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Stafford County, VA


Stafford County, VA

Stafford County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and just across the Rappahannock River from the City of Fredericksburg. As of the 2000 census, the population was 92,446, increasing to 128,961 in 2010. Its county seat is Stafford. In 2006, and again in 2009, Stafford was ranked as the 11th highest income county in America by Forbes magazine. U.S. Route 1, Interstate 95, and Virginia Railway Express commuter railway serve the county.

This county is part of the Washington Metropolitan Area.

For thousands of years, various cultures of indigenous peoples succeeded each other in their territories along the Potomac River and its tributaries. By the time of English colonization, there were 32 Algonquian-speaking American Indian tribes in the present-day coastal Tidewater Virginia area, including those of the Patawomeck and numerous tribes that were part of the Powhatan Confederacy. The former small tribe, still centered in Stafford County, was recognized by the state of Virginia in 2010.

The Native Americans' first recorded encounter with Europeans in this area was in 1608, with John Smith of the Jamestown Settlement. During a time of recurring tension between the early English colonists and local Native Americans, the colonists led by Samuel Argall kidnapped Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan, paramount chief of the confederacy. This occurred in the eastern part of Stafford County, from where they took her to a secondary English settlement, known as Henricus (or Henrico Town). While held there, Pocahontas converted to Christianity and married English settler John Rolfe in April 1614.

The English colonial government of Virginia imposed its own order on the land and peoples. In 1664 it established Stafford County from territory previously part of Westmoreland County. It was named after Staffordshire, England. As originally delineated, Stafford County included a much larger area than its current borders, and in fact encompassed what would later become Arlington, Fairfax, and Prince William, and the City of Alexandria. It is part of the area now considered Northern Virginia. George Washington spent much of his childhood in the lower part of the county on his family's home, Ferry Farm, along the Rappahannock River across from Fredericksburg. Colonial Forge High School was built on a tract of land owned in colonial times by his father Augustine Washington. George Mason, another Founding Father of the nation, also spent his formative years in Stafford.

Aquia Church Aquia Church, built in 1757 near Garrisonville, Virginia, is unusual among local structures for having been designed on the plan of a Greek cross. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The Episcopal church continues to be active today.

Stafford County industry and resources were important to the colony and early nation. During the Revolutionary War, the Stafford ironworks furnished arms for the colonial rebel soldiers. Aquia Creek sandstone, quarried from Government Island, was used to build the White House and the U.S. Capitol.

During the American Civil War, the county was part of the battlegrounds, occupied by more than 100,000 troops for several years. The Battle of Aquia Creek took place in the Aquia Harbour area. Both the Union Army and Confederate Army struggled to control the strategic Potomac Creek Bridge at various times during the war.

Falmouth, a town bordering Fredericksburg, was the home of late-19th century artist Gari Melchers, whose house, Belmont, still stands.

Stafford County today is considered part of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Many residents commute to work in Washington and its environs north on Interstate Highway 95, U.S. Route 1, and Virginia Railway Express.

In the early morning hours of May 9, 2008, a tornado touched down in the southern part of the county, severely damaging about 140 suburban homes. The county was also severely affected by the massive blizzards of December 2009 and February 2010. The county seat Stafford received almost 2 feet of snow both times. In December 2009, it received some of the heaviest snow in the D.C. metropolitan area, with 25.4 inches of snow, and 19.3 inches in February 2010.

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Demographics

As of the census of 2010, there were 128,961 people, 38,237 households, and 24,481 families residing in the county. The population density was 342 people per square mile (132/km²). There were 31,405 housing units at an average density of 116 per square mile (45/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 72.5% White, 15.6% African American, 0.4% Native American, 2.8% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 3.2% from other races, and 4.0% from two or more races. 9.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

By 2005 Stafford County's population was 72.8% non-Hispanic whites. African-Americans were 17.0% of the total population. Native Americans were 0.4% of the county total. Asians 2.3%. Native Hawai'ians and other Pacific islanders 0.2%, thus making Stafford County one of the high percentage NHPI population counties in the country. Latinos were 6.4% of the population, above the percentage of Latinos in all of Virginia, but far below Stafford County's northern neighbors.

As of 2000 there were 38,187 households out of which 46.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.00% were married couples living together, 9.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.90% were non-families. 13.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.01 and the average family size was 3.32.

In the county, the age distribution of the population shows 31.60% under the age of 18, 7.80% from 18 to 24, 33.70% from 25 to 44, 21.10% from 45 to 64, and 5.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 101.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $75,546, and the median income for a family was $78,575 (these figures had risen to $85,793 and $95,433 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $47,080 versus $31,469 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,762. About 2.40% of families and 3.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.30% of those under age 18 and 5.30% of those age 65 or over.
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Ferry Farm

Ferry Farm, also known as George Washington Boyhood Home Site or Ferry Farm Site, is the name of the farm and home at which George Washington spent much of his childhood. The site is located in Stafford County, Virginia, along the northern bank of the Rappahannock River, across from the city of Fredericksburg. In July 2008, archeologists announced that they had found remains of the boyhood home, which had burnt in a fire, including artifacts such as pieces of a tea set probably belonging to George's mother, Mary Ball Washington.

The farm was named after the Washington family had left the property. Its namesake was a free ferry that crossed the Rappahannock River on Washington land—the family did not own or operate it. It is unclear what the farm was called during the Washington occupancy. Sometime in the late 19th century the farm became known as Pine Grove, as well as The Ferry Farm. The farm rose to national prominence during the Washington Birth Bicentennial of 1932—during the years surrounding this celebration some authors cited both the names Ferry Farm and Pine Grove.

George Washington Within the 1740s 260-acre (110 ha) Ferry Farm, the county-level gentry house was a 1½-story residence perched on a bluff. George was 6 when the family moved to the farm in 1738. He inherited the farm and lived in the house until his early 20s, though he also stayed with his half-brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon. Washington’s mother lived in the house until 1772, when she moved to Fredericksburg, and the farm was sold in 1777. As goal, they were set to restore the house.

Ferry Farm is the setting for some of the best known stories about George Washington, most particularly those brought to the American public by Mason Locke Weems, best known as Parson Weems, in the early 19th century. These include the anecdote, appearing first in the 1806 edition of Weems's Life of Washington, in which a 6-year-old George barked one of his father Augustine's favorite English cherry trees with a new hatchet. Upon being confronted by his father, the boy exclaimed "I can't tell a lie, Pa; you know I can't tell a lie, I did cut it with my hatchet."

Another version states that George was on his horse and that the horse "barked" (accidentally scraped the bark off with its hoof) the cherry tree and George accepted the blame.

It has also been claimed to be the site where George Washington "threw a silver dollar across the Rappahannock River." It is possible to "skip" a coin or flat rock across that area. Regardless, the river was considerably wider during this period than it is today, making the feat that much more difficult. Each year during the celebration of Washington's birthday, townspeople are invited to attempt to recreate this event. In the summer of 2006, Ferry Farm archaeology intern Jim Trueman completed the throw becoming the first intern to successfully cross the river bank to bank. To prove it was not a fluke, he made the same throw again in the summer of 2007.

Cindy Allen Broker/Owner

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