The Sangsters were a historic and influential family in the area. The name Sangster goes back over 200 years in this area. One, Thomas Sangster, appears on county records as purchasing land in the area. Prior to the Civil War, Sangster Station, located near their property, was a regular stop on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Judge James Sangster (1832-1906) was a prominent member of the family. He and his wife Elizabeth are buried at Lee Chapel Cemetery. Three of Judge Sangster’s children served the Burke Post Office. On August 5, 1927 tragedy befell Burke when Rev. John James (Jack) Sangster (son of Judge Sangster) died in a fire. Sangster entered the building located at Dunn’s Store (the old Swetnam store) to retrieve the mail. It was thought that he was overcome by smoke and then perished in the fire.
John and Mary Jane Marshall
John and Mary Jane Marshall were active, generous members of the Burke community. Mr. Marshall was Silas Burke’s overseer and Burke Station’s first postmaster. He operated a general merchandise store in Burke in the late nineteenth century. Although childless, Mr. and Mrs. Marshall were generous to their nieces and nephews. There are Marshall lateral descendants in the area today. The Marshall home was moved in the 1970’s to a new site near Pohick Creek. It regrettably was destroyed by fire but was reconstructed using drawings by architect Damien Chaves.
Born in 1838 in New Hampshire, Stilson Hutchins started his career in Iowa as a reporter and then moved to Saint Louis where he established the Saint Louis Times in the years after the American Civil War. Subsequently, he moved to Washington, DC and founded the Washington Post. According to the October 11, 1895 Alexandria Gazette, Mr. Hutchins purchased the Marshall property of 244 acres, including the old Burke house. It is not certain whether Hutchins ever lived in the “old Burke house.” Hutchins only held the property for a short period of time and sold it and purchased Oatlands, the home of George Carter, a descendent of the famous Virginia Carters, including Robert “King” Carter.
In a course of 58 years, from 1796 when he was born in Prince William County, Virginia, to 1854 when he suddenly died from apoplexy, Silas Burke was a gentleman farmer of a large agricultural estate in the Pohick Valley area, a State director of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad Company, the President of the Fairfax Agricultural Society, the President of the Fairfax Turnpike Company, the owner and operator of a local grist and lumber mill, a county judge and sheriff, a superintendent of the Primary School System for Educating the Indigent Children of Fairfax County, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Virginia 66th State Militia, and an owner and operator of a house of public entertainment (a tavern). At the time of his untimely death, he was considered one of the most important men in the county. Hannah Burke, Silas’ wife, continued to live in the home until the 1870s, at which time she moved to the Burke miller’s house. Silas Burke’s home was named Woodbury, Welsh for “middle of the woods,” and is currently on the property, known as Sunrise at Silas Burke House.
The Coffer family has a long history in Fairfax County. Prior to the Revolutionary War, Thomas Withers Coffer served on the Truro Parish Vestry (Pohick church) with George Washing-ton, George Mason, and George William Fairfax. His grandson, Thomas Coffer, was born in 1773, served during the war of 1812, and married Ann Simpson. Their daughter Hannah married Silas Burke on September 2, 1824. The Coffer house, called Locust Hill, was constructed about 1876. The home now serves as a community center for The Woods neighborhood in Burke Centre.
On July 4, 1908, a splendid racetrack was opened in Burke by Henry Copperthite. Copperthite originally from New Haven, Connecticut came to Georgetown (West Washington, DC) after his service in the Civil War to found a highly successful pie bakery. In 1897, he purchased the former Silas Burke house. His passion for harness racing led him to build the half-mile track at Burke, which was appointed with a grandstand seating.
Milton D. Hall
In 1886, Milton Dulaney Hall was appointed Fairfax County school superintendent, serving 44 years, thus becoming the county’s longest serving superintendent. Hall oversaw the transition from district school boards to the consolidated School Board of Fairfax County in 1922. Ella Ann Coffer, daughter of Joshua and Huldah Simpson Coffer, was his first wife. The Hall family resided at Locust Grove (a Coffer family residence). Locust Grove now serves as the Burke Centre Conservancy Woods Community Center.
James M. Goins
James M. Goins was often referred to as the Godfather of Zion Drive. A tireless community leader, his efforts on behalf of one of the oldest African-American communities in Fairfax County led to improved services including water and sewer hookup, the development of the David Pinn Community Center, and building of the Goins Manor subdivision.
James Harvey Rice and his family moved to the Burke area in the mid-1800s. Henry “Harry” Doty Rice was one of his three children. Harry Rice lived at the family home named Spring Grove and farmed in the area. Spring Grove farm was located in the area that is now Burke Lake Park. Harry Rice served as Lee District member on the Board of Supervisors and also as chairman of that Board from 1899 to 1901.