April, 2011. Washington, Virginia – “Little Washington”

Posted on December 26, 2011


Well, here we go again.  Remember a previous post about Washington, North Carolina, the “first” town named after George Washington?

Washington, Virginia, in Rappahannock County, claims the same distinction, and I guess the prize really should go to them – maybe.

Seventeen-year old George Washington noted in his journal in 1749 that he had just laid out a town in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the same five-block grid that exists today in Washington.  However, it wasn’t until 1796 that the Virginia Assembly put its stamp of officialdom on the town.

So I guess it boils down to official versus unofficial.  Whatever.  By the way, according to Wikipedia, there are 28 towns or cities in the nation named Washington.

Washington, Virginia is nicknamed “Little Washington” to differentiate it from Washington, D. C. located only 70 miles east.

It IS a little town – a beautiful little town, with its well-kept Federal-style buildings nestled in the rolling countryside.  Only 169 people called it home in 2009. But that’s probably misleading, as its proximity to “big Washington” surely makes it a popular place for vacation or weekend homes for many with “official” residences in other parts of the country.

Its real interest for us was personal.  According to family letters, an ancestor of mine died of disease during the Civil War in “Little Washington”, Virginia.  I knew there was a Washington (other than Washington), but didn’t know Washington was called “Little Washington”.  I always assumed “Little Washington” was part of Washington, and no way was I going to go THERE to search.

Imagine my delight in finding that “Little Washington” was actually the less populated, more drivable Washington.  And then things got even better.  At a Rappahannock County information center, what did I see but a reproduction of a sketch drawn by an officer showing the layout of a Union camp with my ancestor’s regiment clearly indicated.

I still don’t know exactly where he died – probably on the ground, rolled up in a blanket – but I like to think he may have ventured into “Little Washington” and maybe we even walked along the same streets.