Fairfax County History Commission - Events
County's Eleventh Annual History Conference
Authors & Exhibitors
Fairfax County's Tenth Annual History Conference - November 8, 2014 - "Fire, Flight & Fury! The War of 1812 in Fairfax County - 200 years Later!"
The 10th Annual Fairfax County History Conference was held on Saturday, November 8, 2014 with a record 120 participants in attendance to enjoy the theme of "Fire, Flight & Fury" - The War of 1812 in Fairfax County - 200 Years Later!" Over 15 authors and exhibitors displayed books and items of historical interest. The day was filled with living history, including re-enactments of Dolley Madison by Carole Herrick, an 1812 Naval Commander by Michael Bosworth, an 1812 60th Virginia Militia Man by Richard Orli, and a grand finale of Francis Scott Key by National Park Ranger Alan Gephardt.
Guests included Virginia State Delegate Ken Plum from the Mclean/Great Falls area. Congressman, 11th District, Gerry Connolly joined with Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman Sharon Bulova to share comments and to present awards to local historians who had contributed mightily to document and preserve the rich history of Fairfax County.
Michael Bosworth shared song and verse as a way to share information and demonstrate how naval armed service members attended to their tasks. He reminded us that the War of 1812 was really part of the broader Napoleonic Wars. A trivia question for the audience was "Why was the War of 1812 Overture written and by whom?" Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote the overture in 1880 to honor the Russian victory over the attempted invasion by Napoleon. Trivia prizes included CD's of keynote presenter Ron Maxwell from the county's first history conference in 2004. Carole Herrick shared the "post script" reflection of Dolley Madison's flight into Fairfax County after protecting George Washington's portrait. Alexandria Carlyle House Curator Helen Wirka provided insight into the Battle of Bladensburg focusing on the key players including the brothers Winder: Levin who was the governor of Maryland and William who was the commander of the defenses of Washington and Baltimore during the War of 1812. Patrick O'Neill provided an enthusiastic and fresh perspective on "The Battle of the White House" which occurred at a location near present-day Ft. Belvoir (not the Presidential mansion). Alan Gephardt shared that the inspiration for the lyrics to "The Star Spangled Banner" was really the defenders of Ft. McHenry - the soldiers. He received a standing ovation for his passionate rendition of all three verses of the original "Defence of Fort McHenry." A tremendous amount of work from conference committee members Mike Irwin and Esther McCullough resulted in a very attractive and thorough War of 1812 timeline that was included in attendee packets.
It is the custom of the Fairfax County History Commission, to present annual awards to citizens who have given their time and talents to create a document or media presentation that serves to preserve and protect the history of the vast historic resources of Fairfax County. The work of these individuals is tireless, laborious, and tedious and yet authored with the same flame of enthusiasm as a professionally paid historian. Awards presented at the beginning of the conference and presented by Congressman Connolly and chairman Bulova included:
(1) Irma Clifton - Lifetime Achievement Award - for
lifelong passion to preserve, protect & promote the history of
the Lorton area of the county - culminating in the beautiful and
now well-used Lorton Arts Center and the Lorton Prison &
Suffragist Museum on site.
Committee members who coordinated efforts for the conference included Barbara Naef, Dr. Liz Crowell, Susan Gray, Esther McCullough, Naomi Zeavin, Sallie Lyons, Carole Herrick, Mary Lipsey, Jenee Lindner, Phyllis Walker Ford, Rachel Rifkind, Mike Irwin, and Lynne Garvey Hodge. The Awards Committee included Jack Hiller, Elise R. Murray, Naomi Zeavin, and Lynne Garvy Hodge. Fairfax County History Commissioner Lynne Garvey-Hodge chairs both the Conference Planning Committee and the Awards Committee. The 11th Annual Fairfax County History Conference is tentatively scheduled for November 7, 2015 with a final location to be determined (at the time of this writing).
Fairfax County's Ninth Annual History Conference - November 9, 2013 - "Voices For Freedom: Abolitionists, Oral History and Documenting the Past"
It was a sunny and brisk Veteran's Day weekend and the Sherwood Community Center in Fairfax City was packed with nearly 130 devotees of Fairfax County history on Saturday, November 9, 2013. "Voices For Freedom: Abolitionists, Oral History & Documenting the Past" was the theme for this year's 9th Annual Fairfax County History Conference. Sponsored by Visit Fairfax, Gunston Hall, and Seeds of Independence, and coordinated through the efforts of the Fairfax County History Commission, Fairfax County Park Authority, and the Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center, the conference has become an "institution" for the County.
Kicking off the conference was Sharon Bulova , Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and Gerry Connolly, Congressman, 37th District, Virginia. Both leaders shared their passion for history. Buoyed by the enthusiasm of those in attendance, they recounted the importance of Fairfax County's history within the larger context of the history of the United States. Congressman Connolly also announced the launch of a Civil Rights Archival project intended to gather information, photographs, and stories that occurred during the 1960's Civil Rights Era in Fairfax County.
Numerous re-enactors were featured in the agenda for the day, including Frederick Douglass (19th c. slave, orator & US Marshal to the District of Columbia, re-enacted by Albert Williams), Angelina Grimké (early 19th c. Abolitionist and Quaker women's rights activist from So. Carolina, portrayed by Lynne Garvey-Hodge, pictured , right), and Julia Ward Howe (19th c. Abolitionist and lyricist of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," portrayed by Jenee Linder). A call to focusing on gathering and preserving oral histories throughout the County, was made by Fairfax County History Commissioner & Chair of the County Ethnic & Oral History Committee, Esther McCullough. Supporting her were four ladies from "FREED (Female Re-enactors of Distinction), who hail from the African American Civil War Museum in Washington, DC. Each of the ladies represented a real slave that lived, survived, and even thrived during and after the Civil War. Under the Direction of Patricia Tyson, the troupe of actors is frequently called upon to "tell their stories" to interested historians, students, and citizens.
Fairfax County History Commissioner Debbie Robison provided a detailed look at the resources available for exploring local history. Ms. Robison provided the audience with stories reflecting a summary of the wealth of information that can be found by accessing online research sites. Links to online local history research sources are available at http://novahistory.org/Research/Research.html
The conference concluded with Dr. Spencer Crew, Robinson Professor of American, African American & Public History, George Mason who spoke on "African Americans and the Underground Railroad in Fairfax County During the Civil War." He noted the success of the "Railroad" is evidenced by the scant amount of documentation available on it; hence, those who participated took their roles of "secret" information bearers quite seriously. Over four million slaves lived in this country during the Civil War, yet only some 100,000 were able to successfully find their way to freedom, he shared. Introducing Dr. Crew was Marion Dobbins, one of his students & the founder of the new Fairfax County African American History Society.
A continental breakfast and delicious lunch was provided by Jason's Deli and over 22 Exhibitors, including the Burke Historical Society, the Fairfax County Cemetery Preservation Association, Army Historical Foundation, and Pohick Church Foundation as well as authors including, Don Hakenson, Carole Herrick, Steve Sherman, Chuck Mauro, Mary Lipsey, and Charlotte Brown were in attendance. Fairfax County History Commissioner Jack L. Hiller provided the conference photographs and he was lauded for his 1963 iconic photograph of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Conference Planning Committee includes Barbara Naef, Anne Barnes, Esther McCullough, Naomi Zeavin, Mike Irwin, Phyllis Walker Ford, Jenée Lindner, Carole Herrick, Mary Lipsey, Susan Gray, Elizabeth Crowell and Sally Lyons (who graciously allowed the use of her late husband's Civil War era desk which had been passed down to him through his mother whose own Father had served in the 16th Kentucky Infantry) and Lynne Garvey-Hodge, Chair.
Next year's 10th Annual History Conference will be held on November 8, 2014 also at the Sherwood Community Center - with a focus on "The War of 1812". The Planning Committee looks forward to another full house!
Fairfax County's Eighth Annual History Conference - November 12, 2012 - "Conflict & Courage: The Civil War in Fairfax County!"
The 8th Annual Fairfax County History Conference was held on Saturday, November 10, 2012 at the Stacy C. Sherwood Community Center in the City of Fairfax. A record 120 participants were in attendance to enjoy the theme of "Conflict & Courage: The Civil War in Fairfax County!" (President Abraham Lincoln - masterfully re-enacted by Dan Storck, addresses the attendees of the 8th Annual Fairfax History Conference).
Over 20 authors & exhibitors also attended & the day was filled with much living history, including the re-enactment of the "Secession Vote in Fairfax County" by the Jon Vrana players. The passion of both sides was clearly portrayed, including the sad reminder of the silence women endured in not being able to share a voice in local or national elections.
Other living history included the premier of Chuck Mauro's play, "Chantilly: After the Storm" depicting three survivors from the Battle of Ox Hill/Chantilly on September 1, 1862. Award-winning author & speaker, Greg Clemmer spoke on "Why the Civil War Still Lives" and captivated the audience by numerous references to how present the Civil War is in our daily lexicon - including the comparison of all Presidential speeches to the Gettysburg address & the presence of Civil War music still used in Hollywood today - with "Dixie" being the most commonly used song in movies.
Kevin Knapp captured the audience's attention with his period dress & stories of Thaddeus Lowe - the Reconnaissance Balloonist who landed a balloon in our own Vienna, Virginia and literally launched the First American Air Force! Letters written by Clara Barton were read by Susan Rosenvold, Educator at the Clara Barton Medical Museum. The Fairfax County Park Authority sent three of its premier historians, Mike Henry, John Rutherford & Jim Daniels & to speak on, "Echoes Still - This Land = Our Land" - a review of the many sites & stories that are the backdrop to Fairfax County's parks today.
The "Seeds of Independence" historic preservation group from Gunston Hall shared their video which had been released earlier this year, "The Story of Free Blacks Living on Mason's Neck During the Civil War" - a fascinating look at a prosperous & now forgotten part of Fairfax County - where numerous "free" blacks lived, owned homes, property & business establishments - yet who unfortunately got caught up in the horror of the war as it took place around them. The conference ended with a passionate "Appeal" from President Abraham Lincoln - masterfully re-enacted by Fairfax County School Board member, Dan Storck .
Guests included retired news correspondent Roger Mudd & Delegate Ken Plum from the Mclean/Great Falls area. Congressman, 11th District Gerry Connolly joined with Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairperson, Sharon Bulova to present awards to local historians who had contributed mightily to document & preserve the rich history of Fairfax County this past year.
It is the custom of the Fairfax County History Commission, to present Annual Awards to citizens who have given of their time & talents to create a document or media presentation that serves to preserve and protect the history of the vast historic resources of Fairfax County. The work of these individuals is tireless, laborious, tedious and yet authored with the same flame of enthusiasm as a professionally paid historian. The "Heritage Awareness" awards have associated monetary prizes. When the time & dedication involved in the creation of each of their submissions is taken into account, the same time and talents of a paid county employee would be immeasurably higher. The Fairfax County History Commission is proud this year to have presented the following Awards:
HERITAGE AWARENESS AWARDS
(1) C. Denise Barrett - The Nan Netherton Award for her work in researching & writing a narrative about Lakewood Estates in the neighborhood off Wolf Shoals in SW Fairfax County. She included information on the prehistory of the county - early land acquisitions, the American Revolution & the Civil War & on into 20th c. life. This is all documented with 304 endnotes and a bibliography of 26 sources. She will also receive a $500 prize for her thorough efforts.
(2) Lisa Friedrich Becker - The CJS Durhan Award for her nomination to the National Register of the Sydenstricker School - which she has also been extensively involved in renovating & "resurrecting" as a well-received community project. She will also receive a $250 prize for her thorough efforts & enthusiasm!
(3) David G. Farmer - The Beth Mitchell Award for his Automation/Indexing of the collection of Flint Hill Cemetery Records - reflecting its use back to 1875. His summary Excel spread sheet consisted of 3,500+ lines of data & a collection of information from more than 2,100 tombstones. He will also receive a $500 prize for his research & documentation efforts.
(1) Distinguished Service Award - for the casting, performing & presenting three times as well as producing a video of same of a play called "Captain John Smith: a HiStory of McLean & Great Falls Virginia". It honored the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown & subsequent events that occurred in the McLean, Virginia area. Copies were distributed at local McLean, VA schools & libraries. EVELYN FOX was the coordinator (and attended the conference with her husband, Shawn, as a special trip from Texas - where she now resides). Assistants for the production are Wanda Hill, Joan Morton, Virginia Norton & Gail T. Nields.
(2) LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD - SUZANNE LEVY. For her 30+ years of service in the Virginia Room of the Fairfax City Library & her tireless efforts to promote history, genealogy & historic preservation in the region. (Information is also available on the Fairfax County History Commission web site: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/histcomm/awardsprogram.htm)
Committee members who coordinated efforts for the conference included, Barbara Naef, Dr. Liz Crowell, Susan Gray, Esther McCullough, Naomi Zeavin, Sallie Lyons, Carole Herrick, Mary Lipsey, Mike Irwin, Rob Orrison. The Awards Committee includes Jack Hiller, Elise R. Murray, Robert Beach and Naomi Zeavin. Fairfax County History Commissioner Lynne Garvey-Hodge chairs both the Conference Planning Committee & the Awards Committee. The 9th Annual Fairfax County History Conference is scheduled for November 9, 2013 and will also be at the Stacy C. Sherwood Community Center in The City of Fairfax.
Fairfax County's Seventh Annual History Conference - November
12, 2011 - "The Civil War Comes to Fairfax County!"
Fairfax County’s Fourth Annual History Conference – November 15,
2008 “Our 20th Century” Fairfax County’s Fourth Annual
History Conference – November 15, 2008 “Our 20th Century”
Nearly 100 Fairfax County history lovers descended upon NOVA’s Ernst Community Cultural Center on November 15th to learn of numerous Fairfax County historical events that occurred in the 20th Century. The keynote speaker was The Honorable Vince Callahan (pictured at right), a 40-year member of the Virginia House of Delegates who shared his reminisces about the time he has served and what all was occurring on the Virginia, Fairfax County, and national stage during his tenure. He witnessed the de-segregation of schools, the Kennedy assassination, the war in Viet-Nam, the growth and blossoming of George Mason University, and the diverse population shifts of this great county. Many attendees encouraged him to write a book about his many, colorful, amusing, and also dramatic experiences! Newly-elected Congressman of Virginia’s 11th District and Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Gerry Connolly kicked off the well-attended conference by reminding us of the urgent need to preserve history – the people, places, and events that have marked Fairfax County’s history – particularly as they have affected the history of the United States. He presented two Distinguished Service Awards to Barbara Smith and David Bettwy who have given countless hours of volunteer time to preserve history in their areas of McLean and Great Falls, respectively. Connolly also received a Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the Fairfax County History Commission for his consistent and passionate support of maintaining Fairfax County’s historical resources and for being willing to so deftly open all the Annual Conferences to date. He generously offered to join us, again, next year! Other Fairfax County Supervisors in attendance included Sharon Bulova, Braddock District and Penny Gross, Mason District. The focus of the conference included three topic areas:
(1) Breaking Barriers – which included presentations on “Asian American Arrivals” (team led by Anne Cahill, Cora Foley & Brigette Le) in Fairfax County; “The Progressive Era - Suffragists, Single Mothers & Society’s Sinners” (Lynne Garvey-Hodge, Fairfax County History Commission) and “The De-segregation of Fairfax County Schools” (Megan Garnett, FCPS teacher).
(2) Bricks & Mortar – involved three presentations including, “The Preservation of Mt. Vernon – Setting the Preservation Stage” (Dr. Dennis Pogue, Mt. Vernon Ladies Association); “20th Century Architecture” (John Burns, Chairman, Fairfax County’s Architectural Review Board) and “Seven Corners: A Post WWII Transformation” (Dr. Chris Martin, Historian, Fairfax City).
(3) Changing Patterns – “Fairfax County: Rooted in Agriculture” (Yvonne Johnson, Fairfax County Park Authority); “Roosevelt’s Tree Army: the Civilian Conservation Corps” (Mary Lipsey, Fairfax County History Commission) and “All Roads Lead to Fairfax: Tourist Courts & Diners” (Randy Lytton, George Mason University)
Ira Gabrielson Marker Dedication
On Saturday April 26, 2008, a roadside historical marker (pictured, right) honoring the achievements in wildlife conservation of Dr. Ira Gabrielson was dedicated at the Oakton Library. Trish Strat, an Oakton resident, spearheaded the effort. Through her research, text development, and coordination with the History Commission, Ms. Strat has provided the public with an appreciation and understanding of Dr. Gabrielson’s accomplishments.
Oakton resident Dr. Ira Noel Gabrielson was a pioneer conservationist, distinguished field ornithologist, and renowned author. He served as the first director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and an international leader of conservation projects. Gabrielson was a founder and the first chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and first president of World Wildlife Fund-US. For his life’s work, he was inducted into the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Hall of Fame in 1978. His land, between Leeds Road and Difficult Run, is a Fairfax County park known as Gabrielson Gardens Park .
Civilian Conservation Corps Marker Dedication
A county marker was dedicated on April 5, 2008 in Lake Accotink Park on the 75th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps. It marks a fire trail carved out of the forest by the CCC in the 1930s.
2007 History Conference
Fairfax County played host to its Third Annual History Conference, Saturday, October 27, 2007 at the Annandale campus of the Northern Virginia Community College. "The Fairfax Four Hundred: 400 Years of Fairfax County History" was the theme of the event, referencing the Jamestown 400 celebration in May that marked 400 years of the Commonwealth of Virginia History. Dr. Doug Owsley, who provided much of the Jamestown 2007 anthropological and archaeological work, was the keynote speaker at the Oct. 27 conference.
Ivakota Farm Marker Dedication
On May 12, 2007 the IVAKOTA Farm marker was dedicated. (Pictured at right Fairfax County History Commissioner Lynne Garvey Hodge, Clifton, VA with members of the Kate Waller Barrett Alexandria DAR Chapter)
The Orange and Alexandria Railroad Trestle
Nearly two dozen people braved blustery winds and light rain to attend the unveiling of Fairfax County's newest historic marker on June 5, 2004. It commemorates a Civil War-era Orange & Alexandria Rail Road (O & ARR) trestle that once spanned Accotink Creek. Completed in the 1850s, the O & ARR was a vital transportation link through Fairfax County into central Virginia. Lake Accotink Park Manager Tawny Hammond summarized the research and fundraising done to place the marker. Fairfax County Park Authority Board Chair Winnie Shapiro also made remarks, along with History Commissioner Jack L. Hiller and Fairfax County Supervisors Sharon Bulova and Dana Kauffman. Speaking over the roar of Accotink's spillway less than 100 feet behind him, Supervisor Kauffman acknowledged the continued importance of transportation within Fairfax County, remarking, "Although I can't imagine someone putting up a marker to the Beltway 100 years from now!" (Pictured admiring the newly unveiled historic marker at Lake Accotink Park in Springfield on June 5, 2004, are (from left) Fairfax County Supervisor Dana Kauffman and son, Fairfax County Supervisor Sharon Bulova, Lake Accotink Park Operations Manager Lee Ann Shenefiel, and Fairfax County Park Authority Board Chair Winnie Shapiro.)