Timelines of Important Events in the County
1700's — Loudoun's Start
|1700||Robert "King" Carter is appointed agent for the Fairfax family's holdings.|
|1709||Daniel McCarty, general assemblyman from Westmoreland County, receives the first grant of land, 2,993 acres along the Potomac, including "the Sugarland Islands" (today's Lowes Island] in the northeast corner of Loudoun. Until 1711, the grants would be issued by the Culpeper family's g real estate agent, Robert Carter, already described as "one of the greatest ~ freeholders in that proprietary."|
|1710||Catherine, Lady Fairfax, now a widow, inherits the seventh share of the Northern Neck Proprietary. Wondering why so large a domain is yielding such little income, next year she appoints Thomas Lee as her agent. But Loudoun is an unchartered wilderness, and there will be no further grants for eight years.|
|by 1715||Decimated by traders' smallpox, the Piscataway, now allied with the Iroquois, move north to Pennsylvania. Disease also ravages the remaining Algonquins; most move south. Some intermarry with settlers and, later, slaves. Their descendants, who considered themselves Negroes, would readily be recognized through the 1930s. Today, one must visit such counties as Rappahannock, Madison, Culpeper and Orange to meet a local with Indian features.|
|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.|
|1722||Governor Spotswood draws up a treaty with the Iroquois Nation that "confines the tribes beyond the Blue Ridge.|
|1725 to 1742||More settlers begin to arrive. Slave-owning aristocrats of English ancestry settle on huge tracts to the east and south, while Quakers from Pennsylvania and German and ScotchIrish farmers move in west of the Catoctins.
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.
|1727||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||Lord Fairfax first visits the area. Fairfax County is created. At this time, the county extends . from the Potomac and Occoquan rivers to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and includes all of present-day Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington counties, as well as the city of Alexandria
Amos Janney, a Quaker from Bucks County, Pa., surveys the land where Waterford now stands and, with the approval of Lord Fairfax, takes up 400 acres and builds a house and a mill. Waterford is known as Janney's Mill until the 1780s. 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.
|1735||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.|
|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||Pathways wide enough for a horse, and some for a cart or roiling 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.|
|1740||Quakers from the Philadelphia area, where farmland is scarce and expensive, concertedly settle upper Loudoun, from the German o 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.|
|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.
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."|
|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.
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.
|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).|
|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.
Population is 3,500, including 550 slaves. Broad Run Church near present-day Broadlands is established.
|1758||The Virginia House of Burgesses separates 519 square miles of Fairfax County, creating Loudoun County. The county seat is established at George Town (Leesburg on the Old Carolina Road (Route 15). It is the first town in-Loudoun established by Virginia's General Assembly. 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.|
|1760||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.|
|1764||By the end of the French and Indian War, county population has grown to 5,800, including 1,100 slaves.|
|1768||What may be the first Methodist Church in America, Leesburg's Old Stone Church, is built at the current intersection of Wirt and Cornwall streets.|
|1769||Little River Baptist Meeting House is built on Braddock Road.|
|1774||Just prior to the American Revolution, population stands at 11,000, including 1,950 slaves.
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.
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
|1780s||Leven Powell writes of "little Stores about everywhere." After taking flour, grain and produce to Alexandria by wagon, farmers realize it makes no sense to return with an empty vehicle. On credit, they purchase goods from abroad, bring them west and sell at a profit. Points of trade are at mills or crossroads. A blacksmith shop, even a tavern, might follow - the genesis of a village.|
|1781||Loudoun’s Ludwell Lee, son of Thomas Lee, serves as Gen. Lafayette’s aide-de-camp during the Revolution. During 1800-1803, Lee builds Belmont Plantation east of Leesburg.
Lord Fairfax dies; and with his death, the Northern Neck Proprietary effectively ceases to exist.
|1782||As half of Loudoun is oriented toward the east, 293 landowners petition the General Assembly to create a new county of the eastern portion. Its western boundaries would be Goose Creek and its tributary, Wankopin Branch. The Assembly tables the petition, but in part it will be a reality 16 years later.|
|1787||A generation has passed since the General Assembly established Leesburg. Now the legislature sanctions Middleburg, Col. Leven Powell's idea. He imports several war cronies, most from Pennsylvania, to sign a petition stating that they are residents. Above their names, Powell wrote: "the Situation of the place bids fair to become a respectable Village."|
|1788||Powell, delegate to the Richmond Convention that votes 89 to 79 to ratify the U.S. Constitution, sides with the majority. Fellow Del. Steven Thomson Mason, of Raspberry Plain, a plantation north of Leesburg, votes with the minority. He objected to a strong central government, which could usurp states' rights, and the absence of a Bill of Rights.|
|1790s||Traveling frontier evangelists, harbingers of the Second Great Awakening, augment the county's 20 or so churches, most of them Baptist. There is one Episcopal Church, Francis Awbrey's old chapel of 1735, which decays by 1802. Services move to the courthouse in Leesburg and in 1804 to the new Presbyterian Church. This edifice and the 1766 Methodist Church at Leesburg are the only houses of worship in a town. The countryside, free from worldliness, is the place for reverence.|
|1790||First U.S. Census lists 18,962 people in Loudoun, including 4,213 slaves (22 percent of the population).|
|1793||Now a town of nearly 800, Leesburg boasts a post office. Middleburg will have one in 1797, Waterford and Goshen in 1800, Springfield (now Arcola) in 1801, Hillsborough (formerly The Gap) in 1802 and Hamilton Mills, Lanesville and Snickers' Gap (now Bluemont) in 1807. Mail arrives once a week from Washington and Baltimore. Post offices ensure long life to small villages, until the RFD (Rural Federal Delivery) wagon sounds many village's knell in the early 20th century.|
|Potomac Marble, that unique local sandstone conglomerate, shapes the House of Representatives and Senate chambers, and pillars of the U.S. Capitol. The stone, when polished, emulates the luster of marble and still is the highlight of the Capitol's interior. It is quarried from three pits in Leesburg - one inexplicably being filled in now - and one formation near Point of Rocks.|
|1795||Iron mining begins in Loudoun County on Catoctin Mountain.|
|Twice, the county bucks the remainder of Virginia and votes by a 2 to 1 margin against Thomas Jefferson for the presidency. Leven Powell is the only Virginia elector to cast a ballot against the talented dilettante, who will have to wait until 1801 to become president. Loudoun wants roads and canals to take its rich produce 5 to city markets. John Adams's administration encourages commerce.|
|1798||The True American newspaper appears, followed in 1800 by The Bull's Eye, and in 1804 by The Impartial Journal. These short-lived sheets precede The Washingtonian, 1808- 1903, and The Genius of Liberty, 1817-1841. All are Leesburg weeklies, four to six pages, and cost $2 (two 'days' wages) for a year's subscription. Advertisements account for half their size. Most features are copied from other newspapers.
Oriented toward the navigable Potomac, petitioners of eastern Loudoun successfully have some 80,000 acres, one-fifth of the county, returned to Fairfax. Present limits are in place, though the newer boundary, set in 1712 by Maryland at the Virginia shore's high water mark, will be contested in court for 80 years.
|1799||Leesburg. Academy, a private boys' school, opens, surviving until 1879. Middleburg Academy opens in 1803 and continues until the Civil War. Among more than 20 boys' schools of this era, several last decades - unusual for Virginia. But then, Loudoun is a wealthy county because of its prime soils and ready markets for produce.|