We love Boscobel because of it's historical significance, and we understand that many others do as well. With that said, Fitzhugh Cemetery is located on private property, and is privately owned by our family. It can be unsettling for our family to have strangers roaming our property, specifically in the cemetery.
We love relics too! With that said we believe that tangible pieces of Boscobel history belong here at Boscobel. With historical preservation in mind, we will not allow relic hunting on the property. If you have hunted relics on this property before, we would LOVE to hear your stories.
Historic Boscobel Farm
Boscobel Farm is one of Stafford County's oldest homesteads. The land was first granted to the Fitzhugh family in 1658 by King George of England. It encompassed around 900 acres in Stafford County, VA. The house, built in 1702 was a typical style for the era and area with five dormers across the front. It was flanked by two chimneys and had a wide front porch. The home was typical of the time period but larger than most, as told to me by the Stafford County Historical society. Much of the history of the property centers around the events of The Civil War, but as I have discovered there are many more stories to tell.
Headquarters of brigadier general daniel sickles
In April of 1862, the troops of Brigadier General Daniel Sickles crossed into Virginia from Maryland and began the first Federal occupation of Stafford County, Virginia. From 1862-1863, Brigadier General Daniel Sickles occupied Boscobel as headquarters for his 3rd Army Corp. During this occupation, much of Stafford County was destroyed. They troops burned trees and homes for firewood. Boscobel was only left standing likely because it was occupied by Sickles.
A scandalous vist from president abraham lincoln
On April 7, 1863, Brigadier General Daniel Sickles hosted a formal reception for visiting President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was to review the Sixth Army Corps and the Artillery Reserve the following morning in the fields surrounding Boscobel. During the reception, the American wife of Prussian Prince Felix Salm-Salm kissed the President on the cheek (as a means of "cheering him up"). It is said to have amused everyone present at the party, with the exception of Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln, his wife.
a letter from henrietta fitzhugh during the civil war years
September 20, 1862, Henrietta Fitzhugh of Boscobel wrote a letter up North to 19 residents of Fredericksburg that were being held as "hostages" in the Old Capitol Prison. The letters, meant to reach these persons with the idea that when they were freed they would find and persuade the slaves to return to Boscobel, were intercepted. A mere four months later, the Emancipation Proclamation would set them as well as all enslaved persons free.
Letter of Henrietta Fitzhugh of Boscobel - source [Fredericksburg, Va.] Sept. 20th 1862 – We lost from the “Boscobel” Farm, 4 miles from Fredericksburg in Stafford County-the following slaves to wit
Phil-black about 56 yrs old- Ben Clomas-black about 21 yrs old Jacob-one eyed about 55 Henry-stout black Mulatto about 35-yrs old Harry-black man about 40 yrs- Daniel-Mulatto 35 yrs old said to be working in a paper mill in or near Washington Armstead Yancy-black man 40 yrs old in livery stable in Washington- [note: Yancey was also a member of the African Baptist Church] Tom-small, black, bad teeth-22 yrs old Lunsford, black, awkward, &c 23 yrs Roxy Parker-mulatto woman 40 yrs old-cook Polly Parker-daughter, black thick Tipped- 18 yrs- Nannie ” 14- William ~~12 – Kate ~~10 – Charles ~~5 – Edmund ~~3 If any one will find Said Slaves in Washington & inform them that if they desire to return to their Home at Said Farm, they may do so & will receive the same treatment to which they have always been used there, & will not be sold or punished for their desertion-a liberal reward will be paid for Said Servants on their return –
boscobel after the civil war
Boscobel passed out of the Fitzhugh family in 1901 when it was sold to Charles A. Hurkamp for $15,000. The Hurkamp daughter, Marion, only a day old, is buried in our cemetery (Fitzhugh). The Boscobel Plantation house survived the war but sadly, burned down in 1915.
"the house is after the order of a roomy cottage and buried in a cluster of wonderful trees"
Boscobel is still, thankfully, buried in this same cluster of wonderful trees!
"the old kitchen stands on one side of the yard and near the circular driveway leading to the entrance steps, while a building of similar size and shape stands opposite-a bit, as it were, to balance the landscape - and used doubtless as a quarter for house servants"
We believe the old kitchen was located where our secret garden is located today, on one side of our circular driveway. Several large timbers sit at the back of the garden among old bricks either from the fireplace pictured above or from a foundation. Most of the object we have found have been here, near the kitchen. Included in these items are a large iron hinge and what appears to be a cast iron pot handle, both very old. We believe we have found the location of the servants quarters as well; behind the secret garden.
1901 publication of "the country gentleman"
"Boscobel" is four miles from Fredericksburg, in the county of Stafford, and the residence is situated on the highest point between the Rappahanock and Potomac Rivers. It was built by Thomas Fitzhugh about two hundred and fifty years ago. He was the son of William H. Fitzhugh, who was a very prominent lawyer of London and came to this country as the friend and attorney of Lord Fairfax. Prior to 1700, Lord Fairfax owned the entire Northern Neck of Virginia, which comprises the fertile territory between the Rappahanock and Potomac Rivers. By his will, he distributed forty-five thousand acres of land among his children. His son, Thomas Fitzhugh, got the "Boscobel" estate, which was a square lot of land and held under a grant from George II of England; the grant of the same is recorded in the land office at Richmond, Va. Thomas Fitzhugh has the material for the Boscobel house brought from London, also stone which was used in constructing the magnificent well there. It passed down from one generation to another of the Fitzhugh family, and in 1847 passed to Sallie and Henrietta Fitzhugh; in that year, William A. Little and William H. Fitzhugh, who was a great-great grandson of Thomas Fitzhugh, purchased the property. After the civil war, the property was divided between William A. Little and William H. Fitzhugh (William A, Little having married a Miss Fitzhugh), and in the division he got the old homestead and the principal part of the estate. It was until recently therefore, held by an unbroken chain in the Fitzhugh family and their descendants ever since under a grant from George II- and until now it stood alone, perhaps, as the one individual old aristocratic country seat in this part of northern Virginia held by the descendants of the original owners.
The old homestead has been lately improved and beautified. A wind mill furnishes water for the bath rooms, the dwelling has been repainted and the beautiful lawn and old fashioned garden and grounds comprise one the most picturesque spots to be seen anywhere in this part of Virginia. Much of the furniture is that brought by the founder, Thomas Fitzhugh from England, at the time the house was built. The parlor suite, a splendid specimen of the antique, is well preserved, and having recently been magnificently upholstered anew in the old style, is a treasure to the lover of the ancient. The massive iron back in the great open fire place in the parlor bears the legend "T.F., 1742". There is an outside kitchen near the dwelling with an old fashioned open fireplace of titanic proportions, fitted with all the old time paraphernalia for cooking-ovens, spits, cranes, etc.-and all in perfect order. Those who have partaken of the fat (shoat?) roasted before the open fire, or the well browned and basted turkey that has ripened on the spits in this historic kitchen, say that no such fare can be had at "Delmonico's" or elsewhere.
There are 522 acres now remaining with the old homestead, and comprising Boscobel as it stands today, about 30 acres being woodland. The mansion was considerably enlarged by the late William A. Little, and now has twelve rooms in the dwelling proper, including bath rooms, water being supplied in abundance for all purposes from the splendid stone curbed well in the yard, a wind-mill doing the pumping. There is at one side of the lawn a cottage of three rooms, with old-fashioned chimney and wood fire-place, the main room being celled(?) throughout, and constituting one of the most delightful dens imaginable. The farm is a fine one apart from the advantages of the place as a residence. While some of the fields have been badly handled under the tenant system, most of the place is in fine order and producing fine crops. The barns, stables, granaries and hay sheds are capacious, serviceable, and well located.
There are four excellent tenant houses of two and four rooms each on the land: these are modern and in excellent repair, as is also a neat dwelling of six rooms for the farm manager. The farm is gently rolling and admirably watered by springs and bold branches, making every field available for pasturage, and greatly facilitating the handling of stock. The dwelling is situated on very high ground, but slopes of such gentle grade lead to it that one forms the idea of a slight elevation in the plain. Thirty minutes drive from the door will take one to any central point in Fredericksburg. Nearer still, a mile and half from the gate is the railroad stateion, "Leeland", named from the famous Lee family of Virginia; near the station is the palatial modern residence of Capt. Dan Lee, who is a brother of Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, of national renown. Lee-land is on the main line of the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line Railways. Mr. Charles H. Hurkamp has just purchased "Boscobel", paying $15,000 for the place, which he intents to convert into a model livestock farm. It is wonderfully adapted by nature to such a use, being well watered throughout. With his energy, resources, and experience in the successful handling of high-grade horses, every augury is for Mr. Hurkamps marked success. Gentle, straightforward, manly, the new owner possesses a wide circle of warm friends, while his ability in business matters is only less market than his wonderful genius for the education of his favorite-the horse. The spacious verandas and handsome lawns, shaded by fine old trees, mark a fitting home for the owner of such horses as Amaret, Hurry Up, and the coming star-Kinlock.
historic fitzhugh cemetery
Fitzhugh Cemetary, located on our property, contains approximately 9 graves, each with a headstone, two with a footstone. The graves start as early as 1848 with the most recent being 1903. More detail to come...
Boscobel Farm was first divided between the Fitzhugh family whereas the Boscobel Plantation house remained with 600 acres. Boscobel was then subdivided in the late 1970's. Unfortunately today, all that remains with the homestead is a little more than 4 acres.
The modern day boscobel farm
After the subdivision, our property was left with a little over four acres. The current Boscobel Farm houses Fitzhugh Cemetery, the foundation (somewhere under our house), and a secret garden that we are told sits on the foundation of the old Plantation kitchen (foundation bricks or chimney bricks are still present). We have an old well, several old-fashioned well hand pumps, and whole lot of treasures buried in the ground. We have a barn and stables that were built in the 1960's.
Our family contracted the property for sale in the Spring of 2016. We never saw it, we bought it sight unseen. We found the listing on the internet and proceeded to find an agent to take pictures and video. Not a mention was made of the beautiful history. After 6 months of negotiations, an international move with a child and two dogs, a two month hotel stay, and a lot of angst, the property became ours. When we finally saw it for the first time it was everything I hoped it would be, except that there was no working sewer/septic and no working water to the house. The electrical was outdated, the pool was a black pond, the barn was falling down, and the whole place was a mess. What has followed has been an exercise in patience and fortitude. We are slowly, but surely, putting Boscobel back together again.
Our plans for boscobel
We are moving forward in the spirit of the old Boscobel Farm and making it a modern day homestead. Our homestead will include an Apiary of Italian Bees, an Orchard, a 6000 sq. ft. Potager garden, a cut flower farm, and backyard chickens. Our online store will stock vintage-inspired home and garden products such as plant misters, French butter bells, Picnic baskets imported from England, and antique ironstone, Our Savon de Marseille soaps imported from France, and our natural soy candles will be freshly made on the farm. All inspired by our beloved Boscobel Farm. In addition, in time, we will have cut flowers available as well as fresh honey to share-in the online store.