The rural community of Mount Croghan in Chesterfield County dates back to the American Revolution when a French officer, Major Croan, set up camp here on his way from Camden to Virginia in 1780. Legend has it that Major Croan camped on a nearby hill to keep watch. Mount Croghan is a variation on Major Croan’s name.
Looking at the worn remnants of this small farming community, it is hard to imagine economic growth taking root here. Yet by 1809 Mount Croghan was established enough to have a post office, and Elizabeth Baptist Church formed in 1825. The town’s first school, Elizabeth Academy, was built in 1836, and Mount Croghan seemed to be moving forward in both education and community development. However, Mount Croghan was burned by Union troops towards the end of the Civil War in 1865, destroying much of the town and its records. Elizabeth Academy also was lost in the fire.
The community quickly built another school, Mount Croghan Academy; it was not successful and closed in 1900. Despite the school’s closing, the rest of the town finally began to recover from the war, as the Chesterfield and Lancaster Railroad was established nearby and allowed residents to transport their crops and wares. As a result, a new school, pictured above, was built in 1912.
The growing economy in this small community would not last, however. Following the Great Depression, Mount Croghan was once again destitute, yet its people still greatly valued education. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) designated a gymnasium be built for the school, and in 1933 the gym (pictured above), built of local stones, was was completed.
Sadly, Mount Croghan suffered another fire in 1931. Though the school and gymnasium were spared, likely due to their building materials, a significant part of the town was not so fortunate. Many businesses lost in the fire were never rebuilt, and the local economy saw a steep decline. By the 1950s Mount Croghan’s population was decreasing rapidly, as people were moving to more industrialized towns for jobs. Today the population numbers just over 100 people, but the local museum keeps Mount Croghan’s history alive.
More Pictures of Mt. Croghan Academy
Lisa Threadgill says
Having lived in Chesterfield County for 55 years, I never knew the history of Mt. Croghan. I’m really interested in the railroad that ran between the Mt. Croghan and Chesterfield. I have really enjoyed this article.
Vernease Lowery Pyles says
I attended a school in Mount Croghan, SC, in 1940 called Taylor’s Chapel. It was for black students. Where are the records for that time?
My mom researched the town for seven years (lived there for 60 years) and published a large book with lots of pictures of Mt. Croghan and the surrounding areas.
SC Picture Project says
Wow, that sounds wonderful. Is there somewhere we could purchase a copy?
Dorothy Watts says
Was recording the family history and was told that the on house on Hornsboro Road, which is empty now, has history attached to it. Does anyone have any information on it?
SC Picture Project says
Do you happen to know the house number or a more specific location by chance?
William CROGHAN says
I am originally a Maryland “Croghan.” My family tree dates back to County Roscommon, Ireland in the early 1800’s. Another unrelated branch of the Croghan clan made its way to Charleston, SC and became quite prominent. Could this “Major Croan” be related to them?
We wouldn’t know concretely without a good bit of research but it sounds highly plausible that these are related.
mama of 2 says
Where is the school and the gym? Would very much like to see these buildings for their beautiful history! Thank you for the informative site! Mt. Croghan is a lovely little place.
HI, there is a map at the bottom of the page. Best of luck!
Sellers girl says
My grandparents, Jule and Mae Sellers, lived in Mt. Croghan. My Dad and Mom took us to see them almost every weekend. As a child, I played in the fields and woods nearby. The old schoolhouse had closed but my cousins and I would sneak up to the school and play in the yard and climb the fire escapes. Mt. Croghan played a very important part of my childhood. I still visit in June for the town festival when I can. It holds many wonderful memories for me.
I drive by the Mt. Croghan Academy school everyday on my way home from work, I love the building and want to get married there under the gazebo looking thing in the back/side, who can I call about this?