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The objectives of the background research were:

1) to provide information on what historic and prehistoric resources could be encountered in the project area; and
2) to review the data potential of such expected resources in light of appropriate research themes identified by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR 1991).

The background research thus served the immediate goal of formulating an appropriate methodology for the fieldwork and laboratory work, as well as the larger goal of interpreting and evaluating the historic properties that might be found by the survey. This study employs prehistoric and historic periods and themes for the Commonwealth of Virginia (VDHR 1991). These themes are important for understanding how the physical remains of human activity can enhance our understanding of history.


The significance of archeological resources in Virginia and in other states is judged by reference to the state's preservation planning documents. Using these plans, prehistoric and historic properties or sites are placed in a context based on their period, location, and property type. The National Register potential of each property is then determined with reference to a series of research and interpretive themes applicable to the different chronological and developmental periods. The evaluation of properties in this fashion allows for the balanced management of a state's historic resources, ensuring that the full chronological, regional, and topical range of resources is considered.


The Airport Authority's representative, Parsons Management Consultants (PMC) compiled and provided most of the information on the location and nature of known cultural resources on the Dulles Airport property upon which this summary is based. Background research for the project also included a review of previous archeological compliance reports, a check of the Commonwealth of Virginia's archeological site files and the review of relevant secondary sources.


Overview of the Prehistoric Period. The prehistory of Northern Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region in general is conventionally divided into three periods: the Paleo-Indian (circa 10,000?7,500 B.C.), the Archaic (circa 7,500?1,000 B.C.) and the Woodland (circa 1,000 B.C.?A.D. 1,600). These periods are distinguished by specific changes in material culture as reflected in the archeological record, such as changing stone tool manufacture or the introduction of pottery. An alternative chronological scheme, based upon broad economic and social patterns, and integrated with the changing environment, has been proposed for Fairfax County (Johnson 1986). The sequence is divided into four long periods: Paleo-Indian (circa 10,000-8,000 B.C.), Hunter-Gatherer (circa 8,000 B.C.?A.D. 800), Early Agriculturalist (A.D. 800?1500), and Proto-Historic (A.D. 1500?1675).

Paleo-Indian Period (circa 10,000 to 7,500 B.C.). The Paleo-Indian period begins in North America with the arrival of humans from Asia across the ice-age continent of Beringia at least 15,000 years ago. The Paleo-Indian phase is not particularly well-represented archeologically in the eastern United States, although evidence from two Paleo-Indian complexes in Warren and Dinwiddie counties, and eleven isolated finds from Fairfax County suggest that humans have lived here for at least the last 12,000 years.

In the west, the most widespread complex is the Llano or Clovis, typified by fluted points, scrapers, and blades. These artifacts are often found in association with extinct Pleistocene megafauna, suggesting an economy centered on big game hunting. In the east, Paleo-Indian finds are usually isolated fluted points, with other evidence suggesting that the Paleo-Indians here had a much more diversified subsistence strategy. In general, Paleo-Indians lived in small nomadic bands relying mostly on hunting, supplemented by more general foraging. Climatic conditions much colder than those found in subsequent periods had a significant effect on Paleo-Indian adaptations.

In Virginia, three phases of Paleo-Indian occupation are recognized: Clovis, Mid-Paleo, and Dalton-Hardaway. The starting and ending dates of the three phases have not been established absolutely, but are defined stratigraphically and on the basis of artifact types and methods of stone tool production.

The characteristic artifact of the Paleo-Indian period is the fluted stone point, often made of high-quality lithic material such as chert or jasper. These points, probably used as spear tips and knives, are relatively rare in the mid-Atlantic. Although it is probable that many Paleo-Indian sites are located on the now submerged continental shelf, it is nevertheless clear that occupation in this region was sparse and sporadic. Within Fairfax County, a small number of early fluted point types have been found, some immediately south of the airport property. By the middle and later Paleo-Indian period, the county seems to have been largely deserted (Johnson 1986).

Archaic Period (circa 7,500 to 1,000 B.C.) . Many environmental changes occurred by the end of the Pleistocene, including the inundation of some riverine environments, a change from mixed coniferous forests to northern hardwoods, and the transition to a more temperate climate. The Archaic period is one of cultural adaptation to these changes. In general, the Archaic is characterized by regional specialization and the concomitant elaboration of tool kits, increasing population, and increasing sedentism.

The Archaic period is divided into three sub-periods: Early (7,500 B.C. to 6,500 B.C.), Middle (6,500 B.C. to 3,000 B.C.), and Late (3,000 B.C. to 1,000 B.C.). Archeological sites of the Archaic period are much more common than for the earlier Paleo-Indian period, and settlement patterns across the state are complex and varied during this long time interval. The Middle Archaic began with the warming and drying climatic trend of the Altithermal, which began around 6,500 to 5,000 B.C. and lasted for approximately 2,000 years. As rainfall decreased and the rivers slowed, freshwater mussels became available as a food source for the first time, encouraging riverine settlement. The Middle Archaic climate was warmer and drier than the climate today, but by circa 3,000 B.C., the environment had become essentially modern. The Late Archaic is more well known than the earlier phases of the period. Sedentism had increased with the increased use of aquatic resources. Ground stone tools and the atlatl (hand-held spear launcher) were common; steatite vessels came into use by about 2,000 B.C.

In general, Late Archaic sites are larger and more complex than those of previous periods; sites above the fall line are fewer and smaller than on the coastal plain (Gardner 1987). Near estuarine areas, there is evidence for the exploitation of shellfish. The reliance on a wider range of foods probably related to increasing population. New and more diverse tool types occur, dominated by broad and/or elongated large-stemmed points. Many of these so-called points may in fact have been used as knives. Local types include Savannah River and Holmes/Bare Island, which have been found throughout Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

Several new projectile point styles marked the beginning of the Archaic Period. Almost all have in common a bifurcated base, and a small, serrated, triangular blade. Local types include MacCorkle, St. Albans and LeCroy, but points of almost identical shape and size are common throughout the eastern and midwestern United States (Broyles 1971; Johnson 1983). This widespread new point type must reflect profound changes in subsistence strategies, from primary reliance on the hunting of big game to increasing utilization of plants and smaller animals. The ameliorated environment supported a broader range of plant foods. Both large and small mammals, such as bear, white-tailed deer, squirrel and otter, and various species of perching and prey birds thrived.

Throughout the mid-Atlantic region, and in Northern Virginia in particular, the quantity and density of artifacts recovered increased dramatically in the early phases of the Archaic period. Rise in population, allowed by a varied and successful adaptation to the changing environment, was probably a crucial factor. In Fairfax County alone, over 140 Early Archaic points have been found, as opposed to eleven Paleo-Indian points (Johnson 1983).

The warming trend abruptly decelerated around 4000?3500 B.C., and precisely at this time, the archeological record indicates a significant rise in population in the mid-Atlantic. The artifacts of this period are small side-notched points, found in quantity from the Carolina piedmont to New England (Coe 1964; Ritchie 1961). Local types include Halifax and Vernon style points; over 90 examples have been found in Fairfax County alone (Johnson 1983; Johnson 1986).

By the Late Archaic period (circa 2,500?1,000 B.C.), the warming and drying climate had led to great increases in the oak-hickory forest, and a simultaneous reduction in grasslands. The rise in sea level stabilized, allowing a region of high salinity to form within the Chesapeake. This in turn provided a suitable environment for oysters; anadromous fish also became a dependable resource as far upriver as the fall line. North of the falls, a variety of freshwater fish could be found.

Woodland Period (circa 1,000 B.C. to A.D. 1,600) . The Woodland period featured increasingly complex and varied lifeways. Archeologically-visible expressions of these changes include the widespread use of pottery, burial mounds, increased elaboration of mortuary ceremonialism, and long-distance trade. This period also witnessed the cultivation of both native and tropical plants and reliance on storage of foodstuffs. The transition from the Archaic to Woodland period is marked by the appearance of woodworking tools, such as axes and celts, and ceramics with fabric impressions and carved-paddle stamping. Also, the bow and arrow came into use during this period.

The Woodland period is divided into three sub-periods: Early (1,000 B.C. to A.D. 300), Middle (A.D. 300 to 1,000), and Late (A.D. 1,000 to 1,600). Around 1000 B.C., the manufacture of pottery was introduced. This innovation generally marks the beginning of the Woodland period. Initially few other changes were observable; deliberate and intensive collecting continued to be the primary basis of lifestyle and economy (Gardner 1982). Population and sedentism continued to increase throughout this time. By circa A.D. 1,200, agriculture supplemented subsistence needs that had formerly been met through hunting and gathering alone.

During the Woodland period, maize, beans and squash were probably the focus of initial agricultural efforts. The significance of an agriculturally-based subsistence strategy cannot be overestimated as a crucial element in the establishment and maintenance of permanent, year-round settlements. Small villages developed in the tidewater areas of Virginia and along the terraces of the major river systems. Further inland, however, it appears that people remained primarily mobile hunter-gatherers; the archeological evidence is limited to the small triangular points indicative of bow-and-arrow technology. About ten triangular points have been found in and around the Dulles International Airport property.

Toward the end of the Woodland period, settlements became larger, including semi-sedentary villages with as many as a hundred or more inhabitants. Tribal societies appeared in some areas of Virginia, replacing band organizations as a means of organizing larger populations. Later, chiefdoms developed in a few places; economic, sociopolitical, and religious offices were coordinated through a central authority based on formal rules of inheritance.

At the time of contact, the Siouan speaking Manahoac Indians inhabited Northern Virginia from the mountains to the fall line, and from the Potomac to the North Anna River. They were mentioned in the first accounts by early traders and travelers, and it is known that John Smith met a group of Manahoacs in 1607. However, they had disappeared from the area by 1667. Raiding Iroquois, disease, and contact with the colonists may have pushed the Manahoacs south to join the Monacans (Egloff and Woodward 1992:48). The Manahoac lived in dispersed, autonomous hamlets. They were probably mobile hunters, fishers and gatherers, who also kept small gardens.

Their neighbors to the east, along the banks of the Potomac River, were the Algonquian-speaking Potowomekes, who were members of a large and powerful chiefdom ruled by Powhatan. The Virginia Algonquians lived in palisaded villages on the shores of the river, relying primarily on farming and large-scale, coordinated collecting forays for their subsistence. The Virginia Algonquians and the Siouan Monahoacs (as well as their relatives to the south, the Monacans) were traditional enemies.

Contact Period. No primary archeological data has been recorded for these tribes in the vicinity of Dulles Airport. By 1714, the last of Northern Virginia's native inhabitants had moved to the upper reaches of the Mattaponi River, nearly 100 miles to the south. The area's remaining material culture and settlement pattern reflects only subsequent European occupation. From this time onward, archeological evidence is supplemented by written records, providing a detailed historical narrative.


In order to understand the contribution that the physical remains of human activity can make to completing our knowledge of history, the foregoing context has been developed. The significance of archeological resources in Virginia and in other states is judged by reference to the state's preservation planning documents. Using these State Preservation Plans, prehistoric and historic properties or sites are placed in a context based on their period, location, and property type. The National Register potential of each property can then be determined with reference to a series of research and interpretive themes indicated by the context, that applicable to the different chronological and developmental periods. The evaluation of properties in this fashion allows for the balanced management of a state's historic resources, ensuring that the full chronological, regional, and topical range of resources is considered.

Thematic contexts are designed to ensure that the range of human activity is documented and equally preserved; research themes contained in the contexts include temporal periods, spatial organization like settlements and towns, and activity or function associations (such domestic, subsistence, religion, education, etc.).

Two research themes are relevant for prehistoric period archeological sites expected for the NASM project location: the Domestic Theme and the Subsistence Theme. The spatial theme is the Northern Virginia region, the temporal theme for prehistoric sites is Paleo-Indian through Woodland Periods (10,000 B.C. to A.D. 1,600), outlined above.

The Domestic Theme relates broadly to the human need for shelter, and a home base or community dwelling. Expected domestic property types include "camps such as a hunting campsite, fishing camp, . . . seasonal residence, or temporary habitation sites" (Virginia Department of Historic Resources 1991:17). The earliest residents of the area were mobile hunters and gatherers; their habitations are generally short-lived and difficult to identify on the basis of archeological evidence. Domestic stone tools and, later, pottery sherds, generally provide the only evidence for a habitation area in an archeological context. The Manahoac lived closest to the site at the time of contact. It is expected that their small villages would be represented in the archeological record as soil color and texture anomalies, topographic depressions or rises, or post hole molds. One would not expect to find the larger villages of the Virginia Algonquians within the project area. Hunting and fishing camps would probably be recognizable based on the procurement tools recovered.

The second theme, Subsistence, "most broadly seeks explanations of the different strategies that cultures develop to procure, process, and store food. . . . this theme also explores the reconstruction of past habitats from the perspective of their potential for human exploitation, energy flow studies on the procurement and processing of food, and the evolution of particular subsistence strategies over time within and between neighboring regions" (Virginia Department of Historic Resources 1991:17). This theme is represented by lithic hunting and plant processing tools throughout prehistoric times and into the contact period, and by evidence of fishing during the Archaic Period and agriculture during the Woodland.


Overview of the Historic Period. The historic period in Virginia is generally divided into seven periods developed by VDHR as part of the Virginia State Historic Preservation Office planning process. The periods are: Settlement to Society (1607 to 1750), Colony to Nation (1750 to 1789), Early National (1789 to 1830), Antebellum (1830 to 1860), Civil War (1861 to 1865), Reconstruction and Growth (1865 to 1914), and World War I to Present (1914 to 1997). The general periods for the State have been expanded and focused on Fairfax County and the Dulles Airport area.

Settlement to Society (1607 to 1750): The Period of Contact and the Rise of the Plantation System. The contact period began in the area that is now Fairfax County in 1608 when Captain John Smith initially explored the Potomac River and its tributaries while looking for a northern outlet of the Chesapeake. At that time Algonquian-speaking Indians, controlled by the Powhatan chiefdom, occupied the Coastal Plain. The Siouan-speaking Manahoac lived in the project area near the fall line but were driven from Virginia by the Iroquois during the seventeenth century. Other Siouan-speakers occupied the Piedmont. Smith's expedition initiated friendly relations with the Indians, and trading posts were soon established near their villages (Feest 1978).

Although Northern Virginia was not the first area settled by European colonists, it did not take long for the fertile and accessible lands along the Potomac River to be claimed by the colonists. The first settlements along the river began in the 1650s. From the river, the colonists spread out into the back country using the smaller tributaries of the Potomac as access routes. By the mid-eighteenth century, much of the land in Fairfax County had been acquired and the Native American population had been pushed to the west, away from the European settled areas.

The tobacco plantation system spread north as land was depleted in southern Tidewater Virginia. "Although the cultivation of tobacco was a complex process, using it to achieve economic success relied on a simple formula: a large tract of land planted in tobacco and cultivated with a large labor force resulted in more money for the planter" (Virginia Department of Historic Resources 1991:25). Thus, as tobacco plantations spread to the Fairfax County area, large numbers of people were required to develop the plantation settlements.

During the seventeenth century, liberal immigration and land policies in Virginia and a wave of immigrants escaping religious, political, and economic problems in Europe sustained the labor-intensive plantation settlements. Under the headright system, wealthy speculators could patent 50 acres of land in exchange for paying an immigrant's passage from Europe. English indentured servants supplied the majority of the labor needs for the tobacco farms; African slaves provided a much smaller proportion of the labor force than was the case further south.

Robert "King" Carter, the Northern Neck colonial agent for Lady Catherine Fairfax, patented more than 90,000 acres in the area for the proprietor. By the early 1700s, most of the land along the rivers was occupied, and Carter and others became interested in moving into the interior (Harrison 1964). As land became scarcer, fewer immigrants from Europe came into the area. Planters managing large tracks of land therefore had to rely more heavily than before on African slave labor.

Most of the cleared land in Virginia was devoted to tobacco cultivation during the 1700s. Farming practices aimed at ensuring adequate drainage for the tobacco had the negative result of increasing soil erosion. Streams silted and the topsoil was totally depleted and unsuitable for further tobacco farming within four or five years. Tobacco farming, therefore, required unlimited amounts of land. As the tobacco planters moved inland and away from navigable waterways, new roads were built connecting the planters with warehouses, wharves, and ship landings. Early roads followed Indian trails along ridges and creeks.

Most of the acreage that was to become Dulles International Airport was purchased by eleven men between 1724 and 1731. Four others obtained grants for the remainder of the property between 1740 and 1769 (Mitchell 1987). In what would become Fairfax County, the majority of land grants were between 200 and 500 acres (Netherton 1978:17). The average grant in the airport area was about 2,000 acres, relatively large compared to the surrounding region (Mitchell 1987). The large grants were mostly obtained not by frontier settlers, but by well-established Tidewater planters who hoped to turn a profit by resale when land values went up (Netherton 1978:15). Smaller acreage was taken up by speculators of more modest means. For example, on 22 July 1765, William Barr of Fairfax County purchased 265 acres on Salisbury Plain (Cub) Run. Just over two years later, on 20 September 1767, Barr leased this tract to Charles Stewart Presley, having previously informed Presley of disputes regarding the land (Loudoun County Deeds F: 209). During the early eighteenth century, George Turberville (granted 4142 acres) and Henry Lee (granted 3,311 acres, including the area of the future Sully Plantation) owned the property that encompasses the present project area.

The Lee family (along with the related Turberville family) was one of the most powerful and respected families in Virginia. Members of the Lee family occupied important social, political, and military positions throughout the history of Virginia. In 1711 Thomas Lee was named the acting proprietary agent for the Fairfax land (in the absence of Edward Jennings). He established the requirement that a survey be done when land is patented. In 1725 Henry Lee (Thomas?s brother), patented 3,311 acres of land, including part of the current project area. Henry Lee II was a Justice of the County Court and Commander of the County Militia in Prince William County, and served in the House of Burgesses and as a state senator. Five Lees sat on councils of government in Williamsburg at that time. Richard Henry Lee was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Henry II?s son Charles was the first Attorney General of the United States after the Revolution. Henry?s other son, Richard Bland Lee, built Sully Plantation adjacent to the current project area. The Lees at Sully had contacts with many important people, including George and Martha Washington and James and Dolly Madison. General Robert E. Lee?s mother, Anne Hill Carter Lee, lived at Sully (Gamble 1973).

Colony to Nation (1750 to 1789) . Before 1757, the lands comprising Dulles International Airport lay entirely within Fairfax County. That part of Fairfax County that later became Loudoun County was the parish of Cameron, formed in 1748 (Figures 4-1 and 4-2). Cameron encompassed all of Fairfax north and west of Difficult Run. In 1749, the total population of this parish was estimated at 2,191, including 1,555 whites and 636 blacks (Netherton 1978:29). By the time of the creation of Loudoun County in 1757, the population had grown to 3,345 (Netherton 1978:32). Settlement proceeded rapidly over the next decade. Earlier speculators cashed in on their investments, parceling out their huge holdings so that by 1769 only eleven of the then 287 landholders in Loudoun County owned more than 100 acres each (Poland 1976:26). Most of the larger holdings were concentrated in the vicinity of the project area.

The tobacco plantations that were the basis of Northern Virginia's economic and social system required an assured market. Until the time of the Revolution, more than half the tobacco imported to England was bought by merchants in Glasgow, Scotland. They were successful because of their system of having factors or agents living in the Colonies; these agents were able to purchase the tobacco directly from the planters. The factors also provided a financial service to the planters by lending them money based on their anticipated crops and by selling the planters needed supplies from Great Britain and elsewhere. Tensions between the Scottish merchants and the planters increased as the conflict between the Colonies and Britain grew. Over time, members of the planter families and the Scottish merchants had intermarried and settled in the colonies. Their loyalties to the British

Map of Fairfax County, VA, 1745-1748
from Stephenson, The Cartography of Northern Virginia, 1981

Map of Northern Virginia, 1807
from Stephenson, The Cartography of Northern Virginia, 1981

Crown and to their American clients and families divided the merchants. The uncertainties over the political situation between Great Britain and the Colonies caused financial difficulties for many of the planters, especially those smaller and mid-range planters and farmers who depended on the loans from oversees merchants for operating capital.

The residents of the Potomac River towns and countryside came together in opposition to British colonial practices, joined by the slogan of "no taxation without representation." By 1776, the Fairfax Militia was involved in skirmishes with British troops along the Potomac. In August, the British fleet was situated off the coast of Virginia, and merchants and British natives not sympathetic to the revolutionary movement were required to leave the country.

After the war, the sons and grandsons of the original purchasers of large holdings in the project area began to settle and build homes. Around 1790, Richard Bland Lee built Sully Plantation as a tobacco quarter on land that originally was part of 3,311 acres granted to his grandfather, Henry Lee in 1725. Sully is located east of the project area. Lee initially resided in a log cabin; by the 1790s he had built a new house, which is now part of Fairfax County's Sully Historic Park. In addition, Richard Bland Lee built a stone dairy, kitchen/laundry, smokehouse, and office which survive at the park. Other structures including slave quarters and overseer's houses have not survived and their structural remains have not been located.

Around this time, George Richard Lee Turberville (a kinsman of Richard Bland Lee) and his wife Harriotte (the daughter of Richard Henry Lee) built Leeton Grove on property adjacent to Sully, to the south of the project area. Leeton and Sully were closely tied, both because of kinship and necessity. The two families, separated only by a couple of miles, often got together for dinner or other activities. Richard Bland Lee and George Turberville coordinated and cooperated with each other on farm activities, like slaughtering, and shared resources when necessary (Gamble 1973:43). Leeton is still preserved and currently is occupied by the Leigh family.

Children and grandchildren of the large landowners in the surrounding area divided up the large estates. Thus began the transformation of the "cavalier" character of the Tidewater into a region dominated by smaller independent farmers. This was especially true in the vicinity of the Cub Run and Horsepen Run drainages. As early as December 1781, Richard Bland Lee and others of the landed gentry petitioned the General Assembly to establish a new county, ostensibly to cut the distance to the county seat. According to Fairfax Harrison, the planters' real motive was to separate themselves from the more numerous farmers and establish hegemony in a county of their own. Eventually, they succeeded only in attaching themselves to Fairfax rather than Loudoun County (Figure 4-3) when a compromise boundary line was drawn near the project area in 1798.

Early National Period (1789 to 1830) and Antebellum Period (1830 to 1860) . Throughout the eighteenth and much of the nineteenth century, Fairfax County's economy was primarily agricultural. Tobacco was the major cash crop; corn and wheat were grown for local use. In the late 1700s, wheat became a valuable commodity because tobacco had depleted the soil. Wheat provided an alternative to tobacco, with its price fluctuations in the world market, and lessened the farmers' dependence on British factors. One result of the increased interest in wheat and other grain crops was a subsequent increase in the number of grist and flour mills needed to process the grains. The water-powered mills often spawned new communities as other merchants began to locate near the mills. The rise in the use of water-powered machinery made fast-moving streams valuable resources. The value of farmland located within easy transport distance of the mills increased.

Map of Northern Virginia, 1826
from Stephenson, The Cartography of Northern Virginia, 1981

Other industry was attempted in the county during this period. Cotton mills and silk culture were tried. Five furnaces for smelting iron ore were established by 1727. However, control of the profits by landlords and prohibitive costs resulted in failure of these industries. Fisheries, forestry, sumac gathering, tallow and candy manufacturing were also undertaken. Distilling was also a popular income source in the area from Colonial times onward.

Once the military and economic disruptions of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century had subsided, the residents of Fairfax County, like their neighbors in the rest of the Northern Virginia region, began to participate in the "Great Rebuilding" of their economic base and their cultural landscape. General changes were made in outdated agricultural practices. The result was increased crop yields due to the use of fertilizers and crop rotation systems. Improved plows and harvesting machinery also helped improve agriculture. The increase in profits within the agricultural community greatly affected the rest of the community. Farmers and planters began to improve their homes and farm buildings. New mills were built to process the increasing amounts of grain harvested in the region. Merchants expanded their stock. The introduction of improved roads built by the government and the railroad made an impression on the economic and cultural life of the entire country.

The economic improvements of the region were not shared by all segments of the population. Slavery continued to be a common practice in the state, but not to the extent that it was in the more southern states. Virginia's small farmers had discovered over the years that there was not an economic incentive to maintaining slaves; they had begun to shift away from their reliance on slave labor. Nonetheless, Virginia was considered a slave-holding state in the national debates on the subject, and in debates about the power that the central government had to control the growth of the nation and the decision-making process of its individual states and citizens. When the first shots were fired in the Civil War, Virginia seceded from the Federal union with the rest of the South.

As a result of the division between Loudoun and Fairfax Counties, the new boundary line was surveyed. A map of this survey was entered in the Fairfax County records by W. Payne on 17 April 1798. The map also showed the principal roads, turnpikes, and water courses that intersected the line. The homes of nearby property owners were illustrated in their approximate locations. Some attempt was made to show the relative sizes of the buildings, number of stories, windows, pedimented gables, and single or twinned chimneys. Eleven houses were in the vicinity of the project area between Ox Road to the north and the "Road from Leesburg to Alexandria" to the south. The eleven owners were Nathaniel Fitzhugh, Col. Sommer, Mrs. Lane, Charles Turley, Michael Ashford, Joseph Horseman, George Hucherson, Mr. Riddles, Andrew Hucherson, Mrs. Hucherson, and Ben Hucherson. The Fitzhugh family built a large farm complex in the early nineteenth century that later became known as Leeton; the remains of this complex were identified in the project area during the Phase I archeological investigation of the NASM Dulles Center property.

Redrawing the boundary line did little to change the demographic, economic and social character of the region. According to Charles Poland, three dominant characteristics of local lifestyles had been fixed by 1790. The first was that Loudoun maintained a relatively stable population from the Revolutionary period to the First World War. The number of inhabitants in 1800 was 20,523, compared with 20,577 in 1920, an increase of only 54 people. The second was what Poland called "bipolar communities,? in which life centered on the farm and the nearby village. Farmers brought in wheat to be ground at mills usually located in a town or village, and the towns provided other goods and services (Poland 1976:64-68). The third predominant characteristic throughout the nineteenth century was that of agricultural reform; wheat replaced tobacco as the dominant crop. Agricultural abundance resulted from improved farming equipment and agricultural techniques, including the use of fertilizer and crop rotation.

Richard Bland Lee quickly came to believe that Sully Plantation was in need of careful management. By the end of the eighteenth century, he practiced crop rotation, used crushed limestone as fertilizer, and encouraged the growth of clover to replenish the soil. He also reduced the amount of tobacco planted, switching instead to wheat and rye (Gamble 1973:38). Later, Francis Lightfoot Lee likewise employed scientific farming techniques at Sully and obtained high yields (Gamble 1973:59). Unfortunately his successors were not as careful.

Although local conditions remained relatively static, the region was not immune to nineteenth century changes. Along with agricultural reform came improvements in the transportation system and the construction of turnpikes. The Little River Turnpike (U.S. Route 50) was the first to be constructed, completed in 1806. Tamped stone road beds with wooden or stone bridges were a great improvement over the typical muddy quagmires and fords. The road ran along the southern boundary of the project area, connecting farms and communities from the Little River at Aldie to Duke Street in Alexandria. The Middle Turnpike, also known as the Leesburg Turnpike (Virginia Route 7), was begun in 1818 and provided a thoroughfare between Leesburg and Alexandria (Netherton 1978:191-195).

With improved agricultural methods, less land could support more people. Better roads also facilitated the transportation and marketing of crops. A natural outgrowth of the combination of these improvements was the division of land into farms with fewer acres. The fifteen parcels of original land grants had been divided into nearly sixty parcels by circa 1830-1850 (Mitchell 1987). By the 1860s, salient changes in agricultural techniques had led to relative prosperity for the agricultural community. The use of modern machinery, such as improved plows, superseded the use of hand tools. Corn was planted with mechanical drills, and the cradle replaced the scythe or sickle in harvesting grains (Poland 1976:84). As witness to this rural prosperity, the area boasted numerous "large and exuberant" farmhouses and other buildings dating to the antebellum period (Chittenden 1985:VII-H18).

Civil War (1861 to 1865) . Considerable military activity took place in eastern Loudoun and western Fairfax counties during the Civil War because of its proximity to Washington, D.C. Both the Confederacy and the Union had troops in the counties at different times during the Civil War. Battles, raids, and retreats took place in and around the rolling fields and towns of eastern Loudoun and western Fairfax counties. Local tradition is replete with tales of scavengers from the Confederate encampment at Centreville, the Battle of Chantilly along Little River Turnpike, and the use of farmhouses as field hospitals. The roads and railroads in Fairfax County provided access routes for soldiers and supplies. The open agricultural lands were often used as troop assembly and staging areas. Skirmishes and raids on the countryside by both sides led to destruction of farm buildings, houses, crops, and herds; the devastation severely limited the ability of the area to produce food and clothing. If the inhabitants suffered, their worst privations came as a result of Union reprisals for the regional connection with a Confederate officer, Colonel John Mosby, leader of the renowned Mosby's Raiders (Wagstaff 1974:27-35). Sully Plantation suffered repeated depredations by troops who could see the house from the Little River Turnpike (Gamble 1973:93).

There were mixed sentiments about the Civil War in northern Virginia because so many people from the north had moved into the area. Sully Plantation had been bought by the Haight family, a Quaker family from the north, by the time of the Civil War. The residents of Sully, James and Maria Barlow, Jacob and Amy Haight, and Alexander and Phebe Haight, inwardly sided with the north. However, they outwardly supported their neighbors when Virginia seceded because they were not willing to leave their Virginia home (Gamble 1973:92). In 1862 the Haights sent their black servant, Cloe, to Ohio, fearing she would be taken by a Southern raiding party (Gamble 1973:105).

Reconstruction and Growth (1865 to 1914) . The period after the end of the Civil War was a difficult time for Virginia. Although efforts were made to repair the damage caused by the war, the devastation was too extensive to make that task either an easy one or a short process. Farmers resumed production, but the cash needed to rebuild the buildings and for necessary improvements was not always available. In addition, the labor force had been severely stressed by losses during the war and by the loss of slave labor where that had been a common practice.

After the war, agriculture was once again the predominant theme, with the addition of one very significant social element, the free black farmer. A substantial black farming community that may have originated with freed slaves was well-established in the vicinity of the project area by the 1880s. Although difficult to document, it is likely that blacks established a number of farms within the project area during the period. The size and continuity of the black settlement can be ascertained by the number of black churches, schools and cemeteries identified on maps dating to the late nineteenth century (Chittenden 1985:VII-H30).

The state began to slowly improve its economic situation by the last decades of the nineteenth century. New roads and railroads were constructed (Figure 4-4). Manufacturing increased in the large cities such as Richmond and Petersburg. Rural industries dependent on local agricultural products improved and added to the economic health of the general population.

Expansion of the Federal government during the late nineteenth century brought more customers for farm products into the region. The project area enjoyed easy access to these markets via the railroads. Before 1900, trains and later inter-urban rail lines, provided quick transport for perishable food products, such as milk produced by area dairies. New houses, huge dairy barns, and the paving of roads to railroad depots by local dairy farms were a few of the benefits of this new industry to the local economy (Chittenden 1985:VII-H31-H33).

Map of Dranesville District, Fairfax County, 1879
from Stephenson, The Cartography of Northern Virginia, 1981

World War I to Present (1914 to 1997) . The twentieth century is marked by the rise of the city and its suburb and the general, slow decline of the family farm. This was especially evident in the Northern Virginia region after the end of World War II in 1945. Much of the farm land was converted to residential use. This process started around the small cities of Manassas and Alexandria as well as around Washington, D.C. and Richmond. Gradually it spread to the more remote sections of Northern Virginia as highway improvements were made and the population increased. The dramatic change in land use has resulted in the loss of much of the agricultural and rural industrial landscape of the region. For example, between 1945 and 1960, the number of farm residents declined from 11,024 to 5,784 (Poland 1976:364).

Some of this decrease in farming was a direct result of the purchase by the Federal government of thousands of acres to build Dulles International Airport. Former homes and farmhouses and countless outbuildings were torn down to make room for the airport. Churches, cemeteries, stores, roads, and country lanes also disappeared. The entire village of Willard was removed before completion of the airport in 1962. The construction of the Capital Beltway and Interstate 66 contributed to the reduction of the region's rural character. Development along U.S. Route 50 (Little River Turnpike) has continued unabated into the present.


Two main research themes are relevant for historic period archeological sites expected for the project location: the Domestic Theme and the Subsistence Theme. The Domestic Theme relates broadly to the human need for shelter, and a home base or community dwelling. Expected domestic property types include houses and their associated outbuildings. These domestic resources may be either standing structures, archeological sites with foundations, or archeological sites recognized on the basis of artifacts alone. Domestic sites may date from the areas? first exploration in the seventeenth century through the twentieth century. Sites that predate 1725 when the project area was first settled as plantations, however, are unlikely because earlier sites would represent only temporary, dispersed activities that are hard to detect in the archeological record. The Subsistence Theme relates to food procurement, processing and storage. The project area was farmland for the majority of its history. Resources associated with subsistence that may be found include evidence of farm machinery, corn cribs or other storage facilities, farmhouses, and farm outbuildings.

Other functional themes that may be associated with resources in the project area include transportation (evidence of railroad or old road beds), and military (associated with the Civil War in particular). The spatial theme is the Northern Virginia region, the temporal themes using the VDHR scheme for the historic period are Settlement to Society through World War I to Present.


Current knowledge of specific cultural resources in the vicinity of the project area is based on several previous archeological field and archival investigations. These include:

  • A sewer survey conducted in 1983 by Mike Johnson, Fairfax County Archeologist. The resulting report identified fifteen prehistoric and historic sites along Cain Branch (Johnson 1983).

  • A Dulles Airport survey conducted by Engineering Science and Parsons Management Consultants (PMC) in 1989 for the MWAA. As a result of this survey, the sites of eleven historic structures associated with the nineteenth century Leeton estate were located (PMC 1989), as well as two prehistoric sites..

  • Additional walkover reconnaissance and background research conducted by Henry Ward, preservation specialist and archeologist at Parsons Management Consultants (see Appendix C for PMC letter from Arnold Rosenberg, March 1994).

  • Dames & Moore's review of archeological files at the VDHR.

  • Dames & Moore's library search to develop contextual information about the historic and prehistoric periods in Northern Virginia.

This research indicated the following known and possible resources in the area prior to Dames & Moore field investigations: 1) ten historic and eleven prehistoric sites identified by surveys along Cain Branch; 2) above ground remains (and presumed archeological remains) of eleven structures associated with historic Leeton; 3) remains of the nineteenth century community of Willard; 4) lands known to be part of the eighteenth century Sully Plantation; and 5) a pre-Civil War railroad embankment.

A map indicating the recorded locations of previously identified archeological resources in the vicinity of the Smithsonian project area (Figure 4-5) has been prepared based on maps provided by Parsons Management Consultants (PMC, 1994), and on additional background research.

Because various sources differed in the locations mapped for the same sites, locations of sites within the Area of Potential Effect were verified during the current field investigation; sites outside the Area of Potential Effect have not been surveyed and their locations will need to be verified in the field if they will be affected in the future. Table 4-1 contains summary information on the 22 archeological sites mapped in Figure 4-6. Eleven of the sites included on the map and table are historic and eleven are prehistoric.

Figure 4-5.
Previously Identified Resources in the Vicinity of the Project area

Six of the historic sites date from the nineteenth (and possibly eighteenth) century. Three nineteenth century historic sites are located on Cain Branch. The historic railroad embankment is northwest of the project area. The last historic site is the remains of nineteenth century Leeton.

Table 4-1:
Historic and Prehistoric Archeological Resources
in the Vicinity of the NASM Project Area
Site Identification/Type
Location/Project Area
Cain Branch/Outside
Cain Branch/Outside
Cain Branch/Outside
Cain Branch/Outside
Cain Branch/Outside
Cain Branch/Outside
Cain Branch/Inside
Cain Branch/Inside
Railroad Embankment/Historic
North Parcel/Inside
Cain Branch/Inside
Cain Branch/Inside
Cain Branch/Outside
Sully Plantation/Outside
Sully Plantation/Outside
Sully Plantation/Outside
Sully Plantation/Outside
Sully Plantation/Outside
Sully Plantation/Outside
Cain Branch/Inside
Cain Branch/Outside?
Cain Branch/Inside
Cain Branch/Inside

Of the 22 sites identified prior to field investigations, five were reported to lie within the NASM project area and three additional sites appeared to be on the project boundary. The historic Leeton estate and prehistoric sites 44FX691, 44FX692, 44FX693, 44FX694 were reported to be in the vicinity of the proposed NASM Center. Prehistoric sites 44FX1558, 44FX1559, and 44FX1560 appeared to be on the boundary. Prehistoric sites reported within the project area are small lithic scatters representing ephemeral encampments along streams. These sites were dated on the basis of types of projectile points discovered. They range in date from Early Archaic (Kirk projectile points) through Middle and Late Archaic (Halifax and Savannah River projectile points) to Early Woodland (Piscataway projectile points). No evidence for large or semi-permanent prehistoric settlement was reported found.

A Dulles Airport survey conducted by Engineering Science in 1989 located the remains of what was identified as the historic Leeton estate, assumed in the report to be the eighteenth century Turberville-Leigh home also called Leeton (Gamble 1973:134). The current field investigation confirmed the location of the site and identified the remains of eleven structures associated with historic Leeton. However, the investigation determined that the Leeton estate is the nineteenth century Leeton, a property named after the eighteenth century plantation. According to Gamble (1973), the nineteenth century Leeton house was carefully taken down and the materials used elsewhere in 1960 when the airport acquired the land.

The abandoned pre-Civil War railroad embankment is located north of the Area of Potential Effect, extending almost 1.5 miles across the width of the airport. The western two-thirds of the embankment lie just south of and parallel to the east-west runway. A portion of the east end of the railroad embankment may be located within the North Parcel that is being studied for a taxiway. The embankment is generally believed to be part of a spur that would have connected Leesburg with the port of Alexandria. Work on the embankment proceeded until the outbreak of the Civil War and resumed after the region was recaptured by the Confederacy. It appears that the railroad line was not completed. Remains of track have not been found, only the embankment itself and a cluster of twelve railroad spikes.

Resources associated with the nineteenth-century town of Willard are situated outside the Area of Potential Effect. Located in the southeast portion of the airport in Loundon County, the small town was no longer a functioning municipality by the time construction of the airport began. The site of the town could contain archeological information related to rural life and agriculture in Northern Virginia in the late nineteenth century.

Introduction Chap. 2: Historic Preservation Compliance
Chap. 3: Project Area Description Chap. 4: Background Research
Chap. 5: Field Investigations Chap. 6: Laboratory Investigations
Chap. 7: Archeological Findings of Phase I Survey Chap. 8: Archeological Findings of Phase II Survey
Chap. 9: Summary and Recommendations Chap. 10: Bibliography
Related Archaeology Websites


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