HistoryClarke County History Links:
Clarke County, named for Revolutionary War hero, General George Rogers Clark, was formed in 1836 from Frederick County, Virginia. This area was part of Lord Fairfax's 5 million acre property. Lord Fairfax built his American home at what is now the village of White Post, named for the large signpost pointing the way to Lord Fairfax's office.
A young George Washington came to the area to survey for Lord Fairfax. Here he met Daniel Morgan, later a hero of the Revolutionary War at the battles of Saratoga and the Cowpens. Members of Washington's family took up land here, and Washington visited them frequently.
In 1732, Robert "King" Carter who served as the American agent for the Proprietary, granted over 50,000 acres to his sons and neighbors. In the latter part of the 18th century, the descendants of these Tidewater grant holders moved here; bringing with them their slaves, plantation lifestyle, and love of fox hunting. The Southern half of the county especially invokes their gracious style of life. with its large estates and sleek thoroughbred horses. Large crops of wheat, grown on these plantations contributed to the title, "Bread Basket of the Confederacy" during the Civil War.
The Northern and Western section of the county, outside of the Tidewater Grant lands, was settled by immigrants from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Mills and small farms abounded in this area.
By 1836, the inherent differences between the large landowners on the East and the German/Scotch-Irish settlers West of the Opequon Creek, created a chasm in life-styles that caused the new County of Clarke to be created.
During the Civil War, John Singleton Mosby, "the Gray Ghost" of the Confederacy, criss-crossed the county. At Berryville, in the summer of 1864, he raided Sheridan's 7 mile long supply train. On the Shenandoah River, after a foray into Maryland and DC, Confederate General Jubal Early's forces delayed a Union Army from entering the Valley during the Battle of Cool Spring. General Robert E. Lee, whose wife was born in Clarke County, camped here on his way to Gettysburg.
The Civil War devastated the area, but many of the old plantation homes survived and still stand today. Gradually the agricultural emphasis changed from wheat growing to fruit production, with immense orchards of apples spreading over the landscape. Thoroughbred horses still flourish, and are a major source of income and prestige within the county. Over time, the County's business base has become more diverse, while still maintaining the rural nature that Clarke County citizens cherish.
Clarke County still seems a 'Separate Place' in time. The bustling air of the built-up counties to the east seems to soften as you cross the Blue Ridge. The Shenandoah flows serene, and tensions ebb as you watch its stately progress. Come to Clarke County and know a timeless peace.