from They Called Stafford Home
The Development of Stafford County, Virginia, from 1600 until 1865
On April 12, 1709 Bryant Folio, Stafford County planter, and his wife, Mary, sold to George Mason (II) for 5,000 pounds “good tobacco and twenty shillings Sterling” a tract of land along both sides of Chopawamsic Creek, “being part of a patent of 2,066 acres formerly granted to John Matthews the grandfather of the said Mary”. This property ran from about Boswell’s Corner on the west to John Moncure’s Clermont on the east.
On this property George Mason built a large home using blocks of local sandstone, although it is likely that there was an earlier residence there. He planted a large orchard and opened great fields on which to graze sheep and cattle. Mason lived at Chopawamsic for an unknown period of time. Like his father, he amassed tremendous land holdings in Stafford, Prince William, Fauquier and Fairfax Counties. We do know that he leased the Chopawamsic property and was living in Fairfax County when he drowned in the Potomac in 1735.
On July 10, 1728 a deed between George Mason (III) and John Peyton was recorded in Stafford for “land lying on Acquia Run in Overwharton Parish where the said George Mason now dwells: 150 acres being part of 1,000 acres patented to Valentine Peyton on June 6, 1654 who conveyed to Henry Peyton on May 26, 1657 who conveyed to George Mason (II) on July 8, 1694 and was inherited by George Mason (III)”. Obviously, Mason felt at home at Chopawamsic for he added to the end of the deed, “Before signing the aforesaid George Mason doth reserve to himself twenty foot square of land in the Orchard for a burying place exclusive of fruit trees”.
After the death of her husband in 1735, Ann Thomson Mason moved back to Chopawamsic to raise her three children. She never remarried. Ann deeded the farm to her son, Thomson, “One hundred and fifty acres of Land part of the said Tract of five hundred acres of Land to be laid out as the said Ann Mason shall think proper so as to include the houses and plantation known by the name of the Ordinary”. This is the only known reference to the property by this name and it probably indicates that it had, at one time, been used as an ordinary.
Apparently, Thomson Mason had financial difficulties later in life for he twice advertised the sale of Chopawamsic Farm, although he never actually sold it.
The first advertisement for the sale of Chopawamsic appeared in The Alexandria Gazette on September 11, 1769; “Chopawamsic. In order to satisfy the subscriber’s debts will be SOLD, to the highest bidder . . . on Monday the 4th day of December, the house and 38 slaves.” The farm was not sold at this time, and another ad appeared in The Virginia Gazette in Mary 1773 describing 2,600 acres in Prince William and Stafford situated four miles above Aquia Warehouse. The property included a mill seat with a “large and never failing stream . . . There is a great appearance of iron ore and a large quantity of white oak and pine timber, a tolerable commodious dwellinghouse, a great number of convenient outhouses, good orchards, and several tenements in order for cropping”. The ad continued, stating that if Mason could amass twice the value of the property, he would not have to sell it.
Mason never sold Chopawamsic for in his will, proved in 1785, he left it to his wife, Elizabeth, for her lifetime and then to his son.
In 1850 Major William H. Fitzhugh purchased and surveyed Chopawamsic Farm. The accompanying plat is beautifully detailed and shows the orchard mentioned by Mason as well as the house, two barns, various outbuildings, a garden, forests, pastures, and marsh. This is a small map which encompasses a tremendous amount of acreage. The Dumfries Road marked on the plat is the present-day Mason Road just north of Boswell’s corner (U.S. Route 1). Today this old road dead-ends, but it originally ran through Chopawamsic Farm, Clermont, Richland, and on to the Potomac River. The Moncure property on the east side of the farm was Clermont and the Ford property was Bloomington.
It is unknown what became of the early stone house. In all likelihood it was abandoned after the Civil War and the stone probably ended up in the foundations of nearby buildings. It is also possible that the stone was sold to the builders of the National Cathedral, a fate of numerous other stone buildlings in Stafford. By the time of the Quantico expansion, however, the house site was occupied by a basic white frame farmhouse.