2018 Christmas Ornament Now Available

Historic Shepherdstown now has its 2018 Christmas ornament available for sale. This year it is the historic Entler Hotel. It is the fourth in a series of historic buildings by HSC. Ornaments can be purchased in the museum on the weekends during Christmas in Shepherdstown and also in the HSC office during normal business hours 9:30 – 5:30, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Also, please join us and bring your children or grandchildren to the Shepherdstown Museum on December 8th at 2 pm for a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by “Mrs. Entler” herself in character. This is a way we can make history come alive for both adults and children. This famous poem was written in 1823 the same year that Daniel Entler became the proprietor of the Entler Hotel. The museum will be decorated as we think the Entlers would have done so and there will be a small gift for the young ones that attend. There is no cost for this event.

Nov. 14: Images From the Right Bank: The Lives and Times of the Botelers of Fountain Rock

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Jerry Bruce Thomas will present “Images From the Right Bank: The Lives and Times of the Botelers of Fountain Rock” at Shepherd University’s Byrd Auditorium on November 14 at 7 p.m.

The Auditorium is located in the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education on the Shepherd campus. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will follow the talk.

Shepherdstonian Alexander Boteler was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives before the Civil War, a member of the First Confederate Congress, a Confederate officer, the owner of Boteler’s Cement Mill, an avid artist and cartoonist, an early supporter of building a Rumsey monument in Shepherdstown, and one of the founders of Shepherd College. In other words, he was a man engaged in the major events of his time with many interests and enthusiasms and a surprising talent.

Dr. Thomas’ interest in Alexander Boteler has led him to conduct considerable research on Boteler’s life and times, and a book is in process.

Dr. Thomas is a native of Wyoming County, WV. He received his BA from West Virginia University and his MA and PhD in American History from the University of North Carolina. After more than 30 years on the faculty at Shepherd University, specializing in courses in World Civilization and Recent American History, he retired in 2009. The University Press of Kentucky published his An Appalachian New Deal, West Virginia in the Great Depression in 1998. West Virginia University Press published a new edition (2010) as well as An Appalachian Reawakening: West Virginia and the Perils of the New Machine Age, 1945-1972 (2010). Thomas formerly served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Historic Shepherdstown Commission.

Dr. Thomas’ talk is the last in Historic Shepherdstown’s 2018 Speakers Series. The 2019 schedule will be announced early next year.

Oct. 10 Speakers Series: Dennis Frye

On Wednesday, October 10, Historic Shepherdstown will present Dennis Frye, recently retired Chief Historian at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, speaking on “Antietam Shadows: Mystery, Myth & Machination.” The free event will take place in the auditorium at the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education on the Shepherd campus. It will begin at 6:45 p.m. with Historic Shepherdstown’s annual meeting, followed by the talk at 7:00 p.m. Light refreshments will follow.

Mr. Frye has been studying Antietam and the first invasion of the North for nearly 50 years. From his earliest days as a National Park Service volunteer at the Dunker Church (he is a Dunker), and as a native of the area, Dennis has immersed himself in the Civil War, publishing many books on the subject. He is also a prominent Civil War battlefield preservationist. He was one of the founders of what is today the Civil War Trust. The Trust, which has spearheaded the saving of much battlefield land, awarded Mr. Frye with their highest honor, the Shelby Foote Award.

Mr. Frye’s talk, based on his recent book, also called “Antietam Shadows,” challenges many of the commonly held beliefs about the Battle of Antietam. Of this book, he has said: “I’m challenging my peers. I’m challenging myself. I’m challenging what we have accepted as fact, what we have accepted as reality.” He has also said that he hopes the talk will stimulate debate as he explores uncertainties and unknowns.

On November 14, Historic Shepherdstown will sponsor the last talk of the 2018 Speakers Series. Jerry Thomas, Shepherd University Professor Emeritus of History will speak on “From the Old South to the New in the Lower Shenandoah Valley:  The Life and Times of Alexander Robinson Boteler, 1815-1892.” His talk will take place at 7:00 p.m., also at Shepherd’s Byrd Center.

For more information, contact the Historic Shepherdstown Commission office at hsc1786@gmail.com or 304-876-0910.

 

 

History of Local Arts and Artisans to Be Discussed on September 12

On Wednesday, September 12, Historic Shepherdstown will present “Artisans of the Lower Shenandoah Valley,” a panel discussion by four experts on the history of decorative arts in this area. Located at the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education on the Shepherd campus, the free event will begin at 6:45 with Historic Shepherdstown’s annual meeting followed by the talks from 7 to 8:30. Light refreshments will be served afterwards.

Matthew Webster, former Shepherdstown resident, now Colonial Williamsburg’s Director of the Grainger Department of Architectural Preservation and Research, will lead the discussion. He assembled this group of young speakers, saying that they are “up and coming stars in their field. I have seen their lectures develop from research and each is highly regarded.  This is a great opportunity for them and Shepherdstown.”

The three additional speakers will be: Kate Hughes, Decorative Arts Trust Curatorial Intern and Research Scholar of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Katie McKinney, Colonial Williamsburg’s Assistant Curator of Maps & Prints; and Nicholas Powers, Curator of Collections, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.

The titles of the individual talks will be:

  • Matt Webster: “But with a Banner Left”
  • Kate Hughes:  “Piedmont’s Portraits: Patrician Image-Making in the Lower Shenandoah Valley” (Piedmont refers to the old Briscoe home in Jefferson County.)
  • Katie McKinney: “William Roberts’ ‘Excursion over the Mountains’: Backcountry Landscapes ‘by the Pencil of a Virginian’ “
  • Nicholas Powers: “Frederick Kemmelmeyer: Hessian Mercenary to American Artist” (Kemmelmeyer’s last signed portrait was of Shepherdstown’s Catherine Weltzheimer.)

The 2018 Speakers Series will continue with two additional programs:

  • October 10, Dennis Frye, Former Chief Historian, Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, “Antietam Shadows:  Mystery, Myth & Machination.”
  • November 14, Jerry Thomas, Professor of History Emeritus, Shepherd University, “From the Old South to the New in the Lower Shenandoah Valley:  The Life and Times of Alexander Robinson Boteler, 1815-1892.”

Each talk will take place at 7 p.m. at the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education.

Speakers Series: Shenandoah Valley’s Germanic Heritage

Historic Shepherdstown will feature a talk by Karen Good Cooper entitled “Shenandoah Valley’s Germanic Heritage” on June 13 at 7 p.m.

The talk will take place in the auditorium at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education on the Shepherd University campus. It is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served after the presentation.

With a main street called German Street and a town museum full of German crafts, it’s hard to miss Shepherdstown’s German heritage. Ms. Cooper will provide a broader context in her talk. The Germans brought their own ideas, methods, and customs.  Who were they?  Why did they come?  What happened as they formed their communities and as their children began to move away? Ms. Cooper says the talk is designed to make people think about how the “Shenandoah Deutsch” affected so much of how we behave and how we work together.

Karen Cooper is a 10th generation Shenandoah Valley resident and the head of the Board of Directors for the Shenandoah Germanic Heritage Museum and its parent organization. She graduated from Western Maryland College and has an MA in history from James Madison University. She has been studying local history and genealogy for fifty years and served as the founding president of the Shenandoah County Historical Society.

The 2018 Speakers Series will feature three additional programs:

  • September 12, Matthew Webster, Kate Hughes, Katie McKinney, all of Colonial Williamsburg, and Nicholas Powers, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley,”Artisans in the Lower Shenandoah Valley.”
  • October 10, Dennis Frye, Chief Historian, Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, “Antietam Shadows:  Mystery, Myth & Machination.”
  • November 14, Jerry Thomas, Professor of History Emeritus, Shepherd University, “From the Old South to the New in the Lower Shenandoah Valley:  The Life and Times of Alexander Robinson Boteler, 1815-1892.”

All of the talks will take place at 7 p.m. at the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education.

For more information, contact the Historic Shepherdstown Commission office at hsc1786@gmail.com or 304-876-0910.

 

8th Annual Jefferson County Civil War Seminar

The 8th Annual Jefferson County Civil War Seminar will be held on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 in the auditorium of the Robert Byrd Center on the campus of Shepherd University. This popular event is sponsored jointly by the Charles Town Library Civil War Round Table and the Jefferson County Historical Society. As in previous years, all presenters are either members of the round table or local historians with an interest in the Civil War.

This year’s seminar presenters and their topics include:

  • John Bagladi. “WHAT’S IN A NAME? ‘The Battle of …’” On August 21, 1864, thousands of soldiers wearing blue and gray met in combat across western Jefferson County. What was this engagement called? Do you know? Are you sure?
  • Bill Berry. “Harpers Ferry Civilians during the Civil War.” Water and whiskey, two key ingredients in the tragic tale of civilians of Harpers Ferry during the Civil War. The story of the people harassed by both sides with no solution in sight.
  • Steve French. “McNeill’s Rangers in the Gettysburg Campaign.” During the Gettysburg Campaign, Rebel guerrillas and partisans roamed far and wide attacking military targets and gathering plunder. One of these bands, McNeill’s Rangers, fought at the 2nd Battle of Winchester, occupied Hancock, Md. destroyed Baltimore & Ohio property, raided the farms and stores of southern Pa., fought at the July 6 Battle of Williamsport and later skirmished with Federal cavalry around Clear Spring, Md. The talk will give an overview of the role of these so-called “land pirates” in the campaign.
  • Jim Glymph. “The Whitworth Rifle.” The Whitworth rifle was developed in England to be the standard rifle for their infantry.  It had many shortcomings, but it was extremely accurate.  England did not adopt it but a few of them became the deadly tool of the Confederate sharpshooters.
  • Russ Harbaugh. “Will the real Scarlett O’Hara please stand up?” Have you ever wondered if Scarlett O’Hara’s character was based on a real-life person? Russ does, and he thinks she lived in Jefferson County.
  • John Kavaliunas. “Watch on the Potomac: Foreign Observers of the U.S. Civil War.” We think of the American Civil War as a purely domestic event. However, the War was of concern to many in Europe. Regular news reports from the battlefield caught the attention of the public and, in several instances, inspired others, including European princes, aristocrats, and adventurers, to view the conflict first hand or to personally join in the battle.

This presentation will describe some of these foreign observers and their impressions of the War itself.

The seminar begins at 8:45 AM and will conclude at 4:30 PM. Parking is available in the “A” Lot at Shepherd University. There is no charge for the seminar, and the public is invited to attend.

“The Spirit of Elmwood” Tour: The Presbyterian and Methodist Grave Yards

The “Spirit of Elmwood” tour was postponed by the weather and has been re-scheduled for Saturday, June 9th, 2018 starting at 11:00 AM. This year’s tour kicks off a commemoration of the upcoming 150th Anniversary of the establishment of Elmwood Cemetery and is sponsored the cemetery’s Board of Directors. Please drive into the cemetery and you will be directed to parking. The tour will take place in the Presbyterian Grave Yard located in the northeast corner of the cemetery along the Kearneysville Pike.

The “Presbyterian and Methodist Grave Yard” tour will be led by local historian Doug Perks. Perks will discuss the history of both grave yards and highlight some of the men and women buried there who helped shape Shepherdstown’s rich History.

A donation of $15 per person is recommended. All proceeds from this tour will be applied to the restoration of the Superintendent’s House.

The tour will take place in one location in the Presbyterian Grave Yard. Feel free to bring along a chair to sit in while you listen. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and your walking shoes. Gnats are bothersome this time of year, so don’t forget your favorite remedy.

Tea with Mrs. Entler on June 2, 2018

By Boat to Shepherdstown on the Canal

In 1915, John Pryor Cowan, a journalist with the Pittsburgh Gazette, decided to take a trip to Washington.  He would go, not by car or train, but by canal. He and his wife built their own boat from a kit.  The boat was not very elegant looking, and friends who saw it remarked “That’s some tub.” The name stuck.

The Cowans shipped the Sometub from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, and on July 15, 1915, they set off on their 184-mile journey.

Cowan said that the Sometub had the distinction of being the first boat with an outboard gasoline engine — even if it only had a top speed of 5 miles per hour — on the canal.  While the boat could go faster than a mule-drawn canal barge, the early outboard motors were not reliable, and the Cowans’ would fail them often.

It took about a week to reach C&O Lock No. 30, the Shepherdstown lock, where the Cowans had planned to visit the Antietam Battlefield.  But their motor died and with night falling and thunder in the distance, they decided to leave their boat with the lock-keeper and instead to seek shelter across the river in Shepherdstown.

In his book, Sometub’s Cruise on the C. & O. Canal, written the following year, Cowan tells of his visit to Shepherdstown:

Fleeing across the bridge over the Potomac we breathlessly climbed the hill and along a dark street [Princess St.] to the center of the town whither we had been directed to the hotel. Suddenly we rounded a corner into an electric-lighted thoroughfare and stood before the entrance of the Rumsey House [Today’s Entler Hotel and Historic Shepherdstown Museum]. Our clothes were wrinkled and we were splashed with mud from head to foot. We still carried our lighted lantern and the crowd at the hotel gazed at us with expressions twixt curiosity and amazement. The proprietor was moved to commiseration.

“Come in here, you-all, right away,” he said.

The next morning, a Sunday, the Cowans woke to the sound of church bells.

It was a restful place to spend Sunday and in the evening we joined the villagers in a stroll through the shady streets and out on the bluff overlooking the Potomac. Here on the edge of the cliffs on a natural base of limestone rock is an imposing shaft lately erected to the memory of James Rumsey, Shepherdstown pioneer and inventor of the steamboat.

Cowan was charmed by Shepherdstown:


Geographically Shepherdstown is in West Virginia, but politically, socially and traditionally it leans toward the Old Dominion. It lies in Jefferson county at the foot of the beautiful Shenandoah valley and is essentially southern. Its whole atmosphere and the sympathy of its people belong distinctly to Piedmont Virginia. It is the Alsace-Lorraine of America.

Next to Alexandria, Shepherdstown is perhaps the oldest important settlement in the Potomac valley. It is one of the few old towns in the country that has not been defaced by too much present day progress. Shepherdstown has always been a substantial prosperous place and does not affect the gewgaws of the new rich municipality. In some respects it resembles Concord, Massachusetts. Its streets have many features in common with the thoroughfares of the old-time New England towns. In many of the residences are preserved some of the most striking characteristics of chaste colonial architecture.

Two days later the Sometub’s motor was fixed and the Cowans, after bidding farewell to their “hospitable friends” in Shepherdstown, resumed their journey on the canal to Washington.

Nine years later, in 1924, the canal would close for business.

 

The Changing Face of Shepherdstown

Doug Perks’ excellent presentation, The Changing Face of Shepherdstown, has been made into a new exhibit at the Museum. You can also view the digital version here. We’d like to thank Doug Perks for allowing us to post it on the website. Photographs in the exhibit are from the author’s collection and the archives of the Historic Shepherdstown Commission and the Jefferson County Museum.