Orange County

A Community History



Orange County lies for the most part at the foot of the Blue Ridge and is overlooked by those azure peaks from which, perhaps, the spirits of the Red Men watch silently and tenderly over the hunting grounds of long ago.

The county was first formed from Spotsylvania County in 1734, and was divided and sub-divided into many other counties, some of which form its boundaries today. The area is about 1,349 square miles.1 The name is of "royal descent," the county having been christened for William, Prince of Orange.2 While the name of the county did not originate from the color of the soil as Mr. Howe and many others are wont to believe, such an assumption is not as absurd as Mr. Scott, the county historian, suggests, for the clay soil in some parts of the county when seen in the glow of an autumn sun has the hue of an orange.

The surface in the eastern part of the county is undulating and hilly, and is mountainous to some extent in the central and western part. The soil is clay and well adapted to the production of grains, grasses, alfalfa and other legumes.

The people of Orange are for the most part descendants of Jamestown settlers, but it is believed that no part of the county was settled by the white men until one hundred years after the founding of Jamestown. Overlapping of early grants has caused so much confusion that it is quite difficult to determine just when territory became a separate and distinct part of the "Mother State."

Orange County's early history is replete with names of distinguished Virginians-a legacy of which she is justly proud. The county is situated in the very center of a section where patriotism has always run high. Great white roads, winding their way in all directions toward old battle grounds, serve as reminders of the days of '76 and '61.

The county is peculiarly adapted to fruit growing, producing all standard varieties. The Winesap apple perhaps is the best-known fruit of the county. This variety has a State-wide reputation, having won first prize repeatedly at the county and State fairs, nor is its fame confined to the State, but covers wider territory. The orchards have increased forty per cent since 1917,3 or certainly during the past ten years.

Another product is large, succulent hams; not just a Virginia ham, but an "Orange County ham"; not "air cured," or "sun cured," but "Orange cured." These hams are steadily growing more popular and their sale bids fair to become an important industry.

Lumbering is also a useful occupation. Forest products in some sections of the county have great economic value. The minerals found are iron, asbestos, gold, marble, soapstone and limestone, some of which have been successfully mined. The county of Orange supports three milling companies, one located at the town of Orange, one at Madison Mills, and the third at Rapidan. The output from these mills was large during the war.


When war broke out in Europe the daily reports were eagerly read and discussed. Almost without exception war incidents formed the topic of conversation of any chance group that one might see. Opinions were unbiased and freely expressed The German atrocities were condemned and sympathy for the Allies grew steadily. The citizens of Orange stood solidly behind their chosen leader, Woodrow Wilson, and awaited his decision regarding our entrance into the conflict. When the Lusitania was sunk on the high seas, all thought of America's neutrality vanished from our minds and the declaration of war April 6, 1917, was welcomed. The heroic deeds of those long dead were recounted by the people of Orange, and the cry for war was heard on all sides.


The churches of Orange County are quite numerous for its size and population. There are four Episcopal, four Presbyterian, four Methodist and twelve Baptist churches. These do not include the negro churches.4 Some of the churches of Orange have a thread of history woven about them. At St. Thomas' Church, at Orange, one of the oldest churches of the county, General Robert E. Lee worshipped while in winter quarters near there. Just outside of the church at the foot of a very old tree, the United Daughters of the Confederacy have placed a grey stone tablet to mark the spot where "Traveler" waited none too patiently for the return of his master.

At the very outset of the war the churches were mobilized for service, particularly those in the villages. From that time the church became not only a place of worship but a place of reassurance, a harbor to dispell fear, to renew strength and hope; a place where all could unite in one common prayer for a common cause the safety of State and nation. Union services were often held and in many other ways church forces were united. In St. Thomas' Church, the church where Lee and Stuart once worshipped, hung a service flag studded with stars, some of them gold, that shone forth in splendor from a somber background.

Some of the pastors of the churches served as chaplains in the army. Too much cannot be said of the services rendered by these men on the field, in the camps and in the trenches. Rev. Frank C. Riley served with the 318th Infantry, Rev. Rice Quisenberry was senior chaplain for the Eightieth Division, and Rev. John William Decker was chaplain in the navy.

The churches were the centers where men, women and children met for the community sings and from which were wafted on the air heroic songs-songs of home, songs of camp, songs of hope. So united were the people that it is difficult to separate or distinguish between the activities of organizations and those of the community at large.


War had a very decided effect upon the schools. History became the most interesting of subjects and new maps began to take form. Flesh and blood heroes supplanted those of fiction; patriotism burned brighter than ever before in this generation ; national songs were sung with a new meaning. Little hands fashioned bandages, made scrap books and did what they could find to do under the leadership of their teachers. Perhaps the greatest service rendered by the schools during the war was given in the Liberty Loan and War Savings Stamps campaigns. The children quite distinguished themselves in the sale of War Savings Stamps, in the Armenian Relief campaign and in the sale of Red Cross Stamps. They have continued the latter activity, having taken active part in the sale of Red Cross Seals each year since the war. From out of the schools came volunteers for farm service.

Woodberry Forest, a standardized preparatory school and one of which Orange is very proud, was not wholly untouched by the effects of war. The school can boast of three or more volunteers and of many workers in war-time activities. Unfortunately, no actual records were kept. Military drill became part of the curriculum, perhaps at the cost of academic preparation. Adequate teachers were difficult to secure.5


The first draft came early in June, 1917. The draft board for the county was composed of Hon. George Barbour, chairman; Hon. W. C. Williams, and Dr. Lewis Holladay, all prominent residents of the county. The number of Orange County men who registered in June, 1917, was 884; in August, 1917, 82, and in September, 1918, 1,316, making a total of 2,282.6 From this number the quota was selected. Records show the total number of registrants of the county accepted at camp to have been 249.7' The total number recorded in service reached 383, including 140 negroes.8 Approximately 1 out of every 14 men held the rank of an officer. Records show 82 volunteers.9 This number is not entirely complete, since there were others who volunteered early in the struggle before it became an American conflict. Still others volunteered in other States and sections in which they were residing. The county that gave the statesman, James Madison, and the hero, Zachary Taylor, and about which heroic deeds are recounted, gave freely of her sons. Eighteen of these sons made the supreme sacrifice, the same sacrifice that some of their forefathers had made in the long ago. A bronze tablet placed at the right of the old courthouse in the town of Orange reads as follows:

"In honor of the men of Orange County, Va., who served in the Great War and in the memory of eighteen who gave their lives:

Daniel Ashby McIntosh, Edward Dowley Northrop. Bernard E. Verling, Charles R. Clarke, Vivian Slaughter, Richard Beadless Tood, Lucian L. Vaughan, Garrett Edward Waugh, Fitzhugh L. Jones, Marion W. Bowler, James Foster, Henry H. Woodville, William Jackson Whitlock, Luther Forbes, Charles Henry Brame, Archie Galloway, Andrew Fund, Peter Ellis.

Dr. Vivian Slaughter, son of the late Mercer Slaughter, of Orange, was killed in action overseas. He was a graduate of the University of Virginia and had studied medicine in Germany. He joined the medical corps of the British army in 1914.10

Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Clark, Rhoadesville, Va., received news of the death of their son, Charles R. Clark, early in September. (Died of pneumonia August 28, 1918.) He was with the infantry corps and was 29 years old.

Daniel A. McIntosh, of the 319th Ambulance Company, was killed in action October 9, 1918, after having participated in the following battles: Picardy sector and Meu-se-Arg-onne. His body was brought home September 2, 1921, and was buried September 4, 1921, in Graham Cemetery, Orange, Virginia.11

Mrs. R. C. Duvall, of Rhoadesville, Va., had five sons in the war. E. M. Duvall was a member of headquarters troop of the Rainbow Division and was fortunate enough to reach German soil. R. C. Duvall was a lieutenant with the American Expeditionary Forces in France. All five sons returned home safely at the close of the war.l2

Among those cited for bravery are Captain Samuel O. Garrett, William B. Bell, Colonel Henry- Cabell Maddux, Lieutenant George Coleman Reedy.13

Young Garrett received the French Croix de Guerre with bronze star for rendering services of the highest type during violent bombardment, also for gallant conduct during the battles of Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne.l4

Corporal William B. Bell, of Gordonsville, Orange County, won his Distinguished Service Cross near Cierges, France, July 31, 1918. Corporal Bell voluntarily went out in the front lines during machine-gun fire to rescue a comrade and to administer first aid.15

Colonel Henry Cabell Maddux, stationed at the hospital center at Toul, France, received the "Medaille d'Honneurs des Epidemics (Argent)" for his unusual ability and initiative and for his meritorious services in organizing and constructing the hospital center at Toul.16

Lieutenant George Coleman Reedy, of Liberty Mills, Orange County, Virginia. Air service. Was cited for bravery on August 10, 1918, and received a Croix de Guerre with palms for his dash and courage during a severe combat against fifteen enemy airplanes. He shot down one of them and had his own plane-hit by ten bullets.17



The financial status of the county was good. Mr. Maxey Field, president of the National Bank of Orange, served as chairman of the Liberty Loan drives. The faith in his ability was not misplaced. The Hon. George L. Browning steered the Victory Loan to success. Every one, both great and small, was given an opportunity to do his bit. Subscriptions reached the high mark-an estimate of about a half million is conservative. The following figures show the quotas, subscriptions and subscribers in the county for the four loans:18

Loan Maximum Apportionment Amount Subscribed Subscribers
First Liberty Loan No record kept.
Second Liberty Loan $156,950 $120,400 397
Third Liberty Loan 92,200 124,850 615
Fourth Liberty Loan 260,000 224,700 622
Victory Liberty Loan 166,100 200,050 466

These drives were conducted in many ways. Sometimes public meetings featuring speakers of no little fame were held. At some of these meetings a display of aeronautic art was given. The planes brought messages from the national capitol and distributed literature bearing the slogan, "Win the War Today." The postoffice promoted the sale of War Savings Stamps. The amount of sales in the county aggregated $144,855.00.19 It is impossible to give the actual count for the whole county, but the wealth of the county was back of America and her great war leader, Woodrow Wilson.


Food conservation in the county was undertaken early in the war. During the first few months, after the declaration of mar, the need for increased production and conservation was apparent. At first the conservation of food was left to the community to handle in its own way. Later more definite rules were worked out. The Food Administrator's office was located in the town of Orange, and local men were placed in charge of it, each serving in his own department without remuneration. Small allotments of coal, sugar, flour and other staple products were made. These rules were not so rigidly enforced as to cause any great discomfort. Wheatless and meatless days were observed by many.


Two main railroad lines served the county, the Southern and the Chesapeake and Ohio. There were also two narrow gauge roads, having their terminals in Orange-the P. F. P. Railroad, operating between Fredericksburg and Orange, and connecting the Tidewater regions with that of the Piedmont, and the Rapidan Railroad, running from Orange to Madison and tapping a section of her virgin timber. Massive logs from that region fed for a long time the large lumber mill located in the town of Orange. Both narrow-gauge roads, however, have been discontinued. Good shipping facilities relieved much of the war-time congestion, though there was a decided influx of business.


War has a tendency for letting down barriers and cementing communities, even in the country where the classes and social groups are distinctly marked. The men and women of the county worked as a unit. The negro, too, was called upon to do his part and contributed very materially to all war enterprises. Particularly was this true in the towns. Many of the colored people, attracted by the "wage of war," went into industrial sections to avail themselves of the higher wage. Generally speaking, the social conditions remained unchanged. The young girls of the community sought positions left vacant by the men who entered service.


The Orange County, Virginia, Chapter, American Red Cross, was organized July, 1917. It consisted of fifteen branches and four auxiliaries, white; and six branches and four auxiliaries, colored. Total membership in the county was 3,000-1,500 adults and 1,000 children, white; and 500 colored adults. Total number of articles made and shipped to Red Cross warehouses was 12,195 ; sweaters for soldiers, 495; comfort kits, 287; surgical dressings, 5,000 (made at Rapidan, Va.).20 The treasurer reported 1917 and 1918 receipts to be $8,743.00, $7,879.91 of which was sent to the national treasurer. A balance of $863.30, together with the membership fees of 1919 and 1920, was used for emergency relief and public health work in Orange County. The chapter had its headquarters in the town of Orange. There were no overhead charges because rooms, lights, heat, telephone service, sewing machines, automobiles and time were all given cheerfully by members of the chapter.

The work was divided into five departments-executive department, superintendent of woman's work, superintendent of packing and shipping, home service department and junior department, all of which were skillfully operated. Unlimited time and untiring energy were given to this cause by the ladies of the community. Public funds were raised in various ways. A number of individuals gave substantial allowances each month. A public dinner was given March court day, 1918, from which $500.00 was realized.

Following is a list of officers and chapters of the Orange County Red Cross: Chairman, Allen B. Warren; vice-chairmen, Virginia Randolph Shackelford (Mrs. George Scott Shackelford), Mrs. Virginia Mullen, Dr. L. S. Ricketts, E. V. Huffman; secretary, Eva B. H. Browning (Mrs. George Landon Browning) ; treasurer, H. F. Priest; superintendent of women's work, Mrs. George Scott Shackelford; superintendent of packing and shipping, M. N. Mason Crittenden (Mrs. W. S. Crittenden) ; home service department, N. C. Bailer, chairman, and Miss V. B. Kite, secretary; home service house, Ida Cave Woolfork (Mrs. Charles Woolfork) : Junior department in schools, Mrs. E. H. DeJarnette, chairman; Mrs. J. W. Browning, secretary, and Mrs. P. S. Boxley.


  1. Barboursville-Mrs. Sam Munday, chairman; Mrs. T. H. Ellis, secretary.
  2. Gordonsville-Rev. L. McWilliams, chairman; M. O. Smith, secretary.
  3. Lahore-Mrs. W. C. Graves, chairman; Miss B. Foster, secretary.
  4. Locust Grove-J. T. Payne, chairman; Mrs. J. L. Almond, secretary.
  5. Mine Run-W. R. Tinder, chairman ; J. W. Lane, secretary.
  6. Montpelier-J. Tyson, chairman.
  7. Orange-L. S. --,Macon, chairman; Mrs. J. W. Johnson, secretary.
  8. Rapidan--H. T. Holladay, Jr., chairman; l-Irs. E. NV. Armentrout, secretary.
  9. Somerset-Mrs. J. H. Reed, chairman; Mrs. J. H. Wilhoit, secretary.
  10. True Blue-Mrs. W. S. Smoot, chairman; Mrs. R. E. Rhoades, secretary.
  11. Rhoadesville-Rev. E. V. Peyton, chairman; Mrs. L. T. McCord, Secretary.
  12. Unionville-J. P. Clark, chairman; J. B. Martin, secretary.
  13. Blue Hill-Miss M. Collins, chairman; Mrs. K. Brooking, secretary.
  14. Eheart-A. M. Ship, chairman, Athoa, Va.; Mrs. A.. M. Ship, secretary.
  15. Bernard-Miss P. Collins, chairman.


  1. Madison Run-Mrs. Anthony Mustoe, chairman.
  2. Nasons-Mrs. C. W. Harris, chairman.
  3. Parish Aid (St. Thomas' Episcopal)-Mrs. L. S. Macon,. chairman.
  4. Indian Town-Miss M. Wood, chairman.


  1. Orange-Dr. I. A. Jackson, chairman; L. Galloway, secretary.
  2. Gordonsville-Burrell Hill, chairman; R. Gordon, secretary.
  3. Mt. Sinai Church (Grassland, Va.)-Thomas L. Scarver, chairman; A. L. Scarver, secretary.
  4. Little Zion Church-Martha Poindexter, chairman; E. C. Walker, secretary.
  5. Mt. Zion, Indiantown, Va.-E. Braudus, chairman; L. Jackson, secretary.
  6. Orange Grove Church, Tatum, Va.-L. Powell, chairman; L. Jackson, secretary.


  1. Blue Run-William Durrette, chairman; J. T. Smith, secretary.
  2. Mt. Pisgah-E. Groom, chairman; C. Ragglin, secretary.
  3. Shady Grove-L. M. Morton, chairman.
  4. Bethel Baptist Church-S. E. Dade, chairman.2l


War work and relief work were centered in the Red Cross, though many church and civic organizations contributed their strength. Boy Scouts were mustered for civic emergency service. 22 The Camp Fire Girls also rendered active service. They made garments, bandages, scrap books, and added in many ways to the war chest. They also contributed to the relief funds. The Hon. George L. Browning, who so ably piloted the Victory Loan, was chairman of the Near East Relief. This organization is still an active one.

August 17, 1918, fully three thousand people gathered at Orange Horse Show Grounds to attend the community picnic which was given for the benefit of War Relief, Red Cross and Y.M.C.A. The receipts amounted to over $1,000,00, and over $10,000.00 worth of War Savings Stamps were sold. Major Fitz Maurice, of the aviation corps, thrilled the crowd with his daring flights. Among the speakers were Henry W. Anderson and Louis C. Williams, of Richmond. On October 6, 1918, a fete was held from which $900.00 was realized, and $9,000.00 worth of Liberty Bonds veer sold. Addresses were made by Hon. Rosewell Page, of Richmond, and H. T. Holladay, of Rapidan.

Orange County has the distinction of having bought and equipped an ambulance for service on the front. This was made possible by an able committee composed of Mrs. R. M. Brady, Mrs. N. W. Harper, Mrs. J. G. Walker and Miss Miriam Hill. The ambulance was presented by the people of Orange County to the American Red Cross, June, 1917, and was assigned to Naval Base Hospital No. 4. It was seen in active service and reports were made from time to time concerning its service and condition. It went through the war practically uninjured, though one of its brass plates was found in a dugout and brought back to Orange. It rendered a great service to both Russia and the Baltic States. A late report stated that it was located at Rege and was still in active service, making long trips twice every week. A picture of the ambulance has been framed and hung in the court house at Orange, and posted with it is a letter from one who saw it in service. The letter gives information that should interest all citizens of the county.


Immediately following the war a convalescent home way established by Mrs. William DuPont on her large estate at Montpelier (the onetime home of the illustrious James Madison). Soldiers debarking at Baltimore were sent down in companies of ten for two weeks of rest. Dr. Lewis Holladay was in attendance and was ably assisted by a trained nurse and a capable matron. Many of these soldiers were entertained in the homes of the Orange people.

Active service during the war and following it did not go unnoticed. November 29. 1918 the Orange County Shrine held a reception. in the Masonic building at Orange for the wives, sisters and mothers of members who were in the service. A service flag was dedicated and those on the honor roll were Thomas W. Hooper, W. H. Kite, A. H. Carpenter, F. D. Bond and E. J. Jennings.

As soon as the Armistice was signed the dominant desire in the hearts of our people was for the return of the soldiers. The business world faced the necessity for readjustment long before changes were noticed elsewhere. Reconstruction had begun before the news of actual peace was proclaimed.

No welcome home celebrations were staged in Orange County because the return of the soldiers in small groups and one by one covered so long a period of time that no such demonstration could be planned.

There have been some very decided changes in industries during the past few years. Some of these are very evident results of the World War, others are more or less results of that conflict. Farming has become intensive rather than extensive. And while there has not been an increase in acreage under cultivation, there has been an increase in home ownership. Modern means and methods in farming are expressed in modern machinery of a labor-saving type. The purchase of the same has been brought about by two forces, the one growing out of the scarcity of labor and demand for increased production during the war; the other, perhaps, is a result of inflated crop prices during that period. Since the war Soy beans have become a grain crop of the county. A conservative estimate by the county demonstrator was that the yield would reach approximately 10,000 bushels in the harvest of 1925.23

There has been a noticeable tendency to swing from farming to the raising of live stock, certainly a decided effort to make the one industry support the other, which has resulted in the repletion of the soil. The little "creamery receiving station," the first of its kind within the State, located at Gordonsville, has grown from a "two-cow station" to a "'herd station." The number of pounds of butter fat shipped from that point now reaches 400,000 pounds yearly.24

Cattle, sheep and hog raising are extensive, while dairying has increased more than 50 per cent. The county now claims to have more Jersey breeders than any county in the State, and also boasts of some of the finest Holstein cattle. Fourteen hundred pounds of butter fat are shipped daily from Orange, the county seat.25 As a cream-shipping station, it is said to rank first in the State, which is partly due to the inflow of that product from Madison County, which has no outlet of its own and finds Orange a convenient shipping point.

A farmers' club, which was organized during the early war period by a handful of men who recognized the advantage of co-operative buying of such commodities as lime and fertilizers, has now grown so large that it has not only outgrown its warehouse, but has become a self- supporting organization. The Orange County Fair, perhaps, bespeaks the true progress of the county. This fair originated from a county school exhibit in 1910. While the school exhibits are still one of its most attractive features, the fair as an event has grown beyond expectation, the attendance having increased more than 200 per cent. War seems not only to bind but to have a tendency to mold minds into a common interest, and the result, within this particular county, is a stronger and more lasting community.

The report of the Census Bureau shows a marked decrease in population from 1910 to 1920, but a large percentage of this decrease is due to the migration of negroes and foreign born from the county. Few, if any, aliens now reside in the county. Labor, wages and prices have fluctuated in recent years, beginning with the outburst of the European struggle.

The Orange schools have made much progress since the war. Education is fast becoming of county-wide interest and importance.26 At the present here are four four-year accredited high schools, six two-year high schools, and sixteen small rural schools, together with twenty-four negro schools. Latest census report gives 3,829 school children. The attendance has greatly increased and now that compulsory education is being enforced, enrollment has likewise increased. There is a strong tendency toward consolidation, and the "one-room school" that has so bravely withstood the wave of progress and the cry for efficiency seems doomed. Expenditures have likewise increased, but not in proportion to the rising scale of efficiency. Public education is fast becoming the main item of county interest.

Orange County today has not only maintained her financial footing, but has greatly increased her assets. The reports from the banks show an increase of capitalization in 1917 to 1925 as follows:27

Orange County Capitalization
Bank Deposits Assets
1917 National Bank of Orange $463,000.00 $649,000.00
1925 National Bank of Orange $890,480.60 $1,174,861.80
Orange County Capitalization
Bank Assets
1917 Citizens National Bank of Orange $487,585.28
1925 Citizens National Bank of Orange $1,338,972.32
Orange County Capitalization
Bank Assets
1916 National Bank of Gordonsville $84,101.74
1924 National Bank of Gordonsville $230,502.95

The business of the post offices, too, shows an increase. The office in the town of Orange shows an increase of about 60 per cent.28 The amount of Treasury Savings Certificates sales to date is $7,925.00.29

There are thirteen mail service routes throughout the county. The roads are good. Improved road mileage has increased. Twenty-three miles of hard-surfaced roads have been taken over by the State to form highways and arteries of highways. There are about fifty miles of sand and clay roads in the county. Truck service began almost simultaneously with good roads; indeed, good roads in some parts were an outgrowth of the demand for truck service. Congestion of freightage, together with difficult railroad operation during the war, brought forth urgent need for trucks, so today, in addition to adequate railroad service, Orange County enjoys truck and bus service en route to Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Madison and Culpeper.

Orange County has met every issue of the reconstruction period bravely and is proud to have contributed her share to the cause of world peace.


  1. Scott's History of Orange County.
  2. Scott's History of Orange County.
  3. Report of County Demonstrator-E. V. Breeden.
  4. PreWar Narratives-By Henry E. Button.
  5. Report of President Woodberry Forest.
  6. Report War Department (Major-General) copy of report to War Department December 20, 1918 (Orange County, Virginia).
  7. War Department report.
  8. Muster Roll of Orange County.
  9. Muster Roll of Orange County-Volume I (clerk's office)
  10. Virginia War History Commission Clippings-Section XI, Volume II, page 77.
  11. Virginia War History Commission, Clippings-Section XI, Volume III, page 71.
  12. Virginia War History Commission Clippings-Section XI, Volume III, page 80.
  13. Virginia War History Commission Source-Volume I.
  14. Virginia War History Commission Source-Volume I, page 57.
  15. Virginia War History Commission. Source-Volume I, page 11.
  16. Virginia War History Commission Source-Volume I, gage 104.
  17. Virginia War History Commission Source-Volume I, page 135.
  18. Report of Federal Reserve Bank (October 20, 1925).
  19. Post Office Report, Orange, Va.
  20. Secretary's report, 1918 (Red Cross).
  21. Red Cross report, 1918 (Secretary).
  22. Secretary's Report (Camp Fire Organization).
  23. Report from County Demonstrator, E. V. Breeden.
  24. Virginia Hand Book, pages 187-8.
  25. Report of Frank S. Walker, President of Association.
  26. Report of Chairman of Board-See also Superintendent's report, 1925.
  27. Bank statements and President's reports.
  28. Post Office report (1917-1925).
  29. Not included in Post Office sales.