Historic Shepherdstown newsletter – December 2022

Dear Members and Supporters of Historic Shepherdstown,

Season’s Greetings! As we head toward the start of 2023, we at Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum want to thank all of you for your financial and volunteer support this past year. We want to share just a few highlights of what you’ve helped us accomplish since our last newsletter.

Recognition of Clarence E. CEM Martin III

At the holiday party in December, Historic Shepherdstown recognized former State Del. CEM Martin, who was instrumental in helping to save the historic Entler Hotel complex from destruction. In 1978, CEM represented both Jefferson and Berkeley Counties in the state legislature. Ret. Gen. William Van Ryzin approached him on behalf of town residents, raising concerns about plans by Shepherd College to raze what was then known as Rumsey Hall and replace it with a parking lot. Working with other legislators from the area, CEM introduced the bill that ultimately resulted in the state Board of Regents selling the Entler complex to the corporation of Shepherdstown for $1. Residents of the town renovated the building and Historic Shepherdstown Commission accepted the responsibility to maintain it on behalf of the town. The Museum opened in 1983, and we plan to celebrate its 40th anniversary during 2023. A copy of the bill hangs in the museum beside some before-and-after pictures of the renovations.

After leaving the legislature, CEM worked with Martin & Seibert in Martinsburg for many years. More recently, he has been involved in initiatives to stop human trafficking, has served as a Vatican liaison, and is a fellow of the Catholic University Institute of Policy Research. He has received a number of honors and awards, including ones from both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, an honorary doctorate from Shepherd University, and a Distinguished West Virginian Award, the highest civilian honor awarded by the governor.

CEM and his family – his wife Judy and his daughters McKenna Martin and Morgan Martin Boyer – attended the reception. HSC presented CEM with a plaque, which read:

Presented to Clarence E. CEM Martin III in recognition of your important role in saving the Historic Entler Hotel, and it was signed Historic Shepherdstown Commission and dated December 9, 2022.

In his remarks, CEM made it a point to thank everyone involved in Historic Shepherdstown for their efforts through the years to ensure that the history represented by the museum and the other buildings in the complex has remained accessible to both local residents and tourists. Thank you, CEM Martin!

Tour of Historic Houses of Worship

HSC is once again co-sponsoring the Tour of Historic Houses of Worship from 4-7 p.m. on the day after Christmas, Dec. 26. Seven churches, the War Memorial Building, the Historic Shepherdstown Museum, and the Shepherdstown Opera House will all be open to visitors. The best place to pick up brochures for the self-guided walking tour is the War Memorial Building, although a limited number of brochures will be available at the other locations on the tour. To mark the beginning of the event, participating local churches will ring their bells at 4 p.m. The tour is a wonderful way to introduce out-of-town visitors to Shepherdstown.

Museum update

We welcomed more than 1,100 visitors to the Historic Shepherdstown Museum this year and hosted field trips from Shepherdstown Elementary School, the Shepherdstown Day Care Center, and Shepherd University. We ran ghost tours during Boofest, gave out candy during the town’s Halloween celebration, and entertained a special visitor – Santa Claus – after the annual Christmas parade.

As we’ve noted before, a new exhibit opened in May, Educational Opportunities for Black Jefferson County Residents Before and After Brown v. Board of Education. We received a $1,500 mini-grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council to help fund that exhibit.

We now have a second new exhibit in place. We received a $7,000 grant from Americana Corner, which enabled us to get our S. Howell Brown 1852 Map of Jefferson County Virginia with Farm Limits restored. That map is the centerpiece for “Great Dreams: Maps of Shepherdstown and Jefferson County from the 17th through the 21st Centuries.” The Jefferson County Historical Society donated a copy of S. Howell Brown’s 1883 Map of Jefferson County West Virginia with Farm Limits to the museum in August. It is being restored and will become part of the new exhibit in the spring. The grand opening of the map exhibit will be held during our Spring Opening Reception in April.

Holiday ornaments still available

This year’s holiday ornament, featuring the James Rumsey Steamboat, is still available for purchase via our website. Previous years’ ornaments are also available. Because we mail them, we would expect that any ornaments ordered at this point would arrive after Christmas.

Membership update

Our annual membership drive will begin at the end of January. We will be mailing our appeal letters, and we hope you will continue to support our efforts to tell the story of Shepherdstown and the surrounding area.

Have a wonderful holiday season. We are looking forward to seeing you in 2023 as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Historic Shepherdstown Museum.

Best wishes,

Donna M. Bertazzoni
President, Historic Shepherdstown Board of Directors

Holiday Ornament

2022 holiday ornament

The 2022 holiday ornament  is now on sale. This year’s ornament, the eighth in the series, features the iconic Rumsey  steamboat. They make great gifts! This is an annual fundraiser for Historic Shepherdstown and past ornaments are also available for purchase.
The ornament can be purchased, along with past ornaments, in the Museum on weekends through October. It  will also be available during Christmas in Shepherdstown when the Museum is open November 26 – December 18, Saturdays 12-4 and Sundays 1-3. It can also be purchased  at the office on Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday, 10-5 or on our website at
Rumsey ornment
Front parlor with fan window

Historic Shepherdstown Museum – virtual video tour

Have you ever wondered what artifacts are housed in the Historic Shepherdstown Museum and how it tells the story of Shepherdstown? Or, have you visited the Museum and wished you could show it off to friends who don’t live in the area? Now, you have a chance. You can preview the Museum via YouTube.

During the summer of 2022, Jessie Ramchurran, a Communication Arts major from Hood College who interned with Historic Shepherdstown Commission, completed a three-part video tour of the Museum. The tour gives an overview of each floor of the Museum, and it also highlights artifacts from several of the rooms. The tour is now available on  Historic Shepherdstown YouTube channel

The museum is housed in the historic Entler Hotel. The first floor is set up to resemble the parlor and dining area of a 19th century inn. Highlights include three tall clocks; Col. John Francis Hamtramck’s sword and West Point commission; and furniture made by Adam Link, James Shepherd and Thomas Hopkins. Visitors are then invited to tour the garden and the James Rumsey Steamboat Museum, which houses a working half-size replica of Rumsey’s steamboat. Rumsey conducted the first successful steamboat demonstration on the Potomac River at Shepherdstown on December 3, 1787. The first-floor video can be found at  HSM – First Floor Video Tour

Chronologically, the next video to watch features the third floor of the Museum, which focuses on the early-Colonial era through the late 19th century. Highlights of this floor include a 1760s plat map of Mechlenburgh (now Shepherdstown); Shepherdstown samplers, Sheetz rifles and Schindler kettles; a room dedicated to the impact of the Civil War on Shepherdstown; the importance of the Potomac River and the railroad; and maps of Shepherdstown and Jefferson County. The third-floor video can be found at  HSM – Third Floor Video Tour

Finally, view the video of the second floor of the Museum, which is mostly dedicated to the 20th century. The Traveler’s Room (purported to be the most haunted room in the Museum) features rope beds and a 19th century bathtub. Other highlights include the Small Town America room, which is dominated by an early Rural Free Delivery horse-drawn mail cart; the 20th century room which features posters from Morgan’s Grove agricultural fairs and circuses, and pictures from the Israeli-Syrian Peace Talks that were held in Shepherdstown in 2000; and the African American room, which houses exhibits related to the educational opportunities for and leisure activities of the area’s Black community. The second-floor video can be found at  HSM – Second Floor Video Tour

We hope the virtual tour will inspire you to take a trip to Shepherdstown and visit the Historic Shepherdstown Museum in person. The Museum is open Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m., from April through October and during Christmas in Shepherdstown. For more information about our museum, hours and artifacts, visit our Facebook page Historic Shepherdstown Museum Facebook or check out the digital exhibits section of this website.

Doll given to local girl in 1832 and a quilt made by Sarah Moler acquired by museum

August, 1832. One can imagine the soft smiles and joyous tears as a healthy baby girl was born to Jane and Corban Blackford on the family farm near what is now Bardane, West Virginia. But who was the child and what is her connection to an 1830s-era doll recently acquired by the Historic Shepherdstown Museum?

A note that accompanied the doll, written by Hugh S. Moler, a descendant, indicates the following:

“Great Grand Mother’s cousin William Anderson was going west to make his fortune and gave this doll to James [although it could have been Janie] Jackson Blackford for Virginia (not 100 percent sure of that name) Hellen Blackford in the year 1832.”

Virginia Helen Blackford was a daughter, mother and wife who lived a long 83 years of life. Her parents were Corban Blackford (1792-1841) and Jane Jackson Blackford (1802-1856).

Jane (Jackson) Blackford migrated to the United States at age 14 from Ireland with help from members of the Jackson family. In particular, she was assisted by her uncle, a Presbyterian minister named Anderson, whose mother was a Jackson. That made Jane a cousin of the seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson.

Jane originally settled in Baltimore but eventually she met Corban Blackford. They were married at Corban Blackford’s family home Ferry Hill, the home in Washington County, Maryland, that overlooks the Potomac River on the border of Shepherdstown and Sharpsburg. After their marriage, they moved to the farm in Bardane and raised five children, one of them being Virginia.

“There were a number of reasons why the Historic Shepherdstown Museum was interested in acquiring this doll,” said Donna Bertazzoni, president of the Historic Shepherdstown Commission Board of Directors. “First, it is a well-preserved example of an 1830s doll. But more important is the fact that the Museum already owns a sampler made by Virginia Helen Blackford. The doll is a wonderful complement to the sampler.”

Eleanor Lakin, a doll expert and retired architect, examined the doll before it was purchased by the museum. Lakin determined that the doll was from the early 1830s and had been imported from Germany. Germany was one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers during the 19th century. “Well, we really didn’t have much in doll manufacturing in America,” Lakin said. “Most dolls and toys came from Germany.”

According to Lakin, the design of the doll has some notable characteristics. The legs and arms of the doll are wooden, and the head is paper-mâché. The clothing is made of gauze and possibly silk. The style of the dress and the painted shoes are typical of the era.

However, the doll the Museum purchased does have an unusual hairstyle. According to Lakin, most female dolls of that era featured a hairstyle called an Apollo knot. In this style, the front section of hair was parted in the center, and the back section was collected into a knot-like bun at the very top of the head. There would also be some framing hair pieces in the front, generally represented by a cluster of curls around each ear. Like the face, the hair would be painted on the doll.

The Museum’s new doll does have the front framing hair pieces. However, there is no Apollo knot. Underneath the doll’s gauze cap, there is simply a bun on the back of the head.

Lakin determines a doll’s age based on her experience and research, including through researching costume books. “I collected [dolls] many, many years and went to a lot of auctions, a lot of sales, read a lot. … You learn by experience,” Lakin said. “I have a whole collection of costume books and that shows the hairstyle and clothing…so you use that.”

So what happened to Virginia, the original owner of the doll? In 1855, Virginia Helen Blackford married Jacob Henry Engle. Engle had been born in 1825 on a farm in Jefferson County, Virginia. In 1849, he was among a group of men from Charles Town who headed to California to seek their fortune in the gold rush. Engle succeeded, and returned to farming in Jefferson County in 1853. During the Civil War, he served in the Confederate army, reaching the rank of captain.

Following the war, Engle returned to his farm near Engle Station in Jefferson County. He and Virginia had three children: Alice Jane Engle Moler, Varena (Irene) Catherine Engle, and Lodenza Corban Engle. Jacob Engle died in 1900 and Virginia Engle died in 1915. They are both buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Shepherdstown.

The doll eventually descended through the Moler family. Virginia and Jacob’s daughter Alice Jane Engle married Raleigh Moler, and their son Hugh Swagler Moler wrote the note that accompanied the doll.

At the same time that the Museum bought Virginia’s doll, it also purchased a lover’s knot quilt made by Raleigh Moler’s mother Sarah Moler, in honor of her son Raleigh’s marriage to Alice Engle. The Museum has discovered a possible connection between that quilt and “Aunt Sallie’s Quilt,” which has hung in the Museum for many years.

“In researching Sarah Moler, HSC board member Terry Fulton found her obituary. It mentions that she was known as Aunt Sallie,” Bertazzoni said. “We are excited that we may not only have purchased a beautiful locally-made quilt, but that we may also have finally discovered the identity of Aunt Sallie. We are looking forward to displaying both the doll and the quilt.”

The Historic Shepherdstown Museum purchased both the doll and the quilt from a local antique dealer, who acquired them at an auction. They are expected to be on display when the Museum opens for the 2023 season.

By Jessie Ramcharran, HSC summer intern, 2022

1852 Map of Jefferson County after restoration

Restored 1852 Map of Jefferson County on display

1852 Map of Jefferson County before ter restoration

1852 Map of Jefferson County before restoration

1852 Map of Jefferson County after restoration

1852 Map of Jefferson County after restoration

From a run down to a practically brand-new map, it is almost like magic.

In February, Americana Corner awarded Historic Shepherdstown Commission & Museum a $7,000 grant to restore its S. Howell Brown 1852 Map of Jefferson County, Virginia. The map, which was donated by Mary Hartzell Dobbins, was considered to be in poor condition.

Americana Corner, established in 2020 by Tom Hand, is an online resource that helps organizations tell stories about America and its Revolutionary past. Hand set up a website and posts videos about Revolutionary-era Americans such as John and Abigail Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Andrew Hamilton to YouTube and Facebook. He also developed the Americana Corner Grant Program. This program provides funds to organizations to enhance a historical site, establish academic exhibits and recondition historical pieces.

“The grant we received from Americana Corner gave us the opportunity to conserve the map, and we want to thank them for it,” Donna Bertazzoni, president of Historic Shepherdstown Board of Directors, said. “The map was donated to Historic Shepherdstown Commission in the early 1990s, and for nearly 20 years, we did not have the funds to have it restored.”

The work to restore the map was done by Maria Pukownik Fine Art and Paper Restoration. It is a privately-owned art restoration center in Orrtanna, PA. Before doing the work, it developed a restoration treatment for the 19th century wall map.

This map by S. Howell Brown is subtitled “Actual Survey with Farm Limits”. It encompasses 27 Districts alongside the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and includes accounts of Harpers Ferry and Shepherdstown. It was lithographically printed on two sheets of paper, hand-colored in some areas, and coated with varnish. The map was entered into the Act of Congress in 1852 by Brown and its dimensions are 39 inches by 54 inches. Maps were seen as tools used for direction, especially in the 19th century, and this map is a prime example of that.

Before its restoration, the map was in poor condition with discoloration, dirt, dust, varnish damages, fragmentation, and some decomposition in the back of the canvas. There was also masking tape found securing the map edges to the glass frame.

The preservation and restoration process took roughly three and a half months and 10 steps. First and foremost, the frame was removed, and the map conditions were photographed. Then, the surface of the map was sealed with tissue.

“It’s a Japanese tissue that can be adhered to the front of the map with a very light glue, a water-based glue that further, later on, is easy to remove,” Maria Pukownik, chief conservator of MP Fine Art and Paper Conservation, said. Sealing the surface protects the map from any possible shifting.

Next, the backing canvas was removed for the cleaning process. Layers of fabric were laid onto the map to absorb moisture from the aqueous solution that was applied. This solution was sprayed profusely until it was completely saturated. This method was repeated in certain areas.

“You know some stains, like the stains on the map, they had to be pretreated to be able to remove them, and the process is pretty long,” Pukownik said. “You spray the water – it’s completely wet – then, the dirt comes to the surface as it’s being blotted, for as long as it is needed and until you can tell there’s no more dirt coming through.”
After this stage occurs, fractured and creased areas were filled in with matching paper pulp and tissue. Then, the map was set overnight to dry and the next day, a water-based starch glue was applied. After this application, Pukownik used reference material to restore missing pieces within the map.

“Before we put the new canvas … that same tissue is applied on the back because the map, even de-acidified and cleaned, the paper is still antique paper, fragile and could be too weak for contact with other materials,” Pukownik said. “So, we applied the same tissue, clean tissue, on the back, all over and then, followed by the fabric backing.” The fabric backing is modern cotton that was pre-washed. Then, the map was put under weights until it was fully dry.
The entirely dried map was then touched up in color and surface sealer. “The Jefferson [County] map had some weakness in color – some colors faded, original colors,” Pukownik said. “So, they needed to be touched up slightly because of the geographical borders. They were important for the map to be fully informational, so we touched it up with watercolors and at the end, everything was sealed, and the varnish was sprayed on the surface to keep it nice and stable, and it went back in the frame.”

“The work that Maria Pukownik did was so good, I jokingly asked if she had bought us a new version of the map. The before and after comparison is that striking,” Bertazzoni said.

The museum intends to open a new map exhibit in September, and the restored map will become the centerpiece. “The museum owns several maps, including what is believed to be the original plat map of Shepherdstown, as well as two other Shepherdstown maps and another map of Jefferson County,” Bertazzoni said. “We have also just received a gift of an 1883 S. Howell Brown map of Jefferson County from the Jefferson County Historical Society. It is very interesting to compare all of them and see the evolution of both the town and the county.”

The Library of Congress has the 1852 S. Howell Brown map on their website in a form that allows the viewer to zoom in to a specific location Map of Jefferson County, Virginia 1852

Jessie Ramcharran, 2022 Intern

A Shepherdstown resident writes to Martha Washington, 1799

The Museum recently came across a letter that was written to Martha Washington, expressing condolences on the death of her husband,  President George Washington.  The letter was written on December 26, 1799, from “Shepherdstown on the Potomac.”

The author of the letter was Mary Stead Pinckney.  Mary and her husband, General Charles Coatesworth Pinckney, earlier that month, had leased “a small house” in Shepherdstown to serve as their residence. The house would also serve as the general’s headquarters while he oversaw the establishment of the armory at Harpers Ferry as head of the Southern Command of the fledgling American Army. The Pinckneys lived in the house from December 1799 through September 1800.  That house is now the Historic Shepherdstown Museum on East German St.

Charles Coatesworth Pinckney was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, a signer of the United State Constitution, and the American Ambassador to France. He ran for vice-president on the Federalist ticket with John Adams in 1800 and was nominated by the Federalist Party as its presidential candidate in 1804 and 1808, losing to Thomas Jefferson and then to James Madison.

Image courtesy of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. 

Shepherdstown Then and Now

Historic Shepherdstown Museum Reopens with Regular Hours

The Museum reopened on June 12. Read all about it in the Shepherdstown Chronicle’s June 18, 2021 article.

Photo by Tabitha Johnson and used with permission.

Remembering Shepherdstown’s Civil War Veterans on Memorial Day

There’s a new small display in the 3rd floor hallway of the Museum, opposite the Civil War Room. It’s an enlarged copy of two pages from a diary kept by Shepherdstown resident, Cato Moore Entler.  Born in Shepherdstown in 1821, he was the son of Joseph Entler, owner of Shepherdstown’s Great Western Hotel, and nephew of Daniel Entler, owner of the Entler Hotel that now houses the Historic Shepherdstown Museum.

In 1852, Cato Moore Entler began keeping a diary in which he recorded details of events in Shepherdstown, including election results and personal observations.  An important entry in the diary is a list of Shepherdstown men who served in the Confederate Army, with later notations on their fate as a result of the war. Some of the poignant entries include “arm shot off,” “died at Gettysburg,” and “deserted.”


The full diary is available at: https://historicshepherdstown.com/portfolio-item/c-m-entler-1852-diary/  It is an historical document, reflecting the biases of the times, including pro-Confederate leanings. Some later diary entries include recipes, newspaper clippings and instructions for making home remedies for a variety of illnesses.

The diary is on loan to the museum by William Strider of Jefferson County.

In the Wake of Battle: A Woman’s Recollections of Shepherdstown during Antietam Week

From 1884 to 1887 a popular magazine called The Century ran a series called “Battles and Leaders of the Civil War,” and later reprinted it in a variety of formats.  The Historic Shepherdstown Museum recently acquired a copy of Volume 32, which contains Mary Bedinger Mitchell’s memories of Shepherdstown during and after the Battle of Antietam.  Even though the book is available online, its etched illustration show up more clearly in the printed version.

The historian and journalist, Alan Nevins, in his 1967 Civil War Books: A Critical Bibliography, wrote that the series contained “Opinionated and rationalizing memoirs by high-ranking officers on both sides,” and made this work “one of the most quoted in Civil War literature.”  While this is true, it was also by design. The editors of The Century wanted to get personal accounts by leading figures of the War before they died. But they also sought out people they knew had an axe to grind, because controversy always has a good audience.

Perhaps it’s remarkable that the editors at The Century even got accounts from private soldiers and women (if they had asked some African-American participants in the War for their accounts, they would have done us a great service…but sadly they did not). Volume 32 contains the account of Mary Bedinger Mitchell of Shepherdstown during and after the Battle of Antietam, as the town was turned into a hospital for Confederate wounded, and the townspeople into nurses, orderlies, and , predictably, grave-diggers. It is rightfully one of the best sources for what the experience of the Battle of Antietam was like for the town, and that has accordingly drawn the most attention from people writing about it.

Mary’s father Henry had been ambassador to Denmark, but died soon after his return in 1858, when Mary was 8 years old. Her mother Caroline moved the family for a time to Flushing, NY to her parents, but soon moved back to Shepherdstown to purchase Poplar Grove. Mary would return to Flushing sometime around 1869, meet and marry a former Union officer, John F.B. Mitchell, and live there until her death in 1896. When her article was published, she was raising three children.

Mary had two axes to grind. “A Federal soldier once said to me, “’I was always sorry for your wounded: they never seemed to get any care”. We can suspect the soldier was her own husband, but in Flushing there would be others who could tell her how the Union cared for its wounded, to compare with her memories of  the Confederate doctors who eventually arrived in town, “ most of whom might well have stayed away. The remembrance of that worthless body of officials stirs me to wrath”.  But caring for his troops was not a great priority for Lee when he took them to Maryland.  He remarked to his officers at the planning of the campaign that it was going to be unnecessary to provision them, as they’d be marching through cornfields and could eat green corn.  His soldiers begged for food at any door they passed, and it is not surprising that they were mostly left to beg for care of their wounds, as well.

Mary was also indignant that they had to beg care of Shepherdstown, because in 1862 it was not the prosperous, bustling market town for the northern Shenandoah Valley that it had been in 1820. After the Erie Canal could feed the East more cheaply than would be possible with wagon traffic, the Valley farmers stopped going through town with their produce and livestock. Industrialization had put Shepherdstown craftsmen out of business, and the town was stuck on a spur of the railroad. It was not a place that could afford to be filled with the wounded and dying.

Shepherdstown’s only access to the river was through a narrow gorge, the bed of a small tributary of the Potomac, that was made to do much duty as it slipped cheerily over its rocks, and furnished power for several mills and factories, most of them at that time silent. Here were also three or four stone warehouses, huge, empty structures, testifying mutely that the town had once had a business. The road to the bridge led through this cleft, down an indescribably steep street skirting the stream’s ravine, to whose sides the mills and factories clung in most extraordinary fashion; but it was always a marvel how anything heavier than a wheelbarrow could be pulled up its tedious length, or how any vehicle could be driven down without plunging into the water at the bottom…..

   As the wounded began to be brought across from Maryland, the empty structures turn out to be useful: Men ran for keys and opened the long empty shops and unused workrooms; other people got brooms and stirred up the dust of ages.

The unfinished Town Hall had stood in naked ugliness for many a long day. Some-body threw a few rough boards across the beams, placed piles of straw over them, laid down single planks to walk upon, and lo, it was a hospital at once. The stone warehouses down in the ravine and by the river had been passed by, because low and damp and undesirable as sanitariums, but now their doors and windows were thrown wide, and, with barely time allowed to sweep them, they were all occupied; and even the “old blue factory.” This was an antiquated, crazy, dismal building of blue stucco that peeled off in great blotches. It had been shut up for years and was in the last stages of dilapidation. The doorways were boarded up; its windows looked eyeless sockets; boards were missing from the floor, leaving only rafters to bridging gaps; while, in one place at least, it was possible to look down through successive openings, from the upper story to the basement,   whence came back the sound of rushing water, for the stream, that had once turned the machinery (long since departed), still ran under archways in the foundations of the building.

This was the background to her story.  Not the heroics of patriotic Southerners, no Scarlet O’Haras managing to look beautiful while carrying water to the gallant soldiers, but only a poor little town that just happened to be near a slaughterhouse. After having lived through that, at the age of 12, it’s no wonder she preferred New York.

An illustration from The Century magazine’s “Battles and Leaders of the Civil War,” vol. 32