~ History ~
Description of Town | History
Union Church | Covered Bridge
Description of Town
We are located mid-way between Winchester and Harrisonburg Virginia in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley on I-81 at exits 269 or 272. Shenandoah is an old Indian name meaning "Daughter Of The Stars". The town of Mount Jackson was planned and developed in 1812 and was originally named Mt. Pleasant. The name was changed in honor of President Andrew Jackson, who was a frequent visitor on his travels from Washington, D.C. to his home in Tennessee.
There are many historic buildings featuring a wide variety of architecture - several of which served as Confederate and Union Army's field hospitals during the Civil War. The Confederate cemetery on the north end of town is the only one in Virginia with all Confederate Soldiers buried there.
Quaint Antique shops, circa 1947 Duckpin
Bowling Alley, historic covered bridge, Shenandoah Caverns and many other
attractions are in and about our colorful little town.
The first inhabitants of the Mount Jackson area, endowed with rich lands and abundant water supply, were the Shendo Indians, who were massacred by the Catawbas around the latter part of the seventeenth century. The rich bottom lands of the North Fork of the Shenandoah were the main habitation of the Shendos (another form of Shenandoah). It is particularly appropriate that the Valley and the River where the Shendos had their residence bear their name.
In the early eighteenth century, land grants brought the first permanent white settlers. Among the earliest of these was Burr Harrison, Francis Slaughter, Taverner Beale, Benjamin Allen, the Moores, Michael Sigler and William White.
Benjamin Allen acquired land near Mount Jackson and there he built a mill which was in operation prior to 1746. This is documented by an entry by Thomas Lewis' diary when he was surveying the Fairfax Line. Today the Benjamin Allen Mill Creek has been shortened to Mill Creek. In addition to Mill Creek, Smith Creek as well as the North Fork flow through the area. These streams fostered the construction of numerous waterwheel gristmills, a hemp mill, a carding mill, a sawmill and a cabinet shop powered by Smith and Mill Creeks. As industry and population increased the resultant village was called Mount Pleasant.
A noteworthy landmark in the center of town is the old Union Church of red brick. It is believed that Mrs. Steenbergen was instrumental in establishing the church around 1825. Within the old cemetery surrounding Union Church is the grave of Daniel Gray, a Revolutionary soldier.
In 1835, "Martin's Gazetteer" reported that Mount Jackson contained eight dwelling houses, a Presbyterian church, a school, a mercantile store, a tavern, a tanyard, a smith shop and a boot factory.
Roads played an important role in the growth of the town. The Valley Turnpike (Route 11) was built between 1830 and 1840 on the bed of the old stage road which was over an earlier wagon road of the pioneers who had traveled on Indian trails.
State Road 263, running west out of Mount
Jackson, was originally named Howard's Lick Turnpike. It ran along Mill
Creek past Rinkerton and Mt. Clifton and so on northwest across the Allegheny's
to Howard Lick in West Virginia. However, the twelve
As the turnpike reaches Supin Lick Ridge, the road dips down in the settlement of Basye, the primary recreational center around Mount Jackson. Bryce Resort offers winter skiing, excellent golf, water sports, hunting, and a 2400-foot hard-surfaced airport.
Orkney Springs (circa 1774), a historic resort, is a few miles west of Basye. For many years it was the popular resort, noted for its medicinal waters. City residents, escaping the heat of summer, came from miles for its treatment. Also, grand tournaments were frequently held there.
The Manassas Gap Railroad was completed as far as Mount Jackson by 1858. During the Civil War, armies of both the North and the South used the railroad to transport troops and supplies.
General Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson's Valley Campaign in the spring of 1862 took place largely in Shenandoah County. He established headquarters in the Rude House on Rude's Hill south of Mount Jackson and Camp Buchanan at Red Banks. One wonders if he knew Andrew Jackson had been a guest there a few years earlier.
With the establishment of Confederate hospitals early in the war in Mount Jackson, as well as in the Old Union Church and private homes, Mount Jackson became an important hospital center which was maintained throughout the war. Another prominent landmark at the north end of town if the Confederate Monument and Cemetery where many of the casualties were buried.
The Mount Jackson area economy has grown into a mixture of agriculture, small industry and outdoor recreational facilities. Applies and cattle are the prime agricultural products.
Tourist attractions include National Forest and Parks, hunting, fishing, golf, caverns and winter skiing. Lodging is available in the valley lowlands and in the mountain foothills presenting a wide choice of the surrounding scenic beauty.
Today, Mount Jackson with a population of close to 2000, is a growing community working to establish its place in modern history.
Our Soldiers Cemetery was established in 1861 on land obtained from Col. Levi Rinker. The cemetery, containing about 400 graves, was first dedicated on 10 May 1866 by a memorial association organized by Melvina Virginia Kendric, Carrie and Mary Bird, Lelia Meem, Rebecca and Margaret Pennybacker, Cora Kendrick, and others. The entire community, including the nearby town of New Market and Edinburg, participated in the dedication of the cemetery. A wreath of flowers was placed on each of the graves. The ceremonies included addresses in the church by Maj. H.K. Douglas (an aide of gen. Stonewall Jackson) and others.
In 1897 the Mount Jackson Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was organized to care for the cemetery and erect a monument. Within six years they were able to raise $1,500.00 to erect the white marble statue of the Confederate soldier, which was erected and dedicated in 1903.
By 1910 they had raised approximately $1,250.00 more to erect an entrance archway with the appropriate lettering (Our Soldiers Cemetery 1861-1865) and an iron fence with iron gates across the front and a white picket fence around the rest.
In 1963 the iron fence and archway were destroyed by a large truck wreck. After a long delay, the fence and new archway were installed in 1990 by the Board of Trustees: Lyndell L. Hockman, Dewey W. Jordan and D. Coiner Rosen. The Trustees (2002) are: Dewey W. Jordan, Richard A. Moomaw and D. Coiner Rosen.
Because of the efforts of Raymond Watkins of Falls Church, VA, and others, the list of Confederate soldiers buried here is complete and there are no longer any unknowns. There are soldiers from eleven southern states buried here: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana., Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Bridge (Meems Bottom)