This Month in Stafford History – October 2016

In October 1942 the U. S. Government condemned some 50,000 acres in Stafford, Prince William, and Fauquier Counties for the expansion of the Quantico Marine Corps base.  Of t his, 30,000 acres were in Stafford.  Those residents fortunate enough to receive their evacuation notices early had 21 days to pack up their livestock, furniture, and families and find new places to live.  The ensuing months proved to be nearly indescribable for those forced to leave their homes.  A newspaper reported:

 

"These citizens must indeed have felt that they were being kicked and jumped on after they  had already been knocked down.  The more than 180 property owners in the area were required to move out before December, 1942.  On short notice, they had to find new homes.  Under the present cumbersome condemnation procedure, the owners could receive no compensation from the government until titles to their land had been cleared.  On Apr. 8, 1943 it was disclosed that of the 180-odd landowners, a grand total of eight had been paid, in whole or in part.  As of this week, fewer than one-third of the titles have been cleared.  Meanwhile, many former residents of the area have borrowed money with which to purchase farms elsewhere, and are waiting patiently to be reimbursed for the property condemned in 1942.  As if this were not enough, it has now been announced that owners of the land in the three-county region must pay a part of 1943 county taxes in spite of the fact that they surrendered the land in 1942, and although the government has had physical possession and use of the land since then.  Property taxes are assumed by the purchaser only after the title has been transferred and recorded.  Had the government moved with more dispatch, the problem with county taxes would not have arisen.  It does exist, however, and the former residents are liable, no matter how unfair the assessment may be" (Richmond Times-Dispatch, Oct. 31, 1943).