We know very little about the time immediately following the Union occupation and the subsequent post War period.  Several stories of the time have been handed down by word of mouth, but the most interesting for the family is how Corporal T.R Covington happened to make the acquaintance of Mary Jane Ashby.

It was late in the War when a Confederate soldier rode up to one of the windows of the house and asked for food.  Mary Jane had just baked a pan of fresh biscuits and dumped them “hot” into the itinerant soldier’s haversack.  He returned after the war to marry her in 1868.  This story is recounted briefly in a 1938 news paper article about Rose Hill in the Culpeper Star Exponent.

Other more apocryphal stories recount only fragments of information, such as how some silver and other valuables were buried and hidden in the “flats”, an area of woods near the Rapidan River.  They were not recovered until years later and then only because a loyal former slave recalled their location and assisted the family in retrieving them.

Another account recalls how several former slaves never left the premises and lived out their lives and were eventually buried somewhere on the property.  The veracity of this is suspect since Eleanor Covington Wells recalls the story from her father John Austin while Alfred Broaddus Covington denied he ever heard such a story.

Certainly it can be reliably inferred that financial circumstances during the reconstruction period were tenuous as was widely experienced throughout the South.  A long letter sent to the family by Thomas Rosser Covington dated February 17th 1908 is the most complete account that we have of his life before and after the Civil War.  It comprised 90 hand written pages which Betty Jean (Covington) Vera and her sister Alice have assiduously transcribed. (See attachment)

T.R Covington and Mary Jane Ashby together had 5 children all of whom reached adult hood.

Mary Eleanor Covington (Mamie) b. September 6th 1869
Walter Gregory Covington b. November 7th 1872
Alfred Lomax Ashby Covington b. October 5th 1876
John Austin Covington b. May 20th 1881
Irene Thompson Covington b. January 30th 1887

The T.R Covington family managed to raise and educate all five children and John Austin eventually bought Rose Hill Farm from the others.

John Austin married Lucy Virginia Miller in November 1904.  She died a month later of “Consumption” (tuberculosis). (Picture gravestone)

He then remarried Irene Haile Broaddus of King and Queen County Virginia February 25th 1909 and had three children.

Alfred Broaddus Covington b. February 5th 1910
Carl Ashby Covington b. November 4th 1914
Mamie Eleanor Covington (Wells) b. October 19th 1974

Sometime in 1909 the newly weds John and Irene were visited by Captain Theodore F. Northrup, who had been among the occupying Union forces under General Kilpatrick in 1863-1864.  According to oral accounts John Austin Covington hosted him at Rose Hill and toured him by horse and buggy to many of the previous battle sites where Northrup had fought.  Owing to the residual bad feelings, particularly in the Shenandoah Valley, Mr. Covington told people that Northrup was a cousin and not a former Union Soldier.  Later Captain Northrup gave to John and Irene a late wedding gift of a bone handled carving set now in the possession of John Ashby Covington.

A letter to John Austin from T.E Northrup dated June 3rd 1912 offers condolences on the death of the “old soldier” T.R Covington earlier that year.  It goes on to discuss John Austin’s request for help with a lone on the farm, presumably to “refinance” and reflects the on going financial travails which would burden the family on into the 1930s.

John Austin Covington remained at Rose Hill as a farmer with his two small children during the First World War.  The foundations of the Old Ice House and the still existing barn are testament to Rose Hill’s principal role as a small dairy farm which shipped its fresh produce by rail rode out of Brandy Station to Washington DC.   Income was supplemented with cash crops and livestock such as wheat, hogs, chickens and sheep, like so many small family farms of the era.  Everything was done by horse and by hand as the fist tractor was not purchased until 1947.