Voices of Stafford

The Stafford County Historical Society maintains a program of producing compact discs of oral interviews with native citizens. These are available for check out at local libraries. Each interview runs about one hour and features senior citizens who are familiar with the history and development here. Among life experiences and changes observed in Stafford, some genealogy is included.

Here is a listing of the VOICES OF STAFFORD now available for your listening pleasure:

Marion Brooks Robinson

Marion grew up in the historic village of Falmouth which dates back to the days of exploration by John Smith. She has always been interested in history and is one of the residents who can relate details of life in the village starting with colonial times. Her father was born on a farm on Hunter’s Island which is located in the Rappahannock River but later moved into the village to a house on Washington Street.  Marion has seen great changes in places and people and she tells about this in a most enlightening and interesting manner. She now lives on land surrounded by St. Clair Brooks Park named for her father. This land was donated by John Lee Pratt. Mr. Pratt asked that the park be given her father’s name.  (63 minutes)

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Clarence Preston Blaisdell

Preston’s grandparents migrated ‘back east’ from Colorado in 1911 for a change of pace and found a place along the Rappahannock on which they settled. Farming and wood sales provided income and Preston recalls times in an earlier Falmouth as well as changes along Warrenton Road between Rte.1 and I-95. He attended Stafford public schools, served in three branches of service, married a local young lady, worked elsewhere for a while in construction but now lives here on some of the original land acquired by his grandparents. He enjoys his family and his church work. (54 minutes)

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Herbert Cole Brooks

Herbert was born and raised in the historic village of Falmouth. He and the other local boys developed great familiarity with the Rappahannock River even to the point of     knowing the locations and names of the deep holes in the river bottom where they would swim and play. Certain rocks in the river had names and the boys were able to wade across using the proper rocks as stepping stones. Herbert tells of the old dock, the two earlier bridges, the races used to bring water to power mills located along the river and stories about the local retail establishments even to include the nick name of the village.  An account is given about the Union Church and how it was an integral part of the community until its serious damage by a hurricane in the 50s. The original building was located a short distance away as was Hobby School both of which are now located on the western edge of the cemetery accessible by Carter Street. (71 minutes)

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Madalene Schleigh Tinsley

Madalene was born and grew up in the rural western part of Stafford. After graduating from the public schools, she worked for a while for a northern VA office of the telephone company where she met and married her husband. To satisfy a life long desire to teach school, she earned a degree and taught for a short while in MD before transferring to Hartwood Elementary School. Madalene  became an activist and successfully brought some needed changes in school policy. Upon retirement as a full time teacher, she led a movement to establish a modern Senior Center which is now located in the Rowser Building just south of the Stafford Courthouse. (65 minutes)

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Richard Chichester III

Richard lives in the house where he was born right along Jefferson Davis Highway in southern Stafford. His family history is rich with old line Stafford family names and he with his two younger brothers grew up in an earlier time. The home farm was a top notch dairy operation with fine blood lines at a time when milk cans were set on the highway for pickup by the milk truck. Electricity came early along US Route 1 and replaced the old spring house used for refrigeration. Richard speaks of the contrast which existed before WWII with the recent rapid growth through out the county. (42 minutes)

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Everett V. McWhirt, Sr.

Everett was raised on a farm on Warrenton Road.  Toward the end of the great depression, his father rented acreage for the Civilian Conservation Camp operated by the federal government to provide jobs for young men who worked on local conservation projects. Everett provides first hand accounts of the practices used in the camp and provides other information on his upbringing.  For many years he and his wife operated the Enon Country Store which still stands at the corner of Truslow and Enon Roads.  (61 minutes)

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John M. Collins, Sr.

has lived in Stafford all his life except for his service in the US Navy during WW II. While born in Widewater as the youngest of four, he soon moved to live with another family in the Ruby area after his mother died. His family was later asked to relocate from what is now Quantico. He walked three miles one way to meet the school bus. John tells of the difficult times in rural Stafford during the great depression and the war years. There was no electricity, drinking water was carried by hand from a distant spring and rain water was used to wash clothes. Schools were segregated and work was scarce but John worked at a Fredericksburg Hotel until he joined the Navy.  While working for local farmers, he learned much about agriculture as it was practiced when the population of the county was less than 10,000. Later he worked at the power plant on the Quantico Marine Base. His strong faith and work ethic have kept him going to this day. He lives with his wife in the Hartwood area. (55 minutes)

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Janet Payne Cox

was born in Falmouth and has lived there all her life except for two years during which her husband was serving in the Army. She tells of times beginning when the Jefferson Davis highway was just a two lane road and how noise from the heavy traffic was very bothersome. Traffic was a challenge in Falmouth even back in the 1940s. She tells of a rope pedestrian bridge across the river. Listen to her relate stories of how the children played along side the road and in Falls Run Creek. Her favorite store was the one which sold ice cream, a real treat after the great depression.  Church and school activities were important parts of the life in Falmouth where most people were known by all the citizens. A great spirit of cooperation existed. (67 minutes)

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Alice Embrey Portt

grew up in the Ramoth area of Stafford when it was still very rural and consisted mainly of farms. She tells of times when citizens were quite self sufficient and later of how change came to the county. Families were large and worked together helping each other on large jobs such as harvest and slaughter of meat animals. Roads were infrequently traveled and children felt safe in walking to visit or to work. For a time Alice left the area to find work and even became an elected official. She recalls that her mother was a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ worker during WW II even though she cared for 12 children. (64 minutes)

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Sally Lou Fitzhugh

is a retired school teacher and farm-land owner in western Stafford. The family farm, Poplar Grove, on which Ms Fitzhugh lives, has a long and interesting history. She tells of times when slaves lived on the farm and of a slave cemetery located there in a small grove of trees. Former ownership included Quakers and a Quaker cemetery remains nearby just south at the corner of Poplar Road and Christy Lane. The farm, on gently rolling land also includes an old time ‘spring house.’ The stone chimney remains of a house built in 1868 for a new bride who refused to move there also exists. (74 minutes)

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Frank K. White

grew up in the Wildcat Corner area of eastern Stafford County. His ancestors were associated with the agricultural way of life although he served in the Air Force and retired as a Captain. He and his siblings attended local public schools during the time of school desegregation and were involved closely with such activities. Mr. White drove a school bus as a student and has since developed an extensive collection of mid-sixties educational memorabilia about African-Americans. (74 minutes)

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D. P. Newton

lives in the White Oak area of Stafford County. He owns and operates the White Oak Civil War Museum. The Museum displays thousands of Civil War artifacts. It also contains years of research information, which includes copies of letters sent home by soldiers, as well as, other documentation written or recorded by Union troops. There were between 120,000-170,000 Union troops camped in Stafford County during the Civil War (mostly during 1862-63) which accounts for the thousands of artifacts/relics left behind-- some of which has been found by Mr. Newton and his father, Pat. These two men spent nearly 40 years relic hunting, and have carefully preserved every artifact. The Newton family has made its living as fishermen and carpenters for generations. (73 minutes)

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Joseph S. Duffey

lives in central Stafford County but was born on property later claimed by the government as Quantico Marine Base. As a boy, Mr. Duffey remembers his recently widowed mother being served notice that she would be required to move out of their new house and off their small farm within 30 days. The family was scattered but Mr. Duffy survived to become a successful and respected business and family man in Stafford County. (72 minutes)

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Elwood Perry

has lived most of his life near the I-95/US 1 junction in Stafford County. He was forced by commercial development along the #610 corridor to move westward to Poplar Road. During most of his adult life Mr. Perry operated a business servicing and repairing small engines and related equipment. His present property is home to one of the largest oak trees in the area. This tree escaped cutting by the Federal forces seeking wood for fuel and building purposes during the winter of 1862-63. (28 minutes)

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Shirley Homes Jones

was born in Toluca, Virginia before the area was renamed Garrisonville.  She & her husband, James, live in the western Garrisonville Road area. Mrs. Jones is one of the longest living members of Mount Ararat Baptist Church situated on Toluca Road.  Her family has been active in the church since its beginning. She served as the church's pianist and organist for many years as well as holding other leadership positions.  She reports that services were not held during the winter because of muddy clay roads.  Her family includes a rich history of merchants, a postmaster, farmers and custom grain threshers.  Her relatives were among the leading families in the area during the last century.  Mrs. Jones retired from the Quantico Marine Base in 1995 after 42 years of government service. (54 minutes)

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Milton Samuel Christy

was born and grew up on Poplar Road having grandparents who lived at each end. One grandfather operated a general store at Rt. 17 and Poplar Road. Mr. Christy and his sisters graduated from Stafford County Public schools. They attended college in Richmond and each returned to teach music in local schools. Mr. Christy is a talented musician and in addition to teaching has served as music director in several churches. Farming and operating a farm supply retail business also number in his accomplishments. He enjoys relating stories and history about life along Poplar Road. (46 minutes)

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Charles L. Moore

has always lived in the central part of Stafford County along Hull’s Chapel Road which is known locally as “Terrapin’s Thicket.’  His family is related to many of those in the area. The names appear on the stones in local cemeteries. Mr. Moore tells of how his grandfather grew vegetables and transported them by horse drawn wagon to Warrenton to market. For entertainment, youngsters walked to Fredericksburg and hunted the nearby woods for game which was used for food. This part of Stafford County is usually overlooked as historians write of the activities and structures around the outer edges of the county. (74 min.)

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Louellen Young Silver and Rebecca Young Guy

are sisters who have lived in eastern Stafford all their lives. They have Native-American roots and they are descendants of the Patawomeck Tribe which lived, hunted, fished and farmed along the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers in pre-Colonial times. The Patawomecks were described by John Smith including the local chief who was the brother of Chief Powhatan.  Both sisters have extensive knowledge about history and activities in the White Oak section of Stafford County including the transportation of the body of John Wilkes Booth from Caroline county to Washington, DC. (72 minutes)

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Wilbur Seager

Wilbur was born and has lived since along the southern bank of Aquia Creek just inland from the Potomac River. From this sparsely populated area he and a few other children walked three miles to school at Route 1.  As a boy he helped him grandmother with a boat rental business and learned the business of operating a marina. At age 18, Wilbur started working at Quantico but joined the Navy soon thereafter and survived the second attack on Pearl Harbor as his ship prepared to sail to Iwo Jima. After the war he returned to work at Quantico but opened and continued to expand a marina at Willow Landing on Aquia Creek. The marina is down stream from the Coal Landing port and Government Island about which he shares first hand knowledge. Wilbur’s father was superintendent at the George Washington Quarry located across the creek and from which much sandstone was shipped to Washington for use in major federal buildings. (48 minutes)

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Robert P. Green

Robert currently serves as Chief Emeritus of the Patawomeck Indian Tribe which was granted formal recognized by the 2010 session of the VA General Assembly. Chief Green lives in Stafford and he tells of his childhood and of his motivation to reorganize the Tribe. In addition, he shares interesting facts about the historical importance of the Potomac Tribe which assisted early English colonist in Jamestown during the early 1600s and then provides information on archeological work done here in Stafford. He reports on work done by the Smithsonian and on recent action by local government to establish a park for use by tribe members. Written history began with John Smith’s diaries written during his visit here in 1608. (57 minutes)

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Richard and Barbara Westebee

reside in a grand old house which was originally built as a tavern in the 1780s in Falmouth eight miles down river from its new location near Hartwood. In its prime, this building was the highest taxed property in the village but was used later as a residence and destined to be destroyed in the 1970s. It was on the south side of Prince Street as the third property east of Cambridge Street. It was listed on the National Historic Registry when the Westebees found it and arranged to have it disassembled and transported to its present site for reassembly and restoration. This three story structure complies with restoration standards even though it now has indoor facilities and utilities making it a comfortable modern residence. This recording gives details and lists some of the challenges encountered in moving and upgrading this piece of colonial history. (41 minutes)

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Rebecca Y. Guy

Rebecca was born and has always lived in White Oak area of Stafford County. She is a member of the Patawomeck Indian Tribe which was recently officially recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia. By using her language skills and having taught language for years, she has served as the primary researcher and teacher of the language used by the Patawomeck. Local Tribe members and others from neighboring communities are presently learning this revived language. Rebecca shares some facts about the Tribe and some of the challenges encountered in ‘rebuilding’ the language which differs from many others spoken in pre-Colonial America. (64 minutes)

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Boys of Falmouth Brooks

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Lindy Fritter

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Whitefeather & Guy

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Withers Moncure

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