Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bill Farquhar on Linton Hall History

Bill Farquhar, who was sports coach as well as gym and geography instructor at Linton Hall for several decades, was also somewhat of a history buff. In 1992, he delivered a speech on Linton Hall history. Among the interesting facts he shared:

* Route 619, part of which is also known as Linton Hall Road, was an Indian/Native American trail during the pre-Colonial period. There was also a Native American campground in the portion of the Linton Hall property where Broad Run curves, and arrowheads have been found there.

* There were slaves on John Linton's land, prior to its being donated to the Benedictines for the site of today's Linton Hall School. At least eight slaves are buried there, each grave marked with a large rock. Unfortunately, around 1941-1942, the gardener, who did not know why the rocks were there, and because they made lawn mowing difficult, dug them up and buried them deeper. As a consequence, the location of those grave sites is now unknown.

* During the 1920s, farmers working on the Linton Hall Military School land found cannonballs and old shells from the Civil War. A few of these were put on display in the old convent, and when the new convent was built, Bill Farquhar was given a few. A few years after receiving them, Bill wondered whether some of them might still be live, so he contacted the Sheriff, Ralph Shumake, who called Fort Belvoir. Some soldiers came from Ft. Belvoir and put the shells in a box -- very gently, because they were, in fact, live. They brought back the parts from the exploded shells about a month later.

* During the 1930s, there were very few paved roads in the area. Linton Hall Road was still a dirt road, which became extremely muddy when it rained. This all changed when, in 1938, John Joseph Becker, a lawyer from Norfolk, sent his three sons to Linton Hall Military School. According to Bill, Mr. Becker used his influence with Virginia Highway Commissioner Henry G. Shirley (after whom the Shirley Highway was named) to have the road paved from Chapel Springs to Linton Hall. It was not until around 1952-1953 that the rest of Linton Hall, all the way to Gainesville, was paved.

William Francis Farquhar, "Bill," was born on September 30, 1915 in Washington D.C., and was a Linton Hall Military School alumnus. He began teaching and coaching at Linton Hall in 1940. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was coach and gym teacher, more recently with the title of Athletic Director, for the rest of his life. Bill passed away on January 4, 2011 at the age of 95. His wife, Virginia, predeceased him. Both are buried in the Linton Hall cemetery. The Linton Hall school gym was renamed the William Farquhar Sports Center in his honor.

Special thanks to the alumnus who made me aware of the existence of Bill's speech and to the Prince William County Historical Commission for having audiotaped it.

Read more in my book, "Linton Hall Military School Memories," over 200 pages, 7x10 inches, only $5.69 (or less) at

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Why Didn't Linton Hall Help Poor Children Learn a Trade?

That was, after all, the condition under which the Benedictine Order was given 1,736 acres of land by Sister Mary Baptista, V.H.M.. (Note 1)

In 1893, Sister Mary Baptista gave the land subject to the condition that it be used for
"an industrial and training school for poor and friendless white boys and youths, ... [and] a school for training and education of poor and friendless white girls in habits of industry and virtue and in learning useful occupations suitable to their condition of life" (Note 2)

In this context, the term "friendless" means children who have no parents or other relatives taking care of them -- orphaned or neglected, in today's language. "Industrial," "training" and "useful occupations suitable to their condition of life," means that they were to be taught a trade, rather than an academic curriculum. The limitation to whites became unenforceable as a result of court cases and civil rights legislation.

Saint Joseph Institute was opened in 1894 and closed in 1922, as detailed in my previous blog post. Although a school for boys, it "was never a first-rate educational institution, and it was never really an industrial school at all." (Note 3)

Nor was the condition that poor children attend the schools met, at least not as a general practice. There was strong resistance to covering the costs of poor children by St. Joseph, which requested payment by the Diocese of Richmond for such children. (Note 4)

In 1894, the Benedictine Sisters opened Saint Edith, an academy for girls. In 1897 they opened Saint Anne, an industrial school for girls. (Note 5)

The girls' schools founded by the Benedictine Sisters were not built on the 1,736 acres of land from Sister Mary Baptista's bequest, but on the nearby 92.5 acre Kincheloe farm, which had been originally owned by the Linton Family and sold off, and which was then purchased by the Benedictine Sisters. As this land was not part of the Linton gift, the sisters were not bound by the conditions placed on the Linton bequest. (Note 6) However, it could be argued that, in spirit, the condition of building a girls' industrial school had been met. But the girls' schools in Bristow were closed when Linton Hall Military School was opened in 1922.

It is not known whether or not St. Anne requested diocesan support for girls' expenses, but in 1922, with Saint Joseph Institute continuing to insist that it would only accept orphans if the diocese paid their fees, Bishop O'Connell became concerned that the trust agreement was being violated, and the Benedictines risked losing the property. (Note 7) This matter came to a head with a court case in the Prince William County (Virginia) Circuit Court in February 1923. Although the Diocese of Richmond argued that because there was no industrial school, and the instruction was educational rather than industrial, and the monks declined to take "friendless" boys free of charge, the terms of the trust had been violated. St. Joseph Institute, on the other hand, argued that because no protest had been lodged within twenty years, it was too late to enforce the trust's provisions. The court ruled in favor of St, Joseph's position, and title to the land passed to the Benedictines free and clear, with Sister Mary Baptista's conditions no longer in place. Four years later, in 1927, the Belmont Abbey gave the 1,736 acres of land, together with buildings thereon (except for the library and its contents) and livestock to the Benedictine Sisters.

As a result, Sister Mary Baptista Linton's gift became property of the Benedictine Sisters, even though no industrial school for boys and youths was ever built, and the girls' industrial school, Saint Anne, was in existence from 1897 to 1922 -- a period of only twenty-five years. (Note 7) Most of this land was later sold off to developers by the Benedictine Sisters, and the extensive land on which Linton Hall Military School alumni went camping and hiking is no longer owned by Linton Hall School.

I do not know how the proceeds of the land sale were used, or whether they were used in line with Sister Mary Baptista's wishes. I believe that although there was no legal obligation to do so, a moral obligation existed.

1. Johnston, Helen, The Fruit of His Works. Bristow, Va.: Linton Hall Press, 1954, pp. 37-40. There was a Sister Helen whom I met while a cadet at Linton Hall Military School, but I never knew her last name, so I don't know whether she was the author.
2. Baumstein, Dom Paschal, O.S.B., My Lord of Belmont: A Biography of Leo Haid. Belmont, N.C.: Herald House, 1985, p. 138, quoting Archives of the Abbey of Maryhelp, Deed from Phillips to Trustees, January, 1893. Baumstein's meticulously researched book, although dealing primarily with Belmont Abbey and Abbot Haid, devotes one chapter to the Linton legacy.
3. Baumstein, op. cit., p.151.
4. Ibid, pp.160-161.
5. Ibid, p.149.
6. Johnston, op. cit., pp. 51-52.
7. Baumstein, op. cit., pp. 172-173.
8. Ibid, pp. 174-175.

Copyright 2016 by "Linton Hall Cadet."
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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Linton Hall's Precursor, St. Joseph Institute, in 1922 Had Flies, Bedbugs, Lice, a Typhoid Fever Outbreak ... Plus a Fake Priest Having "Relations" With a Sixteen-Year-Old Girl

A scathing report by Joseph Tobin, O.S.B. written on August 4, 1922, described extremely filthy conditions at Saint Joseph Institute, the boys' boarding school run by Benedictine priests and brothers in Bristow, Virginia.

Frater Tobin, an undercover investigator sent by Abbot Leo Haid, O.S.B., of Belmont Abbey, N.C., described a deplorable lack of hygiene, with bedbugs, lice, and a refectory "infested with flies." His report also stated that a water inspector had forbidden use of well water for drinking,, and that the outhouse had not been cleaned in two years. A doctor and nurse inspected the premises and threatened to condemn the whole institute. (Note 1)

The lack of hygiene had resulted in an outbreak of typhoid fever, with five boys who had stayed over the summer ending up bedridden, and at least two of them, the Barnes brothers, critically ill. Their mother was not informed of her sons' illness for eight days, and when she arrived she found her sons with

"temperature[s] running at that time 105 [degrees] ... just covered with flies, lice and bedbugs ..."

Mrs. Barnes had her sons transferred to a Washington, D.C. hospital. It is not known whether they recovered. (Note 2)

Frater Tobin's report also confirmed concerns raised by both Mr. Barnes an by Mrs. Keane, a nurse hired to take care of the ill boys, that Denis Smith, who passed himself off as a priest, but who was not, had been taking "liberties" with the 16-year-old daughter of a woman working as a cook at the Institute. (Note 3)

The following month, Father Ignatius Remke, O.S.B., arrived at Bristow and confirmed that the reports "about the dirt, filth, etc. of this place" were "all true," and that although there were two wells, the water was unaccptable for human consumption. (Note 4)

A year later, Father Remke discovered that a broken sewer line had been discharging human waste under the priory for up to three years. (Note 5)

In order to restore hygiene and improve living conditions, enrollment at St. Joseph, which had previously been 77 boarding students and 11 day students, was drastically reduced to between 25 and 30. (Note 6) At that point, Saint Joseph Institute was "allowed to die of attrition." The Benedictine sisters, who had been running two schools for girls in Bristow, Saint Edith Academy and Saint Anne, closed these two girls' schools, continued their activities teaching girls in Richmond, and opened Linton Hall Military School for boys in Bristow, Virginia. In 1927 the 1,736 acres of land donated by the Lintons were given to the Benedictine sisters.

1. Baumstein, Dom Paschal, O.S.B., My Lord of Belmont: An Autobiography of Leo Haid. Belmont, N.C., Herald House, 1985, pages 166-167.
An extensively documented book. Although the book deals primarily with the Benedictine's activities at Belmont Abbey, N.C., there is a chapter which covers the Linton land bequest, and the Benedictines' activities in Bristow until the founding of Linton Hall Military School.
2. Baumstein, op.cit., pp.164-165, quoting a letter from Mrs. A.J. Barnes to Abbot Haid, dated August 3, 1922.
3. Baumstein, p. 166.
4. Baumstein, p. 172, quoting a letter from Fr. Remke to Abbot Haid, dated September 11, 1922.
5. Baumstein, p. 172, quoting a letter from Fr. Remke to Abbot Haid, dated Sptember 26, 1923.
6. Baumstein, p. 172, quoting a letter from Fr. Remke to Abbot Haid, dated January 22, 1924.

Copyright 2016 by "Linton Hall Cadet."
Please respect copyright by linking to this post instead of copying and pasting.
This blog is not affiliated with Linton Hall Military School and all opinions are those of the author.
Comments are always welcome; please do not use your name or names of others.