Rockingham County, Virginia
VAGenWeb Project


A History of Rockingham County
John W. Wayland Ph.D.

Chapter XI

 

CHAPTER XI.

TOWNS AND VILLAGES OF ROCKINGHAM.

 

     It appears from the “American Gazetteer” that in 1798 there was only one postoffice in Rockingham County. This one was at Harrisonburg, which was put down as “Rockingham Court House.” (1)  The old postoffice, just west of Harrisonburg, noticed more particularly in the next chapter, had probably been absorbed by the one at the court house by 1798.  In 1813 there were only three postoffices in the county:  Harrisonburg, or Rockingham C. H., Henry Tutwiller, P. M.; MGaheystown, Tobias R. MGahey, P. M.; Kites Mill, Jacob Kite, P. M. (2)  In Martin’s Gazetteer of Virginia, edition 1835, the following towns are put down as in Rockingham County:  Bowman’s Mill, P. O., Brock’s Gap, P. O., Conrad’s Store, P. O., Linville Creek, P. O., McGaheysville, P. O., Mount Crawford, Port Republic, and Smith’s Creek, P. O. (3)  Harrisonburg, Mt. Crawford, and Port Republic are followed by the letters “P. V.,” which supposedly stand for “postal village.”  The population of these three villages is given (1835) as 1,000, 180, and 160, respectively.  In 1845, or thereabouts, Henry Howe visited Harrisonburg, Mt. Crawford, Port Republic, Deaton (Dayton), and Edom Mills.  He says Mt. Crawford then had a church and about 30 dwellings; Port Republic, a church, and about 35 dwellings; Deaton and Edom Mills he calls “small places.”  Harrisonburg is cred-

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(1)     A copy of the American Gazetteer, abridged edition of 1798, was loaned by Mr. E. M. Whitesel, Pleasant Valley, per Mr. Q. G. Kaylor.

(2)     For these items I am indebted to the researches of Mr. Milo Custer, Bloomington, Ill.  Kite’s Mill was probably on the river below Elkton.

(3)     I am indebted to Hon. Geo. E. Sipe for the loan of Martin’s Virginia Gazetteer for 1835.

 

 

 

ited (1845) with 8 stores, 2 newspaper offices, a market, 1 Methodist church, 2 Presbyterian churches, and about 1100 people. (4)

     It is quite probably that one of the oldest centers of trade in what is now Rockingham was at Peale’s Cross Roads, the point 5 miles southeast of Harrisonburg, where the roads from Swift Run Gap and Brown’s Gap come around the end of Peaked Mountain and cross the Keezletown Road.  Felix Gilbert had a store at or near this point in 1774, and likely had been located there for a number of years preceding.  A tanyard and other productive establishments marked the place later.

     With these statements as introductory, let us take up the several towns in more detail.

 

     Harrisonburg, laid out upon 50 acres of land belonging to Thomas Harrison, was legally established in May, 1780, by the same Act that gave recognition to the town of Louisville, in the county of Kentucky.(5) The place in early days was often called Rocktown; for example, Bishop Asbury designates it by that name in his journal, in 1795; and as late as 1818, perhaps later, the name Rocktown was frequently used. It is said that German Street was originally the main street, and what is now Main Street was then called Irish Street or Irish Alley.

     In 1797 the town was enlarged by an addition of 23 1/2 acres, laid off in lots and streets, from the lands of Robert and Reuben Harrison; and Thomas Scott, John Koontz, Asher Waterman, Frederick Spangler, and Saml. McWilliams were made trustees. In 1808 an Act was passed enabling the freeholders and housekeepers resident in the town to elect five trustees annually; and by the same Act the trustees were authorized to raise $1000 by taxation for the purchase of a fire engine, hooks, and ladders. All the men of the town were to constitute the Harrisonburg Fire Company.

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(4)     Howe’s Historical Collections of Virginia, 1852 Edition, pp. 460, 461.

(5)     Hening’s Statutes, Vol. X, pp. 293-295.

 

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     In the Rockingham Register of October 5, 1876, appeared a long article entitled, “Harrisonburg Fifty Years Ago,” from which we quote the following paragraphs. They present a graphic account of certain interesting conditions in 1826, and thereabouts.

 

   Jos. Cline occupied the Wm. Ott house,(6) and carried on the tanyard now owned by Lowenbach. The house on the corner was built by James Hall, lawyer, fifty years ago. The stone house attached was the first house built in Harrisonburg. It was built by Thomas Harrison. After that house was put up, Mr. Harrison offered Maj. Richard Ragan (the father of ‘Aunt Polly Van Pelt’), who was a blacksmith, ten acres of land around the “big spring’ if he would bind himself to put up a shop near the spring. But the Major could not be fooled into any such a speculation, and he declined. At that time the ground around the spring was covered with rocks, many of the cliffs being so tall that a horse could hide behind them. There were but two practical paths to the spring, one running along by Dr. Waterman’s house and the other down by the house in which A.M. Effinger lives. Subsequently the rocks and thorn bushes and other undergrowth was cleaned away, and the spring was made a resort of the ladies of the town, who used to do their washing by the spring. Clothes lines made of grape vines were provided along the branch, and after the clothes were dried they were carried home to iron. Subsequently the trustees of the town passed an ordinance forbidding women to do their washing at the ‘spring’.

   Fifty years ago there were no railroads in all this country. Our merchants went ‘below’ twice a year only. It required from four to six weeks to go ‘below,’ lay in goods and return. The goods for Harrisonburg were sent to Fredericksburg by water, and from there brought over in wagons. It took two weeks to make the trip. The wagoners charged from $1 to $1.25 a hundred for hauling. Some goods were brought up the Valley, by way of the ‘Keezletown road,’ that being at that time the principal thoroughfare of the Valley.

   Fifty years ago the mails were carried from Winchester to Harrisonburg in Bockett’s two-horse coaches. The mail came once a week, except when the river at Mt. Jackson would be swollen by the rains, or when the roads were very bad, when the mail would not come oftener than semi-monthly. In the course of time the business of the Valley became so important, that the mail route was changed to a semi-weekly one. It was hard work, but Bockett actually ran from Winchester to Staunton in three days.

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(6) The Ewing building, opposite Newman Avenue, occupies the site of the Ott house. The stone house built by Th. Harrison is now Gen. Roller’s law office.

 

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   Fifty years ago there were but two churches in town, the old Methodist Church, which stood on the hill above the Catholic Church, and the Presbyterian Church. (7)

    Fifty-five years ago there was no paper published in Harrisonburg. At that time Ananias Davisson, had a small office in which he printed the Kentucky Harmony and other musical works. Shortly after that Lawrence Wartmann commenced the publication of the ‘Rockingham Weekly Register,’ with 86 subscribers. The REGISTER list now reaches 1800.

 

On March 31, 1838, Samuel Shacklett, Isaac Hardesty, Jacob Rohr, Jr., Nelson Sprinkel, and Samuel Liggett were elected trustees of Harrisonburg for the ensuing year. All these gentlemen were well known residents of the town for many years. Hardesty and Shacklett being very successful merchants. Before me is an old account book used by Mr. Shacklett, containing entries made from 1851 to 1874. On one of the leaves is a carefully prepared table, of four columns, headed,

 

Broke  |   Neither made  |  Made under  |  Made over

           |         of lost       |      $10,000     |    $10,000

 

   In the column under “Broke” are written the names of 36 individuals and firms: under the next head, “Neither made nor Lost,” are 30 names; three men, A.E. Heneberger, M. Hite Effinger, and Geo. Cline, are put down as having made under $10,000; while in the fourth column are eight names: Thos. Scott, John Graham, Jerry Kyle, Jno. F. Effinger, Isc. Hardesty, S. Henry,  M.H. Effinger, and S.S.”(8)

 

   By an Act of March 16, 1849, the boundaries of Harrisonburg were defined as follows:

 

   Beginning at a point on the old Valley road, beyond the gate leading

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(7) “The old Methodist church on the hill” stood where the church of the Brethren now stands; the Catholic church referred to stood (1876) opposite the passenger station, on the site now occupied by the large Snell building; the Presbyterian church in 1826 was on E. Market Street.

(8) This old book was placed at my disposal through the courtesy of Messrs. Sipe & Harris, Harrisonburg.

 

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 to Mr. A.C. Bryan’s farm, and in a line with the land of J. Hardesty and others; thence westwardly, on a line with the said land, to the head of a lane which intersects with the road leading to Antioch; thence from the head of said lane, in a southern direction, in a line parallel with the present western limits of said town, to a point in the Warm Springs Pike, at or near the old brewery, and on a line with the lands of Mrs. P. Kyle Liggett and others; thence east, in a line with said lands, to a point in the lots of Mrs. E. Stevens; thence northwardly, in a straight line, to the beginning, shall be and continue to constitute the area of the town heretofore known as the town of Harrisonburg, in the County of Rockingham.

 

   The boundaries of the town have been rearranged at various times since the above date; for example, in 1868, 1877, 1894, etc. On February 14 and 15, 1868, J. H. Ralston, county surveyor, made a survey which was defined in the next issue of the Register as follows:

 

   The survey commenced at a point near Swanson’s residence, about 1 mile East of the Court House. It ran thence in a Northern direction, passing east of Hilltop, R.A. Gray’s property, to a point in the line between Gray & P. Liggett, thence in a North-western direction, crossing the Valley Turnpike to the North of David Yeakel’s lane, on the Kratzer road. Thence with the Kratzer road, crossing the O., Alexandria and Manassas Gap Railroad, to a point near Capt. D.S. Jones’ pond, thence crossing the lands of  D.S. Jones to a point West of the Waterman house, thence passing West of Jackson Miller’s house, to a spring in Kyle’s field, West of the brick dwelling house, thence crossing the H. & W.S. pike to the Toll-gate on the Valley pike, thence with the Port Republic road, to a white oak tree on the top of the hill, (not far from where Gen. Ashby was killed,) thence in a Northeastern direction to the beginning.

 

   The Woodbine Cemetery Company was chartered by the legislature in March, 1850, John Kinney, Ab. Smith, and fourteen others being named in the Act, and given the right to purchase and hold, in or near the town, not more than 15 acres of ground for the purposes specified.

   In 1868 the amount of taxes levied in Harrisonburg on personal property was $1659.57, and on real estate $2885.82; on both, $4545.39. In 1911 the total amount, on real and personal property, at a rate of 65 cents on the $100, was $22,083.80. In 1870 the population of the town was stated as 2828; at present (1912) it is, almost exactly, 5000.

 

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   The “boom” period was marked by decided “plants” and prophecies in Harrisonburg, not all of which grew or came true; but, as already indicated, the town has had a constant and healthy growth. It is noted as the best horse market in the Valley. In 1899 Harrisonburg voting precinct was divided into East Harrisonburg and West Harrisonburg.

   In August, 1873, Judge James Kenney wrote in his diary: “The necessity of pure water is now felt in our town”; and the question of a good water supply was agitated for a number of years following. In 1886 the artesian well which was to supply the town had been put down 455 feet. In 1889 the well of J.P.Houck had been bored to a depth of 600 feet. The same year a system of water works was completed and accepted by the council. In 1890 the town had a water supply from and artesian well 600 feet deep (presumably Mr. Houck’s); and the Houck Tanning Company was putting in an electric light plant. On December 22 (1890) the electric lights were turned on for the first time. In 1895 the town took up a proposition for a better water supply, and in 1898 the present splendid system, bringing an abundant supply by gravity from Riven Rock, near Rawley Springs, was installed under the direction of N. Wilson Davis, engineer. In 1904 the town issued $60,000 in bonds for the construction of a municipal light and power plant, which has been in successful operation for a number of years past.

   On Christmas day, 1870, about 4 o’clock in the morning, fire broke out on the south side of the public square, and burned all the buildings over to the old stone Waterman house. The loss totaled $50,000 or $60,000.

   In 1875 the first town clock for Harrisonburg was put in the court house tower.

   In 1887, and thereabout, Harrisonburg had no saloons.

   In 1902 the Big Spring, so long a landmark of the town, was covered over.

   Among the historic houses of the town are the Harrison

 

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 house, now Gen. John E. Roller’s office; the Waterman house, south side of the public square; and Collicello, west of the freight station.

   Collicello was built about 1812 by the eminent lawyer, Robert Gray; and there his 8 children, one of whom became the distinguished Col. Algernon Gray, were born.

   The Waterman house, a low stone structure with dormer windows, was the residence of Dr. Asher Waterman, who built it prior to 1799. Later it was the home of Sen. Isaac S. Pennybacker (born 1805, died 1847). In 1854 it was the original home of the Bank of Rockingham, the first bank in the county. From 1860 to 1905 it was the residence of Hon. D.M. Switzer. When Mr. Switzer came to Harrisonburg in 1843 this house was occupied by the Rev. Henry Brown, pastor of the Presbyterian Church. At that time there was but one pavement in the town; that one was of stone, and lay on the north and east sides of the Waterman house, which then, and until the fire of 1870, stood more than 20 feet in advance of the other buildings on the south side of the public square.

   The Harrison house is mentioned in this volume in so many connections that no special sketch is deemed necessary here.

   Harrisonburg has had an organized military company throughout many years of its history; and as already indicated, the beginning of its fire companies must be dated more than a century ago. The Harrisonburg fire companies in recent years have been conspicuous in the State conventions and contests, winning notable honors at Staunton in 1893, at Portsmouth in 1894, at Roanoke in 1912, and at other places at other times. They are doing a fine service in Harrisonburg, and occasionally in neighboring towns.

   In July, 1897, shortly after the fire laddies of Harrisonburg had distinguished themselves at Winchester, the following lines by M. J. McGinty, of New York, appeared in the Register:

 

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All hail to the laddies, those knights of the reel,

The quick-sprinting victors, with hearts true as steel;

All hail to the firemen, victorious and brave,

Slaves only to duty - their mission to save.

*       *       *       *       *       *        *

All hail to the champions! Our hats off to you;

O, here’s to the invincible wing-footed crew!

We drink to your health! may your record remain

As a shaft for all time to your worth and your fame.

*       *       *       *       *       *        *

 

The present municipal officers of Harrisonburg are:

Mayor - John H. Downing.

Recorder - John G. Yancey, Jr.

Assessor - R. Lee Woodson.

Treasurer - Henry A. Sprinkel.

Sergeant - J. E. Altaffer.

Councilmen - J.S. Bradley, A.M. Loewner, T.E. Sebrell, R. Lee Allen, T.N. Thompson, D.C. Devier, V.R. Slater, F.F. Nicholas, J.M. Snell.

 

     Keezletown, or as it was first written, Keisell’s-Town, was laid off on 100 acres of land belonging to George Keisell, and established by law under an Act of Assembly passed December 7, 1791.  Seven gentlemen, George Houston, George Carpinter, Martin Earhart, Peter Nicholass, John Snapp, John Swisher, and John Pierce, were made trustees.(9) It is said that a good deal of rivalry had developed between Thomas Harrison and Mr. Keisell in the effort to locate permanently the county-seat, the former championing Harrisonburg, the latter Keisell’s-Town. In fact, a rather entertaining story is told of how, on one occasion, the two gentlemen ran (more exactly, rode) a race to Richmond in the interests of their respective enterprises, in which, by the merest chance, Mr. Keisell was outdistanced by his rival.

     In 1844 Houck, Hosler & Co. were advertising the opening of a general store at “Huffman’s Tavern establishment in Keezletown.” Shepp’s spring, near the village, is said to

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(9) Hening’s Statutes, Vol. 13, page 297.

 

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 supply fine mineral water. The people of the community are intelligent and enterprising, and give good support to their schools and churches. The population of Keezletown is about 225.

     The following interesting account of McGaheysville and the man for whom it was named has been supplied, upon special request, by Mr. Richard Mauzy.

 

   McGaheysville is located eleven miles east of Harrisonburg on the Stanardsville turnpike, and on “Stony Run,” appropriately named, which has its source between the main longitudinal ranges of the Massanutten mountain, locally called “The Kettle,” and flows through the center of the village, and, two miles below, empties into the Shenandoah River.

   This village is, as the Irishman said of his pig, “Little, but ould.”

   Its name dates from 1801 when the first postoffice was established there with Tobis Randolph McGahey as Postmaster, for whom the village was named.

   Among the first, if not the first to settle there, was Thos. Mauzy, (the eldest son of Henry Mauzy of Fauquier Co., Va., by his second marriage,) who settled there in the latter part of the 18th century, and owned the property which he sold in 1805 to his youngest brother Joseph, where the latter did business and reared his family and lived till his death in December, 1863, and where his son Richard now resides, having been owned by the Mauzys for 115 years consecutively.

   Thos. Mauzy also owned the farm and mill on the Shenandoah River where the Harrisonburg Electric plant is now located, which he sold in 1822.

   Though the population has increased slowly with time, the number  and variety of industries have decreased, owing to the combination of capital and to the establishment of factories which made private enterprises unprofitable.

   About 75 years ago there were in the village several tailor shops, shoemaker shops, cabinet and carpenter shops, hatter shops, wheel-wright-shop, blacksmith shops, a tannery, and one store of general merchandise.

   The following are the names of some of the citizens who lived there about that time:

   Dr. Darwin Bashaw, Dr. Hitt, Joseph Mauzy, Christopher Wetzel, Peter Bolinger, A.J.O. Bader, Philip Rimel, John Garrett, John and Jacob Leap, Solomon and Jacob Pirkey, John and Augustus Shumate, Zebulon and David Gilmore, David Irick, Allison Breeden, Jacob Fultz, and Geo. Brill.

   The following with reference to the man for whom the village was

 

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 named, furnished by his granddaughter, Miss Alice McGahey, will be of interest:

   Tobias Randolph McGahey was born in Dover, Delaware, March 24, 1765. He came to this valley with a Scotch-Irish colony when a young man. In 1801, when a postoffice was established there, he was appointed postmaster, and the office was called McGaheysville. In 1802 he married Mrs. Eva Conrad, a wealthy widow of one of the first settlers in the Valley, and a resident of McGaheysville. They remained 19 years at this place, when his wife died.

   His occupation, when he first came to the Valley, was surveying. He also built flouring mills in Shenandoah, Page, Rockingham, and Augusta counties, and afterwards, in 1827, engaged in the mercantile business at Bonny Brook, on a farm he owned there, one mile northeast of McGaheysville.

   His mother (Mrs. Barnes) was a notable character in the village. She taught school, and not only taught the girls to read, write, and cipher, but to sew, knit, and paint. She lived to an old age and did much good in her journey of life.

   During his first wife’s time, Mr. McGahey lived where A.S. Bader now resides, and reared three nieces and two nephews.

 

It is said that McGaheysville was first called “Ursulasburg,” in honor of a Mrs. Long, a native of Switzerland, who lived near. The present population of the village is about 350. It has one of the best schools in the county.

 

     Port Republic is one of the oldest towns in Rockingham, and in the 20’s and 30’s, after the South Shenandoah had been made navigable for floatboats, was, in the happy phrase of Mr. Richard Mauzy, a place of great expectations. The following paragraph, from an Act of Assembly passed January 14, 1802, gets us back to formal beginnings:

 

Be it enacted by the general assembly, That twenty-three acres of land, the property of John McCarthrey, junior, lying between the north and south branches of the south fork of Shenandoah river in the county of Rockingham, shall be, and they are hereby vested in George Gilmer, Benjamin Lewis, Matthias Aman, John Givens, and Henry Perkey, gentlemen trustees, to be by them, or a majority of them, laid off into lots of half an acre each, with convenient streets, and established a town by the name of Port Republic.

 

Lots were to be sold at auction, the purchaser in each

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(10) See Rockingham Register, May 13, 1898

 

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case being required, upon forfeit, to erect “a dwelling house sixteen feet square at least, with a brick or stone chimney to be finished fit for habitation within ten years from the day of sale.”

     January 26, 1866, an Act was passed incorporating Port Republic, and on March 31, following, the first election under the new charter was held. John Harper was chosen mayor, and Tobias M. Grove sergeant.

     In olden days “Port” was noted for its fights - personal encounters - but in latter times it is as peaceable and law-abiding as other places.

     The bridges at Port Republic, specially those across the North River, have had an interesting history.  The first one, or one of the first, was burned in June, 1862, by Stonewall Jackson, to prevent Fremont from following him across the river. The next one was built in 1866, by citizens of the community, at a cost of about $3000. This washed away in the great flood of 1870. In January, 1874, the county court appropriated $600 to aid in rebuilding this bridge. The next bridge was washed away in 1877, and was not rebuilt for two or three years. The present bridge is a single-track iron structure.

     Mr. Richard Mauzy says that Holbrook, a citizen of Port, is entitled to the credit of making the original McCormick reaper a success, by devising the sickle as it has since been generally adopted on all reapers.

     The population of Port Republic is about 200.

 

     In January, 1804, an Act of Assembly was passed establishing the town of Newhaven on the land of Gideon Morgan and William Lewis, and appointing Edwin Nicholas, Asher Waterman, George Huston, George Gilmore,  Mathias Amon, Benj. Lewis, Henry Perkey, and Henry J. Gambill as trustees. The site of New Haven is on the north side of the rivers, opposite or a little below Port Republic. It will be observed that the two places had several trustees in common, and their names indicate the importance that was attached to their location upon navigable water. We can readily imagine them

 

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upon a “boom” in 1804, and thereabouts, but New Haven seems never to have reached the actual proportions of a town. The name is by this time remembered by only a few persons.

 

     One of the most progressive towns of East Rockingham is Elkton, known until 1881 as Conrad’s Store. Near the town stood until recently Elk Run Church, one of the oldest churches in the county; and the town is built where Elk Run flows into the Shenandoah River. The origin of the name Elkton, therefore, is obvious. Conrad’s old store building still remains as one of the landmarks. Another place of historic interest is the old Kite homestead, where Stonewall Jackson had his headquarters in 1862.

     In 1867 the postoffice at Conrad’s Store was moved out a mile or two to Geo. W. Sanford’s shoemaker shop, and named Roadside.  In 1881 Elkton postoffice was established, with Jas. H. Shipp as postmaster. One of the promoters of Elkton in “boom” times (1889-90) was Dr. S.P.H. Miller (1835-1895). In March, 1908, the town was incorporated, and J.A.S. Kyger was chosen mayor. The councilmen were J.R. Cover, J.T. Heard, J.E. Leebrick, V.C. Miller, W.A. Gordon, and I.L. Flory. Since 1881, when the Norfolk & Western Railway was opened, and especially since 1896, when the Chesapeake-Western was completed to Bridgewater, Elkton has been a railroad center of growing importance.

     The river bridges at Conrad’s Store and Elkton, like those at Port, have had an interesting, though expensive, history. On June 3, 1862, the Conrad’s Store bridge was burned by Co. D, 7th Va. Cavalry, S.B. Coyner,  captain, to keep the Federal general Shields from coming across to join Fremont against Jackson. In June, 1868, proposals were solicited by J.H. Kite, president of board, for building the island bridges across the Shenandoah,  near Conrad’s Store. The bridges were carried away by the flood of 1870. In 1872 a bridge 200 feet long, across the river, and one 100 feet long, across the race, were built by John W. Woods. These probably corresponded to the “island bridges” of 1868. The Conrad’s Store bridge fell again in the flood of 1877; was rebuilt in 1878-9 (by John

 

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Woods) and again washed away in September, 1896.  In May, 1897, part of the new iron bridge that was being erected was washed down.

     The population of Elkton at present (1912) is about 1000, and the town officers are the following:

Mayor - J.A.S. Kyger.

Treasurer - W.H. McVeigh.

Sergeant - W.E. Lucas.

Councilmen - R.B. Wilson, J.F. Taylor, J.R. Cover, J.T. Heard, L.F. Yeager, W.E. Deal.

 

     Dayton is likely one of the oldest “inland” towns in the county. Probably the first house was the one built of stone by the Harrisons, and still standing in fine condition at the northeast end of the town, on the west side of the Warm Springs and Harrisonburg Pike. It is now occupied by the Burtner family. Capt. John A. Herring, whose ancestors were some of the first settlers of the community, says:

 

It was once surrounded by palisades, and in times of Indian invasion the people around went there with their families for protection. There is a tradition that there was an underground passage dug to the creek [Cook’s Creek] nearby, for water, in case of a siege.

 

     A writer in the Rockingham Register of  January 5, 1894, says that this old house was sold early in the 19th century by Dr. Peachy Harrison to Maj. John Allebaugh.

     Prior to the Revolution there was an Episcopal chapel in what is now the north section of the Dayton cemetery; and up the creek a short distance, on the ground now covered by Silver Lake, was “Old Erection” of the Presbyterians. In March, 1833, Dayton was established by law. Rifeville and Rifetown were earlier names. In 1854 John Stinespring was proprietor of Dayton Hotel. Dayton’s stirring experiences in 1864 are narrated elsewhere. In 1903 and 1911 the town was visited by destructive fires, but the enterprising spirit of her people seems akin to the phenix (sic) essence. Dayton is probably the largest town south of Mason and Dixon’s line without a single colored citizen; and likely has the largest business carried on through its postoffice of any town of its size in the

 

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country. The latter condition is due to its publishing houses and schools, referred to elsewhere.

     The present (1912) population of Dayton is about 600, and its municipal officers are the following:

Mayor - J.W. Keiter.

Clerk - Henry Beery.

Assessor - J.H.S. Good.

Sergeant - J.A. Shifflett.

Councilmen - P.X. Heatwole, J.W. Heatwole, J.H. Rhodes, J.W. Rhodes, J.N. Shrum, J.A. Stone, G.P. Arey.

 

     The beautiful town on the North River, three miles southwest of Dayton, was first called Dinkletown, after one of the first families in the community, then Bridgeport, because it was a flatboat port at a bridge, and finally Bridgewater, because, doubtless, the bridge continued to be a necessity although the place ceased to be a port.

     According to Mr. S.G. Dinkle, John Dinkle about 1810 put up a carding machine, a sawmill, and a grist mill on the north side of the river, about a quarter of a mile below the bridge. The grist mill was replaced by a flouring mill about 1835. According to Mr. Dinkle and Mr. S.H.W. Byrd, this flouring mill burned in 1855, and was replaced immediately by the mill now standing there. On February 7, 1835, the town was established by law, on 20 acres of land belonging to John and Jacob Dinkle. The trustees were Jacob Dinkle, Michael Wise, Jesse Hoover, John Dinkle, Sr., and John Dumore. Quoting from the Act: “Liberty st. shall be laid off & established 20 ft; Main st. 55 ft. wide: Grove st. 20 ft. wide & Center alley 12 ft. wide.” The old town hall, standing on the west side of Main Street, below the intersection of Commerce Street, is said to have been formerly a church. Mr. S.H.W. Byrd calls attention to the fact that Bridgewater was established by law the same year as Milwaukee, Wis. In 1892 Capt. Philander Herring testified that the town had had no barroom or liquor saloon of any kind since 1854. It had had none since 1892. In 1868 a company was formed and chartered to build an observatory on Round Hill, just west of

 

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town; but this splendid project seems to have failed. In 1873, the period of railroad fevers, Bridgewater and vicinity were on  a “boom.” In the Register of May 9 (1873) it was reported that no less than 33 flouring mills 2 wool mills, and a number of sawmills were to be found within a radius of five miles of the place. On February 23, 1880, a considerable section of the town was laid waste by fire. In 1904 the corporate limits of the town were extended to their present ample proportions.

     Now, a word concerning the Bridgewater bridges. For most of this acknowledgment is made to Mr. S.H.W. Byrd. First, there was an old bridge on posts, low, near the water. In 1853 another bridge was built by Abram S. Williams. This was burned by the Confederates in 1862. The third bridge was erected in 1866 - completed in October - by John W. Woods. It had a support in the middle. On September 29, 1870, the northern half of this bridge was swept away by the great flood. The fourth bridge was completed in December, 1870, by Col. Wm. F. Pifer. This, too, had a center support. It was washed away November 24, 1877. The present bridge was finished by Wm. H. Grove in April 1878. It crosses at a single colossal    leap of 240 feet or more, and is said to be the longest single-span wooden bridge in the world.

     The population of Bridgewater (1912) is about 1000. The town officers are the following:

Mayor - H.C. Hale.

Recorder - S.H.W. Byrd.

Treasurer - O.W. Miller.

Assessor - E.A. Dinkle

Sergeant - J.W. Walters

Councilmen - J.H. Wine, W.H. Miller, C.B. Kiser, L.V. Miller, O.W. Wine, B.H. Beydler.

     When the above officers were elected, June 11, 1912, the town voted a bond issue of $25,000 for a water and sewer system.

 

     It is said that Mt. Crawford was established by law in 1825. In 1835 and Act of Assembly was passed incorporating

 

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the Mt. Crawford Water Company. In earlier days the place was known as Mt. Pleasant, and perhaps also as Mt. Stevens. In the Rockingham Register of October 5, 1822, Dr. Wm. Frey respectfully acquainted his friends and the public generally that he had removed from his former residence to the house of Fred. Hoffman in the village of Mt. Pleasant on the Staunton road, 17 miles from the latter place and 8 miles from Harrisonburg. In Martin's Gazetteer of Virginia, for 1835, this is said concerning Mt. Crawford:

 

                It contains 25 dwelling houses, 1 house of public worship free for all denominations, 2 common schools, 2 taverns, 3 mercantile stores, 2 tailors, 2 saddlers, 2 boot and shoe factories, 1 smith shop, 1 tin plate worker, 1 cabinet maker, 1 wheelwright, 1 cooper, 1 pottery, 2 milliner and mantua makes, 1 gun smith, 1 wagon maker, 1 manufacturing flour mill, and 1 saw mill. The North river is navigable for flat boats about three miles above this village, .   .   .

 

The bridges at Mt. Crawford suffered by the war and by the floods of 1870 and 1877, and their history would make an interesting chapter. In 1895 the town received its present charter. The population (1912) is about 400, with the following municipal officers:

Mayor - O.A. Layman.

Councilmen - J. H. Funkhouser, F. H. Lago, A.M. Pifer, J.C. Wise, M. Dean, W.F. Moyerhoeffer.

     Among the various things to the credit of Mt. Crawford, not the least is the reputation it has won for enforcing law - particularly against reckless joy-riders.

 

     The city of Sparta (Spartapolis) is ancient and honorable, whether in Laconia or in Rockingham. In 1831 our Sparta was established by law; it was a city 8 years later; that is to say, by an Act of the Assembly in 1839 its name was expanded to Spartapolis. In 1842, perhaps earlier, it was one of the county voting places. In the years leading up to and into the civil war it was frequently a place of muster. The present name is Mauzy, and the population is put down as 12.

 

A mile or two southwest of Mauzy, on the Valley Pike, is the village of Lacey Spring. Mrs. Maria Graham Carr says

 

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that her grandfather, John Koontz, built a house at Lacey Spring, in 1815, that was afterwards occupied by the Lincoln family; that he had a tanyard, operated by Isaac Hite; and that he also had a sawmill, not far from his house. The great spring that gushes out from the rocky hillside would certainly have afforded an abundant water supply for such establishments.  Mrs. Carr also mentions a house of entertainment, first occupied by a Mrs. Patten, later in the hands of the Lincolns. In February, 1898, an old two-story log house at Lacey burned, which, according to the report then published, had been erected in colonial times, and had been kept by David Lincoln as an inn during the early part of the last century. The 100 people who live at Lacey Spring are among the most intelligent and enterprising in the county.

 

     The statements regarding the beginnings of Timberville are somewhat complicated. In 1814, when John Zigler located there, a log house, then old, stood on the west bank of the river. In the year mentioned Mr. Zigler opened a tannery, which, at his death in 1856, was said to be the largest in the county. He started a pottery in 1830, and also operated a hemp mill. It is said that Tobias Shull opened a blacksmith shop in 1820 at B.F. Crist's present stand, and that a Mr. Carnes started a mill in 1831. Early in the century, perhaps before 1820, Abraham Williamson, a brother of Dr. J.D. Williamson of Hardscrabble (above New Market), opened the first store, and the place was known as Williamsport. This name would indicate that the river was being utilized for transportation. Another tradition says that Wm. G. Thompson founded Timberville. He was a prominent resident of the community as early as 1833, when he, John Zigler, and others were trying to get a free bridge across the river. The place was then called Thompson's Store. It is said that Thompson, in 1837, built the house now or recently owned by C. Fahrney. About 1850 the place was known as Riddle's Tavern. For many years, however, Timberville has been the accepted name, and the town was thus incorporated in 1884,

 

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with Jacob Garber, Chas. E. Fahrney, Wm. A. Pierce, John A. Roller, and Saml. C. Smucker as trustees.

     It is said that one day in early times, a four-horse team and wagon broke down the bridge, at Timberville, with more serious results to the bridge than to the team. The third bridge, erected in 1840, washed away in 1842 or 1843. Then the river was forded till 1884, when the present bridge was built.

     The population of Timberville (1912) is about 400. C.J. Smucker is mayor; Milton Whitener, clerk; B.F. Zirkle, treasurer; S.A. Henkel,. Sergeant; with J.A. Garber, W.B. Fahrney, D.S. Wampler, F.M. Bowman, F.H. Driver, and R.S. Bowers, councilmen.

     May 22, 1909, the Harrisonburg Daily News printed an elegant illustrated supplement on Timberville.

 

     The town of Broadway, at the junction of Linville Creek with the North Shenandoah River, and at the mouth of Brock's Gap, occupies a strategic point for trade. The beginnings of settlement and industry were probably made on the point of land between the creek and the river, at or near the Winfield residence. As early as 1808 the Custers had a mill there, and they were probably at the same time operating the store that for many years was kept in the old stone building adjacent to the Winfield house. The mill that Sheridan burned in 1864 was stone, and was likely the original one. During the period of Reconstruction the brick buildings now occupying the site, were erected for machine shops.

     According to tradition, the name Broadway was adopted from the habit of the merry daredevils, who were accustomed to assemble at the place for carousals, of referring to themselves as on the "broad way."

     In March 1880, Broadway was incorporated with Saml. C. Williams, P.W. Pugh, J.W. Basore, Michael Zigler, and M.B.E. Cline as trustees. Various changes in the charter and boundaries have been made since. The present (1912) population is about 700, and the town officers are the following:

 

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Mayor - J.H. Nave.

Clerk - C.R. Whitmore.

Sergeant - G.W. Beaver

Councilmen - C.R. Winfield, G.S. Fultz, Claude Knupp, W.N. Williams, C.E. Miller, Oscar Orebaugh.

 

     Cootes' Store stands above Broadway, at the actual mouth of Brock's Gap. The place bears its name from Mr. Samuel Cootes (1792 - 1882), for many years a prominent citizen of the county. In 1858 the place was made a voting precinct. For many years past it has been a postoffice. The population is about 30.

 

     A short distance southwest of Cootes' Store is the village of Turleytown, said to have been founded by Giles Turley, who stopped there on his way to Kentucky - and remained there. In 1903 Dr. John S. Flory, of Bridgewater, published an interesting description of the old Turleytown blockhouse, which was erected in early times. The Turleytown Baptist church also has an interesting history. The population is about 40.

 

     In 1860 a postoffice was established at Mountain Valley, and the name was changed to Singer's Glen. Mountain Valley had already become famous as the home of Joseph Funk, father of song in Northern Virginia, as the place of his school, and as the place where he and his sons printed and bound the music books and other publications that were being sent all over the country. The appropriateness of the present name has been proved by both the nature of the work that Joseph Funk & Sons kept up there till the later 70's and the character of the people who still live there. In March, 1894, Singer's Glen was incorporated, with B.H. Franklin mayor; and S.H. Swank, G.W. Shaffer, Jos. R. Funk, S.W. Brewer, D.M. Hollar, and C.F. Shank, councilmen. The present (1912) population is about 180, and the town officers are: B. H. Franklin, mayor; J.F. Moubray, sergeant; S.H. Swank, P.H. Donovan, W.C. Funk, G.W. Hedrick, D.S. VanPelt, and D.M. Hollar, councilmen.

 

     The name of Edom appears as early as 1844, perhaps

 

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earlier. In 1835 Joseph Martin, in his Gazetteer of Virginia, mentions Linville Creek P.O., which may be identical with Edom. Henry Howe, a decade or more later, speaks of Edom Mills. The population of this beautiful village is about 140.

 

     Another Rockingham village, similar in situation to Edom, built upon a never-failing stream and surrounded by sloping hillsides, is Mt. Clinton. According to an article printed in the Register, October 11, 1883, this place got its name about 1833, by a vote of the people of the community registered at the store of Bowman & Devier. Several names were under consideration, but a certain gentleman authorized Bowman & Devier to give a horn of apple-jack to every man who said "Mt. Clinton." And so Mt. Clinton it came to be. Before this the place was referred to as Muddy Creek, and was already the site of a mill, a tilt hammer, a cooper shop, etc. The meeting-house nearby was known as Gospel Hill. Henton & Burkholder were general merchants at Mt. Clinton as early as 1833, perhaps earlier. About 1895 the village came into prominence as the seat of West Central Academy, mentioned in Chapter XV. The population is (1912) about 225.

 

     Cross Keys is an ancient village, being mentioned by Martin in 1835 as a postoffice. There have been a church and a store at Cross Keys for several generations, and the place was made famous by the battle fought there June 8, 1862, between Fremont and Ewell. The population is about 50.

 

     Spring Creek is a village of about 200 people, situated in a prosperous farming section of western Rockingham. It maintains various local enterprises, and should be remembered as the place where Bridgewater College had its beginnings in 1880.

 

     Ottobine, or Paul's Mill, on Beaver Creek, the site of a mill, a church, a postoffice, etc., has been well known for many years. For example, as early as 1838, possibly before, it was a place of muster. The population is about 60.

 

     Another village of western Rockingham, surrounded by beautiful farms, is Clover Hill, with a population of about 70.

 

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    Rushville, at the confluence of Muddy Creek and Dry River, with a population of about 60, has been well known in the county for many years.

 

     Stemphleytown, between Dayton and Bridgewater, has borne its name since the 40's or 50's from David Stemphley, the first resident. The population is about 40.

 

     In December, 1866, Jacob Funkhouser, C.E., was laying off a town at Kratzer's Spring, on the Middle Road. This was evidently the village now called Linville, located a short distance south of Linville Depot. About 1870 the name Etna was applied to a certain part of Linville. The present population (1912) is about 250.

 

     River Bank, near McGaheysville, should receive special notice, in addition to other things, for the mere fact of its existence, since it has probably been washed away oftener than any other place in the county. The bridge built at River Bank soon after the war was swept away in 1870. In 1873 a mill was erected and plans perfected for the rebuilding of the bridge. The leaders of River Bank industry at that time were J.H. Larkins, W.B. Yancey, R.A. Gibbons, and Henry E. Sipe. In January, 1874, three spans of the new bridge were swept away by a freshet; and in the big flood of 1877 not only the bridge, but also the grist mill and saw mill, went down in the waters. In 1874 a postoffice was established at River Bank, with E.L. Lambert, postmaster.

 

     Grottoes, whilom Shendun, owes its meteoric phases to the "booms" of 1890, its permanent character to the fertility in the soils, the caves in the hills, and the ores in the mountains about it. Mt. Vernon Forge had marked the place of old. In March, 1891, it was alive with industries. Males 430, with females 279, made a total population of 709, showing an increase of 100% in about five months. In February, 1892, an Act of Assembly was passed incorporating the town of Shendun; W.I. Harnsberger was elected mayor, R.T. Miller, E.R. Armentrout, J.W. Rumple, J.G. Hall, J.M. Pirkey, L.D. Patterson councilmen.  In March, 1893, receivers were appointed for the Grottoes Company, at Shen-

 

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dun. This year (1912) another Act was passed changing the name of the town from Shendun to Grottoes. The present population is about 400. C.D. Harnsberger is mayor; J.E. Graves, assessor; R.D. Melhorn, treasurer; S.F. Newman, sergeant; J.M. Pirkey, J.W. Lemon, M.D. Eutsler, W.I. Harnsberger, J.M. Bell, and J.L. Leeth, councilmen.

     In 1893 street cars were running in Shendun. This, so far as is know, gives the place a unique distinction among the towns of Rockingham. In the Rockingham Register of January 30, 1891, the following item of interest appeared:

     "The first child born in Shendun was a daughter to Mr. And Mrs. W.I. Harnsberger, and granddaughter of Hon. H. B. Harnsberger, of Port Republic. It was named Shendun Bell, the latter name in compliment of Maj. H.M. Bell, of Staunton, one of the principal promoters of Shendun."

     In the following table are given the names of villages, postoffices, etc., of Rockingham not already mentioned, grouped by districts.  In column (1) are names that appeared in Lake’s atlas of 1885; in column (2) are the names that now appear in Rand McNally’s map of Virginia; in column (3) are given figures of present population, as nearly as these can be approximated; in column (4) are given the years in which postoffices were established at some of these places; and in column (5) the names of first postmasters.

Ashby District

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

Meyerhoeffers Store

Meyerhoeffers Store

20

 

 

Goods Mill

Goods Mill

25

1871

Saml. Good

Scotts Ford

Scotts Ford

25

 

 

North River

North River

25

1874

J. J. Roller

Friedens

Friedens

20

 

 

Pleasant Valley

Pleasant Valley

80

Rockingham P. O.

 

Berlinton

 

30

 

 

Coakleytown

 

30

 

 

Montezuma

Montezuma

30

 

 

 

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Lilly

25

1885

W. H. Sipe

 

Spring Creek Station

 

 

 

 

Onawan

15

 

 

 

Central District

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

Peach Grove

 

20

 

 

Dale Enterprise

D. Enterprise

50

1872

C. H. Brunk

Karicofe

Hinton

30

 

 

Chrisman

Chrisman

40

1881

W. E. Long

Gladwell

 

 

 

 

 

Penn Laird

40

 

 

 

Chestnut Ridge

 

1894

John Miller

 

Rutherford

 

 

 

 

Pleasant Hill

 

 

 

 

Linville District

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

Paulington

Paulington

25

 

 

Mt. Tabor

 

 

 

 

Melrose

Melrose

25

1873

R. Armentrout

Cherry Grive

Ch. Grove

20

 

 

Greenmount

Greenmount

60

 

 

 

Zenda

30

 

 

 

Latona

20

 

 

 

Bruce

20

 

 

 

Sky

20

 

 

 

Ft. Hoover (11)

25

 

 

 

Hoover

20

 

 

 

Palos

 

 

 

 

Genoa

10

 

 

 

Paul

 

 

 

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(11)      Ft. Hoover, a small structure mainly of stone, used in later times (and likely in earlier times also) as a dwelling, stood at the west foot of Green Hill, on the north bank of Joe’s Creek, a mile below Singer’s Glen.  A low mound, with a few scattered bits of stone, now marks the place.

 

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Plains District

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

Roark

Arkton

20

 

 

Oakwood

Oakwood

20

 

 

Dogtown

Athlone

40

 

 

Tenth Legion

Tenth Legion

30

 

 

Cowans

Daphna

 

 

 

Mechanicsville

 

 

 

 

Honeyville

 

 

 

 

Bakers Mill

Bakers Mill

20

 

 

Fulks Run

Fulks Run

50

1873

G. W. Fawley

Yankton

 

 

 

 

Criders

Criders

20

1881

W. R. Crider

Dovesville

Dovesville

40

 

 

 

Mayland

30

 

 

 

Hupp

30

 

 

 

Holman

 

 

 

 

Tunis

20

 

 

 

Stonewall District.

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

Swift Run

Swift Run

25

 

 

Furnace

Furnace

50

 

 

Greenwood

 

 

 

 

Millbank

Antelope

75

1877

W. H. Marshall

Inglewood

Inglewood

 

1873

C. W. Shepp

Yancey

Yancey

25

 

 

Almond

Almond

30

 

 

Montevideo

Montevideo

50

1873

C. M. Killian

Lynnwood

Lynnwood

70

1871

A. L. Wagner

Leroy

 

 

1872

S. B. McCommon

Liola

(Grottoes)

 

 

 

 

Rainbow

20

 

 

 

Model

40

 

 

 

Island Ford

30

 

 

 

Beldor

50

1894

 

 

Roadside

30

 

 

 

Lewis

 

 

 

 

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     In addition to the foregoing, the following notes may be of interest.

     In 1840 Nicholas’ Tavern was a well known place in East Rockingham.

     In 1842 there was a place, evidently in Rockingham, called Libertyville.

     In 1863 Burke’s Mill was a postoffice in Rockingham.

     In 1870 a postoffice was established at Mt. Vernon Forge, D. F. Haynes, P.M.

     In 1873 a postoffice was established at Belton, Rockingham County.

    The postoffice at Melrose was re-established in 1873.

     In 1879 there was a place in northwest Rockingham called “Yankeetown.”

     In 1890 Mt. Hermon P. O. was established, with J. M. Lam postmaster.

     In 1891 Amberly P. O. was established, with J. W. Tate postmaster.

     In 1893 a postoffice was established at Bear Lithia, J. T. Taylor, P. M. (12)

_____________________________________________________________________________

(12)    In addition to those already named, Mrs. Thos. Kille of Harrisonburg, Mr. J. A. Garber or Timberville, Miss Paulina Winfield of Broadway, and Mr. J. R. Shipman of Bridgewater have given aid on this chapter, and to them grateful acknowledgement is made.

 

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