Conklin Colored

Edited 8/18/2023


Opening and Closing

The schoolhouse, pictured above in 1940, operated from 1871 to 1953.   Large amount of material on school is in the vertical files of the Edwin Washington Project, Douglass HS Building, Leesburg.

Physical and Map Location

25045 Ticonderoga Rd, Chantilly, VA 20152.  Structure no longer exists.   Next to the site is an extinct county road.


A discussion of petitions as they related to Conklin. There were four in particular: These focused on transportation, teacher performance and the need to keep the school open. Please also look at the general petitions page covering the role of petitions through the history of Loudoun's school system. That page provides complete list of all petitions.

  • Undated petition asking to retain LeRoy Allen as a school bus driver.
  • Undated petition listed Children attending Conklin and how far they were from their homes. We suspect the draft date was 1935, based on the content.
  • 1935 petition complaining about the performance of a teacher.
  • 1952, April 8, petition complained about the performance of a teacher.
  • Link to the general Petitions page.


We recommend readers examine the general page on transportation, which will provide a broad examination of the topic and many links to videos. As for the Conklin Colored Schools, students often walked to school; but with the advent of buses, that also was an option. We also know from interviews that some students from Willard village (now under the Dulles Airport runways) also stayed in Conklin during the school week, arriving and departing by POV. Like every other “colored” schools in Loudoun, access to proper transport was delayed. In fact, what Wildman, the first Superintendent in Loudoun, and others disliked about the last civil rights federal law of the Reconstruction Era, was that it was designed to guarantee African-Americans equal treatment in public accommodations and public transportation. Unfortunately, it was declared unconstitutional.

  • In September 1926, students appear to have been transported by an official wagon, vs a school bus. How this was funded needs to be researched.
  • In Aug 1941 the school board authorized the Superintendent to investigate the possibility of making some arrangements to transport pupils from Conklin to Bull Run School.
  • 1943-44. Seventeen students attended school. None were non-resident and none received public transportation, which was the first year, this factor was noted in school records.
  • 1948/49. Twenty-nine students attended school and all received public transportation.


An extensive history of the school and of Conklin village is found on the Conklin Village Project website, developed by Loudoun Historian Larry Roeder at the behest of the Prosperity Baptist Church. The study led to a request by the Records Office of LCPS (Loudoun County Public Schools) and the Superintendent to do a similar study on all of the pre-1968 public schools in Loudoun, with particular attention given to the impact of segregation on Black students. That effort evolved into the Edwin Washington Project, which is the flag-ship project of the Edwin Washington Society. The Conklin Village study was also absorbed into the Edwin Washington Project in 2016.

The school was closed at various times due to low enrollment, during which years the students attended Rock Hill. For example, in academic years 1920/21 to 23/24, schools for Blacks were given number designations in addition to their names. White schools were given letter designations.

Conklin was an elementary school which instructed grade 1-7. The terms report do not indicate upper branch/high classes were offered.

In 1938/39, the number designation for Conklin Colored was #58. Source 1.7 1939 Socio Econ Study In more recent history, on March 24, 2011, the county Board of Supervisors voted to rename the Dulles District the Jennie Dean District, which would have made this the first District in Loudoun County to have been named after a Black. The proposal was initiated by Pastor Carlos Lawson of the Prosperity Baptist Church in Conklin and Larry Roeder, an advocate for minorities, especially Muslims and Blacks. The vote in favor was bipartisan. Supervisor Lori Waters (R Broad Run), cast the only opposing vote. Supervisor Stevens Miller (D-Dulles) abstained. Sally Kurtz (D for Catoctin) strongly disparaged Miller's comments. Supervisor Kelly Burk (D-Leesburg) proposed the measure to the Board, stating that such recognitions of Blacks were long overdue. Present were many residents of Conklin, including Nellie Dean Thornton, then the oldest resident, and many of the church parishioners. (Source: Washington Post “Loudoun Supervisors vote to name election district after former slave,” by Caitlin Gibson, April 6, 2011.) Then on April 4, 2011 in a stunning reversal, many felt was led by the Republican Chair Scott York and Democrat Stevens Miller, the Board of Supervisors reversed their decision by a vote of 5 to 4, this time in a meeting absent warning, and therefore without many Black supporters being present. Many were disappointed, including Supervisor Kelly Burk who said “She (Jennie Dean) helped with the education of slaves and their children, and she did that here in Loudoun as well as in Prince William.” (Source: “Jennie Dean's descendants, church community dismayed by Loudoun supervisor's vote,” Washington Post April 15, 2011.

Jennie Dean was an early Black female religious leader in the region. Though not a licensed Pastor, she was a priest in the general sense of the term and in the best tradition, and an evangelist. That form of priesthood goes back to the beginnings of Christianity long before governments required permits. That's significant, especially just after the Civil War. The formerly enslaved needed such leaders to provide hope and help them transition to a state of prosperous freedom during segregation.

Jennie Dean had been enslaved, and born in the next county, one of a number of Virginia Black heroes who didn't let their humble past retard their ability to prosper and influence well outside their birthplace, in this case, to influence Loudoun and other counties. Jennie Dean's family also lived in present-day South Riding, in and near the Settle-Dean Cabin, which has been preserved. Some still live on Center Street.

Importantly, Dean was instrumental in causing the religious community of formerly enslaved people to gain an actual physical chapel, which was used for both education and religion. That's the Prosperity Baptist Church on Braddock Rd., which commissioned the study on the Conklin Colored School. Before then, the parishioners had to pray in their homes. In other words, Dean had a direct positive impact on Loudoun and on a particularly vulnerable population rising from the trauma and ashes of a dark time, still needing support during Segregation. Jennie also formed the Manassas Industrial School, which for many Blacks in Loudoun prior to Douglass being built, was a rare opportunity to gain some level of high school education. That's a direct contribution to the entire Black population of the region. The following books on Conklin are recommended. All are from the Conklin Village Project.

  • Volume One: Introduction summarizes the history of Conklin village from its start when settled around 1810 by Reuben Settle, Jr. who with other white farmers cut the hamlet out of trees well before it had any official name.
  • Vol 2: Conklin Colored Schoolprovides the reader a view of the educational experience offered African-American students in Conklin.
  • Vol 3: McGraw's Ridge Study (constructed in 1889) provides a study on the nearest white school.
  • Vol 4: Christine Allen's Education Study which shows what Allen studied at Armstrong and her many experiments in Chemistry, as well as her essays and a book of autographs of her fellow students at Armstrong, some of whom became instructors at other schools.
  • Vol 5: The Cardinal Ridge Study deals with the history of the site of the Cardinal Ridge Elementary School.


That study can be found in Volume Two of the Conklin study.

The list of known teachers is as follows:

AY 21/22 A.V. Ratcliffe

AY 22/23 Sylvia Wright and Curtis Ewing

AY 26/26 Edna Virginia Russ

AY 27/28 Clara V. Robinson

AY 28/30 Christine Allen

AY 30/31 Carrie Spriggs

AY 31/32 William. H. Cole, Jr.

AY 32/33 Flossie L. Sinclair

AY 33/34 Flossie L. Furr

AY 34/36 Chas H. Willis

AY 36/40 Mary Dean Johnson

AY 41/42 Christine L. Scott

AY 48/49 Mildred Peters

AY 49/52 Mabel C. Beal

AY 52/53 Ernestine F. Stewart

Insurance and Physical Description

1871.  One room frame.  M aking it one of the very first public schools in Loudoun.  Constructed at the cost of $350.

Conklin was a one story, detached, frame building with metal roof, on stone foundation, containing only one room.  It was heated by a stove, the flue of which was of standard construction.  The size was 18’x28′ and in 1940, when it was insured for $500, considered in good condition.

The church was insured as early as 1915 and arranged by trustees Lucien Allen, Fred Courum and Jes Harris. In 1940, more research is being conducted on the school insurance.  We do know that in 1940 the entire structure had an insurable value of $500.  This is based on an inspection and survey conducted by the Garrett Insurance Agency, Inc. and the Fireman’s Fund Insurance

Health and Sanitation

As with other schools, principles of good health were taught in the schoolhouse. Particular to Conklin:

  • 1938 Conklin had a perfect score of 100% vaccination for diphtheria and smallpox, no doubt in part due to encouragement by the teacher, Mary Dean Johnson.
  • In 1922/23 academic year, sanitation was handled with a box toilet, essentially a public wooden toilet box offering no privacy. See Volume Two in the study for more details. By the 1930's and perhaps earlier, actual outhouses were introduced, one for boys and one for gi

Food and Nutrition

  • According to Nellie Dean, who attended from 1928-1930, and Jimmy Dean who attended 1936-1950, while children brought their own lunches, in the winter hot meals were provided.
  • Before the Cardinal Ridge and J. Michael Lundsford schools was built, wild life was a source of protein in the back woods of Conklin. Jimmy Dean remembered it was once common for residents to hunt deer, rabbit and turkey, which were generally cooked outdoors, unless the weather was bad.
  • The Prosperity Baptist Church has had a long practice of providing food to the poor, which is still a major service. During thanksgiving, 2014, Chinese exchange high school students living the residence of Larry Roeder helped distribute food at the Church. Nelli Dean also confirmed that before the start of the HOA's, Conklin residents hunted squirrel and rabbit, which were butchered and treated on site, along with traditional livestock like chicken and hogs.


A large collection of historical and contemporary photographs can be found on the Conklin Village Project site.  They cover

  • Conklin Village and its roads
  • Conklin Colored School
  • Grant Perkins Farm (historical Black farm)(now location of Cardinal Ridge School)
  • McGraw Ridge White School
  • Dean Cemetery
  • Hampton Brewer Cemetery
  • Saffer Cemetery
  • Settle Dean Cabin Property
  • Cedar Hunt Property
  • Ronnie Arnold Property (west border of Prosperity Baptist Church)

Library Materials

  • Some schools maintained internal book collections and most teachers subscribed to magazines for their students or for their own improvement.
  • The following information was derived from surviving Term Reports.
AY Teacher Vols in Library Periodicals
21/22 A.V. Ratcliffe n/a n/a
22/23 Sylvia Wright 100 Literary Digest, Farm Journal and Current Events.
22/23 Curtis Ewing n/a Virginia Educational Journal, Household
26/27 Edna Virginia Russ 5 The Pathfinder, Normal Instructor, Primary Plans
27/28 Clara V. Robinson 0 Literary Digest, Normal instructor and Primary Plans
28/29 Christine Allen 0 Pathfinder, Normal Instructor and Primary Plans.
29/30 Christine Allen 0 Pathfinder, Normal Instructor and Primary Plans.
30/31 Carrie Spriggs 80 Normal Instruction and Review of Reviews.
31/32 William H. Cole, Jr. 80 Literary
32/33 Flossie L. Sinclair n/a The Instructor
33/34 Flossie L. Furr 18 The Instructor and Literary Digest
34/35 Chas H. Willis 25 Instructor
35/36 Chas H. Willis 26 Grade Teacher
36/37 Mary Dean Johnson 4 Instructor
37/38 Mary Dean Johnson 0 The Instructor and Grade Teacher
38/39 Mary Dean Johnson n/a n/a
39/40 Mary Dean Johnson n/a n/a
41/42 Christine L. Scott n/a n/a
48/49 Mildred Peters n/a n/a
49/50 Mabel Beal n/a n/a
50/51 Mabel C. Beal n/a n/a
51/52 Mabel C. Beal n/a n/a
51/53 Ernestine F. Stewart n/a n/a