The Bushong Farm

8895 George Collins Pkwy New Market

Virginia Military Institute Museums & Archives
Written By Virginia Military Institute Museums & Archives

Visit the museums of the Virginia Military Institute, the oldest state-supported military college in the United States: The VMI Museum, Virginia Museum of the Civil War, Stonewall Jackson House, Marshall Museum and Library, Adams Center for Military History, and VMI Archives.

The Historic Bushong Farm

On the outskirts of the Town of New Market sits the Bushong Farm. Arriving in the Shenandoah Valley from Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the early 1800s, Jacob Bushong did not set up permanent residence until almost 20 years later. In 1814, he began exchanging letters of courtship with Sarah Stickler of Page County, Virginia. The two corresponded for four years until their marriage in March of 1818. The pair moved to New Market later that month where they would live the rest of their days. Jacob and Sarah had six children together: Harrison, Abram, Elizabeth, Caroline, Anderson, and Franklin. As their family and farm prospered, the Bushongs expanded their home. The start of the Civil War brought disruption to daily life. As a naturally formed route of invasion and the Breadbasket of the Confederacy, the Shenandoah Valley was a heavily contested area during the war. The Bushong Family and their neighbors were no strangers to troop movements and the distant thunder of artillery, but they likely never expected war to arrive on their front doorstep. On May 15, 1864 Union troops led by Major General Franz Sigel clashed in New Market with Confederate troops under the command of Major General John C. Breckinridge. The heaviest of the fighting centered on the Bushong home and orchard. Seven members of the Bushong Family sheltered in the cellar of their home as the battle raged outside, the youngest only four years old. When the battle finally ended, the Bushong family emerged from their cellar to survey the scene. Their entire winter wheat crop was destroyed and wounded men littered the ground. The Bushong house and outbuildings were turned into a field hospital where the two surgeons from VMI worked around the clock tending to the injured men. The weeks that followed the battle would have been a severe disruption of the Bushong’s daily life. A few months after the battle, the Union Army, now under the command of General Philip Sheridan, swept through and burned many barns and fields in the Shenandoah Valley. The Bushong property was spared, possibly because the family helped to shelter and care for both Union and Confederate soldiers who were wounded in The Battle of New Market. The end of the Civil War brought a new normal to the people of the Shenandoah Valley; the Bushong family would have been no exception. The farm continued to prosper and grow, as did the family itself. Jacob and Sarah Bushong, who had established the farm in 1818, died in 1873 and 1889 respectively, and left the farm to their remaining children. The property passed through generations of Bushongs and remained in the family until 1942. Today the original 1818 house and 1825 farm house remain, surrounded by nine reconstructed outbuildings.

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