Friends of the Hollow, Inc.
[Image of the   Hollow today]

Friends of the Hollow, Inc. is a non-profit, charitable corporation dedicated to the restoration and preservation of a small frame house near Markham, Virginia known as The Hollow.

On September 10, 2003, the Virginia State Review Board voted unanimously to approve the National Register Nomination of The Hollow for both its architectural significance and its connection to Thomas Marshall, father of Chief Justice John Marshall. At the same meeting, the Virginia Board of Historic Resources voted unanimously to include The Hollow on the Virginia Landmarks Register. See the Richmond Times-Dispatch article and the Fauquier Times-Democrat article for more information. On January 16, 2004, the National Park Service added The Hollow to the National Register of Historic Places.

A copy of the National Register Nomination for The Hollow is available on the Hollow news page.

The Hollow, built in 1764 by Thomas Marshall (1730-1802), was the boyhood home of Chief Justice John Marshall during his formative years between ages 10 and 18. The Hollow is one of Fauquier County's earliest existing examples of fine frontier architecture and the earliest existing example of a structure built by Thomas Marshall.

The Hollow is no longer in danger. The Hollow was purchased by Dr. David C. Collins, who is dedicated to the investigation of the site and the restoration of the building. A program of architectural and archaeological investigation has commenced and restoration to its 18th century appearance is underway. For further information on the project, including progress reports on the stabilization and restoration, please see the Friends of the Hollow newsletters on this site.

There are probably more than 10,000 Marshall descendants that can trace their lineage back to Thomas Marshall and Mary Randolph Keith Marshall and their modest frame house known as The Hollow. Indeed, many geneological charts dead-end with Thomas Marshall's father, John Marshall "of the forest." To determine if you or a relative are a descendant of Thomas and Mary Marshall, or of John Marshall "of the forest," you should consult "The Marshall Family" by W.M. Paxton, Robert Clark & Company, Cincinnati, 1885 (reprinted by Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, 1970)(LCCN 77-128573). You will need to know the name of your Marshall ancestor who was alive in 1880 or so because the book only covers the period ending then.

We encourage anyone interested in preserving this structure to contribute to our efforts by becoming a Friend of the Hollow at the basic or sustaining membership level (fully tax-deductible) or by making a contribution to the Friends of the Hollow, Inc.


On this page:

  1. History
  2. Thomas Marshall
  3. John Marshall
  4. Friends of the Hollow, Inc.

Also on this site:

  1. Hollow News
  2. Autobiographical Letter of J. Marshall
  3. Architectural Scheme of the House
  4. Maps


The Hollow House was built prior to Thomas Marshall's 1765 move with his family from his first Fauquier County, Virginia home in the Germantown community near Midland. Our recently-commissioned dendrochronological (tree ring) analysis of the red and white oak timbers used to construct The Hollow revealed that they were felled after the 1763 growing season but before the 1764 season. The timbers were also growing at a slow rate of approximately 30- 40 years per inch of radius, as virgin trees in old-growth forest.

At the age of 35, Thomas Marshall, a native of Westmoreland County, Virginia, moved his young, growing family (John, 1755; Elizabeth, 1756; Mary, 1757; Thomas, 1761; James, 1764) to his newly constructed one and a half story frame house on a beautiful rise just north of the present-day Markham, Virginia. Five more children were born to Thomas and Mary Marshall while living at The Hollow (Judith, 1766; William and Charles, 1767; Lucy, 1768; Alexander, 1770) bringing the total number of children living in the house to ten before moving to Oak Hill near Delaplane, Virginia. In addition to the Marshall family, a Scottish minister, James Thomson, came to live there temporarily in 1767, later becoming minister of Leeds Parish.

Unlike the many log houses built in the frontier then, The Hollow is a rare existing example of a wood frame house that has not been incorporated into a more recent structure.

The Fauquier County Deed Book reveals that Thomas Marshall leased a 330 acre tract encompassing this property from Thomas Ludwell Lee and Richard Henry Lee in 1765. The lease was to run the lives of Thomas, Mary or John, whichever was longest.

A 1910 picture of The Hollow was printed in the landmark 1916 biography of John Marshall by Albert Beveridge.

[Photograph of   the Hollow in 1910: click for hi-res pic]

Thomas Marshall

[Portrait of Mary   Randolph Marshall][Rare Portrait   of Thomas Marshall]

Thomas Marshall, born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, April 2, 1730, was, at age 29, made a justice of Fauquier. His father, John Marshall 'of the forest', was a small planter, who in 1727, acquired 200 acres of very poor (depleted) land on Appomattox Creek originally granted to 'Jno. Washington & Thomas Pope, gents -- -- -- & by them lost for want of seating'. Thomas Marshall inherited this property from his father but soon abandoned it for Fauquier County. By the time of the first court for Fauquier, he was living on Licking Run near Germantown, on land on which he had settled about 1754. In 1754, he married Mary Randolph Keith, daughter of the Rev. James Keith. The first of their 15 children, John , born on Licking Run, September 24, 1755, would later become Chief Justice of the United States.

In 1765, he leased 330 acres of land on Goose Creek known as "The Hollow", where he lived until 1773, when he purchased a tract of 1,700 acres on the Fredericksburg-Winchester road next to Little Cobbler Mountain. On his new land to the East, he built his next house, "Oak Hill."

By this time, he was the leading man of Fauquier. He sat in the House of Burgesses from 1761 to 1767, when he was appointed sheriff of the county. He was made a vestryman of Leeds on the creation of that parish in 1769 and again represented Fauquier in the Assembly from 1769 to 1773. He also sat as a member in 1775 and supported Patrick Henry in the Convention of that year.

He had some military training in the Indian wars and served successively as ensign, lieutenant and captain of the militia. When the Culpeper Minute Men were formed and mustered on September 1, 1775, Marshall, representing Fauquier, was made major. When his battalion was discharged after the battle of Great Bridge, he was transferred to the 3rd Virginia Line and marched north to join Washington. He was made lieutenant colonel on August 13, 1776, and on Christmas night of that year took part in the battle of Trenton. Promoted to colonel on February 21, 1777, he took command of this regiment and fought with the greatest gallantry at the battle of Brandywine, having two horses shot under him. A few months later, he was elected colonel of the Virginia State Regiment of Artillery.

After the war, Thomas Marshall sold 1000 acres of his Oak Hill estate and moved his family to Fayette County, Kentucky region, to pursue land warrants he and his family had earned as Revolutionary soldiers. Once there, he was appointed the Virginia government commissioner to settle disputed land claims and Kentucky agent for his close friend and military comrade George Washington. Washington, after being elected President, appointed Thomas Marshall federal whiskey tax collector.

Thomas Marshall died in Kentucky in 1802.

John Marshall

[Portrait of John   Marshall]

Thomas and Mary Keith Marshall's oldest son, John , is well known to American historians. He came to The Hollow with his parents and four younger siblings before 1765 and before his tenth birthday. There he lived and matured until, in 1773, he moved with his family to Oak Hill, a larger dwelling on land his father had purchased. Later, in 1790, he built a house in the Court End neighborhood of Richmond that is beautifully preserved and maintained.

The significance of The Hollow is greatly amplified by the fact that the greatest and most influential jurist in the history of the United States spent his boyhood under its roof. Indeed, in an autobiographical letter written to and at the request of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, John Marshall wrote "[a]t the age of twelve, I had transcribed Pope's Essay on Man, with some of his moral essays." By age sixteen, Marshall reported that he "continued my studies with no other aid than my Dictionary" and had "commenced reading Horace and Livy."

Friends of the Hollow, Inc.

The Friends of the Hollow, Inc. is a Virginia non-stock, non-profit charitable corporation formed in 1981 with the express purpose of preservation and restoration of The Hollow. Ultimately, the Friends hope to have The Hollow open to the public.

Basic membership dues are $10.00 per year and sustaining membership is $25.00 per year. Additional donations are welcome. Dues and contributions are fully tax deductible.

Please make checks payable to Friends of the Hollow, Inc. and mail to Friends of the Hollow, Inc., 1415 Snowden Rd, Delaplane, VA 20144.

The information in this site was compiled by Thomas Marshall deButts, President, Friends of the Hollow, Inc.
Black &   white picture of the Hollow today.

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Last updated: March 29, 2021