In 1759 Peter Fontaine, Jr. (1724-1773) settled his young family on land he purchased near the forks of the Pamunky River in Hanover County, Virginia, to be closer to the family of his wife, Elizabeth Winston. Among their children who grew up there was William Fontaine (1754-1810), who fought in the American Revolution and witnessed the British Army surrender at Yorktown on 19 October 1781. Almost 81 years later, the house and farm were in the midst of war as military operations rolled through the area between 1862 and 1864. The house, owned by William’s son James Fontaine (1799-1872), was ransacked in May 1864 and the historic memoirs of Jaques Fontaine (1658-1728) thrown onto a bonfire, but were saved by a Union officer (see related article below, “Society Sponsors Digital Version of Jaques Fontaine’s Memoirs”).
Some 255 years after Peter and Elizabeth Fontaine built their home there, the Fontaine Farm and the North Anna Civil War Battlefield on which it stands were at risk to developers. The Civil War Trust, the nation’s largest non-profit land trust dedicated to preserving Civil War battlefields, undertook its largest ever fundraising effort to purchase the 654-acre Fontaine Farm but it needs our help. The Society provided assistance with a history of the land, a donation to the Trust’s fundraising effort, and donations by Society members. The Trust successfully closed on the property on October 20, 2014.
This is a good news story in which the Society lent support to the Trust that resulted in saving a piece of American history and of our family history on this 150 year anniversary of the battle. Learn more about the battle, see a map of the battle, and the Trust’s announcement of the acquisition.