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A History of Sleepy Hollow

This history includes the following sections:


Early Land Ownership

In 1607, Captain John Smith came from Jamestown to explore the Potomac River Valley. He found a bountiful land inhabited by numerous Indian tribes. The Necostin tribe, later allied with the Iroquois, was encamped in the area now known as Buffalo Hills near what is currently Sleepy Hollow. The Necostins were woodland Indians. They lived in tents that were made of stretched animal hides. When game became scarce in any particular area where they lived, they moved to new hunting grounds.

The Necostins were in Chief Powhatan's Confederacy. The Chief would regularly visit his tribes. When he visited the Necostins, he would rest and bathe at the springs on Wilson Boulevard which now bear his name. Today, a private club exists where the spring rises. The Sleepy Hollow Citizens' Association has held Wine and Cheese Parties in this club.

In 1649, Charles II began to award Land Proprietaries to favorites of the English Crown. One of these proprietors was Thomas, second Lord Culpeper. While this Lord never saw his land, he was awarded all of the territory between the Rappahonnock and Potomac Rivers.

In 1690, Lord Culpeper passed away and his daughter, Catherine, then inherited six shares of his Proprietary which became know as the Northern Neck. After her father's death, she married Thomas, fifth Lord Fairfax, the Baron of Cameron. The union produced a son who by inheritance became Thomas, sixth Lord Fairfax.

In 1719, after the death of his parents, Thomas, sixth Lord of Fairfax inherited the Northern Neck which included the present day Fairfax County and, or course, Sleepy Hollow. When Fairfax began to realize the extent of all of this land that he had inherited, he decided to come to Virginia to see what he owned. He took residence as one of the Culpeper land patents called Belvoir, located on the Potomac River adjacent to George Washington's half brother's home, Mount Vernon. In 1736, Lord Fairfax, engaged experienced surveyors and map makers. One of them was Peter Jefferson, the father of Thomas Jefferson.

George Washington was born in 1732 at Wakefield in Westmoreland County on the Potomac. At about the age of eighteen, he moved up the Potomac to his half-brother's home at Mount Vernon where he studied to be a surveyor and became well known for his work.

Lord Fairfax and George Washington became good friends. Fairfax made user of his friend's ability as a surveyor by employing his to survey and divide up his land into salable parcels. In this way, much of Fairfax County was mapped in detail. A surveyor's duties included recording the details of his work with the County Office of Land Records. By looking into these land records, we find that certain of the original grants of Lord Fairfax cover the area that is now Sleepy Hollow. Land Owners during that time were as follows:

  • Captain Simeon Pearson, 1279 acres, 1724
  • James Robertson, 392 acres, 1726
  • Michael Regan, 179 acres, 1729
  • Thomas Harrison, not determined, 1731
  • Captain Robert Bates, 180 acres, 1742
  • John Carlyle, 392 acres, 1767

In the mid 1700's, George Washington and Lord Fairfax spent a considerable amount of time in this area. George Washington became a vestryman in Falls Church and carried out many surveys nearby. Washington and Fairfax enjoyed hunting together in the area. On the Leesburg Pike (Route 7), which was just a colonial wagon trail through the forest, they built a hunting lodge. Later this lodge became a wing on the Clayman Mansion which has since been demolished. The Clayman Mansion stood on the location of the present day Munson Hill Apartments on Route 7. Sleepy Hollow was a nearby forested wilderness with Indian trails and streams flowing through it. Washington and Fairfax can be expected to have hunted wild game in what is now Sleepy Hollow, particularly where Tripps Run and Indian Run ran between what is today Cedarwood and Sylvan Drive.

An examination of land ownership in the Sleepy Hollow area during the later 1700s shows that certain owners may have been soldiers and officers of the Continental Line during the American Revolutionary War. Some of them had military titles and ranks that they continued to use when signing wills, surveys, deeds, etc., when ownership of land was being transferred.

After 1767, Fairfax County Land Records show that the area now comprising Sleepy Hollow was further parceled and sold. Many boundary changes resulted in some farms becoming larger and others smaller. Many farm boundaries were obliterate, and others were established after inheritances.

The end of the Revolutionary War brought a significant change to Sleepy Hollow and Fairfax County as the eastern and southern portions of the County, including Arlington, Alexandria and part of Falls Church, were ceded to the newly established District of Columbia. This placed Sleepy Hollow, and what was to become Mason District, at the easternmost border of the County. In 1846, the former Fairfax territories ceded to the District were receded to Virginia. However, the decision was made to form the area into what became Arlington County, and the City of Alexandria. As a result, Sleepy Hollow remains as the eastern, "older", boundary of Fairfax county.

Sales and the resale of land continued to take place over the years until 1938 when the formation of Sleepy Hollow, as we know it, was first conceived.

The Civil War to the Depression

At the start of the Civil War, the loyalties of Fairfax County residents seemed sharply divided over the issue of secession. Unlike most of the rural South, Fairfax County did not have a homogeneous population of plantation owners. At least twice in it's history, in the 1760s and especially in the period from 1840 to 1860, large numbers of Northerners had migrated into the area from Pennsylvania, New York, and even New England. Among these were many Quaker families from the Hudson River Valley in New York. These newcomers are credited with reviving the farming community in Fairfax County which suffered from limited crop rotation, other outdated farming practices and a landed population seemingly more interested in fox hunts that farming.

Given the heavy influx of Northerners, and the generally high regard in which they were held by local residents, the public referendum on secession from the Union would have appeared to have been tightly contested affair. However, when the voting was held on May 23, 1861, the final count favoring secession was an overwhelming 942 to 289.

The opening of the Civil War found the City of Washington in a precarious position and virtually defenseless. In May, 1861 Northern volunteer regiments from New York State and other Union stats occupied the nearby hills in Virginia. Earthworks were constructed and heavy artillery gun emplacements were built to not only the city's periphery, but also the southern and western approaches to the city, which were in Virginia. These early outposts were designed to hold and repel the onslaught of the Confederate army. It was feared they would try to capture the Capital as a prize that would greatly enhance their prestige and perhaps lead to the Confederacy's recognition abroad. In this way, much-needed help from foreign countries might be obtained.

In all there were about 50 of these forts and batteries around the city. The one that was closest to Sleepy Hollow was situated where Seven Corners is now located. It was called Fort Buffalo because it was manned by a regiment of soldiers from Buffalo, New York. These forts had picket trails and stations out in front of the ramparts for a considerable distance from the fort. These were established so that a surprise sneak attack to overrun the fort could not be made on the men inside the fort.

Evidence has been found that guard trails and picket stations existed in Sleepy Hollow, where men on duty were supplied with food and drink from the fort. A beer bottle, stirrup, bean pot, sword and other artifacts have been found in the yards of Sleepy Hollow homes. While there is no record of a pitched battle taking place here, both the Union and Confederate advancing and retreating lines have passed through, and over what is now Sleepy Hollow, according to the memoirs of Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early.

In the fall of 1861, the largest assembly of troops yet seen in North America was bivouacked not far from Sleepy Hollow under the command of General George McClellan. On November 20, 1861, President Lincoln and his Cabinet reviewed more than 100,000 troops on parade at Munson Hill near Bailey's Crossroads. The troops camped on nearly 200 acres and foraged throughout the region for food and supplies. Reports at the time indicated whole hillsides of timber were felled at a single cutting to supply these troops with lumber. Sleepy Hollow could scarcely have avoided the Union woodsmen.

It was following a similar review of Union troops that Julia Ward Howe penned the Battle Hymn of the Republic while visiting the Clayman Mansion at Fort Buffalo. The "thousands" referred to in the second stanza of the Hymn referred to the campfires of the Union troops camped throughout the Seven Corners area.

A map of 1878 on file in the Library of Congress shows a boundary around Falls Church that encloses the inhabited part of town. This boundary line now has disappeared and is not part of the present boundary of the corporate limits of the City of Falls Church. The map shows Annandale Road, South Street, Tripps Run and Indian Run. Evidently at that time, South Street was so called because it extended along the south side of the town at the limit of habitation. Of course there was no Arlington Boulevard then and the eastern end of what was South Street is now Roosevelt Street. South Street now extends along part of the north side of Sleepy Hollow with Arlington Boulevard (and Aspen Lane) along the rest of the north side. The present Sleepy Hollow Subdivision covers about a square mile in area and is also bounded on the east by Sleepy Hollow Road, and on the south and West by Tripps Run.

Little of historic importance is known to have taken place in the Sleepy Hollow are from the end of the Civil War to World War I, and for a period of about 10 years after. Maps of this era from as early as 1882 show both cleared farm land and forested areas in the region.

During the later part of the period, however, the City of Washington began to run electric trolly lines out into the suburbs ar Arlington, Vienna, Falls Church, and Fairfax. Falls Church was considered to be the country. City people and government workers could come "away out here" to spend their summer vacations and annual leave. There is evidence of romantic buggy trails that ran through the farms and woods of Sleepy Hollow, not necessarily following the roads we have here now.

In the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt began to greatly expand the functions of the Federal Government to respond to the economic conditions associated with the Great Depression. Roosevelt's Secretary of Agriculture, Claude R. Wickard appointed James T. Jardine as Director of Research, and Milton S. Eisenhower as Director of Information and Land use coordinator. Milton's brother Dwight D. Eisenhower—who lived for a time on Hillwood Avenue in Falls Church—later became the Supreme Commander of all the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II and subsequently the President of the United States.

Jardine and Milton Eisenhower were good friends and worked closely together. Jardine saw the great possibility of real estate development around the suburbs of Washington. In 1936 Milton Eisenhower was in charge of Public Roads and was probably very instrumental in having Lee Boulevard (later Arlington Boulevard), US Route 50, extended from the Henry Gate at Fort Myer to Seven Corners, and in 1938 from Sever Corners to Fairfax Circle. In this way the real estate development of Sleepy Hollow was greatly enhanced once good access to the property was provided.

Lee Boulevard was a public works project. It was originally planned as a memorial boulevard with no business enterprises along either side. A memorial tree was to be planted in the median strip for each soldier who was killed during World War I from Arlington or Fairfax Counties. Unfortunately, this idea never materialized and Arlington Boulevard developed as a utilitarian access way.

In 1938 National Savings and Trust purchased and assembled land from four farms or tracts and they are as follows:

  1. the Lichaw Tract
  2. the Kearns Tract
  3. the Rixey Tract
  4. the Eppard Tract

Jardine and Eisenhower obtained an option on some of this land, and invited the family of Mrs. Milton Eisenhower, the former Ruth Eakin to manage it. her father, Le Roy Eakin, and his sons John, Glenn and Roy, had been in the real estate business in Kansas. On coming to Washington, they established the firm of Eakin Properties, Inc.

On June 20, 1938, Eakin Properties, Inc. purchased from the National Savings and Trust Company the land area comprising most of the present-day Sleepy Hollow subdivision.

When Eakin properties acquired this land, it was raw farm land. Herds of cattle could be seen, their cow bells tinkling, the roosters could be heard crowing from across Tripps Run. A surveyor employed by Eakin Properties named Joseph Berry divided the entire area into what were called Roads, Lanes, Drives, Places, a Terrace and a Court. Originally an alphabetical system was suggested with Aspen Lane, Beechwood Lane, Cedarwood Lane and Dogwood Lane. An objection was raised to the name of Dogwood because it might have been misunderstood by newcomers to the area. That street was renamed Sylvan Drive. The alphabetical system was then abandoned. The streets as they are now named have been in existence for many years.

It was thought at first that the Sleepy Hollow Subdivision could be divided up into large lots that ranged in size from ½ to 2 acres. The Eakins' leased a suite of rooms in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington to introduce this property to a select clientele interested in building expensive homes on these large lots. However, due to the Depression, sales were slow. A further drawback lay in the fact that there were no utilities in the Hollow—neither water nor fire hydrants, no sewage, no house to house mail service, and in some cases, no electric or phone service.

One of President Roosevelt's new Depression-era alphabet agencies, the HOLC (Home Owner's Loan Corporation), was established to assist with new home purchases. If an individual owned a lot free and clear, HOLC would guarantee a bank loan to build a house on it for not less than $5,000. The value of the lot was considered as the down payment to secure the loan on the contract.

When this occurred in 1939 and 1940, Eakin Properties began to sell lots in Sleepy Hollow. People had their own well drilled and dug. Septic tanks and aeration fields were installed. Electric lines were extended, and out of the 300 newly subdivided lots there were about 35 or 40 new homes built before World War II started on December 7, 1941. Many of the lots were not sold until after the war, because it was not possible to obtain labor or buy building materials since war-time purchases were restricted.

In the early days of World War II, everyone was very busy. They observed a six-day workweek, working overtime and often on Sundays. No holidays were celebrated except for Christmas. The war effort was of primary concern. Nevertheless, Sleepy Hollow Residents got together weekday evenings, and on Sunday gathered at Church in the mornings and meetings in the afternoon. There was no television, of course, although some went to the movies about once a week. Everybody within the square mile that is Sleepy Hollow seemed to know one another. Due to the scarcity of tools, mutual home maintenance problems were shared and solved in basement workshops. Small groups began to form such as the PTA, Civil Defense, Volunteer Fire Department, Red Cross Auxiliary, Victory Garden Clubs, and Square Dance Clubs (they danced in the rustic basement recreation rooms). All of the meetings were held in Sleepy Hollow homes.

In those days the Isaac Walton League was active in the Hollow, due to the considerable about of woodland and vacant property here. A surprising amount of wildlife lived in the area. It was not uncommon to see foxes, raccoons, ground hogs, opossum, rabbits, skunks, squirrels, flying squirrels and muskrats. Abundant bird life included such larger species as owls, hawks, buzzards, and quail. The song birds were so numerous that, early in the morning, all of the singing and chirping was so loud that a person would have to close the windows in order to finish a night's sleep. Among the reptiles were land tortoises, toads and frogs. Six different kinds of snakes were found and at least two kinds lf little lizards. The League did its best to protect this wildlife, but due to urbanization of the Hollow, most of this wildlife has disappeared.

The Evolution of the Citizens' Association

The Fairfax county government at that time was very slow, primitive, and poorly organized. Counting themselves among all of the new people coming into the county, Sleepy Hollow residents saw that some form of local organization was needed to help prod these government officials along.

Late in 1941, Joe Hatfield, a "Gung Ho" Norfolk and Western Railroad attorney who had built and lived in the stone house that is on the corner of Holmes Run Road and Beechwood Lane (acknowledged as the first non-farm residence in the hollow), set out to establish a local citizens' association. He called for a meeting on a Sunday afternoon in the basement of his home to ask for nominations for the slate of officers for this citizens' association, and to determine a name for this organization. He said it was urgently needed to monitor the procedures of the County government, and also to help coordinate the time schedules and activities of the many organizations that were forming in Sleepy Hollow.

A surprising number of Sleepy Hollow men attended, including quite a few in the uniforms of the services because of the war—both officers and enlisted men of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. They were all on call, of course, and some had to leave in the middle of the meeting responding to orders.

Nominations came in by phone during the week, and the following week a meeting and election were held in Ted Austin's basement at 3107 Beechwood Lane. Elwood Slagle was elected as the first President from a slate of nominated candidates.

An interesting element of life in Sleepy Hollow in the early 1940s was the presence of a Mormon community, made up of six to eight families at that time. Everybody liked them because of their enthusiasm. They planned to build a church on Holmes Run Road. Some of them were nominated for Association offices. Regrettably, they changed their minds, and it wasn't long before they all sold their homes and moved away.

Early in 1942, Civil Defense was the most urgent problem before the Citizens' Association. Elwood Slagle established a district headquarters in the basement of his home at 3017 Sylvan Drive. It included a radio communication station that tied in with and observation post and Zone Headquarters under the direction of Retired Marine Corps General Lane at Seven Corners. This Zone Headquarters was in communication with the tall steel observation tower at Tyson Corner. A variety of emergency first aid equipment and medicines such as bandages, splints, stretchers, crutches, gas masks, disinfectants, salves, etc. were stored in Slagle's basement. A number of first aid lessons were given in his living room and on his front lawn by red cross nurses.

Citizens were appointed as Civil Defense Patrolmen. They were issued steel helmets, gas masks, whistles, protable water and chemical fire extinguishers and granted authority to request that occupants of homes pull down and seal their shades during blackouts and air raid drills when the sirens of Seven Corners would sound at all hours of the night. All of this sounds kind of funny now, but in the early days of the War there was a real possibility of German Luftwaffe making an aerial bombing run on Washington. German Naval submarines were sinking our ships right off the Maryland and Delaware coasts.

A Red Cross group made up of ladies in the neighborhood met and were busy rolling bandages, knitting socks, sweaters and pullover knit helmets for the armed forces. They were also repairing and sewing of used clothing for war refugees.

The victory garden club members raised and exchanged through the Citizens' Association a surprising amount of fresh vegetables, seeds, and "know how," to help supplement the scarcity of vegetable in the supermarkets (the nearest supermarket at that time was in Arlington). The 10 acres around Crane Drive at that time were cleared, and the owner of that property gave the people of the Hollow permission to plow up the ground so that victory gardens could be assigned. This nice sunny place produced some excellent crops.

Due to the wartime rationing of gasoline, car pools were mandatory. The Association helped in this endeavor to get people to work, shopping, etc.

As the number of residents grew with the War's end, many zoning problems needed to be resolved. The Association's Zoning Committee was busy because building plans did not always conform with the covenants that went along with the property here in the Hollow. Nevertheless, most of the problems seem to have been worked out satisfactorily.

As the population grew, it was suggested that the Association publish its own telephone directory for the convenience of this unique group of neighbors. In 1952, the President of the Association called for a draftsman in the Hollow to design an accurate map of the lots, to be used as a cover for this phone book. This was accomplished and this same phone book cover has been in use for over 40 years. Regular updates have been needed over the years due to changing house number systems, street names and the constant coming and going of the members. Keeping the contents of this little book complete and accurate has presented an ongoing challenge to the volunteer staff who have maintained it. The staff members who are responsible deserve the Association's special thanks.

After the War, the Sleepy Hollow Citizens' Association found that a monthly newsletter was really imperative to get the word around regarding the dates and times of meetings, and information and activities of interest to members. A contest was organized among the budding artists of the community to design a masthead for this flyer. Several renderings were offered and Kathleen Bruskin's design was selected. She has been gone from the Hollow for many years. This headless horseman masthead has been in use ever since. At first the Association could not afford the cost of postage for delivery of The Legend, as it was named by a committee. It was delivered by volunteers, sometimes in deep snow and bad weather, in order to get it out in time. The faithful editors and staff of this little periodical deserve credit for The Legend's great contribution in helping to retain the continuity of our Association.

The Crane Drive tract of about 10 acres was not part of the original Sleepy Hollow subdivision. It was purchased by a developer from a single owner and settled with construction of homes in the early 1950s. After the home owners moved in, they were invited to join the Sleepy Hollow Citizens' Association and they graciously accepted.

During this same time period, the Eppard street development was officially added to the Association. This block contains the oldest farm dwelling in the Hollow. The old Eppard farm house is located at 6452 Eppard Street. The Valley Court development entered the Association by the early 1960s.

The Association wrestled for a time with the absence of street lights. Some people felt they were needed while others were opposed because they thought the rural character of the community would better be preserved without them. Finally, in the 1960s, the County solved the problem by installing street lights throughout Sleepy Hollow in one afternoon "in the interest of safety."

In about 1961 the Parent and Teachers Committee of the Association was quite concerned about the arbitrary division of the area school boundaries. The children of the Hollow were being sent to different schools in different districts. The majority of the people considered it most desirable to have all of the children of Sleepy Hollow attend the same schools. The members of our school committee succeeded in reversing the school boundaries toward that end.

In the early 1960s quite a controversy surrounded the widening and curbing of Sleepy Hollow Road. As it existed, it was just a narrow two lane country road with deep, dangerous ditches on both sides. The flimsy wooden bridge at Tripps Run and Holmes Run were often washed out during bad storms. Many members of the Association did not want the thoroughfare improved because they thought they would lose part of their front lawn and they said they appreciated the "rural character" of the road. A traffic count by the State Department of Highways and Transportation showed that 5,000 cars a day were using the road. The state solved the problem for us by proceeding with the project from a safety and usage standpoint. New, safe concrete bridges were constructed at the streams.

The Citizens' Association was very instrumental in having public sewer and water systems installed throughout the Hollow. This eliminated the need for the original wells and septic tanks that were installed of necessity many years previously.

The Association's Public Improvements Committee has always been an active committee. It was in the forefront when it came to getting and maintaining good roads throughout the Hollow. Previous to this action the roads would often break up doe to frost, and pot holes frequently developed due to heavy usage. Thanks to their efforts, today, the roads in front of our homes are very stable.

The public Improvements Committee was the first to install and maintain street name signs, until after many years the county took over the job. In about 1956 this committee expressed the wishes of the Association in changing some of the street names to what they are today.

In the 1970's, here in the Hollow, as in so many neighboring communities, there arose an inordinately large number of safety and security concerns. In organizing to combat these, the Association's activism led to our first Neighborhood Watch Patrol in 1981. This has been a joint venture by both the Association and the Fairfax County Police Department. It achieved immediate and measurable results in its first six months of operation, earning the loyalty of Sleepy Hollow residents that continues today.

We close this history by recognizing the community tradition of social events—our annual spring socials, picnics and Halloween costume parades, and more—which have served over the years to keep the community united. Throughout the Associations existence we have always interjected barbecue roasts, Christmas parties, dinner dances, etc. to get together for good neighborly conversation and fellowship. A special thanks to all who have contributed through their hard work and hospitality to the neighborliness we all enjoy.

Appendix—World War II Era Homes of Sleepy Hollow: Sleepy Hollow Citizens' Association Charter Members

Family Address
Bild 6455 Arlington Blvd
Oakley 3024 Beechwood Lane
Vail 3030 Beechwood Lane
Hodgson 3035 Beechwood Lane
Radsikowski 3036 Beechwood Lane
Austin 3107 Beechwood Lane
Hatfield 3126 Beechwood Lane
Miller 3011 Cedarwood Lane
Leigh 3012 Cedarwood Lane
Wright 3037 Cedarwood Lane
Dennin 3048 Cedarwood Lane
Hart 3051 Cedarwood Lane
Mitchell 3052 Cedarwood Lane
Davenport 3056 Cedarwood Lane
Rowe 3059 Cedarwood Lane
Iverson 3060 Cedarwood Lane
Bailey 3067 Cedarwood Lane
Good 6452 Eppard Street
Wheeler 3056 Holmes Run Road
Moore 3067 Holmes Run Road
Hughes 3073 Holmes Run Road
Fosberg 3107 Holmes Run Road
Musgrave 3101 Holmes Run Road
Lyle 3123 Holmes Run Road
Vinson 3128 Holmes Run Road
Legg 3144 Holmes Run Road
Massey 3160 Holmes Run Road
Jones 3164 Holmes Run Road
Graham 3165 Holmes Run Road
Bruskin 3420 Ichabod Place
Price 3425 Ichabod Place
Sheppard 3024 Knoll Drive
Buckley 3032 Knoll Drive
Martin 3101 Knoll Drive
Ray 3107 Knoll Drive
Carabella 3116 Knoll Drive
Lundquist 3124 Knoll Drive
Linville 3106 Sleepy Hollow Road
Jones 3134 Sleepy Hollow Road
Vonk 6444 Sleepy Ridge Road
Holman 6428 Spring Terrace
Haijsman 6447 Spring Terrace
Cosby 6448 Spring Terrace
Smith 6505 Spring Terrace
Slagle 3017 Sylvan Drive
Bushman 3026 Sylvan Drive
Johnson 3025 Sylvan Drive
Lackey 6506 Twin Oak Place

Contributors: Bruce Spitz, Editor; Jeanine Manley, Associate Editor; Bill Dennin, Historian Emeritus; Christopher Martin; William Manley; Margaret Quadrino; and George Quadrino.