PRESERVATION NEWS

Vault Field - Uncovering the Past 


When Keith and Joanne Meenan were constructing their Vault Field Winery, no one really knew why it was called Vault Field.  When they were digging the foundations for their winery building, however, they discovered an ancient brick structure underground.  They moved their building to protect the structure and there it remained for several years -- until PNNMP stepped in.

​Under the guidance of historian and genealogist Edward White, President of PNNMP, the structure was carefully uncovered -- a brick and oyster shell masonry building about eight feet square and three feet high.  This was the burial vault of Samuel, Martha, and Jeremiah Rust, colonial-era residents of the Northern Neck.

Ed White's research soon uncovered that the earliest mention of the Rust family was in 1661, when a court referred to landowners William Rust and Anne Rust of Yeocomico.  Their son Samuel (c.1665-1718) owned a number of parcels of land in what was then Northumberland County.  Samuel and his wife Anne had seven sons and two daughters, and the family kept acquiring land.  By the end of the 18th century, they owned about 3,000 acres in all.
In the 20th century the family scattered, moving to Old Frederick, Loudon, Prince William and Fairfax counties, but the Rust family name lives on.  One of the Rusts is a member of the House of Delegates, another owns Rust Construction Company of Alexandria.

PNNMP organized a rededication ceremony on June 9, 2013 for the burial vault, but it had to be reburied for its protection as the structure had somewhat deteriorated over the years and the rain was getting in.  This area is rich in historic structures,  both known and likely unknown.  Elba House, for example -- possibly the oldest structure in Westmoreland County -- lies just a mile northwest.