Servin’ the Pies - The story of Kitty Hanna's run in with John Singleton Mosby
by Carol Bruce
There are many places throughout Herndon that evoke thoughts of an earlier time— from the beautiful old homes along Elden Street to the old Town Hall and, of course, the Depot. But some of the Town's most interesting and colorful history is associated with the resident of a place that you probably wouldn't give a passing glance. It's the little white frame cottage across from . . .
Have you ever wondered about that little concrete building across the street from the Herndon Municipal Center? It’s an acetylene gas generating station—one of several that used to be located throughout Herndon. It dates to about 1900, when two brothers and . . .
Herndon’s Red Caboose - More Than a Local Landmark
by Carol Bruce
The big red caboose that sits between the Herndon Municipal Center and the W&OD trail is more than a local landmark. It is a symbol of the railroad that for so many years was the heart of our town. What eventually became known as the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad had its origins more than a century and a half ago, in Alexandria. In 1853—after an earlier effort to establish a railroad . . .
Several weeks ago this column focused on the little acetylene gas generating station located across the street from the Herndon Municipal Center. In that column I said that two brothers—Edwin (Dr. Ed) and Benjamin (Dr. Ben) Detwiler—founded the Herndon Gas Company . . .
The older neighborhoods throughout Herndon boast a wide array of historic homes— everything from 19th century farmhouses, to cozy bungalows, to sturdy American Foursquares, to ornate Queen Anne Victorians. And at least a few of those homes were ordered as kits from the Sears and Roebuck catalog. You may think of Sears today as the go-to place for power tools and home appliances. But for years, beginning with its establishment back in . . .
“Along with the coming of Dulles International Airport and Reston there came to our quiet little village a great influx of people and the need, it was thought, for a county library.” The little building at 660 Spring Street that now houses the Herndon Friends Meeting has quite a history. The Herndon Fortnightly Club—an organization . . .
Ferenc Nagy was an active member of the Herndon community and, in fact, is responsible for Herndon having the regional presence that it enjoys today. The next time you’re driving through the middle of Herndon, take a look at the big white house at the corner of Elden and School Streets. Now the home of former Herndon Town Council member Harlon Reece and his wife Midge, it was . . .
The Historical Society is proud to have several very special items relating to William Lewis Herndon on display in the depot. There’s an interesting story in the connection between the town’s namesake and a little lump of coal that is on display in the museum. The Town of Herndon is named for William Lewis Herndon, a naval hero. He was born in 1813 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Orphaned at an early age, he entered the Navy when he was 15. In 1851, he was assigned to lead . . .
Visit the Walking Tour page on the Historical Society website, pick out a few of the structures from the historic registry that are listed there, and take a stroll back through Herndon history! Herndon’s wonderful array of older homes has attracted many people to the Town over the years; I am one of them. I moved here because I loved the homes and the sense of history and community that . . .
Take a Walk Through Herndon History - Early churches and schools
by Carol Bruce
The holiday season is a time to celebrate, and for many of us that means the addition of an unwanted pound or two. What a great excuse to go for a walk! Next time you feel the need to get out and stretch your legs, walk with a purpose. Take a walking tour of some of the properties listed on Herndon’s Historic Registry. You can start at the Herndon Depot on Lynn Street. (If you decide to walk between noon and 3:00 p.m. any Sunday afternoon except Christmas, stop in and . . .
The buildings in Herndon’s downtown area have undergone many changes in use over the years. There have been lots of stores—grocery stores, drugstores, general stores, feed stores, and more—and a few surprises, too! The building that houses Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern and Roaches in the Attic . . .
Old Town Council Minute Books: A Snapshot of the Past
by Carol Bruce
There’s a host of interesting—and sometimes amusing—information to be found when reviewing the old Town Council minute books. One of the most important of the many duties carried out by the Town Clerk’s office is keeping the minutes of the Town Council meetings. Those minutes, going back to the first Town Council meeting on January 14, 1879, . . .
In our last column we shared some of the interesting — and occasionally amusing — insights into Herndon’s past that can be found in the old Town Council minute books. Here are a few more. Once again, thank you to Town Clerk Viki Wellershaus and her staff for their assistance with this column. There must have been some attendance issues at those early Council meetings, . . .
This is the third in an occasional series of columns that looks at some of the interesting— and sometimes amusing—insights into Herndon’s past that can be found in the old Town Council minute books. It was the American scientist, inventor, statesman, printer, and philosopher Benjamin Franklin who said, . . .
This is another in an occasional series of columns that looks at some of the interesting— and sometimes amusing—insights into Herndon’s past that can be found in the old Town Council minute books. Exactly 100 years ago last month the Town began moving toward providing public utilities for its residents. On August 5, 1912, . . .
Memories of Herndon, Virginia chronicles the Town’s early years, beginning in 1879. The author’s goal was to “let recollection keep sacred the paradise of memories.” Lottie Dyer Schneider was born in Herndon in 1879, the year the Town was incorporated. In 1962, while living in Marion, Virginia, she wrote Memories of Herndon, Virginia, her recollection of life in her hometown. In 1979, . . .
This is another in an occasional series of columns that looks at some of the interesting— and sometimes amusing—insights into Herndon’s past that can be found in the old Town Council minute books. From the very beginning, livestock were a topic of considerable interest among the Town’s elected officials. On April 26, 1879, . . .
If Walls Could Talk: The Tale of the Herndon Depot
by Virginia Clarity
If walls could talk, the Depot would certainly have a lot to say. Much has happened in and around the building throughout the 150 years that it has stood in the midst of downtown Herndon. Constructed in 1857 as a stop on the Alexandria, Loudoun, and Hampshire Railroad, the building consisted of two rooms—the waiting room and the adjoining freight room. The route of the line through the rural area enabled . . .
The records people keep can give a wealth of knowledge and history. William Harmon Kephart was born in 1856, into a family of weavers. In his early years he spent his days in his father’s handloom woolen factory in Beltsville, Maryland, weaving carpets. During the Civil War the family moved to Loudoun County, where his father built Rock Bridge Woolen Mills near Lincoln. Mr. Kephart later . . .
Back to the Future: Herndon’s first Metro…100 Years Ago!
by Richard Downer
A 100-year-old newspaper article provides a glimpse back at the origins of Herndon’s 21st century reality. At the Herndon Depot Museum there is a 100-year-old copy of The Observer newspaper, dated October 12, 1912. (The Observer name of 1912 was the inspiration for the name of the more recent Herndon Observer newspaper that served Herndon from 1976 until 2010.) The headline on a front-page article read, “Electric Cars In Operation - New Schedule Convenient and Satisfactory—Some Operating . . .
I have written once before about Ancel St. John. However, as I learn more about him it becomes increasingly clear to me how important a figure he was in Herndon’s early history.
Who was Ancel St. John? That is a question that few people in Herndon seem to know the answer to. Although his contributions were many, he arrived in Herndon later in his life and never set down long-term roots, which may have contributed to his name being lost to history.
It was not until several years ago, when I took a very close look at the first official map of Herndon – the 1878 map drawn by cartographer G.M. Hopkins – that I noticed that many parcels of land in the downtown Herndon area were owned by . . .
It all started at a Herndon Historical Society meeting last fall. The guest speaker, a local historian, casually mentioned that there was a small, unmarked cemetery behind Herndon Middle School. He said it belonged to the Colemans, the first family to build a house in Herndon. I had never heard about this, so I asked him if the cemetery was marked. His answer was no, it was just an overgrown plot of land next to the school’s tennis courts. The conversation quickly . . .
Herndon has a rich history when it comes to public education. In fact, this year marks the 100th anniversary of Herndon High School. Our last column (“Herndon’s Historic Homes Registry”) made mention of the home at 725 Center Street. This home is not only significant for its age, but also because it originally housed . . .
Memories of Herndon High School: The Locust Street Years
by Barbara Glakas
Many long-term Herndon residents have memories of their days at “the old Herndon High School” on Locust Street. Last month we wrote about one of the earliest Herndon schools, which was located at 725 Center Street (“Herndon’s Early Public Schools”). A new school that housed all 12 grades was built on Locust Street in 1910-11. It was destroyed . . .
The first church to be built in Herndon remains today, at the corner of Center and Elden Streets. The first church to be built in Herndon was the Northern Methodist Episcopal (M.E.) Church. It was built in 1872 on a tract of land formerly owned by Ancel St. John, a member of Herndon’s first Town Council, and is still located at 800 Elden Street, . . .
From Wilkins Store to Jimmy’s Tavern: A Herndon Landmark
by Barbara Glakas
More than 100 years later, the large frame structure at the corner of Elden and Spring Streets remains a Herndon landmark. In the mid-1800s, Herndon was a small dairy farming community. It began to grow as the railroad arrived in the 1850s. The Depot was built in 1857, and stores, buildings, and homes grew up around it as people moved into the area. In 1897, Cora Laws, foster daughter . . .
Herndon’s Town seal provides a visual representation of several important aspects of our history. In 1976, Herndon joined in as the nation celebrated its bicentennial. One of the many activities that took place was a Town-sponsored contest to design a new town seal. On June 8, 1976, the Town Council, led by Mayor Gary Lopp, passed a resolution thanking those who had participated in the contest and announcing the creator of the winning design, Tony DeBenedittis, an art teacher at Herndon High School. He received a $100 . . .
We may never know the true nature of the relationship between J.E.B. and Laura. Many of you already are familiar with Laura Ratcliffe, a southern sympathizer who once lived just outside Herndon on Centreville Road and helped John Mosby during the Civil War. [For more about Laura, see the December 26, 2010 column, “Laura Ratcliffe, Herndon's Confederate Spy.”] But you may not be familiar with her relationship with Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart. James Ewell Brown (J.E.B.) Stuart was . . .
Runnymede Park, one of nine parks in the Town of Herndon, is a heavily wooded natural park of 58 acres which boasts over 450 native plants, diverse wildlife habitats, the Sugarland Run stream, and Native American artifacts that date back hundreds of years.
If you have ever travelled along the eastern portion of Herndon Parkway, you have noticed the entrance into Runnymede Park, marked by a small parking lot, a picnic shelter and a two-story brick home, known as the Atkin’s House, built in 1956 and named after the family who built it. That house is currently occupied by residential tenants – the Alger family -- who keep a watchful eye over the property.
But if you have never walked deeper into Runnymede Park, you may not have yet discovered another little jewel, . . .
Another Herndon Festival has recently come to an end. Do you know how and why the Herndon Festival first got started? Flashback to 1980: Jimmy Carter was President, Tom Rust was Mayor of Herndon, and Herndon’s population was s little over 13,000. At that time, the Town had an annual arts and crafts show near the old Town Hall, but a man named Arno Randall . . .
Gardening and hometown beautification have been time-honored traditions in Herndon. Over the years this has included individual home gardens, farm gardens, and garden-related organizations. In 1935, some of the women of Herndon formed The Home Interest Garden Club of Herndon. Their club objectives included promoting interest in gardens, protecting windflowers and shrubs, encouraging civic planting and landscaping, and encouraging the culture of flowers among . . .
The Veterans Memorial on the Town Green provides a link to Herndon’s namesake—and to the U.S. Naval Academy. If you have ever wandered around the Town Green behind the Herndon Municipal building you have probably noticed the tall grey obelisk, Herndon’s Veterans Memorial. It is a half-size replica of the famous Herndon Monument located on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The Annapolis monument was dedicated in memory of Commander William Lewis Herndon, . . .
What’s the story behind the old stained glass windows that two Grace Street residents recently found in their garage? We may never know for sure, but the mystery is an intriguing one. While I was acting as a docent in the Herndon Depot Museum one recent Sunday afternoon, two Town residents—Phil Jones and Aubrey Stokes—walked in and inquired about the significance of the stained glass windows in the transom . . .
Located in the center of Town on the Town Green, the building we now call the Old Town Hall has had many uses in its 73 years. Sitting proudly at the corner of Elden and Station Streets is Herndon’s first official municipal building, now commonly referred to as the Old Town Hall. But long before the building was erected in 1939, the Town Hall property served as a center of commerce, . . .
Because next Sunday is Veterans Day, we thought it would be appropriate to tell the story of Congressional Medal of Honor winner Wesley L. Fox, a legendary hero within the Marine Corps whose roots are in Herndon. The Medal of Honor is the highest award that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services. One of those medals was awarded to a Marine . . .
On Sunday, March 17—the 150th anniversary of the original event—Mosby’s Raid on Herndon Station will be reenacted. The Herndon Historical Society and the Herndon Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring the free event with support from the Town of Herndon and many local businesses. There will be two reenactments of the raid, . . .
Major William Wells and Mosby’s Raid on Herndon Station
by Barbara Glakas
On Sunday, March 17, Mosby’s Raid on Herndon Station will be reenacted at 11 a.m and 2 p.m. The Herndon Historical Society and the Herndon Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring the event with support from the Town of Herndon. Many Herndon residents are familiar with Confederate Captain John S. Mosby’s raid at Herndon Station on March 17, 1863. But few may be familiar with the story of a famous Union Officer who . . .
A story of a Confederate soldier who met his demise in Herndon. As you have learned from our last series of articles about Mosby’s Raid at the Herndon Station, Col. John Singleton Mosby frequently operated his Confederate Cavalry unit around the Northern Virginia area. One man who rode . . .
The Crounse family was one of a number of northern families that relocated to Herndon during the Civil War era. Our last article, “Private French Dulany, C.S.A.” (March 25), was about a young Confederate soldier who was killed in Herndon during the Civil War. He was buried on a hill where the Crounse house now stands, at the corner of Madison and . . .
Herndon’s history includes a focus on trees, which were celebrated this past Friday on Arbor Day 2013. People plant trees on Arbor Day, a celebration that was originated by J. Sterling Morton, a Nebraska newspaper editor who later became President Cleveland’s Secretary of Agriculture. The first Arbor Day was held in . . .
Learn about the history of the annual event, and read about the very first tour that took place. Herndon’s annual homes tour is a long-standing holiday tradition. The first homes tour in Herndon was conducted in 1979, as one of many events that were held in celebration of the town’s centennial...
Nearly a Century of Herndon History in One Popular Downtown Store
by Barbara Glakas
The Herndon Historical Society tells the history of the Nachman Building, which now houses Green Lizard Cycling on Lynn Street. In about 1913, Robert Schneider—former Town Council member and long-time hardware store owner in downtown Herndon—and his wife, Lottie, sold a piece of land and a building on Lynn Street to...
On this Memorial Day weekend we remember Wayne M. Kidwell, for whom the Town’s American Legion post is named. Herndon’s American Legion Post #184 was chartered in 1989. The first Sergeant at Arms, John Kirk, suggested naming the Post after Wayne M. Kidwell, a Herndon native who was killed in action in Vietnam. At a meeting on . . .
Memories Abound in Chestnut Grove Cemetery - Part1
by Barbara Glakas
Herndon’s history is a reflection of the many people who have lived here over the years. And many of those people now rest in Chestnut Grove. In 1874, Mrs. Katherine Barker, with the financial assistance of 30 other citizens, purchased a section of land for a cemetery at the northeast corner of the Town, . . .
Memories Abound in Chestnut Grove Cemetery - Part2
by Barbara Glakas
Herndon’s history is a reflection of the many people who have lived here over the years. And many of those people now rest in Chestnut Grove. This is a continuation of the list we began in last week’s edition.
Col. John Singleton Mosby was known as one of the greatest guerillas in American history. One hundred and three years ago, on Sept. 10, 1910, 96 of Mosby’s Rangers gathered in the Town of Herndon for...
Remembering Herndon's History: How the Town Got Its Name
by Barbara Glakas
You may know of the man the town was named for—but do you know how and why he was chosen as its namesake? Many people know that the Town of Herndon was named after William Lewis Herndon, the Virginia native and brave Naval officer who went down with his ship in 1857. That ship was the SS Central America. It carried mail, passengers, and 15 tons of...
The Yellow House: The Home of Herndon’s First Undertaker
by Barbara Glakas
Now sitting at the corner of Pearl and Oak Streets is a home commonly referred to as The Yellow House. Built approximately 150 years ago, the home has always been a shade of yellow, but it has not always been located at its present location. The house was originally located at 721 Elden Street, where the Adams-Green Funeral Home now stands. This small plot of land, surrounded...
The Oldest House in Herndon: The Colonial Era Home of George Payne
by Barbara Glakas
The first house to be built in Herndon was the Coleman house, built in 1776 by Col. John Coleman, a militia officer during the American Revolution. That house was taken down in 1964 when the International Apartments were built, with the Jefferson Mews and Lifestyle Condominiums arriving shortly thereafter. Just seven years after the Coleman house was built,...
Hollywood came to Herndon in the 1990’s. Portions of the 1997 Warner Bros. science fiction movie “Contact” were filmed in Herndon at a historic home on Grace Street. The movie was based on a novel by the same name, written by Carl Sagan. The basic plot line is as follows: Dr. Ellie Arroway, played by actress Jodie Foster, had an interest in astronomy since her childhood, an interest that was fostered by her father. Later in her life, as a SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) scientist,...
Dotted on various properties, which lay between Elden Street and Locust Street, are a few old red barns, big and stately, some with a slight lean, showing their age. These red barns sit in an area of Herndon known as The Eldenwood Fruit Farm, a farm dating back to the late 1800’s. This area is a 12.5 acre section of land that sits between Elden and Locust Streets, and extends from Center Street to the intersection of Locust Street and Sterling Road.
In about 1803-04, Fernando Fairfax sold 370 acres of land in the downtown Herndon area to James and John Coleman. John Coleman – a Revolutionary War veteran...
The railroad arrived in Herndon in the 1850s. The train station soon became the center of the community. By the 1870s Herndon was a little village of about 400 residents. It had no paved streets, no sewers, no electricity, and livestock would occasionally roam around the area. There were buildings that started sparsely popping up in the downtown area near the railroad. Many were industrial or commercial buildings – saw mills, lumber yards, general supply stores, churches and a locksmith shop.
The Town was incorporated in 1879. By the early 1900s, Station Street, Pine Street and the “plaza” in front of the Depot (now Lynn Street) were full of buildings. There was a jewelry store, a livery stable, a harness shop, a...
A Mayor, His Daughter and a Memorable Herndon Businessman
The Dyer-Schneider Families and the Schneider Hardware Store
by Barbara Glakas
On the west side of the Nachman building in downtown Herndon is a small parking lot at the corner of Station and Lynn Streets which conveniently serves the patrons of surrounding stores. There was once a hardware store on that small parcel of land. The beginning of that story takes us back to 1838. Elisha Dyer was born in Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1838.
Information was unearthed by a Dyer family member indicated that...
Gypsies, Street Entertainers and Medicine Men in Early Herndon
The odd and amusing visitors in turn-of-the-century Herndon
by Barbara Glakas
Lottie Dyer Schneider was born in 1879, the year the Town of Herndon was incorporated. Her father served as Town Sergeant and as Mayor in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Her husband was a town merchant who ran a general hardware store on Lynn Street from 1909 to about 1919. Mrs. Schneider was among the first supervisors of Fairfax County Schools and later moved to Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
In 1962 Mrs. Schneider wrote a book about the village in which she grew up, the book entitled “Memories of Herndon, Virginia.” Her recollections covered the time period 1879-1920. An interesting part of her book was...
Herndon Day! The Big Community Event of the 1920’s
by Barbara Glakas
Long before there was the Herndon Festival there was another town-wide celebration that dates back to 1919 – Herndon Day!
Like our current Herndon Festival, Herndon Day was a large-scale outdoor event that drew crowds from all around Fairfax County as well as from other surrounding counties. There was a wide variety of games, food, contests and entertainment.
J.J. Darlington’s granddaughter, Frances, who spent summers in Herndon, described the event...
Prohibition was a national ban on the manufacturing, sale, and distribution of alcoholic beverages, a ban that was in place from 1920 to 1933. Prohibition impacted the Town of Herndon much like it did many other cities and towns around the country. However, the anti-alcohol trend began long before national laws went into effect.
The temperance movement started in the early 1800s, advocating against drunkenness and excessive use of alcohol. An American Temperance Society formed in the 1820s. Its membership grew to...
A Snapshot of the Townspeople in Herndon’s First Year
by Barbara Glakas
The Town of Herndon was incorporated in 1879. The next national census was taken one year later in 1880. Those census statistics reflect the make-up of the town, a snapshot in time where we can read about the numbers, the races, the ethnicities, the education levels and the occupations of those people who lived in the town.
People lived in the unnamed village before the town became incorporated. A Revolutionary War veteran, John Coleman, built the first house in the yet-to-be-named Herndon in 1776. A little over 100 years later, after the Town celebrated its first incorporation birthday, there were 422...
A Prominent Woman’s Influence on The Herndon Seminary and St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church
by Barbara Glakas
An early of resident who had a significant impact on the Town of Herndon was Mrs. Mary Lee Castleman.
Ann Ward Crocker, an author of the book, “Mary Morrison (Lee) Castleman: Our Woman of History,” spoke to the Herndon Historical Society in 2002. Ms. Crocker described Mrs. Castleman’s life both before and after she moved to Herndon. Mary Morrison Lee was born in Richmond in 1830. She was one of seven children of an Episcopal Minister, Rev. William Fitzhugh Lee and Mary Catharine Simms Chilton. Mary Lee was a first cousin to Robert E. Lee. The family...
Freemasonry – often referred to as “Masonry” -- is the world's oldest fraternal organization, with records dating back to 1390. Nine separate Virginia Lodges came together to establish The Grand Lodge of Virginia in 1778. Its current website states that its mission is to “teach and perpetuate a way of life that promotes the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God and to assist Lodges to grow and prosper,” with the vision of being a “premier organization composed of men of integrity and character, who are honest, true to their word, believe in God, are devoted to family, charitable in their community, and courteous and helpful to each other.”
The first record of Masons living in Northern Virginia dates back to 1769, with a record of two Masons who lived in Prince William County and were members of a Fredericksburg Masonic Lodge, which had existed since ...
An account of those who were present during the raid
by Barbara Glakas
During the Civil War, the Union Army set up pickets around the nation’s capital in order to protect Washington D.C. from Confederate advances. One of those pickets was positioned at a sawmill adjacent to the Herndon Depot station.
On March 17, 1863, the Herndon picket was manned by a detachment of 25 soldiers from the First Vermont Cavalry, commanded by Lt. Alexander G. Watson. The First Vermont Cavalry was headquartered in Dranesville. Major William Wells, and a couple of other Vermont colleagues, had just arrived in town that day to investigate complaints from ...
Today the building at 757 Elden Street is occupied by a long-time Herndon business, the Upholstery Shop. However, many years ago this building was Herndon’s first movie theatre.
According to a member of the Reed family and to Ms. Virgie Wynkoop -- who was 100 years old when she wrote her memories of Herndon in 1979 -- Mr. Thomas E. Reed built the movie hall in 1921, ran it for a number of years and then later sold it to a man named Henry Lego The Reeds owned much of the land on the block where the theatre was located. According to the son of Thomas E. Reed II, his father (who was born...
An All-Black Elementary School in Pre-Integration Herndon
by Barbara Glakas
In 1869 the Virginia General Assembly authorized a State Superintendent of Public Instruction and a State Board of Education. Fairfax County started opening public schools soon thereafter. Like many post-Civil War counties of that time, there were two sets of schools – one for white students and one for black students.
According to African American Landowners, Churches, Schools and Businesses in Fairfax County, 1860-1900, one room schools served African American children around Fairfax County, with enrollments as high as 408 in 1870 to 1,150 in 1890. The schools were commonly referred to as ...
The beginning of the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Railroad came about as an effort to connect the Alexandria port with points west for the purpose of commerce. Specifically, the idea was to connect the Alexandria ports to the coal mines in West Virginia, but that full dream was never realized.
The once popular Alexandria port was stagnating in the mid-1840s, over shadowed by port competitors to the north and south, including Washington D.C. and Baltimore. Alexandria lived off the turnpike system, which was becoming obsolete. While Baltimore made the bold move to commit to rail -- building the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad -- Alexandria and Washington preferred ...
Telephone lines were first run in Washington, D.C. from 1877 to 1878. A 1928 Herndon News Observer newspaper article reported that telephone service was initially provided to Fairfax County by the Northern Virginia Telephone and Telegraph Company, which was first organized in 1897. At the outset, the plant consisted of a single line that ran three miles between the Fairfax Courthouse and the Fairfax Station on the Southern Railroad. There were six subscribers. The line was later extended to Vienna and then to Herndon.
People quickly began to recognize the value of the telephone service. Soon there were a dozen or more subscribers, some of which were from the Herndon area. Among the first telephone subscribers in the county were...
A picture of a family in 1892 leads to the story of Paul Buchwald
by Barbara Glakas
Occasionally I happen upon an old Herndon photograph that captures my imagination and compels me to write a story about it. So it was with the 1892 picture of a town tinsmith, Paul R. Buchwald, and his family.
The picture shows a seated Mr. Buchwald, who looks to be in his thirties, with disheveled hair, donning a workman’s apron. Seated next to him is a woman, presumably his wife, holding a baby. Closely surrounding the parents are five children. There is one girl and four boys, whose ages range from about one to twelve years old. The children’s clothes are simple. Two of the children are barefooted. The photo is obviously posed, all eyes trained on...
The Life and Death of the Ship that Became the S.S. Central America
by Barbara Glakas
The S.S. George Law, a steamship that was later re-named the S.S. Central America, sunk off the North Carolina coast in 1857 at the hand of an overwhelming hurricane. Commanded by William Lewis Herndon, it was the sinking of this ship, and the brave actions of its captain, that gave rise to the name of the Town of Herndon.
After the Mexican-American War ended, the U.S. government subsidized private companies to build and operate two fleets of sidewheel steamships to connect the newly acquired California Territory to the rest of the country. One fleet would travel from Oregon to ...
The History of Herndon’s Volunteer Fire Department
by Barbara Glakas
One March evening in 1917 a fire broke out in Harrison’s livery stable on Station Street in downtown Herndon. The hot blaze not only spread along Station Street, but also quickly jumped across the road and started igniting the wood frame buildings along the north side of Pine Street. The fire continued to march eastward on Pine Street, heading straight for the Congregational Church that stood at the corner of Pine and Monroe Streets.
Herndon residents tried to control the fire by pouring water out of windows at an effort to protect the buildings, but to no avail. The Town of Herndon had no fire service.
The decision was made to save the Congregational Church by dynamiting ...
Like many localities across the nation, Herndon had many residents who served -- and died -- in World Wars I and II.
In 1949 the Herndon American Legion Post 91 and its Auxiliary group sponsored the publication of a book called Service Record Book of Men and Women of Herndon, Virginia. The book lists the names of Herndon Gold Star Boys as well as other Herndon area men and women who were veterans of World Wars I and II. But what exactly is a Gold Star Boy and how did that tradition come about?
During World War I families started displaying banner flags to show their support for their husbands and sons fighting in France. In 1917 an Army Infantry Captain from Ohio named...
From farmer to educator to the first female County Supervisor, Edith Roger’s made an indelible mark on Fairfax County and the greater Herndon community.
Prior to coming to Herndon in 1914, the Rogers family lived in Nelson County, Virginia, an area located between Charlottesville and Lynchburg. Edith’s parents, James and Mary Rogers, were born in Delaware and Pennsylvania, respectively, in the 1850s. They married in 1878 and went on to have 12 children. James was a farmer and owned a farm in Lovingston, Virginia.
Edith, the sixth child born in 1887, attended school in Nelson County. She graduated from the State Teacher’s College in Farmville, Virginia, (now ...
Two well-known and well-respected horse and buggy doctors from mid-19th century Herndon were Dr. John T. Day and his brother, Dr. William B. Day.
Both born in Calvert County, Maryland, the Day brothers were descendants of six generations of Days in America. William Day was about twelve years older than John. It is unclear when they first moved to Fairfax County, but census documents found them both in Fairfax County in 1850. At that time William, 33, was already a physician while John, 21, was in school. By 1860 John was also listed as a physician. They both settled in Dranesville, living on Leesburg Pike with their respective families. Both of their adjacent homes, at 11700 and 11706 Leesburg Pike, still stand today and are historical landmarks in the Dranesville District.
William and John split their practices. The blue-eyed William, who was known to be ...
Commander William Lewis Herndon – born in 1813 in Fredericksburg, Virginia -- was the captain of the sidewheel steamer, the S.S. Central America, which sank in a hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas in 1857. Commander Herndon went down with his ship, but not before helping to save 149 people in the disaster. Sadly, 423 people were lost.
The Town of Herndon, Virginia, and the Town of Herndon, Pennsylvania, were both named in his honor is. The stately obelisk Herndon Monument memorial on the campus of the Naval Academy in Annapolis was erected in Commander Herndon’s honor. The Town of Herndon has a miniature replica of the Herndon Monument on its Town Green. Two Navy Destroyer ships were named after Herndon. Some people of that day named their children “Herndon.”
Why did this ship captain become such a revered naval hero? The best way to answer that is to...
The Impact of Manassas Battles on Herndon Residents
by Barbara Glakas
During the Civil War, the village of Herndon experienced one military raid which took place near the railroad Depot in 1863. However, that brief raid was not the villagers’ only war experience. Given the position of Herndon in Northern Virginia the residents were not oblivious to the sights and sounds of war and the troop movements swirling all around them.
Some residents, depending on their individual political leanings, occasionally felt compelled to quickly escape the village in order to avoid the approaching troops, depending on whether those troops were Union or Confederate.
One such couple was Nat Hanna and his wife, Kitty Kitchen Hanna. They were a married couple of different state origins – Kitty a lifelong Virginian who was a southern sympathizer, and Nat a native New Yorker who supported...
One Resident’s Perspective on Early 20th Century Herndon
by Barbara Glakas
Walter Herndon Wiley Sr. (1894-1975) once ran a watch repair, newsstand and candy store in downtown Herndon. His small wood frame building was formerly located in the town square on Lynn Street, nestled between the former Dudding’s Hardware Store (now a parking lot at the corner of Lynn and Station Streets) and the Nachman building (now home of the Green Lizard Cycling Shop at 718 Lynn Street).
Early Herndon residents remember Wiley’s store. Francis Darlington (1914-1998), who spent many summers in Herndon as a child, recalled,
“Next door [to the Dudding’s Hardware Store] is Wiley’s newspaper and candy store where my children can still choose from an intriguing assortment of jawbreakers, red and black licorice strips, peanut chews etc., as we used to…. After Sunday school and church we would walk with our friends to the village for chocolate soda at the drug store, then to Mr. Wiley’s to pick up the Sunday paper and home to enjoy the ‘funny papers.’ ”
The Wiley family had a long history in Herndon. Harvey C. Wiley, born in...
Blacksmiths were once important members of communities around America. In Herndon they provided a vital trade that continued up to the mid-20th century.
A blacksmith is a metal worker who creates objects from iron or steel by heating the metal and using tools to hammer, bend, and cut it. Civil war armies used blacksmiths to shoe horses and repair things such as wagons, horse tack, and artillery equipment.
Many small towns had at least one blacksmith. It is believed there were at least four blacksmith shops or businesses that existed in Herndon since the time the Town was incorporated in 1879. They were run by Enos Garrett, Henry Simms, Thomas Sauls and William Henry Moffett.
Enos Garrett, born 1841, was a prominent resident who came to Herndon from Pennsylvania. He served a short stint in the Civil War...
Many are familiar with the story of how Herndon’s post office was first established: As the railroad was built out to the area we now call Herndon, a village started evolving around the train Depot – built circa 1857 – giving rise to the need for a post office. The village people gathered to select a name for the post office. At a meeting the townspeople heard the story of the brave Captain of the S.S. Central America who had recently died with his sunken ship in the midst of a hurricane after saving all the women and children, making valiant efforts to keep the ship afloat until rescuers arrived. Taken with the story of this heroic ship captain, the townspeople opted to name the new post office...
Pharmacist, Banker and Exceptional Herndon Businessman
by Barbara Glakas
In Herndon’s earlier years, mothers treated their family’s ills with home remedies. Occasionally doctors would be called upon, travelling many miles by horse to reach their sick patients. Herndon also saw its share of “medicine men,” strangers who would sometimes wander into town, standing on boxes as crowds gathered around, pitching the miraculous qualities of the dark liquids that they would sell in little bottles.
Modern pharmacies started emerging in America in the mid-19th century, with apothecaries or druggists becoming a distinct profession. It was during that same general time period that...
Virgie Wells Wynkoop was born in 1878. She grew up on a farm near Oakton and later lived on a farm near Hunter’s Mill. She attended Clark School, located a couple miles from her childhood home. She married Arthur E. Wynkoop in 1901, a wheelwright and blacksmith who later became a house carpenter. They spent the first eight years of their marriage at Colvin Run Mill and later moved to Pender.
In 1928 she and her husband moved to Herndon, first living in an apartment in the home of Sadie Detwiler on the corner of Elden and Spruce Streets. In 1932 they bought a piece of land and built their own home at ...
Many employees in Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern say they have experienced many unexplained events that they attribute to their resident ghost whom they affectionately call “Walter.”
The Tavern building at the corner of Elden and Spring Streets was built around 1899. Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern is a popular Herndon restaurant/bar that opened in 1997. In the early 1900s, and for many years, the building housed the Wilkens and Brothers Bargain Store, a general merchandise store. It also had a residence upstairs. Many other businesses occupied the building after Mr. Wilkins closed his store.
Some of the Tavern employees say they believe in ghosts...
Elisabeth Leonhardt and the Navy’s “Sacred Twenty”
A Famous Herndon Veteran
by Barbara Glakas
Herndon resident, Elisabeth Leonhardt, was among the Navy’s “Sacred Twenty,” a group of female nurses who were the first females to formally serve in U.S. Navy during World War I. She was the Chief Nurse of the United States Navy.
Elisabeth Leonhardt was the daughter of Henrich Jacob and Mary E. Leonhardt. Jacob was born in Germany and was a naturalized citizen, immigrating in 1831. Mary was born in Maryland. Together they ultimately settled in the...
In 1858, Herndon’s first post office, initially located in the railroad Depot, was named after Commander William Lewis Herndon. Herndon was the captain of the S.S. Central America, a steamship which fatefully sunk off the Carolina coast in a monstrous hurricane in 1857. Commander Herndon, who went down with his ship, was considered a hero for saving the lives of 149 people – mostly women and children – and for all his valiant, calm and professional efforts to keep the ship afloat for as long as he could until help arrived.
It has long been local legend that our town’s name, “Herndon,” was the suggestion of a stranger, who happened to be passing through our yet-to-be-named village in 1857, on the night that that the townspeople were voting on a name for the village’s new post office. The legend has it that ...
Herndon officially became an incorporated Town on January 14, 1879 -- Incorporation Day! In the year 2017 the Town celebrates its 138th birthday.
Prior to becoming an incorporated Town, Herndon was but a small, un-named village within the Dranesville District of Fairfax County. One of the first signs of settlement in Herndon was the construction of homes that date back to...
A follow-up story about how the Town of Herndon was named
by Barbara Glakas
Last December we published a story about how a stranger, referred to as “a bronzed man,” played a role in naming the Town of Herndon. The full story can be seen on the Herndon Historical Society’s website at www.HerndonHistoricalSociety.org. In this story we attempt to identify this “bronzed man.” .
To recap, in 1857, Commander William Lewis Herndon’s ship – the S.S. Central America – sunk in a hurricane off the Carolina coast. The ship was carrying gold from the California Gold Rush to the banks in New York. That same year our yet-to-be-named village was searching for a name for...
The Herndon Fortnightly Club and Library Association
The Founders of Fairfax County’s First Lending Library
by Barbara Glakas
The Herndon Fortnightly Club is the oldest women’s club in Virginia’s General Federation of Women’s Clubs. It started in the summer of 1889, with a small group of eleven women who met at the Castlemen Seminary on Grace Street. They formed a study club “for the mutual improvement of its members in literature, art, science and the vital interests of the day.” They decided to meet every two weeks and, thus, they called their group The Fortnightly Club.
It was the club’s passion for education and reading that ultimately led them to form Fairfax County’s first lending library. In addition, the club members participated in many philanthropic, patriotic and community events over the decades, through two World Wars, the Depression and the Town of Herndon’s growth. The club’s 128 year...
One unique amenity in the Herndon community was The Herndon Community Cannery that operated behind Herndon Middle School on Locust Street from 1944 to 1984.
In June of 1944, the Fairfax Herald newspaper announced that the community cannery was being built on the Herndon High School grounds (later Herndon Middle School) and was almost complete, inviting residents to come see the new facility. The cannery was a public service supported by state and county funds. Any family could use the cannery to can food for their own use.
The purpose of the cannery was to encourage food production and to conserve foods during the time period when there was rationing and Victory Gardens during World War...
One prominent family in Herndon’s early history was the Garrett family, a family of three brothers and one sister. The siblings were Henry H. Garrett, Tacy E. Garrett, Benjamin Garrett and Enos L. Garrett. They were all born in Pennsylvania and eventually transplanted to the Herndon area.
The youngest, Enos L. Garrett, may have been the most notable of the siblings to Herndon’s history, as he was a man who played many roles in the Town’s beginnings, including that of Town Postmaster, Town Clerk, Town Councilman and Town Mayor.
Enos L. Garrett was born in 1841 to Enos and Sarah Garrett. The father went into the timbering business in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. He founded Garrettsville and became its postmaster. The Garretts were Quakers. A complaint was lodged against the father when...
One popular point of interest in downtown Herndon is the red caboose which sits on Lynn Street, adjacent to Herndon’s Railroad Depot and the Washington and Old Dominion trail — formerly the W&OD railroad line.
The idea to procure a caboose for the Herndon Depot was originally raised by Herndon Historical Society member George Moore in January of 1989. At the time the Norfolk Southern Corporation started selling and donating their caboose fleet as they were being replaced by modern electronic "End of Train Devices.” The Herndon Historical Society membership voted to acquire a caboose for Herndon.
Through the efforts of the Historical Society’s Caboose committee, which Moore chaired, the Society was able to successfully persuade...
The Proprietor of Herndon’s First Real Estate Agency
by Barbara Glakas
Perez Barnum Buell, Jr. – commonly known as P.B. Buell – started a real estate agency in the Town of Herndon in the 1890s. He advertised his business as “The oldest established real estate agency in Northern Virginia.” His story, however, started in Lowell, Ohio.
Shortly after the War of 1812, Perez Barnum Buell Sr. and his brother Salmon, moved westward from New York in 1816, looking for new opportunities in the newly opened land of Ohio. He laid out a plan for a village that became known as Buell’s Lowell. He started a trading center for agricultural products. The two brothers became influential on the economic development of the community, which became prosperous. The village later became known simply as Lowell.
Buell’s son, P.B. Buell Jr., was born in 1833 in Lowell. He was one of nine children. In 1863 Buell registered for the Civil War while in Ohio. He was a 28 year old farmer at the time. His participation in the Civil War was...
Written by Herndon Elementary School Students in 1970
by Barbara Glakas
September is here and so comes the start of another school year.
Built in 1961, Herndon Elementary School sits on Dranesville Road, on land that was formerly open fields, no doubt once part of a larger swath of farmland.
Once the school opened the students moved from their former school on Locust Street into their shiny new school on Dranesville Road expressing appreciation for all its updated amenities. During that time period, in the 1960s and 1970s, the Town of Herndon itself was experiencing growing pains due in part to the construction of Dulles Airport which was dedicated in...
In our conversations with people around Herndon we often hear tales of “strange things” that occasionally happen in their buildings – that is, things that indicate their homes may be haunted. Not surprisingly, these buildings are often ones of age. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, we think you will find...
The Town of Herndon was incorporated in 1879. One of the early actions of the first Town Council was to start drafting a set of Town ordinances. Not surprising, some of these ordinance addressed taxes, but many of them addressed behavior, clearly stating expectations that the Council felt would maintain good law and order in Town. Outlined below are a few....
HERNDON, VIRGINIA, 1946. The oddest man lived on the property next to my Grandpa Carroll’s cabin in Herndon. He was an elderly German immigrant, and my father always knew him as Mr. Klaus. Mr. Klaus was somewhat of a recluse, considered a loner amongst the many Herndon villagers.
My Grandpa built his stone cabin around 1909 as a retreat from the sweltering summer heat in Washington. However, winter days were often spent there as well. My father often spoke fondly of his childhood days with Grandpa, trampling through the open fields of snow which surrounded my Grandpa’s cabin, roaming through the cold and quiet woods, sometimes wandering.. .
As many readers already know, the Town of Herndon is named after Commander William Lewis Herndon (1813-1857). An accomplished Navy officer, he was an outstanding explorer and seaman who served with distinction in the Mexican-American War as the commander of the brig U.S.S. Iris. He also led an important expedition which explored a vast uncharted area -- the Valley of the Amazon. But what really sealed his reputation as a naval hero were his actions on the U.S.S. Central America, a steamship that – while transporting passengers, California gold and mail between Panama and New York - sunk off the Atlantic coast in the midst of a horrendous hurricane in 1857.
It took two days for the ship to sink once the leak was discovered. There were many accounts from survivors in which they described the brave captain’s actions. He remained calm throughout the course of events and worked tirelessly to...
For many years, the family of Henry Grafton De Butts (1876-1953) lived in Herndon. He and his wife, Lillian, had a large number of children, and Mr. de Butts was known to have worked many jobs over the years.
In the early 1900s he did general farming. He served on the Town Council from 1919 to 1921. And throughout the 1920s he operated a meat house. He slaughtered and sold fresh meats as well as fish, advertising that he had “the best grades of fresh meats, fish and oysters.” Oysters were big business in Herndon; many firsthand accounts of residents who lived in Herndon in the early 20th century referred to their oyster dinners. As a butcher he also...
Herndon has its own “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” of sorts, located not too far from the entrance of the Town cemetery, Chestnut Grove. In the gravesite lay two soldiers from the Civil War. The tombstone bears no names but is engraved with an inscription:
“Here lies two Confederate soldiers, known only to God, buried on land of Joshua Hutchison, Cub Run, Virginia. Removal arrangements courtesy of Richard Hammond and Jerry Michael, Hutchison grandsons. November 11, 1969.”
Each Memorial Day the Commander of Herndon’s American Legion Post 184 sets a wreath at the gravesite, after which Taps is played by a Legion member, with the Herndon High School color guard standing nearby at attention.
The story behind this gravesite was described in a...
Mrs. Mary Morrison Lee Castleman was a highly esteemed person in Herndon’s history. Much has been written about her, how she came to Herndon in the mid-1870s and proceeded to found the Herndon Seminary and was one of the key founders of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church. Her daughters were among the founders of the Herndon Fortnightly Library.
Kitty Kitchen Hanna, an early Herndon resident who knew Mary Castleman in the late 1800s, once said that Mary had “a convincing way of getting los’ sheep back to fold.” Anne Ward Crocker, who wrote a manuscript in 2000 entitled, Mary Morrison (Lee) Castleman, Our Woman of History, described Mary as...
When the First World War erupted in Europe in 1914, President Wilson pledged neutrality for the United States, a position that many Americans favored at the time. However, several U.S. ships traveling to Britain were eventually damaged or sunk by German mines. By 1915, Germany announced unrestricted warfare against all ships that entered the waters around Britain, a close U.S. ally and trading partner. Shortly thereafter, a German ship sunk an American vessel, the William P. Frye. Subsequently, a British-owned ocean liner, the RMS Lusitania, was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Ireland, killing 1,198 passengers, including 128 Americans. In April of 1917, the U.S. House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to declare war against Germany, marking America’s formal entrance into WWI.
Bastille Day is a French National Day - also known as The Fête de la Fédération - and is celebrated in France on the 14th of July each year. It commemorates the anniversary of...
Found in an old undated local newspaper is a poem to the Herndon baseball team, written by Marjorie Bell Reed (1891-1932). Marjorie was the daughter of a prominent Herndon citizen, Thomas E. Reed. Mr. Reed was the Town undertaker and his family lived in what is known as the Yellow House that is currently located at the corner of Oak and Pearl Streets, but formerly sat on Elden Street where the Adams-Green Funeral Home is now located.
Marjorie attended the Herndon Seminary School on Center Street, run by Mrs. Mary Castleman and her daughters. As an adult, Marjorie was an active citizen in Town: she was an officer in...
For a time in the early 1900s the paved path we now know as the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park (or hike and bike trail), was known as the Washington & Old Dominion Railway. Wealthy entrepreneurs John McLean and Stephen Elkins formed the new incorporation as a successor to their already acquired Great Falls and Old Dominion Railroad with plans to lease the Bluemont branch of the Southern Railway. The larger section of rail that travelled from Washington, D.C., through Herndon and on to points further west was called the Bluemont Branch, while the separate Great Falls branch was a shorter line that ran just north of the Bluemont branch, connecting Washington to Great Falls. The two lines, however, did not connect. McLean and Elkins started making plans to lease the Bluemont branch, electrify it and connect it to their successful Great Falls Branch.
Although Henry Ford had already been building Model-T cars for three years, and the future implications of automobiles seemed obvious, Elkins and McLean may have anticipated greater development and increased opportunities for rail transportation in the western regions, given that...
The first paid employee of the Town of Herndon was the Town Sergeant, the Town’s sole police officer. His name was Charles M. Burton. He was elected the same year as the first Town Council in 1879 and was paid $200 “for the faithful performance of his duty.”
The Town Council immediately started formulating the first set of Town ordinances, codifying penalties for illegal activities, amongst other things. Some of those ordinances, for example, indicated that it shall be unlawful to destroy any public trees, to deface any public notices, to disturb any congregation engaged in religious exercises, to destroy or deface public or private property, to congregate on public or private land and engage in loud...
Early Herndon residents would often see each other at the post office, at the general store, at church and at club meetings. It was there that they would talk and share information about the goings on in the community. But there was another key way that neighbors would find out about the happenings in the community. Long before there were land lines, cell phones, or social media, there were the local newspapers.
Two key newspapers that covered Herndon news was the Fairfax Herald (dating back to the 1880s) and various forms of Herndon Observer (sometimes called The News-Observer, dating back to the early 1900s). These newspapers covered national, state and local news. But they also had sections that might today be described as a gossip column of sorts. They were not actually called gossip columns, however. These sections of the newspapers had subheadings that were entitled...
Found in a December 1925 issue of the Herndon Observer newspaper was an “Observette” column entitled “Advice to Shoppers.” The author advised readers to patronize Herndon stores for their holiday shopping, saying,
“Are you in the shopping area of Herndon? Come over early. Park your car or your horse and look around. What do you want? Look Wilkin’s Store over and drop in at Moultrup’s. Stop at Coberth’s for a dainty lunch. Take in the lovely display at Chamblin’s Pharmacy. If you are not loaded up by this time, look around some more. Make a social day of it and don’t fail before leaving to order a supply of Fairlou, from Hoge Grain and Feed Company. Look over Mill’s radios and go to DeButts for your Christmas morning lamb chops or porterhouse steak.”
In 1925 Herndon was predominantly a farming community with most of Fairfax County’s leading dairy farmers located around the greater Herndon area. Downtown Herndon supported the farmers and their families with its many retail and wholesale stores, as well as service-related businesses. Some of the businesses...
January of 2019 marks the 140th anniversary of the Town of Herndon.
The town initially grew around the railroad and the train depot which opened c. 1857. The town post office opened in the depot in 1858 and was named after Navy Commander William Lewis Herndon. The town was formally incorporated in 1879, governed by a mayor and six councilmembers.
Once the heart of Northern Virginia’s important dairy farming country, Herndon remained a quiet country village up until the 1960s, when significant changes were brought about by the construction of Dulles International Airport. The 1960s and 1970s brought new housing developments, apartment buildings and shopping centers. Herndon’s population in 1960 was 1,900. By 1970 it was...
Conveniently located just 21 miles outside of Washington on the rail line, the town of Herndon often served as a summer destination for Washingtonians. One of the most prominent Washingtonians to come to Herndon was Joseph James Darlington. He not only visited Herndon but ended up investing here, buying land and creating a large summer estate that many Herndon residents remember well.
J.J. Darlington was born in South Carolina in 1849. He graduated from Erskine College and then came to Washington to study law at the law School of Columbian University (now George Washington University), graduating in 1875. He began practicing law, working on Fifth Street, becoming a prominent attorney and a highly respected member of the D.C. Bar Association. He was considered a brilliant lawyer with deep professional integrity. He was appointed to the faculty of the Georgetown Law School where he served from 1881 – 1896. He also argued (and won) cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
He became very active in the Washington community. He was a member of the Fifth Baptist Church and served on the Boards of Directors of the Washington Loan and Trust Company and the Federal National Bank. He was also a member of...
The Weekly Comet was a newspaper that was briefly published in Herndon in the mid-1880s. It published news, editorials, poetry, stories, puzzles and word games. In the January 1886 edition of this newspaper we found an interesting allegory that had no other title other than “Chronicles, Chapter 2.” Unfortunately, we were unable to find Chapter 1.
By 1886 the Civil War had been over for eleven years. After the war many northerners came south and bought up affordable land in Herndon. (One notable exception was Mayor Isaiah Bready, whose father had first invested in Herndon land in the 1850s). The writer of this 1886 tale characterizes parts of the story in northern and southern terms. It speaks of people from “Yankeeland,” described as people from...
Many long-time Herndon residents remember Sasher’s Pharmacy - or Drug Store - that used to be located on Station Street, at the intersection of Lynn Street. The pharmacy building was formerly located next door to the building that now houses the Cushman Insurance Company and the Maude Hair Salon at 775 Station Street. The old pharmacy building is no longer there; the space was later filled with the north/west extension of Lynn Street.
That old building was not originally a pharmacy. When it was first built circa 1908 it was the Hutchison and Mitchell building, home to a company that sold agriculture equipment. That company was not very successful, however, and ended up...
For a time in the early 1900s the railroad that bisected the town of Herndon was known as the Washington & Old Dominion Railway. The rail went electric in 1912, creating an interurban electric trolley system. For a while, the railway experienced some financial hardships and significant efforts were made to increase the flow of summer traffic to the Blue Ridge Mountains, with publications advertising the scenic views and all the hotels and boarding houses along the way.
Found in the Herndon Depot Museum was a 24-page booklet entitled, “Resorts: Health, Pleasure, Recreation, From the Capital to the Blue Ridge on the Washington and Old Dominion Railway.” Published in 1916, with comments by the General Manager of the railway – Mr. W. B. Emmert – the purpose of the booklet was to promote ridership on the relatively new electric...
The lot on which The Pines Center is now located, at the northeast corner of Elden and Monroe Streets, was once the estate of John Barker.
John H. Barker (1814-1893) obtained ownership of various parcels of land around Herndon in 1869, including land in downtown Herndon in the vicinity of Monroe, Quincy, Jackson, Van Buren, Adams, Jefferson, Grant and Madison Streets. Some of his parcels can be seen on the 1878 map of Herndon drawn by cartographer, G.M. Hopkins. Barker subdivided part of this land into parcels of approximately ½ acres and started selling them off.
Barker died in 1893, still owning several of the lots in his subdivision. By 1901 the court had partitioned Barker’s estate to various heirs and land owners. Part of the court decision decreed that “the Mansion...
Walter Herndon Wiley, Jr. (1923-1995) was born in Herndon. His father, Walter Herndon Wiley Sr., (1894-1975) operated a small newsstand, candy and watch repair store in downtown Herndon on Lynn Street. The younger Walter attended Herndon High School where he had played in the orchestra, was in the Drama Club, and served on the Student Council. He was a Boy Scout and was an usher at Herndon’s Congregational Church formerly located on Pine Street. He also penned a number of poems and songs.
Walter and his family lived on Coral Road. (That road has since been abandoned. It used to run parallel to the south side of W&OD trail, behind the current location of the Autohaus shop). Walter often wrote of his memories of his boyhood, growing up in Herndon. In his book Gris Grin, he spoke of...
Benjamin and Philena Caywood were prominent Herndon citizens who settled here before Herndon became an incorporated town, leaving a long Herndon legacy.
Benjamin Caywood (1812-1891) and Philena Waring Caywood (1817-1892), were both born in New York. They are believed to have been married in the 1830s and would ultimately have nine children: Ann Maria, Charlotte, Louisa, Sarah, Aaron, Luther, Lauretta, Emma and Charles.
In 1849, the Caywoods and their five oldest children relocated to Herndon, Virginia. It is believed that this movement south was due to the California Gold Rush. Benjamin had learned that many Virginians flocked westward in search of...
Herndon resident, Mrs. Sarah “Sallie” V. Martz, lived in a stone house on a grassy knoll that is still located in Runnymede Park - the town of Herndon’s 58-acre nature park - about 500 feet from Sugarland Run, the stream that flows along the east side of town. In December of 1952 her lifeless body was found in the cistern on her property.
Sarah “Sallie” Miley was born in 1870 in Loudoun County. Her father was a farmer and she had two siblings. By 1900 she was thirty years old and still single, living with her sister and brother-in-law in Loudoun. She made her living as a seamstress.
In about 1909, Sallie married Cornelius F. Martz. They married somewhat late in life, both being about 39 years old at the time. Similarly, Cornelius was also born in Loudoun County in 1870. His father was also...
A large black safe – weighing about 750 pounds – sits in the Herndon Historical Society’s depot museum. The safe once belonged to Dr. Edwin Detwiler, a prominent Herndon citizen and doctor. The safe was not always in the museum, however. From Dr. Detwiler’s office it moved around from place to place until it finally landed in the museum.
Dr. Edwin Landis Detwiler – known as “Dr. Ed” around town - came to Herndon in the 1880s. He initially lived on Monroe Street and had a doctor’s office at 711 Pine Street, now home to Brush Strokes Salon. Years later he built a house at 800 3rd Street, large enough to accommodate his family as well as space for his practice. Newspapers report that Dr. Detwiler moved into this new home in 1911. He installed a private telephone on the front porch of his Pine Street office that connected to Summit home, so that patients could contact him if needed.
In 1916, Dr. Detwiler died in an untimely and shocking manner. While on a home visit to check on the welfare of a female patient on Dranesville Road, Dr. Detwiler was shot...
Narciso Gonzales and St. Timothy’s Home School for Boys
Letters from Herndon’s Rawson Lodge
by Barbara Glakas
Herndon’s St. Timothy’s Episcopal Mission had its beginnings in 1868. The first service was held in Lawrence Hindle’s home, a farmer who would later serve as one of Herndon’s first Town Councilmen. The service was read by David S.L. Johnson. The first St. Timothy’s Church building – located at the corner of Elden and Grace Streets (now Herndon’s Masonic Lodge) – would later be built and subsequently consecrated in 1881.
Prior to the church being built, David Johnson organized the St. Timothy’s Home School for Boys which was called Rawson Lodge. We believe this school was in a small mission building formerly located near the northwest corner of Grace and Vine Streets. This mission building can be seen...
The Great Depression and the Civilian Conservation Corps
by Barbara Glakas
The most serious economic crisis in United States history was the Great Depression of the 1930s. According to Nan Netherton, et al., in her book the book, “Fairfax County, Virginia, A History,” it was estimated that “of the 5,000 heads of families in Fairfax [County], 1,000 were out of work.” Families went hungry. Patricia Pearson noted in her book, “Fighting for the Forest,” that ninety percent of the children in Virginia schools were malnourished. Unemployment rose rapidly, farm prices plummeted and the state government cut spending. The financial pinch of the Great Depression affected the town of Herndon as well.
Some long-time Herndon residents recall the effects of the Depression. One resident recalled that her mother had to frequently take the train to Washington, D.C., to sell her embroidery in a dime store in order to make extra cash. Another resident recalled that her family was constantly short of clothing. Even when she got married in 1941 she was still making clothing for her family out of feed sacks. Mr. Benjamin McGuire, who was a...
How did Elden Street get its name? The short answer is: We are not one hundred percent sure, but we do have some information that gives us some hints.
Over 200 years ago Ferdinando Fairfax sold 370 acres of land in the downtown Herndon area to members of the Coleman family. Some deeds are missing from this time period, which makes some information spotty.
Oral history regarding the origin of Elden Street has been passed down in Herndon through the years. The gist of the oral history goes like this: “A man named Colonel...
Many have heard about the 1917 “Big Fire,” which wiped out a significant portion of Herndon’s downtown business district along Station and Pine Streets. However, there was another large fire that occurred in Herndon in March of 1936 which also caused significant losses and threatened the whole downtown area.
It started in the old feed mill owned by the Herndon Milling Company, formerly located in what is now the municipal parking lot and Ice House Café area, near the northwest corner of Elden and Station Streets. The mill caught fire as a result of an explosion inside the mill. A mill engineer named Claude Jenkins lit a gas torch which exploded and...
On May 21, 1919, the United States House of Representatives passed the 19th Amendment, to grant women the right to vote. Two weeks later the Senate did the same. By August of 1920, the amendment accomplished the final threshold of obtaining the concurrence of three-fourths of the states, causing the constitutional amendment to be officially ratified.
Virginia, however, was stubbornly not one of those states that supported the amendment. In February of 1920 Virginia voted against ratifying the amendment. But by August of that same year, the required 36 states had approved the ratification proposal and it became law all over the country. As a result, the right to vote could not be denied to women, even in Virginia. It was not until 1952 that Virginia finally ratified the 19th Amendment.
In the years just prior to the national ratification, women were...
Ladies Auxiliary of the Herndon Volunteer Fire Department
by Barbara Glakas
In the early 1900s, before Herndon had electricity, heat was primarily provided by coal or wood stoves and light was provided by oil lamps. Most of the buildings in Herndon were wood frame and had wood-shingled roofs as well, which provided plenty of tinder for accidental fires.
One March evening in 1917 a fire broke out in Harrison’s livery stable on Station Street in downtown Herndon. This resulted in what is called “The Big Fire,” an unbridled fire which destroyed many homes and businesses along Station and Pine Streets. This is the event that prompted the organization of the Herndon Volunteer Fire Department (HVFD).
After the fire, the Herndon Town Council started discussing fire prevention codes, they appointed...
Have you ever wondered about the origins of some of the street names in Herndon? Some are obvious. We have, for instance, a “president’s neighborhood” where many streets are named after 18th and 19th century U.S. presidents. Such streets include George Washington Crossing as well as Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Van Buren, Jackson, Grant, Fillmore, Tyler and Monroe Streets.
We also have a “golfer’s neighborhood,” where streets are named after golf professionals such as Floyd and Snead Place, Elder and Nicholas Court, and Trevino and Player Way.
There are other streets in Herndon, however, that specifically relate to the town’s history. Some of these streets...
One of Herndon’s early subdivisions is the Van Vleck subdivision, which includes the land that is generally surrounded by Monroe Street, Park Avenue, Dranesville Road and the Herndon Parkway.
Durbin Van Vleck (1833 - 1898) was born in New York and was an artist/wood engraver by trade. Van Vleck moved to California early in his life, spending much of his time in San Francisco. According to Edan Milton Hughes in his book, “Artists in California, 1786-1940,”
“Van Vleck exhibited at the American Institute in 1851 and the following year settled in San Francisco where he was associated with Charles Christian Nahl. He lived at 10 Sutter Street and had his wood engraving shop at 611 Clay Street where he was a partner of [William] Keith from 1864-68. Keith named his only son in his honor.”
William Keith (1838-1911) was a Scottish-American painter known for his California landscapes. The California Artist Research Archive of The Bancroft Library of the University of California, describes Keith as...
Frederick H. Washington was born in Herndon in 1926. His childhood home later became the location of the H&S Plumbing Store, formerly at the corner of Grove and Grant Streets. That building has since been torn down and H&S now has a new brick building on Grove Street, next to the business’s original location.
The fact that Mr. Washington grew up in downtown Herndon is unusual, as most African American families of that time almost exclusively lived in two areas of Herndon: Oak Grove or Cooktown. Oak Grove was located on the west end of town, between Sterling Road and the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad, near the present location of...
Virginia Pauline McFarland Greear (1893-1991) was once widely known as the Town of Herndon’s unofficial historian, called a “walking encyclopedia” by some. She was born in Arcola (formerly Gum Springs) in Loudoun County. Her mother was in fragile health and died young. Virginia came to Floris in 1896 to live with an aunt and uncle – James and Emma Cockerille - who raised her. She graduated from Floris High School in 1911.
After getting married in 1945, she moved to the family farm of her husband – Arnold Greear. Arnold came to Herndon in 1912 and by the early 1920s was a mailman, using a buggy pulled by a two-horse team to make deliveries along Herndon’s rural mail route. Shortly before he retired in 1952 he broke...
Within the town of Herndon still stand two homes that date to the late 1700s. There are also many other old homes and commercial buildings that date to anywhere between the mid-1800s to the early 1900s.
Herndon has always taken pride in its historic structures, but in the mid-20th century - as a result of rapid growth and change - many townspeople began worrying about the loss of some of its older structures. Fearing that downtown Herndon might lose its historic character, the town conducted a survey of what would be considered contributing structures; that is, structures that contributed to the town’s history, either because of its age and architecture, or because of an event of historic significance that may have...
The Washington and Old Dominion Railroad stopped service in 1968. Soon after, a debate ensued in Herndon as to what to do with the Town’s historic - and then abandoned - c. 1857 train station building, commonly called the Herndon depot.
In 1970 a town discussion was going on about the possibility of tearing the depot building down in order to use that area for additional parking, something that would benefit the businesses along Lynn and Station Streets. .
Herndon resident Richard Downer had lived in town since 1953. He was also a downtown business owner and member of the town’s Park and Playground Committee. He felt that the depot building was the reason why the town of Herndon existed. He was correct, of course. Up until the 1840s, Herndon (which had not yet been named) had no more than a handful of homes, and no known businesses, other than farming. Once the railroad and depot were built, development started occurring around the train station - much like...
We thought we would briefly digress from Herndon history to talk a bit about our neighbor, Reston, and its early history. At one time, Reston was just a short five to six-minute train ride away from Herndon on the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad.
Early on, the Fairfax family owned most of Virginia. In the 1850s a man named Benjamin Thornton, who was a British owner of Montpelier, bought over 8,000 acres of land in what is now Reston from the Fairfax family. Thornton’s brother managed the land and when the rail came through the train station was called the Thornton station. The small train stop building is still located at....
The town of Herndon is located on the northwest side of Fairfax County, Virginia. Handmade arrowhead points were once uncovered on the property of the Herndon Centennial Golf Course and in Herndon’s 58-acrea natural park, Runnymede Park. These arrowheads are thousands of years old, indicating the long-ago presence of Prehistoric Indians, possibly attracted by the abundant wildlife and plant life, as well as the nearby water sources, Sugarland Run and the Folly Lick stream branch.
It is believed that the first home in the area that we now consider the incorporated limits of the town of Herndon was possibly built as early as the 1770s, near the present location of Herndon Middle School. That home was torn down in the 1960s. Another early home, thought to be built c. 1783, still stands on....
Henry Simms was the only blacksmith listed in the Town of Herndon’s first official census in 1880. He also happened to be one of the only African Americans in the Town of Herndon to own a business.
The Town of Herndon was incorporated in 1879. It’s first enumerated census of the people who lived within the incorporated town limits was taken in 1880. That year there were 422 people living in the town. Of those 422 people, 88 of them were listed as “heads of households.”
Henry Simms was listed as a blacksmith. It is known that he owned his own blacksmith business. Two other African American men – Frank Weaver and Robert Clemons – were listed as....
Herndon, like the rest of Fairfax County, was not a welcoming place for African Americans duringmthe segregation era. The population of Herndon had reached 953 by 1920, and African Americans represented about 10 percent of that number. Almost all of them lived.within two “colored settlements”—either Cooktown (at the northern limits of town) or Oak Grove (near Sterling), where a two-room elementary . . .
Herndon had its own confederate spy during the Civil War in the person of a young woman named Laura Ratcliffe, who provided valuable information to General JEB Stuart and Colonel John S. Mosby. Stuart repaid her with an album in which he wrote four poems to her, imploring her to continue her support. Mosby credited her with saving his . . .
Herndon Residents and the Southern Claims Commission - An Aftermath of the Civil War
by Chuck Mauro
One of the more interesting events that occurred as an aftermath of the Civil War was the creation of the Southern Claims Commission. Congress established the Commission in 1870 to allow citizens to make claims against the federal government for losses of personal property that resulted from Union Army actions during the war. Claimants had to prove . . .
On January 14, 1879, Herndon became an incorporated Town. One reason for the incorporation, according to Nan Netherton’s Fairfax County Virginia: A History, may have been so that “saloons could not be established within easy walking distance of the railroad station and so create a town nuisance.” Located 27 miles from the Nation’s Capital, the new Town of Herndon had no paved streets, no sewers, and no electricity. Homes were lighted by candles and oil lamps, which were cleaned . . .
The earliest people to set foot on the land that would become Herndon were hunters and gatherers known as Paleoindians. Some 13,000 years ago, the first American Indians—the Paleoindians—walked across the land that would eventually be called Herndon. They were a Stone Age people who made and used stone tools. Evidence . . .
Memories of summers in Herndon at a time when life moved at a slower pace. Frances Darlington Simpson, granddaughter of prominent summer resident J.J. Darlington (see “Herndon’s Most Prominent Summer Resident”), provided an interesting glimpse of what summers were like in Herndon during the early to middle 1900s. These memories are included in her book, Virginia Country Life and Cooking, originally published in 1963. Francis grew up at the Darlington estate, which was located behind today’s Walgreens drugstore at the corner of . . .
Around 1888, a busy Washington DC lawyer boarded the train and rode out into the Virginia countryside to find a summer residence. Precisely one hour later he stepped off the train and found what he was looking for in the new Town of Herndon. In a grove of oak trees . . .
Most of the structures we see today along Station and Pine Streets were built following The Great Fire of 1917. On a Thursday in March 1917, a fire started at Harrison’s Livery Stable on the east side of Station Street north of Pine Street. It spread rapidly toward the Depot, destroying most of the businesses on Pine and Station Streets. Because the Town had no fire department, . . .
Along with a little exercise and fresh air, a scarce quarter mile journey along the W&OD Trail provides the opportunity to take a trip through close to 150 years of Herndon history. Each day, walkers, runners, bikers, and in-line skaters pass through Herndon as they traverse the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Regional Park—more commonly known as the W&OD Trail. And, as they travel along the site of the former . . .
A symbol of the dominance of dairy farming in the Herndon area was the recognition of Ben Middleton’s prize cow, Sadie, as “the best known Holstein in the world.” In 1900, most of Fairfax County’s 18,850 residents lived on farms, and the County was the state leader when it came to dairy products. Dairy farming continued to be the area’s primary industry during the 1920s and 1930s, and it survived . . .
In an interview in 2000, longtime Herndon resident Ellen Kephart shared her memories of life in Herndon during World War II. Ellen passed away last year. I was driving by Sully Plantation recently when I noticed they were having a World War II reenactment. And that got me thinking about an interview I did with Ellen Kephart in 2000, . . .
The little house at 610 Spring Street has quite a history, and the current owners are adding to it each year with their “spirited” take on Halloween decor. Drive by and see it for yourself! When Bob Matthews and Colleen Delawder purchased the house at 610 Spring Street in 2005, they knew it was old and they loved its charm, but they had no idea of its history. Built as a onestory, . . .
In the early 1900s the W&OD Railroad promoted “the progressive town of Herndon” as a summer destination. One hundred years ago, the town of Herndon had 750 inhabitants. Six trains carried passengers and freight each day along the railroad line from Washington to Herndon, which boasted 2 guesthouses, a hotel, . . .
The mystery remains: What did this well-liked and supposedly upstanding citizen do with the money he embezzled from the National Bank of Herndon? In 1933, the National Bank of Herndon was the second largest bank in Fairfax County. Open since 1910, business was brisk. The bank served customers from a 25-square-mile area. In early January 1935, however, . . .
Old newspapers provide a window into the past. One of the things I truly enjoy when doing research on Herndon’s history is reading old newspapers. I often find such interesting information about the way people used to live 50, 75, even 100 years ago. So, . . .
No doubt a number of Herndon residents can remember that day in 1968 when the last Washington and Old Dominion train pulled out of Herndon. How many, however, know the story of how the railroad came to Herndon to begin with? In the 1840s, because of its port and the turnpikes that linked the city to Virginia’s farmlands, . . .
Thomas S. Underwood vs. Asa Bradshaw and The National Bank of Herndon
by Chuck Mauro
Thomas S. Underwood was a respected, stern, and hard working man. It is safe to say that Asa Bradshaw ruined his life. In a previous column (“Asa Bradshaw and the Mystery of the Missing Money,” published on November 27) we talked about Asa Bradshaw, who for a number of years used his position at the National Bank of Herndon to steal from bank depositors. Unfortunately, . . .
In the Herndon Historical Society’s library in the Depot is a short, unpublished paper entitled “My Home Town,” by Walter “Bud” Wiley, Jr. It provides a glimpse of the Town of Herndon in the early to mid-1900s. Walter Wiley ran a watch repair, news stand, and candy store out of a building next to Nachman’s on Lynn Street in downtown Herndon. He was a clockmaker and a watchmaker, . . .
You probably know that our town was named after William Lewis Herndon, but did you know that two Navy destroyers were named after the famous Commander? William Lewis Herndon, a Commander in the U.S. Navy, explored the entire length of the Amazon beginning in 1850. His goal was to spur steam travel on the river. In 1855, he became the Captain of the S.S. Central America. Captain Herndon went down with his ship in 1857 in a hurricane off of . . .
Roberts Carpets and Oriental Rug Co. has been in business in Herndon for 40 years, selling carpets, wood flooring, and ceramic tile. Chuck Roberts, the owner of Robert’s Carpets, started doing business in Herndon at 697 Spring Street, in the building that now is home to Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern. Twenty years later, Chuck moved it to the current location, a few doors away at 681 Spring Street. The building that houses Jimmy’s today dates to 1897, . . .
Mosby’s 1863 St. Patrick Day Raid on Herndon Station
by Chuck Mauro
On Sunday, March 17, Mosby’s Raid on Herndon Station will be reenacted at 11 a.m and 2 p.m. The Herndon Historical Society and the Herndon Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring the event with support from the Town of Herndon. On March 17, 1863, Saint Patrick’s Day, Captain John S. Mosby made a raid on a Union outpost near one of his favorite targets, the Herndon train station on the Alexandria Loudoun & Hampshire Railroad. This raid also involved . . .