Land Ownership in Fairfax County in 1860
The map below provides links to maps showing land ownership in Fairfax County in 1860. The current Fairfax County Grid Map squares are overlayed over the County map. Click on a grid square below to see a detailed map of land ownership in that grid square in 1860. When the map opens you may click on the map to view a larger map. To view a more detailed map to determine the applicable square click here.
FAIRFAX COUNTY IN 1860: Property Owners and a Collective Biography
By Beth Mitchell and Edith Moore Sprouse
The concept of a "collective biography" of Fairfax County in 1860 emerged from two previous maps and their accompanying texts, developed by Beth Mitchell and published by the Office of Comprehensive Planning. Beginning at a White Oak...Patents and Northern Neck Grants of Fairfax County, Virginia, produced in 1977, described original landholders. Ten years later her Fairfax County in 1760: an Interpretive Historical Map delineated ownership at that time period. In 1988, Beth Mitchell and Edith Moore Sprouse embarked on the endeavor known as "The 1860 Project."
The "Fairfax County in 1860: Property Owners" maps, prepared by Beth Mitchell, depict the land parcels and respective owners in the county in 1860, just prior to the Civil War. By 1860 most large tracts acquired a century earlier had been subdivided into smaller parcels. The 1860 owners of these parcels were identified, and the property boundaries were delineated on the 1981 Real Property Identification Map of Fairfax County using colored pencil. Color copies of "Fairfax County in 1860: Property Owners" tax maps are available on line. A few areas in the County, which are identified on the maps, require additional research. In addition to providing the land owner's name, the maps indicate the number of acres and a reference for how the land was acquired. Most of the time the deed book and page number is listed (for example A4:312). In cases where the land was inherited a will book and page number is provided (for example Will Book W:201). When the land was acquired as the result of a court case, a chancery file folder (for example cff 23Q) number is provided.
The interpretive text to accompany the maps is an over 2,300 page reference work titled "Fairfax County in 1860: A Collective Biography," that provides a comprehensive record of the people who lived in Fairfax County in 1860. The work, compiled by Edith Moore Sprouse, is based the 1860 Federal Population Schedule for Fairfax County, supplemented with information from the Agricultural and Slave Census for 1860, Mortality Schedules, records of the postwar Southern Claims Commission and information from both court records and contemporary newspaper accounts.
The complete set of original "Fairfax County in 1860: Property Owners" tax maps is available at the Historical Records Room of the Fairfax Circuit Court, Fairfax County Courthouse, as well the "Collective Biography," deed and will books and chancery court file folders and other source materials. Also, available only at the Courthouse is a multi-volume key that includes an alphabetical list of landowners with information from the source materials for each tax map.
The Virginia Room at the City of Fairfax Regional Library branch of the Fairfax County Public Library has a black and white copy of the "Fairfax County in 1860: Property Owners" map book and a bound copy of the "Collective Biography," call number VREF 929.3755 FAIR. The referenced deed and will books are available on microfilm. Court case documents from the chancery file folders are available online through the Library of Virginia website.
Online access to these maps is provided in recognition of the Civil War Sesquicentennial anniversary. Fairfax County Reserves all rights. Contact: Fairfax County Department of Cable Communications and Consumer Protection.