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Black History Month: Former Slaves in Battle, Free Man Kidnapped and an 19th Century Segregated School

Events this February to share history of Prince William County.

Black History Month: Former Slaves in Battle, Free Man Kidnapped and an 19th Century Segregated School. Screenshot, PWC
Black History Month: Former Slaves in Battle, Free Man Kidnapped and an 19th Century Segregated School. Screenshot, PWC
Provided by Prince William County

There are some untold stories from Prince William County’s history that will be shared this February during Black History Month at the County’s historic properties.

There’s the tale of former slaves from Prince William County who fought in a battle in New Market Heights, eight miles southeast of Richmond. There’s the account of William Hyden, who was kidnapped and held in the Brentsville Jail for about two years; and there’s the story of the Lucasville School, a historic, one-room school for African Americans in Prince William County, which operated between 1885 and 1926. 

Bill Backus, a historic interpreter with the County’s Historic Preservation Division, said telling those stories will correct the omissions of history. “For many, many, many years, black history in Prince William County has been a story that’s never been told. February allows us to really pinpoint interesting and moving stories.” 

Backus said visitors to the Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre, at 12229 Bristow Road, would learn about Hyden during tours on the hour between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Feb. 8. “He was a free, African American from New York, who was kidnapped in Prince William to be sold into slavery. He was never actually sold, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. He was placed at auction at four different times in three different places, but no one ever bought him.” 

Visitors will also be able to see restoration in progress at the jail where Hyden was held. 

A lecture at the Old Manassas Courthouse will speak to the Battle of New Market Heights, where African American troops, some of whom were escaped slaves from Prince William County, fought for the Union in the Colored Brigade of the X Corps under the command of Brig. Gen. William Birney.

The lecture begins at 7 p.m. on Feb. 27. “A lot of African American soldiers participated in the battle,” Backus said. “Fifteen of those soldiers received the Medal of Honor during that one fight.” The Old Manassas Courthouse is located at 9248 Lee Avenue in Manassas.

The one-room Lucasville School House is the only school built for African American children that is left standing in Prince William County. The school, which is located at 10516 Godwin Drive in Manassas, will be open every Saturday and Sunday in February from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. “We don’t have the ability to open it that often, so that’s why we’re excited to open it up in February,” Backus said.

Backus hopes the untold stories will provide insight into the area’s history. “By expanding the stories that we tell, hopefully, we can create a better community.”

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