An Artist’s View of Ferry Farm

In the Spring of 2008, architectural historians and artists set out to create an illustration of George Washington’s boyhood home, Ferry Farm, on the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg. Their goal, according to the artist, L.H. Barker, was to “… create as accurate an image as possible with the recently discovered site facts and convey what Ferry Farm might have looked like at the time of George Washington’s boyhood…” Washington’s parents moved the family to Ferry Farm in 1738.

In the process of creating a rendering of the historic Washington site, the team of artist/historians also created an illustration of family history interest.

My 8th great-grandmother, Jael Harrison Johnson, and her son operated a ferry on the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg, approximately five years before the Washington family moved to Ferry Farm. Jael Johnson was granted a license in 1729/30 to “keep” a ferry and provide lodging at her home for travelers.

I don’t know if the ferry depicted in the artist’s drawing is the same ferry operated by Jael Johnson. The court record states the Johnson ferry was “over the Rappahannock” and Jael’s house was “hard by Fredericksburg”. More than one ferry operated across the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg in the 18th century. Jael Harrison Johnson died in 1733.

It’s wonderful to have an artist’s interpretation of an 18th century ferry operation across the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg.

Thanks to the firm of Mesick, Cohen, Wilson, Baker and artist, L. H. Barker. The website provides a copy of the image and a description of the method used to create it.

L. H. Barker Studio

Jael Johnson’s License to Operate a Ferry, 1729/30, Transcription, Will Book A, pg 107-08

Sources:

The website for L. H. Barker Studio of Queensbury, NY, can be found at: http://lhbarkerstudio.com;

Spotsylvania County, VA, Will Book A, pages 107-108;

Von Dietrich Knighton, C., & Donaldson, P. (2006). Clay, Bruce, and Kavanaugh Families. Cincinnati, OH., pg. 168.

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