Early Settlement

 

In 1722, the Iroquois ceded to colonial Virginia all of their lands south of the Potomac and east of the Blue Ridge. By that time, there were seven patents issued in the Arlington area consisting of 10,463 acres of granted land. Permanent settlement in the area that would comprise Arlington County began early in the eighteenth century. There were soon enough settlers north of the Occoquan (a stream presently defining part of the Fairfax-Prince William boundary) to warrant the establishment of the Hunting Creek tobacco warehouse at the foot of Oronoco Street in what became Alexandria. The original Falls Church was built in 1733. In 1740 an official tobacco inspection station was established at the Falls near the mouth of Pimmit Run.

At about the same time, Gerard Alexander, a great-grandson of John Alexander, built Abingdon, the first mansion house within the present bounds of Arlington County. The site of the ruins of Abingdon has been restored on the grounds of the Reagan Washington National Airport. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has exhibits on Abingdon and National Airport inside the original terminal building. Fairfax County was established in 1742 to accommodate the settlers north of the Occoquan. Previously the Arlington area had been nominally a part of Northumberland County (1648) and Westmoreland (1663), and effectively a part of Stafford (1684) and Prince William (1731).

In 1749, a town was established on Alexander land at the Hunting Creek warehouse and was named Alexandria. Three years later George Town was established on the Maryland side of the river west of Rock Creek. The four corners of the community that later became Arlington were Alexandria, the Falls Church, the Falls Warehouse, and Awbery’s Ferry to George Town. Its center was at Birch’s, later Ball’s Crossroad, where the road from Alexandria to the Falls crossed the road from Awbery’s Ferry to the Falls Church.

In 1765, Fairfax Parish was established, to include all of Fairfax County north of Hunting Creek. Its churches were Christ Church in Alexandria and the Falls Church. A 500-acre farm (a glebe) was provided for the support of the rector of the Parish, and in 1775 a glebe house was built at what is now 4527 17th Street, North, in present-day Arlington.

 

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