This property is the site of the former Happy Creek Manor which was the home of James Markham Marshall, brother of the fourth United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall.
James Markham Marshall was born in Fauquier County; he was the son of the land surveyor and Revolutionary War Colonel Thomas Marshall and younger brother of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. He was educated at home, and in 1779, at the age of 15, Marshall joined the Continental Army as a private, and that year became a captain in the 1st Virginia Regiment.
During the French Revolution, Marshall was in France as the commercial agent of New York City, Boston, and Charleston. He was also employed by President George Washington as the agent of the United States to negotiate for the release of the Marquis de Lafayette, who was then a prisoner in Austria. While in England, Marshall negotiated for the purchase of the Lord Fairfax estates in Virginia, and he and his brother John received all the lands in “Leeds Manor”, which included much of what is now Warren and Clarke counties. Marshall returned to Virginia in 1795, and soon afterward in April, married Hester, daughter of Robert Morris, Patriot and financier of the American Revolution.
Marshall studied law and practiced in Winchester, becoming eminent in his profession. He was a strong Federalist and was one of the “Midnight Judges” appointed by President John Adams at the end of his administration.
Tannis Warren and Patty Bonner transferred the property following the wishes of their late parents, Keith and Ruth Monnington. The Monningtons were charter members of the Warren Heritage Society and wanted the story of the Marshall family, along with the beautiful vista where their home once stood, to be preserved for future generations.
The ten-acre property contains the remains of the home and outbuildings of James Markham Marshall. In 1803, Marshall built Happy Creek Manor in Warren County where he and succeeding generations resided until the home burned on Christmas Day 1921. Marshall and his descendants led lives dedicated to public service, helping to build the institutions that are integral to the Warren County community today. Members of the family served Warren County as Clerk of Court, District Court Judge, Superintendent of Schools, Sheriff, and Trustee of Randolph Macon Academy. They helped to found Calvary Episcopal Church and Warren Memorial Hospital, donated land to build the Manassas Gap Railroad through Front Royal, and, although initially voting against secession, organized a cavalry unit during the Civil War.
“We hope that this property, along with the nearby Marshall family cemetery, will become a serene and restful green space to be enjoyed by local citizens, a final legacy of the Marshall family to the County,” stated Tannis Warren.
Patrick Farris, former Executive Director of the Warren Heritage Society, worked with the family and the County over the past several years to coordinate the transfer. Mr. Farris added, “The acquisition of the site of the Marshall family’s 18th century Happy Creek Estate by Warren County is of incalculable importance to the preservation of the community’s heritage and sense of its historic identity. So many aspects of Warren County’s past are to be found in the history of this site, including - but not limited to - the colonial settlement of the Shenandoah Valley, the American Revolution, the main east-west roadway connecting this area to the Tidewater region through Manassas Gap, the coming of the first railroad to Warren County, the American Civil War, and the agricultural and business patterns which dominated the Shenandoah Valley for hundreds of years. Tannis Warren and Patty Bonner, the daughters of Keith and Ruth Monnington - who acquired this land shortly after the Second World War - will forever be remembered for their vision and graciousness in donating this land, as will the descendants of the Marshall family who collectively have advocated for a generation for the preservation of this very special place.”
According to County Administrator Doug Stanley, the County intends to eventually use the property for passive recreational uses (trails) and to work with the Warren Heritage Society to interpret the rich history of the site and the Marshall family, which made such a lasting impact on the country and the County including the late Judge Elliot DeJarnette Marshall, great-grandson of James Markham Marshall, who served as Warren County Circuit Court Judge from November 6, 1946 to September 1, 1974. The site includes the ruins of the once beautiful Happy Creek Manor house and ruins of the associated icehouse and carriage house.
Tony Carter, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors stated, “On behalf of current and future residents of Warren County, we thank Tannis Warren and Patricia Bonner for their donation of this historic property so that it may be protected from development and interpreted and enjoyed by future generations.”