Book Review

NOTICE/DISCLAIMER:  This book contains descriptions, letters, accounts, etc. which contain discriminatory language. These accounts reflect attitudes of the time and should be viewed in that historical context. They do not reflect our attitudes of today. They are not in anyway a reflection of the views of the Evergreen Historical Preservation Committee or anyone associated with the committee.


A Virginia Scene or Life in Old Prince William County, by Alice Maude Ewell, was first published in 1931 and gives a snapshot of what it was like during her lifetime to live in then rural Northwestern Prince William County. Alice was raised on a farm about a mile from the foot of Bell Knob, the highest point of the Bull Run Mountains, just north of Logmill Road and west of Old Carolina Road (Route 15). Although the book includes the history of greater Prince William County, the majority of the book covers the history of a small area where she lived. That area includes the region between the Loudoun County line to the north, the Bull Run Mountains to the west, Old Carolina Road (Route 15) to the east and south to Waterfall Road.

She also includes early history of this local area and includes narratives by her grandmother and other relatives about life during the before and during Civil War.

The Prince William County Historical Commission republished the book in 1991 to promote an interest in the history PWC and its people.

War Time at Dunblane

Alice's grandfather was Jesse Ewell, a country doctor, built a home just north of Logmill called Dunblane. This is where the author was raised; she was a child during the Civil War.

Her aunt gives account of living during the Civil War. She described how the women in the neighborhood would gather at Evergreen to sew confederate uniforms.

About this time* the ladies of our neighborhood began to be very busy making uniforms for our soldiers. With my sister-in-law, Mrs. Alice Ewell, I went to "Evergreen," the home of Colonel Edmund Berkeley, to assist in this work. We found Mrs. Berkeley, Mrs. Josiah Carter, and others engaged in cutting out the gray flannel fatigue shirts, which, trimmed with green formed the first uniform of the "Evergreen Guards," the company of then Captain Berkeley, afterwards Colonel of the Eighth Virginia Regiment. Much interest attended the making of these garments. Mrs. Berkeley may be mentioned as the typical Southern matron of the day. Warm-hearted and loyal, she grudged nothing to the Cause. A fine musician, her playing of "Dixie" was inspiring. All partook of her enthusiasm. My little nephew, then six years old, had also his fatigue shirt trimmed with green, and a Confederate flag to wave. Truly we had not yet realized the terror of what was to come.
*April 1861

(Aside) From the Manassas Journal of June 17, 1904:

It is highly probable that a Prince William farm is entitled to the record of furnishing a larger number of men than any farm in the Confederacy, the Evergreen farm of Capt. Edmund Berkeley having furnished twelve as follows: Capt. Edmund Berkeley, his son, Edmund who was wounded in the battle of New Market, George Mayhugh, Nimrod Mayhugh, Thos. Sidmonds, Greenberry Belt, George A. Belt, James Belt, William Fair, John Osborne, Uriah Fletcher and Andrew Fletcher. The last two were Pennsylvanians who were working for Capt. Berkeley at the time he raised his Company and were among the first to volunteer. Uriah was elected 2nd Sergeant and was killed at Seven Pines while his brother Andrew was wounded and got back to Prince William and died.

A Confederate Childhood

Alice described her childhood during the Civil War. She writes about how her father had hiding place from the Yankees under the kitchen floor. She explains that Col. Berkeley had a cave on the mountain to which he retired when home on furlough. She writes that she was home-schooled at Evergreen by Mary Berkeley. She writes about how things changed after the war how the women had to pick up the chores the slaves had done. The young men had no jobs and traveled west for opportunity. Women remained behind; most remained unmarried.

(Aside) The slave registers of 1860 listed that Edmund Berkeley owned 52 slaves; it is interesting to note that 26 of the slaves listed were less than 13 years old. The 1860 Census listed Berkeley's Real Estate holding at $45,000 (in today's dollars about $975,000). His personal estate was listed as $57,000 (about $1.25 million in today's dollars). However the 1870 Census listed the value of his real estate at about $12,100 (about $187,000 in today's dollars) and his personal estate at $2,361 (about $36,000 in today's dollars.)

Our Road

Old Carolina Road started as an Indian Trail and in Colonial times had gotten the name "Rogues Road" from the cattle drives through the county. During the drives the cattle drivers would "often take away with them the cattle of the inhabitants…under the pretence that they cannot separate them from their own droves." The Carolina Road was traveled by Washington and Lafayette. Colonel Edmund Berkeley was always proud of having sat upon Lafayette's knee when a baby.

Our Mountain

The Doeg (or Doegue) Indians were the first inhabitants and were driven west to Bull Run Mountain and eventually further west. The Bull Run Mountains eventually became the home to outlaws, escaped convicts, Redemptioners, and runaway slaves. Later during prohibition, she writes that the "Guardians of the Nation's Thirst," came after the makers of moonshine on the mountain. She describes her feeling toward the mountain. She writes: "The writer never sees this view without a swelling of the heart. At sunrise and sunset, and at noon with cloud-shadows floating across; gray-green with early Spring, dark green with Summer, gorgeous with autumn hues, gray or white with snow in Winter. A friend, a protector, from the cold west winds, a restful background at all times."

Our Houses

Alice writes about the grand homes that remain in the area. She starts at the northern part of the county and works her way down to the home near Waterfall Road. She describes Evergreen "as a fine old mansion." She writes,

Evergreen is generously large. Its wide and lofty hall goes "all the way through and therefore is breezily cool on the hottest summer day. Its rooms are huge, and the stone walls so thick that both coolness and warmth are assured the whole year round. It stands well away from the Mountain, commanding a fine view. Fine old trees shade it, and a carpet of the richest turf covers the symmetrical hill whereon it stands.

In Memorial

A chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was organized in 1899 and charter members included Lucy Fontaine Berkeley, President of the chapter, daughter of Col. Edmund Berkeley of Evergreen. Alice writes:

I am not the only person who wonders sometimes how our Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy, the Eight Virginia Regiment Chapter, ever managed to build that Hall, which is at the same time a meeting place for us and a Memorial to our Veterans. It is a very pretty one, inside at least. We tell each other with pride that there would never have been, but for us, pleasure in our open-woodwork ceiling, and our red and white windows. In this hall we gather once a month, to hold our meetings, to discuss things in general, and find out how little money we have.

(Aside) The Bull Run Chapel is still standing, although overgrown with trees. It is located just east of Route 15 on Logmill Road. (This is the original intersection of Old Carolina Road and Logmill.) It is a one-story frame structure with a metal roof and was built in 1914. It was erected by the 8th Regimental Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a service organization formed to memorialize the Civil War soldiers of the 8th Virginia Regiment. The hall was used as a monthly meeting place by this chapter. In 1930 to honor those from the Eight Virginia Infantry the Chapter decided to raise money for a Memorial Tablet to be mounted on the south wall of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Alice writes that even though they had little money they crocheted and knitted, made rugs, workbags, etc. to raise money for the Tablet. She explains that the sum was largely made up of "Old Maids' Mites. "


BIOGRAPHY

ALICE MAUDE EWELL (1860-1946)

by William J. Scheick

Alice Maude Ewell was the granddaughter of Ellen MacGregor and Dr. Jessie Ewell, both of Episcopal Scottish descent, who in the 1830s moved from Maryland to wood-sheltered Dunblane (by Blue Run Mountain) in Prince William County, Virginia. Their eldest son, John Smith Magruder Ewell, headed a household of twelve children with his second wife, Alice Tyler, the mother of Alice Maude, born in 1860. As a child, Alice Maude, who was a cousin of the Confederate general Richard Stoddert Ewell, began reading avidly at an early age, was mostly schooled at home, and relished listening to her father and mother read books to the entire family. She became especially familiar with the works of William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Richard Doddridge Blackmore, Robert Louis Stevenson, and James Branch Cabell. As an adult she enjoyed writing tales often set in the postbellum South for both a source of income and, in her own words, "a Way of Escape."

Late in life she expressed regret that her literary undertakings had been restricted to intervals between numerous chores inside and outside her father's house: "Now I look back, and think how that has been of all deprivations the hardest to bear. Lack of time for the best and highest work,--for deep study, fine touches, delicate finish. . . . Time for writing the best that was in me, though I had to keep on trying for the sake of the little money made. That was my greatest Deprivation." She carried another burden as well: her lifelong awareness of a "youth deprived." Ewell specifically regretted her family's postbellum economic situation, which precluded the formal education that she had always desired, particularly in "the arts and graces." When recalling this childhood deprivation and related matters at the age of seventy, she ruefully observed that "life, even at best, seems rather a tragic business" ( A Virginia Scene 99, 106, 117). Ewell died in Richmond, Virginia, on June 25, 1946.

Ewell published a fictional historical narrative ( A White Guard to Satan ), historical juvenilia ( A Long Time Ago ), verse ( The Heart of Old Virginia ), family


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