Though Janney may not have been in business there for more than a few years, members of the Janney family have been involved in milling since the late eighteenth century. Over a century later, one of their descendants emerged as an innovator in grain processing.
Aquilla Janney, a Quaker who migrated from Pennsylvania to Virginia before the American Revolution, was a miller who established his home on the banks of the Potomac nine miles below Alexandria. He was acquainted with General George Washington and had once entertained Washington in his home.3
Janney was pressed into service in the colonial army, but, being a Quaker, he refused to carry a weapon. Washington noticed a man in the ranks without a gun, and when he rode up to question him, recognized his acquaintance. Knowing Janney’s religious objection to fighting, Washington wrote out a note discharging him and sent him home “until he was needed.”4
In 1805, Janney was struck by lightning and killed while transporting a boatload of wheat across the Potomac from Maryland to Virginia. His widow, Ruth, moved to Martinsburg with their nine children, where she remarried. Aquilla’s son Israel, who was just five years old when his father died, was educated in Martinsburg and married Mary Tabb in 1831.
Israel’s son John Tabb Janney (1832-1919) ran a woolen mill in Martinsburg. In 1860, his mill processed 7,000 pounds of wool, purchased for $1,500, into cloth valued at $9,500.
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