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.


Historic Shepherdstown to Feature Quilt Events in May

On May 24, Fawn Valentine, a West Virginia quilt expert, will be in Shepherdstown to”read” local quilts from 1 to 3 p.m. and to give a talk, “West Virginia Quilts and Quiltmakers: Echoes from the Hills,” at 7 p.m. In addition, throughout the month of May, the Historic Shepherdstown Museum will display three quilts loaned by the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. The quilts, created by highly skilled Shenandoah Valley quilters of the 20th and 21st centuries, exemplify several Valley quilting styles. Historic Shepherdstown’s quilts will be on display as well.

The afternoon quilt reading will take place in the reception room of the Entler Building at 129 E. German Street. Community members are invited to bring no more than two quilts for Ms. Valentine to read. She will discuss the style, period, and materials used, but will not do appraisals. Preregistration is required for this event since time is limited. Call or e-mail Historic Shepherdstown at 304-876- 0910 or hsc1786@gmail.com. Registrations will be accepted in the order received. Spaces are already filling up.

Fawn Valentine’s 7 p.m. talk on WV quilting, which is part of Historic Shepherdstown’s 2017 Speakers Series, will take place at the auditorium of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education on King Street on the campus of Shepherd University.

Both events are free and open to the public.

The display of Museum of the Shenandoah Valley quilts will begin on May 6 and run through June 3. The three quilts will be on display in the Shepherdstown Museum during the Museum’s regular hours, on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. On exhibition will be a Pineapple White Work quilt, a Wind Rose or Mathiesen Mariner’s Compass Variation quilt, and a Broken Dishes Pattern quilt. All have been on display in U.S. Embassies around the world as part of the State Department’s Arts in Embassies program.

Historic Speakers Series Opens with March 8 Talk on Forgotten Local Roads

David Bullock will speak on “Forgotten 18th Century Roads: Shepherdstown and the Philadelphia Wagon Road” at 7 p.m. on March 8. The talk will be in the auditorium of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education located on King Street on the Shepherd University campus next to Scarborough Library. Parking is available on the street or behind the library. The event is free and open to the public.

Dave Bullock attended Shepherdstown Middle School, Jefferson High School, and Shepherd College. His family has lived in the area since 1857. He had an abiding interest in history and has spent considerable time studying maps and other documents to learn about lost local roads that once shaped the history of the area. His talk will focus on the Philadelphia Wagon Road, which was central to Shepherdstown’s prosperity in the town’s early days. The Philadelphia Wagon Road started in Philadelphia and ended in Georgia. It has been given credit for much of the settlement of the backcountry of the South. Originally, the Wagon Road was a trail used by Native Americans called the Warrior Trail.

Mr. Bullock’s talk will kick off the Historic Shepherdstown Commission’s 2017 Speakers Series.

The Speakers Series schedule for the rest of the year will feature three additional programs. On May 24, textile historian and quilt expert Fawn Valentine will present a two-part event. First, from 1 to 3 p.m., she will provide “readings” of historic quilts. Local quilt owners will be invited to bring their quilts to learn more about designs, motifs, patterns, and cultural influences (not financial appraisals). Preregistration will be required. More information will be forthcoming. Second, on the evening of May 24, Fawn Valentine will give a talk on quilts and quilt makers. On August 30, at the Historic Shepherdstown Annual Meeting, Shepherd University History Professor and Director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War Dr. Jim Broomall will speak on “The Brother’s War: The Civil War Experiences of Virginia and West Virginia Soldiers.”  On November 8, local historian Doug Perks will present old and new images of local people and buildings, highlighting the changes over time.

All of the talks will take place at the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education at 7 p.m. The Quilt Reading will be at the Entler Building. 129 E. German Street.

For further information, contact Historic Shepherdstown Administrator Teresa McLaughlin, 304-876-0910 on Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday or e-mail info@historicshepherdstown.com.

March 2, 2016: "John Storer: A Renaissance Man for the Nineteenth-Century Shenandoah Valley" by Dr. Dawne Raines Burke

May 4, 2016: "The French and Indian War: The Conflict’s Impact upon the Scots Irish in Appalachia and Ireland" by Dr. Benjamin Bankhurst

Sept. 2, 2015: Worth a Voyage Across the Atlantic, by Matt Webster

September 2, 2015

Matthew Webster, who grew up in Shepherdstown and is now Director of Colonial Williamsburg’s Grainger Department of Architectural Preservation, will speak on September 2 at the Byrd Center for Legislative Studies Auditorium. The talk is part of the Historic Shepherdstown Commission’s Speakers Series.

The event is free and open to the public. It will begin at 6:45 p.m. with Historic Shepherdstown’s brief Annual Meeting, including election of board members. The talk is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m.

Mr. Webster’s talk is entitled “Worth a Voyage Across the Atlantic: Early Settlement and Trades in Jefferson County.” He will focus on the crafts of the area, the settlers who produced them and their role in the local economy. He is passionately interested in and knowledgeable about Jefferson County history and an accomplished speaker.

As Director of Architectural Preservation, Matthew Webster is responsible for preservation and maintenance oversight for more than 580 original and reconstructed buildings in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area and for oversight of architectural collections. Prior to joining Colonial Williamsburg, he served as director of preservation at Drayton Hall in Charleston, S.C., responsible for architectural, archaeological and landscape resources, collections and maintenance. His professional career in architectural restoration began at George Washington’s Fredericksburg Foundation, where he managed the restoration of Kenmore, the 1770s home of Fielding and Betty Washington Lewis.

The Robert C. Byrd Center Auditorium is located on King Street on the Shepherd University campus. It is connected to the Scarborough Library. Parking is available in the lot behind the building.

October 21, 2015: Boteler's Cement Mill, by Dr. Karen Gray

Boteler’s Cement Mill

Dr. Karen Gray, who has been studying the C&O Canal and nearby areas for 40 years, will give an illustrated talk on the historic Boteler Cement Mill near Shepherdstown as part of the Historic Shepherdstown Speakers Series.

Boteler’s Cement Mill, located near Packhorse or Boteler’s Ford, one half mile below Shepherdstown, played an important role in the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown, and in the construction of the Canal and of many Federal buildings in Washington. It has been designated a Jefferson County Historic Landmark by the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission.

The talk is set for October 21 at 7 p.m. at the Auditorium of the Byrd Center for Legislative Studies, located next to the Scarborough Library on the Shepherd University Campus. The talk is free and open to the public.

November 7, 2015: The Tumultuous History of the McMurran Hall Clock Tower

The Tumultuous History of the McMurran Hall Clock Tower

Saturday, November 7, 2015, 11 a.m. Reynolds Hall
The Origins of McMurran Hall: Rezin D. Shepherd, the Clock Tower, and the Town Hall. Featuring speakers Jim Surkamp and Dan Tokar.