Schools at Potters Hill.
Based on picture captions left by early local historians like Edith Sprouse we believe there were at least three different school houses at the intersection of Telegraph and Beulah Roads. We have pictures and some dates for the second and third Potter's Hill schools. The original school probably dated back to at least 1870 when public education became mandatory under state law.
(photo caption, top left)The second Potter's Hill School, a typical one room school house used until the 1916 school year. Most of the students in the picture have been identified and included children from the Baggett, Allen, Landstreet, Petitt, Jacobs, Brown, Smith, Schurtz, Dorsey, and Talbert families. The teacher was Lelia Milstead and the dog in front of the students was named "Shea."
(photo caption, center left)Front Entrance of the third and last Potter's Hill School. Local residents from the Potter's Hill area and the village of Accotink dug a basement on the corner across from the one room school and convinced the county to build a modern schoolhouse on the site. The school burned down in 1932.
Marjorie Baggett Tharpe who still lives near Potter's Hill provides the following description of the school. "Inside was a wide hall. The left, front room was
the auditorium, and the right front room was the 3rd and 4th grades taught by Mrs. Schurtz/Schartz. The left back room was the 5th, 6th, and 7th grades taught by Miss Nellie Nevitt. The right, back room was the 1st and 2nd grades, taught by Miss Wrenn Biller. There was a large basement where the bathrooms were located."
Potter's Hill An Entrepreneurial Site.
The land at Potter's Hill was used by the Potter, Riston and Gailliot Families over time to support multiple families, provide educational opportunities (schools), and employment opportunities. The land was first used as an agricultural farm, then a chicken farm, a sand and gravel business, a landfill, and more recently recreational pursuits (golf) and commercial/office use. The Gailliot family has been very creative in re-inventing business uses for the land since their arrival around 1920.
The Potter Family.
James Potter and his wife Susanna were born in Fairfax County, Virginia, during the 1780s. The 1850 census shows, they owned a large tract of land along what would become Telegraph Road, not far from its intersection with present day Beulah Street. The land included a large hill that became known as Potter's Hill. James and Susanna lived there with three of their sons: Joseph, George and his wife Francis, and Charles and his wife Elizabeth.
The cemetery is located on Telegraph Road about one half mile east of Beulah Street. Louise Viar Potter, Robert Potter, Gladys Potter Hogan and Clara Dove Potter are pictured on the right standing behind Henry Potter's gravestone in 1983. (photo center bottom)
The Gailliot Family Arrives At Potter's Hill.
Henry and Franceska Gailliot and their sons, Joseph, Charles, and Clem arrived at Potter's Hill around 1920. They began raising chickens and selling eggs to Chestnut Farms Dairy in Washington, D.C. Eventually the family had eight thousand chickens laying four thousand eggs a day. During the Depression the Gailliots switched from selling eggs to raising broiling chickens to sell for food. The chicken operation continued until the early 1950s when a fire killed seven thousand chickens, followed by the flock being decimated by a virus a year later.
(photo caption, top right) Aerial shot of the Gailliot property at Potter's Hill when it was still a chicken farm. This picture shows the two Gailliot houses, the concrete grain elevator, and the sharp turn at the end of Beulah Road where it met Telegraph Road.
(photo caption, bottom right) The Gailliot's original house and later business office. It contained a log building within the structure, most likely one of the Potter's early houses.
The Gravel Business.
The Gailliot's land was laced with gravel deposits so brothers Clem and Albert became partners in the operation. Their company eventually became Hilltop Sand and Gravel and provided Irwin Concrete with gravel, some of which was used in the construction of the first Woodrow Wilson Bridge.