Research chisels out past at Stafford island

by Jim Hall

Much that Is about Government Island Is because of the work of Jane Henderson.

A third grade teacher at Falmouth Elementary School, Henderson spend months documenting thehistory of the island. Her research took her to the National Archives and to the office of the architect of the Capitol. She visited libraries and talked with historians at Mount Vernon and Gunston Hall.

All this was 1980, for an independent study course Henderson took at Mary Washington College. "I wanted to do something on the history of Stafford County," she said.

A resident of Aquia Harbour, she was curious about a 12-acre parcel near the marina.

"I would sail by it, and I thought it was an extension of the land. I had no idea it was an island," she said.

Her research paper went almost unnoticed until this year, when teh county hired a Washington firm to do a survey of historic sites.Henderson took the firms two architectural historians on a tour of the island, and they borrowed heavily from her report.

"I'm so thrilled that someone has brought this out," she said.

Henderson said she would like to see the island preserved.

"It's such an important part of the county's history," she said.

Jane Henderson will speak about Government Island at the Oct. 15 meeting of the Stafford Historical Society. The Session is a 7:30 p.m. at the Administration Center on U.S. 1. It is free and open to the public.

The Free Lance Star, Fredricksburg, Virginia; Vol. 108, No. 158, Monday July 6, 1992, Pages C-1