James W. (James William) Head.

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

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varieties of mint, liverwort, red-root, May apple, butterfly-
weed, milk weed, thorough-stem, trumpet- weed, Indian-
physic, lobelia inflata, and lobelia cardinalis , golden-rod, skunk-
cabbage, frost-weed, hoar-hound, and catnip.

The injurious plants with which the careful farmer must
contend are the wild garlic, tribby weed, dog fennel, two
varieties of the common daisy, oxeye daisy, St. John's wort,
blue thistle, common thistle, pigeon- weed, burdock, broad and
narrow- leaved dock, poke- weed, clot-bur, three- thorned bur,
supposed to have been introduced from Spain by the Merino
sheep, Jamestown or **jimson" weed, sorrel, and, in favorable
seasons, a heavy growth of lambs quarter and rag-weed.

Of introduced grasses, lyoudoun has red clover, timothy,
herd's-grass, orchard-grass, and Lucerne to which last little
attention is now given. Native grasses are the white clover,
spear grass, blue grass, fox-tail and crab grass, the two last-
named being summer or annual grasses. Several varieties of
swamp or marsh grass flourish under certain conditions, but
soon disappear with proper drainage and tillage.

Although some of the wild flowers of Loudoun merit the
attention of the florist, as a whole they have no commercial
value or significance and, for this reason, an enumeration of
the many varieties has not been thought expedient.

Fauna. — Wild ducks, geese, and turkeys, pheasants (Eng-
lish and Mongolian) , partridges and woodcock are among the
game fowls of Loudoun, and eagles, crows, buzzards, owls,


and hawks among the predatory. The usual list of song-
birds frequent this region in great numbers and receive some
protection under the stringent fish and game laws in force

Red and gray foxes, raccoons, opossums, woodchucks,
squirrels, hares and smaller animals are quite general.

In pioneer days the county abounded in the larger species
of game common to the forests of North America. Among
these were the beaver and otter, buffalo, deer, wolf, wild-cat,
panther, bear, fox, and elk or wapiti {^Cervus canadensis)^
noble herds of which ranged the mountain sides and valleys
of this section.


Good roads, always of immeasurable importance to the
farmer, were early made necessary by the tremendous crops
of marketable products harvested from Loudoun lands.
Though this need, in time, became imperative the roads were
never hastily and imperfectly constructed; they were built
with an eye single to permanence and with due allowance for
generations of unintermittent and augmentative traffic.

These roads yielded their promoters modest dividends, but
with the completion in I832 of the Chesapeake and Ohio
Canal, bordering the county just across the Potomac, trans-
portation to and from Washington (Georgetown) and Alex-
andria was materially cheapened and the earnings of the
turnpike companies suffered a corresponding decrease, the
income, in many cases, being barely sufficient to defray the
expense of maintenance. Tolls are now collected at only two
points in the County.

The turnpike craze spread to Loudoun not long after the
War of Independence and culminated about forty years later.

*No apology is offered for the omission of vital statistics that might
and would have been included in this department had earnest appeals
addressed to State officers and the State Corporation Commission met
with more courteous and, I might add, dutiful consideration. Not
the least assistance was vouchsafed by any of them.— The Author.


It wrought a revolution in public travel, relatively nearly as
great as that brought about by the railway craze in more
recent years. The corporate names of some of .the roads
constructed through Loudoun before its subsidence were, the
Goose Creek and Little River Turnpike, Loudoun and Berlin
(now Brunswick, Md.) Turnpike, Ashby's Gap Turnpike,
Leesburg Turnpike, Leesburg and Snicker's Gap Turnpike,
Little River Turnpike and Snicker's Gap Turnpike. Their
combined authorized capital stock was $637,325, of which
amount more than two-thirds was subscribed by individuals,
the State assuming the balance.

The system did not originate solely in a local want or de-
mand along the lines contemplated. Other causes were also
at the bottom of the movement. The settlement of the County
was necessarily by progressive though, at times, apparently
simultaneous steps. First came the settlement and location
of one or two towns, and the opening of communication
between them; then the advent of the trapper, hunter, and
scout into the unsettled portion; then came the land grants
and the settlement in isolated localities; then the blazed trail
to the parent towns and to the cabin of the pioneer or the
outposts; then the drift- ways, cart- ways, and the local roads
winding from cabin to cabin; then the town- ways and county
roads, with here and there the * ' provincial ' ' highways.

Today, the public roads and turnpikes of Loudoun are un-
questionably better than those of most counties and, in
obedience to a popular demand, are kept in a fair state of
repair. One or two of the main-traveled thoroughfares
would compare favorably with the best rural roads in the

Long before the Civil War, Little River was rendered
navigable from its mouth to Aldie by means of a lock and
dam system, this and more far-reaching improvements hav-
ing been undertaken by the "Goose Creek and Little River
Navigation Company" capitalized at $100,000. The dams
were destroyed by Federal invaders and never reconstructed.

Loudoun is traversed by the Washington and Ohio Divi-
sion of the Southern Railway, which penetrates the County


centrally from east to west and furnishes an lUtlet for her
immense shipments of cattle, grain and misc llaneous prod-
ucts. No less than twelve stopping points are recognized
within her limits, at all but three of which commodious
stations have been erected.

The original purpose of the promoters was to extend this
road to the coal-fields of Hampshire County, West Virginia
(then in Virginia) . The name under which it was incorpo-
rated was the "Alexandria, Loudoun and Hampshire Rail-
road." During the Civil War its bridges and tracks were
destroyed by order of General Lee and for some years after-
ward Loudoun was without adequate railwaj^ communica-
tion with the outside world.

The cost of construction between Alexandria and Lees-
burg, the first division of the work, was $1,538,744. The
line, many years afterward, was extended to Round Hill and
still later to Bluemont, at present the Westernmost terminal.
Stages, affording communication with Winchester and inter-
mediate towns of the Shenandoah Valley, are operated from
this point and between Leesburg and Middleburg and Point
of Rocks. Liveries are conducted in all the important towns.

The northern edge of the County is in easy communication
with the main line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and
the Chesapeake and Ohio canal just across the Potomac.

Large steel bridges, spanning the Potomac at Harpers
Ferry, Brunswick and Point of Rocks, afford convenient
ingress into West Virginia, Maryland and the not far-distant
state of Pennsylvania.

Further communication with the north is made possible by
a ferry (White's) in constant operation between Loudoun
and the Maryland shore.


Leesburg, a fine old town, the county-seat of Loudoun, lies
at the eastern base of Catoctin Mountain, 2^ miles from the
Potomac River at Balls Bluff, and 3^ miles west of Goose


Creek. It is in the northern part of the County, 40 miles
northwest of Washington, 153 miles in a like direction from
Richmond, the State capital, within a few miles of the pic-
turesque Blue Ridge Mountains and the celebrated Valley of
Virginia, 12 miles from Point of Rocks, Md., and about 22
miles from historic Harpers Ferry, W. Va. It occupies a high
and healthy plain, the environs of which are waving and well
cultivated and delightfully variegated by hill and dale.

The town derives its name from the Lees, who were among
the early settlers of the County, and was established by act of
the General Assembly, in September, 1758, in the thirty-second
year of the reign of George II. Nicholas Minor, who owned
sixty acres of land about the court-house, had subdivided this
tract and some of the lots had been built upon prior to the pas-
sage of the act. This instrument constituted "the Hon. Philip
lyudwell Lee, Esq., Thomas Mason, Esq., Francis Lightfoot
Lee (father of 'Light Horse Harry' of subsequent Revolu-
tionary fame), James Hamilton, Nicholas Minor, Josias Clap-
ham, ^neas Campbell, John Hugh, Francis Hague, and
William West, gentlemen," trustees for the newly established
town. Prior to its establishment it had borne the name
Georgetown, bestowed in honor of the then reigning English

*"In its birth and infancy the town was destined to win re-
nown, for it was first founded as a fort or outpost of the then
struggling colony of Virginia, as its narrow streets and close,
little red brick houses still testify, and for many years was the
most westerly post of the colony. At one time the entire town
was enclosed by stockades. ..."

''Following its establishment the little fort became the
principal outfitting post for the British and colonial forces in
the French and Indian war. Tradition still fondly points
to the stone house, famous as the headquarters of General
Braddock, who, it is claimed, passed through the place on his
last fatal march to the wilderness; but in the light of
thorough investigation this claim is found to be unsubstantiated.
*Mrs. A. H. Throckmorton in the Richmond Times.


While a division of his army, under command of the eccentric
old Sir Peter Halkett, did undoubtedly spend the night at the
plantation of Nicholas Minor, the principal founder of the town,
General Braddock is found to have gone in another direction."

Leesburg is governed by a mayor and common council and
had at the time of the last government census (1900) a popu-
lation of 1,513. An unusual percentage of its people are well
educated, and all proverbially hospitable.

The houses, many of which are of brick and stone construc-
tion, are built in a compact and substantial manner. In the
town and its environs are many of the most palatial residences
to be seen in Virginia. There are several wxll-kept public
roads leading from the town to the surrounding country seats
and stock farms, nearly all of which are modernized reminders
of the old plantation days.

With an elevation less than most points in the County, Lees-
burg, nevertheless, shares with them the distinction of being
unsurpassed for healthfulness and picturesqueness of sur-

Crossing at right angles, its streets are regular and spacious
and lighted by electricity. Many of its dwellings and busi-
ness houses are also equipped with electric lighting facilities,
power for which is generated at a plant located near Belmont,
on Goose Creek, and controlled by Leesburg capitalists. In
almost every quarter of the town are brick and granolithic
sidewalks, fringed with the usual varieties of shade trees.

Some of the municipal advantages not already enumerated
are a sewerage system, a fire department, a public library, police
protection and a thoroughly modern system of water-works
of a capacity sufficient to supply the entire corporation with
absolutely pure water from a noted spring issuing near the
base of Catoctin Mountain.

Some of the public buildings are a town hall, one of the
largest brick edifices in Northern Virginia; a comparatively
new court-house and a clerk's office,* both venerable structures

*Prior to 1873, the Leesburg Academy.


with imposing facades lending them an exquisite air of Colo-
nialism, the two liberally disposed over a fenced area with
sloping lawns and umbrageous shade; a brick jail (County)
containing eight steel cells, commodious residential quarters
for the jailer and his family and having, as an humanitarian
feature, a sunny court with towering walls; a remodelled brick
academy and a colored school, both comprising primary, inter-
mediate, and high school divisions, and provided with ample
educational facilities and extensive playgrounds.

The town has 7 churches representing all the leading denom-
inations, a Young Men's Christian Association branch, 5 fra-
ternal orders and a weekly newspaper. Eight trains arrive at
and depart from I^eesburg daily.

Among the local enterprises are two handsome banking
houses (the *%oudoun National Bank" and "Peoples Na-
tional Bank' ' ) , 2 large hotels affording accommodations for
130 guests, several boarding houses, stores handling every
class and grade of merchandise, an artificial ice plant with a
daily capacity of 5 tons, a large race course on the outskirts
of the town where are held annually a horse show, races and
other like events, a confectionery and bakery, an ice cream
factory, a pop factory, two harness factories, a lumber and
planing mill, 2 private schools, 3 cobblers' establishments, 2
livery stables, 3 blacksmith shops, 2 furniture houses, 2 under-
taking establishments, 2 grain elevators, a lime quarry, 3
wheelwright shops, 2 tinning establishments, a concrete con-
struction plant, monument works, wood and coal yard, Stand-
ard Oil Company's branch and packing house.

Leesburg probably has more than the usual number of res-
ident physicians, lawyers, and mechanics to be found in towns
of a corresponding size.

Round Hill.

Round Hill, a thriving railway town in the western part of
the County, lies 3 miles east of Bluemont, 3 miles west of
Purcellville, and 53 miles from the city of Washington. It


is the second largest town in Loudoun, has an elevation of
about 600 feet above mean tide and is in the midst of a rich
farming region abounding with streams of pure water from
mountain water-courses. The town's name is derived from a
conical hill projecting from the base of the Blue Ridge Moun-
tains, 2 miles away. It has a population of 450, 20 of which
number are merchants and mechanics, and a newly established


Waterford, a thriving Quaker settlement, is situated on
Catoctin Creek in the northern part of the County, 6 miles
south of Taylorstown, 7 miles northwest of Leesburg, 47 miles
in a like direction from Washington and 159 miles north of
Richmond. It was named after the town of Waterford, in
Ireland, where some of its founders had formerly resided. The
first house within the town limits was built by one Asa Moore,
and remains standing at the present day. In common with
the other towns and villages of the famous Loudoun Valley,
Waterford is noted for its numerous and inexhaustible wells
of the purest and best water, bracing air and low mortality
rate. It has 383 inhabitants, 14 of whom are merchants and


Hamilton, one of the prettiest towns in the County, is spread
over a considerable area and occupies one of the highest points
in the beautiful Loudoun Valley. It is about 46 miles by rail
from Washington, 3 miles from Purcellville and only a few
miles from both the Catoctin and Blue Ridge mountains,
walling the valley to the east and west, and is the center of a
group of seven towns and villages within a radius of 5 miles.
It has 364 inhabitants, of which number 18 are merchants
and mechanics.


Purcellville, in the western part of the County with an
approximate elevation of 500 feet, is about 50 miles from


Washington, 3 miles from both Round Hill and Hamilton, and
2}^ miles from Lincoln. It is delightfully situated in the center
of one of the finest agricultural districts in the Loudoun
Valley and has a population of 3OO, 1 7 merchants and me-
chanics and a national bank.


Middleburg, situated on Goose Creek in the southwestern
part of Loudoun, is 12 miles from the summit of the Blue
Ridge at Ashby's Gap, 5 miles west of Aldie, ^ of a mile
from the Fauquier line, and 16 miles by stage from Leesburg,
the seat of government. It is a growing and prosperous com-
munity, elevated and airy and overlooking a broad expanse of
rich territory. Fourteen of its 296 inhabitants are merchants
and mechanics.


Ashburn, a railway town in lower Loudoun, formerly known
as Farmwell, is 34 miles from Washington, 3I miles from
Alexandria, 4 miles northwest of Sterling, and 6 miles from
Leesburg. It is in the heart of one of the richest and most
extensive dairying sections of the State, and has become some-
what famous as a resort for anglers, the bass fishing in Goose
Creek, near by, being eminently satisfying and attracting
many devotees of the sport from Washington and other more
distant points.


Bluemont, formerly known as Snickersville , is an attractive
village, snugly and advantageously situated at the south-
eastern base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 3 miles from
Round Hill, 54 miles by rail from Washington, and 165 miles
from Richmond. It is on the western edge of the most densely
populated section of Loudoun, and boasts modern hotels and
boarding houses, two liveries, a grain elevator, and many hand-
some dwellings. Two turnpikes, leading from Washington


and Alexandria to Winchester, intersect at this point. Blue-
mont is a popular summer resort, and lies within a very short
distance of both the "Bears' Den" and "Raven Rocks," jut-
ting points on the western slope of the Blue Ridge, from which
magnificent views may be had of the Shenandoah valley and
river and the Alleghany and North mountains. The town
has a population of 200, 14 of which number are merchants
and mechanics.

Smaller Towns,

Other towns, post villages and settlements in the County
are: Airmont, 2}^ miles from Bluemont, population 25; Aldie^
on lyittle River, 5 miles from both Middleburg and Oatlands
and 12 miles from Leesburg, the County seat, population 155,
7 merchants and mechanics; Arcola,\6 miles from Sterling and
12 miles from lycesburg, population 100, 4 merchants and
mechanics; Belmont Park, a small railway station on the east
bank of Goose Creek about 4 miles east of Leesburg, formerly
a picturesque resort and popular excursion point managed by
the old Richmond and Danville Railroad Company, attracting,
during the few years of its operation, many thousands of
visitors; Bloom field, 7 miles from Round Hill, population 50;
Britain, 8 miles from Purcellville, population 15; Clarkes
Gap, one of the highest and healthiest points in the County
and an important shipping point, draining a large extent of
fertile country, 4 miles west of Leesburg, population 25;
Conklin, 10 miles from Sterling, population 10; Daysville, 2
miles from Sterling, population 20; Elvan, 1 mile from Lov-
ettsville, population 18; Evergreen Mills, 7 miles from Lees-
burg, population 10; Georges Mill, in the extreme northwest-
ern part of the County; Hillsboro, 5 miles by stage from Pur-
cellville, population I3I. 9 merchants and mechanics; Hughes-
ville, 7 miles from Leesburg, population 12; Irene, on the
Southern Railway one mile from Hamilton and the railroad
station for that town, population 20; Leithton, 8 miles from
Purcellville and Round Hill, population 25; Lenah, "^ miles


west of Areola, population 25; Levy, on Bull Run, 3 miles
south of Aldie; Lincoln, ly^ miles southeast of Purcellville, in
the heart of the "Quaker Settlement," population 200, 3 mer-
chants and mechanics; Lovettsville, 2^ or 3 miles south of
Brunswick, Md., and 7 miles from both Waterford and Har-
pers Ferry, W. Va., in an industrious and progressive German
neighborhood, population 97, 16 merchants and mechanics;
Luckets, 5 miles from Point of Rocks, Maryland, and 7 miles
from lycesburg, population 50, 8 merchants and mechanics;
Lunette, 4 miles south of Areola, population 10; Mahala, 2
miles from Ashburn, population 15; Mechanicsville\ Mountain
Gap, 4% miles by stage from Leesburg, population 25; Mount
Gilead, a centrally and charmingly situated village on Catoc-
tin Mountain about 8 miles respectively from the towns of
lycesburg, Middleburg and Aldie, population 50; Mountville^
a small settlement in a neighborhood abounding with best
quality lime and other minerals, 2^ miles southeast of Philo-
mont and about 1 >^ miles from both the waters of Goose
Creek and Beaver Dam, population 25; Morrisonville , 6 miles
by stage from Brunswick, Maryland, and 4 miles from Lov-
ettsville, population 20; Neersville, 5 miles by stage from Har-
pers Ferry, W. Va., population 25; North Fork, 6 miles from
Purcellville, population 26; Oatlands, bordering on Catoctin
Mountain 7 miles southwest of Leesburg and 5 miles north of
Aldie, population 20; PcBonian Springs, 1 mile northwest of
Clarke's Gap, population 112, 6 merchants and mechanics;
Paxson, an exceptionally healthy community 2 miles east of
Bluemont, population 1 5 ; Philomont, a Quaker settlement lying

3 miles southeast of Silcott Springs in a fertile and wealthy
wheat-growing neighborhood, population l6l; Royville, 2
miles north of Areola; Ryan, 2 miles south of Ashburn, popu-
lation 50; Silcott Springs, a one-time noted resort 3>^ miles
southwest of Purcellville, population 25; Sycoline, between

4 and 5 miles south of Leesburg; Stumptown, 2 miles from
Luckets, population 20; Taylorstown, 3 miles southwest of
Point of Rocks, Md., population 50; Trapp, 5 miles from Blue-
mont, population 36; Unison, 6 miles from Bluemont and 9



miles from Purcellville, population 100, 3 merchants and me-
chanics; Watson, 9 miles from Leesburg, population 10;
Waxpool, 2>^ miles north of Royville and 8 miles from Lees-
burg, population 25; Welbourne, about 5 miles northeast of
Upperville, in Fauquier county; Wheatland, 5 miles from both
Hamilton and Purcellville, population 25; Willard, 5 miles
southwest of Herndon, in Fairfax county, and Woodburn, 3
miles from lycesburg, population 15-



The area of Loudoun County is variously reckoned at 46O,
468, 495, 504, 510, 519, 520, and 525 square miles. The
approximate accuracy of any single estimate in this confused
assortment can not easily be determined, none, so far as is
known, having been officially confirmed. Yardley Taylor,
who, in 1853, made a most careful survey of the County, fixed
its area at 525 square miles. By far the most trustworthy
authority in this and certain other connections, his findings
have been adopted with little uncertainty or hesitation.

Of this number, 207 square miles lie east of Catoctin
Mountain and are of the upper secondary formation, while
the remaining 3I8 square miles to the westward are of primi-
tive formation.

The longest line across the County is 35 miles, and extends
from the lower end of Lowe's Island at the old mouth of
Sugarland Run, to the summit of the Blue Ridge at Ashby's
Gap; the second longest, 34 miles, extends from the corner of
Jefferson County, West Virginia, at the margin of the Potomac
River below Harpers Ferry, to the corner of Fairfax County
on Bull Run, within half a mile of Sudley Springs in Prince
William County.




Within the limits of lyoudoun are included 313,902* acres
of the finest farm land to be found in any county of the State.
The farms number 1,948, the average size being 162 acres.
They are smallest in the northwestern portion of the county
and of moderate size in the central portions, the lar-gest
occurring in the southern and eastern portions. In 1900,
1,754, or 90 per cent, were operated by white farmers, and
194, or 10 per cent, operated by colored farmers.

TabIvE l.—Summary by Decades of the Improved and Unimproved Land
in Farms, with per cent of Increase and Decrease.

Acres of Land in Farms.

Per cent of Increase.
































Th :i most striking fact to be noted concerning the reported
farm areas is the comparatively great decrease in the decade
i860 to 1870. This was, of course, one of the disastrous

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Online LibraryJames W. (James William) HeadHistory and comprehensive description of Loudoun County, Virginia [electronic resource] → online text (page 6 of 15)