Thursday, August 10, 2006
Loudoun Emancipation Association
While conducting Loudoun research this weekend I learned something about black history of the area. Loudoun's first county-wide organization was the Emancipation Association that formed in 1890. The group incorporated and bought 10 acres of land in Purcellville at the corner of 20th and A streets. The sign in this photo marks the former site. Elaine Thompson's book, In The Watchfires, provides a detailed history of these grounds which served the black community for more than 75 years.
After purchasing the book, I drove to the location to see it for myself. A church now occupies this place but remaining is a refurbished stone wall that once served at the gate to this property. While comparing photos in the book to the current site, I noticed debris next to a large tree (same tree but smaller is in the book). After a bit of digging I pulled out remnants of gatherings gone by. These Coca-Cola Soda Water bottles had markings from Frederick and Alexandria. A bottle cap shows a 2 cent tax stamp. After reading about the rich history of this place, it was thrilling to find actual artifacts used by former participants.