Alexandria Library

Document of the Month

December 2005

Stage Coach Manifest, Alexandria to Winchester, January 6, 1837

According to "An Overview of Transportation in Alexandria from the Seventeenth Century to Present," stagecoaches were the earliest commercial means of transportation in the Alexandria area. By the mid-to-late eighteenth century, private citizens had the "exclusive privilege" to maintain the stage lines between Alexandria and other growing cities. It could take a full day to travel from Alexandria to Fredericksburg or from Alexandria to Richmond. Many of the roads were impassable during the spring and winter.

This document shows that William Fowle bought a fifty-cent ticket to Winchester. Fowle was a commission merchant who resided at 711 Prince Street. Born in Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1783, he became president of the Alexandria Canal Company and President of the Bank of Old Dominion. Before his death in 1860, Fowle had established one of Alexandria's leading families.

George P. Wise was born in Virginia about 1806. He also established one of the city's prominent families. In 1836, 1837, 1838, and 1842, this dry goods merchant applied for and received licenses to operate taverns at various locations in Alexandria. (Stagecoaches frequently picked up and dropped off customers at taverns).

A second manifest dated March 22, 1836 shows passengers traveling from Centreville to Fairfax and from Alexandria to Washington. (Note that the letterhead design includes a steamship ferry suggesting that overland and water travel were offered by this transportation company. However, no documentation about this company could be located).

Related Sources
  • Arlington County Ordinary Bond & License Books, 1820-1850 (microfilm #00548)
  • T. Michael Miller. "Travel by Ferry," Fireside Sentinel, November 1991
  • T. Michael Miller. "A Wild Stage Coach Ride," Northern Virginia Heritage, February 1982
  • Mary G. Powell. The History of Old Alexandria, Virginia, From July 13, 1749 to May 24, 1861
  • Donald G. Shomette. Maritime Alexandria: The Rise and Fall of an American Entrepot
  • William Francis Smith and T. Michael Miller. A Seaport Saga: Portrait of Old Alexandria, Virginia
  • Vertical File: Transportation -- "An Overview of Transportation in Alexandria from the Seventeenth Century to Present"

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