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Bristow middle school’s namesake, Dr. Marsteller, had roots in Gainesville

There has to be a reason why a building or place is named in someone’s honor. E.H. Marsteller Middle School in Bristow is named in honor of Dr. Emlyn Harrison Marsteller, Jr. (1877-1960) for the great citizenship he displayed to improve the lives of those in Prince William County.

He had deep roots in Gainesville where he grew up and where his grandfather and father lived and owned farms. But he was born in Baltimore on Jan. 10, 1877, while his father was on duty there as a Navy surgeon.

After graduating from Virginia Military Institute in Lexington and after graduating from medical school in Richmond and serving an internship in New York, he and his family lived in the Manassas area from 1920-1960 where Dr. Marsteller Jr. was a practicing physician, teacher and registered coroner.

In Marsteller Middle School’s front entrance, a showcase displays a painting of Marsteller along with a write-up that describes him as “a friend to those in distress and was a tenderhearted man.”

The write-up describes some of his community service activities: he helped establish the first county chapter of the Red Cross, was a charter member of the Kiwanis Club, served as a vestryman at Trinity Episcopal Church in Manassas and served two terms on the Prince William County School Board.

The write-up includes, “A humanitarian in every sense of the word; a man who was a leader in his community; a man firm in his belief for better roads, public health services and better schools. These are the characteristics of a fine man and one in whose honor our building is named.”
Other civic works attributd to the doctor were getting the Southern Railway to load milk cans for farmers and improving Sudley Road (VA 234) as the main road across the county.

Marsteller Middle School in Braemar is the second Marsteller Middle School.

The original Marsteller Middle, located at 8730 Sudley Road in Manassas, was built in 1963 and dedicated in 1964 in his memory.  The write-up explains that in June 2002, the original Sudley Road Marsteller was sold to Manassas Baptist Church, and as a Prince William County Public School, it came to a close.  Currently, the old school is called “The Rock” and is used by the church for a contemporary worship service, youth groups, homeless shelter and food pantry.

During this time, the “Marsteller family retired the medical symbol caduceus [traditional symbol for medicine], which had originally been adopted as the school’s symbol due [to] the school’s location next to Prince William Hospital and in honor of Dr. Marsteller.”

Athletic teams were referred to as the “Medics.” A new mascot, “Spike” the bulldog, was named; in the fall of 2002, the current school opened its doors on Sudley Manor Drive in Bristow.

Looking back further into Dr. Marsteller’s history, his family line includes George Mason IV of Gunston Hall, the author of the Bill of Rights.  His father, Emlyn Harrison Marsteller Sr., was also a physician, born April 9, 1850, in Gainesville and died in 1916. His mother was Marianne Clarke Mason Marsteller (1844-1920).

Emlyn, Sr. was the son of Dr. Cyrus Copper Marsteller (also a physician) and Elizabeth “Eliza” Ann Harrison Marsteller (1814-1899). Cyrus was born in 1797 in Alexandria and died in 1871 in Haymarket.

According to research by HF Harrison whose husband is related to Cyrus Marsteller’s wife, Emlyn, Jr. was raised at Pageland Farm in Gainesville, but spent much of his boyhood at “Clarens,” the Mason’s place on Seminary Hill, now Alexandria, Va.  Emlyn, Jr. went to a private school in Delaplane.

On Sept. 6, 1894, he entered VMI (Virginia Military Institute) in Lexington and graduated June 23, 1898, “standing 11 in a class of 22.” Because of attending VMI, he had to teach for one or two years.

In 1902, he graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and then went to New York and took various medical courses.  He was at Bellevue Hospital in New York and practiced medicine in Brooklyn.

On Dec. 9, 1914, Emlyn, Jr. married Elizabeth Rodman Selden (1885-1958). Their children were Emlyn Harrison Marsteller, III (1916-1997) and two daughters, Marie Elizabeth Marsteller Blackwell and Nancy S. Marsteller. The 1920 census shows Emlyn, Jr. and his wife living in New York.

He returned to Gainesville in 1920 and then moved to Manassas in 1924; the 1930 census records his home in Manassas.

According to a Harrison’s research, a World War II Draft Registration Card for Emlyn, Jr., dated April 27, 1942, describes him as a “self-employed M.D. and his physical description is 6’ 1”, 210 lbs with gray eyes, gray hair and ruddy complexion.”

This draft registration card lists him living with his wife, Elizabeth R.S. Marsteller, at 339 Center Street in Manassas.  However, in the early 1970s, the street numbering system changed; according to Bev Veness in the RELIC Room at Bull Run Regional Library, Hill’s 1960 City Directory shows 339 Center Street between Zebedee Street and Maple Street. His house was “not in the center of town but going in the direction out of town towards Centreville.”

Going back to his father’s lineage, research by Jim Burgess, museum specialist at Manassas National Battlefield Park, shows that Dr. Cyrus Marsteller resided at a farm called “Melbourne but evidently also owned Pageland [Farm] at the time of the Civil War. The 1904 Army Maneuvers map shows the location of ‘Melborn’ but also shows a ‘Dr. Marsteller’ residing at Pageland.”

On July 21, 1861 when the First Battle of Manassas broke out down the road from Melbourne (about three miles to the Stone House on the battlefield).

Emlyn, Jr., born 1877, was not even born; but his father, Emlyn, Sr., born 1850, would have been 11 and his grandfather, Cyrus, born 1797, would have been 64 when the war started. Since Cyrus died in 1871, Emlyn, Sr. is likely the “Dr. Marsteller” residing at Pageland as shown on the 1904 map.

Starting with this 1904 Army Maneuvers map, Burgess transferred the lines to a USGS topographical map that showed a structure at the site of Melbourne, which is no longer standing.

Burgess then transferred the lines to a modern aerial view map on the county’s website.

“I’m now fairly confident that Melbourne sat in the immediate vicinity of the intersection of Heritage Hunt Drive and Walnut Hill Drive,” Burgess noted.

This is within Heritage Hunt near Conway Robinson State Forest in Gainesville along U.S. 29.

Eugene Scheel’s 1994 map, “The Tri-Counties of Upper Prince William, Lower Loudoun and East Fauquier” shows “Dr. C. Marsteller (Pageland)” on Pageland Lane. Scheel’s map also shows the “Page?-Marsteller Graveyard” (listed on the map with the “?” after “Page”) slightly west of Conway Robinson State Forest; Cyrus and his wife were both originally buried in this graveyard. But, in 1985, they were disinterred and reburied at Little Georgetown Cemetery in Broad Run, Fauquier County.

In “Fighting for the Confederacy” edited by Gary W. Gallagher, Confederate Brigadier General Edward Porter Alexander recalls an incident following the Second Battle of Manassas, August 28-30, 1862. Upon approaching the battlefield by the Warrenton Pike (U.S. 29), he reached a gate leading to Dr. Marsteller’s house, Melbourne. When Alexander reached the house, he discovered it was used as a hospital, full of Confederate wounded. “[Confederate] General Charles Field, a brigade commander in A.P. Hill’s division of Jackson’s wing, was taken to Melbourne after being severely wounded in the battle,” Burgess explained.

At the age of 83, Emlyn, Jr. died Feb. 12, 1960, at Doctors Hospital in Washington, D.C. and was buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.  Harrison’s research further describes Emlyn, Jr. with kind words, “Aside from being a very giving and kind man, he did much for the school; hence, they named it after him.  In a note found in some genealogy papers, his father said of him, ‘He is one of the finest men I have ever known.’”

E.H. Marsteller Middle School is located at 14000 Sudley Manor Drive in Bristow. Call 703-393-7608 or go to http://www.marstellerms

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