1725-1742: Prominent Tidewater Virginia politicians and businessmen buy huge tracts in this era of land speculation. William Fairfax, uncle of Thomas sixth Lord Fairfax, amasses more than 35,000 acres; Francis Awbrey, 29,000 acres; Catesby Cocke, 23,000; John Colvill, 22,000; Robert Carter, Lord Fairfax's real estate agent, 21,000. These five own 40 percent of future Loudoun's 330,800 acres. The land is often leased in 100- to 200-acre tracts or after a few years is sold; many double their money.
Late 1720s: Pennsylvania and Maryland Germans, seeking inexpensive ground, cross the Potomac River. Without title, they settle on land owned by Lord Fairfax. Only later does he hear of squatters on his domain. The "Dutchmen," as they are called (for Deutscher men), head the first free families to settle upper Loudoun. Sixty German families follow in 1732-1733, and their area around Lovettsville takes the name "German Settlement," which remains its designation today.
1732: Robert Carter, now nicknamed "King," dies, leaving 300,000 acres in Virginia, 1,000 slaves and 10,000 pounds in money. "This fellow was my employee," Lord Fairfax might have remarked--and he decides it would be best if he came from England to America and managed his own affairs. His real estate office near White Post, in Clarke County, yet stands.
1732: During its first decade of intensive settlement, Loudoun--hitherto part of vast Stafford County--becomes part of Prince William County and its Anglican parish, called Truro. Residents pay taxes to both the county and the parish, for the parish takes care of the indigent and sick. In 1735, the first house of worship, the Anglican "Chappel At Ease above Goose Creek," arises on land belonging to Francis Awbrey. Because the church was denied a resident parson, one worshiped at ease.
1733: Amos Janney, a Quaker from Bucks County, Pa., founds the first village, Waterford, known until the 1780s as Janney's Mill. As with most Colonial villages, there are but a few dwellings, outbuildings and a mill. More than 20 years will pass before another urban setting arises.
1736: Lord Fairfax grants himself 122,852 acres along and atop the Blue Ridge. This Manor of Leeds, with some 10,000 acres in Loudoun and the remainder in Fauquier and Warren counties, gives him control over mountain passes leading to the Shenandoah Valley. Thomas Lee, Francis Awbrey, William Fairfax and John Colvill own most of the Potomac shoreline. They believe the river potentially navigable.
1740s: Quakers from the Philadelphia area, where farmland is scarce and expensive, concertedly settle upper Loudoun, from the German Settlement south to Beaverdam Creek. Many are of means, buying from 400 to more than 600 acres. They seek forests of oak, poplar and walnut; these trees grow on prime soils. Deeds sometimes mention "Poisoned fields," for surveyors believed thickets of scrub and poison ivy the result of poisoned ground water. In reality, they were areas Indians had burned.
1740s: Pathways wide enough for a horse, and some for a cart or rolling hogshead of tobacco, are called roads. The main north-south way, roughly paralleling today's James Monroe Highway, replaces the Indian "plain path." Called the Carolina Road, it ran from Frederick, Md., to the Carolina border and would retain preeminence until the building of the capital city at Washington in 1793.
Main east-west roads also approximate today's ways: "The Great Road from Vestal's Gap to Alexandria", now Charles Town Pike (Route 9) and Harry Byrd Highway (Route 7) east of Leesburg, and Colchester Road, now Snickersville Turnpike and Braddock Road, link the frontier to seaports.
1741: Francis Awbrey's ferry at Point of Rocks, Md., is the first to cross the Potomac. At Loudoun's formation in 1757, there are also ferries at Noland's, on the Carolina Road and at Clapham's (later Spinks'). By 1800, there will be seven ferries, all poled and guided by rope, along 25 riverside miles.
1742: Prince William County divides at Bull Run and a line drawn west to the Blue Ridge. The county to the north is named Fairfax and will include future Loudoun. Quakers at Waterford name their Friends' Meeting, established 1741, after the new county. The meetinghouse is the first area house of worship dissenting from the Church of England.
1742: A "Negro Quarter" of John Colvill, near the mouth of Quarter Branch, near Lovettsville, and the Potomac, is noted in a deed--the first mention in print of a slave population in the county. Tidewater planters often sent a white overseer with a dozen or so slaves to farm their holdings.
1749: Fairfax County's Truro Parish divides. The "Upper Parish," named Cameron--after Lord Fairfax's barony--will become the County of Loudoun. Parish Parson Charles Green's census counts some 1,800 people in the new parish. Negroes number about 400, 22 percent of the population. Absentee landlords from Stafford and Westmoreland counties own 70 percent of the slaves. Thomas Lee, governor of Virginia, leads the list with 61. Parson Green notes the religion of each adult resident: Most "have no religion at all but pass for Church men"; Quakers "make proselites & have matter of Triumph"; there are 23 "papists."
1754-1763: Rivalry for territory beyond the Appalachians fuels the French and Indian War. In 1754-1755, eight British commands trek the Vestal's Gap Road from Alexandria to Winchester. In April and May 1755, Sir Peter Halkett's Grenadiers of 44th of Foot, Gen. Edward Braddock's army, march to their defeat at Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh), where both Halkett and Braddock are killed. The Vestal Gap Road takes the appellation Braddock Road. To the south, after Braddock's defeat, John Ashby, who carried the bad news to Williamsburg, reports "settlers poured over the gap [Ashby's]" to safety east of the Blue Ridge.
1757: Despite protesting petitions from the mother county, Loudoun splits from Fairfax. Difficult Run and Little Rocky Run form the eastern boundary; these streams lie six to 10 miles east of the present, 1798 boundary. John Campbell, fourth Earl of Loudoun, governor of Virginia and commander in chief of British forces in North America, bestows his name upon the new county. His wartime prohibition on ships sailing from America to Europe causes goods to rot and merchants to lose money. Meanwhile, he can't make up his mind on how to conduct the war--after all, the family coat of arms bears the words "I Byde My Time," now Loudoun's official motto.
1758: Leesburg becomes the seat of county government and is the first town in Loudoun established by Virginia's General Assembly. Its name honors Thomas Lee, who died as governor in 1750. Its location, at the crossroads of the Carolina and Vestal's Gap roads, is nearly at the county's center, and people traveling to the courthouse by horseback can reach their destination and return in one day--if the streams don't rise.
1757-1773: Paralleling Colonial America's rapid growth, Loudoun's population increases from 3,500 at the county's formation to 11,000 at the eve of revolution. After the French and Indian War ends in 1763, locals own more slaves than do absentee landlords. The percentage of slaves decreases to 17.5 percent of the population (1,950 in 1773).
1760s: The rise in population and the Great Awakening, an evangelical movement sweeping the Colonies, leads to the organization and building of seven meetinghouses; only Anglicans are permitted to use the word "church." Other than Quakers, Baptists dominate the west, Lutherans and German Reformed the German Settlement, and Methodists build in Leesburg. There are four poorly attended Anglican churches, all in the county's east.
1774: To protest the December 1773 Intolerable Acts, restricting liberties of colonists, citizens meet at the courthouse in June and agree to oppose taxation without representation, punishment without trial and enforcement of any act of Parliament by the military. They vow "to have no commercial intercourse with Great Britain." Several Virginia counties meet at the same time, enacting similar resolutions.
1776: On Aug. 12, citizens hear the sheriff read "The Declaration of Independence by the Honorable Congress." Thomas Lee's son, Francis Lightfoot Lee, who lived where the Dulles International Airport terminal stands, is a signer. Nicholas Cresswell, who records life during these years, remarks in October that recruiting officers for the army offer "Twelve Pounds bounty and 200 acres of land when the War is over, but get very few men." Nevertheless, Loudoun's militia numbers 1,600, largest in the newly declared state of Virginia.
1776: Virginia's legislature orders the pacifist Quakers, ages 18 to 60, to serve in the militia. But Quakers can find substitutes, a common procedure through the Civil War. The Friends are revolutionary when it comes to race, however, telling all slave owners to resign from the faith.
1776-1783: Caches of arms and ammunition are stored at Noland's Ferry and Leesburg; they supply Continental troops traversing the Carolina Road. While there is no military action in the county, its farmers and merchants sell produce and supplies--several profiting to excess. Cresswell notes in early 1777 that Gen. George Washington's victory at Trenton, N.J., "cause the people to change their mind of the war a few days ago being a lost cause."
1781-1783: It's Lord Cornwallis against the Marquis de Lafayette in 1781, and that early June, Gen. Anthony Wayne's Pennsylvanians bolster the Marquis' command. Thousands of Wayne's ragtag troops extend for miles along the Carolina Road as the prelude to Yorktown begins. In October, combined French and American forces, outnumbering Cornwallis by two to one, overwhelm the British. With the 1783 Peace of Paris, normalcy will return for a scant generation.
CAPTION: Thomas Lee was a major area landowner and later governor of Virginia. The town of Leesburg was named to honor him.
CAPTION: The Goose Creek meetinghouse, built in 1765. In 1735, the Loudoun area's first house of worship, "Chappel At East above Goose Creek," was built.
CAPTION: Loudoun gets its name from John Campbell, fourth Earl of Loudoun, a governor of Virginia and commander in chief of British forces in North America during the French and Indian War. Right, Campbell's coat of arms.
CAPTION: Thomas Lee's son, Francis Lightfoot Lee, who lived in Loudoun, signed the Declaration of Independence.
CAPTION: John Henry's 1770 map shows 13-year-old Loudoun and surrounding counties.