Other Stafford Stories Garrisonville


Have you ever wondered where, exactly, Garrisonville is located? Or perhaps you’ve been curious about who or what the area was named for. We assure readers that despite the sign forewarning of yet another new shopping center on Route 610, there was never a military garrison at Garrisonville.

While the name Garrisonville presently refers to the several miles of development along the eastern end of Garrisonville Road, the original settlement was very much smaller. Although this was never a town with formally laid out streets and lots, the name is first found in mid-nineteenth century records, it being named for the Garrison family who settled there prior to the birth of Aaron Garrison in 1715. His name appears several times in the court records and given the people with whom he was associated, he seems to have resided in the northern part of the county. Aaron was likely a farmer and he raised a large family in Stafford. His descendants remain in the region.

By the early twentieth century, the village of Garrisonville occupied a little triangle of land between what are now Onville Road, Barrett Heights Road, and Garrisonville Road. That area contained a post office, several stores, the blacksmith’s shop, the “Garrisonville Hall,” in which met the Junior Order of United American Mechanics (J. O. U. A. M.), a few houses, and a school. Garrisonville Hall stood on the corner of Garrisonville and Onville roads near the site of the present CVS Pharmacy. It was a simple square, two-story frame building with an A-roof and sat upon a few large rocks. In addition to community activities, at least one church met there. In 1911, an unknown sponsor brought a “moving picture show” to Garrisonville and the hall may have been used as a theater. “It is estimated there was an attendance of 250 nightly at Garrisonville and the show was soon to be taken to Stafford Store (Free Lance, July 25, 1911).

For many years, Ebenezer Methodist Church was the hub of the little Garrisonville community. At some point, Bethany Methodist Church was constructed approximately where the new CVS Pharmacy is located near the intersection of Shelton Shop and Garrisonville roads. This building was in use in 1908, but it’s not known at what point it disappeared.

Garrisonville also included a number of small stores, though the exact locations and owners of these aren’t known. From around 1906 to 1918, the Austin Run Pyrite Mine operated on the outskirts of the village and provided employment for many local men.

Merchants and blacksmiths weren’t the only entrepreneurs in Garrisonville. In 1965, John W. McWhirt established a bullfrog farm on his property about four miles west of U. S. Route 1. The previous year, he’d stocked his pond with about 200 “baby jumbos” and a breeding pair shipped from Texas. The frogs were so prolific that he was contemplating building additional ponds to accommodate them. McWhirt and others considered frog legs a delicacy and he remembered being able to catch 50 or 60 bullfrogs a night on Aquia Creek (Stafford County Press, Sept. 1965).

Business activity in Garrisonville received a boost from the expansion of the Marine Corps base in 1942. Construction of Interstate 95 in the 1960s enabled Washington and Northern Virginia workers to find their way south to Stafford.