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Round Hill Dates to Early Records
by Gene Scheel
Loudoun Times-Mirror, Thursday, 31 July 1980
History of the Name
The name goes back to the days Loudoun was a part of Fairfax County, or even earlier. The earliest of the Loudoun County circuit courts, meeting in the spring of 1757, ordered surveyors to mark the best way from Leesburg to the Blue Ridge, and they decided its eastern stretches should stay to the south "of the round hill."
The hill itself is a 910-foot high knob two miles southwest of town. In pre-1722 years its summit was a camping place for Indians traversing the "plain path" - as the Indians called their trails - from the Shenandoah Valley to their main north-south migration route along today's Route 15. The 1722 Treaty of Albany forbade the Indians to migrate east of the Blue Ridge, and thereafter the gentle slopes and summit of the Round Hill became farmland, once again to become a camping and listening place during the Civil War. Shortly, the hill again took its present appearance as farmland, and by the early 20th century it was also called Round Top - to distinguish it from the newly-established town.
Thomas sixth Lord Fairfax granted Benjamin Grayson the first tract of land in today's Round Hill in 1731, with Grayson's grant on the west side of Main Street, north of the old railroad. Within a decade Grayson sold the parcel to speculator John Tayloe the younger. The land on the east side of Main Street was granted to William Cox in 1741. In the same year Thomas Gregg was granted today's downtown as part of a fair-sized tract that ran east into Purcellville.
There was no town of Round Hill, however, in any sense of the word, until 1858. The area's leading community was Woodgrove, two miles north of Round Hill, for by 1777 the main road west from Leesburg intersected the present Round Hill-to-Hillsboro Road at Woodgrove. This road did not take the right-of-way of present Route 7 because of the swampy lowlands of the three main branches of the North Fork of Goose Creek which outline the western and eastern approaches to Round Hill.
With the building of the Leesburg and Snicker's Gap Turnpike, today's Route 7, in 1832-1833, the situation changed, and by 1857 Guilford C. Gregg had opened a store at the northwest corner of the pike and the road to Woodgrove. On March 25, 1858, the U.S. postal department opened its Round Hill Post Office, and Gregg was appointed first postmaster, a position he held under the Confederate States of America, and which he was forced to relinquish with the coming of the occupation government, on Sept. 29, 1866. But on Jan. 16, 1868, in the twilight of Andrew Johnson's presidency, there again was a Round Hill postmark, and a less controversial postmaster in the person of William B. Chamblin.
The town received its first shot in the arm in May 1875, when the Washington & Ohio railroad came. But dampening the festivities was the loss of a man, killed under an engine turning around on the end-of-the-line roundtable. No longer did the Winchester and Capon Springs stages, that had been running since 1841, at least, ply the dusty pike. With the building of the old Blue Ridge Inn by Bear's Den, south of Snicker's Gap, impromptu stage wagons began the run into Snickersville by the mid-1890's, and the success of the inn prompted the boarding-house craze in Round Hill and the other Loudoun towns along the railroad.
With two or three stores, the proverbial blacksmith and wheelwright shops and livery stables, Round Hill came into its own in 1900, just after the Southern Railroad took over the line.
Round Hill Incorporated
The Southern added trains on weekends, more boarders came, and on Feb. 5, 1900, Virginia's General Assembly incorporated the town of Round Hill, appointing Johnson Taylor, Troy C. Ballenger, and William R. Jones the town commissioners.
The fourth Thursday that May, townmen elected George J. Ford mayor, and Landon Osburn Hammerly, R. Scott Paxson, E.A. Conrad, J. Benton Taylor, and J.E. Caruthers councilmen. Caruthers was not well, and upon his death in January 1901, G.W. Paxson became fifth councilman.
Finances, streets, and sanitation were the three main concerns, and each councilman was on two of those committees. Indeed, the first sentence of the Assembly's act creating the town ordered the council to "secure the inhabitants from contagious, infectious, and other dangerous diseases, to regulate the building of stables, privies, and hog pens ...," and the last sentence "to restrain and punish drunkards, vagrants, and street beggars; to prevent vice and immorality; to enforce a proper observance of the Sabbath; to preserve public peace and good order; to prevent and quell riots; disturbances, and disorderly assemblies; to prevent and punish lewd, indecent, and disorderly conduct or exhibitions in said town." Fines up to $50 were specified.
If there were such goings on, the only remembered vice, if one could call it that, was Eppa Hunton - Uncle Ep, the Purcells called him - driving into town.
Uncle Ep had a feud with town sergeant Walter Howell, and when Ep drove his two-horse vehicle down from Woodgrove, he'd see Mr. Howell standing on the street, and he'd come out on his horses with a whip, yell at them, and race through town. He'd take the turn on the pike on two wheels, and before Mr. Howell could get on his horse, Ep was outside of the town limits.
The town council's first item of business was to get down to Hamilton to check out the town ordinances. To guard against the Uncle Eps, there was to be no horse-racing - a "trial of speed," they called the sport.
There was also to be no "device or game of hazzard," the period term for gambling. Cows were not to graze unfenced - except between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. A $10 tax was placed on traveling circuses, menageries, merry-go-rounds, and "hobby-horse machines." A $2.50 tax was placed on phonographs, slot machines, and traveling photographers.
There was a dog tax of 50 cents, but there were no town taxes until March 12, 1901, when a 50-cent head tax - the maximum allowable - was placed on men 21 and over. There was a 15-cent tax for each $100 of real and personal property, and if you think inflation is something new, by 1930 that tax was up to 85 cents.
In 1901 there was a $5 tax on livery stables, doctors, and dentists, and merchants had to pay 37 1/2 percent of their state tax. The numerous boarding houses got off easy with a $2 tax.
The first crisis came in June 1900 when Mary Pines caught a case of smallpox at her mother's home, and Charles Lloyd was paid a dollar a day to stand guard over the quarantined Sandy Traverse home. As a result, all town property owners were "ordered at once to clean and disinfect all privies, hog pens, and premises generally."
Things got better in 1913, when the town put in a waterworks, and three years later William Birdsall was paid $20 to lease his land on the summit of Scotland Hill, the 877-foot-high hill a mile northwest of town for a reservoir. In 1926 all town privies were to be "updated," and for the first time septic tanks "were encouraged."
Businesses, Churches, and Schools
A rundown of old businesses begins with the boarding houses, and if I miss one or two, kin will have to forgive me, for before autos came in strong in the late 20s, everybody took boarders. They were a bit of Washington, and for Washington, Round Hill was a bit of America.
West Loudoun Street
Beginning at the boardwalk on the west end of town, and on the north side of the pike, was the Lodge House - boarding houses generally took the last name of the operator - run by Henrietta Lodge. Now if you look closely at the end of the present sidewalk - and at the ends of all the present sidewalks - you'll see Walter Howell, our sheriff friend, carved in the walk with the date, 1909. Walter also macadamized the streets - which brought him a nifty $12,000 contract in 1913.
Two houses down from Lodge's, Annie and Ida Preston took boarders, and on the northeast corner of Locust Street, so did Flora Katherine Hammerly. Street names came in early in Round Hill. The town named them, and ordered six street signs to boot, in November 1901.
Most of the names - with new signs - are still there. But, Governor Woodrow Wilson would never forgive you; Wilson Street has been renamed South Main Street. Oldtimers, however, called Wilson Street New Cut Road, for the cut through Simpson's Creek dated from about 1890.
The Methodist Church dates from 1889, and in back, where its parsonage stands, stood the first Round Hill public school, a two-roomer built about 1877. Along about 1895 it was enlarged to three rooms, and being frame it went the way of nearly all frame two and three-roomers, burning about 1909. Four of its remembered teachers are Minnie Taylor, Kate McIntosh, Ellen Norris, and Ruth Bridges.
Before that school was built, and up into the late 90s, many Round Hillers went to "Professor" Joshua Fletcher's Hawthorne School, a public one-roomer bordered by hawthorne bushes. It stood on the hill in back of Hill High market west of town.
After the three-roomer, school was held in several vacant rooms about town for a year or two, while Wilmer Baker was busy constructing the eight-roomer that opened in 1911 and also served as Round Hill High School until 1940. Wilmer's handsome building stood on the site of the present school.
The Baptist Church dates from 1905, and before that, dating from the late 1880s at least, was Niels Poulsen's sawmill; his specialty, spokes for vehicles. His raw material came from that vast tract of daytime blackness that was known as Dillon's Woods; it stretched from Purcellville to the Blue Ridge.
Moving east, at today's Exxon station, was stonemason Clayton L. Everhart's marble and granite works. The stone came in by rail, was buggied to the works, and C.L., as he was called, etched the stones freehand, designing the lambs, urns, and lilys that grace most churchyards in western Loudoun. Having learned his trade from Lovettsville's William G. Biser (nee Middletown, MD), who also taught Charlie Gaver and Joe Grubb their craft. C.L. was in business from the late 90s until 1935. Back of the works was a small shoeshop run by Sam Smith and earlier by a Mr. Lunsford.
Then, Dr. Joseph Patterson financed the present gas station, originally Standard Oil, and Charlie Payne, Bennie Smith, and others, operated it, and lived in a small house close-by.
On the northwest corner of the pike and Main Street - usually called the Woodgrove Road - was Niels Poulsen's house and a big vegetable garden. In 1926, Dr. Patterson had Clarence Kelley build the present stuccoed pyramid-roofed building, and downstairs until 1966 Dr. Patterson had his pharmacy.
There were also assorted stores in the building, the town office, and upstairs a dance hall and theater, and George Lee would come in from Purcellville to cut your hair.
North on Main Street, at the present firehouse was William Alexander "Alex" Lynch's livery stable, the town's largest. Alex owned the town hearse, and he and son John often carried the mail in pre-auto days. Henderson Tracy was the other regular carrier. Alex was in business long before the century's turn, and by the teens his son had taken over. The auto and the Depression were his undoing, in the early 30s.
Hayward Thompson's still-standing store was built in 1901, and he ran it until 1922. To beat the competition he'd often get up a four and five in the morning so he would be open for the farmers who brought their milk to the train. By 1925, Milford G. "Tubby" Parks - quite a ballplayer in his younger days - took over and was running the business as a hardware and dry-goods store. He remained open until 1959.
At about the front of Thompson's store stood the southernmost of the town's first six street lamps, in operation in time for Christmas 1901. S.E. Hindman was the first lamplighter, and he later was helped by Austin Howell, assisted by daughter Martha, who pulled the coal oil in her little red express wagon. By the teens Martha, too, was lighting lamps. Even though Alex Cockey, Jr., brought electricity to town in 1912, the coal-oil lamps stayed lit until 1919, when Loudoun Light and Power, precursor of Vepco, came in.
North of Thompson's a Mrs. Taylor and her sister Mrs. Beard ran a boarding house, and north of their home, Laura Moore had another establishment. This house has recently burned.
Dr. James E. Copeland
The small stone and frame building with bars still at the window served as a bank, store, and jail, and upstairs practiced outspoken Dr. James E. Copeland, physician from the early 1870s until 1925, and in Round Hill since 1890, historian of the Hillsboro area, and critic of the public schools. He began his career by teaching at the first Hillsboro public school in 1870, and within a few years correctly predicted that the school budget would be the county's number-one expense.
Hear him speaking to Vol Purcell, the orchardist from up Cherry Hill and Tippitt's Hill. Vol was in line for the job as county superintendent of schools.
"Vol, in time we will recover from the damages the Yankees put upon us when they burned and destroyed everything we had. But they put one evil on us from which we will never recover. It will grow with our growth and strengthen with our strength, and in time will be the greatest burden the taxpayer has to bear."
Dr. Copeland continued. "Vol, if the farmers educate their children, just who is going to do the farming?" Vol replied. "Ed you were a farmer's son and you didn't farm." And the doctor said, "Yes, but I received a call to practice medicine." And Vol reported - he didn't mince words, "Call, hell, you were too lazy to be a farmer."
But, Dr. Copeland was ahead of his time. He was one of the first Loudoun physicians to advocate qarantining when the sickness was not known - and in those days incorrect diagnoses were rampant. His son Ed was a doctor, and died in the 1918 flu epidemic. His father went to the grave thinking that if they had allowed him to use a mustard plaster his son would have lived. A doctor was not supposed to attend a member of his immediate family.
There was a fine piece about old Dr. Copeland in Virginia Cavalcade a few years back, and I wouldn't be surprised if his account books are still in the family.
To bring the doctors up to date, Robert Kilgour was there in the teens and left in the mid 20s. Then came Dr. Ralph Thompson, who left about 1940. Then there was Dr. William Turner, the last of any duration. The town worked him to death for about 10 years, and then he left for Oberlin, Ohio, in the late 40s.
Downstairs from old Dr. Copeland's office was the town's first bank, the Citizens Bank of Round Hill. It began about 1907 and lasted three years - a little less than par for most state banks. L. Clendenning also operated the store in its early years.
Across from Mt. Zion Church, the town's oldest, built in 1881, was Landon Osburn Hammerly's livery stable. Of course he had the added advantage of wife Flora bringing in customers. His was the first of the stables to go, in the early 20s.
Set back from his stable was the boarding house run by the three maiden Adams sisters, Alice, Blanche, and Nettie. Their house was a favorite stopover of the drummers who plied the stores and homes from Hillsboro and Edegrove south to Bloomfield.
Just south of the store complex that burned in late November 1978, was Arch Simpson's small hardware and feed store. It burned in the late teens when the pot-bellied stove caught on fire.
Harmon Lodge had the store complex built in 1897 as a combination post office, hall, and business establishment, and upstairs were seen the first movies in town and the traveling medicine shows. After the town incorporated the town hall was upstairs. Scott Paxson, who ran the store through 1910, shocked the town about 1905 when he hired Sue Wynkoop, a comely lass, as clerk. She's remembered as the first businesswoman in western Loudoun.
The store site was slated in 1919 as the location for St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, and dairy farmer Henry B. Schneider bought the land for the church. In those days, the Catholic Church didn't buy land outright for fear of prejudice. Sam Hersperger bought the store in 1911, ran it until 1922, and then George Laycock had it into the 30s.
Then came the freight station, then the railroad tracks, and then Nan Nichols' boarding house. Henry Schneider's farm took up a good deal of the Civil War subdivision, and daughter Anna and son Fred delivered the milk to town, pulling it in their little red express wagon.
Crossing Main Street to the east side, Clarence Dorrell's livery stable, the most reasonable - he had but two horses - stood north of the mill. Dorell saw autos as too much competition by the late teens. The mill, coal-fired and steam-powered, was one of five Rogers family mills that stood by the tracks from Paeonian Springs to Bluemont. It was managed by J.C. Rogers, and run by Tom Reed and Jimmy Mansfield. Will James was treasurer and kept the books. It survived until the mid 50s.
Crossing the tracks, you hit the railroad station, the brick building that housed the generators after the Washington & Old Dominion was electrified in 1912, and a store of Arthur Hall.
But before leaving the station, remember that it was the focus of the town, especially on Saturdays, when the trains came in from D.C. with the newest load of vacationers. Youngsters would always hope there weren't enough wagons to go around, for carrying bags meant a five or 10-cent tip.
Senator George T. Ford
George T. Ford's store was justly famous. He began business in the 90s in his home across the street, and soon acquired the sobriquet "Honest George Ford." Few called him Mr. Mayor or Senator Ford, for he later was northern Piedmont's state senator. The Loudoun School Board bought all their supplies at Honest George's through the 30s, so you know it was always above board.
Youngster Albert Purcell took some chickens into Ford's and a clerk gave him the correct price for older chickens, not the fryer price. Mr. Ford heard about it, and a week or so later, when Albert came back to the store, Mr. Ford said, "When I sent 'em to Washington I got the fryer price for them," and handed young Albert some change. George's son, Charles J. Ford began to take over in the mid-teens, and he ran the establishment until he died in 1956. Charles also had time to write a fine history of Ketoctin Church. In back of the Ford's store were the cattle pens and scales.
South of the store was the circa 1905 firehouse, where a cart with a hose and a fire bell was kept. Everyone came running when there was a fire, and the first to reach it pulled.
Before Hayward Thompson left the store he had a little time to think, and in 1923 he got the Round Hill National Bank going in the old bank building. In 1922 Wilmer Baker built the fine stone building. Two years later the stone Middleburg Bank went up. But by the next postwar years brick banks came into style, and Wilmer Baker's stone was covered up in 1962. Hayward Thompson remained bank president until 1958; then Herbert H. Cooley took over, and he holds the post today.
The Round Hill Market dates from 1913, and was built to house a store and the pharmacy of J.T. Wallace. Wallace and Dr. Copeland didn't get along too well, and in 1915, Dr. James Patterson came along and the building became known as Patterson's Pharmacy. He rented out the store part to many, including Sam Hersperger, Lee Bell, Arch Simpson, and Taska Marsteller, and in 1941 the building became the Round Hill Grocery of Mordecai H. (Pepper) Throckmorton, now in his 40th year of business.
In three homes to the south, Narcie Dewey made hats, Katie Hibbs rented out some rooms, some to school teachers, one to Dr. William K. Milhollen, who came up from Bluemont to practice dentistry, and "Aunt" Mary Howell was seamstress to the town.
At the parking lot north of the eatery stood Pete Crim's blacksmith shop, taken over by John Myers in the 20s and run to the early 30s. Keith Reynolds was the wheelwright, and also worked on furniture upstairs. Just to the south was the furniture, casketmaking, and undertaking shop of Walter and Falvius Howell, and in the 30s, Sam Davis. To the rear, extending down to Bridge Street, was Flavius's Nursery, called a greenhouse back when it started, about 1900. His wife, Florence Michael Howell, helped him run it, and it remained open until the mid-1940s.
At the northeast corner of Main and the pike was the combined home and butcher shop of T.A. (Taska) Marsteller. His wife, always known as Little Mother or Mama, also took in boarders. Moving east, Ed White's car dealership began as such, a Chevrolet agency operated by Will Lynch, Alex's son, in the early 20s. Will also helped carry the rural mail, though in an auto.
East Loudoun Street
Down the pike a bit to the east, the present Pentecostal Church was built as the Episcopal Mt. Calvary Church in 1892, and the span from Episopalians of the 90s to Pentecostals of the 1980s is about as far a span of Christianity as you'll ever get.
South of the pike, the southeast part of town held the only nickname, The Hook. The name came from a pronounced bend in Simpson's Creek, and here the elders of Mt. Zion baptized.
At the southeast corner of the pike and Wilson Street Nannie Cross Ballenger ran her tea room and restaurant called Corner Hall. Fried chicken and corn fritters were her specialty, and Flave Clark served them up. She also boarded town schoolteachers, with her western most of Loudoun eateries was open from 1932 until about 1960.
Editor's Note: At this point, there seems to be some interruption of continuity in the newspaper article. The author jumps from Corner Hall, at the east entrance of town to a discussion of the "old stone house" which is outside the western boundary of the corporate limits.
Willard Herrell had run his store until the mid-50s; he came to the building in the mid-20s, after Will Osbourne ran the store for a while. Before, Cline Wright operated a furniture factory here, and he had been in business since about 1910. Cline's brother, Albert Wright, who ran a bewery concern in Washington, remodeled the old stone house south of the pike and west of town, and renamed it Yatton. Before, this house also took borders and cottages lined the grounds. An attraction for guests was the finding of Civil War relics about the stone barn ruins across the pike. The barn had been burned by Sheridan's raiders late in 1864. Just west of Wright's factory was a small store, but the operators are not remembered.
On the south side of the pike, and it was the last house on the western edge of town, was the Kuhlmann House, built for William D. Kuhlmann in 1892, and run by Madeline Kuhlmann and Annie Schooley Kuhlmann (later Baldwin). The fees were seven dollars a week, and Sunday dinner cost $1.50. It was one of the town's finest, for from its double-decker galleries you could see who made it to the end of the boardwalk and who was driving buggies to the Blue Ridge. It also had a nice spacious front lawn for croquet, the favorite sport of all town boarders. Summer guest Lloyd C. Douglass wrote his novel The Robe here, and the book came in print in 1942.
One building important to town, but out of town, was the one-room yellow-painted schoolhouse for black children, located between Clendening and Bell land, about three-quarters of a mile north of town on the east side of the road to Woodgrove. It burned around Halloween in 1937, and was remembered for its beautiful landscaping of daffodils and jonquils. Hannah B. Daniel was the last teacher, and her husband Isaac J. Daniel taught before her. The children were then bused to Purcellville.
Incidentals, important only to Round Hillians: Automobiles: the first was a Ford runabout bought by Ed Copeland about 1910. Soon, Jimmy Caruthers had an E-M-F, named for its manufacturer, Edward M. Flanders, but called an "Every Mechanical Fault" in Round Hill. In Culpeper they were called an "Every Morning Fix." Nevertheless, they were among the Piedmont's most popular cars in pre-1920 years.
Town Belles were Linda Caruthers, she married a Brooks; Massie Moore, she married a Chapin; and Irene Wright, she stayed single.
Thank you C. Blair Tavenner, Patience Adelaide Purcell, Jean Purcell MacDonald, J. Terry Hirst, Sam J. McMichael, Eliza J. Myers, Hannah B. Daniel, Ruth Fletcher Jackson, Mordecai Throckmorton, Mildred Everhart Shields, Anna and Alma Schneider, Mary Catherine Moore, Martha Howell Thompson, Mary Davis, Frances Ballenger Graham, W. Russel Thompson, J. Lawrence Thompson, Anna Kuhlmann Parks, Dr. William D. Kuhlmann, Dr. James Patterson, Clara and Frances Hersperger, Helen Hammerly Shedd, Elizabeth Entwistle, and Allin Tibbs, all with their hearts in Round Hill.