John Mercer Langston was born 5.5 miles N.W. of here on 14 Dec. 1829, son of plantation owner Ralph Quarles and his former slave Lucy Langston. A graduate of Oberlin College (1849), in 1855 Langston became township clerk of Brownheim, Ohio - the first African American popularly elected to office. During the Civil War, he recruited regiments for the Union army. Afterward, he was founder and first dean of the Law Department of Howard University, served as minister resident in Haiti and charge d'affaires in Santo Domingo, and was first president of what is now Virginia State University. In 1888 he became the first black congressman elected from Virginia. He died on 15 Nov. 1897 in Washington, D.C.