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The Mary Fairfax family papers and Louis R. Stockstill papers

Identifier: MS2378

Scope and Contents

This collection is divided into two distinct parts that could be considered independent collections. They were donated as one collection and for that reason were retained in one collection. The collection contains biographical materials, war medals, correspondence, scrapbooks, articles and photographs related to the life of Louis R. Stockstill especially concerning his work as a journalist. The Cook family papers are primarily composed of correspondence much of which has been transcribed. The correspondence is to and from Mary Allen Cook Fairfax. The majority of the correspondence reveal Cook's ardent activity as a Southern sympathizer during the Civil War. Mary Allen Cook grew up in a historic DC residence that was later razed by Congress on Independence Avenue across from the Library of Congress. The letters have portraits of her family and associates as well as information about Washington prior to and during the Civil War. Cook writes about the city of Washington political figures, and President Lincoln and detailed descriptions of Civil War battles especially information she has gleaned from newspaper coverage. Two of her brothers served in the Confederacy and were prisoners of war. There are letters to Belle Boyd, the Southern spy who Cook encountered while a prisoner herself at the Old Capitol Prison. While incarcerated as a suspected spy, Cook was in a cell next to Mary Surratt, the Lincoln assassination co-conspirator prior to her execution. Cook's letters are a record of other prisoners and the circumstances of their arrests in the panic and martial law which followed the Lincoln assassination. Cook provides a first-hand account of the excitement and revelry of Washington following the fall of Richmond. Long after the war had ended, upon the death of Jefferson Davis in 1889, Cook draped her house in black and won an ovation from the Southern press, Southern legislatures, and numerous associations of former Confederate soldiers. There is also a letter from a group of local citizens rebuking her and calling on her to remove the black from her house. The Cook family materials date from 1823-1905. The Louis Stockstill records date from 1920-2004.


  • 1823-2004
  • Majority of material found within 1861-1969


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that she owns copyright, the donor has assigned the copyright in her works to The George Washington University; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For activities that the researcher determines fall under fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Please contact Special Collections if the copyright status of the materials you wish to reuse is unclear. Staff will provide additional information.

For re-use of materials in the collection not created by the donor, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights, determining if the intended re-use falls under fair use, and obtaining approval from the copyright holder if the intended use does not fall under fair use. For such materials, researchers do not need anything further from The George Washington University’s Special Collections Research Center.

Biography of Louis R. Stockstill

Louis R. Stockstill (1920-2004) was born in Galena, Missouri, and raised in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. After graduating from high school he served with the 10th Armored Division in Europe during World War II. For this service Stockstill was awarded the Bronze Star. He attended The George Washington University serving as a part-time reporter for what was then known as the Army Navy Journal with an eventual title change to the Air Force Journal. Following graduation in 1951 he continued working for the publication eventually serving as editor in 1965. He left the Journal in 1968 to pursue a freelance career. From 1957-1960 he taught courses at GWU on topics such as national news reporting. He was very active during the Vietnam War with an organization he started with the wives of the POW/MIA’s. He wrote numerous articles, spoke before committees in D.C. and traveled the country meeting with families. He retired in 1975 and moved to Florida. He remained politically active until his death in 2004 - writing letters to newspapers, working on campaigns.

Biography of Mary Allen Cook Fairfax

Mary Allen Fairfax (nee Cook) (1831-1909) was the granddaughter of James Owner, chief boatbuilder at the Old Washington Navy Yard. Her father John Aquila Cook was a naval officer. Her mother was named Francis Faulkner Cook (nee Owner) and both her brothers, James Faulkner Cook and Stephen John Cook, fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. She grew up in a house near the Navy Yard. She married Frederick Fairfax in 1868. They had three daughters, Lillian Vere Fairfax, Gwendolind Owner Fairfax Moncure, and Evelyn Leopoldine Fairfax.

Her home as an adult was on Capitol Hill on the site on Independence Avenue across from the Library of Congress. Mary Cook's letters to her Cousin Rachel in New Jersey before and during the Civil War reveal her support for the Confederacy and her deep animosity for the Union and Abraham Lincoln. She was a White Supremacist. She often wrote about battles and military engagements, the troops in Washington and other Civil War related topics. Following Abraham Linoln's assassination she was briefly incarcerated in the Old Capitol Prison and was only released after taking the loyalty oath. She died June 15, 1909 in Washington DC.


5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection contains biographical materials, correspondence, articles and photographs related to the life of Louis R. Stockstill especially concerning his work as a journalist. The majority of the collection is correspondence to and from Mary Allen Fairfax (nee Cook). Much of this Fairfax family correspondence has been transcribed. The majority of the correspondence reveal Mary Fairfax's activity and thoughts as a Southern sympthizer during the Civil War. The collection as whole covers the time period 1823-2004.


Organized into two series: Cook/Fairfax family letters and papers and Louis R. Stockstill papers

Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site, and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.

Mary Fairfax family papers custodial history note

This note used Laura Millar’s article “The Death of the Fonds and the Resurrection of Provenance: Archival Context in Time and Space.”(Archivaria 53) for guidance and combines DACS 5.1 and 5.2 information.

Creator history: The primary creators and accumulators of the records are Mary Allen Fairfax (née Cook), other members of the Fairfax, Cook, and Owner families, and Louis R. Stockstill. The documents’ functions include activities such as interacting with family, friends, government agents, and work associates, bill paying, writing for pleasure and work, researching family history, and accumulating and sharing knowledge. Records history: Presumably the Fairfax family maintained the records from 1823-1941 in Washington DC. The largest portion of the Fairfax papers, letters from Mary Fairfax to her cousin Rachel Davis in New Jersey, were returned to Fairfax following Davis's death in 1867. Most likely the records remained in DC until the early 1960s. In 1941, Mary Fineran purchased the home at 235 2nd Street SE from the Fairfax estate and found the records in the house.

In several newspaper articles, Fineran recounts her neighborly relationship with Mary Fairfax’s daughters and describes the records as containing numerous writings related to the Civil War, mementos, letters, daguerreotypes, and a signed photograph of Robert E. Lee. (The Evening Star March 11, 1956, p. D-10 and June 25, 1960, p. 4) The current collection contains few writings by Mary Fairfax, no daguerreotypes, and no image of Lee. Circa 1961, in preparation for construction of the Library of Congress Madison building, the Federal government condemned several blocks of businesses and homes including 235 2nd Street SE. Mary Fineran moved to 415 First Street SE. In 1962, she gave the family papers to her Capitol Hill neighbor and friend Louis Stockstill.

In the mid-1960s, Stockstill researched Mary and her extended family at the National Archives and Library of Congress for a planned publication of Mary Fairfax’s letters. Stockstill transcribed the letters Fairfax wrote to Davis and other family members. These research materials include transcriptions and copies of government documents. From 1963-2001, Stockstill occasionally wrote to staff of the Huntington Library detailing his ideas for a partnership to publish a monograph and to subsequently donate the Fairfax papers. Sometime in the 1970s, Louis and his wife Oneta moved to Indialantic, Florida.

In 2004, Louis Stockstill died and sometime before 2018 the records moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma perhaps with Oneta Stockstill who died in Tulsa in 2010. The final owner before donation to GW was Jan Lee, Louis Stockstill’s niece.

Custodial history: A local Tulsa historian and Jan Lee’s neighbor suggested she donate these records to a repository. On her behalf, the historian contacted staff at the New York Public Library for help locating an appropriate repository. Since the Fairfax records detailed a Washington DC family and Louis Stockstill was a GW graduate and instructor, the NYPL contacted GW Special Collections. Special Collections staff spoke with Lee and on September 4, 2018, she donated a collection containing the Fairfax family records, the research materials created by Louis Stockstill, and Louis Stockstill personal materials. These records, maintained as one united collection, were processed in 2019.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Janet L. Lee, 2018 August 17 (Acc 2018.033)



Guide to The Mary Fairfax family papers and Louis R. Stockstill papers, 1823-2004
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America