On November 6, the Thomas Balch Library Advisory Commissioners presented the Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth Annual Loudoun History Awards. This event honors individuals who have made significant contributions to preserving Loudoun’s past through collection of county documents and memorabilia, preservation of historic landmarks, visual arts, writing, and long-time commitment to local history organizations.
Among the recipients were the Family & Friends of Mount Sinai Cemetery, a project initiated by the Lovettsville Historical Society in early 2021 to promote the protection and preservation of Mount Sinai Cemetery, an abandoned African-American cemetery located a few miles southwest of the town of Lovettsville. The founders of the Family & Friends group are Claudette Bard, Ron Campbell, Howard Timbers, and Edward Spannaus. The group was honored “for their many contributions to the conservation and documentation of African American cemeteries in Lovettsville and preserving Loudoun County history.”
In accepting the award, Claudette Bard described the background of the Mount Sinai Free Will Baptist Church and how it was established in the 1880s, with the first burial in 1887. The congregation was disbanded in the 1920s as many of its members moved away, but the last known burial wasn’t until 1955. She mentioned two notable burials: Pvt. Samuel Timbers, who served in the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry in the Civil War, and Henry Howard, a Lovettsville delegate to the famous 1883 “Colored Mass Meeting” [now the subject of an exhibit at the Balch Library].
Gilbert Timbers spoke passionately about family members buried at Mount Sinai, and many others who were raised in the Mount Sinai Church and school. In addition to Pvt. Timbers, he recalled a younger sister who died when she was only seven days old. Timbers told the audience — which included Leesburg and Loudoun County officials — that he is determined to find out where his sister is buried, and to see that all those buried there are accorded the dignity and respect they deserve.
The other History Award recipient in 2021 was Michael Napper, for his contributions to Loudoun County Black history and Loudoun history in general. The 2022 awardees were Susan Pemberton Webber for her support of Balch Library over the years, and Charles Johnston for his preservation and documentation of the history of Leesburg.