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Flight From Washington - 1814

September 29, 2017

It's fun to come across old newspapers and other items when going through old files.  In this case, the date is not on the newspaper clipping, but the typeface and age of paper seem to date to pre-1960.  This article, titled "Dolly [Dolley] Madison's flight From the British," provides the reader with quite a bit of history.  Salona was presented as the third place at which Mrs. Madison

 

sought refuge.  Later that evening, while seated at the dinner table, several "slaves rushed into the dining room crying 'Fire! Fire!'"  Everyone rushed out to the back hill of the house and watched the burning of Washington.  The next day, President Madison and his Cabinet left, but Dolley remained  for several more days.

 

Miss. Harriet E. Smoot, was residing in the old estate at the time of the interview.  This led me to search for Harriet; who was she?  Named after her mother (or other ancestor perhaps), she was the daughter of Harriet and Jacob Smoot.  In 1875, her father died intestate, and she inherited a fourth of the estate with her other three siblings.  Her eldest brother, William, had already been managing the property prior to their father's death, and his unmarried sisters (Helen, Harriet and Catherine) "kept house" - quaint way of saying they did the cooking and cleaning and such.  William's wife, Jennie, acted as hostess and received and entertained guests.  The sisters?  Each one took charge of one of William and Jennie's sons to raise.  None of the sisters ever married, so their property was passed on to their nephews.  Harriet died Thursday, December 3, 1914 and was buried at Oak Hill.  I've yet to discover her birth information. 

 

Salona, the estate at which Dolley Madison found refuge upon fleeing from Washington August 24, 1814; joined later by her husband, President Madison and some of his Cabinet, is a lovely

 

Federal style home in modern McLean, Virginia.  The article informs us that the beautiful home was built in 1801 by the Reverend William Maffit with bricks brought from England.  The home was witness to many marriages, both "white and colored" between the "two windows of the sitting room, which was originally the parlor of the old house."  The home served as the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac under General George B. McClellan (10/11/1861-4/1862)  re was also quite a fight in the house.  Miss Smoot, who was interviewed for the article, also "witnessed one fight on the place September 11, 1861, between Gen. Bonham of South Carolina and Gen. Baker of California, commanding a Vermont regiment.  We children and most of the servants were put in the cellar rooms for protection.  When the sun went down Bonham stood on the Salona hill and the northern troops had passed over the Chain Bridge to Washington.  October 11, 30,000 federal troops came and took possession of Salona, and I never saw my home until four years after that."  Miss Smoot also recounts the many illustrious visitors and military leaders who had visited or were entertained "in the old house.  So through the hall of Salona have strode the soldiers of three wars."

 

 

Harriet Smoot's brief biological information from Salona, Fairfax County, Virginia Part 6 online

 

 

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