Historic Communities

From oral histories to resources and research, this page documents the historic communities of Prince William County. Explore the rich history of the communities that define the County’s past and present.

Oral History Reports

The Settlement Oral History Project (2018)

Image of a white church with a red roof

This project is a three part project that documents and focuses on the area known as The Settlement in Gainesville, Virginia. The project consists of oral histories with members of the community, archival land ownership research, and genealogy research. These interviews focused on the history of The Settlement over time and the lives of the interviewees. Many of the interviewees were born in the first half of the twentieth century and were able to share stories about growing up in The Settlement on Carver Road and Lee Highway.

RIGHT: 2020 image of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Gainesville, Virginia. Photo Credit: Adriana Moss. 

The Settlement Oral History Project (2020)

On behalf of Prince William County, Dovetail Cultural Resource Group (Dovetail) conducted oral history interviews, genealogical research, and property research with residents of the Settlement area of Gainesville, Prince William County, Virginia, in February 2020. This report includes oral interviews and associated research that builds on the 2018 oral history report. This draft report is coming soon.

Historic image of a man and a woman

Batestown Oral History Project (2019) 

The Batestown Oral History Project provides primary source material via oral history interviews focusing on the African American community of Batestown. Formerly known as the Cabin Branch Community, Batestown is currently located in the eastern half of Prince William County in Northern Virginia, roughly 1 mile northwest of Dumfries on Mine Road (Batestown Road). 

RIGHT: Photograph of Fannie McKee Thomas and Charles Thomas, courtesy of Claude Thomas.

Thoroughfare Oral History Project (2021-2022)

Marriage_Jones Family Bible

On behalf of Prince William County, Dovetail Cultural Resource Group (Dovetail) conducted oral history interviews, genealogical research, and property research with current and former residents of the unincorporated village of Thoroughfare in Broad Run, Virginia. This work commenced in in the fall of 2021 and continued into the spring of 2022. This project built upon existing historical research and studies compiled for the Thoroughfare Historic District, including archaeological and architectural resources in the surrounding area.

RIGHT: Image of "Marriages" recorded in the Jones Family Bible with Harry Jones' fingers tracing the entries. Taken in March 2022 as part of the Thoroughfare Oral History Project. 

Buckhall Oral History Project (2023) 

Black and white photograph of large group of children standing in front of a white building

Buckhall is a small community located about 10 minutes east of the city of Manassas. Like many regions in Virginia, and across the nation, Buckhall started as a primarily agricultural community whose population has grown and whose land has developed extensively, particularly since the 1960s as Manassas has expanded. The center of this community consists of the Buckhall United Methodist Church (UMC), the Buckhall Genderal Store, and the Buckhall School building. This report looks at these buildings and the agricultural history of Buckhall to give a sense of how the community has changed and to capture what Buckhall once was. 

RIGHT: Buckhall Sunday school class, courtesy of Betty Busby.

Oral History Transcripts

Dewitt Bates (April 1984)

Paul Ebert (August 2023)

Sheriff Glendell Hill (May 2023)

Lillian Orlich (August 2020)

Black and white 19th century photograph showing a woman holding a baby

Exhibits and Research

Historic Thoroughfare 

This online Story Map and exhibit features Thoroughfare, a small farming community in western Prince William County. Thoroughfare was established after the Civil War by African Americans and mixed-race families from Fauquier, Culpeper, Rappahannock and Warren counties. Explore the history of Thoroughfare through the people, places, and stories that contribute to its identity today.

RIGHT: Circa-1882 tintype photograph of Charlotte Green Burke (1845-1914) and Baby, George Burke, courtesy of Victoria Price.

An Annotated Bibliography of Native Americans in Prince William County (2022) 

Image of an old map of Virginia

The aim of this project was to consolidate and contextualize sources on post-contact Native American history in Prince William County into an easily accessible document that serves as the basis for future research and community engagement with this topic. Each source was then reviewed and summarized in an annotated bibliography format to elucidate its specific subject matter, time period, and geographic focus. While this annotated bibliography is source-centric, the historical information gleaned from these sources appears in an article published in the Journal of Prince William County History.

RIGHT: John Smith's 1612 map of Virginia.