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December 2020 Issue
In this issue:
  • History Feature: Honoring Those Interred at Mount Sinai Cemetery
  • When Waterford's (and Lovettsville's) Politics Got Out of Hand
  • Charles Johnson: The Spy Who Walked a Crooked Line
  • The Georges, Johnsons, and related families in Lovettsville
  • Some nearby events of interest
  • About us
  • Archive of back issues

Lovettsville Museum Welcomes You -- by appointment

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Lovettsville Museum is open only to those making an advance appointment.  Anyone wishing to visit the Museum for research purposes, or to view any exhibits, is encouraged to contact us at, or at 540-822-9194, to request an appointment. -- and we will due our best to accommodate you. Facial masks will be required, and physical distancing will be observed.

Our popular lecture series remains suspended for the coming months.  We will resume it as soon as possible, which hopefully will be sometime in the Spring of 2021.

As always, the safety of our members and participants is our foremost concern.

Our website is open 24/7 -- with lots of videos, history features, and research guides.

Honoring Those Interred
at Mount Sinai Cemetery

by Claudette Lewis Bard
Photo of Mount Sinai Cemetery as it appeared in early 2019. Courtesy Loudoun County Department of Planning

In our October newsletter, we featured an article entitled “Hidden History: The Mount Sinai Church and Cemetery at ‘Little Britain.’” The article chronicled the once-thriving African-American community called Guinea or Little Britain which was located southwest of Lovettsville at Britain and Mountain Roads. The area once housed a church, a school, Arnold’s General Store and the inhabitants were families with surnames such as Beaner, Curtis, Hogan, Lucas, Moten, Paris, Payne, Redman, Stone, Timbers, and Young. As noted in the October article, Eugene Scheel stated that the area was called “Guinea” which could be interpreted as either a derogatory term for African Americans or, since it is a country in West Africa, may be reflective of the residents’ heritage since the trans-Atlantic slave trade centered on the countries of that part of the continent. [source: Map of the Short Hill, Loudoun County, Va. by Eugene Scheel, 2016]

In our November newsletter, Howard Gilbert Timbers Jr. wrote a heartfelt account of his ancestor who is interred at Mount Sinai Cemetery. In an article entitled “Remembering Private Samuel Benjamin Timbers,” Gilbert writes about his ancestor who served his country honorably as a member of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry (U.S.C.I.), Company H, and that designation is inscribed on a distinguished, recessed-shield headstone specifically provided by the military to those who served in the Union Army during the Civil War. After the war, Samuel returned to Lovettsville and lived out his years in the area.

While researching the Loudoun County Historical Birth and Death Records, 1853-1917, and using other sources, we have so far discovered 22 persons interred in the cemetery (see Find-a-Grave), and according to stories circulating in the area, there could be as many as 100 individuals for whom these grounds are their final resting place.

We began with Private Samuel Benjamin Timbers, telling about his notable life and his place in American history. In this issue, we will share a little bit about some of the other souls buried at Mount Sinai Cemetery and about their lives in this part of Loudoun County.
Continue reading about Mount Sinai

This story in the November issue of the Waterford Foundation newsletter caught our eye, especially the part at the end of the story about the 1888 brawl with a group of visitors from Lovettsville.  We started checking into it, and it led us into another whole story -- this one about Charles W. Johnson and a Civil War spy network.  We hope you will enjoy these stories.

When Waterford’s Politics Got Out of Hand

As the nation takes stock after a heated campaign season, residents of the old village might take a look back at the excesses of its own past partisan battles.

1844: In the village, blood ran high as men cast public votes in the national contest between Henry Clay, the favorite of Waterford’s majority Whigs, and the Democrats’ James K. Polk. For several years there had been political sniping between young Quaker Eli Albaugh and the sons of tailor John Sappington, fervent Democrats. On election day Albaugh and Oliver Sappington got into a fight and the Quaker was mortally wounded. Sappington was eventually tried for “felonious homicide” but acquitted. By then the nation was already on the path to eventual Civil War. And the animosities and resentments in the wake of that conflict were still boiling up the Waterford in the 1880s and beyond.

1881: The Reverend Henry Branch was relieved of his responsibilities at Catoctin Presbyterian Church after “a remarkable sermon” in September. The popular Branch had attributed the death of President James A. Garfield the previous week to divine retribution for the “base fraud” that had elevated his predecessor, fellow Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, to the presidency. Garfield died of complications from an assassin’s bullet after just six months in office.

1888: After Democrat Grover Cleveland won the popular vote but lost in the electoral college to Benjamin Harrison, Jubilant Republicans in Waterford held a boisterous “jollification” that included cannon fire and guests from as far away as Lovettsville. Most local Democrats simply gritted their teeth—but one man finally snapped.

As the last of the Lovettsville celebrants were about to leave, Oscar James seized the bridle of a horse and refused to let go, even when the rider brought out his whip. In the melee that followed, James struck the visitor on the head with a club, opening a severe wound; several others were bruised and battered. James’s friends finally got him into an oyster saloon and held him there while he struggled to get out, vowing vengeance on the visitors. Hearing of the fracas, the whole company of Lovettsvillians quickly returned and were about to raid the saloon after James, but better judgment finally prevailed.”

1889: State politics, too, could rouse passions in Waterford. In the run-up to November’s elections, “some of the boys” had a bonfire in front of the Corner Store and burned a straw effigy of maverick Virginia gubernatorial candidate Gen. William “Billy” Mahone. For good measure someone fired a shotgun into the smoking figure.


The full story on the fracas with the Lovettsvillians was provided to us by John Souders of the Waterford Foundation. It was reported in the Loudoun Telephone (Hamilton) on November 23, 1888, as follows:

An Unfortunate Fracas

The republican jollification at Waterford on Thursday night of last week was in every respect a success and satisfactory, until just as the last of the visitors were leaving town, when a very unfortunate fracas occurred. The large company of visitors from Lovettsville had all left but Mr. C.W. Johnson and his three sons, who mounted their horses and were about to start, when Mr. Oscar James, a Waterford democrat, took hold of the bridle of one of the horses and failed to let go when requested by Mr. Johnson. Some words passed resulting in Mr. Johnson striking James on the hand with his riding whip. This enraged the latter and a melee followed, participated in by several other Waterfordians, during which James struck the Senior Johnson on the head with a club, making a severe scalp wound.--Several others were more or less bruised. As soon as possible James' friends got him into an oyster saloon, and held him there, while he endeavered [sic] to get out, vowing vengeance on the Johnsons. Hearing of the fracas, the whole company of Lovettsvillians quickly returned and were about to raid the saloon after James, but better judgment finally prevailed and they departed without further trouble.
These statements are a summary of the various accounts made by persons who were present.


Charles W. Johnson:

The Spy Who Walked a Crooked Line

By Edward Spannaus
The Charles Johnson who featured in the fracas following a Republican event in Waterford in November 1888 was no stranger to conflict – be it of the military or political sort.  In post-Reconstruction Loudoun he was known as a staunch Republican at a time when most of the County was Democratic, but long before that, during the Civil War years, he was publicly known as an outspoken and headstrong Unionist.  Unknown except to a few, was that during the war, Johnson was also a leader in a clandestine spy network in the Lovettsville area which was reporting to the U.S. Bureau of Military Information (BMI) at Harpers Ferry. 

This network was discovered in recent years by Taylor Chamberlin and John Souders when they were researching their 2011 book Between Reb and Yank, a history of the Civil War in northern Loudoun County.  And, as is common in the espionage business, there were others involved who questioned Johnson’s loyalty to the Unionist cause.
Read more about "The Spy Who Walked a Crooked Line"
The Georges, Johnsons,
and related Lovettsville families

We asked Sam Kroiz, proprietor of the George’s Mill Farm Store, to tell us about Charles Johnson’s relation to George’s Mill and various Lovettsville families.  Charles Johnson was Sam’s third great-grandfather, a line which runs through his grandmother, Fran Wire, who operates George’s Mill B&B.

Here’s what Sam had to say:

Charles Johnson is my great x3 grandfather. Any Lovettsville local readers who aren’t related to him, might be related to his wife and descendants.

Charles Johnson’s wife was Jane Conard, descended from the George and Wirtz (Virts) families. Her mother was Elizabeth Wirtz, and Elizabeth’s parents were Jacob Wirtz and Elizabeth George, a daughter of John George, who established the mill at George’s Mill. Eliza Grubb George (wife of Samuel W. George), who established the stone house and farm at Georges Mill, was also a granddaughter of Elizabeth George. Her husband Samuel George was a nephew of Elizabeth George, and a first cousin once removed to his own wife and Charles Johnson’s wife.
Samuel W. and Eliza George lived in the stone house at George’s Mill once it was completed just after the Civil War. (That house is described in the Lovettsville: the German Settlement book on pages 107-108.)  During the war, they lived next door on the current Riddlemoser Farm.

Charles and Jane Johnson’s sons were Harry (birth date not shown), Alexander (b. 1857), my great x2 grandfather Robert Geary (b. 1861 and later known as “Colonel” because of his middle name), Charles (b. 1866), Elbert (b. 1874), and Bernard (b. 1878 d. 1881).

 I’m not sure where Charles and Jane lived during the war (it may have been at the Johnson family farm and distillery on the south side of Long Lane), but eventually Jane inherited the Stone House on the Dutchman, built by Jacob Wirtz and Elizabeth George, and then Jane and Charles lived  there. There’s a little history in the section about that house in the Lovettsville: the German Settlement book (p. 108). That house is along Elvan Road, but at that time the property extended all the way over to Irish Corner Road across from George’s Mill Road, and bordered George’s Mill Farm. 

After the war, several children from the neighboring farm families got married. Samuel and Eliza’s eldest son John Eb George married Ora Virts, a Johnson cousin. Another son Ashland George married Charles and Jane’s daughter Eleanora Johnson. Sam and Eliza’s youngest daughter Ella George married Charles’s and Jane’s son Robert Geary Johnson. And their youngest son Derizo George married Clara Virts, another Johnson cousin.

When Charles and Jane died, Ora Virts inherited part of the property, and she and her husband John Eb George bought the rest of it from other Virts and Johnson relatives. The Johnson Farm thereby became known as the George Farm.
Ella and R.G. Johnson built a farm house next to George’s Mill, across George’s Mill Road from the stone house, which Ella eventually inherited from Samuel and Eliza. There was a store and a post-office there, and a little village with a blacksmith shop nearby,  at one time. The George Farm thereby became known as the Johnson Farm. They had three daughters Frieda, Esther, and Columbia. Columbia married Charles Lamar Wire. Columbia and Charles were my great-grandparents, and my their son Robert Lamar Wire married Fran Wire; they are my grandparents. Some folks probably still consider it the Johnson Farm, but for as long as I’ve been around we’ve called it Georges Mill Farm. 
Some nearby events of interest:


Dec. 1–31 – Thomas Balch Library exhibit: “Granny’s Cooking: Meals at 21 West Loudoun Street, 1950s – 1970s.” A number of antique kitchen utensils will be on display, which were used by Mrs. S.J. Johnston who lived - and cooked - on the corner of Loudoun and Wirt Streets for almost 75 years. The exhibit will focus on the cooking she did for her grandsons from the 1950s to the 1970s. Using family recollections, kitchen utensils, and recipes from the Charles A. Johnston Collection, the exhibit will recreate Mrs. Johnston’s (Granny’s) cooking and offer a look back at Leesburg’s tasty past. The exhibit runs through December 31 and may be seen by appointment only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 1 to 3 p.m.  To schedule an appointment please call 703-737-7195, email, or visit

Now through December – Exhibit: “A Step in Time,” at Thomas Balch Library. The exhibit features oil paintings by Leesburg artist Bethany Widom, and is now available to view in the lower level meeting room of the Thomas Balch Library. The show features 22 oil paintings, inspired by objects that were a part of Widom’s own life and that of her family. Her paintings have a reminiscent quality that invite you to appreciate a moment in time. The exhibit runs through December and may be seen by appointment only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 1 to 3 p.m. Please call 703-737-7195, email, or fill out an Appointment Request Form online. To learn more about the artist, visit

Now through Jan. 24, 2021 – Exhibit: “The Dutch Golden Age: Prints by Rembrandt and his Contemporaries.” During the Dutch Golden Age the arts and artists flourished—many artists who are now beloved household names, including Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), worked during this period, when middle-class life rapidly developed and material comforts and luxuries, including art, became available to more people. This exhibition brings together more than 60 prints that illuminate this exciting period, including seven prints by Rembrandt, and works by his precursors, peers, and followers. This exhibition is organized by the Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania. Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, 401 Museum Drive, Hagerstown, MD. 301-739-5727.



Dec. 1 – 13 – Frederick County (MD) Museums by Candlelight. Once a year, Frederick County’s numerous historic sites and museums provide visitors with a living reminder of this area's splendid past. While this year's Museums by Candlelight event will look a little different, there are still many opportunities to discover the areas rich history and culture. Visit this page December 1-13, 2020 to enjoy a variety of virtual programming from Frederick's museums and historic sites. As always, this remains a free event.

Sat., Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. – Harpers Ferry Civil War Round Table: “D.H. Hill at Antietam” presented by Civil War scholar Douglas Batson at Bloody Lane, Antietam National Battlefield. Daniel Harvey Hill was a Mexican War hero and math professor prior to founding the North Carolina Military Institute in 1859. His fearlessness on the battlefield arguably saved the Confederate Army from destruction on South Mountain and again at Antietam. His notoriety in battle continued at Chickamauga and Petersburg before he surrendered his unit at Durham Station, NC. After the Civil War, Hill was known as an author, as an advocate of the Granger movement, and as President of the University of Arkansas. Access is off MD65, Sharpsburg Pike, Sharpsburg, MD. Park near the observation tower.) Walking will be minimal, but be prepared for uneven terrain and for standing during the program. Dress for the weather of the day. Due to COVID and logistical concerns and restrictions, we ask that you wear a mask and practice social distancing. Reservations are not needed for this program, and there is no charge, though we welcome your membership in the Round Table. For more information, contact Chris Craig at or 304-433-1260.

Tues., Dec. 8 at 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. – “Historical Bridges of Frederick County.” A newly published book of photographs provides dozens of opportunities to travel the beautiful countryside around Frederick, MD in search of unique and historic structures. The book, “Historical Bridges of Frederick County” by Dr. John Vitarello, will be the focus of Heritage Frederick’s next virtual program. This program is part of the Heritage Frederick At Home series, launched by the organization in order to provide virtual programming that bridges the past to the future. The lecture is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. To register, visit

Thurs., Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. – Frederick County Civil War Roundtable Presentation: "The Battle of Rockville,” presented by Mike Fitzpatrick. This virtual-only presentation will focus on the Californians serving in the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry following Early's retreat from Washington in July 1864. Go to for viewing on the Museum's youtube channel.

Thurs, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. – Civil War Meeting and Talk on Union General August Willich. The Hagerstown Civil War Round Table will be featuring a talk by David Dixon on Union General August Willich. David’s new book, published by the University of Tennessee Press, is the biography of German revolutionary and Union General August Willich. His work highlights the contributions of approximately 200,000 German-American immigrants to the Union effort in the Civil War. Transatlantic radicals like Willich viewed the war as part of a much larger, global revolution for social justice and republican government. The event is at 7:00 pm by the virtual Zoom platform. If you would like to join, please send a request to our email address for connection information. For more information visit, search for: Hagerstown Civil War Round Table, email, or call Dennis Graham at 240 625 4216.

Fri., Dec. 11 at 1:00 p.m. – “Medical Care at the Battle of Fredericksburg.” Join us on Friday, December 11 at 1:00 PM on Facebook Live for a virtual program hosted by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. You can tune in live by visiting at the scheduled time. Director of Interpretation Jake Wynn will talk about his research into medical care at the Battle of Fredericksburg on the 158th anniversary of the battle. The presentation will cover the unique challenges faced by surgeons at the December battle, and how the Letterman system was implemented. Learn about how they cared for the wounded and what lessons they took away. Send us your questions in advance on Facebook or by email ( and tune in to the Museum’s Facebook page for what is sure to be a fascinating conversation. During this FREE program, you’ll hear about different aspects of healthcare on the front lines and in hospitals during the most destructive conflict in our nation’s history that continues impact us today. We are here to answer your questions about Civil War medical care! Jake Wynn is the Director of Interpretation at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.

Dec. 14 through Jan. 1 – Candlelight Tour of Historic Houses of Worship - Virtual Edition. This year's annual Candlelight Tour of Historic Houses of Worship in Downtown Frederick will not take place in the same way it typically would. However, Visit Frederick is excited to share that a special encore presentation of the tour's anniversary special will be available on this page beginning on December 14, 2020! This special tour celebrates Frederick’s tradition of religious diversity, local history, and the holiday season. This is a free virtual presentation and is a great opportunity to peek inside some of its most beautiful buildings.

Tues., Dec. 15 at 4:00 p.m. on Facebook – “Medical Reports: The Battle of Fredericksburg,” a virtual program hosted by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. You can tune in live by visiting at the scheduled time. Director of Interpretation Jake Wynn and Education Coordinator John Lustrea will read reports from the Union and Confederate Medical Directors at the Battle of Fredericksburg on the 158th anniversary of the battle. Their reports shed light on the incredible efforts made by Civil War surgeons to provide life saving medical care amidst challenging circumstances. Don’t miss this important glimpse into the world of Civil War medicine. Like these programs? Consider supporting our efforts by becoming a member or donating to the Museum! Your efforts ensure that we can continue sharing the story of Civil War medicine in this crucial time. In history, we can find hope amid our struggle against COVID-19.

Mon., Dec. 21 at 1:00 p.m. – Christmas in Frederick’s Civil War Hospitals – Digital Program. In this pre-recorded video, Director of Interpretation Jake Wynn and Education Coordinator John Lustrea will discuss the celebration of Christmas in Frederick’s military hospitals during the Civil War. They will explore how the holiday evolved during the conflict and some of the traditions that took place during the 1860s that remain common today.

Programs Available online at anytime:

"They Were Good Soldiers" Book Talk with John U. Rees. Drawing upon decades of research into the common soldiers of the Revolution, historian John Rees examines the fascinating and often forgotten story of African-American soldiers in the Continental Army. This program is presented by the Virginia Piedmont Heritage Association, in partnership with the Black History Committee of the Thomas Balch Library. This program is free of charge and will be broadcast live on the VPHA Facebook Page

George Marshall: Defender of the Republic” Biographer David Roll talked about his book, George Marshall: Defender of the Republic, in which he recalled the life of military leader George Marshall, who served as President Franklin Roosevelt’s Army chief of staff during World War II. (Gen. Marshall of course lived in Leesburg at Dodona Manor.) Watch it here.

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Membership Information
About Us
Our Mission:
The mission of the Lovettsville Historical Society is to foster a sense of place and community by preserving, protecting, and educating about the history and heritage of Lovettsville and the  German Settlement.  

   We achieve this by:
    1.  Operating, maintaining, and expanding the Lovettsville Museum in order to acquire, display, and preserve artifacts, documents, and records which relate to our local history;
    2.  Maintaining and operating a physical and online research library for use by historians, genealogists, and the public;
    3.  Educating the public about Lovettsville area history through programs, printed and online resource materials, and events.
*   *   *   *   *

The success of our mission relies heavily upon our membership, which provides the needed resources and also committed volunteers who share our passion for local history. Please encourage your friends, family, and others to join the Lovettsville Historical Society (LHS), or renew their annual membership, to ensure our continued success in preserving and promoting our local heritage.

There are many opportunities for members and others to participate in supporting the Lovettsville Historical Society and also meet others who share in our passion for preserving and promoting our local history. This includes volunteering to help with the museum, fundraising, organizing events, website and social media, and publicizing our activities.  We enjoy hosting special presentations for groups such as Scouts, school classes and tourists. Lastly, the donations of local historical artifacts such as family documents and pictures (or digital scans thereof), ensure that we can continue our efforts to expand our presentation of local genealogical information.

The Lovettsville Historical Society, Inc. is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization under the Internal Revenue Code.  Contributions and membership dues are tax deductible under Internal Revenue Code Section 170.  The Society has been deemed to be exempt from registration under the Commonwealth of Virginia's charitable solicitation law.
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