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.
Royal is roughly 76 miles west of Washington, D.C.
According to the United States
Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 9.5 square miles, of
which 9.3 square miles is land and 0.2 square miles of it (2.52%) is
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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)
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".
Rail service was established in
1854 with the construction of the Alexandria, Orange and Manassas
Gap Railroad between Manassas and Riverton. This line was soon
extended to Strasburg in time to become a factor in the Battle of
Front Royal on May 23, 1862 and throughout the Civil War. Lumber,
agriculture, manufacturing and grain mills provided employment in
the region for decades after the Civil War.