Salona and the Maffits

Through cousin Theckla Ledyard and another cousin, Irene Caley of Smyrna, Delaware, I have gathered  information about the Maffitts, or Moffits, or several other versions of this name. Here is a summary of the family connection and a brief history of an interesting family residence in Virginia. This information comes in part from a pamphlet issued by the Fairfax County, Virginia, Office of Comprehensive Planning, called “Salona: Fairfax County, Virginia.”

My (Alexander White’s) five-times-great grandfather John Strawbridge, born in Ireland, had a daughter, Ann, born in 1746. Ann Strawbridge married Samuel Maffitt. Samuel was a justice of the peace, elder in the Presbyterian Church, owner of a mill, and served as a major under George Washington in the Revolutionary War. Samuel and Ann had a son, William, born in 1769 in Cecil County, Maryland. William became licensed as a Presbyterian minister in 1794 and was assigned to Alexandria, Virginia. He began teaching Latin and English at the Alexandria Academy, where he was quite successful.

In 1799, when George Washington died, William Maffitt, who was a member of the same Masonic lodge as Washington, marched with the clergy in the lodge’s funeral procession from Alexandria to Mount Vernon. In 1803, William Maffitt married Mrs. Harriotte Turberville, a widow. He then resigned as principal of Alexandria Academy and moved with his new family to Chantilly, in Fairfax County, Virginia. Harriotte Maffitt died in 1805 and William married Ann Beale Carter sometime between 1807 and 1811. Their son William Jr. was born in 1811. In 1812 William Maffitt purchased a 466-acre tract in Fairfax County from a larger area known as “Langley.” It is thought that he built the house known as “Salona” on that land sometime before 1814.

In August 1814, as the British invaded Washington in the War of 1812, President James Madison left the capital and spent one night at Salona with the Maffitts. The President’s wife, Dolley Madison, stayed at another nearby home called Rokeby. William Maffitt stayed on at Salona, which was a working farm, until his death in 1828. The house, which still exists as a private residence, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.