Charles and George Schooley House

This house, of Federal design, occupies two of the 17 lots on the Big Hill that were sold in 1803 by Mahlon Janney, son of Waterford’s founder, to Thomas Hirst. Hirst sold the lots a year later to Quaker James Russell. By 1810 Russell advertised: “I will sell or rent, separately or together, two brick houses and lots situated on Federal Hill in Waterford .  . . .”

Russell sold the downhill portion to Mary Fox (b. c. 1793) and the uphill portion to Aaron Schooley (1795-1836), in 1815. A “birthright” Quaker, Aaron married “out of unity” that same year, was removed from the Meeting, and later joined the Methodist Church. In 1818, Fox bought Schooley’s portion. After her death, the house passed through various owners until 1869. 

One of Aaron’s sons, Charles William (1818-1891), and Charles’s son George (1842-1905) would eventually own one or both portions of the home from 1869 until 1905 until their respective deaths.  Elizabeth Kepler, known affectionately to the family as “Little
Grandma” married George on April 22, 1869, a month after he had purchased his portion of the home. After George’s death, the widow sold the house in 1906 and returned to Ohio, which she had left at age 18, and lived until 1951, dying, with all her considerable wits about her, at age 104.  

The members of the large Schooley family—both Quaker and Methodist branches—were active in the 19th century village.  Charles served on the town council in 1842; he and his son George voted against secession in 1861. George was mayor when the town re-incorporated after Reconstruction in 1875. Both men were blacksmiths and wheelwrights. 

Widow Frances A. Whitmore Mullen (1834-1910) became the next owner in 1906, living with her daughter Nannie and husband Jacob Elbert Divine. Her grandson, John Elbert Divine (1911-1996), was born here. He generously shared his knowledge of five generations of Waterford history and became nationally recognized as a Civil War expert of Loudoun County and beyond. In his later years, Mr. Divine collaborated on several books for the Waterford Foundation.

In 1945 in a state of some deterioration, Schooley House was purchased for $1900. The home was then restored by its owners, Mr. and Mrs. George Bentley, who, in 1972, gave an open space easement to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

This house is open through the generosity of current owners Paul and Jo Rastas.