Falls Church History: The Hangman’s Tree

Hangman's Tree MemorialConfederate Colonel Mosby reportedly hung Union spies from it.

It was removed in 1968 following damage resulting from nearby construction.

Do you know where the Hangman’s Tree stood?  The first one to identify the location wins a free one-year subscription to the Falls Church Times.Hangman's Tree Memorial1

(Now that the contest is over, here’s a photo of the tree, taken in the 1940s, from the book, “Victorian Falls Church.”



18 Responses to “Falls Church History: The Hangman’s Tree”

  1. James Hickey on July 5th, 2009 1:58 pm

    It is in the 300 block of W. Broad Street by the Stratford Motor Lodge. Looking forward to my free paper.

  2. Stan Fendley on July 5th, 2009 2:47 pm

    Thanks for your quick reply, James. And good eye.

    I must admit, I’ve driven by that marker a thousand times without noticing it and just saw it the other day. Curious what the tree looked like, I found a photo of it in the terrific book, “Victorian Falls Church.” The photo is not in a form that can be easily reproduced on this site, but you can view it online by searching for the terms “hangman’s tree” and “Falls Church” (under Google Books). The photo you’ll find using those search terms appears to have been taken in the 1940s, judging by the cars parked on the road. The tree had a horizontal limb reaching out over the road, which would have made it useful for Mosby’s gruesome task.

    Thanks, James. True to our word, you may access the Falls Church Times for the next year for free! In fact, if you haven’t already, I hope you will take time to sign up for email delivery in the upper right corner of this site!


    Stan Fendley

  3. A O'Neill on July 5th, 2009 5:07 pm

    Trivia I actually knew, a few hours too late. The stone is behind the bus stop at N. Virginia and Broad St.

  4. Teddy Rutledge on July 5th, 2009 9:49 pm

    Presactly, 200 block of West Broad Street, opposite Tyler Gardens (now Winter Hill)

  5. Barry Buschow on July 6th, 2009 10:22 am

    Well does everybody know where the peach orchard, as mentioned on the plaque, was???

  6. Barry Buschow on July 6th, 2009 3:48 pm

    Hint, its where the Peach Tree Apartment and condo’s are now about 2 miles west of the hangman’s tree, on Route 7.

  7. Stan Fendley on July 6th, 2009 4:37 pm

    Now you got me, Barry. I assumed the plaque referred to the Battle of Peach Orchard at Day 2 of Gettysburg, although I was wondering how that related to Mosby’s presence in Virginia. Was there a battle of Peach Orchard in Virginia?

  8. TFC on July 11th, 2009 5:50 pm

    I used to go with my parents to buy peaches, corn and tomatoes at the umbrella stand on the roadside in front of the orchard. I have a dim memory that the property was owned my Marcus Bles. He also owned the property that became Tyson’s Corner shopping center. When he sold that chunk he moved out toward Leesburg. His house stood on the rise on what’s now Janelia Farm. Corrections to my foggy memory welcome.

  9. kevin lee on July 15th, 2009 8:50 pm

    north east corner of Virginia and Broad behind the Bus Shelter.

  10. Barry Buschow on July 16th, 2009 10:42 am

    Sorry, just looked back here again. The main peach orchard in this story was owned by a man named Henley. He was an old Little Leaque coach of mine and he owned the property below from where the Pimmit library now is located to the shopping center on the same side of the road. This was the 50’s. He sold the property and eventually build the apartments that are their now. I remember stories of Mosby in FC. Apparently stayed in the Roberts Farm House on South West Street. Not sure it was ever confirmed. No major battle at Henley’s that I am aware but apparently a good place to hide out by union soldiers……

  11. TFC on July 17th, 2009 7:35 am

    Thanks for the clear memory Barry. Did the Henley’s operate a vegetable stand or might the one I visited have been a little further up towards Tysons Corner on Bles property up there?
    Another old memory was riding the GM bus to out-of-town sports events. There was a bar at the intersection of 123 and 7 called the Crystal Pistol. That was the end of the known universe as far as we were concerned. Farms and woods until we hit Leesburg.

  12. Barry Buschow on July 22nd, 2009 9:54 am

    Yes, Mr. Henley did operate a stand with fruit and vegetables. The one you refer was at the intersection of Route 123 and 7 in the 1950’s. Not sure who ran it but It was a large stand. the Crystal Pistol came years later, 1960’s I guess. If you were headed North in the 50’s you drove up route 7 past Virginia City, an old amusement area, to route 15 and then North.

    TFC what is your name, we can probably come up with many old factoids…

  13. opinion opinione on December 13th, 2011 1:26 am

    why the gollow was non replaced ?

    bye Opinion

  14. opinion opinione on December 13th, 2011 1:31 am

    the hangman probably was on Gallows RD

  15. Mackenzie Keeley, Arlington on March 13th, 2013 9:53 pm

    I am curious if anyone here knows of the two trees on Gleanheather Drive in Falls Church. I walk past it daily and I mentioned it to a neighbor and they informed me that it was also a tree used for hangings. Does anyone know if this is true or better yet the history surrounding it?

  16. John Abramson Glyndon MD on August 25th, 2013 11:10 am

    I grew up on Fairfax Dr, right at the Falls Church/Arlington line, in the period 1943-1961.

    I remember the Hanging tree on Broad Street, but do not recall any talk of other hanging trees.

    Where is Gleanheather Drive? It rungs no bells with me

  17. Jeffrey Lee - Austin, Texas on January 9th, 2014 12:10 pm

    I remember “Hangman’s Tree”.
    Was right in front along the sidewalk; the Grand Union grocery store, and Falls Church pharmacy.
    Everyone in the town (it seemed) was there when they arrived with the chain saws to cut it down.
    All afternoon people were carting away segments as mementos…my dad included.
    I remember that year in the parking lot they previewed the new D.C. Metro subway train. They had a host speakers and a full scale car on display.
    They were giving away cardboard train cars to the kids as a promotion.
    It’s a shame the city couldn’t preserve, or save the tree.
    Like many things the city has lost, most (at the time) were ‘historical eyesores’.
    Ironically, that same year, Northern Virginia lost a valuable commuter link : the Washington, and Old Dominion rail line.
    For 127 years that rail line connected a crucial string of towns…and in their infinite wisdom – decided that the time was right to dismantle the infrastructure and call it a day.
    I’ve always thought that was huge mistake, and have lived to see the fallout from their ill-informed decisions.
    It’s the same everywhere (even in Austin, Texas)…years later; they all regret the choices they made in the name of progress.

  18. jeanne griffin on March 26th, 2017 6:32 pm

    Although this thread is old, so am I, and I remember that tree in Falls Church, and also remember another hanging tree, a great white oak, at the crossroads of Rt. 50 and Gallows Rd., removed when 50 was widened back in the day. I think white oaks were popular as gallows trees because there was often a limb low down that grew straight out from the trunk. I grew up in Dunn Loring, when the train station and little bitty post office were there, and Tysons Corner was a country store and Rt. 7 was all dairy farms and prettiness. Every time we’d plow the garden, we would collect arrowheads made of white quartz, by the earlier people who lived there. We had so much freedom when we were kids.

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