VIRTUAL MUSEUM An online collection of Stafford history and artifacts

Man’s Time on Earth

Earth’s age is estimated to be 4.5 Billion Years.

If the Empire State Building represented that age, man’s total existence on Earth (3 million years) would be a thin dime placed at the top.

Recorded history currently dates from 5,000 years ago (in western Asia).

Stafford Springs

Several Confederate Stafford “Safe-Houses” and “Spy Centers” were known to exist. They included Stafford Springs in northwest Stafford, now within Marine Corps Base Quantico. The springs had been a small resort earlier in the 1800s. As described by historian Jerrilynn Eby MacGregor:

During the Civil War, the business of the farm changed from entertainment for those seeking pleasure to the gravity of war, as Stafford Springs became the headquarters of Confederate spy operations.

The Initial Interpretation of Reconstruction

Led by historian William Dunning (Reconstruction, Political and Economic, 1907), this interpretation can be summarized as: “When the Civil War ended, the white South genuinely accepted the reality of military defeat, stood ready to do justice to the emancipated slaves, and desired above all a quick reintegration into the fabric of national life.

Stafford’s Hospitality Industry

Modest Restaurants and Motor Lodges were the pioneers of Stafford’s Hospitality Industry. Click on one of the above postcards to enlarge and view Austin Farms, a former restaurant and campground on Highway 1. Open the “photo gallery” to see other postcards of Stafford’s past.

Growing Middle-Class

The hospitality industry (food and lodging) attracted some commerce along the U.S. Route 1 corridor until the I-95 era. (Click on Photo Gallery to see opening day of I-95 in Stafford.) Housing – particularly affordable housing for Washington area governmental workers and for returning veterans and, in the Baby Boom era, increased populations – became a Stafford growth industry.

Jefferson Davis Highway

New roads brought economic development potential. U.S. Route 1 actually brought on a celebration in 1927. By 1932, Stafford had something approaching a road network. Click on the “Photo Gallery” to see at least three of the new motels (also called “travel courts,” or “cottages”) that developed on Route 1.

In Town and Country and In Factory

— in 1880 and 1900, Stafford had less than 1 percent of its population in villages of fewer than 2,500 people.

— in 1900, only 2.6 percent of Stafford families had a member engaged in manufacturing.

Industries generally were attracted to urban environments.

Stafford Hospital

Stafford Hospital opened in 2009 on a 70 acre site near Stafford County Courthouse. The site currently includes one medical office building and is operated by Medi Corps, the parent company of Mary Washington Hospital.


“Belmont,” above Falmouth, was the home of Joseph Burwell Ficklen, a prominent antebellum and wartime businessman.  In 1916 it was purchased by renowned artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne. Upon the grounds, Melchers built an art studio in the 1920s.  

Doretha and Cynthia Montague

On September 5, 1961, Doretha and Cynthia Montague, enrolled in the first and third grades and integrated Stafford schools by entering Stafford Elementary School (today’s Bandy Building).

Almost a year later, on August 26, 1962, 34 eleventh and twelfth grade students were transferred to Stafford High School en masse.

Chappawamsic School

Documents show that this school was standing in 1922. It was described as a frame schoolhouse with a wood shingle roof. It had two rooms with closets. A larger room was 27 x 52 feet while a smaller one was 6 x 48 feet.

Numbers grow at Brent’s Point

Sisters Margaret and Mary left Maryland and joined Giles (I) and his wife. The sisters resided at “Peace” and the Brents built another house at Brent’s Point and named it “Retirement.”  They traded with the Indians, no doubt aided by Mary (Kittamaqund) Brent’s linguistic skills and cultural knowledge.