THE BUCHANANS were among the first people George Carter enslaved. They are one of the long-time, multi-generational families at Oatlands. Andrew (a blacksmith), his wife Fanny, and their children Nancy (born 1800), George (1815), John Robert (1819), and Fenton M. (1821), were referred to by first name in Carter’s 1842 will.
Robert married Mahala Jackson, a third-generation free woman. Virginia law stipulated that a child’s status — whether they were free or enslaved — followed that of their mother, meaning the children of Robert and Mahala were free. To this union were born Hannah (1845), who married John Gaskins; Virginia (1845), who married John Gleed; Martin Van Buren (1846), who married Amelia Massey; Elizabeth (1853), who married Hiram Valentine; Susan (1854), who married John Brown and later John Barnes; Mahala Ann (1857), who married John Gleed after her sister died; John Buchanan (1864); and Fanny Buchanan (1869).
Martin Buchanan left Oatlands in 1863 and enlisted in Company G of the 2nd United States Colored Infantry. He served throughout the Civil War. He returned to Loudoun, bought property in nearby Gleedsville, and raised a family there. A descendant of the Buchanans has served their country in every war since. Martin’s wife Amelia and their daughter Deborah worked at Oatlands until the 1920’s.
Fenton left with his family for freedom during the Civil War, probably when Federal troops occupied Loudoun County. They made their way to the contraband camp in Alexandria. His wife died while there and is buried in the Freedmen’s Cemetery. Fenton and his children returned to Loudoun after the war, and he remarried.
In 1918, Fenton’s granddaughter, Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Jones, became the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Colorado Boulder in June 1918.
Robert’s grandsons Hiram and Harry worked as gardeners at Oatlands. His granddaughter Elizabeth Johnson became one of the first teachers at the Mountain Gap Colored School, later known as the Gleedsville School.
Three of Martin’s grandsons, served in World War II. From left to right: Philip in the Navy; John in the Army; and James in the Air Force. James, shown here in his chauffeur uniform, worked as a chauffeur for the Eustis and Finley families until the early 1970s.
Catrice R. Vandross has been the Buchanan Family historian since 1988.