All's Well That Ends Well

September 17, 2015 |

It’s been a busy summer. I completed a very intensive genealogy research course through Boston University, which had me up to my elbows in citations for 15 weeks. We helped our daughter and son-in-law get settled in their new house in New Jersey. And, we decided that 110 inches of snow was too much, so we sold our house in Massachusetts and moved full time to our house in Virginia.

As we trekked from one cradle of history to another, I considered other Brock ancestors who also made significant moves with their families.

My late father-in-law, Richard used to tell a story of an ancestor who, while serving in the Civil War, got a drink of well water from a Virginia farm and exclaimed it was the best waster he ever tasted. The context for that life-altering libation may never be known, but according to Richard, the ancestor vowed to come back and buy that farm.

Since Richard had a reputation as a bit of a storyteller, I chalked this tale up to another chapter of Brock family lore. Several Brock relatives served during the Civil War, including great-great grandfather Alvan D. Brock and two of great-grandmother Lilian Burritt Brock's brothers, Loren and Ira.

None of the three went from field command to farmer.

Alvan was commended for bravery as part of the storming party during the assault on Fort Mahone1, but headed to California and the west coast real estate boom after the war. Loren Burritt served at Gettysburg and was promoted to Lt. Colonel with the 8th Regiment Colored Infantry. He was severely wounded at the battle of Olustee, Florida2. After the war, he returned to Athens, Pennsylvania where practiced law.

Brother Ira returned briefly to his native Pennsylvania3 after the war before relocating his family to Washington, D.C.4 where he was the proprietor and editor of The Sunday Herald.

Discounting these ancestors as the man at the well, I leveraged the tools from my new arsenal of research weapons and followed the signals - literally - to the Signal Corps and Sobieski Chapin.

Sobieski Loander Chapin was Richard’s great-grandfather. A native New Yorker, Sobieski initially enlisted with Company E, 76th Regiment and then transferred to the 76th NY Infantry Signal Corps,6 which was stationed in Virginia. After he mustered out, Sobieski returned to West Union, NY, collected his family, and headed back to Virginia. By 1880, the family is living in Dranesville, Fairfax County.7

In 1881, Sobieski purchased a 61 plus acre piece of property in Fairfax County, Virginia from Maria L. Barlow $203.37.8

Sobieski’s property was originally part of Sully Plantation, built in 1794 by Richard Bland Lee (an uncle of General Robert E. Lee). Lee lived there with his wife, Elizabeth Collins Lee until 1811.9 Alexander Haight and his wife Phebe Sweet owned the property during the Civil War.10 Phoebe and her sister-in-law, Maria Haight Barlow were left to defend their homes after Alexander and Jacob Barlow fled Alexandria to avoid incoming Federal troops. Alexander and Jacob were suspected [correctly] of being Union sympathizers. Alexander was under the protection of the Union Army near the end of the war.11

Sully Plantation is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and now on my new list of Virginia to-dos.

Now that I know Richard's stories may be more embellishment than lore, I'm anxious to start researching some of the others. For Sobieski, all’s well that ended [with a] well.

  1. Daniel S. Lamont, War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, (Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.: 1894) , Series I, Volume XLVI, p. 1056; online version, Google Books ( : accessed 10 September 2015) Report of Brig. General Simon G. Griffin.
  2. “U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865,” service return for Loren Burritt, Co. B, 8th Reg’t, Colored Infantry; digital image; Ancestry ( accessed 10 September 10, 2015). Loren served as a Major and as a Lt. Colonel with the 8th Reg’t after serving with Co. K, 56th Reg’t , Pennsylvania Infantry at Gettysburg. Loren eventually died from the wounds he sustained at Olustee.
  3. 1870 U.S. census, Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Herrick Township, p.1 (penned), dwelling 3, family 3, household of Amanda Burritt; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 10 September 2015) citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1455. Ira, his wife Elizabeth and daughter Effie were living with his mother, Amanda, a 56-year old widow, and several of his younger siblings.
  4. 1880 U.S. census, Washington, District of Columbia, population schedule, p. 16 (penned), enumeration district (ED) 74, dwelling 146, family 164, household of Ira N. Burritt; digital image, Ancestry ( accessed 10 September 2015), citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 124.
  5. De Benneville Randolph Keim, Society in Washington: Its Noted Men, Accomplished Women, Established Customs, and Notable Events, “The Washington Correspondents, “ (Harrisburg Publishing Company, Pennsylvania : 1887), p. 215; online edition, Google Books ( accessed 10 September 2015).
  6. “New York, Town Clerks’ Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War, ca 1861-1865;” Sobieske [sic] L. Chapin, enlistment, 18 July 1863; digital image, Ancestry ( accessed 10 September 2015) citing New York State Archives collection number (N-Ar) 13774, box 58, roll 31. Sobieske L. Chapin, enlisted as a private with Co. E, 76th Regiment, NY for a term of 3 years. Also, U.S., Civil War Pension Files, 1861-1934,” for Sobiescki L. Chapin, database index and digital file, Ancestry ( : accessed 10 September 2015). An invalid’s pension request was filed on 22 August 1891 in Virginia.
  7. 1880 U.S. census, Fairfax County, Virginia, population schedule, Dranesville District, p. 17 (penned), enumeration district (ED) 39, dwelling 149, family 151, household of S.L. Chapin; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 10 September 2015), citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1364.
  8. Fairfax County, VA, Deed Book A: 320, Barlow, et. al to S.L. Chapin, 31 August 1881, County Courthouse, Fairfax.
  9. “Lee Family Cemetery at Sully,” Fairfax Genealogical Society ( : accessed 15 September 2015). Information abstracted from Volume 4 of the Fairfax County gravestone books.
  10. “Guide to the Alexander Haight family collection, 1764-1977,” online index and biographical information, George Mason University Libraries, ( : accessed 10 September 2015) search for Alexander Haight.
  11. Julius Stahel, Fairfax, VA, letter, 20 June 1868; digital image, George Mason University Libraries ( : accessed 15 September 2015). Stahel certifies that Alexander Haight of Sully Farm is a good and loyal citizen deserving of the protection of the Union Army.