History of Conklin, Virginia
By: Students of the Conklin Club
Edited by: Teachers of the Conklin ClubHave you ever wondered what was here before your family lived here? Have you ever thought about how different it was to live before the twenty-first century? In the Conklin Club at J. Michael Lunsford - made up of teachers, students and administrators - we uncovered what South Riding looked like before we arrived.
Most people don’t know what was here before South Riding and before Toll Brothers bought land here. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there was a town here called Conklin, Virginia. It was named after Joseph Conklin, a white landowner who purchased over 100 acres of land from Horace Adee in 1871. Freed African Americans were the primary inhabitants of Conklin, many of whom traveled from nearby areas such as Fairfax and Prince William County.After the Civil War, freed slaves and whites lived together after the abolition of slavery. In the 20th century, almost everyone here farmed for a living. They worked hard and had poor wages. Though there were other jobs such as laundry and road repair, many people lived in cabins. An example of this is the Settle-Dean Cabin,near J. Michael Lunsford Middle School. The Settle family owned a large plantation in the area. After slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment, Nelson Settle freed his slaves, many of whom had the last name Dean. Nelson Settle owned the Deans and gave the cabin to them after their freedom. Descendants of the white and African-American farmers still live in Loudoun and around the region, they are all quite proud of their joint heritage.Today, most of our lives are easygoing and fun. We get food from Giant, Food Lion, and Harris Teeter, we also have many comforts, such as heating, water, prebuilt exquisite shelter, video games, and many more luxurious possessions. Back in the 20th century, there was minimal electricity, no televisions, no food nearby, not many cars, small houses, and few schools. Imagine having to walk from Dulles Airport to here twice a week to get an education. We take school for granted, many of us do not like school and would rather stay home all day. Back then, school was a gift, and still is in many countries.Kids from a town called Willard (Dulles Airport area) walked to here, stayed here, walked a little to school each day, and walked back to home on weekends. Would you do this just for a simple education?Jenny Dean was an African-American who was raised as a slave in Loudoun county. She was born as a daughter of Charles and Annie Stewart Dean on April 15, 1848. After the Civil War, she guaranteed her freedom. After her family purchased a farm in Prince William County, she began to dedicate her life by helping African-Americans by establishing sunday schools for their children to attend. After helping out around Virginia, she traveled to the north to speak to churches about her ideas of starting schools. Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth received a charter due to Jenny Dean’s hard work on October, 1893. She served on the school board of directors and executive committee as a financial agent. Not giving up, she journeyed to Boston, New York, Washington D.C., and towns near the schools. After multiple signs of ill health and two strokes she died on May 3rd, 1913.
Our area is full of history, yet most people don’t know that there was anything here before South Riding. We need to know about the history of our community so we can preserve it, and pass it on to ourselves and our posterity.