The town of Winchester in Virginia has been at the center of history through the early colonial times, the French and Indian War, The Revolutionary War, and the Civil War. The town was a Shawnee Indian camp ground when the first colonists, who were Pennsylvania Quakers, arrived in 1732.
George Washington lived in Winchester.
I was surprised to see a sign for George Washington’s office, as I’ve been to his home at Mount Vernon, his childhood home in Fredericksburg, but never connected him to this area. I knew he had been a surveyor, but didn’t
realize he actually moved to the area. George Washington arrived in town at the young age of sixteen to survey the lands of Lord Fairfax.
Washington stayed in the area, and built Fort Loudoun, which became his regimental headquarters during the French and Indian War. The county of Frederick elected him to his first public office as the Frederick County representative to the Virginia House of Burgesses when he was 26. The office George Washington used when he was in Winchester has been preserved as a museum, with examples of surveying tools among its artifacts.
Stonewall Jackson and the Civil War in Winchester and Frederick County.
The Winchester and Frederick County area had six battles during the Civil War. The city counts that it changed hands about seventy times during the war, with the record being thirteen times in one day. The town was used as a hospital for the many wounded soldiers in both armies, and doctors and nurses could hardly be expected to keep up with the changes as to which army was in charge, so the town was not destroyed or attacked.
The Old Courthouse Civil War Museum is right downtown, on the pedestrian mall. The courthouse itself is worth a visit, as it is a lovely old building, so lovely that it is used for events such as parties and weddings. The upstairs display cases have an eclectic collection of buttons, belt buckles, and weapons. As many soldiers were confined at the Courthouse during the Civil War, they have found records of them as signatures, messages, and drawings on the walls. These original messages are on display, and are transcribed nearby, as the writing on the walls is rather faded by now.
During his involvement in the Valley Campaign, General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson used a house on a hill at the edge of town as his home and his headquarters during the winter of 1861-62. This lovely house which pleased Jackson so much was built in 1854 for the Moore family, and they allowed Jackson to live in it. The house has been restored and is now filled with artifacts from Jackson, such as his camp table. Jackson was really impressed with the gilded wallpaper in this home, and it has reproduced, thanks to actress Mary Tyler Moore, who is the great granddaughter of Lt. Col. Lewis T. Moore, who provided his house to Gen. Jackson.
Birthplace and home of country and popular singer Patsy Cline.
Virginia Patterson Hensley, called Ginny, was born in Winchester in 1932, and after moving many times, finally ending up back in Winchester. As she became more successful as a professional singer, she took the name Patsy, and married a man named Cline, and became the famous singer Patsy Cline.
There are plans to open her house as a museum, but until then, there are Patsy photos, displays, and historical signs all over town, at the local drug store, the music spots she went to, and the radio station where talked her way onto the air. Patsy Cline was killed in a private plane crash in 1963, but her music lives on.
A lovely town.
The town of Winchester is a lovely town in the foothills of the mountains, with a pedestrian mall in the center with shops and restaurants, several of which have outdoor seating for a pleasant spot to sit at the end of a day of touring. While driving around, we put on a CD of Patsy Cline singing her most famous songs and admired her lovely home town.