Leesburg in Loudoun County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The Orion Anderson Story
On November 8, 1889, between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., a 14-year-old African-American boy named Orion Anderson (1875-1889) was lynched at this site where the Leesburg freight depot was located along the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Railroad.
A week earlier, Orion had been arrested and taken to jail in Leesburg. His alleged offense was scaring 14-year-old May Leith in the Town of Hamilton by chasing her with a “guano sack” (fertilizer bag) over his head. Although the girl could not identify him as the person who scared her, Orion was arrested based on circumstantial evidence.
On November 7, 1889, the Sheriff delivered a summons to the girl and two other people to appear as witnesses before the court. Less than 24 hours later, before a judge or jury could hear Orion Anderson's case, twenty five to forty men came into town in the early hours of November 8 to kill him. On November 9, the Richmond Dispatch reported that the men were disguised and that cloth was wrapped around their horses' hoofs so they would not make any noise, tactics closely associated with the newly emerged Ku Klux Klan.
Three men from
Orion Anderson was dragged down Church Street to the freight depot where the mob hung him by a derrick (pulley for lifting freight) and shot him in the head and chest. He was survived by his parents, Thomas and Charlotte Anderson and nine brothers and sisters; Samuel, Virginia, Thomas, Alonzo, Logan, Leota, Lizzie, John, and Martha. Orion was buried a half-mile to the east at Potter's Field, the burial ground for the poor and unknown. Three years later, Potter's Field became the site of the third documented lynching in Loudoun County.
Both the Deputy Sheriff and the night policeman were witness to the events. Both stated emphatically that they could not identify any member of the mob, their voices or their horses. No one was ever convicted of the murder of Orion Anderson.
During the Jim Crow era, the murder of black men by vigilante groups was an all too common tactic to terrorize and oppress the African-American community. The murder of Orion Anderson was one of three documented lynchings in Loudoun County between 1880 and 1902. Lynching is an “extrajudicial” (outside of the law) execution carried out
This and other signs marking the sites of lynchings in Loudoun County are intended to honor the lives cut short, and the families and communities impacted by this domestic terrorism that is a part of our history. This remembrance also serves as a way to educate our community on racialized violence and challenges us to reconcile differences to become a stronger community.
This sign was developed in coordination with the NAACP of Loudoun County, and Loudoun Freedom Center's Rememberance and Reconciliation initiative. Scan the QR code to access more information on area lynchings.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Law Enforcement. In addition, it is included in the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Railroad series list. A significant historical date for this entry is November 8, 1889.
Location. 39° 6.651′ N, 77° 33.817′ W. Marker is in Leesburg, Virginia, in Loudoun County. Marker can be reached from Harrison Street Southeast, 0.2 miles south of Loudon Street Southeast, on the right when traveling south. Located along the W&OD Trail. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Leesburg VA 20175, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are Leesburg Freight Station (here, next to this marker); This Is W&OD Trail: Leesburg! (within shouting distance of this marker); Stationmaster's House (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Log House (about 600 feet away); Norman-Harding Barn (about 600 feet away); Dairy Barn (about 600 feet away); McKimmey's Mill (about 600 feet away); Osterburg Mill (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Leesburg.
Also see . . .
1. American Lynching. Uncovering a Cultural Narrative, URL of QR code on marker. (Submitted on July 12, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.)
2. “They Hanged Him”. Richmond Dispatch, November 9, 1889.
Transcription from the Original, Encyclopedia of Virginia. (Submitted on July 13, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.)
Additional keywords. lynching, acts of terrorism, white supremacy
Credits. This page was last revised on September 2, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 12, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,328 times since then and 418 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 12, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 3. submitted on July 18, 2019, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 4. submitted on July 12, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 5. submitted on July 13, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 6. submitted on July 12, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.