Leesburg Quaker Colored

Leesburg Quaker Schools, Loudoun

Edited 8/18/2023

This page is under review. See Loudoun County Training Center and Douglass Elementary School.

Biography of William Horace Ash, one of Leesburg's more prominent Black educators

1) History – Quaker Schools

  • 1869: Jan 17. Letter from Sarah Steer, instructor in Waterford to Friends of Philadelphia. “The school house in Leesburg is not finished. I think the roof is on; but no windows, and the building not plastered; at last accounts, they had stopped work on it.” (Society Secretary 1869, pg 20). Source: Society Secretary. 5th Annual Report of the Friends Association of Philadelphia for the Aid and Elevation of the Freedmen. Paperback, Philadelphia: Merihew and Sons, 1869. There are also indications that a school existed in 1867. See note on instructor Caroline Thomas.
  • Uncertain when closed.

3) Instructors at Quaker Facility:

  • 1867-1869: Caroline Thomas (before going to Lincoln). (no picture known of her structure)

4) Graded School and Instructors

  • Constructed in 1883 as a five room brick school house for $3,000. A brick addition was constructed in 1935 for $2,000. Note: Building appears to be actually frame. Value in 1940 with depreciation was $1850. Source: Report of Survey Committee on Long Range Planning for Loudoun County, Jan, 1940. Location: LCPS: Archives folder 2.2 County School Board, 1918-1952.
  • School was sold at public action April 4, 1959 at noon on the steps of the courthouse of Loudoun County, Leesburg.
  • The first known local Black teacher was the Reverend William L. Robey, at Leesburg’ graded school. The Washingtonian on June 22, 1866 states: “ William Robey has for more than a year past been teaching a large number of freed boys and girls, and I think with considerable success.”

We know that Edwin Washington went to a Quaker school in Leesburg in 1867, but we are exactly certain as to where it was located. A school structure was also being made in 1869; but might not have been completed. In addition, we know that teachers were instructing in a building from at least 1892 until 1897; but not where it was located. We also know that in the 1820’s, though not in Leesburg, was the first probable instance of school "desegregation," John Jay Janney in his 1901 memoirs asserted that Blacks on Quaker farms attended school with whites in the log schoolhouse in Purcellville (once at Bethany Circle), and the Goose Creek Friends’ Schoolhouse at today’s Lincoln. Also in the 1840s-1850s: William Benton, builder of Oak Hill, Woodburn, and many other prominent Loudoun homes, defied state law by teaching his enslaved blacks (he owned 19 in 1850) to read and write. Possible addition here: Eight Waterford black men and women were listed in the 1850 census as being literate. Source: BCSouders.

See Loudoun County Training Center.