Front Royal, Virginia

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Front Royal is a town in Warren County, Virginia, United States. The population was 13,589 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Warren County.[3]

Contents

Geography

Front Royal is roughly 76 miles (122 km) west of Washington, D.C.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 9.5 square miles (24.6 km²), of which 9.3 square miles (24.0 km²) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km²) of it (2.52%) is water.

History

Front Royal, settled by whites as early as 1738, was originally known as Lehewtown, and was also known as "Helltown", due to the abundance of rough and wild mountaineers and river travelers in the area who came into town looking for alcohol and women. (Lillard)[4] It was incorporated as "Front Royal" in 1788.

The origin of the name "Front Royal" remains uncertain. One version holds that, in early decades of European settlement, the area was referred to in French as "le front royal," meaning the British frontier. French settlers, trappers, and explorers in the Ohio Territory of the mid-18th century were referring to the land grant made by King Charles II, then in control of Thomas, Lord Fairfax, Baron of Cameron. In English, "le front royal" is translated to the "Royal Frontier."

However, another legendary version of the origin of the name has it that, during colonial days, a giant oak tree - the "Royal" Tree of England - stood in the public square where Chester and Main Streets now join. It was there that the local militia, composed of raw recruits slow to learn military commands and maneuvers, were drilled. On one occasion, the sorely tired drill sergeant became so exasperated by the clumsy efforts of his troops and their failure to follow his command that he hit upon a phrase that all could understand and shouted, "front the Royal Oak!" Among the spectators was a former professional soldier. He was so amused by the officer's coined order that he and his friends found much sport in telling the story, repeating "front the Royal Oak" until Front Royal was the resulting derivation.

Still a third account holds that when Royal troops were stationed around the town, the sentry would call out "Front", to which the required entry password was to respond "Royal". Eventually their military post became known as "Camp Front Royal".[5]

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