Centreville in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Historic Centreville Park
That isn’t remarkable today, but it was in 1875 Virginia. In fact, Virginia Harrison had a male trustee help make the purchase for her. Why didn’t Virginia’s husband join her in buying this house? Debt.
Thomas D. Harrison was in deeply in debt following the Civil War, deep enough that he invoked the Homestead Act of 1870, a sort of bankruptcy protection, to keep his 13-acre farm from being sold. Deep enough that when Virginia’s father died in 1865, Thomas’ creditors claimed a portion of Virginia’s legacy, reducing the inheritance by half. Virginia was left with enough money that was entirely hers, and free from Thomas’ debts, to buy this house for $160.
At left: Cover for 1913 “Husbandette” issue of Life humor magazine. Library of Congress. Susan B. Anthony is depicted poking a man with an umbrella followed by women bearing a sign “We want our rights.” The women’s movement was often the subject of satire. Anthony began fighting for women’s rights in 1848. When she died in 1906 married women had won rights over their property but still could not
The first Married Women Property Acts in Virginia passed in 1875, the year Virginia Harrison purchased her house. It is possible Virginia used the new law to make the purchase.
At left: A personal petition from Virginia Harrison to Judge Keith, June 3rd 1873, presented as part of the legal suit to resolve her father’s estate:
I Petition you for a favor. … if consistent with equity and justice I would like you to allow my portion in full with my sisters. They have all drawn or about to draw the full amount while my own portion has been [unintelligible] down to more than half. My family is large and dependent. My husbands daily labor is my only support and hope you will allow me what you can.
Despite her plea, the judge felt compelled by the law of curtesy to let her husband’s creditors to take part of Virginia’s inheritance.
Above: Thomas Harrison’s 1875 ledger account at the store of John DeBell. As his finances improved, Harrison was able to buy nails to undertake improvements of the home his wife purchased.
Erected by County of Fairfax, Virginia.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Women. A significant historical year for this entry is 1875.
Location. 38° 50.414′ Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 13930 Braddock Road, Centreville VA 20120, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Convicts and Slaves (here, next to this marker); Archaeology at Newgate Tavern (here, next to this marker); Newgate Tavern (here, next to this marker); Centreville Methodist Church (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Centreville Methodist Church (about 400 feet away); Historic Centreville Park (about 500 feet away); Old Stone Church (about 500 feet away); Minnie Minter Carter Saunders (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Centreville.
Also see . . . Harrison House, c. 1859, 1876. From Northern Virginia History Notes (Submitted on February 5, 2022.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 5, 2022. It was originally submitted on February 5, 2022. This page has been viewed 188 times since then and 52 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on February 5, 2022. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.