Originally Posted: November 30, 2013

Updated:  May 16, 2019


The Will: The Legacy of Benoni Evans Harrison and La Grange

A new book by

Raymond Vance Olszewski

A Work in Progress


This book, which I am still writing, is a story about a man named Benoni Evans Harrison and La Grange where he lived during the 19th century in Prince William County, Virginia.  Benoni Evans Harrison's story and that of La Grange has never been told before.  This rendering promises to be very educational as well as a good read and an unusual one also.  It is being written by Raymond Vance Olszewski, who has been conducting research into Harrison and his descendants ever since he became one of the original investors establishing The Winery at La Grange in 2006.

Benoni wrote his Will in 1869 and is the foundation of the book that leads to a unique and historical account of a man and his life as a public servant who wanted nothing more than to have his relatives do one simple thing: to place a cold marble slab with a precise inscription over his grave.

Harrison, a self-taught lawyer, was a giver all of his life, especially when it came to his relatives.  He and his wife, Catharine, had no children of their own, but Harrison was one who took good care of his relatives during their lives arranging that they, too, have a place for their internment. But, were Harrison’s wishes fulfilled? You will have to read the book and visit the manor house where some say his restless ghost still roams the premises. Besides this, the book documents the history of the property and its owners as well as the 1790s built manor house.

Ray has conducted extensive genealogical research into each person named in Benoni's Will.

Highlights of the book and some of the findings include:

  • Three hundred acres of land next to the northern-most end of Robert "King" Carter's vast Bull Run and Broad Run Tracts was first deeded to William Watkins in 1741 by Lord Fairfax. The land or what is left of it is located 5 miles just north of Haymarket, Virginia near a little known remote and historical area called Waterfall.  Twenty acres remain of the original property and is known today as The Winery at La Grange: Prince William County's first Virginia farm winery.
  • Since 1741, the property has changed hands a number of times and its size has grown or diminished with each owner.  One owner, in particular, Benoni Evans Harrison, owned the property the longest from 1827 until his death in 1869, a total of forty-two years. Until this, he was known only as a Prince William County citizen who was spanked by his wife, Catherine. Before he died, though, Harrison wrote a 3-page Will that left the property to his descendants, and its ownership which remained in contention until the 1970s.
  • Harrison was the one who named his newly acquired farm, 'La Grange' and the author reveals why he gave it this unusual name.  Hint:  In French, La Grange means the barn or the grainery.
  • While he was Prince William County's delegate to the Virginia General Assembly, Harrison presented a bill to the Virginia General Assembly in 1850 declaring that a day be set aside as a day of Thanksgiving. Research shows that Harrison accomplished this 13 years before President Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday in August 1863.
  • More findings to come...


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Also, you can sign up to reserve a personally autographed copy of the book when it is published. 

Ray Olszewski

Author and Publisher


Cell:  (703) 244-5678

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