True History of L.H.M.S.: Not the Revisionist Version by the Benedictine Sisters Of Virginia
Local School Rooted in 1700’s Linton family plants the seed
by Suzanne B Curran
Nestled on the banks of Broad Run lies a tract of land where schooling has been a tradition for nearly 300 years. The Linton Hall School, run by the Benedictine Sisters of Bristow, VA, continues to prepare its students for the challenges of life, following a long tradition established by an heir of the founding father, John August Elliot Linton.
The Linton family and Prince William County have been inextricably connected since the early 1760s. The Lintons’ left their mark from present day Dumfries, to Woodbridge, to Bristow.
Sir Walter de Lyton was a follower of King Charles I of England. Sir Walter and other nobles were called “Cavaliers.” When King Charles was defeated, the Cavaliers went into exile in Scotland. Many of these nobles, though safe and comfortable in Scotland, continued to yearn for their homes in England.
A few of the Cavaliers decided to come to America and reproduce the English court life for which they longed. They sailed from Scotland, bringing brick to build their mansions, and furniture with which to furnish those mansions.
Brothers William and Moses Linton, were the great-great-grandsons of Sir Waler de Lynton. They, and the rest of the nobles, sailed up the Potomac to what is near modern Dumfries.
Moses Linton patented land in Prince William County including a large tract on the north side of Broad Run. He had another piece of land on the Morumscre Creek near present day Woodbridge. Here is where Moses built his mansion.
John August Elliot Liniton, Moses’ grandon, married Sara Tyler (daughter of President John Tyler), and they had a son, John Tyler, and a daughter, Elizabeth Elliot. This family purchased an additional 1,000 acres, added them to the 740 acres on Broad Run, and named it “Lintonsford.” Daughter Elizabeth died at the age of 12, and the mansion they built stood at Lintonsford until it was destroyed by fire just before the Civil War.
John Tyler Linton, only son and heir of John Augustine Elliot Linton, earned a degree in law (now an honored document in the Linton Hall Museum) from Dickinsen College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He then married Cecilia Graham. At the age of 26, John Tyler died, just four months before the birth of his daughter, Sarah Elliot, on January 4, 1822.
Mr. Campbell Graham, uncle to Sarah, was appointed her guardian. In that capacity he decided to send her to Visitation Sisters Convent Boarding School in Georgetown. As a result of those years with the sisters, Sara decided to enter the convent. She was received on October 2, 1844, and was given the name Sister Mary Baptista.
Before her death on October 25, 1901, Sister Mary Baptista divided Lintonsford into two parts. One tract was turned over to the Benedictine Fathers and a school for poor boys erected; the Benedictine Sisters were given the remaining 500 acres for a school for poor girls. Thus the schooling tradition was born at Lintonsford.
St. Joseph’s Institute for boys opened in 1894 and St. Anne’s school began accepting girls in the autumn of 1897. St. Edith’s Academy, a boarding school for girls, was formed shortly after that and in 1911 became affiliated with Catholic University of America. St. Edith’s stayed open until 1922. With the closing of St. Edith’s Academy, the decision was made to open Linton Hall Military Academy for boys, ages six to 15. St. Josephs’ Institute was closed and Linton Hall Military Academy became the only school on the grounds.
The Academy trained young men for 67 years, until the end of the 1989 school year. In the autumn of 1989, the present-day kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school opened its doors.
The Linton biological family tree may no longer grow at Linton Hall but their contribution to Prince William County continues. Every year at graduation, new saplings spring from its fertile ground as graduates burst forth with boundless energy and a willingness to face the world. They are filled with tradition, knowledge, and excitement, absorbed from their years at Linton Hall; perhaps the same tradition, knowledge, and excitement that brought Moses Linton to America.
If you believe you have a relative who attended the first institutions of learning at Lintonsford, you may call the archives at the Diocese of Richmond to determine if records still exist. Call 804-359-5661. (Bibliography: The Fruit of His Work by Sister M. Helen Johnston, O.S.B., B.S.)
Sister Helen’s book, “The Fruit of His Work” a history of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia is long out of print. The small hard back book used to be sold at the campus store.