Daylight sure came early today :-). Quick bite to eat and we’re off… The morning is bright, the air is cool, the road is full of twists and turns. So perfect. I wonder what we will find today???
Ah we found this, the Fairfax Stone. Headwaters of the Potomac and the extent of Lord Fairfax’s Northern Neck Land Grant. Funny, I’ve never really paid that much attention to such things. After a cursory read I know why, it’s as convoluted as all those European kings and queens! Political intrigue and wrangling for power… People are people I suppose aren’t they. Looking around our world today it’s pretty clear we haven’t learned a thing from history.
I (foolishly) assumed that since the grant was from Charles II and Lord Fairfax the third was a military leader who helped restore him to power the transaction was between the two of them. What ever was I thinking…
…near as I can tell after a bit of reading the very short version of the story is that Charles II gave the grant to seven supporters. What’s so funny is that the grant was such an empty thing. “All the land between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers”. No regard for who lived there at the time of the declaration. None of the parties involved had any idea where those rivers actually were. The king was in exile, his father executed so he had no real authority or control at the time of the grant. Yet here we are 350 years later looking at this rock, how did we get from there to here?
Well, Charles managed to get the throne back. Then, of the seven named in the grant the Culpeppers (Colpeper) managed to consolidate their position and obtain full control of the grant over the course of Charles II, James II, and William and Marys rule. Then one of the Culpepper girls, Cathy, married one of the Fairfax boys, Thomas the fifth. Finally their son, Lord Thomas Fairfax the sixth actually moved to the colonies after a visit in 1735 to take control over the holding after discovering when the land agent that was managing the property for him died his obituary revealed he had ‘somehow’ amassed a considerable fortune in his modest post.
The first Fairfax stone was set in 1746 nearly 100 years after the initial land grant of 1649, to settle a dispute over the boundary of the estate and finally fix its dimensions. It was rather short lived, that pesky revolution overthrowing British rule caused Fairfax to loose his title in 1779 with the establishment of the Virginia Land Office. Fairfax died in his seat at Greenway Court on White Post Road in 1781 and was buried in Winchester VA. Hummm, the list of places to visit grows!
The current (sixth, interesting enough now that I know it was Fairfax the sixth was the closest to actually owning and controlling the grant) stone sits on top of a spring that is the beginning of the Potomac River. When we visited today the top part of the spring was dry, but there was a little water still seeping out a little below the stone, so, here it is, the start of the Potomac River. One last look about, on we go…
It’s so good to see this place active and cared for. The house was tucked farther up the hollow and not visible, but the entrance to the drive was very well looked after and the barn was beautiful and in good repair. So many places are falling down and abandoned.
This property is simply amazing. On the Dry Fork of the Cheat River it is the epitome of what I think of as a perfect mountain farm. Long winding drive along a small creek going up into the valley. Horses and cows in the remote, rugged and scenic mountains. Obviously not many agree, most live in the city, and I guess I’m thankful for that – it allows these kinds of places to be.
Oh, look at this – a little covered bridge! Did we ride over it? Reveal on YouTube later, stay tuned ;-).
Well we made it! The campsite last night was nice, but… this is a wonderful treat of a different kind. I have to say I’m looking forward to a long shower and soft comfy bed!
Well, the bed has to come after dinner though. So, how many classic Victorian homes host an authentic Thai restaurant? I suppose that’s why we call ourselves a melting pot? The owners were charming, a Thai lady and her son serving wonderful food and engaging conversation. Locally sourced ingredients when possible and very delicious.
We did manage to wander just a little bit on the way home after dinner and were treated to a wonderful mountain sunset. Looking out over freshly baled fields with the smell of hay sweetly drifting on the breeze. Birds singing as the sun dropped down past the blue ridge and wished us a good night. What a wonderful day indeed.
As always, please enjoy additional pictures and descriptions on the interactive map below. Look around and explore, perhaps you’ll find your next adventure. And… add thoughts and comments below too. Love to hear what you think or what your plans are.