Up to Date and Progressive: Winchester and Frederick County, Virginia, 1870-1980

Mary Sullivan Linhart

Advisor: Zachary Schrag, PhD, Department of History and Art History

Committee Members: Paula Petrik, Toni-Michelle Travis

Johnson Center, G
November 18, 2014, 11:00 AM to 08:30 AM


Between 1870 and 1980, leaders in Winchester and Frederick County, Virginia, successfully encouraged industry, diversified agriculture, improved local institutions and infrastructure, and promoted the community and its products. In 1870, the community was recovering from the devastation caused by the Civil War. In succeeding years, Winchester and FrederickCounty did not decline as the United States transitioned from an agricultural to an industrial economy. Unlike many other small American communities, Winchester and FrederickCounty achieved economic stability as farmers diversified crop production and business leaders organized to attract industry and encourage commerce and tourism. Leaders became community boosters and extended their goals to improve community life. Progressive leaders strengthened and expanded government, improved education and medical care, supported better transportation, and upgraded the civic infrastructure.

This dissertation examines progressive business leaders for more than a century and focuses on efforts to achieve economic stability. Farmers developed apples as an important commercial crop. In the business sector, leaders attracted outside industry and developed local industries to provide jobs. Leaders coped with many challenges, including the legacy of the Civil War, the impact of external forces, national economic downturns, the Great Depression, and two World Wars.

Most Winchester and Frederick County leaders between 1870 and 1980 were independent businessmen and believed there was a congruence of their interests and those of the region. They understood the community and were actively involved in civic life. Leaders influenced and reacted to the attitudes of fellow citizens. Leaders of Winchester and FrederickCounty were ordinary citizens who cooperated to expand and diversify the economy and meet the challenges of change.