Other communities have sprung up in the past 20 years; Gum Springs has been here for over 200 years or more It was called Muddy Hole Farms. It was part of the George Washington Plantation that was given to West Ford after George Washington's death. His (Ford's) descendents are still around. His great-great grandson lives on Fordson Road here - Mr. Saunders. I was born and raised here. I remember when Fordson Road was Route 1. The bus used to come down old King's Highway on down to what is Fordson Road.
Mr. Moon (Saunders B. Moon) was the first principal of our school here. We used to have a two-room classroom school on the upper part of Fordson Road and in 1950 Drew Smith was built. Mr. Moon was the principal of Drew Smith. He was also working to get the community action program at the time of his death, so that's why it was named in his honor, Saunders B. Moon Community Action Center.
The elementary school went up to the 7th grade. We were bused to Manassas after completing the seventh grade in the two-room classroom. I happened to have kin people in Washington so I was sent there to live and to go to school rather than to be bused to Manassas. But the majority of the community kids were bused to Manassas till the late fifties when Luther Jackson was built. It was a black high school in Falls Church.
You can imagine what it was when we went to Manassas. You left at dark and got back at dark. We had the worst bus in the County system. I remember my cousins telling me they had to take a bucket on the bus and build a fire because the bus didn't have any heat.
It was in the 60s when integration came about in Fairfax County, and that meant all black schools were closed. You were still broken down into little groups and bused to five or six other elementary schools and two or three high schools. Drew Smith school was closed because of integration.
In this community we have accomplished getting our streets paved, getting sidewalks, getting drainage, getting small things like street signs up. We were able to get the County to dedicate some land and make a park which is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s park. We also got them to put in a swimming pool. They wanted to give us nature trails, and we figured we had had nature trails all our lives. We had had nothing but woods and mud. So then we went and fought for the swimming pool. We are now working to get the park improved, get tennis courts put in.
We have been able to work with some landowners to build 28 single family homes. We've worked with other people helping them seek financing. Banks would not lend to other blacks in this community a few years ago.
The people in Gum Springs are seeing they have just as much a voice in Fairfax County as anyone else.
The most exciting thing was getting our community action program, and the second thing was getting a light out there at Sherwood Hall Lane and Route 1. So many people have been killed crossing Route 1.
They were putting red lights up everywhere but down there in the midst of Gum Springs where Sherwood Hall Lane and U. S. 1 meet. Usually the bus stopped at the open-air theater. Kids had to come across the street, adults had to and quite a few people got killed. What we did was protest. We wanted a red light put up there, so we hooked up a school bus one day and stopped traffic on both sides of Route 1. When we stopped the traffic, we rolled out two caskets, and all the people went out into the street. Due to that we were able to get a red light put there.
All of Sherwood Hall Lane was only two farmhouses when I was a little girl. The majority of the people worked at Ft. Belvoir and then Alexandria and D.C. Labor work and domestic work were the prime jobs. It was the system. You dug ditches, did the dirty work, labor and domestic work. I remember, I was a very young girl in the 40's during World War II-the soldiers that were stationed at Ft. Belvoir and had their families with them could not find living quarters anywhere in Fairfax County, and my grandfather, who owned quite a bit of property, just threw up cabins. You wonder why they became shacks now but that was the only way that the black soldiers' families could be near them. They didn't even live with white soldiers. You had separate barracks then. You had the all black building and you had the all white building. The army didn't start integrating till 1950 and Ft. Belvoir was an example of the system.
It was called Woodlawn, and that's where the Hollands originated. You go down there to Ft. Belvoir right now. You'll see the Woodlawn cemetery. All our ancestors, people who died that are Hollands and belonged to the Methodist Church, are buried there at Woodlawn. The Hollands owned quite a bit of land down there. Most of them were farmers.
I remember my husband's great grandfather had the meat wagon. He roped hogs and things. He'd cut it up and go from community to community sellin' the meat. Most of them worked a farm. Uncle Gabriel worked on a farm for years until he retired and he said when he started out his wages were $4.00 a week for 60 hours of work. You wonder how he kept his property, fed his family and everything on that. Uncle Gabriel would enjoy remembering but he's rather old now. Sometimes he just rambles and everything, but he could tell you stories about his parents.
Slaves were not permitted to marry and his parents were slaves. The slaves would go through a marriage ceremony of stepping over a broomstick. That was the only way they could say that they were married. So they had a ceremony and a broom which the groom and the bride would step over, and they were married. They didn't have a minister or anything.