|The historic house called Farley
where we ate lunch after our ride.
Note: This is Part 2 of my experiences on June 4 as part of the Mosby Heritage Area Association Brandy Station Battlefield ride.
After a morning of horseback riding across the beautiful rolling hills on the Brandy Station Battlefield on Saturday, we retired to the historic Farley plantation for lunch. (My second most favorite thing — next to horses — is old houses).
Built in the 1790s, Farley boasts one of the grandest and most historic reputations in all of Culpeper County and perhaps Virginia.
William Champe Carter bought the former Sans Souci Plantation in 1801 and renamed it Farley, in honor of his bride, Maria Byrd Farley Carter. The house is one hundred feet long, and about 7,000 square feet. Champe and Maria Carter oversaw countless scenes of social gaiety held in Farley’s formal parlor.
Upon the death of Champe Carter in 1843, Dr. William Wellford of Fredericksburg bought Farley and lived there until the Civil War. Little did he know that Farley would lie squarely within the crosshairs of the four-year conflict.
|Looking toward Fleetwood Hill from
the yard of Farley.
During the Civil War, both armies used “Wellford’s Ford” on the Hazel River to anchor their right or left flank, depending on their objective. Farley sits only a half mile from the ford, and was therefore highly suitable for a commanding general to use as headquarters. It also sits a mere quarter mile away from the northern terminus of Fleetwood Hill, the most fought over piece of real estate in American military history.
Walking through the large halls of the house it was hard to imagine all of those who had walked there before me. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart used the house as a headquarters, and wounded and dying men took refuge there following the Battle of Brandy Station.
In late 1863, General John Sedgwick, 6th Corps Commander, Army of the Potomac, moved into Farley for nearly six months as the 120,000-strong Federal army wintered in Culpeper County. According to records, Sedgwick hosted many memorable parties at Farley for visiting dignitaries. Walking around the grounds, we saw stone foundations and partial walls of former slave quarters, as well as the original house built in 1790.
|Large, wide hallways run
the length of Farley.
The inside of the house was simply spectacular, with two long halls running the length of both floors. I lost count of the number of rooms, but could understand why it made the perfect headquarters. I’ve been in a lot of old homes and have never seen a layout quite like it (but plan to use it in a future book)!
On the first floor there was a beautiful library with floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves, a music room, the dining room and kitchen. Our guide told us the story of Frank Stringfellow, a Confederate spy, who dressed as a Union officer while Sedgwick was camped there and ate dinner with the Union officers. Stringfellow was very bold, and often walked straight into Union camps and towns in order to gather information. He was so scrawny and small physically that he was turned down by the regular army numerous times before coming a scout.
|Union officers sitting on the
porch at the Farley plantation.
Another interesting aspect of this historic home involves this photo of Union officers sitting on the front porch of Farley. When you look closely at the original, you can see two boot scrapers at the bottom of the steps. One of those remains today.
I wish I had room for all of the photos I took, and I wish I could remember half of the information I was given on Saturday. I can’t thank the Mosby Heritage Area Association enough for organizing the ride and lunch, and I can’t imagine a better guide than Clark “Bud” Hall. Many thanks to all who made this day one of the most memorable of my lifetime.
Very nice article. As it turns out Farley creates a huge question in our family tree. You show a Dr. William N Wellford of Fredericksburg, Va purchasing the Farley property from Champe Carter and Maria Farley Carter in about 1843. We have a Dr. Robert Wellford of Fredericksburg who would have been a contemporary of that time and who lived in the Culpeper area. Both William Wellford and Robert Wellford show up on the 1850 census in Culpeper County and were some 30 or so dwellings between with the same census taker. Also, in some Civil War history of that time the Farley property was described as owned by Dr. Robert Wellford (married to France Littlepage Stevenson). Dr. Robert died in 1859. Dr. William I believe lived until 1870’s….but in either case the property was bought by Mr. Stearns around 1863. I’m not sure if Dr. William is a Wellford relation I can trace, but it seems that he was married to Rebecca Parke Farley Corbin (a second marriage for her). Farley goes well back in Virginia genealogical history also. Interesting. Any ideas?
Thanks and again a great write-up.
My deceased husband, Thomas Barkley Wood was related to the former owners of Farley.
Judge John Wesley Bell was married to Maria Champe Storrow, (who was born at Farley)
They were his great grandparents.
Our son, Eric Farley Wood lives in Chantilly and would be interested in learning of events at Farley Plantation
Very interesting! What an amazing house and history! I found out about the last event by signing up for the newsletter from the Mosby Heritage Foundation (www.mosbyheritagearea.org). They have some wonderful historic events, and many house tours. Thanks for reading the post!
While doing my family genealogy I came across Elizabeth Carter “Cecily” Cocke ( born Hill), my direct ancestor (7 generations)’s uncle’s mother 1703-1771. She was the mother of William Champe Carter, of Farley Plantation. Googled a picture of Farley, WOW what a beauty of a home. Will definitely have to visit my ancestors former home.
Awesome family tree. That is exciting! I would recommend joining the Mosby Heritage Foundation for opportunities to see the old homes in the area.
I worked with the late Phyllis RIXY (sp?) Langley Jones and her family long long ago, resided at Farley. I recall years ago, seeing Farley in the Time-Life series on the Civil War and I believe it stated it was a Civil War “hospital”. Every-so-often, I look it up.
I believe you’re right that it was used as a hospital after Brandy Station. A great piece of history.
This is Phyllis’s younger daughter! Tell me more!
Sandy, I posted about “Farley” a number of years ago and just saw you inquired about it. I worked in The Hermann Memorial Library with your Mom. I am sorry about her passing. You can find me on facebook under Barbara Burke (photos in profile of me on a waverunner, in a Vette and of our boat “My Island 2”. https://www.facebook.com/Archivesisis/
The email I put down is not in service. On a site such as this I don’t want to put my correct email as in the past I wound up with a lot of junk mail. Regards.
Can people visit Farley House?
No, it’s privately owned.
But it was up for sale in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s and surely was sold at that time. In the advertisement for its sale was a photo of its remodeled bath SPA with its gorgeous palladium window which was located about the center hall entryway. The home was absolutely lovely.
See also: https://thenandnowpics.com/?p=2425
LOVE these. Thanks for posting!