February is Black History month

By Andrea Gaines

As we celebrate Black History month, look around you.  

Loudoun County is a rich, rich, rich depository for African American historic sites and activity.

You’ll find special places in Leesburg (including the Thomas Balch Library and Underground Railroad sites), Middleburg, Purcellville, Waterford, the Village of Lincoln, Aldie, and other places.  Lots of self-guided tours, too.

Do you know the name Billy Pierce?  Billy Pierce, born in Purcellville, was a famous choreographer who eventually opened a dance studio in Brooklyn, NY.  One of his students was the one-and-only Fred Astaire.

See www.VisitLoudoun.org for more info – it has a great listing of Black History Month events.  The Loudoun Visitor Information Center (corner of Loudoun and Harrison Streets in Leesburg) is a great place to start, too.  See also www.balchfreinds.org, and events at the Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg.

Celebrate the times.

This Moses Webb Family photo comes to us courtesy of the Thomas Balch Library; we thank Norah Schneider for helping us source it. Webb appears to have been a freedman; his name, however, does not appear on historic documents, including Loudoun County Slave Papers 1757-1865, Slaves Issues: Births 1853-1859, Free Black Papers 1757-1865, Enslaved Issues: 1757 to 1866, and Free Negroes: 1844 to 1861.

A “$100 Reward” advertisement for a runaway “negro man” named Moses, 21 years old was placed by one Amy (Amie/Amiee Jane?) Claggett, administrator for her late husband’s estate (Dr. Samuel Claggett, Fauquier County, served as a surgeon for Washington’s during the Revolutionary War). Amie and Samuel were married in Leesburg in 1785. Per Claggett’s will he owned 4 slaves, and various farm animals, including 22 sheep and 6 lambs, and 1 yoke of steers.

The names of two female slaves, Lucinda and Matilda Webb do appear is historical records. We do not know if these ladies were related to Moses. Matilda’s mother was Letitia; from Middleburg. Lucinda was from “near Trap.” A slave’s child, named Patty Webb (19 years old) died in July 1854; cause of death “unknown.” Her “part owner” was Charles B. Adams. Patty’s owners were listed as “Frances Adam’s heirs.” Her parents were “unknown.”

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