Conklin, Virginia A story of pioneers and perseverance. By Larry Roeder, MS November 21, 2013 Briefing at Lundsford Middle School
Searching for History • Sources of information are descendants of pioneers, local historians, the Balch Library and the County Court Archives in Leesburg. • The land was settled around 1715 in the Elk Lick area, then known simply as Arcola. • In more modern times the area we call Conklin was also known as southern Broad Run, a former magisterial district. Today we are in the Dulles District. Balch Library Archives
Boundaries • North Edge is the Southern half of South Riding up to Town Hall. • West is between Elk Lick and Gum Spring Road. • East is the East Boundary of Cardinal Ridge School. • South is the southern border of the old Hampton Brewer Property and Bull Run Post Office Road. Conklin is not incorporated, unlike Middleburg and Leesburg; so these “boundaries” are notional for research purposes. They are based on oral tradition and document research.
Joseph Conklin Conklin was named for white landowner Joseph Conklin of Pennsylvania who purchased over 100 acres from Horace Adee in 1871. The first store was built in 1890 to house the first Conklin Post Office. Conklin and his wife owned the store and took over the post office in 1892, which burned down in 1910 and moved to Bull Run Post office road. The post office then switched to Arcola in 1917. The grave of Conklin and others is in a cemetery off of Braddock Road on the North side of LongacreDrivenear the western edge of Conklin.
The 19th Century • People migrated to Conklin from nearby locations like Fairfax and Prince William Counties. • Free blacks and whites lived with each other in Conklin before the Civil War; but Slavery was an issue. • If a slave was freed, he or she had to be registered every year by a white person or could be thrown back into servitude. • If a freed slave borrowed money and didn’t pay it back, he or she could be sold again, though this was rare. • Punishment could be tough. Photo of escaped slave* from Mississippi named Gordon when he joined the Union Army. Photo distributed throughout the Army. The photo above became a symbol of the awful nature of slavery. Although the owner fired the man who beat the slave, the fact remains that slaves had no rights.
The Brewer Cluster • Examining a Cluster of African-Americans may help us understand life in Conklin. • Between 1850 and 1854 the cluster moved here with white farmer Hampton Brewer of Prince-William and Fairfax. • They began their lives on property Brewer purchased in 1854 just below what is now the Lundsford Middle School, along the east side of Ticonderoga Road.
Brewer Cemetery • The Brewer Cemetery probably holds the bodies of Hampton Brewer and some of the cluster. It is on Ticonderoga Farms at the south side of the Lundsford Bus Parking lot near Ticonderoga Road. The cemetery is unmarked. A marked cemetery is also to the west on Lundsford property. Notice field stones to left, typical of the area and the ornate stone, which is less common.
Who were in the Cluster, and When Registered? • Alexander Allen, 1854 • Amanda Allen, 1857 • Betsy Allen, (probable matriarch), 1854 • Martha Allen, 1857 • Mary Ellen,1854 • NarcissaAllen, 1854 • William Allen, 1854 • Jas Gaskins,1857. Some descended from slaves freed in 1791 by Robert Carter of Westmoreland County, who freed more slaves in history than anyone other than Lincoln.
Freedom Documents • All were registered as free in 1854 and 1857. You can find these in the Loudoun County Court Archives in Leesburg.
Old documents? • Old documents and artifacts like letters and photographs can be very helpful understanding local history. • Mr. Roeder can help preserve and copy such material for posterity. • Photocopying is crucial. If the material is destroyed, high quality digital images can remain for future generations. • Store in a stable environment, 60-70 degrees F; 40-50% relative humidity (RH); with clean air and good circulation. • High heat and moisture discolors paper and makes it brittle. • Damp storage creates mold. Handling with bare skin is also damaging, as oils can hard paper and photographs. We suggest using cotton gloves. • Metal fasteners like staples, paper clips, straight pins, prong fasteners, and clamps should be carefully removed because rust and corrosion is damaging. Don’t pull them off roughly. • Do not store in attics or the garage or where pests live. Instead, consider storing in acid free containers in the central part of the house. • Light exposure is damaging, cumulative and irreversible. Paper chemicals can degrade and ink will fade. Therefore, instead of displaying valuable documents, considering high quality photocopies or photographs. • In some cases, consider encapsulating sheets between two sheets of polyester film (Mylar type D or Melinex type 516). Talk to Mr. Roeder before doing this. • Disasters strike. Consider storing photocopies in a separate location from your home and sharing regularly with friends and family. Also consider sharing with the Balch Library, especially the Black History Committee. Before After
How did they Live? • Life for the Cluster and descendants was quite similar to white farmers, hard work and poor wages, so they kept track of all expenses. • . Many traded in chickens, butter and wheat or did services, laundry and road repair
Homes Farming was dominant. Many lived in cabins, one of which (right) has been preserved on the Loudoun County Parkway. Charles W. Dean worked as a slave for Thomas Settle in the Village of Conklin for many years. The two families inhabited a house consisting of two log cabins built around 1820 sided-over with boards and joined together. Mr. Settle willed the 142-acre property to Dean and his descendants in 1886. Typical early farm construction found on grounds of Cardinal Hill
How was the Cluster Educated? • No buses for black children until 1941. • Black children from a town called Willard (today’s Dulles Airport) stayed in Conklin during the week, walked to school every day, then walked home on weekends. The Conklin Colored School was opened in 1873 and operated until 1953) on Ticonderoga Road. Some studied in Manassas at Jennie Dean’s school or in Washington, DC.
Where did the Cluster Pray? • African-Americans were not allowed schools or churches before the end of the Civil War; but churches abounded after, and often were Baptist. • One in Conklin is Prosperity Baptist Church on Braddock Road, established by Jennie Dean, a former slave, who set up a school in Manassas and churches in the region to teach religion, math and reading. There are many graves at the church, including some from the cluster’s descendants.
Summary • The land was pioneered mostly by migrating whites in the 18th century but by the 19th century was integrated with African-Americans and whites. • People made most of their money from agriculture. • Slavery and prejudice made life for African-Americans difficult; but they overcame hurdles, sought an education and the descendants have prospered. • Descendants of the white and African-American farmers still live in Loudoun and around the region and are proud of their joint heritage. • Research sources abound in Loudoun, as do sights in Conklin.
Questions • Larry Roeder is a retired diplomat, historian and library/information science expert who lives in South Riding. • He has a strong interest in minority rights, which he gained from seeing people mistreated in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. • Today’s presentation is a summary of a few key points about the history of the village of Conklin, with an emphasis on the lives of African-Americans. firstname.lastname@example.org