So who the heck is Mrs. Spindle…?
Well the truth is, we are not really sure. “Mrs. Spindle” is not her real name. We don’t know what her real name is, so we had to come up with something suitably Centreville-like. 🙂
The photograph (above) containing her image is part of “Brady’s Album Gallery” and was taken in 1862 by Brady studio photographer George Barnard. It is a carte de visite. The title is “Departure from the Old Homestead, Centreville.” It has a couple of lines of a poem by Oliver Goldsmath printed on the back: “And trembling, shrinking from the spoilers hand/Far, far away, thy children leave the land.” This may have been taken around the time of the 2nd Battle of Bull Run, which means the Union would have been in control of Centreville, and may have been the reason for their departure.
A stereographic version created later included the following explanation:
This is one of the familiar scenes during the war. Union families were persecuted by the Rebels and “bushwhackers,” and to escape this persecution and probable death, they would, when our troops came near enough to protect them, hastily gather up a little furniture, pile it on to an old wagon, and bidding goodby to their home, take up their march northward toward the land of freedom. “
This explanation is unlikely given the photograph was taken when the Union Army was control in Centreville, so there would have been no need for the family to flee.
We use her image as a reminder of Centreville’s history. Her predicament in 1862 is emblematic of the problems families all over Northern Virginia had as both armies decimated the land during the Civil War. It also reminds us of Centreville’s resiliency, as it came back from that devastation and the rise of the Railroad that bypassed it, to become the thriving suburb we know today!
So if you see Mrs. Spindle make sure to click on her…she will surely take you to someplace interesting!