James W. (James William) Head.

History and comprehensive description of Loudoun County, Virginia [electronic resource] online

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Online LibraryJames W. (James William) HeadHistory and comprehensive description of Loudoun County, Virginia [electronic resource] → online text (page 1 of 15)
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5I0UD0UN County exemplifies country
life in about the purest and pleasantest
form that I have yet found in the
United States. Not that it is a rural
Utopia by any means, but the chief
ideals of the life there are practically
identical with those that have made country life in
the English counties world-famous. As a type, this
is, in fact, the real thing. No sham, no artificiality,
no suspicion of mushroom growth, no evidence of
exotic forcing are to be found in lyoudoun, but the
culmination of a century's development."

"So much, then, to show briefly that I^oudoun
County life is a little out of the ordinary, here in
America, and hence worth talking about. There are
other communities in Virginia and elsewhere that are
worthy of eulogy, but I know of none that surpasses
Ivoudoun in the dignity, sincerity, naturalness, com-
pleteness and genuine success of its country life." —
WAIyTER A. DYER, in Country Life in America.


(Fable of Cotttenta.


Introduction 9-14

Situation 15-16

Boundaries 16-18

Topography 18-20

Comparative Ai^titudes 21-22

Drainage 22-25

C1.1MATE 25-26

GE01.0GY 26-44

Summar) 26-3O

Granite 30

lyoudoun Formation 3O-32

Weverton Sandstone 32-34

Newark System 34-36

Newark Diabase 36-38

Catoctin Schist 38-39

Rocks of the Piedmont Plain 39-40

Lafayette Formation 40-41

Metamorphism 41-44

MiNERAi, AND Kindred Deposits 44-49

Soii,s 49-66

Summary 49-52

lyoudoun Sandy lyoam 53-54

PennClay .54-55

Penn Stony Loam 55-56

Iredell Clay Loam 56-58

Penn Loam 58-59

Cecil Loam 59-60

Cecil Clay 60-62



Soils— Continued . 49-66

Cecil Silt Loaui 62-63

Cecil Mica Loam 63-64

De Kalb Stony I^oam 64-65

Porters Clay 65-66

Meadow 66

Fi,ORA AND Fauna 67-69

Flora 67-68

Fauna 68-69

Transportation Facii^itiks. 69-71

Towns and Vii.i.ages 71-79

Leesburg 71-74

Round Hill 74-75

Waterford 75

Hamilton 75

Purcellville 75-76

Middleburg 76

Ashburn 76

Bluemont 76-77

Smaller Towns 77-79

Area and Farming Tabui^ations 8I-83

P0PU1.AT10N 83-87

Industries 87-91

Farm Vai^ues 91-93

Live Stock 94-97

Values 94

Animals Sold and Slaughtered 94

Neat cattle 95

Dairy Products 95-96

Steers 96

Horses, Mules, etc 96

Sheep, Goats, and Swine 96-97


lyivK Stock — Continued 94-97

Domestic Wool 97

Poultry and Bees 97

Soil. Products 98-100

Values 98

Corn and Wheat 98

Oats, Rye, and Buckwheat 98-99

Hay and Forage Crops 99

Miscellaneous Crops, etc 99

Orchard Fruits, etc 100

Small Fruits, etc 100

Flowers, Ornamental Plants, etc 100

Farm Labor and FejrtiIvIzkrs 101-102

Labor 101

Fertilizers 101-102

Education and Rejligion 102-105

Education 102-104

Religion 104-105

Formation 107-109

Derivation of Name 109-110

SettivEment and Personnei. 110-113

EarIvY Habits, Customs, and Dress II3-I23

Habits 113-115

Customs 116-120

Dress 120-123

French and Indian War 123-124

Representation. .124-127

Colonial Assemblies 124-125

State Conventions 125-127

The REV01.UT10N 127-138

Loudoun's Loyalty 127

Resolutions of Loudoun County 127-129


The Revolution — Continued 127 138

Revolutionary Committees 130-131

Soldiery 131-132

Quaker Non-Participation 132-133

Loudoun's Revolutionary Hero 133-134

Army Recommendations 134-135

Court Orders and Reimbursements 135-137

Close of the Struggle 13^

War OP 1812 138-139

The Compelling Cause. .138-139

State Archives at Leesburg 139

The Mason-McCarty Duel 140

Home of President Monroe • . .141-142

General Lafayette's Visit 142-144

Mexican War 144

Secession and Civil War 145-180

Loudoun County in the Secession Movement. .145-148

Loudoun's Participation in the War 149-151

The Loudoun Rangers (Federal) 151-153

Mosby's Command in its Relationship to Lou-
doun County 153-157

Mosby at Hamilton (Poem) 157

Battle of Leesburg (^'Ball's Bluff") 158-I64

Munford's Fight at Leesburg 164-1 65

Battle at Aldie 165-169

Duffie at Middleburg 169-171

The Sacking of Loudoun 171-174

Home Life During the War 174-175

Pierpont's Pretentious Administration 176-177

Emancipation 177-179

Close of the War 179-180

Reconstruction I80-I86

After the Surrender I8O-I83

Conduct of the Freedmen I83-I86

Conclusion 1 86


KNOW not when I first planned this work, so
inextricably is the idea interwoven with a
fading recollection of my earliest aims and am-
bitions. However, had I not been resolutely
determined to conclude it at any cost — men-
tal, physical, or pecuniary — the difficulties that
I have experienced at every stage might have led to its early

The greatest difficulty lay in procuring material which
could not be supplied by individual research and investiga-
tion. For this and other valid reasons that will follow it may
safely be said that more than one-half the contents of this
volume are in the strictest sense original, the remarks and
detail, for the most part, being the products of my own per-
sonal observation and reflection. Correspondence with individ-
uals and the State and National authorities, though varied
and extensive, elicited not a half dozen important facts. I
would charge no one with discourtesy in this particular, and
mention the circumstance only because it will serve to empha-
size what I shall presently say anent the scarcity of available

lyikewise, a painstaking perusal of more than two hundred

46-2 (9)


volumes yielded only meagre results, and in most of these
illusory references I found not a single fact worth recording.
This comparatively prodigious number included gazeteers,
encyclopedias, geographies, military histories, general his-
tories, State and National reports, journals of legislative pro-
ceedings, biographies, genealogies, reminiscences, travels,
romances — in short, any and all books that I had thought
calculated to shed even the faintest glimmer of light on the
County's history, topographical features, etc.

But, contrary to my expectations, in many there appeared
no manner of allusion to I^oudoun County. By this it will be
seen that much time that might have been more advan-
tageously employed was necessarily given to this form of
fruitless research.

That works of history and geography can be prepared in
no other way, no person at all acquainted with the nature of
such writings need be told. "As well might a traveler pre-
sume to claim the fee-simple of all the country which he has
surveyed, as a historian and geographer expect to preclude
those who come after him from making a proper use of his
labors. If the former writers have seen accurately and re-
lated faithfully, the latter ought to have the resemblance of
declaring the same facts, with that variety only which nature
has enstamped upon the distinct elaborations of every individ-
ual mind. ... As works of this sort become multiplied,
voluminous, and detailed, it becomes a duty to literature to
abstract, abridge, and give, in synoptical views, the informa-
tion that is spread through numerous volumes."

Touching the matter gleaned from other books, I claim the
sole merit of being a laborious and faithful compiler. In some
instances, where the thoughts could not be better or more
briefly expressed, the words of the original authors may
have been used.

WKere this has been done I have, whenever possible, made,
in my footnotes or text, frank and ample avowal of the
sources from which I have obtained the particular information
presented. This has not always been possible for the reason


that I could not name, if disposed, all the sources from which
I have sought and obtained information. Many of the ref-
erences thus secured have undergone a process of sifting and,
if I may coin the couplet, confirmatory handling which, at
the last, rendered some unrecognizable and their origin

The only publication of a strictly local color unearthed
during my research was Tajdor's Memoir of Loudoun, a small
book, or more properly a pamphlet, of only 29 pages, dealing
principally with the County's geology, geography, and cli-
mate. It was written to accompany the map of Loudoun
County, drawn by Yardley Taylor, surveyor; and was pub-
lished by Thomas Reynolds, of Leesburg, in 1853-

I wish to refer specially to the grateful acknowledgment
that is due Arthur Keith's Geology of the Catodin Belt
and Carter's and Lyman's Soil Survey of the Leesburg Area^
two Government publications, published respectively by the
United States Geological Survey and Department of Agricul-
ture, and containing a fund of useful information relating
to the geology, soils, and geography of about two-thirds of
the area of Loudoun. Of course these works have been the
sources to which I have chiefly repaired for information
relating to the two first-named subjects. Without them the
cost of this publication would have been considerably aug-
mented. As it is I have been spared the expense and labor that
would have attended an enforced personal investigation of the
County's soils and geology.

And now a tardy and, perhaps, needless w^ord or two in
revealment of the purpose of this volume.

To rescue a valuable miscellany of facts and occurrences
from an impending oblivion; to gather and fix certain ephem-
eral incidents before they had passed out of remembrance;
to render some account of the County's vast resources and
capabilities; to trace its geography and analyze its soils and
geology; to follow the tortuous windings of its numerous
streams; to chronicle the multitudinous deeds of sacrifice and
daring performed by her citizens and soldiery — such has been
the purpose of this work, such its object and design.


But the idea as originally evolved contemplated only a
chronology of events from the establishment of the County to
the present day. Not until the work was well under way
was the matter appearing under the several descriptive heads

From start to finish this self-appointed task has been prose-
cuted with conscientious zeal and persistency of purpose,
although with frequent interruptions, and more often than
not amid circumstances least favorable to literary composi-
tion. At the same time my hands have been filled with
laborious avocations of another kind.

What the philosopher Johnson said of his great Dictionary
and himself could as well be said of this humble volume and
its author:

* 'In this work, when it shall be found that much is omitted,
let it not be forgotten that much likewise is performed; and
though no book was ever spared out of tenderness to the
author, and the world is little solicitous to know whence pro-
ceeded the faults of that which it condemns; yet it may gratify
curiosity to inform it, that the English Dictionary was written
with little assistance of the learned, and without any patron-
age of the great; not in the soft obscurities of retirement, or
under the shelter of academick bowers, but amidst inconven-
ience and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow."

If further digression be allowable I might say that in the
preparation of this work I have observed few of the restric-
tive rules of literary sequence and have not infrequently gone
beyond the prescribed limits of conventional diction. To these
transgressions I make willing confession. I have striven to
present these sketches in the most lucid and concise form
compatible with readableness; to compress the greatest possi-
ble amount of useful information into the smallest compass.
Indeed, had I been competent, I doubt that I would have
attempted a more elaborate rendition, or drawn more freely
upon the language and the coloring of poetry and the imagina-
tion. I have therefore to apprehend that the average reader


will find them too statistical and laconic, too much abbre-
viated and void of detail.

However, a disinterested historian I have not been, and
should such a charge be preferred I shall look for speedy
exculpation from the discerning mass of my readers.

In this connection and before proceeding further I desire to
say that my right to prosecute this work can not fairly be
questioned; that a familiar treatment of the subject I have
regarded as m}^ inalienable prerogative. I was born in
lyoudoun County, of parents who in turn could boast the same
distinction, and, if not all, certainly the happiest days of my
life were passed within those sacred precincts. I have viewed
her housetops from every crowning eminence, her acres of un-
matched grain, her Arcadian pastures and browsing herds,
her sun-kissed hills and silvery, serpentine streams. I have
known the broad, ample playgrounds of her stately old
Academy, and shared in the wholesome, health-giving sports
their breadth permitted. I have known certain of her astute
schoolmasters and felt the full rigor of their discipline. Stern
tutors they were, at times seemingly cruel, but what retro-
spective mind will not now accord them unstinted praise and
gratitude? Something more than the mere awakening and
development of slumbering intellects was their province: raw,
untamed spirits were given into their hands for a brief spell —
brief when measured in after years — and were then sent forth
to combat Life's problems with clean hearts, healthy minds,
robust bodies, and characters that might remain unsullied
though beset with every hellish device known to a sordid
world. God bless the dominies of our boyhood — the veteran
schoolmasters of old Loudoun!

But to return to my theme. I have a distinct foresight of
the views which some will entertain and express in reference
to this work, though my least fears of criticism are from those
whose experience and ability best qualify them to judge.

However, to the end that criticism may be disarmed even
before pronouncement, the reader, before condemning any
statements made in these sketches that do not agree with his


preconceived opinions, is requested to examine all the facts in
connection therewith. In so doing it is thought he will find
these statements correct in the main.

In such a variety of subjects there must of course be many
omissions, but I shall be greatly disappointed if actual errors
are discovered.

In substantiation of its accuracy and thoroughness I need
only say that the compilation of this work cost me three years
of nocturnal application — the three most ambitious and dis-
quieting years of the average life. During this period the
entire book has been at least three times rewritten.

In the best form of which I am capable the fruits of these
protracted labors are now committed to the candid and, it is
hoped, kindly judgment of the people of Loudoun County.

Jamks W. Head.

Barcroft, Va., Feb. i, igog.



Loudoun County lies at the northern extremity of "Pied*
mont Virginia,"* forming the apex of one of the most pictur-
esquely diversified regions on the American continent. Broad
plains, numerous groups and ranges of hills and forest-clad
mountains, deep river gorges, and valleys of practically every
conceivable form are strewn to the point of prodigality over
this vast undulatory area.

The particular geographic location of Loudoun has been
most accurately reckoned by Yardley Taylor, who in 1853
made a governmental survey of the county. He placed it
"between the latitudes of 38° 52>^'' and 39° 2V' north
latitude, making 28>^'' of latitude, or 33 statute miles, and
between 20" and 53>^'' of longitude west from Washington,
being 33>^'' of longitude, or very near 35 statute miles."

Loudoun was originally a part of the six million acres
which, in 1661, were granted by Charles II, King of England,
to Lord Hopton, Earl of St. Albans, Lord Culpeper, Lord
Berkeley, Sir William Morton, Sir Dudley Wyatt, and Thomas
Culpeper. All the territory lying between the Rappahannock

* "Piedmont" means "foot of the mountain." "Piedmont Virginia,"
with a length of 250 miles and an average width of about 25 miles,
and varying in altitude from 300 to 1,200 feet, lies just east of the Bine
Ridge Mountains, and comprises the counties of Loudoun, Fauquier,
Culpeper, Rappahannock, Madison, Greene, Orange, Albemarle, Nelson,
Amherst, Bedford, Franklin, Henry, and Patrick. It is a portion of the
belt that begins in New ^England and stretches thence southward to
Georgia and Alabama.



and Potomac rivers to their sources was included in this
grant, afterwards known as the "Fairfax Patent," and still
later as the "Northern Neck of Virginia."

"The only conditions attached to the conveyance of this
domain, the equivalent of a principality, were that one-fifth
of all the gold and one-tenth of all the silver discovered
within its limits should be reserved for the royal use, and
that a nominal rent of a few pounds sterling should be paid
into the treasury at Jamestown each year. In 1669 the letters
patent were surrendered by the existing holders and in their
stead new ones were issued. . . . The terms of these
letters required that the whole area included in this magnifi-
cent gift should be planted and inhabited by the end of
twenty-one years, but in 1688 this provision was revoked by
the King as imposing an impracticable condition."*

The patentees, some years afterward, sold the grant to the
second Lord Culpeper, to whom it was confirmed by letters
patent of King James II, in 1688. From Culpeper the rights
and privileges conferred by the original grant descended
through his daughter, Catherine, to her son, Lord Thomas
Fairfax, Baron of Cameron — a princely heritage for a young
man of 20 years.


The original boundaries of Loudoun County were changed
by the following act of the General Assembly, passed Jan-
uary 3, 1798, and entitled "An Act for adding part of the
county of Loudoun to the county of Fairfax, and altering
the place of holding courts in Fairfax County."

1 . Be it enacted by the General Assembly^ That all that part of the county
of Loudoun lying between the lower boundary thereof, and a line to be
drawn from the mouth of Sugar Land run, to Carter's mill, on Bull run,
shall be, and is hereby added to and made part of the countj- of Fairfax:
Provided always, That it shall be lawful for the sheriff of the said county
of Loudoun to collect and make distress for any public dues or officers
fees, which shall remain unpaid by the inhabitants of that part of the

*Bruce's Economic History of Virginia.


said county hereby added to the county of Fairfax, and shall be account-
able for the same in like manner as if this act had not been made.

2. And be it further enacted. That it shall be lawful for a majority of
the acting justices of the peace for the said county of Fairfax, together
with the justices of the county of Loudoun included within the part
thus added to the said county of Fairfax, and they are hereby required
at a court to be held in the month of April or May next, to fix on a
place for holding courts therein at or as near the center thereof (having
regard to that part of the county of Loudoun hereby added to the said
county of Fairfax) as the situation and convenience will admit of; and
thenceforth proceed to erect the necessary public buildings at such
place, and until such buildings be completed, to appoint any place for
holding courts as they shall think proper.

3. This act shall commence and be in force from and after the pass-
ing thereof.

As at present bounded, the old channel at the mouth of
Sugar Ivand run, at I^owe's Island,* is "the commencement
of the line that separates I^oudoun from Fairfax County and
runs directly across the country to a point on the Bull Run
branch of Occoquan River, about three eighths of a mile
above Sudley Springs, in Prince William County." The Bull
Run then forms the boundary between Loudoun and Prince
William to its highest spring head in the Bull Run mountain,
just below the Cool Spring Gap. The line then extends to
the summit of the mountain, where the counties of Fauquier
and Prince William corner. From the summit of this moun-
tain, a direct line to a pointf on the Blue Ridge, at Ashby's

*"What is called Lowe's Island, at the mouth of Sugarland Run, was
formerly an island, and made so by that run separating and part of it
passing into the river by the present channel, while a part of it entered
the river by what is now called the old channel. This old channel is
now partially filled up, and only receives the waters of Sugarland Run
in times of freshets. Occasionally when there is high water in the river
the waters pass up the present channel of the run to the old channel,
and then follow that to the river again. This old channel enters the
river immediately west of the ,primordial range of rocks, that impinge
so closely upon the river from here to Georgetown, forming as they do
that series of falls known as Seneca Falls, the Great, and the Little
Falls, making altogether a fall of 188 feet in less than 20 miles.'*—
Memoir of Loudoun,

fDesignated in an old record as a "double-bodied poplar tree stand-
ing in or near the middle of the thoroughfare of Ashby's Gap on the
top of the Blue Ridge." It succumbed to the ravages of time and fire
while this work was in course of preparation.


Gap, marks the boundary between Loudoun and Fauquier
counties. A devious line, whicli follows in part the crests of
the Blue Ridge until reaching the Potomac below Harpers
Ferry, separates Loudoun from Clarke County, Virginia, and
Jefferson County, West Virginia, on her western border.
The Potomac then becomes the dividing line between
Loudoun County, and Frederick and Montgomery counties,
Maryland; "and that State, claiming the whole of the river,
exercises jurisdiction over the islands as well as the river."

This completes an outline of 109 miles, viz: 19 miles in
company with Fairfax, 10 with Prince William, 17 with
Fauquier, 26 with Clarke and Jefferson, and 37 miles along
the Potomac.


Loudoun County is preeminently a diversified region; its
surface bearing many marked peculiarities, many grand dis-
tinctive features. The broken ranges of hills and mountains,
abounding in Piedmont Virginia, here present themselves in
softly rounded outline, gradually sinking down into the
plains, giving great diversity and picturesqueness to the land-
scape. They are remarkable for their parallelism, regularity,
rectilineal direction and evenness of outline, and constitute
what is by far the most conspicuous feature in the topography
of Loudoun. Neither snow-capped nor barren, they are clothed
with vegetation from base to summit and afford fine range
and pasturage for sheep and cattle.

The main valleys are longitudinal and those running trans-
versely few and comparatively unimportant.

The far-famed Loudoun valley, reposing peacefully between
the Blue Ridge and Catoctin mountains, presents all the many
varied topographic aspects peculiar to a territory abounding
in foothills.

The Blue Ridge, the southeasternmost range of the AUe-
ghanies or Appalachian System presents here that uniformity
and general appearance which characterizes it throughout the


State, having gaps or depressions every eight or ten miles,
through which the public roads pass. The most important of
these are the Potomac Gap at 500 feet and Snickers and Ashby's
Gap, both at 1,100 feet. The altitude of this range in Lou-
doun varies from 1,000 to 1,600 feet above tide-water, and
from 300 to 900 feet above the adjacent country. It falls from
1,100 to 1,000 feet in 4 miles south of the river, and then,
rising sharply to 1,600 feet, continues at the higher series of
elevations. The Blue Ridge borders the county on the west,
its course being about south southwest, or nearly parallel
with the Atlantic Coast-line, and divides Loudoun from
Clarke County, Virginia, and Jefferson County, West Virginia,
the line running along the summit.

Of nearly equal height and similar features are the Short

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Online LibraryJames W. (James William) HeadHistory and comprehensive description of Loudoun County, Virginia [electronic resource] → online text (page 1 of 15)