The Town of Brentsville was established on 50 acres in 1820 to become the County seat of Prince William County. By 1820, many residents had moved farther west for better farm land and the old county seat of Dumfries was too far east for the western residents to travel conveniently. The new town of Brentsville was centrally located in Prince William County along the major east/west road that led from the port of Dumfries to the Shenandoah Valley. In 1893, the county seat moved to Manassas and Brentsville became a rural community, which allowed it to retain much of its 19th century character.
What is Here Today?
The 28-acre Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre includes five historic buildings: 1822 courthouse, 1822 jail, 1874 church, 1850 farmhouse, and a one-room schoolhouse built in 1928. There is also a mile-long nature trail that traverses the park. There are also places to picnic.
Brentsville in the Civil War
Brentsville was the Prince William County seat during the Civil War. In response to John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859, the Prince William Cavalry (Co. A Virginia Cavalry) was formed here on the courthouse lawn in January 1860. The ladies of Brentsville made a flag and presented it to the company. Other Confederate units from Prince William County such as Ewell Guards (Co. A. 49th Virginia Infantry) were organized and drilled here.
Like many Virginian towns, Brentsville suffered heavily at the hands of both armies. Confederate General Eppa Hunton, a Brentsville resident and lawyer, had his house and other buildings destroyed. The Hampton Legion, among other units, was posted here on scouting missions. Several homes and churches served as hospitals. The county clerk's office was torn down and its bricks used for camp chimneys. Part of the ca. 1822 courthouse roof was torn off and many county records were either destroyed or taken by soldiers as souvenirs. Capt. Andrew McHenry of the 13th Pennsylvania Infantry wrote of Brentsville in 1864 "the houses generally are in ruin."
The Battle of Bristoe Station fought three miles west on Oct. 14 1863 brought combat to Brentsville's doorstep. During the battle, Federal General John Buford's cavalry was posted here to protect the Federal supply train. Confederate partisan units operate in Brentsville until the end of the war.
1686- Brent Town Grant made by King James II to Brent family including present location of Brentsville
1779- Commonwealth of Virginia confiscates the land from the Bristow family due to their British loyalties
1779-1820- Land was rented by the Commonwealth for farming and timber
1820- Town of Brentsville established by the Virginia General Assembly as the new Prince William County seat
1822- Brentsville courthouse, jail, clerk of court's office, and tavern completed
1853 Samuel Haislip built a new farmhouse off of Vint Hill Road now located on Brentsville site
1861 (April 1) Prince William County magistrates vote to endorse Virginia's secession
1862 (March 3) Last day of court in Prince William County until end of war
1870 (Oct. 17) First County Board of Supervisors meeting in courthouse with five supervisors
1874 Brentsville Union Church completed
1893 County seat moved to Manassas
1928 Brentsville one room schoolhouse built for grades 1-5 school was previously held in the courthouse
2004 Prince William County Historic Preservation Division assumes management of site
2006 Courthouse and Union Church restored
2008 Haislip/Hall house restored
2010 Jail stabilization begins
LEARN MORE FROM OUR VIDEOS
You can take a virtual tour of Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre and learn more about its rich history. There is so much to see and discover! You can also visit the Haislip-Hall Log Cabin Home to learn more about family and farm life in the mid 1800s.
Visiting Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre
From Interstate 95: Take Rt. 234 North (Exit 152B); travel seven and a half miles and make a left onto Independent Hill Drive. Then make your immediate right onto Bristow Rd. Brentsville is five miles on the right.
From Interstate 66: Take Rt. 234 South (Exit 44); travel 4.5 miles and turn right onto Rt. 28 south (Nokesville Rd.). Travel 1.5 miles and make a left onto Rt. 619 (Bristow Rd.); Brentsville is four miles on the left.