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History reflects Mudville community devastated by industrial fire

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Once upon a time, there was plenty of joy to go around in Mudville. The two major streets, Squirrel Lane and Rabbit Lane, bustled with the daily life of a small rural community. Folks took pride in their gardens, creating a pleasant, clean and peaceful place to live. Tall grasses, plants and flowers filled every family’s yard. Beautiful meadows filled with rabbits and squirrels gave the village roads their names. The smell of homemade jams, breads and pastries emanated from the neighborhood kitchens. About twelve closely knit families lived along the dirt roads during the pre-depression era. People residing here rarely remembered to lock their doors at night. Mudville residents often fed itinerant strangers breakfast, who walking the railroad tracks, had nothing to eat. Christmas was an unforgettable experience as each family exchanged presents with each other. Often residents reminisced about their childhood days when the train whistle was the last sound heard at night before laying their heads on the pillow.

A busy part of Stephens City. Courtesy John Holt.

Stephens City Station aka Mudville, was located just west of down-town and split by Marlboro Road (Route 631) and the railroad tracks. On June 13, 1870, the new Winchester and Strasburg Railroad was completed which connected Stephens City (then Newtown), for the first time with Winchester and the Manassas Gap Railroad at Strasburg. A small train station was built on the east side of the tracks, just north of Marlboro Road and occupied by the station master. The railroad empowered Stephens City Station to become the industrial and commercial hub for Stephens City. The business district was later nicked-named Mudville, due to the lack of hard surface roads and water filled potholes lined with lime paste which seldom allowed the dirt streets to completely dry.

The train depot located across the tracks from the train station was expanded in 1914 to include a general merchandise and produce business. The general store sold everything from clothes, farm supplies, coal, and lumber to dried vegetables. Very rural folks would drop in to exchange eggs and butter for dry goods. The building included a Western Union telegraph office, a small waiting room and a merchandise pickup area. Mail was delivered daily by train to the depot and then driven to the Stephens City Post Office by horse-drawn wagon. Livestock was routinely loaded onto the trains. In the 1930s, the Baltimore and Ohio ran eight passenger trains, four every morning and four every evening stopping in Stephens City each day.


Businesses flourished around the larger train depot from the 1870s until the 1930s. The three story Stephens City Milling Company, established in 1893, resided on the west side of the tracks along with The Shenandoah Vinegar and Cider Company which operated an evaporator for drying fruit. In 1900, the M.J. Grove Lime Company opened a lime quarry and lime kiln here employing as many as seventy-five workers. A lime kiln plant was constructed in 1906 and became an important piece of the Stephens City economy. Stephens City Cooperage, Virginia Chemical Company, a blacksmith shop, grocery store, barber shop and several restaurants all blossomed in Mudville. A one room school house sat in the middle of this industrial complex.

Mudville’s prosperity would begin to wane during the Great Depression and then a most disastrous fire would plunge this community toward an economic death spiral. On November 17, 1936, there was a devastating fire that ravaged the village. According to the Winchester Evening Star, the raging inferno began in the evaporator plant of the Vinegar and Cider Company, a building made of mostly dry pine boards. It was a two-story building with furnaces on the ground floor and facilities for hydrating the fruit above. Apparently furnace waste had sifted through apertures which admitted heat into the drying room and had lodged against pipes leading from the furnace. The fire engulfed the entire building in a matter of minutes and forced employees out of the building. Fanned by high winds that roared in from the west with gale-like force at times, cascades of sparks and ashes carried east at least a mile.

Site of Stephens City fire, workman in rubble. Courtesy Dorothy Connor Collection, Stewart Bell, Jr. Archives Room, Handley Regional Library, Winchester, VA.

The winds caused the fire to spread quickly and by morning the flames had consumed the evaporator, the cooperage (barrel-making) plant, the apple packing shed, a storage house, a corn house, an auto shelter and a few storage sheds. The fire also damaged a blacksmith shop, a grocery business, a restaurant and property of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad. While no fatalities or injuries were sustained, the property losses (adjusted for inflation were equal to $950,000 in today’s dollars) were enormous with a comparatively small portion protected by insurance.

The intense heat from the fire broke the Northern Virginia Power lines plunging Stephens City and Strasburg into darkness until early morning. A large B&O steel hopper containing coke caught fire. Six of the B&O main line rails had to be removed and a power switch leading to the cooperage plant was rebuilt. One rail nearest the coke hopper bent almost into a right angle. Fortunately many buildings including the M. J. Grove Lime Company, B&O Depot, a restaurant and residential dwellings went undamaged. A major factor was the excellent service rendered by bucket brigade volunteers who were stationed at strategic locations, fiercely extinguishing blazes in the grassy fields and buildings as sparks and embers touched down.

The Mudville fire along with the 1930s depression era economy and the termination of passenger train service in August 1949 did bring about the gradual demise of the village. Some of the businesses did rebuild but not with the success experienced before the fire. The M. J. Grove Lime Company would continue to operate in Stephens City through most of the twentieth century. As businesses closed and residents moved or passed away, The Lime Kiln operation bought the properties and demolished the buildings. Anna Stout, who left Mudville in 1972, was one of the last residents to depart the village. The railway agency closed the station building in May 1974. According to the Newtown History Center website, the quarrying operation would close down in September of 1988 after being bought out by the Flintkote and then Genstar Companies. The processing plant was then operated by the Shen-Valley Lime Corporation and would finally close down in 2003.

Today, all that remains of the once thriving village on Marlboro Road are the empty lime-covered remnants of demolished factory and house foundations left to be reclaimed by nature. The passenger train service transportation economy that drove the haphazard establishment of Mudville was eliminated, the harsh living conditions due to lime dust become too difficult and the economic downturn put an end to this amazing little community, leaving us with another fascinating Shenandoah Valley memory.

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Wakefield Country Day School welcomes the world!

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Article and photo: Suzanne Zylonis

Gutentag! Hola! Ciao! XieXie! Hello! Wakefield Country Day School is known for welcoming students from several surrounding counties, including Rappahannock, Fauquier, Prince William, Culpeper and Warren. This year, WCDS also welcomes a dozen high school students from Germany, Italy, China and Spain — as well as DC and NYC!

Several of these students will complete their high school careers here, while others are on a one-year exchange program. Natalia, from Spain, loves drawing, history and literature, and wants to become a journalist. It was the Journalism Program at WCDS that drew her to Rappahannock, and its annual trip to NYC and the New York Times! Jonah, from Germany, loves math and physics, and was most interested in joining the WCDS Jazz Ensemble as a trombonist. Alessia joins us from Italy. She loves travel and learning about new cultures and hopes to attend college in the States. Jeannel is from the Queens, NYC. In a meeting with Dr. Cameron Webb, she was inspired to become a dermatologist, and has dug into her chemistry classes.

While these students have added both culturally and academically to the student body at WCDS, it is also important to show them our beautiful surrounding counties. Be on the lookout for this group as they tour our surrounding counties of Rappahannock, Warren, Culpeper and Fauquier this Fall.



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Halloween Grams by the Skyline Middle School Interact Club

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Kids are making a difference by supporting our community. Kudos to the Skyline Middle School Interact students who have organized a fundraiser to benefit the Humane Society of Warren County: Halloween Grams! They will be sold at school to bring a little extra fun to Halloween and help our local furry friends. Well done kids!

The Rotary Club of Warren County is proud to sponsor the Interact Club at Skyline Middle School. The kids get to meet on a regular basis to discuss our community and brainstorm project ideas on how to support local causes or identify needs. If you have a middle school child at Skyline Middle School and think the Rotary Interact program sounds like a fit, let us know!

Contact us through our website: warrencountyrotary.org OR Facebook page: facebook.com/RotaryClubofWarrenCounty

Let’s get our kids active!


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Front Royal Zombie Walk 2021

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The 2021 Front Royal Zombie Walk was a great success. We raised almost $500 (so far)  in donations for the Front Royal/Warren County Humane Society.

Hundred of Zombies walked the streets of Front Royal on Saturday night. Fun for all at the Boomuseum. Good to see the community gathering at the Gazebo area and just enjoy the time together. People of all ages participated, some just came to watch, from a safe distance, of course.

A BIG thank you to all who helped this year. A BIG BIG thank you to Shae Parker and his band, River Driven. The music calmed even Zombies.

And we don’t want to Forget the Front Royal Police Department – they assisted in getting the Zombies across the busy traffic and safely downtown.


The Zombie Walk 2021 T-Shirts are still available at C&C Frozen Treats on Main Street.

Check out the Zombie Walk Facebook page for more pictures.

Did you miss it? Watch the event now on this exclusive Royal Examiner video:


 

Some celebrated their wedding anniversary at the Zombie Walk.

 

Zombies come in all ages.

 

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Everyone age 12 and older can now get the COVID vaccine

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Here are the COVID-19 vaccine locations in Warren County.  Be sure to call and check on vaccine availability and appointment times.

Walmart Inc #10-5105
10 Riverton Commons Dr, Front Royal, VA 22630
540-635-4140

CVS Pharmacy, Inc. #17367
10 Crooked Run Plaza, Front Royal, VA 22630
(540) 631-3291

Warren County Health Department
465 W 15th St #200, Front Royal, VA 22630
(540) 635-3159


CVS Pharmacy, Inc. #07509
800 John Marshall Hwy, Front Royal, VA 22630
(540) 635-1601

Martins #6282
409 South St, Front Royal, VA 22630
540-635-3175

Check at https://www.vaccines.gov/ for other locations in our area.

Protect yourself and others. Remember the following when receiving your COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Wear a cloth face covering or mask in accordance with CDC guidance
  • Keep at least six feet of distance between yourself and other people not in your household at all times
  • Respect the privacy of others when taking photos

 

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Warrior Psychotherapy Services opens on Main Street

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Niki Foster Cales of the Front Royal/Warren County Chamber of Commerce, along with fellow Chamber members and Supervisor Walt Mabe welcomed Courtney Patti to the community with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Warrior Psychotherapy Services is located at 130 E. Main Street in Front Royal.

Courtney Patti is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with over 15 years of practice working with the chronic medical and behavioral health population.

Her experience includes working in facilities such as Children’s National Medical Center, Washington Hospital Center Outpatient Behavioral Health, University of Virginia Medical Center, Sheppard Pratt Health System, and Ft Belvoir Community Hospital working in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Minor in Religion from Sweet Briar College in 2005. Courtney received her Masters of Social Work (MSW) from Catholic University of America: National Catholic School of Social Services in Washington, D.C.  in 2007.

Her specialty focuses on adults whose lives are impacted by depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and unresolved emotional issues. She is considered an expert in her field in formulating diagnostic and treatment recommendations, providing individual, couple, and family therapy.


Click here to find out more about Warrior Psychotherapy on their website.

 

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Motion to bar press from hearing on Luckey indecent sexual liberties with a minor charges delays hearing to January 6

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On Thursday, October 21, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Daryl Funk ruled in favor of a defense motion to bar the press from the courtroom during the hearing of accused child sexual abuser Dr. William R. Luckey. The ruling, at the request of Luckey’s defense counsel Shannon Johnson, resulted in a continuation of the scheduled hearing at which the alleged juvenile victim was expected to testify.

Court records indicate the hearing was continued to January 6 of next year on the morning docket with an anticipated start time of 10:30 a.m. The delay will allow press organizations to file responses to the judge’s ruling on their exclusion, making their case to be allowed in the courtroom for future hearings or trials where testimony by and about the alleged victim would be heard.

According to reports Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Samantha Meadows was poised to call at least three witnesses Thursday, including the alleged victim and case investigator Kristin Hajduk of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. However, the youth’s testimony would have been by remote video hook-up, avoiding the necessity of an underage witness having to be in the same room with their accused abusers as they testify.

As of a J&D Court ruling on Thursday, October 21, media was excluded from hearings where testimony by or about the alleged victim in the William R. Luckey sexual solicitation and indecent liberties against a minor case would be heard. Below, Luckey upon his June 25, 2021, booking into RSW Jail. Mug shot – RSW Jail website; Courthouse photo – Royal Examiner File Photo


 

On June 25, 2021, the 72-year-old, retired (in 2015) Christendom College professor of 33 years and more recent teacher at the Padre Pio Academy at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Front Royal was charged with one count of “Solicitation of prostitution from a minor less than age 16” and two charges of “Indecent liberties … of a child less than 15”. Court documents list all three offense dates as June 22, 2021, three days prior to Luckey’s arrest. Original presiding Judge Nancy Reed initially denied bond in the case on June 30. However, upon defense appeal citing health issues and his long-term ties to the community, Luckey was released on a $50,000 secured bond on July 12.

Copies of warrants on those charges offered additional detail. Of the two indecent liberties charges, Luckey is accused of “with lascivious intent knowingly and intentionally sexually abuse a (age withheld by paper) female …” and “that the accused feel or fondle the sexual or genital parts of such child”.

Of the solicitation charge, the warrant alleges that Luckey offered “money or its equivalent to a minor under 16 years of age … with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify and thereafter perform a substantial act in furtherance thereof.” Commonwealth evidence indicated that money was ten dollars offered to the alleged victim to see and touch their “bottom”. The warrants indicate the money was refused by the child, but that Luckey followed through with the suggested behavior, leaving the ten dollars behind when he left the scene.

During initial hearings last summer the Commonwealth introduced recorded phone conversations between Dr. Luckey and his wife discussing her husband’s legal situation in the days following his arrest. Investigator Hajduk told the court that the couple knew they were being recorded on the phone line to the jail before introducing recorded segments of those conversations to the court and summarizing other sections. While the prosecution’s take on those segments was that they indicated an admission of some of the alleged behavior, the defense disputed that contention.
Rather, defense attorney Johnson argued certain conversational lines simply indicated Dr. Luckey’s reaction to the charges against him or social dynamics involved with those accusations. In fact, she told the court some of Dr. Luckey’s comments to his wife indicated a belief the charges “were invalid” and that his accuser could face the consequences of filing a false police report.

“This isn’t what happened,” Julie Luckey told her husband of specific sexual acts described in one of the warrants, later adding, “It’s not like you raped somebody.”

“No, it doesn’t say ‘Show me your hiney,’ Dr. Luckey seemed to laugh in response to his wife’s dispute over the content of the warrants. At another point in recorded conversations in the days after his arrest, Dr. Luckey told his wife his situation was a result “of 15 minutes of stupidity on my part.”

Whether that “15 minutes of stupidity” will be viewed as a criminal solicitation and abuse of a minor remains to be seen; as does whether future preliminary hearings or a potential trial will be viewed and reported by the media.

 

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Upcoming Events

Oct
28
Thu
10:00 am Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 28 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie at Strokes of Creativity. Tickets: CLICK HERE Cost: $80 for 6 weeks Dates: Thursdays – Oct 21, Oct 28, Nov 4, Nov 11, Nov 18, Dec 4 Time: 10 am[...]
1:00 pm Art Class for 4th & 5th @ Strokes of Creativity
Art Class for 4th & 5th @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 28 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Art Class for 4th & 5th @ Strokes of Creativity
This class is for Grades 4th and 5th. Perfect for home schoolers. Recommended ages: 9 and 10 years old Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at[...]
7:00 pm Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
Oct 28 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
White Horse Auto Wash is excited for the first Haunted Tunnel at their new Front Royal location this year! Located next to Lowe’s at 214 Country Club Road, Front Royal, VA. The event will be[...]
Oct
29
Fri
9:00 am Volunteer Tree Planting @ Sky Meadows State Park
Volunteer Tree Planting @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 29 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Volunteer Tree Planting @ Sky Meadows State Park
Edmonds Lane Field: Join The Piedmont Environmental Council, Friends of the Rappahannock, Goose Creek Association, John Marshall Soil & Water Conservation District and We Plant Trees, for volunteer tree planting at Sky Meadows State Park![...]
6:00 pm Trunk or Treat @ Family Dollar Parking Lot
Trunk or Treat @ Family Dollar Parking Lot
Oct 29 @ 6:00 pm – Oct 30 @ 9:00 pm
Trunk or Treat @ Family Dollar Parking Lot
Non-profit organization Crown Vic Kiings & Queens, of Winchester, Virginia, is hosting our annual car club TRUNK OR TREAT, in Front Royal, on October 29th. The event is free but donations are greatly appreciated, as[...]
7:00 pm Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
Oct 29 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
White Horse Auto Wash is excited for the first Haunted Tunnel at their new Front Royal location this year! Located next to Lowe’s at 214 Country Club Road, Front Royal, VA. The event will be[...]
Oct
30
Sat
9:00 am Volunteer Tree Planting @ Sky Meadows State Park
Volunteer Tree Planting @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 30 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Volunteer Tree Planting @ Sky Meadows State Park
Edmonds Lane Field: Join The Piedmont Environmental Council, Friends of the Rappahannock, Goose Creek Association, John Marshall Soil & Water Conservation District and We Plant Trees, for volunteer tree planting at Sky Meadows State Park![...]
1:00 pm Fall Craft Festival @ Fort Valley Museum
Fall Craft Festival @ Fort Valley Museum
Oct 30 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Fall Craft Festival @ Fort Valley Museum
Fort Valley Museum Fall Craft Festival – Annual Fundraiser October 30 & 31, 2021 | Saturday 1-4pm, Sunday 2-5pm Come by and support the Fort Valley Museum at our annual Fall Craft Festival (formerly “Christmas[...]
1:00 pm Feed the Homeless Trunk or Treat @ T-Bone's Bar & Grill
Feed the Homeless Trunk or Treat @ T-Bone's Bar & Grill
Oct 30 @ 1:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Feed the Homeless Trunk or Treat @ T-Bone's Bar & Grill
Non-profit organization Crown Vic Kiings & Queens, of Winchester, Virginia, is hosting our annual car club FEED THE HOMELESS/TRUNK OR TREAT on October 30th. The event is free but donations are greatly appreciated, as Crown[...]
7:00 pm Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
Oct 30 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Haunted Tunnel Auto Wash @ White Horse Auto Wash
White Horse Auto Wash is excited for the first Haunted Tunnel at their new Front Royal location this year! Located next to Lowe’s at 214 Country Club Road, Front Royal, VA. The event will be[...]