Dr. John Woolverton Barcroft


The page on Barcroft neighborhood history mentions the man for whom Barcroft is named. So we hear from time to time from his descendents. Here are some messages from Sjana Barcroft-Hundt, who has done some research on Dr. John:

From: "sjmike"

To: "Randy Swart"

Subject: What I have on the good Dr. Barcroft

Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000


Your information in your neighborhood history added to MY knowledge! The book my info is from is "The Barcroft Family Records (an account of the family in England and the Descendants of Ambrose Barcroft, the Emigrant, of Solesbury, Pennsylvania)", by Emma Ten Broeck Runk, published in 1910. Though my family did own one of the original 100 copies printed privately, it passed to an aunt who "hoarded" it and it has not been seen in 25+ years. I used Inter-library loan to get the microfilm and copy myself one,but now you can also get a facsimile copy through Heritage books, I believe, too. This is really my main source of information so far.

Here's the passages on John Woolverton Barcroft. The numbering system is that used by the book to try to differentiate between the multitude of similarly-named family members (I have 8 Ambroses--5 in a row!--and 4 Johns in my direct line alone, plus two more John Ws being my uncle and his son. Whew! Thus, the numbers.) [Anything in brackets like this is my addition/clarification.]

p. 229-230:
John Woolverton Barcroft (#106)

He was born in Kingwood, [Hunterdon County] NJ, on March 4, 1817, the eldest child of Ambrose Barcroft and Anna Woolverton. He bore the name of his maternal grandfather John Woolverton.

Following the usual course at the district school he was graduated from Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, and after the completion of this thorough preparatory course he commenced the study of medicine under the tutorship of Dr. Richard Blackwell Mershon, who had married John Barcroft's cousin, Mary Hill (#101), and who was a physician of note both in Hunterdon County [NJ] and later in Newark, NJ. John Barcroft took his medical degree at Jefferson College, Philadelphia.

He entered upon the practice of his profession at Rosemont, NJ, where he had erected two houses and resided for some time. But about 1849 he gave up the practice of his profession, and shortly removed to Fairfax County, VA, where he took charge of a mill property lately purchased by his father.

In connection with this he acquired property and resided near the mill, in Fairfax County, until the time of the losses and destruction of so much in that section of the country, following the retreat of the Federal Army after the second battle of Bull Run, in the summer of 1862.

After the restoration of quiet and security, Dr. Barcroft returned to his place in Virginia, but in the year 1872 removed to York County, Pennsylvania, although in later years he returned to Virginia, purchased land at Arlington Heights, Alexandria County, and built a home at the place now called "Barcroft." John W. Barcroft died there on February 9, 1895. [He is buried in the graveyard adjoining the Canadochly Church, Delroy, York Co, PA, along with his wife.]

He married, on January 6, 1844, Lucinda [Berry] Bray, daughter of Wilson Bray [and Mary West] of Kingwood, NJ. His wife survived him five years and died at her daughter's home [Delroy, PA], near York, Pennsylvania, on November 14, 1900.

Children of John W. Barcroft (#106) and Lucinda Bray: (#342) Caroline Victoria, born November 3, 1845; married at Bailey's Cross Roads, VA, February 8, 1872, Gerard Crane Brown, born in the Tower, London, November 12, 1842, died at "Brownscroft," near York, PA, July 20, 1899, son of Benjamin Franklin Brown and Mary Sophia Cops.

(#343) Mary Ann, born January 18, 1851; married June 14, 1890, Milton P. Payne, born April 8, 1841, died at Bailey's Cross Roads, VA, January 28, 1897, son of William Payne and Lavinia Frost.

(#344) John Woolverton (jr.) [my ancestor], born at Bailey's Cross Roads, VA. June 21, 1856; married February 12, 1878, Harriet Noyes Brown, born May 16, 1855, daughter of Benjamin Franklin Brown and Mary Sophia Cops, of Carmel, NY; died April 22, 1919. [He had married a second time, Angie McNay, and died January 23, 1916 in Lafayette, Yamhill County, Oregon.]

More, from an obituary in the possession of a 4th cousin I just made contact with this year, who has the original of this obituary:

Dr. John Barcroft died near the city of Washington on the evening of February 9, 1895. He was the son of Ambrose and Anna Barcroft, born March 4, 1817; consequently was near 78 years old. Born at Rosemont, educated in Easton College, graduated from one of the medical colleges of Philadelphia and married Lucinda, daughter of ex-Sheriff Wilson Bray. He practiced medicine for several years at Rosemont where he built two dwellings and the Rio Grande saw mill and a dwelling near it.

Perhaps near 1850 he, in company with his father and family, W.D. Shaw and family, Horatio Opdyke and family, removed to Fairfax Court House, in Virginia. He was a man of great ingenuity and genius, highly skilled in the practice of his profession and although having never learned a trade, he was fond of working in his spare moments at carpentering and mill-wrighting. At Fairfax he built a dwelling and a mill, and remained here sometime after the rout of the Union army at Bull Run. A man of strong Union sentiments, his noble soul must have been pained to witness this as it passed around and over them. He took refuge in Pennsylvania and all his buildings were destroyed in the war.

A few years ago he returned and bought a piece of land on Arlington heights and built a home where he could look down in the streets of Washington. He was quiet and social in his disposition, and has left a widow and three children to mourn their great loss.

Dr. Barcroft's place is a part of Arlington, the old Lee property.

[Obviously Ms. Runk drew heavily from the obituary for her book.]

More from the Barcroft book on Dr. Barcroft's father, who also resided in Fairfax County:

p. 205-6:
Ambrose Barcroft (#31) [Dr. John Woolverton's father]

The eldest son of the Kindwood [NJ] family, Ambrose Barcroft (#31) was born on March 31, 1793, and upon him was bestowed the patronymic which has been spoken of as "the charming old name of Ambrose" in use in this branch if the family since 1574....

[My paraphrase combined from p. 183: He was married on December 30, 1815 in Flemington, NJ to Anna Woolverton (born June 22, 1794; died at Washington D.C., May 13, 1883, daughter of John Woolverton and Rachel Quinby of Rosemont, NJ.) After living both Kingwood, then Rosemont, NJ,...]

In 1850... [he]......then purchased land in Fairfax County, VA.

In the spring of 1854, influenced by the removal of his eldest son [Dr. John W. Barcroft] to Virginia, Ambrose Barcroft sold the Rosemont [NJ] property and also went to Fairfax County, and resided there until the home was destroyed, during the Civil War. The place being only eight miles from Washington, D.C., it occupied a position of first one command and then the other, and the house was burned during one of a series of maneuvers by the armies.

After the marriage of all of their family the parents preferred to spend the last few years of their long married life among the children. The death of Ambrose Barcroft occurred on February 20, 1881, at the home of his eldest son, near York, PA. Following this, his wife Anna Woolverton (Barcroft) continued with her children in turn, and her death tool place at the residence of her daughter Martha (#110) in Washington D.C. on May 13, 1883. Ambrose and his wife are both buried at Rosemont, NJ.

Hope this information is useful. The book has much more going backward, but not much more going forward, as it was published in 1910. My great-grandfather's marriage is not even recorded in the book.

Sjana Barcroft-Hundt 

And a subsequent note:

You may have noticed John Jr's oldest daughter married a man born in "The Tower of London"--no, his parents were not in prison; they were in charge of the Royal Menagerie. I suspect the Bailey's Cross Roads link plays a part in there somewhere.

Our Response

From: Randy Swart

To: sjmike

Date: Monday, July 24, 2000

Subject: Re: What I have on the good Dr. Barcroft

Baileys Crossroads, named for the circus that wintered there and eventually became half of the Barnum and Bailey circus, is just inside (west of) the Fairfax County line. It is the crossroads of Leesburg Pike (Route 7) and Columbia Pike. Dr. John's first mill was about a mile further west of the crossroads along Columbia Pike at Holmes Run. Our neighborhood is about a mile east of the crossroads, where The Pike (as it is still locally known) crosses Four Mile Run. That puts us a good two miles from the original mill and the present-day Lake Barcroft built just upstream from the old mill site.

Four Mile Run was the stream that ran Dr. John's second mill. The mill foundations are still there. I am not sure when it ceased operation--sometime after the turn of the century--but it burned in 1926, probably ignited by cinders from the steam engines on the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, which ran along Four Mile Run and is now a bike path. The mill foundations were used to build an ice house, since nobody grew grain to grind, but people were using ice boxes to refrigerate food. After World War II when everybody got an electric refrigerator and a car, the ice house closed and the building became an auto repair shop. I have my car cared for there now at Jim's Auto Repair, and the service is exemplary.

What is now Arlington County was the old Alexandria County. We renamed it in 1920 to avoid confusion with the City of Alexandria.

I was mystifed by the reference to Dr. Barcroft's property as being in Arlington Heights and looking down on Washington. If our local lore is correct, his house was near the mill, about two miles from the heights where Arlington mansion is located, and looked down on Four Mile Run and Columbia Pike. I think what may have confused them was the fact that the mill was originally the Arlington Mill, and was owned by George Washington Parke Custis as part of the Arlington estate, although not within the grounds of today's Arlington estate. The Arlington Estate has shrunk but remains intact as a cemetery, and such a large and growing one that Arlington County now has more dead people than live ones. Anybody building a house in what is now the Arlington Heights neighborhood is perhaps a quarter mile to a half mile back from the view of Washington's streets. I suspect the columnist had a deadline to meet.

Thanks again for your materials!

Randy Swart randy@BSCL.org