The county began to build and improve local roads to facilitate the movement of goods to and from Janney's Mill and, by the time Francis Hague died in , the tiny village had begun to grow rapidly.
Waterford's Beginning – Quakers Helped Shape a Town
Amos's cousin Joseph Janney bought 12 acres from Hague's estate and promptly laid out 15 lots on the south side of Main Street from the mill almost to the site of the present post office. Shops and dwellings soon followed, and sometime in the s the growing village was renamed "Waterford. In Mahlon Janney extended Main Street up the "Big Hill" by subdividing his property there into an additional 17 lots.
And when Mahlon died in , his executors divided his land between Second and High Streets into 64 more parcels. Through the end of the 18th century, Waterford and its fertile hinterland continued to attract Quakers from Pennsylvania. Baptists and Methodists came too, adding to the lively social and ethnic mix. Besides their heritage and religious beliefs, these people brought their crafts and skills with them. Waterford became a bustling commercial town, supporting and serving a prosperous quarter of rural Loudoun County.
By the ethnic mix included African-Americans, some of them slaves, but others, especially after the turn of the century, free blacks—a relative rarity elsewhere in Virginia.
By , African Americans headed a fourth of Waterford's free households; many of them owned their own homes. Most of Waterford's houses were built in the first quarter of the 19th century, when the town grew rapidly as a commercial center. Many of the structures that survive today as dwellings began as shops or stores.
The architecture from this "Federal period" dominates the town, but examples from other periods appear here as well. By , Waterford, its population approaching , was the second-largest town in Loudoun and Fauquier counties. That March, the first bank in either county was organized at Waterford.
All banks during this period--and until were authorized by the state and federal government to issue their own paper currency, and residents trusted notes bearing the signatures of local bank officers. This local currency was exchanged for foreign gold pieces, quite common in that era, gold bullion and for U. Trouble started when the state suspected irregularities at an unchartered bank in Martinsburg.
In February , the Virginia General Assembly prohibited the circulation of notes issued by unchartered banks, and this included the Loudoun Company, for it had neglected to apply for a state charter. Calling the state's action "a recurrence of Legislative oppression" and an "abridgement of the natural rights," the Loudoun Company protested the action in a resolution printed in Leesburg, Alexandria and Winchester newspapers, though the protests came to naught. In September , the Loudoun Company's directors petitioned the state legislature for a charter but were denied.
The Bank of the Valley in Virginia also wanted a charter and asked the legislature to approve a branch "in either Loudoun or Fauquier. Waterford's second commercial "first"--Franklin Library--fared better. Organized in the early s, the subscription library was at the Friends meetinghouse or school and was named for Benjamin Franklin, who established America's first subscription library in For a dollar or two, one became a patron of the Franklin Library and was entitled to borrow books for two weeks at a time.
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One of the library's books, "Early Impressions," a collection of Quaker reminiscences by Jane Johnson, notes on the flyleaf that after 14 days, "1 cent per day is charged. The village's third pioneering enterprise, Loudoun Mutual Insurance Co. The first policy was issued for the house once lived in by Amos Janney, then owned by James M. Loudoun Mutual still writes insurance on the house.
But Waterford would produce no more firsts in the way of commercial enterprises. Writing about how his town appeared in , William Williams, an officer in the insurance company, recalled: "Every unnatural stimulus is followed by as great prostration, Waterford about this time suddenly ceased to improve"--though its population did not peak, at , until about Two years later, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal reached the Point.
That village, now linked with Baltimore, Alexandria, and Washington, became the main shipping point east for flour and corn meal. Farmers were now bringing their wheat and corn to mills close to the canal and railroad terminus. This activity increased in the next few years as the railroad and canal pushed westward to Berlin and Harper's Ferry. The Indians observed flocks of geese and other birds resting on the Potomac's waters, so they also called the river "Cohongorooton," meaning "river of geese or swans.
Indians Left Their Mark in Naming Landmarks in Loudoun County
Similarly, Goose Creek, the largest Loudoun tributary of the Potomac, was called "Cokongoloto," meaning "creek or stream of geese or swans. Such complicated and discordant names quickly disappeared from the Europeans' vocabulary. But three major tributaries of Goose Creek still have Indian names. Tuscarora Creek, which flows through Leesburg, is named for the Tuscarora Indians, who passed through the area on their way to central New York from to after being defeated by the British in North Carolina.
Sycolin Creek, a few miles south of Tuscarora Creek, also has varied in its spelling, from "Seagland" -- the traditional local pronunciation -- to "Seconnel.
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Wankopin Branch, which crosses Route 50 just east of Middleburg and rises in Fauquier, was named by the Piscataway Indians, who lived in the area during the s and spoke the Algonquin language. The first two syllables have no known meaning, but "pin" in that language means root. In English, however, "Wankopin" is a type of water lily, and before the Piscataway moved to the Middleburg area, they lived for 60 years among English settlers in Southern Maryland.
Early deeds often spell the stream "Nankoping. This run also was named by the Piscataway, who, by the s, spoke English. They had lived primarily on fish in Southern Maryland, but marine pickings were slim in the shallow streams around Middleburg. The main Piscataway settlement then became an island called Conoy, a shortened form of "Kanawha" pronounced Kanaw , which was a Piscataway tribe. A prominent spring on the Maryland side of the island still bears the name Kanawha Spring.
The acre Conoy Island is readily visible to the east while crossing the Point of Rocks bridge. Far downriver, at the present border of Loudoun and Fairfax counties, the rapids and falls just east of Lowe's Island are called "Seneca," a catchall southern designation for Iroquois, as the Seneca were an Iroquois nation. Seventeenth- and 18th-century records often spell the name "Senegar" or "Seneker.
The complicated spelling of the river led most people to call its upper reaches Hedgman's River for early settler Nathaniel Hedgman from about the s to the s. But with the formation in of Rappahannock County, Fauquier's neighbor to the west, the Indian name gradually came back into popular usage. Catoctin, a name used for both a mountain and a stream, is indicative of the confusion that must have been evident when some European asked his Indian guide for the name of the prominent range and Potomac tributary, both of which meet the Potomac in the same location.
Did the Indian mean that "Catoctin" was the mountain, the stream or both? Smithsonian ethnologists say that the mountain range was named first and that it means "ancient wooded hill. Early Loudoun spellings of the mountain and stream prefer "Kittockton," with the accent on the middle syllable.