Role in Ravensworth – owner Parcel 1.2.1 and Parcel 1.2.3.3

Henry Daingerfield was born into the prominent family of Bathurst and Eliza (Kay) Daingerfield in Alexandria, VA. He became a successful entrepreneur and business owner, starting as early as age 17 in the import/export business with his brothers John and Edward.

Henry married three times and fathered seven children.

With Susan J. B. Sewall (1803-1837), whom he married on October 21, 1823, there were four children:

  • Susan Sewall Daingerfield (c. 1828-1886), married John S. Barbour
  • Ellen C. Daingerfield (c. 1831-1912)
  • Mary Bathurst Daingerfield, died in infancy
  • Robert Daingerfield, died in infancy

The second marriage in November 1838 to Rosalie Taylor (1811-1841) was childless.

The third marriage (December 9, 1847) to Eliza Ridgley Johnson (1825-1897) bore three children:

  • Henry Daingerfield, Jr. (1850-1894), married Virginia Peyton Key (1853-1926)
  • Reverdy Daingerfield (1852-1896), married Effie Nicholson (1852-?)
  • Lorenzo Lewis Daingerfield, died in childhood

Summarizing Daingerfield’s business achievements, Harold Hurst states: “The city tax list for 1855 discloses that Henry Daingerfield was the highest assessed property holder in the community and the owner of stores, warehouses, wharves, a large private residence, a flourishing farm, and personal property whose total value exceeded $130,000.”1

Henry’s connections and success earned him positions on several company boards of directors. Two especially fitted his apparent interests in transportation and land investment. He was a member of the commission that planned the 7-mile canal between Alexandria, VA and Georgetown, D.C. The canal passed adjacent to property he owned, which still bears his name, Daingerfield Island on the Potomac River near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Appointment to the Board of Directors of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad in May 1849 almost certainly motivated Daingerfield’s interest in purchasing the two Ravensworth parcels he acquired. Both parcels lay in the path of the railroad right of way. Jack Hiller, in his historical essay, “Henry Daingerfield and the Origin of Springfield.” states:

“The pattern of his land acquisitions suggests that Daingerfield was betting land values would increase in direct proportion to the proximity of the tracks. In fact, the majority of landowners permitted tracks to cross their property without charge in the hope that their land values would increase.”2

Much of the information in this brief summary was developed from Hiller’s essay. In it he credits Daingerfield as the early founder of the Springfield community, which grew up in one of the two Ravensworth parcels he bought (Parcel 1.2.1) and named “Springfield Farm.” Springfield Station was one of the original stops on the new railroad.

Additional information about Henry Daingerfield, his family and the founding and history of Springfield appear in Jack Hiller’s article:


 

  1. Harold W Hurst, Alexandria on the Potomac: The Portrait of an Antebellum Community (University Press of America, 1991), 29.
  2. Jack Lewis Hiller, “”Henry Daingerfield and the Origin of Springfield”,” Yearbook, The Historical Society of Fairfax County, Virginia Volume 29 (2003-04), 11.