From at least the 1720s until about 1930 Coal Landing on Aquia Creek was a major commercial shipping point. By the 1890s, vast quantities of lumber, cordwood, railroad ties, and other commodities were being shipped through here. One newspaper article reported:
“Coal Landing, on Aquia Creek, is then port of entry for Stafford, and shipments form that point amount, in round numbers, to $100,000 per annum. Mr. R. L. Flatford estimates his business at $50,000 per annum alone. These shipments are chiefly of timber. Mr. N. B. Musselman, a merchant above Garrisonville, estimates his shipment of eggs for ’92 at about 27,000 dozen. Most of the merchants buy their goods in Alexandria and get their goods at this landing. Four longboats are owned in the county, one by Capt. Wesley Knight, two by R. L. Flatford esq., and one by Messrs. J. B. Mountjoy and W. M. Decatur. Coal Landing is about nine miles from the mouth of Aquia Creek” (Alexandria Gazette, Dec. 3, 1892).
Some of the individuals mentioned in the article are:
Robert Lawrence Flatford (1852-1898)
James Bernard Mountjoy (1852-1927)
Napoleon Bailey Musselman (1865-1921)
John Wesley Knight (1846-1937)
Robert Dunbar (c.1745-1831) was one of Falmouth, Virginia’s great industrialists. He was born in Scotland and arrived in Falmouth around 1786. He quickly became involved in commercial flour milling there and built the first bridge over the Rappahannock River from Falmouth to Fredericksburg. He married Elizabeth Gregory Thornton (c.1764-1851) of Fall Hill and had three known children. Robert resided on Carter Street in Falmouth, not far from Union Church. While his house disappeared years ago, Dunbar’s Kitchen remains standing. Robert Dunbar’s obituary read:
“Mr. Dunbar arrived at this great age with less interruption to good health, in the most extensive sense, than falls to the lot of one in ten thousand. His hearing was not in the least impaired, and till his death, he could read the smallest print without the use of spectacles. His extreme and uniform temperance and self-denial in all things, no doubt contributed to this result. His public spirit, his unbending integrity, his philanthropy, and his unmurmuring submission to the will of God, were all prominent features in his character. During a great part of his long life, his purse was ever open to relieve the necessities of the poor; and he often gladdened the hearts of the widow and orphan, by his ostentatious liberality and kindness. Mr. Dunbar had not attached himself to any church, but being a man of few words and retiring manners, had, during the latter part of his life, withdrawn from the bustle of the world, and left with his disconsolate family the consoling evidence that he had made his peace with God” (Virginia Herald, Dec. 21, 1831).