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Mobil Museum Stops in Franconia School

At the Laurel Grove school display, Phyllis Walker-Ford looked at the black-and-white pictures, framed and preserved for the Franconia Museum.

"This gentleman was the first janitor here at Franconia School, he was my grandfather," she said to Edward Young, pastor at the Laurel Grove Baptist Church on Beulah Street.

According to Young, life around Franconia was different for people then.

"They used to raise the biggest vegetable gardens right here," Young added.

The Laurel Grove display was just one part of Franconia History Day, held in Franconia Elementary School, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Christine Tollefson, an administrative assistant in Supervisor Dana Kauffman's (D-Lee) office, is a driving force for the mobile museum.

"The new generation can really learn from the old generation. It's community-building," she said.

Supervisor Kauffman looked at Saturday's museum display as a community event with two purposes.

"It's informative, and it gives people the chance to reminisce. A lot of longtime residents wanted to find a way to preserve the history," he said, crediting Tollefson for her efforts with the museum.

Katherine Hanley, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, was on hand as well. She looks at the individual communities around Fairfax as each having a history, making up the whole county as a historical reflection of the country.

"This is a real community-based interest in history. A lot's been going on here. The history of Fairfax County is really the history of the country. The progress of the country is reflected," she said.

Hanley's previous experience teaching history was influential.

"As an old history teacher, I think this is the best kind [of learning]," she said.

Civil War re-enactor Mark Stilwell paraded around the halls in his Confederate soldier outfit. It wasn't a typical gray uniform with the squashed pillbox hat.

"This is late war, when the Confederates couldn't get any wool," he told onlookers.

Stilwell was from Washington, D.C., and has been at re-enactments all over the East Coast.

"There were more battles in Virginia than any other state. Most of the war was fought in Northern Virginia," he said.

Stilwell manned the Civil War artifacts table with fellow re-enactor George "Tex" Wells. The artifacts included musket balls, horseshoes and a rusted sword, though neither Stilwell nor Wells could say if any came from right around Franconia. With all the road construction and digging that has occurred lately, some could be discovered.

"How much has been lost? A lot of times people wouldn't know what they [unearthed artifacts] were," Wells said.

TOLLEFSON was trying to save Franconia from being overlooked as a result of urbanization.

"We're trying to keep Franconia on the map," she said.

Activities on Saturday, Oct. 19, included a bus tour of Franconia historic sights, community show-and-tell, Franconia Elementary reunion photo, Colonial games and a book signing with local author Don Hakenson, author of "This Forgotten Land," about local Civil War history. Musicians played throughout the day. There were about 150 people through the school by the end of the day, according to Tollefson.

Island Creek resident Octavia Young, 10, was with "Heavenly Sunshine," singers from Laurel Grove Baptist Church.

"It's nice for children to learn. If you don't know where you came from, you basically don't know about yourself," she said.