The Midas of Prince William

A History of Prince William County, Virginia entitled "Prince William -- Itís peple and itís Places." Published in 1941, on page 111 states in part:

At 2.9 miles on County 608 is Fairview (R), sometimes called the Jerry Herndon place. A large stone chimney stands at the south end of the dilapidated story and a half house, and all the outbuildings have disappeared. The owners of Fairview were Milton Fitzhugh, M.W. Jenkins, Charles E. Sinclair, George Bryan, Henry M. Horton, and Jeremiah Herndon. Stories lingering about Fairview have to do with the mistreatment by Herndon of his six sons and his few slaves. It seems that his sons were never allowed to know their own ages and were kept illiterate so that Herndon might obtain several years of additional labor after maturity has been reached. Jeremiah Herndon quickly converted his profits into gold and hid them securely until 1872, when an ex-slave, who had little love for the family, discovered the hiding place, killed Herndon and his wife, and made away with the cherished possessions of this Midas of Prince william. When the negro spent some of the gold, however, he was caught and tried and hung at Brentsville. Various excavations, still discernable in the basement of the house are explained by the accepted belief that Herndon had hidden more gold than was discovered by his murderer. No one, it seems, found a single sparkling coin.

Fairview was not far from Cloverfield, home of John OíRear (no. 3) and Mrs. Holmes, who owned Cloverfield, told the writer in 1930, upon my visit there, this same story, stating that the Negro involved had been one of the Oírear familyís servants, and that John H. OíRear last of the name to own Cloverfield had spent a lot of money trying to save his former servant from this ignoble end.

After Cloverfield had burned, I visited the site in 1952, while on active duty in the Army reserve at Ft. Meade, Maryland. Arriving in the vicinity of the home I noticed the name herndon on a mailbox and stopped to ask directions. Upon introducing myself to Mr. Herndon, he said excitedly, "Yes, this is the very house where that OíRear Negro killed by grandfather." I told Mr. Herndon that I renounced the actions of the negro, but my ancestors had left there about the time of the Revolutionary War and we really had nothing to do with it. Mr. Herndon kindly took me to the site of Cloverfield which was nearby.