Toms Brook Virginia

Tour curated by: Shenandoah County Library

The history of Toms Brook Virginia dates to the 18th century when the Crabill family bought a large plot of land from Lord Fairfax. This property contains what is now Toms Brook and the surrounding area.

This family would establish a stage coach tavern near Toms Brook, the creek. The origins of this name are unknown. Soon a community developed around it to provide services to travelers using the tavern. They eventually named the area after the waterway.

When the Valley Turnpike opened in the 1830s, a toll house was placed in Toms Brook. This increased the permanence of the community and visitation at the tavern.

In 1852 county resident Harrison Miller located his blacksmith shop in the town. At the time only four buildings existed there, including the tavern, a flour mill, and two houses. This blacksmith shop, the flour mill, and a later sawmill would be economic engines that drove the growth of the community.

The railroad arrived in Toms Brook in 1858. David Crabill built a depot that same year. The presence of this depot made Toms Brook a commercial center for farmers bringing their crops to market. Stores began to develop in the town to meet the needs of these individuals.

The Civil War had a major impact on Toms Brook. Over 100 local men volunteered and formed their own Company in the 33rd Virginia Regiment. Many of them never returned. The Battle of Toms Brook was fought in the town and surrounding areas in 1864. It was a major cavalry battle that pitted General Armstrong Custer against General Thomas Rosser. Ultimately the Federal forces were victorious which allowed the scorched earth campaign conducted by General Phillip Sheridan to continue.

After the war heavy industry arrived in the area. Between 1880 and 1900 a creamery, stave factory, and lime quarry opened in Toms Brook. While agriculture, especially the produce business continued to be a major economic force, these industries, especially the lime business was the town’s preeminent commercial establishment. Until it closed in the 1960s the lime quarry, later operated by the Toms Brook Lime and Stone Company, defined the community.

With economic growth came new social, spiritual, and civic organizations. A Lutheran Church was first constructed in 1842. Now called St. Peter’s, it would grow until the current building was dedicated in 1905. In 1879 a Methodist congregation was formed and a church built on the grounds of what is now the Toms Brook School. The current United Methodist Church would be built in 1955.

A chapter of the Junior Order United American Mechanics also existed in Toms Brook. Most members were associated with the quarry. It supplied members with social activities and insurance. It closed sometime in the early 20th century.

Today Toms Brook is a small, residential community. The closing of the quarry led to the end of most commercial institutions and the loss of many residents. Today the population is 258 making it the smallest town in Virginia.

Locations for Tour

In 1920 Toms Brook residents gathered together to form the Bank of Toms Brook. Initially the institution had over $165,000 worth of loans, deposits, and securities. The state of Virginia notes that in 1922, S.B. Miley was the President and J.L.…

As early as 1874 a school existed on this property in Toms Brook. That year county resident Levi Pitman noted his brother began teaching there. Five years later the school superintendent, John Grabil, recorded that the student population at Toms…

In 1853 the Junior Order of American Mechanics, or J.O.U.A.M., was founded. Its parent organization, the Order of American Mechanics was a political and social order that advocated for nativist policies and provided financial support for its members.…

The first Lime Kiln was built in Toms Brook by Mr. C.W. Jones, O. Hawkins, and H.W. Scott in 1884. This enterprise eventually fell under the management of Mr. M.L. Bauserman of Toms Brook. This company quarried limestone from one of several…

In the late 1700s, Shenandoah County residents who were members of the Lutheran and Reformed denominations banded together to form Frieden’s Union Church west of Toms Brook. This served the needs of Toms Brook’s residents until the mid-1800s…

According to one of its advertisements, the Blue and Gray Tavern, operated by H.M. Dorsley, operated approximately 1/2 miles north of Toms Brook Virginia. Its signature dish appears to have been Virginia Barbecue. The catch line on their printed…