Jerry Reid, an employee of the Abbey working on the maintenance team, directed me to some interesting facts about the Cool Spring Property. His researches involves the MacDonald family, three brothers descended from Colonel Angus W. McDonald and Leacy Anne Naylor of what was then Romney, Virginia (now West Virginia). Once we start discussing parentage, you know we’re in Virginia and at the heart of Virginia lore.
The three brothers under discussion are Angus William McDonald IV (1829-1914), Edward Allen Hitchcock McDonald (1832-1912) and William Naylor McDonald (1834-1898). All three were born in Romney and their lives would span those crucial years of King Cotton, the Abolitionist Movement, the rise of States’ Rights, the Secession and formation of the Confederacy, the War Between the States, Emancipation, Reconstruction, Industrialization and even World War I. The society they were born into morphed into something that would have been unrecognizable to their parents.
All three brothers served in the Confederate army and, after Appomattox, all three rented the Cool Spring property, one of the largest farms in Clarke County. The middle brother, Edward, managed the Farm and Angus, a lawyer with a practice in Berryville, founded the Cool Spring School, assisted by his youngest brother, Will. Many former Confederate soldiers were their pupils; the name of one of them, Newton D. Baker would eventually grace the Veterans Hospital in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Newton D. Baker was Secretary of war under President Wilson.
The youngest brother, Will, would become principal of The Male High School in Louisville, Kentucky, but would return to the Valley to establish Shenandoah University School. How fitting that Shenandoah University, now also on the property just across the River from Cool Spring, has brought Will full circle! Will was also the author of A History of the Laurel Brigade, well known to aficionados of the War Between the States.