When the Fauquiers came to town


Mimi Fauquier, eight-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wally Fauquier of Bethesda, Md., was the Queen of the Fauquier County Bicentennial in May 1959. She assisted U. S. Senator and former Virginia Governor Harry F. Byrd (left) and State Senator Robert Y. Button with the unveiling of the John Marshall statue. At right is the portrait then believed to be Francis Fauquier, but was actually his son, William. Marshall Hawkins photo.

Descendants of Francis Fauquier visit the county through the years

Francis Fauquier (1703-1768) was barely into his second year as lieutenant governor of the Virginia Colony when a large part of western Prince William County was carved off in 1759 to create a new county named in his honor.

In addition to his regular duties, the French and Indian War was raging at the time, and Lt. Gov. Fauquier was busy establishing defenses against Indian raids and trying to recruit Virginians to supplement British expeditionary forces elsewhere in the colonies.

Francis and his wife Catherine had two sons, Francis – who accompanied his parents to Virginia –and William. Both married, but Francis had no offspring, and William had a son, but no grandchildren.

Fauquier died in office in 1768 after months of declining health, and it appears that he never got to visit his namesake county – with the thriving towns at Elk Run, Fauquier Courthouse and Salem. It would be many years before members of the Fauquier family line visited “their” county, and these folks were descendants of Francis’s brother William. Some members of this branch of the family had immigrated to Canada, or were born there.

Because no image of Francis Fauquier was known to exist, in 1924 the Fauquier Historical Society commissioned a portrait believed to be the Lt. Governor, based on a miniature owned by Gilbert E. Fauquier of Ottawa, Canada.

In 1968, it was determined that the man in the portrait was actually Francis’s son William. The following year an actual portrait of Francis Fauquier was found in England, copied and brought to Warrenton, where it hangs today in the lobby of the Circuit Courthouse.

No record of a Fauquier visit has been found before December 1934, when it was reported in The Fauquier Democrat that Mrs. Alice Fauquier and her sons, C. C. Fauquier of Chicago and R. H. Fauquier of Baltimore, had stopped by Warrenton for a brief visit. “Through the courtesy of Town Officer ‘Pete’ Shirley, they visited the courthouse and were very interested in the portrait of their noted ancestor,” according to the report.

The next known visit of a Fauquier descendant was in May 1955, when James Wallace “Wally” Fauquier (1914-1983), manager of the Statler Hotel in Washington, D.C., was in Warrenton to enjoy the running of the Virginia Gold Cup Races as a guest of Del. and Mrs. Tom Frost.

A native of Ontario, Canada, Wally Fauquier was a grandson of Gerald E. Fauquier of Ottawa, and a U.S. Army veteran of World War II. He was married to Mary Holmes Wood (1924-1999), and lived in Bethesda, Md.
During his visit, he stopped by the courthouse and was photographed with the portrait believed to be Francis Fauquier.

Bicentennial and beyond

Del. Frost was appointed chairman of the 1959 Fauquier County Bicentennial Committee. Planning for the event began in early 1958, and Frost’s friend Wally Fauquier hosted a gathering of local and national media representatives at his Washington hotel to discuss publicity for the event. Given the historical connection, Mr. and Mrs. Fauquier and their family, including eight-year-old daughter, Mary E. “Mimi” Fauquier were invited to participate in the celebration.

Tim Fauquier and his cousin, Julie Fauquier examine the bust of Gov. William ‘Extra Billy’ Smith at the Old Jail Museum during a visit in April 1999. Both are descendants of William Fauquier, brother of Lt. Gov. Francis Fauquier.

During the Bicentennial Parade on May 1, 1959, Mimi rode down Main Street on a float, attended by local girls, all dressed in white. She was then crowned as the Queen of the event by U.S. Rep. Howard W. Smith, and assisted with the unveiling of the John Marshall statue in front of the County Office Building on Main Street.

Years later, Mimi recalled that the family stayed at the old Warren Green Hotel, where U. S. Senators Harry F. Byrd and A. Willis Robertson were also guests. “There was no air conditioning and it was really hot,” she said. The family also visited renowned artist Wesley Dennis at his home outside Warrenton.

In April 1966, Canadians Gilbert Fauquier (son of the aforementioned Gilbert E. Fauquier) and his wife visited Warrenton, also as guests of Del. and Mrs. Frost. It was reported that they were thrilled to see their name on road signs and on the Fauquier Hospital.

A “little ceremonial dinner” was given in their honor at Fauquier Springs Country Club, attended by Del. and Mrs. Frost, Warrenton Mayor Byrnal Haley and businessman D. P. Wood. Del. Frost presented the couple with medals struck for the 1959 Bicentennial, signed copies of the county’s history books, and a silver plate. Unfortunately, the plate was engraved “FAQUIER COUNTY.”

‘Second cousins’ meet

In 1999, two more members of the William Fauquier branch of the family dropped by Warrenton. Tim Fauquier, of Alexandria, had been to Warrenton earlier that spring, and had lunch with his wife at the old Napoleon’s Restaurant on Waterloo Street.

Intrigued by the historic Old Town, he contacted Fauquier Times-Democrat Executive Editor John Toler about writing a freelance column about international finance – his field of expertise as an auditor with the Washington, D.C. International Development Bank.

While that may have led to an interesting column, Toler told him that his story as a Fauquier descendant would be of great interest. It was learned that Tim was born in Canada, and was a Canadian citizen. Plans were discussed for a future visit, and an interview.

Toler had also been contacted by Julie Fauquier of Bass Lake, Calif., who operated a catering business there. She had learned about the Democrat from her neighbor Tom Saffer, whose brother, Thornton “Doc” Saffer, was a long-time resident of Middleburg.

Julie was born in Detroit, but noted that her father, Erskine B. Fauquier, had been born in Canada and still lived there. She would be coming to Virginia in April, and have an afternoon to spend in Warrenton.

Tim Fauquier was contacted, and working through everyone’s schedules, a luncheon at Napoleon’s and a tour through town, including the Old Jail Museum, was arranged to take place on April 23.

Tim and Julie were aware of their heritage and interested in family genealogy. But they had lost track of members of the last two or three generations and were not aware of each other’s existence.

Mimi Fauquier in 2021

In addition to Toler and Fauquier Historical Society President Maxwell Harway, local people attending the luncheon included Fauquier County Board of Supervisors Chairman Larry Weeks, County Administrator Bob Lee, Warrenton Mayor and Mrs. George Fitch and Finance Director Fran Timberlake.

Historians in attendance were John K. Gott, founder of the Fauquier Heritage Society in Marshall, and Jackie Lee, director of the Old Jail Museum.

Among the fascinating documents Julie shared with the group was a family tree compiled in the 1920s that started with the grandparents of Lt. Gov. Francis Fauquier and went through the early 20th century. It included Julie’s grandfather, Arthur Fauquier, and Tim’s father, David Fauquier and their sibling. Mr. Gott traced the line down to Tim and Julie, and declared them second cousins.

Julie also shared some old family photos. More than once, Tim remarked on the similarities he recognized between Julie’s people and his own. It was an enjoyable visit, with family relationships established and new friends made.

Encore visits in 2009, 2018

Perhaps the largest gathering of the Fauquier clan in Warrenton was in May 2009 for the County’s 250th Anniversary celebration.

Remarkably, all five children of the late Wally and Mary Fauquier came to enjoy the festivities, including Mimi, from Florida, and Thomas D. W. Fauquier, his wife Sarah and sons Ryan, Timothy and Patrick from Bethesda. Also present were Helen Suzanne Fauquier and children Charles Wallace, Curtis and Jacqueline; John Walter Fauquier and his children Raleigh and Jessica; and James W. Fauquier, all residents of Wilmington, NC.

The group was recognized, and enjoyed the 250th Anniversary festivities from the steps of the General District Courthouse.

Mimi graduated from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda in 1969, and earned a BS degree in Dental Hygiene from West Virginia University. While there, she met her husband, Dr. Frank Murray, DDS, then a medical student.

The couple moved to Florida in 1975, where Frank opened the family dental practice where Mimi worked for many years. They had three children, Tony, Anne and Craig, who later took over the practice. Now fully retired, Mimi lives in Orlando and travels extensively.

While on a motor trip through the Shenandoah Valley in 2018, Mimi stopped by Warrenton once again, and visited the Old Jail Museum – 59 years after reigning there as Bicentennial Queen.

John Toler
About John Toler 18 Articles
Broad Run resident John Toler is the co-author of the recent Fauquier County and Town of Warrenton history books, and has contributed numerous newspaper and magazine articles focused on the history of Fauquier, Prince William and Loudoun counties.

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