Welcome to the research page for Historic Blenheim. We would like to keep you updated on our research and interpretation at our Civil War site and this is also an opportunity for you to engage with us.
Our primary focus areas of research are:
1) Union Soldier Graffiti
Our site interpretation is about the common soldier and the impact of this most divisive event in our nation's history on these individuals. Why were they on this farm? where were they from? What were there thoughts about the war? What were there wartime and post war time experience?
Historic Blenheim was purchased by the City of Fairfax in 1999, due to the soldier graffiti that covered the walls of the c. 1859 house attic. Since that time, wallpaper and paint have been removed to uncover additional, names, regiments, hometowns, dates, sayings and drawings. We have positively identified 123 Union soldiers and are exploring more technical ways to read some of the more illegible writings. Soldiers Signatures . We are working with new technologies. Learn about current investigations in "Revealing Secrets Behind the Paint"
Help Us Identify A Soldier: Please send your transcription ideas for "George Henry ______" to staff. The photo can be copied to read better,
City of Fairfax Collections
2) Fairfax Courthouse area before during and after the Civil War, particularly the effects on the village and its inhabitants. The primary local family associated with our site is the Willcoxons, but we also include women family members married to the Farrs, Sweenys, Hoags, Watkins, and Burkes (Newman) and women married to the Willcoxons (DeNeale, Eskridge [Charles], Dye, Triplett, Weir.)
Albert and Mary (Eskridge) Willcoxon were the owners of what is now Historic Blenheim: originally 367 acres of land purchased by Albert from his father, Rezin Willcoxon, owner of the Willcoxon Tavern across from the Fairfax Courthouse. Lewis Lee, an enslaved man working at the tavern, was either the son or grandson of Rezin. Lewis Lee ran away, but after the Civil War he returned to Fairfax Courthouse married to an Irishwoman, Ellen, with a young daughter, Mary. He owned land, lost it due to debt, sold it, and moved to Alexandria.
3) Enslaved People of African Descent
As stated above, Lewis Lee was en enslaved man and a Willcoxon family member, To hear more about his story of survival tune into Volunteer Wes Boutchard (and former FHS high school teacher) as he speaks about his research and findings.
Albert Willcoxon and his wife, Mary owned 6 enslaved people in 1860: 4 men: ages 65, 30, 22, and 17. We have identified Henson Smith, age 65 and James Seals, age 30 (and have traced some of his descendants with his wife, Milly Seals, age 35, who was also owned by the Willcoxon family.) We do not know the identity of the 12-year old enslaved girl.