LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA -- Three African American men were lynched in Loudoun County during a span of 22 years. The three locations of these known lynchings will soon be publicly recognized with historical markers.
The W and O D trail is a popular path built on old train tracks. But what happened on the tracks near Church Street in 1889 is disgraceful.
"One of the posse on horseback put a rope on a hook around the derrick. Anderson was raised and was dead in a few minutes," Phillip Thompson, Loudoun County NAACP President, read from an old newspaper story.
Thompson is leading the drive place Historical Markers at each of the sites of the three known lynchings in Loudoun County. They happened between 1880 and 1902.
Thompson visited the new National Lynching Memorial in Montgomery Alabama this summer and shared some video as he narrated what he saw:
"Here is the Loudoun County Lynching memorial down here at the Lynching Museum in Alabama. You can see the Louisa County and all the rest of the counties in Virginia lined up on the inside. This thing stretches around every county that a lynching occurred. You can see the number of obelisks, and that'll tell you, this was horrific," he said.
The three men killed in Loudoun County: Orion Anderson, Charles Craven and Page Wallace were between the ages of 18 and 25. Anderson was a teenager when he was hanged and shot along the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad right in downtown Leesburg near the Loudoun County Courthouse.
"Mr. Anderson was taken from the jail by a mob of individuals. He was grabbed from the jail, and he was brought down here to what is the old train station...and there was a derrick that they used, like a crane, to bring cargo onto the train, and he was hung from that and then shot. And then left there as a message."
Three years later in 1902, less than a mile away, Charles Craven, another African American teenager, was hanged at the corner of what is now Cactocin Circle and Route 7. Where a black cemetery called Potter's Field used to be.
"The mob got down the road here, heard that the militia was coming, and decided that they would hang him right here in Potter's Field. They hung him from a tree, shot him four or five times," said Thompson.
He said many of the remains of the African Americans in the cemetery was still buried on the pavement where a bank now sits
Near the Point of Rocks bridge which crosses over into Maryland, Page Wallace was hanged on tree alongside Route 15.
"He fled to Maryland and was in Maryland when he was captured. As soon as he come off the ferry, he was grabbed by mob," said Thompson.
Thompson said this week he is putting in a request to the state of Virginia for a historical marker along Route 15.
He's said markers for the other two locations are already in the works, with the town of Leesburg for the lynching on Route 7, and with the Northern Virginia Park Authority which owns the W and O D.
"This is history. Just as they want to glorify the Confederate State up the road, this here is also a part of their history in the state of Virginia. Almost 100 people, known lynchings in the state of Virginia," said Thompson.
The W and OD marker recognizing the lynching of Orion Anderson could be in place by October.
When the historical markers go up, soil will be collected at each site and sent to the National Lynching Memorial for display.