Board of Supervisors - Braddock District

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 9AM-5PM M-F

703-425-9300
TTY 711

9002 Burke Lake Road
Burke, VA 22015

James R. Walkinshaw,
Braddock District Supervisor

Braddock District Black History Month

Slavery in the Braddock District

African Americans have lived in the Braddock District since William Fitzhugh established his 22,000 acre Ravensworth Plantation in 1685. There remain many unknown facts regarding the number, identities, and backgrounds of the slaves due to lack of records. Slaves were not documented in the annals of history like their masters. They had no birth, death, or marriage certificates. Property records, inventories, and receipts are some of the only records discoverable in Fairfax County. The earliest record found reported 203 slaves at Ravensworth Plantation in 1782. The names are difficult to pin down as well. African Americans who look into their genealogy have to go to great lengths to find their ancestors. Instead of census records, they first have to find the slave owner their family belonged to. Then they must dig through deeds, wills, sale receipts, and other paperwork. Last names are often not listed in these records. The Fairfax Circuit Court and Slavery Index Database LLC are working to fix this problem. The two have been collecting names of slaves for years by combing through deeds, trusts, sale accounts, and other historic documents that could mention the slaves’ names. From there they index the names and create a public database that the community can refer to. To learn more about the Fairfax Circuit Court’s records please see their website.  

Silas Burke:

Silas Burke was a major figure in the history of the Braddock District. He became a judge, sheriff, director of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad Company, president of the Fairfax Agricultural Society and the Fairfax Turnpike Company, among other leadership titles. He was also an overseer of the Fitzhugh’s plantation, which meant that he managed the Fitzhugh’s slaves and farming tasks. Burke also had personal slaves for his own farm. These records were provided by the Fairfax Circuit Court Historic Records Center.

People enslaved by Silas Burke:

  • The earliest record of a slave owned by Silas Burke is a sale account of James Burke from October 16, 1826. A “negro boy” named Fenton was either purchased or sold by Silas Burke for $206.
  • On November 21, 1826 an Estate Account of Richard Simpson documented a purchase by Silas Burke of $74.25 for a slave named Silvia.
  • A sale account from August 1834 details the sale of an older slave named Charles who was sold for $94.
  • In a trust from Eleanor Barker, from August 22, 1848 three of Burke’s slaves are mentioned: Julia, Noah, and Martha.
  • Burke’s final slave inventory in 1855 listed with prices:
    • Dennis Seals $800
    • Lucey $500
    • Adline $800
    • John Elie Seals $700
    • Wade $350
    • Lafayette $350
    • John Randolph $150
    • Emily Burles $500
    • Lucinda $700
    • Roxanna $550
    • Woodbury $450
    • Luisa $350
    • Betsey $250
    • Alcinda $800

The Fitzhugh Family:

The Fitzhugh family was among the first wave of white settlers in northern Virginia in the late 17th century. They received 22,000 acres and founded the Ravensworth Plantation. They were also the largest slave holding family in Northern Virginia. When William Fitzhugh died the Ravensworth tract was split into five parts for each of his sons. They also received slaves as part of their inheritance. Since Ravensworth was a working plantation, the slave population was largely comprised of agricultural slaves, but a select few were household slaves. The great-great grandson of William the Immigrant, William Henry Fitzhugh, was the last Ravensworth owner to have slaves. He gradually released his slaves in his will when he died in 1830. All of his family’s slaves were released by 1850, however his wife’s personal slaves stayed with her until they were emancipated. Below is a list of 83 slaves freed by William Henry Fitzhugh found on ravensworthstory.org/.

People enslaved by the Fitzhugh Family in 1830:

(name, age)

 

  • Sally, 70
  • David, 38
  • Caroline, 33
  • David Jr, 14
  • William, 40
  • Phoebe, 37
  • Isabella, 14
  • Agnes, 12
  • Lilly, 5
  • Ann, 1
  • Billy Burke, 43
  • Lindy, 37
  • Lewis, 18
  • Burke, 16
  • Hilliard, 13
  • Westley, 11
  • Albert, 9
  • Laura, 6
  • Lana, 6
  • Lorenzo, 4
  • Sarah Ann, 2
  • Henry Ross, 31
  • Cynthia, 33
  • Washington, 18
  • Lucinda, 12
  • Betsey, 8
  • Jim Burke, 33
  • Violett, 34
  • Peyton, 31
  • Kitty, 34
  • Betsey, 14
  • Henrietta, 12
  • John, 8
  • Sally, 5
  • George, 3
  • Sukey, 75
  • Louisa, 20
  • Lylla, 42
  • Grace, 24
  • Mariah, 15
  • Mary, 10
  • Charles Brown, 26
  • Bettey, 18
  • Eleanor, 1
  • Esther, 67
  • Rose, 95
  • John Jeffrey, 29
  • Bettey Hopes, 60
  • Lucy, 57
  • Franky, 63
  • Abram, 45
  • John Burke, 30
  • John Bell, 53
  • Billy Bossey, 39
  • Harry Parker, 40
  • Bob, 22
  • Alfred, 15
  • Jim Butcher, 27
  • Henry, 15
  • Milisson*, 19
  • Old Bob, 75
  • Elliot, 62
  • Libby, 58
  • Harry, 14
  • Virgil, 44
  • Martha, 43
  • Leah, 67
  • Charles, 12
  • Leah Jr., 10
  • Cato, 7
  • Lewis, 5
  • Virgil, 4
  • Child, 0
  • Simpson, 40
  • Caroline, 18
  • Carter, 15
  • Adam, 59
  • Gower*, 40
  • Pattey, 49
  • Sarah, 65
  • Judith, 47
  • Elizabeth, 14
  • Presley, 18

Slave owners in the Braddock District in 1860:

This list was provided by the Historic Records Center at the Fairfax County Court House.

Owners of Multiple Slaves:

  • Robert Allison
  • Frederick Baker
  • Arthur Broadwater
  • Hannah Burke
  • Newman Burke
  • Mary R. Chichester
  • Francis Coffer
  • Joshua Coffer
  • Henry Daingerfield
  • Albert Dewey
  • F. A. Dickens
  • William W. Ellzey
  • Margaret Farr
  • Anna Maria Fitzhugh
  • Daniel McCarty Fitzhugh
  • David Fitzhugh
  • Maria M. Fitzhugh
  • William M. Fitzhugh
  • William H. Gooding
  • Joshua C. Gunnell
  • Thomas Harrison
  • Sheldon J. Hoag
  • George W. Hunter
  • T. R. Love
  • John A. Marshall
  • Alfred Moss
  • John T. Rigg
  • Burdett Skinner
  • D. Boyd Smith
  • Abner Stephenson
  • H. W. Thomas
  • Nancy Worster

Owners of 1 Slave:

  • Alexander Buckley
  • Patrick Cunningham
  • Jane Davis
  • John Davis
  • Caroline A. Fairfax
  • John H. Gargas
  • Jonathan H. Harrison
  • Ann Millan
  • Cynthia L. Mills
  • William Mills
  • E. S. Ostrander

Post-Civil War  

Following Emancipation, freed slaves had to start anew. They created several communities, businesses, and churches throughout the Braddock District while they dealt with the remaining racist policies and attitudes of the time. “After the Civil War many of the newly freed enslaved individuals remained near to where they had been enslaved in Fairfax County and established their own tight-knit communities,” McCoy said. “Several of these communities were located in the current Braddock District. These communities tended to center around their churches and schools. The earliest known African American communities and churches in Braddock District were Ilda off of Little River Turnpike, the community around the Methodist Zion Church in Burke, Oak Hill Church, Little Zion Baptist Church in Burke, and Radell Park Baptist Church community on Rolling Road.” By 1870, about 120 black families owned land in the county. The first black community in the Braddock District was Ilda (1866), followed by Methodist Zion Church (1876), Oak Hill Church (before 1890), Little  Zion Baptist Church (1895), and Radell Park Baptist Church (est. about 1900). While it is difficult to confirm, there is a strong possibility that the communities included former slaves of the Fitzhughs and other local families.

Ilda has a well-documented history thanks to the research of the founders’ descendants, Hareem Badil-Abish and Dennis Howard.* Ilda began when Horace Gibson, the son of a Culpeper slave owner, bought his freedom and moved up north in the 1860’s. He and his wife Margarete stayed in a shanty town on the Fitzhugh’s land off of Guinea Road. In 1868 he purchased 5 acres of land from Peter and Margarette Gooding near Guinea Road and the Little River Turnpike. The community was later named Ilda after Matilda Gibson Parker, who was Gibson’s daughter.

Gibson and his future business partner Moses Parker were trained blacksmiths and wheelwrights, a specialized craftsman who worked on wooden wheels and carriages. Their lucrative trade was rarely available to black workers because white artisans would block them from training in the field. After moving to the area, Gibson and Parker established a highly successful Blacksmith shop conveniently located on the Little River Turnpike Toll Road. Customers from all races and classes visited the shop on their way too or from Fairfax, Alexandria, or Washington, DC. When Gibson needed road between his son’s land and his shop, he petitioned the county to build Prosperity Avenue, which still exists today. Eventually, Gibson and Parker owned a total of 400 acres as they built their business.  What started as an investment of $640 grew to $8,000 worth of land by the 1890’s. By the time they died, it was worth even more. Some of their children carried on the legacy of becoming community leaders.

Strother Gibson worked as a personal aide to the prosperous Willard family. He was a founding trustee of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church and was elected as a delegate for the state congressional convention in 1892.  The black smith shop was taken over by Matilda Gibson Parker and her husband Page Augustus Parker. The two were married when Matilda was 18 and brought the close knit families of Ilda together. Later in her life, Matilda served as a co-chair of the Fairfax Colored Association, a local group that sent care packages to black service members overseas. Other Gibson and Parker children stayed in the region to be farmers and some moved to Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Gibson and Parker descendants were buried in a cemetery at the intersection of Guinea Road and Little River Turnpike. The remains were reinterred at the Pleasant Valley Memorial Park Cemetery before the intersection was constructed. 

 

* Their work can be found in the book “Shades of Gray: The Origins of a Black Family in Fairfax" located in the Virginia Room of the City of Fairfax Library. 

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