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Crime History: Leesburg teen lynched for frightening white girl

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

On this day, Nov. 8, in 1889, Orion "Owen" Anderson was lynched in Leesburg for donning a sack on his head and frightening a white girl as she walked to school.

Anderson, 18, who was black, was accused of attempted assault upon the 15-year-old daughter of a Loudoun County community leader.

In the middle of the night, an angry mob took Anderson from the jail and hanged the teen from a tower. Anderson became Northern Virginia's first recorded lynching victim.

Nearly 3,500 blacks Americans were lynched in the U.S., mostly between 1882 and 1920.

The verb "lynch" is said to derive from the name of Charles Lynch, a Virginia farmer and soldier in the Revolutionary War. Lynch became a justice of the peace known for hanging suspected British Loyalists in southwestern Virginia.

Lynch, himself, was never accused of being racist and acquitted blacks accused of murder at least three times as judge.

- Scott McCabe

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