1900: For more than a decade, Loudoun has ranked first in Virginia in production of corn, butter and milk, third in wheat, horses and orchard grass. County ranks fourth in value of orchard produce. Its population remains stable at 21,948, with 5,868 African Americans. Leesburg, population of 1,550, is described in gazetteers as "a thriving town."
1900: The railroad, now part of J. Pierpont Morgan's sprawling Southern Railway System, reaches Snickersville at the base of the Blue Ridge and changes the village name to the more alluring Bluemont. Historian Briscoe Goodhart notes that the name change will "cause the ghost of Edward Snickers, the German pioneer, to haunt the officials of the Southern Railway forever." Morgan's men also altered the name of the village of Loudoun--previously Buchanan, then Guilford--to Sterling in 1887. The Southern segregates its passenger cars and waiting rooms.
1902: New Virginia Constitution inaugurates the literacy test and poll tax of $1.50 (50 cents more than the average daily wage) to disenfranchise black and poor white voters, who usually vote Republican. The number of county voters who cast ballots in the presidential election declines from 4,800 in 1899 to 2,072 in 1903. The era of almost complete segregation in Loudoun will continue until 1969.
1902: Loudoun's second lynching occurs during August Court Days, when farmers come to Leesburg to trade and listen to lawyers hold forth--a tradition dating from early 1800s. Drunken white men take the jailed prisoner to the hanging tree at Potter's Field. He had been accused of killing a juror who had helped send him to prison for burning a barn. During a long state inquest, no one identifies the lynchers. The incident ends Court Days.
1902: Electric lights go on in Leesburg, courtesy of Jack Whipple, a dashing entrepreneur who attaches a dynamo and turbine to wooden water wheel of Mavin's Mill on Goose Creek. Whipple's Leesburg Electric Co. survives until 1929, when it sells out to Virginia Public Service, later Virginia Power. Other Loudoun railroad towns and villages are lit when the railroad electrifies in 1912. Private power companies won't go into poor and sparsely populated areas, and much of rural Loudoun remains without electricity until the early 1940s.
ca. 1902: Whipple also owns the first auto in Loudoun, a Stanley Steamer with open sides and right-side steering wheel. Purcellville's Samuel Hatcher owned that section's first auto, a Schact, in 1907. Four years later, the town set an 8-mile-per-hour speed limit for motor cars. The states's speed limit in 1915 would be 15 mph. By then, convoys of weekend motorists cruise the countryside.
1903: Mount Weather, a U.S. weather observatory, opens atop the Blue Ridge. The next year, the National Geographic magazine features the station. Airplanes render Mount Weather obsolete, and it closes in 1919. The road (now Route 601) to the station, however, beckons well-heeled Washingtonians, who now can travel by rail to Bluemont. Along the ridge they build summer homes--the Blue Ridge Mountain Colony.
1905: Fox-hunting had been a popular local sport since Colonial times, but this November it becomes a matter of national honor. Henry Higginson, of England, challenges Harry Worcester Smith, of the United States, to a match to determine which country's foxhounds track the fox best. The riders set out 12 times in the territory between Upperville and Middleburg. Each time, two U.S. judges and one Canadian judge decide that the local hounds "had done the best work with the object of killing the fox in view." Higginson boycotts the post-meet party at Welbourne, contending that a dry summer favored the American hounds.
1906: The newly created Master of Foxhounds Association of America maps out territories for fox hunts. The Loudoun Hunt, established 1894, rides through the eastern, central and northern areas of the county; the Piedmont Hunt, established 1840, takes the southwest; the Middleburg Hunt (1906) the south-central region; and the Orange County Hunt (1903) the area south of present Route 50 between Middleburg and Bull Run Mountain. The hunts, the many fine horses and the ambience of the country attract many northerners, especially to the county's west. They buy 200-plus-acre tracts, several from old Confederate families in need of cash. Fortune magazine remarks in 1930: "The foxhunters have now taken over lock, stock, and barrel (lots of barrels). Almost every available property has been snapped up and painstakingly outfitted with the hooked rugs and Alkan prints which Northern taste believes indispensable in a Southern hunting community."
1909: Although many schools for white children had been offering high school courses since the 1890s, four-year high schools at Leesburg, Lincoln and Waterford are now accredited by the state. By 1916 nine more high schools offer one to three years of added instruction. These 12 high schools slowly consolidate, and by 1944, four remain: Aldie, Leesburg, Lincoln and Lovettsville.
1909: Elementary schools--which in the 1890s numbered more than 100, the most of any Virginia county--begin to consolidate, and pupils are taken by horse-drawn wagon to Hillsboro and Lincoln. In snow and ice, skis replace wheels on the wagons. The county's first four motorized school buses date from 1925, when schools for whites number 57. Black children walk, some five miles one way, or rely on a few car pools. There will be no school buses for black children until 1941.
1910: Financed by the General Education Board of New York City and Westmoreland Davis, of Morven Park, Howard Hoge, of Lincoln, is Loudoun's first agricultural adviser. His main job is to get farmers to apply fertilizer and lime to increase productivity. As an outgrowth of his efforts, the Lovettsville Farmers' Club forms in 1911, and Leesburg's Planters' Club organizes in 1913. Both still are going strong. In 1916 the county funds the agricultural adviser, now under the auspices of Virginia Tech. Much of Loudoun's agricultural progress in future years can be credited to J. Ross Lintner, "agricultural extension agent" from 1920 to 1947.
1911: Robert Harper, a banker living at Caradoc Hall east of Leesburg (now a Holiday Inn), organizes the Loudoun Good Roads Association and purchases rights to the Leesburg Turnpike (Route 7 east of town). To improve the road he reinstates tolls, a hefty 25 cents an auto. But doctors and ministers pass free, as do people going to and from church on Sunday.
1911: Loudoun's first paved road, Nursery Avenue in Purcellville, from town to Harvey Ball Sr.'s farm two miles away, costs $2,200. The county pays half, residents half. In 1913-1914, similar roads link Waterford with Noble Peacock's farm (now Clarke's Gap Road), Aldie and Mount Zion Church (now Route 50), and Leesburg and Limestone Run (now Route 15). The latter two are toll roads. In 1916 a paved road connects Lovettsville with the Brunswick toll bridge across the Potomac.
1912: Largely through efforts of Leesburg physician John Gibson, Loudoun's first hospital, with 18 beds, opens at 11 W. Loudoun St., Leesburg. An appropriate first patient is Pee Wee Rose, a jockey with a broken leg. The hospital moves to its pre-1998 Leesburg location in 1918. Six years later, Charles Fenton Simms, a Negro, gives the largest individual gift to the hospital "to alleviate the sufferings of the colored people." They can enter the hospital, but no black physician is allowed privileges to treat patients there until the late 1960s.
1914: Near Middleburg, the first modern private high school opens as Charlotte Noland founds Foxcroft School for girls and remains its headmistress through 1954. A 1919 letter to alumnae sums up her credo: "Keep up with the times, don't be narrow, have few rules, good hard work, and much fun, pile up traditions, and remember 'with God all things are possible.' " The wealthy Middleburg area continues to be the focus for private education as the coeducational Hill School opens in 1926. A second private girl's high school, Notre Dame Academy, opens in 1965 and will go coed in 1990. It is the county's first Christian (Catholic) school. At Leesburg, in 1953, the secular, coeducational Loudoun Country Day School commences classes.
1916: Prohibition comes to Virginia, in no small measure due to the efforts of Lincoln's Sarah Hoge, president of the state Women's Christian Temperance Union, 1898-1938. Earl Batt's still on Ten Foot Island in the Potomac achieves fame as powerboats run whiskey ($1.50 for a half-gallon jar) to Batt's Landing (at the present Algonkian Park). He sells his brew at the Broad Run tollhouse. Bootlegging will continue well after Prohibition's repeal in 1933. Several bootleggers are killed in quarrels over payments, and two federal agents raiding stills lose their lives.
1917-1918: During World War I, Loudouners buy Liberty Bonds and Savings Stamps and plant gardens; merchants promote the purchase of local goods untainted by foreign manufacture. The county draft board inducts 591 males. After the war, a memorial on the courthouse lawn, "In Memory of Her Sons Who Made The Supreme Sacrifice in The Great War," honors 27 who died, including three black soldiers whose names are segregated from the others. At home, a winter influenza epidemic takes more than 100 lives.
1918-1922: Loudoun's Westmoreland Davis, of Morven Park, is governor of Virginia. His help in organizing the Virginia Dairymen's Association in 1907, his purchase of the venerable farm journal Southern Planter in 1912 and his successful efforts in reducing the price of lime (to improve crop yields) from $4.85 to 75 cents a ton, won him the farmers' votes.
1920: Purcellville's Carrie Emerick is the first Loudoun woman to pay her poll tax and qualify to vote under the August suffrage amendment. A year later she, Gertrude Robey and others, "bearing scrub buckets and brushes and cakes of soap, invaded the [U.S.] Capitol and cleansed the statue of three pioneer suffragists, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, which repose in a dark and dirty storage room in the basement." The statue is still in the basement, but now stands between the multicolored columns of Potomac marble from Loudoun County.
1920s: In a resurgence of white power following World War I, the county tolerates the Ku Klux Klan. In Loudoun, the Klan is as anti-Catholic as it is anti-Negro. In 1923, it tries to burn the Methodist parsonage in Middleburg and ambushes the minister's car near Aldie. In Purcellville, in 1925, its Main Street parade, headed by "six white robed horses with riders," culminates in a cross-burning on the lawn of the Catholic church. With Herbert Hoover's presidential win in 1927, against New York Catholic Al Smith, Klan activities subside. Hoover is the first Republican to win Loudoun's presidential vote.
1921: After 61 years of letting counties pay for road improvements, Virginia again provides limited funds for county roads. Nineteen ways form Loudoun's first defined public-road network. As there are no current maps, a road is described in terms like this: "From County road No 4 at Ankers via Bridges, Sterling, Grimes, Coleman, Jenkins, Willard, Middleton, to its intersection with State Highway Route 6 at Skillman."
Tolls are removed from U.S. routes 15 and 50 in 1919, when the federal highway system arose, and become a memory on state and county roads in late 1927.
1922: Fairview, just west of Leesburg, becomes county's first subdivision, and a year later a fancier Ridge View, just west of Middleburg, follows suit. Fairview's lot frontages measure 25 feet, Ridge View's, 40; thus, people are encouraged to buy two lots for an average price of $250. Ridge View's growth leads to the county's first annexation by a town in 1932.
1922: Leesburg's Thomas Balch Library is built to house 4,000 volumes. The library, named for Leesburg-born lawyer Thomas Balch, a specialist in international arbitration, is funded partially by his sons, Thomas and Edwin Balch, and by public subscription. Longtime librarian Rebecca Harrison, whose salary is paid by a secret contribution from her niece, Eugenia Fairfax, chooses from among the donated books. Anything not up to the standard of "Gone With The Wind" she pitches into the pot-bellied stove.
1922: For 52 years, each magisterial district paid different amounts to fund public schools, but now the system consolidates with one county school tax--benefiting Broad Run District, which lagged in educational matters since its school tax was lower than that of wealthier districts. Oscar Emerick, who has been "superintendent" of Loudoun schools since 1917, now becomes head of the unified system, remaining at the helm through spring 1957. Until 1933 he has no staff and writes the School Board minutes. He then hires his sister, Ruth, as clerk. The Board of Supervisors wants as little to do with schools as possible, so Emerick's office remains in Purcellville, his home, until 1935.
Emerick's main job is to visit each school once a year. At schools for whites he sits in the back of the room and silently observes. At schools for blacks he asks the teacher to lead the class in spirituals.
1923: The first permanent fire company organizes at Purcellville and gone are the years when town merchants paid for a hand-pumper. After a fire almost burns down Leesburg High School, a company organizes there in February 1925. Middleburg follows in January 1930, but unlike Purcellville and Leesburg, which buy big red trucks with brass bells, it settles for a 1910-vintage man-pulled pumper. Fire companies have two rules: no gambling and no liquor.
1924: After Route 50 is paved east of Aldie in 1923, Loudoun's first buses leave Middleburg at 7:45 a.m. and reach Washington at 10:10 a.m. With the Shenandoah River bridge at Berry's Ferry complete in 1930, a traveler can catch the Greyhound in Washington and travel via Route 50 across the country. A few years later, through bus service begins on Route 7. With a completed Interstate 66, both Greyhound lines halt service in the late 1980s.
1927: Purcellville's Loudoun County Golf and Country Club opens, featuring a nine-hole course. Fewer than five of its 40 founding members have ever seen a golf ball. The club's swimming pool, another county first, dates from 1936. Town mayors sanction Sunday baseball games in the early '30s. Purcellville's Fireman's Field boasts the county's first lights, and in the initial night game, June 1949, 1,300 cheer as the home team defeats Round Hill, 4-2. Tennis is the county's gentleman sport. T. Janney Brown brought the game south from Swarthmore College in 1890 and built a clay court on his Circleville farm. By the mid-'20s, there are tournaments in the Purcellville area--except on Sunday. Waterford's Labor Day tourney, one of Virginia's oldest, has been a fixture since 1936.
1930: Rainfall was light from summer 1929 through spring and then from July through November, Bentley Gregg's Lincoln rain gauge registered 1.6 inches in five months. Some parts of the county receive no rain. County's recorded precipitation was 20.08 inches, lowest ever. County's normal 1.5 million corn crop shrinks to 5,000 bushels. Hay crop was one-fourth its usual yield. Pastures are barren by August, and two-fifths of the county's 10,000 head of beef cattle must be shipped out. Autos crossed a nearly dry Potomac bottom, avoiding bridge tolls.
1930-1937: With the Great Depression, wheat prices drop from $1.30 to 51 cents a bushel, corn from 92 cents to 33 cents a bushel; cattle and hogs that once went for 10 cents a pound now bring less than 5 cents. Five percent of the county's population is unemployed, and the county trims its budget for the poor by 70 percent. Teachers take a 10 percent pay cut. For her work helping the needy, Edith Eustis, of Oatlands, earns the title "Lady Bountiful of Loudoun." Federal programs totaling nearly $100,000 help Loudoun rebound. They fund new schools and school auditoriums, fix roads and build a Purcellville library in 1937. Local contributions, spearheaded by Gertrude Robey, pay 55 percent of the cost.
1932: Virginia assumes full responsibility for maintenance of all county roads except the two U.S. highways, Routes 15 and 50. The state does away with the old road names and gives each road a number, different from the numbers used in 1921. All numbers change in 1936, and on many roads change again. Discounting the fully paved U.S. highways, 95 percent of Loudoun's roads remain dirt.
1932: Charles Hamilton Houston, a brilliant black Amherst- and Harvard-educated lawyer, defends the black suspect in killing of a Middleburg socialite and her black maid. To prevent a lynching, guards with tommy guns protect the prisoner. The murderer gets life sentence instead of the death penalty, on the strength of Houston's argument that that there might have been an accomplice. Helping Houston on the case is a young Howard University law student, Thurgood Marshall.
After he became a Supreme Court justice, Marshall said that case made him switch his career from corporate to civil-rights law; Houston taught him, he said, that Southern justice could be fair. "Lawyer Houston," as he is called by the black community, will be Loudoun's leading black spokesman for more than a decade.
1935: Leesburg School for whites had offered high school courses since 1894, and now Leesburg School for blacks becomes Loudoun County High School for black students, graduating its first class of five. It is the first high school to draw from all sections of the county; blacks car pool their children to school; others walk, take the train or ride horses: Schools have their own stables and hitching posts.
CAPTION: The first school for blacks in Leesburg.
CAPTION: Irvey Baker, only GOP county supervisor for 30 years.
CAPTION: This 1908 statue of a Confederate soldier stands outside the county courthouse.
CAPTION: The 1921 Middleburg baseball team.
CAPTION: Blacksmiths at work in John Wesley Wanzer's shop.