History of Hickory Farms - Braddock District
Note: This was published and written under the auspices of Sharon Bulova, the Braddock District Supervisor. It is reprinted here, without the graphics that accompanied the original article. The original was in a booklet called "Welcome to the Braddock District of Fairfax County, Virginia".
Braddock (formerly called Annandale) is a relatively new district, situated in the middle (I like to say "heart") of Fairfax County. Carved out of the older Lee and Falls Church Districts in 1968, "Annandale" came into being at a rather tumultuous time. A major land use scandal, which came to a head in 1966, resulted in several supervisors, a planning commissioner and top county officials serving time in federal prison for accepting bribes in exchange for rezonings.
In the wake of this turmoil, the Federation of Citizens Association helped shape a major reorganization of the county government. By referendum in November 1966, and effective in January of 1968, a new County Executive form of government was adopted. It provided, among other things, powers to redistrict the county from time to time, to create or alter service districts and to elect a chairman-at-large. Under the new form of government, state enabling legislation was obtained and adopted to strengthen conflict of interest laws.
Under the urban county form of government, the number of magisterial districts could increase to eleven. The creation of "Annandale" brought the number of districts from six to eight. Charles Majer was the first "Annandale" District" Supervisor. Fred Babson was elected the first chairman-at-large.
Following the 1990 census and subsequent redistricting, which added additional areas to our west and south, Annandale was re-named Braddock, after the main arterial traversing the middle of the district. Today, about fourth of our residents have an Annandale postal address, with the balance of our district comprised of zip codes in Fairfax, Springfield and Burke. Each of these areas boast their own rich history...
Annandale and Springfield
The history of Annandale and the Springfield areas in the Braddock District can be traced all the way back to pre-Revolutionary year 1695, when Col. William Fitzhugh purchased over 24,000 acres of land, originally named "Ravensworth."
Ravensworth was the largest single parcel of land granted in Northern Virginia. The land had been surveyed to include easy access to the Accotink drainage basin via a road bed that would later become Rolling Road. Tobacco, the most common commodity in 17th century Virginia, had to be packed in heavy hogshead casks and "rolled" to the waterways.
Upon the death of Col. Fitzhugh in 1701, his property was divided equally and left to his two eldest sons, William, Jr., who inherited the southern portion (North Springfield, Ravensworth, and Kings Park) and Henry, who inherited the northern portion (all of the land that is now Annandale).
Annandale's main road, Little River Turnpike (Rt. 236), was chartered as a private turnpike by the General Assembly in 1795. The toll house survived far about 170 years where Route 236 (no longer a toll road) intersects at Ravensworth Rd. In 1830 the area was named "Anandale" by a Scottish settler after a village in Scotland at the mouth of the Anan River. In later years, the name was changed to Annandale.
Several large colonial homes, including the Ravensworth mansion, were built in the 1700's. The Ravensworth mansion was home to the Fitzhughs and later the Lee and Custis families. By all accounts, it was a beautiful and spacious mansion, located in the present Ravensworth, North Springfield area. Sadly, it fell into a state of decay after the mansion was vacated by its last owner, Col. Robert E. Lee, III and his family. In 1925 it was mysteriously destroyed by fire and the land on which it stood was sold for development.
The Oak Hill and Ossian Hall mansions were built on the northern (Annandale) portion of the Fitzhugh property. Ossian Hall was a stately colonial home facing Braddock Road, but accessible by a private tree-lined entrance on what is now Ravensworth Road. The mansion was destroyed by fire in 1959 to make way for the current Bristow subdivision. Oak Hill, near Wakefield Chapel Road, is still standing today, a picturesque reminder of Annandale's rich cultural heritage.
While Burke is not an incorporated town or city, it is a very special area of the county, with its own unique identity, history and community spirit.
The area that is now called Burke can be traced back to land belonging to Lord Fairfax in the early 1700's. Lord Fairfax made land grants to numerous families including Henry Ward and Francis Coffer. Henry Ward built Burke's first house, portions of which are now part of the Burke Centre. Hannah Ward married Silas Burke, a wealthy and prominent figure in the Burke area. During the mid 1800's, Silas Burke increased the family land holdings to over 600 acres and was responsible for diverting construction of the Orange & Alexandria railroad from nearby Fairfax City to Burke. These tracks are now owned by the Norfolk Southern Railroad and are being used by our new commuter rail system, The Virginia Railway Express. At the turn of the century, the little village of Burke thrived. Horse racing fans from as far away as Alexandria flocked to Burke to enjoy its race track and to stay at Henry Copperhite's country resort (located on property east of the old Burke Post Office). In the 1950's residents successfully fought plans to locate what is now Dulles Airport in the Burke area. Property consolidated for that purpose was later developed as the planned community of Burke Centre.
The western part of the Braddock District includes Fairfax postal addresses. These communities are next door neighbors to the independent City of Fairfax and share its rich history. This area was first settled in the early-to-mid 1700's. Initially it was part of Truro Parish, and became a part of Fairfax County when the County was established in 1742.
Following two unsuccessful attempts to establish a Fairfax County courthouse, first near present-day Tyson's Corner and then Alexandria, a site was selected at the junction of Ox Road and Little River Turnpike. Completed in 1800, that courthouse remains today as the north wing of the present Fairfax County Courthouse.
Ox Road was originally an Indian trail that was widened in order to gain easier access to copper deposits found in the northern regions of the county. Little River Turnpike was a private venture of the Little River Turnpike Company, which was authorized by the turnpike charter to build and operate, for profit, a road from Alexandria to the ford of the Little River in Aldie, Virginia.
A small village soon grew up around the courthouse and, by an act of the Virginia legislature in 1805, the village was incorporated as the Town of Providence, even though it was generally referred to as Fairfax Court House.
Fairfax was the scene of several notable events during the Civil War. Captain John Quincy Marr, the first officer casualty of the Confederacy, was killed at Fairfax Courthouse on June 1,1861. By late 1862, the town was occupied by Union forces commanded by Brigadier General Edwin H. Stoughton. In a daring raid led by Confederate Col. John S. Mosby in March 1863, General Stoughton was captured while he slept in a house in the present-day rectory of Truro Episcopal Church. During the last days of August 1862, when Confederate troops won a victory on the banks of Bull Run, hundreds of wounded Union and Confederate soldiers were taken to Fairfax Station, where they lay on a hillside under the trees awaiting transportation to hospitals in Fairfax, Alexandria or Washington. Among those who nursed them was a government clerk, Clara Barton. Although she had no official connection with the army, she ministered as best she could to the thousands of wounded men at the historic Saint Mary of Sorrows church on Ox Road.
After 1866, Fairfax and the rest of Northern Virginia set about repairing the ravages of war. The Town of Fairfax continued to serve as the governmental seat of Fairfax County, which had become an area of prosperous farms and estates. The Fairfax area grew during the 1940's and 50`s. In 1961, under a charter granted by the Virginia General Assembly, the Town of Fairfax incorporated as an independent city. By agreement in 1965 a 50 acre "county enclave" within the city was established, which included the County Courthouse/ Massey Building area.
In the late 1950's, the Town of Fairfax sought and won location of a Northern Virginia branch of the University of Virginia on 150 acres of property on Route 123 just south of the town limits. The college was renamed "George Mason". It developed rapidly after the first four buildings were opened in 1964. It was elevated to a four year, degree-granting institution by the Virginia General Assembly in 1966 and given a long-range mandate to expand into a major university. George Mason University is within the boundaries of the Braddock District.
General Braddock and His Road
To trace the history of Braddock Road, project yourself back before Captain John Smith sailed up the Potomac River in 1608 with a small party of English explorers. Indian villages lay along the waterways within what were later to become the boundaries of Fairfax County. Reminders of these native inhabitants linger today in names like Pohick, Accotink and Occoquan. Watercourses served as highways in those times. While "roads" were very few in those early days, precursors to Braddock Road can be identified on most of the earliest maps. A map drawn between 1745 and 1748 shows an old Indian trail following the general path of the present-day Braddock Road. On old maps throughout the 1700's, the road is identified as "Alexandria Road" and "Mountain Road". This road, later to be called Braddock's Road, was incorporated in the year 1752, according to the minutes of the 1752 Fairfax courthouse (Truro Vestry Book).
The road received its name during the French and Indian War when English General Edward Braddock led British and colonial troops in a disastrous expedition against the French Fort Duquesne, Con the site of the present city of Pittsburgh). In the year 1755, General Braddock accompanied military units departing from the city of Alexandria to Winchester, Virginia and then on to Fort Duquesne. Historical accounts differ as to whether General Braddock's forces indeed used the route of the present day Braddock Road, or if they used instead the "Middle Turnpike" (now Route 7).
Besides his British troops, nearly 500 Virginians were with Braddock when he started on the march, but he did not care much for these, nor for the help of the Indians. He knew nothing about fighting in the woods and thought his trained troops were worth more than any others. On July 9,1755 General Braddock's army was met near Fort Duquesne by a party of Canadians and Indians under Captain Beaujeau. The British fought bravely, but could not see anybody to shoot at, for the Canadians and Indians fought from behind trees, while the British stood in the narrow road, their bright coats excellent targets. The Virginians fought from behind trees and logs, preventing a total massacre, but Braddock would not allow his soldiers to protect themselves. They stood as if on parade. At last General Braddock himself was wounded and died within a few hours. His aide, George Washington, led away what was left of the little army.
A legend tells of General Braddock's remains being buried (and later discovered by road crews) in the middle of "his" road. Another legend tells of a cannon full of gold being buried along Braddock Road when General Braddock's troops became mired in mud as they traveled through Fairfax County on their way to Ft. Duquesne.
An Inquiry into the Validity of the Legend of Braddock's Gold in Northern Virginia, 1982 (A student paper presented for an Historical Society Essay Contest), Douglas Phillips and Barbaby Nygren
The World Book Encyclopedia, p. 453, B Volume 2,1984, World Book, Inc.
The Book of Knowledge, Volume III, p. 896 & 898, The Grolier Society 1919.
Annandale Chamber of Commerce, Community Directory, "Annandale", Audrey B. Capone, 1983, pp. 11 -17.
Memories of Beautiful Burke Virginia, Nan Netherton, Ruth Preston Rose, Burke Historical Society, 1988.
Fairfax County, Virginia. A History, Nan Netherton, Donald Sweig, Janice Artemel, Patricia Hickin, Patrick Reed, 250th Anniversary Commemorative Edition 1992.
Last Update: January 15, 2020