Author Seeks Information about Dr. Marion Sims and the Maury Family

Author J.C. Hallman is researching Dr. J. Marion Sims (the “Father of Gynecology”) and Sims’s first patient, a slave named Anarcha Westcott (the “Mother of Gynecology”), for an article for Harper’s Magazine and for a book.  Hallman has found evidence that Anarcha later belonged to William L. Maury, so he is looking for any and all resources about the lives of William Lewis Maury (b. 1813 in Virginia – d. 1878 in New York) and his wife Anne (“Nan”) Fontaine Maury (1832-1890).

In an additional clue, he has found that Dr. Richard Brooke Maury, Jr. (b. 1834 in D.C. – d. 1919 in Memphis, Tennessee) was a doctor including a gynecologist at the same time as Sims and served on medical boards with him.  Richard donated to the campaign to commission a statue of Sims when he died.

William and Richard were 2nd cousins, as their grandfathers Fontaine Maury (1761-1824) and the Reverend Walker Maury (1762-1788), respectively, were brothers.  These facts suggest ties between Sims and the Maury family.

If you have any knowledge of materials that might not be widely known (i.e., not the collections at the University of Virginia, William & Mary College, or the Virginia Historical Society), please contact Mr. Hallman at

Details on our October 2016 Annual Meeting!

Come Join Us!  Our meeting weekend will be at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites at 107 South Carter Road in Ashland, Virginia 23005. The rooms include free Wi-Fi, complimentary hot breakfast, 24-hour coffee, indoor swimming pool and hot tub, fitness center and business center. Make your reservations now by calling 804-752-7889.  King suites will be $109.00 plus tax; doubles (two double beds) will be $119.00 plus tax. Remember to tell the hotel that you are with the Fontaine Maury Society to obtain these discounted rates. To obtain these rates, make your reservations by September 15, 2016.

While we will be staying in Ashland, the locations that we will be visiting and learning about are located throughout Hanover County, Virginia. Our focus this year is on the Civil War and how it impacted our Fontaine family who lived there during that era.  Hanover County was the home of Peter Fontaine Jr. (1724-1773) and his wife, Elizabeth Winston, who in 1759 settled on land near the forks of the Pamunkey River.  This year we have hired several smaller buses to transport us on Saturday so that narrow roads and driveways common in rural Virginia will not be a problem for us!

We will visit the land where Peter and Elizabeth  lived, see the ruins of their first home, Rock Castle, and tour a second home on the same property also known as Rock Castle that was later called Fontaine Farm. The Society helped the Civil War Trust purchase the Fontaine Farm in 2014 to preserve the location of the Battle of the North Anna River.

We will also visit a second family property, Beaverdam Plantation (known in the family as Beaverdam Farm), where the Fontaine Cemetery is located, Fork Church, where many of our Fontaine ancestors worshipped, and Scotchtown, the home of Patrick Henry (orator, statesman and father-in-law of Peter Fontaine’s son, John Fontaine).

Saturday night we have a very special treat planned for you.  It is a surprise but we know you are going to love it!  After our catered buffet dinner at the hotel, we will have a few short announcements, followed by photos by ancestor group, some door prizes again, and then our program.

New this year will be a research trip offering on Friday afternoon.  A short bus ride away is Richmond, Virginia, where the Virginia Historical Society (which has many Fontaine and Maury holdings) and the Library of Virginia (the state’s archives) are located.

We have planned a half-day research trip to the Virginia Historical Society on Friday afternoon, October 14, from 12:30 until 5:00 PM.  We have hired a bus to allow you to relax and leave the driving to someone else!  Bus seats will be limited to the first 24 that register (and pay).  Their website is invaluable for doing offline research and preparing for your upcoming research trip.

Friday dinner will be on your own in Ashland.  Afterwards we will have our annual business meeting, elections, door prize drawings AND a special speaker from the Hanover Historical Society who will help paint the picture for what we are going to see on Saturday.  You don’t want to miss this part!

Many thanks go to Mary Borjon and her team (Suzanne Lea, Marian Fletcher, Brian Nilsson and Tom Fletcher) who continue to work tirelessly to make this a gathering that you will not soon forget!  We have a new email address,, if you have questions or suggestions about our weekend!

We are asking each registered attendee to bring an item that can be given away as a door prize.  We already have a couple of bottles of Virginia wine, some books, and some t-shirts from the Virginia Historical Society…  Our hope/plan is that there will be enough prizes for everyone to have something to take home with them!

Do you have any family photos that you are willing to share?  Especially of the ancestors that are buried in the Beaverdam Cemetery?  If you can scan and email them to by September 15, we will very much appreciate it!

The registration deadline is September 15, 2016, to guarantee transportation availability. Registrations received after September 15 will be handled on a space available basis.

Schedule of events:  We will be using smaller buses for our transportation this year to enable us easier access to the events.  They will also be easier to get into and out of!  Note that the schedule may change slightly.

  • Friday, October 14:
    • 12:00 – 2:00 and 4:00 – 6:00 PM: Check-in
    • 12:30 PM: Bus leaves for Virginia Historical Society
    • 4:30 PM: Bus leaves the Virginia Historical Society to return to Hotel
    • 5:00 – 7:00 PM: Dinner on your own in Ashland
    • 7:00 PM: Business meeting and program
    • 9:00 PM: Door Prizes and Adjourn
  • Saturday, October 15:
    • 8:15 – 8:45 AM: Saturday check-in if needed
    • 8:50 AM: Load Buses for 9:00 departure
    • 9:00 AM: Depart for Beaverdam Farm and Cemetery
    • 9:30 AM: Arrive Beaverdam Farm
    • 10:00 AM: Depart Beaverdam Cemetery for Fork Church
    • 10:15 AM: Arrive Fork Church
    • 11:15 AM: Depart Fork Church for Scotchtown (we will lunch there and tour the house and grounds)
    • 1:30 PM: Leave Scotchtown for Fontaine Farm
    • 2:00 PM: Arrive Fontaine Farm – tour of house and grounds
    • 4:00 PM: Leave Fontaine Farm for Hotel
    • 4:30 PM: Arrive at Hotel for free time until dinner gathering at 6:30 PM
    • 5:00 – 6:00 PM: FMS Board Meeting – location TBD but at Hotel
    • 6:30 PM: Gather for dinner
    • 6:45 PM: Buffet dinner followed by a special program designed just for our group!!!!!
    • 7:45 PM: Group Pictures by ancestor immediately before program begins.
    • 9:00 PM: Door Prizes and Adjourn
  • Sunday, October 16:
    • No formal activities are planned at this time

We are pleased to announce that we have three options for how you can register and pay:  (1) mail the enclosed form with a check or money order made payable to “The Fontaine Maury Society”; (2) mail the enclosed form for us to process your credit card payment using the Square Reader, which is encrypted and secure for these payments.  A convenience fee of $5.00 (to cover our fees) will be added to your card if you choose the credit card payment option; or (3) complete your registration and add your credit card payment information on-line at our secure/encrypted site.  You will receive a confirmation of registration once the form and payment has been processed (check or credit card).  We will make every effort to do this within 24 hours of the time it is received.  You will be able to make your membership dues payment and purchase Library items at the annual meeting using our new credit card payment method.Registration Form

Information Sought on Slave Cemetery on Grounds of Bien Venue, Louisa County, Virginia

Does anyone have any information on a slave cemetery on the grounds of Bien Venue, the plantation of Aaron Fontaine (1753-1823, son of the Reverend Peter Fontaine) in Louisa County, Virginia, where he lived before moving with his family to Kentucky?

One of our Society members recently visited the area and drove through the neighborhood named “Bien Venue.”  They stopped and spoke with a local resident who knew where the old house had been before it was torn down.  A new house is under construction there now (beautiful view from the homesite).  They noticed a clump of trees and upright stones in a wooded area about 150 feet from the new home construction.  There were at least 3 upright stones that were obviously meant to be tombstones.  One of them had the name “Nate” or “Nat” scratched on it.  The problem is that the scratched name looked fairly recent.  That was the only marked stone, but there were several other smaller ones that appeared to be markers for graves.  The area had a few flags around it, so someone knows it is there.  If anyone has information about this cemetery, please contact

New Book on Matthew Fontaine Maury

Author and managing editor of Navy Times John Grady has published a definitive new biography, Matthew Fontaine Maury, Father of Oceanography: A Biography 1806-1873. This new book includes details on Maury’s life growing up in Tennessee, where the Society will have its annual meeting in 2017. The book was published in 2015 in Jefferson, North Carolina, by McFarland & Co., and the 354 page book includes a bibliography as well as an index. The summary on Mr. Grady’s webpage states:

“In becoming “a useful man” on the maritime stage, Matthew Fontaine Maury focused on the ills of a clique-ridden Navy, charted sea lanes and bested Great Britain’s admiralty in securing the fastest, safest routes to India and Australia. He helped bind the Old and New worlds with the laying of the transatlantic cable, forcefully advocated Southern rights in a troubled union, and preached Manifest Destiny from the Arctic to Cape Horn. And he revolutionized warfare in perfecting electronically detonated mines. Maury’s eagerness to go to the public on the questions of the day riled powerful men in business and politics, and the U.S., Confederate and Royal navies. He more than once ran afoul of Jefferson Davis and Stephen R. Mallory, secretary of the Confederate States Navy. But through the political, social and scientific struggles of his time, Maury had his share of powerful allies, like President John Tyler.

The book is available for purchase from

John Grady Book Cover


New Maury Book Available!

In January 2016 English author Derek Lunt donated to the Society’s library a copy of his outstanding book, James Maury Esq., First American Consul to the Port of Liverpool 1790-1829: A Social History of an American Consul in Liverpool. Self-published in 2014 based on an interest in Maury, this wonderful 236-page book is full of details of Maury’s life in Liverpool from his arrival in 1790 as the first consul of the new United States Government, appointed by George Washington, until his return in 1829. The book includes many color photos and details of Maury’s work as consul, as Virginia tobacco merchant, and as founder of the American Chamber of Commerce in Liverpool.

Copies of the book are available for purchase directly from the author for the price of £ 34 (this includes international shipping). To order, please send a check or money order made payable to “Derek Lunt” in British sterling (pounds) to:

Derek Lunt

30 Lincoln Road

Southport, PR8 4PR

Lancashire, United Kingdom

A check or money order in British currency can be obtained from large banks and travel services like Travelex.

U.S. Navy Accepts Deliver of the USNS Maury

In February 2016 the U.S. Navy accepted delivery of the USNS Maury, the seventh Pathfinder-class oceanographic survey ship. The USNS Maury will be used to perform acoustical, biological, geographical and physical surveys. The ship is named from Matthew Fontaine Maury, known as the Pathfinder of the Seas. Society members toured the Maury in October 2015 during the annual meeting weekend. The ship carries with it a copy of Ann Maury’s Memoirs of a Huguenot Family, donated by Society member Russell Hooper.

Join or Renew Your Society Membership for 2016!

All membership renewals or new memberships paid at or after our annual meeting in October 2015 will be for 2016! For members who are renewing, please remember to contact the Society`s Membership Secretary with any address changes, death notices, or other changes in membership status. You can use the form on our Membership page and send to:

Membership Secretary

The Fontaine Maury Society

P.O. Box 307

Tehachapi, CA 93581-0307

The Society would also like to create an e-list for our members. Please be sure to provide your e-mail address when you join!

Digitalized Version of Jaques Fontaine’s Memoirs Now Available!

In collaboration with the Special Collections of the University of Virginia, the Fontaine Maury Society sponsored the digitization of Jaques Fontaine’s (1658-1728) handwritten copy of his memoirs made for his children living in Virginia. In November 2015 the University added photos of each page of the digitized memoirs to its on-line library catalog. Please take a look at the 229 photos of the document.

Jaques made two handwritten copies, the other for his children living in Britain which is believed to be lost. It is believed that this copy was in the possession of Jaques’ son, the Reverend Peter Fontaine (1691-1759), Rector of Westover Parish in Virginia, who passed it to his descendants. Generations later, it was in the possession of descendant James Fontaine who lived at “Rock Castle” in Hanover County, Virginia, at the time of the American Civil War. Fontaine and his family were driven from their home by Union troops, returning to find everything scattered and destroyed. However, a Union officer saved the manuscript and provided it to the Fontaines’ neighbor, Mr. Quarle, for safe-keeping and for return to James Fontaine.

The document is badly damaged, with 69 pages missing (a sword having gone through it). It was translated into English by Jaques’ descendant, Ann Maury, who published the first English edition in 1838. The document descended from James Fontaine to James Fontaine Minor; it was from his library that the document was placed in the University of Virginia’s collection for preservation by Mr. and Mrs. George Madison Maverick.

The document is available for review in the Special Collections, University of Virginia, Minor Family Papers, call numbers MSS 6769, 6769-a.

Society member Dianne W. Ressinger prepared an edited and annotated version, Memoirs of the Reverend Jaques Fontaine 1658-1728, that was published in 1992 by the Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland, in New Series No. 2. The Huguenot Society has copies available on CD for purchase.

Announcing The Society’s Annual Meeting Locations for Next Two Years!

During the October 2015 annual meeting, the Society’s Executive Committee selected the sites for the Society’s annual meetings in both 2016 and 2017.

In 2016 the annual meeting will focus on Hanover County, Virginia, with a theme being considered for how the Civil War impacted the Fontaines and the Maurys. The Fontaine Farm, recently purchased by the Civil War Trust with Society assistance, was the primary location of the Battle of the North Anna River as Grant moved south in an attempt to outflank Lee’s Army as he tried to take Richmond. It was in the aftermath of that battle that the only surviving copy of the Memoirs was rescued from a bonfire by a Union Officer at a Fontaine property. Beaverdam and the Fontaine Cemetery are also in the area. Stay tuned for more details.

The 2017 annual meeting will be held in Franklin, Tennessee, an area founded by early Maury family members, was the home of politician Abram Poindexter Maury (1801-1848), and later home of Matthew Fontaine Maury, Pathfinder of the Seas. There are many Maury sites to visit in the area including the Abram Maury Cemetery.

Report on The Fontaine Maury Society’s 2015 Annual Meeting October 30-November 1, 2015, in Oxford, Mississippi

The Society’s 2015 annual meeting was held in Oxford, Mississippi, the weekend of October 30, 2015. This was the first time that the Society meets in Mississippi. Northern Mississippi is rich in Fontaine history with descendants of three children of Jaques Fontaine – Francis, Peter, and Mary Ann – settling in the area. Our weekend was organized by Society member, Dr. Hubert McAlexander, a renowned author and lecturer on Southern literature who is retired from the University of Georgia.

The weekend began with a business meeting on Friday night, October 30, that included reports from the Society’s officers and election of a new director. Judge Toby Winston, a direct descendant of Patrick Henry Fontaine, presented a fascinating history of the Fontaines of Mississippi, beginning with Patrick Henry Fontaine, the first grandchild of the Patriot Patrick Henry. Patrick Henry Fontaine studied law under the tutelage of his famous grandfather. He was sent to Pontotoc, Mississippi, in 1835 to open the Federal Land Office and administer the transfer of Chickisaw land, which amounted to millions of acres.

On Saturday morning, October 31, Society members visited the City Cemetery in Pontotoc that has an entire section filled with Fontaines including Patrick Henry Fontaine. Next Judge Toby Winston graciously hosted a visit to his home that included viewing paintings of early Fontaine family members. The last stop of our tour was at Lochinvar, a large old plantation house once owned by Fontaines. It is the only plantation house in the area to survive the Civil War. Research has shown that the owner of Lochinvar during the Civil War was Colonel James Gordon of the Confederate Cavalry. He had been in charge of transporting 1,100 Union prisoners to Confederate headquarters in Tennessee. He treated them with kindness and consideration and saw to it that they had adequate provisions. Union General Coburn, senior officer among the prisoners, presented his sword to Colonel Gordon along with a note of thanks. Gordon sent the sword and note to his wife, Virginia, at Lochinvar. Six weeks later when Union troops approached Lochinvar to raid and burn it, Virginia saw the Union troops approaching and rushed outside to show them the sword and note from General Coburn. Consequently Lochinvar was spared, the only Confederate plantation house not raided and burned in the area. We were shown the sword and the note that saved Lochinvar. In 2001 a tornado nearly leveled Lochinvar but it was renovated and today has been restored to its original glory. A steel beam in the spiral staircase in the center of the building, the only access to the upper levels, is credited with preventing the complete destruction of Lochinvar by the tornado.

Our final activity was a talk by Dr. Hubert McAlexander Saturday evening following dinner at the Ole Miss Inn about the Maurys of Mississippi.

Russell Hooper, editor of The Pathfinder Papers, has arranged a Sunday tour of theUSNS Maury, named for Matthew Fontaine Maury, an oceanographic survey ship under final construction. This tour has been on the website, and Hooper will be present at registration.