Brentsville - The Public Lot

Brentsville - The Public Lot (HM18K)

Location: Bristow, VA 20136 Prince William County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 41.386', W 77° 30.011'

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(caption of upper, left picture) Prince William County's surveyor, Thomas Nelson Jr., recorded this plat of Brentsville on November 30, 1822. The Public Square is outlined in red. The Courthouse, Jail, and Clerk of the Court's Office were constructed on this parcel.
Prince William County Deed Book #8, 1820-1823, page 348

The Public Lot was the center of any county seat. Public Lots were to be "planted with trees and kept as a place for the people of the county to meet and confer together".* The Lot was the town's recreation area and the center of economic activity. Property and estate auctions occurred in front of the Courthouse. Some auctions included slaves. Here, county citizens debated secession in 1861. Regiments were raised and drilled in the Public Lot before joining the Confederate army.
* Acto of 1833, Code of 1849

Surveyed in 1820, Brentsville's 3-acre Public Lot contained all of the public buildings. A rail fence with three "gates and styles" lined the Lot to keep roaming animals out. In 1837, the Court ordered that "?persons be prohibited from keep or introducing horses, cows, hogs or other stock within the enclosure of the Court House Lot of this City".** ?The well located here served the town. The Court authorized repairs to structures on the Public Lot and funded its maintenance.
** Prince William County Minute Book, 1833-1836, page 106

Court Day

The Public Lot was a lively place, especially when the Court was in session. Then, the atmosphere was festive. Farmers and tradesmen sold their wares while citizens visited, gossiped, and discussed cases. Taverns did a great amount of business on Court Days.

Monthly court day was a great event; everyone that could leave home was at hand. It was a day of great interest; farmers coming in with their produce, such as butter, egs, and other articles which they exchanged for groceries and dry goods?It was also a great day for the gingerbread and molasses beer. The cake sellers had tables in front of the courthouse, spread with white cloths, with cakes piled high upon them with kegs of beer nearby.
From John Wayland, A History of Rockingham County Virginia, 1912

(caption of lower, right picture) Citizens crowd outside the Courthouse in Warsaw, Richmond County, Virginia on Court Day, 1909.
Courtesy of the Library of Virginia
HM NumberHM18K
Year Placed2007
Placed ByPrince William County and the Friends of Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 12th, 2014 at 4:49pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 282547 N 4285317
Decimal Degrees38.68976667, -77.50018333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 41.386', W 77° 30.011'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 41' 23.16" N, 77° 30' 0.66" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)703
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 12239 Bristow Rd, Bristow VA 20136, US
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