference map and description of military activities impacting Ravensworth in Northern Virginia – Braddock District in the Civil War (A Look Back at Braddock)
- May 23, 1861 – Virginia vote for secession. Two Fairfax County polling places were within Ravensworth’s original boundaries: Annandale (29 votes for, 4 against ratification) and Fairfax Court House (50 for, 4 against)2
- June 1, 1861 – Captain John Quincy Marr, 17th Virginia Infantry, killed by Union cavalry in skirmish at Fairfax Court House (Providence), the first Confederate officer to die in the war. 3
- July 16-21, 1861 – Two of the five Union divisions (2nd and 5th) engaged in the July 21 First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run marched through Ravensworth, camping in Annandale – over 10,000 soldiers, artillery and supply wagons on Columbia Pike, Little River Turnpike and Braddock Road advancing to battle and retreating after defeat.
- November 5, 1861 – Firefight between three Union scouts and four Confederate cavalrymen at Oak Hill. (A Look Back At Braddock)
- December 4, 1861 – 3rd New Jersey Infantry ambushed patrol of Georgia cavalrymen on Braddock Road near the intersection with Rolling Road. (A Look Back At Braddock)
- February 3-March 23, 1862 – Francis Dickens arrested at his home, Ossian Hall, and imprisoned for a month by Union authorities. Margaret Dickens wrote in her diary of this and other events near their home.
- December 28, 1862 – General J.E.B. Stuart’s Christmas raid on Burke’s Station and Orange and Alexandria Railroad facilities in Ravensworth. On this campaign, he detached John S. Mosby with nine men for partisan operations harassing Union forces and supply lines in Northern Virginia – the start of Mosby’s Rangers, the 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry.
- March 9, 1863 – About midnight, Mosby with 29 men slipped past Union pickets into Fairfax Court House (Providence). Without firing a shot, they captured Union general Edward Stoughton, 30 other prisoners and 58 horses.
- August 1863 – At Gooding’s Tavern: on the 6th, tavern keeper James Coyle killed by Union cavalry; on the 24th, Confederate partisan leader Mosby wounded in skirmish with 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.
- Nan Netherton et al., Fairfax County, Virginia: A History (Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, 1978), 10. ↩
- Brian A. Conley, ed., Fractured Land: Fairfax County’s Role in the Vote for Secession, May 23, 1861 (Fairfax County Public Library, 2001), 54 and 62. ↩
- “John Quincy Marr and the Skirmish at Fairfax C. H.,” accessed November 28, 2014, http://www.fairfaxrifles.org/marr.html. ↩