Community and Livelihood around Tolison

In this page, Black communities and livelihoods in and around the Mount Vernon District- around Matilda Tolison’s land, are explored. Future research should be done to discover Tolison’s lineage, where her ancestors lived, and where and how much she moved around prior to her landownership in the Mt. Vernon district. Between 1875 and 1920, many people, especially from the North, moved into Fairfax County due to its cheaper land prices, proximity to the Country’s capital, and warm climate [1]. Thus, the County’s population grew rapidly. For example, based on the census for Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990, in 1870, there were around an estimated 12,900 people in Fairfax County, and by 1920, there were around 22,000 people residing there [4]. This could be a potential reason why Tolison chose to move into the land of Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, VA- being one of the many settlers finding this area promising.

Settling in Fairfax County

This is showing how attractive Fairfax County, VA was to newcomers, showing how there must have been an influx of settlers which could contribute to the changes in tax land records.

Alongside one of these promising aspects was the developments of roads and transportation methods, making it easier to travel in, out, and around the district. However, in the 1870–1888-time frame, citizens were made to build the roads as well pay taxes on road maintenance.

Roads and Transportation in Fairfax County

The roads and public transportation routes are explained here in Fairfax County. This is showing how the citizens were made to act as laborers in the development of the roads and building of the neighborhoods around.   

It is unknown whether Tolison had to do the same considering the first records of her becoming a landowner was in 1893. This relates to how schools in Fairfax County were developed as well. It is said that they were built as small log schoolhouses with handmade benches and desks [1]. The county and its buildings, roads, and schools were all built by the citizens themselves, meaning Tolison must have also had a role in developing the community and neighborhood around her. Evidentially, she remained in the district from at least 1893 to 1910 considering those are the earliest and latest tax records in the Historic Records Center Fairfax County Circuit Court [2,3].

Schools in Fairfax County in 1870-1925

This shows how schools were in Fairfax County in 1870-1925- with only one school and only around 20-50 students total. The schools were smaller and built from local resources like wood, with students of all ages.

Thus, it seems the community was filled with life and lots of hard workers, people proud of their land and neighborhood, and an influx of settlers. Matilda Tolison was one of these people, but she was specifically in Mount Vernon district throughout her land ownership in Fairfax County, VA.

[1] Nan Netherton, Fairfax County, Virginia: A History (Fairfax: Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, 1978)

[2] Land Tax Record book (1910, 1911), Historic Records Center Fairfax County Circuit Court

[3] Land Tax Record book (1893), Historic Records Center Fairfax County Circuit Court

[4] Richard L. Forstall, Population of the States and Counties of the United States: 1790 to 1990 From the Twenty-one Decennial Censuses (Department of Commerce: U.S. Bureau of the Census Population Division, 1996)

By Alaa Guennouni

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