* Leesylvania Elementary *

How did we get our name?

Leesylvania Elementary School is located on land once owned by "Light-Horse Harry" Lee. "Light-Horse Harry" Lee was born at Leesylvania (meaning Lee's woods) on January 29, 1756. The estate, about 3500 acres, was one of the social centers of Northern Virginia. Its tobacco and cornfields were some of the most productive in the colony. Horses were a big part of life on the estate and Harry's ability to handle a horse was apparent at an early age. He learned to ride by age four and was training his own mounts by age 12. He was not satisfied with the life of the idle rich, but instead used the estates vast acreage to his benefit. Harry began preparing himself, at age 14, for a career in the military by putting himself on a training regime that made him one of the greatest cavalry officers in American history.

Harry left Leesylvania in August 1776, was granted a commission as a captain, and given command of the Fifth Troop in General George Washington's Army. The Troop specialized in hit-and-run raids on enemy supply garrisons. Harry was also an excellent scout and General Washington put all spying activities under his direction. Harry made such a name for himself that the British made him their "most wanted" - he was to be captured at any cost. It was during this time that the reference "Light-Horse" began appearing with his name. It is believed to be a reference to his skill as a cavalryman during the war.

In the following years Harry was elected to the House of Delegates in Virginia and served three consecutive terms as Governor. He married Matilda Lee, a distant cousin, and had three children, but sadly Matilda died during his term as governor. Harry later married Anne Carter who gave birth to 5 more children. The last Lee child, born in January of 1807, was named Robert Edward Lee. Not a particularly doting father, Harry lavished much time on this last child. He taught the very small boy to ride and shoot, to prize intellect and honor above all else. This child, unknown to Harry, would be his enduring legacy.

As time passed, Harry repeatedly had financial troubles and proved to be a much better military man than a manager of his personal finances. "Light-Horse Harry" Lee died on March 25, 1818 and was buried with full military honors. His son, Robert E. Lee, continued to distinguish the Lee name with honor and military prowess.

Today a small part of the Lee acreage is preserved inside Leesylvania State Park located on the Potomac River just a few blocks from Leesylvania Elementary School.

(Thanks to J. A. Rollison, III - Former member of the Virginia House of Delegates - for the above information.)