The Gooding family is notable both for the large share of Ravensworth it acquired and for its role in local history during the first half of the 19th century. A little bit is known about several family members. These glimpses into their lives and affairs add up to tell a significant story.

Thanks to historian Kathe Gunther for sharing her extensive research and genealogical information about the Gooding family, which is the source of much of the information provided.

William Gooding, Jr. was born in 1768 in Fairfax County into a family with six brothers and one sister.1 In 1789 he lived with his father, William, Sr. and brother Richard; they owned three horses and no slaves. The 1799 tax list census shows a William Gooding owning one horse and no slaves. This is likely the father living alone. Also likely, William, Jr. whose first child Peter was born in 1798, did not appear as a titheable in the 1799 tax rolls because he did not own property (horses or slaves) subject to tax.2

From these modest beginnings William Gooding, Jr., and later his sons Peter Gooding and William H. Gooding, built successful businesses and had prominent roles in the community.

  • Gooding’s Tavern – In 1807 William, Jr. established the tavern on the newly opened Little River Turnpike on land he rented and later bought in 1814.
  • Gooding family lands – Between 1814 and 1853, the father and two sons acquired nearly 2100 of Ravensworth’s 24,112 acres (about 8.6%), which stretched in an unbroken line on both sides of Little River Turnpike for almost three miles.
  • Family property holdings in 1860 – Real estate and other property values paint a picture of a successful, well-to-do family a year before the Civil War engulfed them in a no man’s land between Union and Confederate forces.
  • The Gooding-Seaton Family Cemetery, provided for in William Gooding, Jr.’s will, is on the east border of the original Gooding’s Tavern lot. The Fairfax County Cemetery Preservation Association (FCCPA) has arranged periodic clean-up projects that have largely reclaimed the once overgrown cemetery from nature.3 4

Civil War

Like so many other families, the Goodings were divided in their sympathies on secession and the war. The husband of William Jr.’s daughter, Jane Coyle, was shot and killed by Union troops in their home. Another daughter, Maria Howard, was judged a Union supporter by a claims court, after the war. Among William H. Gooding’s children, two sons fought for the Confederacy and another was an official in the Union-controlled county government.


  1. Kathe Gunther, Family Group Sheet for William Gooding, unpublished genealogical document.
  2. Fairfax County tax data for 1789 and 1799 accessed online in Binns Genealogy website, accessed July 5, 2013.
  3. Gooding-Seaton Family Cemetery (Fairfax County Library) (
  4. Fairfax County Cemetery Preservation Association (