Costello & Carter: Families Living in Snickersville Academy--1930s & 1940s
By Susan Freis Falknor
February 7, 2015
Two families made their home in the Snickersville Academy in the 1930s and early 1940s, before Susie Neal came in in the mid-1940s: These were the Costellos (pronounced COST-el-los) and Mrs. Bessie Carter.
Long-time Bluemonter Martin Mitchell remembers these families from his childhood.
Bud and Molly Costelllos lived in the Snickersville Academy, Bluemont’s first school and church, in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The Academy building had been converted to rental housing, its interior divided up into rooms and a second floor built, at the turn of the century. This photo from the 1930s shows how the Academy sat in largely cleared land, with Snickers Gapand the Blue Ridge in the background.
Mrs. Carter made the log house her home during 1941 or 1942.
In the mid-1940s, Susie Neal moved in and remained there until her death in 1973.
Bud and Molly Costello
Bud and Molly Costello lived in the Snickersville Academy in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
They were living there when Martin came to Bluemont as a young child in 1935.
Details on the Costello Family:
- Bud and Molly Costello lived in the Snickersville Academy from the mid-1930s to the early 1940s.
- Bud and Molly Costello had a son and a daughter, Hubert and Estelle.
- Hubert Costello married Edith Dodge and had a daughter, Judy.
- Judy Costello married Jim Dawson.
The Costellos were an older couple. They had a grown daughter, Estelle, and a son, Hubert.
Hubert Costello married Edith Dodge “from over the mountain.” They made their home in Bluemont “for a while,” says Martin, staying in a carriage house on the east side of Clayton Hall Road, near where it now joins Route 7. The house is gone, but the gateposts remain. Hubert and Edith had a daughter, Judy, who was born while her Costello grandparents still lived at the Academy.
“Years later,” says Martin, a grown-up Judy Costello married Jim Dawson. They later moved to Alexandria, where Jim worked as an operator on the old street car system that served Washington D.C. and its suburbs.
Under what circumstances did the Costellos leave the Academy? Martin does not remember if they died, or if they went to join family. He does recall that the Academy sat empty for a while.
Mrs. Carter moved in during 1941 or 1942.
She originally came from Antioch, in Prince William County, and is buried near Manassas.
She and her husband had been living in the old railroad station, before owner Earl Iden divided it up. Her husband moved out, however, and she moved into the Old Schoolhouse.
Left: Martin Mitchell in January 2013. See interview with Martin Mitchell.
After Mrs. Carter moved out of the railroad station, the owner, Earl Iden, cut it up into what became three little houses. Two sat at the east edge of the property, just at the northwest border of the yard of the white Queen Anne’s home that is now owned by Patti and Skip Pettit. These little houses eventually burned and disappeared.
The third little house sits on Railroad Street, opposite the E.E. Lake Store, next to the Old Post Office, which in 2014 was renovated and became the showroom for Independent Solar Solutions, a solar panel and installation company.
Martin did odd jobs for Mrs. Iden. “Helped him out a whole lot.”
Says Martin about Iden: “He did try to put some sort of roof over some people’s heads, give ‘em a home.” However, Iden was known for his quick and dirty approach to construction projects. However, comments Martin, “sometimes it seems that Mr. Iden didn’t have the common sense to do it right the first time.”
At this time, Susie Neal was living in a house on the Old Mountain Road. The road way is now overgrown, and trees have fallen across it. In the 1940s, however, it ran it by the Old Schoolhouse and up the hill to the Black community that was established there after the Civil War.
Susie Neal rented the Snickersville Academy from landowner C.C. Else in the mid-1940s. Martin recalls that, when she moved in, she soon discovered that the chimney would not work. Mr. Else hired George Dawson to fix the problem and “get her some heat.”
Martin recalls that Dawson squared off the fireplace, so “she could set a stove back in it and have a fire.”
It is possible, however, that the original chimney never worked after that time. When Friends of Bluemont began the restoration work on the Snickersville Academy in spring of 2011, we discovered that the logs on the chimney (east) wall were charred and weakened. At some point a fire partially burned the logs next to the chimney. We also found a wood stove in the center of the cabin, vented directly up through the ceiling, adding a second chimney.
Martin does not remember a fire at the Old Schoolhouse. Nor is he certain when the heat stove appeared in the middle of the cabin.
Regardless of the limitations of a tiny log cabin, Susie Neal was able to make a home—not only for herself—but for different children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren over the years. These were whole generations of Spinners, Gibsons, and Colberts. These children of the 1950s and 1960 support the restoration effort and still come back, bringing their children, to visit the Snickersville Academy. See story: Ronn Spinner remembers a childhood Christmas with Susie Neal.
Friends of Bluemont's restoration effort commemorates three women whose names will always be associated with the Snickersville Academy: Susie Neal, Catalina Hatcher (who loved the place and whose children donated the place to Friends of Bluemont), and Bluemonter, former Loudoun County school teacher Evelyn Johnson (who started Friends of Bluemont and tirelessly advocated for restoring the historic Academy).