Plans for Leesburg Lynching Marker Approved by Town Council

At least one visible reminder of Loudoun’s tragic past of lynchings is coming to fruition.

The Leesburg Town Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution endorsing the placement of a historical marker at the location of the former Potter’s Cemetery, at the northeast corner of Catoctin and East Market streets.

According to historical accounts, that is where Charles Craven was lynched by a mob of over 300 white men on July 31, 1902. He was shot and left hanging from a tree. Earlier that day the black man had been arrested on suspicion of murder of a prominent white farmer in the Herndon area. A mob overpowered authorities in the downtown Leesburg jail, and brought Craven to the cemetery where he was killed. Although charges were filed against some members of the mob, no one was ever convicted for Craven’s death.

The request for the historical marker was brought to the Town Council by Phillip Thompson, president of the Loudoun County branch of the NAACP. Thompson is pushing to erect markers at the sites of all three known lynchings in Loudoun County. Another is at the former site of the freight station along the W&OD Trail on Harrison Street and the third lies outside of the town near the Points of Rocks bridge. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority would need to sign off on the Harrison Street marker, as it falls on NVRPA property.

The approved marker at the site of the Craven lynching features both the history of his lynching, as well as the other two that occurred in Loudoun County. The marker will also contain the NAACP logo.

According to a letter from Thompson to the council, the NAACP will raise funds to pay for the marker, as well as work with the town on its placement. He is hoping to have both markers in Leesburg placed in time for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in January.

krodriguez@loudounnow.com

5 thoughts on “Plans for Leesburg Lynching Marker Approved by Town Council

  • 2018-09-15 at 1:33 pm
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    I hope we can also have a marker placed where Anthony Roberts beat to death William Bennett and also beat and raped his wife in 2009 in Lansdowne leaving both on the side of the road after taking an early morning walk? This was as well a hate crime and should be recognized as such. Maybe while Thompson works to get this marker funded, he could also have one placed for this innocent couple as we are all created equal in the eyes of the beholder. If we are going to recognize the misdeeds of the past, we should do so equally to avoid division. I am certain Thompson would embrace this and look forward to him pushing for this marker as well. I am pleased that we are recognizing the terrible acts of hate in 1902. I am hopeful Thompson will also work hard to recognize the hateful attack on this couple by this gang just a short 9 years ago.

  • 2018-09-16 at 11:05 pm
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    Good point about the Lansdowne murders, but Philip Thompson is all about white-on-black crimes and making hay about it just prior to a November election so he can help fellow Democrats win and keep trying to sew racial division and trying to keep African Americans in a constant state of seeking redress of past grievances. Yes, these lynchings were horrible. All vigilantism that leads to death is horrible. But Philip Thompson is not about to accept this and go home. He will keep asking for more and more and more — especially around election time.

  • 2018-09-17 at 10:57 am
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    Congratulations. You just equated random rape and murder committed by a couple of criminals with race fueled vigilantism by a mob of hundreds.
    How did your brain connect these non existent dots?

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