Four young men wearing animal skins, furs and feathers moved rhythmically through a hushed room, their footsteps in sync with the beat of a drum. Two wore their hair up in striking Mohawk fans, one wore a fur hat with antlers. At the front of the room, they surrounded a fifth man wearing a Boy Scout uniform covered with merit badges.
"Nicholas, remember Scout law . . ," one of the men, Matt Bingham, said in a commanding tone. It marked the start of the ceremony to make Nicholas W. Krisa an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America, the day before his 20th birthday.
The ceremony took place March 23 in the Round Hill town office, the same building where Krisa's great-great-grandfather, George T. Ford, sold seed and shoes to farmers in the 1880s, earned the nickname "Honest George Ford" and, as Round Hill's first mayor, held Town Council meetings.
Krisa followed in the footsteps of two uncles who are Eagle Scouts. Virtually all of his family would seem to be eligible for the honor -- five generations of Fords helped to build Round Hill, serving as mayors and school board members and providing the early town with a general store where customers could purchase items largely on credit.
To become an Eagle Scout, Krisa completed many requirements, including a leadership service project in which he organized a work team that renovated and extended approximately three-fourths of a mile of walking trails in the Round Hill town park on Main Street. Only about four percent of Boy Scouts have become Eagle Scouts since the rank was created in 1911.
Throughout the ceremony, Scout leaders spoke of Krisa's qualities and other accomplishments, from his service to Scouting's honor society, the Order of the Arrow, to his involvement in his school and his church, Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Reston.
Krisa graduated in 2002 from Loudoun Valley High School, where he lettered for his management of the football team and was an active member of the computer club. He also attended C.S. Monroe Technology Center and is apprenticing at Buel Electric to become a master electrician. Krisa became a Cub Scout in 1990, a Webelos in 1992 and a member of the Bluemont-based Scout Troop 961 in 1995.
John Tew, Krisa's former Scoutmaster, recalled a 35-mile hiking trip at the Goshen Camp Reservation near Lexington in the summer of 1998, after which the Scouts wanted to go kayaking in Lake Merriweather.
"Nick was not a strong swimmer at the time, and the Scouts had to pass a swim test to kayak," Tew said. "They had to swim a length, turn around and come back. The water was a murky green, and the surface was choppy. Nick had a rough swim.
"At one point, he lost his bearings and swallowed a lot of water. A few of us shouted out to him, offering help, but he refused it and made it back on his own. The whole crew was impressed with his courage and determination."
Tew presented Nicholas's father, Stephen Krisa, with a red-trimmed, royal blue neckerchief and a slide, which Stephen placed around his son's neck. Nicholas's mother, Cherie Ford Krisa, carefully pinned the Eagle Pin, a metal eagle hung from a red, white and blue striped ribbon, to her son's left shirt pocket.
After the ceremony, Charles Ford II, Krisa's grandfather and George Ford's grandson, sat in the town office window examining tiny wood cutouts of Round Hill's historic buildings. He said he doesn't remember his grandfather much but knows the story well.
"In George's day, the town was surrounded by farms, so his business catered mostly to farmers," he said. "They would buy seed and shoes, nails, sugar, anything they needed and couldn't make or grow themselves. Most of them were tenant farmers and were paid at the end of every month. So they bought most everything on credit and paid when they were paid."
Round Hill's beginnings are documented to 1833. Completion of a turnpike from Leesburg to Snickersville (now Bluemont) directed traffic through a tiny village where Round Hill's Loudoun and Main streets now intersect. It soon became the western terminus of the Washington and Ohio Railroad, attracting many Washingtonians trying to escape summer heat and humidity.
George Ford moved to this newly popular village in 1877 and soon purchased a building for his store, which became a gathering place for residents. In 1900, Round Hill became a town and Ford its first mayor. The second floor of his store became the Town Council's meeting place and an office where residents could pay taxes and water bills.
Ford served two terms as a state senator but still kept the store open. When he became ill in 1909, his son, Charles, returned from surveying in Oregon to run the store. Charles Ford also became mayor and served on the Loudoun County School Board for 25 years. He expanded the store until illness forced him to close in 1953.
The Ford house, directly across the street from the old Fords Store, stayed in the family and was passed to his granddaughter, Cherie Ford Krisa. From George to Nicholas, it has housed five generations of Fords.
"I plan to move away at some point," Krisa said. "But I'd love to see this house stay in the family."
Krisa said he has always been bit of a history buff. "I wish I knew more of my family's history. I'm always asking my relatives questions about it," he said.
The store was purchased by Round Hill National Bank, which donated it to the town in 1985. It has been renovated to look much as it did in 1883 and, more than 100 years later, functions again as the town office and community meeting place. The second floor houses the western station of the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office.
Charles Ford remembers the store as it looked in the '30s. "There was a gas pump with a crank and a large oil drum in the front, and in the back on the left, a stable," he said.
"I don't get back here very much. There are so many subdivisions around with these big houses now, and a lot of the farms are gone," he said, "But in most ways, the town itself doesn't really look that much different."