Ferry Farm

Ferry Farm

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Ferry Farm, also known as George Washington Boyhood Home Site or Ferry Farm Site, is the name of the farm
Farm
A farm is an area of land, or, for aquaculture, lake, river or sea, including various structures, devoted primarily to the practice of producing and managing food , fibres and, increasingly, fuel. It is the basic production facility in food production. Farms may be owned and operated by a single...

 and home at which George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 spent much of his childhood. The site is located in Stafford County, Virginia
Stafford County, Virginia
Stafford County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a U.S. state, 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,...

, along the northern bank of the Rappahannock River
Rappahannock River
The Rappahannock River is a river in eastern Virginia, in the United States, approximately in length. It traverses the entire northern part of the state, from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west, across the Piedmont, to the Chesapeake Bay, south of the Potomac River.An important river in American...

, across from the city of Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg, Virginia
Fredericksburg is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia located south of Washington, D.C., and north of Richmond. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 24,286...

. 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.

History


The farm was named after the Washington family had left the property. Its namesake was a free ferry
Ferry
A ferry is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship, used to carry primarily passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services...

 that crossed the Rappahannock River
Rappahannock River
The Rappahannock River is a river in eastern Virginia, in the United States, approximately in length. It traverses the entire northern part of the state, from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west, across the Piedmont, to the Chesapeake Bay, south of the Potomac River.An important river in American...

 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
Farm
A farm is an area of land, or, for aquaculture, lake, river or sea, including various structures, devoted primarily to the practice of producing and managing food , fibres and, increasingly, fuel. It is the basic production facility in food production. Farms may be owned and operated by a single...

 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 author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

s cited both the names Ferry Farm and Pine Grove.

George Washington


Within the 1740s 260 acres (105.2 ha) Ferry Farm, the county-level gentry house was a 1½-story residence perched on a bluff
Cliff
In geography and geology, a cliff is a significant vertical, or near vertical, rock exposure. Cliffs are formed as erosion landforms due to the processes of erosion and weathering that produce them. Cliffs are common on coasts, in mountainous areas, escarpments and along rivers. Cliffs are usually...

. 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
Mount Vernon
The name Mount Vernon is a dedication to the English Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon. It was first applied to Mount Vernon, the Virginia estate of George Washington, the first President of the United States...

. 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
Parson Weems
Mason Locke Weems , generally known as Parson Weems, was an American book agent and author. He is best known as the source of some of the apocryphal stories about George Washington...

, in the early 19th century. These include the anecdote
Anecdote
An anecdote is a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person. It may be as brief as the setting and provocation of a bon mot. An anecdote is always presented as based on a real incident involving actual persons, whether famous or not, usually in an identifiable place...

, 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 tree
Cherry Tree
Cherry Tree may refer to:* A tree that produces cherries* An ornamental cherry tree that produces cherry blossomsPlaces* Cherry Tree, Pennsylvania, a borough in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, United States* Cherry Tree, Oklahoma...

s with a new hatchet
Hatchet
A hatchet is a single-handed striking tool with a sharp blade used to cut and split wood...

. Upon being confronted by his father
Father
A father, Pop, Dad, or Papa, is defined as a male parent of any type of offspring. The adjective "paternal" refers to father, parallel to "maternal" for mother...

, 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
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

 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
Rappahannock River
The Rappahannock River is a river in eastern Virginia, in the United States, approximately in length. It traverses the entire northern part of the state, from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west, across the Piedmont, to the Chesapeake Bay, south of the Potomac River.An important river in American...

." 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
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 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.

After Washington


It was the site of skirmishing during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 in 1862. Union soldiers used the house as a headquarters, and then demolished it for firewood.

Since the 1920s the property has been the subject of a series of failed preservation attempts. The first, led by then land owner James Beverly Colbert, was felled by the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

. In each subsequent decade different groups of preservationists have tried to make a "national shrine" out of Washington's boyhood home. The 1960s saw the creation of a home for troubled boys on the site. This project left on the landscape the site's most visible feature—a large pseudo-Georgian building which now houses a museum
Museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

, offices, and archaeological lab, which, since 2006, is viewable for visitors.

In the 1990s Stafford County's Board of Supervisors set out to both preserve the site and bring business to the county. Their attempts ultimately led to rezoning and a bid by Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. , branded as Walmart since 2008 and Wal-Mart before then, is an American public multinational corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores. The company is the world's 18th largest public corporation, according to the Forbes Global 2000...

 to buy the property and construct a large store adjacent to the boyhood site. This was opposed by many in Fredericksburg, which would have been able to see the back of the store from town. There was widespread feeling that such a change in this historical town's view shed would have had adverse affects on the town's crucial tourist trade as well as harming the town's charm and quality of life. The result was a deal whereby Historic Kenmore
Kenmore
Kenmore may refer to:* Kenmore Appliances, a brand name of household appliances sold in stores owned by Sears Holdings Corporation* A brand name of Scotch whisky produced by Burn Stewart Distillers and sold exclusively in Marks and Spencer stores...

 (the circa 1770s Fredericksburg home of Washington's sister Betty Washington Lewis
Betty Washington Lewis
Betty Washington Lewis was the younger sister of George Washington and the only sister to live to adulthood. She was the first daughter of Augustine Washington and Mary Ball Washington. She is considered a "founding mother" of America.She was born Elizabeth Washington in Westmoreland County,...

 and her husband Fielding Lewis
Fielding Lewis
Fielding Lewis was a Colonel during the American Revolutionary War and the brother-in-law of George Washington....

), in conjunction with the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 and commonwealth funds purchased the site. Historic Kenmore became George Washington's Fredericksburg Foundation and in 2008 The George Washington Foundation. This foundation oversees both sites as well as Augustine Washington’s ironworks at Accokeek (Potomac) Furnace (1726~ 56) in Stafford County, part of the Principio Company.

It was declared a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 in 2000.

Extensive archaeological investigations began in 2002 under the direction of David Muraca (formerly of Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg is the private foundation representing the historic district of the city of Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. The district includes buildings dating from 1699 to 1780 which made colonial Virginia's capital. The capital straddled the boundary of the original shires of Virginia —...

) and Philip Levy of the University of South Florida
University of South Florida
The University of South Florida, also known as USF, is a member institution of the State University System of Florida, one of the state's three flagship universities for public research, and is located in Tampa, Florida, USA...

. The goal of the excavations is to locate and understand the original Washington farm complex. In 2008, Levy and Muraca announced that one of three sites excavated yielded the original home site, including foundations of a 53 by 37 feet (11.3 m) home. The home had suffered a small fire during George Washington's lifetime. There also is a long term goal of reconstructing the farm on the site. Ferry Farm also runs children's programs and other public events.

It is located at 237 King's Highway (Virginia Route 3), near Fredericksburg. A building associated with George Washington's surveying work is listed at 712 King's Highway.

External links