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

Historic Shepherdstown newsletter – August 2022

Dear Historic Shepherdstown Commission Members and Supporters,

It is hard to believe that in just a few weeks, September will be here. It’s been a busy summer at Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum, and we have a lot to share with you.

Our annual meeting and Speaker Series talk will be held the first Wednesday in September. We will be voting on nominees for the Board of Directors and a bylaw change. We have received a donation of an S. Howell Brown 1883 map from the Jefferson County Historical Society, which will be part of a new map exhibit opening this fall; we have begun a new monthly exhibit, the Shepherdstown Antique Display; reenactors will be at the Museum on Saturday, Sept. 17, to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam; this month we are saying goodbye to our summer intern Jessie Ramcharran; and finally, we are among the finalists for “Best Museum” in The Journal’s annual Best of the Best Reader’s Choice Award.

Annual Meeting and Speaker Series

The annual meeting of Historic Shepherdstown Commission will be held on Wednesday, September 7, 2022 at 6:45 p.m. The meeting will be held in the auditorium of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education at Shepherd University. It will be followed by the September Speaker Series talk, given by Dr. Keith Alexander, associate professor of history at Shepherd University. To facilitate voting, the meeting will be in-person only. However, the Speaker Series talk will be available on Zoom. To request a Zoom link, please email us at [email protected], or call the office at 304-876-0910.

Board Nominees

The HSC Board of Directors has nominated four well-qualified people to join our board. In addition, three current members have agreed to serve a second three-year term. Board members will be officially approved at the meeting.

The new nominees, in alphabetical order, are:

Dr. Jim Broomall: Dr. Broomall is the director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War at Shepherd University, where he also serves as an associate professor of history. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville in 2011, where he worked under Prof. William A. Link, whose family is from the Shepherdstown area. Dr. Broomall has developed courses, conferences, and programs of interpretation focusing on the experiences of civilians, soldiers, and slaves during the mid-Nineteenth Century. His scholarship is dedicated to the Civil War-era. He most recently published Private Confederacies: The Emotional Worlds of Southern Men as Citizens and Soldiers as part of the University of North Carolina Press’s Civil War America series.

Yocencia Deal: Ms. Deal has been the Associate Vice President for Document Services at the American Public University System since 2018. She has a strong background in admissions administration, data analysis, and personnel management. In her current position at APUS, she has overall responsibility for providing leadership, management, and supervision for student record processes, systems, personnel, student needs, and for fostering institutional development. Prior to taking on that role, she was the Associate Vice President for International and Graduate Admissions, where she enabled the university to increase its graduate, international and corporate student populations, while ensuring student satisfaction and a smooth enrollment process. She holds a Master’s in Management from APUS and a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from James Madison University.

Claudia Dressler: Ms. Dressler currently works with Fellowship Square Foundation. She is the liaison for board members, donors and volunteers; creates the budget for the administration department; organizes board and committee meetings; oversees events for the organization, and manages relationships with vendors, volunteers and other partners. She has more than 10 years of experience working in advancement. She is experienced with organizing annual campaigns and writing grants. She holds a Master’s in Arts Management from Claremont Graduate University and Bachelor’s degrees in Art History and in Religious Studies from the University of California, Riverside.

Stephanie Unger: Ms. Unger is a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Shepherdstown Middle School. She joined the Jefferson County school system in 2000 as a fifth-grade teacher at Shepherdstown Elementary School, but her love for teaching history prompted her to move to the middle school, where she has taught for the past 13 years. In addition to teaching, she and her husband and another partner own the production company Earth Vibe Production and Events. For 10 years, they produced the Panhandle Earth Day Celebration at Morgan’s Grove Park. Now they focus primarily on local musical events, providing stage, sound and lighting. She holds a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Shepherd University, and she is looking forward to connecting the middle school with The Historic Shepherdstown Museum.

In addition, three current board members have agreed to serve a second three-year term. They are current treasurer Wendy Beckner, current secretary Anne D’Alauro, and Al Levitan, the co-chair of the Building Committee.

Bylaw change

The HSC Board of Directors has approved the following change to the organization’s bylaws. It would amend Article II Section B to reduce the required number of HSC Board of Directors members from between 13 and 17 to between 11 and 17. The change must now be approved by the membership of HSC.

Current Bylaw:

Article II
B. The Board of Directors shall be comprised of no less than thirteen (13) and no more than 17 voting members (current 2009 board composition is grandfathered in). The regular term of office of members shall be three (3) years, beginning immediately following the Annual Meeting in September and shall continue until September 30 of the third year following. The election of Board members shall be such that the terms of not more than five (5) members shall expire in any year. (As amended 9/16/2009)

Proposed bylaw change:

Article II
B. The Board of Directors shall be comprised of no less than eleven (11) and no more than 17 voting members. The regular term of office of members shall be three (3) years, beginning immediately following the Annual Meeting in September and shall continue until September 30 of the third year following. The election of Board members shall be such that the terms of not more than five (5) members shall expire in any year.

Speaker Series Talk

Immediately after the annual meeting, Dr. Keith Alexander will give the September Speaker Series talk. It is entitled Living Libraries: Using Oral History to Preserve the Past. Dr. Alexander’s talk is being given in association with The Historic Shepherdstown Museum’s new exhibit: Educational Opportunities for Black Jefferson County Resident Before and After Brown v. Board of Education.

Dr. Alexander will discuss the importance of oral history as a means to learn about and understand significant historical events. According to the Oral History Association, “Oral history is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events.” It provides a different perspective on history from what is found in traditional print sources, and it is often used with marginalized communities.

Dr. Alexander’s students conducted the interviews that are featured in the new Museum exhibit. The people interviewed were suggested by HSC and Jefferson County’s Black History Preservation Society. Copies of the recordings and transcripts, which the students transcribed themselves, are housed in the HSC archives. The exhibit and talk are being presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Map donation and exhibit

The Jefferson County Historic Society has donated a copy of S. Howell Brown’s 1883 Map of Jefferson County West Virginia to The Historic Shepherdstown Museum. In addition, the Jefferson County Landmarks Commission has provided us with a reproduction of the 1809 Charles Varle map of Frederick, Berkeley & Jefferson Counties in the State of Virginia. We want to thank both organizations for their generous donations. Both maps will be part of a new exhibit featuring maps of Shepherdstown and Jefferson County, which will open in the Museum this fall. The impetus for the new exhibit was the restoration of the Museum’s S. Howell Brown 1852 Map of Jefferson County Virginia. HSC received a grant from Americana Corner this winter to restore and conserve the map.

The exhibit will include maps in the Museum’s collection as well as maps made available by The Library of Congress, the American Battlefield Trust, the Jefferson County Assessor’s Office and the Jefferson County GIS/Addressing Office. The exhibit is expected to open in September, and remain in place through 2023. Stay tuned for more information about the exhibit and the exact opening date.

Shepherdstown Antique Exhibit

The Shepherdstown Antique Exhibit by The Historic Shepherdstown Museum is an opportunity for local residents to display their artifacts in the Museum. We will have a rotation of displayers each month depending on the number of volunteers. A table will be set up in the Museum for participants to display items during regular Museum hours. Some of the artifacts you display must have a direct connection to Shepherdstown. Items that may be of interest include old objects found around the house or yard, family heirlooms, family letters, historic documents, books, pottery, everyday household tools, etc.

The inspiration for The Shepherdstown Antique Exhibit is an article in the Shepherdstown Register in 1922 that described local residents getting together to show others their antiques. The Museum is seeking volunteers who are willing to display and talk about their items of interest to Museum visitors. If you are interested, please contact HSC at 304-876-0910 or by email at [email protected].

Reenactors at the Museum

Saturday, September 17, marks the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. To commemorate the anniversary, The Historic Shepherdstown Museum will host reenactors that day. The reenactors will be both in front of and in the garden of the Museum. Stop by and ask questions about what life was like as a soldier. And when you’re done, head inside and check out the Museum’s exhibit about the Civil War, “Voices from the Storm: The War as Shepherdstown Saw It”. The exhibit tells the story of the Civil War as it was experienced by residents and soldiers from the area. The Museum is open Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m.

Good luck, Jessie

HSC’s Board of Directors wants to wish our summer intern Jessie Ramcharran the best of luck as she returns for her senior year at Hood College. Jessie is a Communication Arts major, and she put her talent to work this summer on several projects. She wrote blog posts about the conservation and restoration of the S. Howell Brown 1852 Map of Jefferson County Virginia, and two new Museum acquisitions, a doll from 1832 that belonged to Virginia Blackford Engle, and a quilt made by Sarah Moler for her son Raleigh when he married Virginia Engle’s daughter Alice. She handled our social media this summer, posting regularly to Facebook and Instagram. And finally, she filmed a three-part virtual video tour of the Historic Museum. The blog posts can be found on our website, www.historicsheperdstown.com, and the videos will be available soon on HSC’s YouTube channel. To find the tour and HSC Speaker Series videos, search Historic Shepherdstown Museum on the YouTube website, www.youtube.com.

Vote for Us!

Finally, The Historic Shepherdstown Museum is one of five finalists for the title “Best Museum” in The Journal’s annual Best of the Best Reader’s Choice Awards. The next step is the final round of voting to determine the winner and two finalists in each category. Voting will be done online, on a specially dedicated website, from September 18-26. Keep an eye on our Facebook page, Historic Shepherdstown & Museum, for exact information about how to show your support for the Museum by voting for us. You can vote daily during the contest.

Enjoy what remains of the summer. We hope to see you either in person or online at our annual meeting and Speaker Series talk in September.

Donna Bertazzoni
President, Historic Shepherdstown Commission Board of Directors

Historic Shepherdstown newsletter – June 2022

Dear Supporters of Historic Shepherdstown,

Welcome to summer! We want to give you a quick update on what’s happening at Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum.

Summer at the Museum

Historic Shepherdstown Museum has reopened for the season. The hours are Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. Our new exhibit “Educational Opportunities for Black Jefferson County Residents Before and After Brown v. Board of Education” opened in mid-May. It offers both background information and the recollections of Black area residents about their schooling. The exhibit is located in the same room as “Busy Sundays”, which focuses on leisure-time activities for Shepherdstown’s Black Community, such as the Red Sox baseball team and the Brothers of Harmony Gospel Choir. The new exhibit is funded in part by the West Virginia Humanities Council and if you visit the Museum, we’d appreciate you filling out a brief survey about your reaction to it.

Thanks to a grant from Americana Corner, the Museum was able to have its 1852 S. Howell Brown Map of Jefferson County, Virginia, restored. The map has been returned to the Museum and, with other Shepherdstown and Jefferson County maps, is on display in the third-floor hallway. It will become the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening in September. Watch for a blog post about the restoration of the 1852 map, coming soon to our website, www.historicshepherstown.com.

The Museum has acquired a few new pieces. Member James Stuart Osbourn, who lives in New York, visited recently and gave the Museum two items, a miniature copper kettle and a small crimping iron. The kettle was made by William McKinney Donnelly, who moved to the Shepherdstown area in the 1840s with his daughter Margaret. Margaret eventually married David Hoffman, who served in the Confederate army during the Civil War and whose rifle is on display in the Civil War room of the Museum. After Hoffman’s death, Margaret married George Osbourn. James is a direct descendant of Margaret and George. Both items will be placed on display soon.

The Museum has also acquired an 1830s doll that was owned by Virginia Helen Blackford, whose sampler is located in the Arts and Industry Room, and a quilt by Sarah Moler. Through research, Board Member Terry Fulton discovered that Sarah Moler was known in the community as “Aunt Sallie”. The Museum also owns “Aunt Sallie’s Quilt”. That quilt has been removed for preservation reasons, but a reproduction of it is on display in the Arts and Industry Room. Both the doll and the new quilt will be put on display either later this summer or next spring. Watch our website for a blog post about the doll.

We have revived The Shepherdstown Antique Exhibit, and we hope to make it a monthly event, scheduled on the last Saturday of the month when the Museum is open. It began on June 25, the day of Streetfest, and it was well received. The exhibit will feature common household items, objects found in and around historic houses, family heirlooms or other interesting antiques with direct Shepherdstown connections and stories. We encourage local residents who are interested in participating to contact Historic Shepherdstown at [email protected].

On Sept. 17, the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, with help from the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War, we will be hosting Civil War re-enactors in the garden area. Stay tuned for more information.

Finally, we have begun a new feature on our Facebook and Instagram pages, thanks to our summer intern Jessie Ramcharren. Jessie is a senior at Hood College in Frederick, MD, majoring in Communication Arts. Every Thursday, she features a different Museum artifact. Check us out to find out what’s in the Museum, and then visit us to see the artifact in person. Jessie is also writing blog posts and is working on a virtual tour of the Museum for our website.

Historic Preservation Awards and new Shepherdstown Historian Laureate

At our May Speaker Series event, Historic Shepherdstown presented its annual Historic Preservation Awards. The Preservation of Historic Structures Award was given to Ebonee and Chris Helmick for the preservation of her family’s home on East German Street. The James C. Price Award was given to retiring Shepherdstown Laureate Betty Snyder Lowe for her many years of preserving the history of Shepherdstown and helping area residents with genealogical research. And finally, the Service to Historic Shepherdstown Award went to John Kavalunias, longtime Historic Shepherdstown Board of Directors member and the chair of the Museum Committee. Congratulations to all of the award winners.

Upon request of Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer, Historic Shepherdstown presented a nominee for the next Historian Laureate to the Town Council at its June meeting. The Council unanimously approved Doug Perks for the position. A native of Jefferson County and a longtime resident of Shepherdstown, Doug was a good friend of Dr. James Price, Shepherdstown’s first Historian Laureate. Doug is a graduate of Charles Town High and he received his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University, and his master’s from James Madison. After 30 years of service, he retired from Jefferson County Schools. He is currently the Historian of the Jefferson County Museum and is a Harpers Ferry Certified Park Guide. Doug is the Historian for the Jefferson County Historical Society, a Director of the Harpers Ferry Park Association, and co-founder of the Charles Town Library Civil War Roundtable.

He is a frequent lecturer on the history of Mr. Jefferson’s County, a contributing author to The Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society, writes the column “Mr. Jefferson’s County” in the Jefferson County Historical Society newsletter The Guardian, and contributes the column “History Matters” to the Spirit of Jefferson. In 2017 he was named a West Virginia History Hero and in 2018 received the Preservation and Conservation Award from the Two Rivers Giving Circle. Congratulations, Doug!

Fall Fundraiser and membership renewals

Mark your calendar! Historic Shepherdstown Commission’s Fall Fundraiser will be held on Saturday, September 3, at the home of Brenda Thorne and Wayne Bronson. Tickets are $45 per person and $80 per couple. HSC members who have contributed at least $250 are eligible to receive one free ticket to the event. Keep your eye out for more details about reservations.

Also, if you have not yet renewed your membership to Historic Shepherdstown Commission, please do so. Our supporters help us fulfill our mission to tell the story of Shepherdstown. You can join online on our website, or you can mail your membership donation to PO Box 1786, Shepherdstown, WV 25443. Thanks so much!

Fall Speaker Series and annual meeting

The first Fall Speaker Series event and HSC’s annual meeting will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in the auditorium at Shepherd University’s Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education. It will also be available to watch on Zoom. The speaker will be Dr. Keith Alexander, associate professor of history at Shepherd University, whose students conducted the interviews that are featured in the new African American exhibit in the Museum. The topic of Dr. Alexander’s talk is “Living Libraries: Using Oral History to Preserve the Past.” The annual meeting for Historic Shepherdstown Commission begins at 6:45 p.m., and Dr. Alexander’s talk will follow it.

For the final Speaker Series event, Historic Shepherdstown will sponsor a public forum entitled “Looking at the History and Future of the Shepherdstown Riverfront.” This event will be a panel presentation and community discussion. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 16, at 7 p.m. Please note the change of date from the previously-scheduled October date.

Fourth of July Parade

Finally, Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum will be participating in Shepherdstown’s annual July 4th Parade. Following the parade, the Historic Shepherdstown Museum will be open from noon to 2 p.m. So come out, enjoy the parade, visit the Museum, and celebrate America’s birthday. We hope to see you there!

Have a wonderful summer,

Donna Bertazzoni
President, Historic Shepherdstown Commission Board of Directors

Historic Shepherdstown newsletter – March 2022

Dear Supporter of Historic Shepherdstown

Welcome to Spring! Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum has a lot of exciting news to share with you. We have scheduled the date for the Spring Opening Reception and the reopening of the Historic Shepherdstown Museum; we have set the lineup for our annual speaker series; we have received grants from two different organizations, one for a new exhibit that will open in May and the other to have the Museum’s S. Howell Brown 1852 Map of Jefferson County Virginia conserved; we are the subject of Hood College’s Public Relations Campaigns class; and our annual membership drive is also ongoing.

Spring Opening Reception and Museum Reopening

The Spring Opening Reception is back! It will be held on Friday, April 22, from 5-7 p.m. at the Entler Hotel, 129 East German Street. Invitations are being mailed to members from 2021 and 2022 who live within driving distance of Shepherdstown. Any member who lives farther away but will be in the area that weekend is also welcome to RSVP and attend. The event will be spread out between the Reception Room and the Entler porches and garden. It will feature hors d’oeuvres and desserts from Carol Sanders. Please RVSP by April 12 to Historic Shepherdstown at [email protected], or call 304-876-0910. We are looking forward to seeing you again.

The Museum will reopen on Saturday, April 23, at noon. Hours this year will be Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. Anyone who is interested in volunteering as a docent is urged to contact Historic Shepherdstown at [email protected]. We will be opening a new exhibit“African American Educational Opportunities in Jefferson County, WV, Before and After Brown v. Board of Education, 1954” the weekend of May 14-15. More information about that exhibit and the grant that is helping to fund it can be found later in this newsletter.

Annual Speaker Series

Our annual Speaker Series presentations begin in April and continue in May, September and October. All of the presentations will be held on Wednesdays at 7 p.m., and they are free and open to the public.

The Speaker Series will be held in the auditorium at Shepherd University’s Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education. Announcements about Zoom availability will be made closer to each talk.

On April 13, archaeologist Edward McMullen will discuss “Archaeological Excavations Above the Falls: Life Before Shepherdstown.” Ed is a professional archaeologist currently working in cultural resource management throughout Northern Virginia and the surrounding region for Thunderbird Archeology, Wetlands Studies and Solutions, Inc.

He has worked extensively identifying and excavating Chesapeake Native/Indigenous sites within Virginia and Maryland. He has a particular interest in Mid-Atlantic Indigenous history and has gained experience excavating, writing reports, and working with clients and agencies to preserve or mitigate cultural resources. His Master’s Thesis focused on excavation methodologies within the Chesapeake Bay region, while providing a paleoenvironmental narrative from the Paleoindian to Late Woodland cultural periods.

On May 11: Shepherdstown Opera House owners Steve and Harriet Pearson will discuss “The Shepherdstown Opera House: A Place of Many Dates.” May is Historic Preservation Month, and Historic Shepherdstown Commission’s annual Historic Preservation Awards also will be presented.

For generations, the Shepherdstown Opera House was the place in town to go out for a date. That’s all Steve and Harriet Pearson had in mind in 2017 when they first heard live music at the Opera House. Little did they know that this historic venue would soon become the stage for the next chapter of their adventures.

Between them the long-married couple had already raised two kids, run a few businesses (and a law practice), and travelled the globe.

Drawn by the culture and beauty of Shepherdstown and surrounding region — and the proximity to Washington, D.C. where Harriet still worked – they had decided to become more involved in the community and eventually relocate here.

So, when they learned that the Opera House was in need of new ownership, the Pearsons made the commitment to restore the building and revive the performance space for the 21st century. The next three years saw many ups and downs in the restoration project including catastrophic flooding of the theater (in 2018) and pandemic-induced delays and uncertainties (2020-21).

Harriet and Steve look forward to re-opening the Shepherdstown Opera House in Summer 2022 and continuing a tradition dating back to 1910 of presenting a broad variety of entertainment for all ages on both stage and screen.

On September 14: Dr. Keith Alexander, associate professor of history at Shepherd University, will present “Living Libraries: Using Oral History to Preserve the Past.” Dr. Alexander’s students conducted the oral interviews that are the basis for a new exhibit “African American Educational Opportunities in Jefferson County, WV, Before and After Brown v. Board of Education, 1954” which will open at Historic Shepherdstown Museum in mid-May. The annual meeting for Historic Shepherdstown Commission will precede Dr. Alexander’s talk.

October 12: Historic Shepherdstown Commission will host a public forum entitled “Looking at the History and Future of the Shepherdstown Riverfront.” This event will be a panel presentation and community discussion.

West Virginia Humanities Council grant

HSC has received a $1,500 mini grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council to help fund a new Museum exhibit that will focus on educational opportunities for African American students in Jefferson County in the era before and after the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.

The new permanent exhibit at Historic Shepherdstown Museum, African American Educational Opportunities in Jefferson County, WV, Before and After Brown v. Board of Education1954” will open May 14. Despite the 1954 high court ruling, schools in Jefferson County remained largely segregated into the 1960s. The exhibit is based on oral histories collected by students of Dr. Keith Alexander, associate professor of history at Shepherd University.

This exhibit builds on Historic Shepherdstown Museum’s effort to fulfill its mission to preserve Shepherdstown’s heritage and the contributions of its citizens by telling the story of all of the people of the community. Only through the actual words of the Black residents can visitors begin to understand the complex lives of African Americans in Jefferson County during the mid-20th century.

Former Historic Shepherdstown Commission President Eleanor Finn proposed the oral history project to Dr. Alexander, and she also spearheaded “Busy Sundays,” Phase I of the Museum’s African American exhibit. “Busy Sundays” opened in 2016 and focuses on leisure time and church activities of Shepherdstown’s Black community. It features photos, quotes and artifacts from members of the Shepherdstown Red Sox, a local all-Black baseball team, and photos and information about the Brothers of Harmony, a well-known local gospel choir.

Oral history is a recognized research technique that gathers information from people with personal experience of historically significant events. In September, Dr. Alexander will discuss the importance of oral history as part of Historic Shepherdstown’s annual Speaker Series.

“African American Educational Opportunities in Jefferson County, WV, Before and After Brown v. Board of Education, 1954”is being presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Americana Corner Grant

Historic Shepherdstown Commission has received a $7,000 grant from Americana Corner to conserve and restore the Museum’s copy of S. Howell Brown’s 1852 Map of Jefferson County, Virginia. The map was donated to the Museum in 1992 by Mary Hartzell Dobbins.

According to Jefferson County historian P. Douglas Perks, who wrote an article about the map for The Spirit of Jefferson newspaper, one of the features that distinguishes this map from earlier maps of the county is “the inclusion not only of every landowner’s name but also the farm’s boundaries, what Brown referred to as ‘Farm Limits.’” As Perks noted, “It is one thing to read a property’s metes and bounds in a deed or to see the boundaries on a plat, but it is another to be able to go to a map and see precisely where the property is located. That is the luxury afforded by S. Howell Brown to his subscribers in 1852, and to both historians and researchers today.”

The 1852 map of Jefferson County is an important historical document that captures all of those details and more less than a decade before the start of the Civil War. Within just a few years, abolitionist John Brown would conduct his raid on Harpers Ferry and subsequently be hanged in Charles Town. The federal armory in Harpers Ferry would be burned and the town would change hands many times during the course of the war. Federal troops took over parts of the county and burned some of the local plantations. And finally, the war itself resulted in the 1871 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Virginia v. West Virginia to include Jefferson and Berkeley counties in West Virginia. Among other things, Brown recorded the changes to ownership and boundaries of properties in a later 1883 map of Jefferson County, West Virginia.

The Museum plans to make the conserved map the centerpiece of a new exhibit in the Historic Shepherdstown Museum of maps of Shepherdstown and Jefferson County, which will open in the spring of 2023.  Maps are important historical documents and the new exhibit will allow visitors to the museum an opportunity to better understand how the town and the county in which it is located have evolved. The exhibit will include maps of both Shepherdstown and Jefferson County.

Among other maps, the Museum owns what is believed to be the earliest plat map of the layout of Thomas Shepherd’s Town. Paper conservation dated the map to the 1790s. At the time, the town was known as Mechlenburgh, and that is how the plat map is labeled. Among other things, the map locates two grist mills, a spring that is now known as Town Run, and the pathway to the ferry that crossed the Potomac River to Maryland. It provides original names of all of the streets, most of which still exist, as well as the layout of the plats of the town. The map shows how much of the original town still exists in the format laid out by Thomas Shepherd. But those who examine the map can also see important changes, such as the disappearance of most of Market Street. That street is now part of the campus of Shepherd University and has been replaced by university buildings.

Americana Corner was founded by Tom Hand in 2020 as an online resource to help others rediscover America’s incredible founding and first century of expansion. From the American Revolution to the settlement of the American West, from the Declaration of Independence to the Emancipation Proclamation, and from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln, Americana Corner contains positive stories of the great events, founding documents, and inspirational leaders who helped create and shape our country. Perhaps most importantly, Tom discusses why these events and people from so long ago still matter to us today. The Americana Grant Program assists organizations that tell the story of our nation’s wonderful past and rekindle a love for American history in all its splendor. Americana Corner can be found online at americanacorner.com.

Students are studying Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum

Students from Hood College’s Public Relations Campaigns course have selected Historic Shepherdstown and Museum as their Spring 2022 subject. Public Relations Campaigns is a 400-level course for Communication Arts and Integrated Marketing Communication majors. The students, all juniors and seniors, are completing a situational analysis for us and they will be writing blog posts for our website. They visited the town, toured the Museum, and interviewed Kimo Williams, owner of KimoPics, who is one of the tenants in the Entler. They will be evaluating our social media, gauging our level of recognition within the community, and offering suggestions for improving our communications and outreach.

Annual Membership Drive

Finally, we want to thank everyone who has joined or rejoined Historic Shepherdstown Commission during its annual membership drive. There is still plenty of time to become a member. You can contact our administrator, Teresa McLaughlin, 304-876-0910, or by email at  [email protected], to ask for a membership form or you can join online through our website, historicshepherdstown, https://historicshepherdstown.com.

We are looking forward to reconnecting with members in person at our Spring Opening Reception on April 22. Don’t forget to RSVP if you plan to attend.

Best,

Donna Bertazzoni
President, Historic Shepherdstown Commission Board of Directors

Historic Shepherdstown newsletter – December 2021

Dear Supporter of Historic Shepherdstown,

We hope you are all having a happy and healthy holiday season. Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum wants to thank you for your support throughout 2021 and bring you up-to-date on a few items of interest.

Volunteer Recognition Event
Historic Shepherdstown Commission recognized its 2021 volunteers at a “We are Thankful for You” reception on Dec. 7, 2021 at the Historic Entler Hotel. In all, 35 volunteers, including docents for Historic Shepherdstown Museum, members of the HSC Board of Directors, and members of various committees were honored.

HSC Board President Donna Bertazzoni thanked the volunteers for their willingness to contribute to the organization during Covid-19. “Both 2020 and 2021 were difficult years,” she said. “Some of us lost family and friends. Other were isolated or unable to regularly visit with the people we love. So, I am exceedingly grateful that during both years, Historic Shepherdstown continued to be guided by a strong board of directors and we had the support of many other volunteers.”

She noted that because of volunteer support in 2021, Historic Shepherdstown was able to reopen the Historic Shepherdstown Museum on a limited basis, resume its annual speaker series via Zoom, offer Ghost Tours at Halloween, host a third-grade field trip, and continue to maintain the historic Entler Hotel complex.

Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer also attended the event. He spoke about the importance of HSC volunteers to the town of Shepherdstown because the Museum helps both residents and visitors understand Shepherdstown’s place in history and its centrality to the region.

All of the volunteers received a certificate of appreciation and a travel mug. In addition, Museum docents, who despite continuing concerns about Covid were willing to greet visitors during 2021, received a gift card donated by German Street Coffee and Candlery.

Historic Shepherdstown received a $400 mini-grant from Volunteer West Virginia to host the event. Volunteer West Virginia started the Volunteer Recognition Mini Grant Program to recognize West Virginia’s volunteers for their outstanding volunteerism during Covid-19. More than 3,500 volunteers, from throughout the state, were recognized through this program.

Christmas in Shepherdstown

Several members of our board marched in the annual Christmas Parade on December 4. We were accompanied by two classic vehicles, a fully-restored 1957 Mercury, owned and driven by Andrew Kavaliunas, and a 1986 Ford Ranger pickup owned and driven by Bruce Massey. Thanks to all who joined our contingent.

Historic Shepherdstown’s Museum was open on Saturdays during Christmas in Shepherdstown, and we saw a steady stream of visitors. We want to thank all of the docents who made it possible for us to open.

Holiday ornament sales
Our 2021 Holiday Ornament, which features the Shepherd Grist Mill, has been a hot commodity. So far, close to 150 of the ornaments have been sold. The last day for sales before Christmas is Wednesday, December 22. The best way to ensure that you will receive the ornament before the holiday is to visit the HSC office in the Entler building on Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The office is located on the second floor, Room 200. Ornaments are $20 each, cash or check.

HSC holiday office closures
Historic Shepherdstown Commission’s office will be closed for the holidays from Dec. 23 through Dec. 27. It will be open on Dec. 28-29, and then close again from Dec. 30 through the end of the year. Regular hours will resume on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.

Annual membership drive
Historic Shepherdstown will be holding its annual membership drive beginning in mid-January. Keep an eye on your mailbox for more information. We rely on members to help support our activities, including opening the Historic Shepherdstown Museum to the public; maintaining the Historic Entler Hotel Complex and the Shepherd Cemetery; offering an annual Speaker Series; and co-sponsoring the Holiday Tour of Historic Churches. We hope you will maintain your membership in 2022.

Have a happy holiday season, and please remain safe and healthy as we move into 2022.

Best wishes,
Donna M. Bertazzoni
President, Historic Shepherdstown Commission

Historic Shepherdstown newsletter – June 2021

Dear Supporters of Historic Shepherdstown,

We are delighted to announce that we are reopening the Historic Shepherdstown Museum for the summer. Please join us on Saturday, June 12, between noon and 4 p.m., when the Museum will reopen for tours. Cookies, iced tea and lemonade will be available in the Reception Room or Garden to celebrate the reopening.

Museum hours will be limited to Saturdays for the month of June. A decision on whether to expand the hours beyond Saturdays will be made at the end of June. For the safety of our docents and other patrons, masks will be required inside the Museum.

Two new pieces related to Col. John Francis Hamtramck will be on display. In 2019, the Museum purchased a presentation sword that had belonged to Col. Hamtramck. It will be displayed with his West Point commission, which the Museum also owns. In November of 2020, a mahogany drop-leaf dining room table that was in the home of Col. Hamtramck was loaned to the Museum by Wanda Perry of Charles Town, WV.

Col. Hamtramck, the son of a Revolutionary War general, led Virginia’s volunteers in the Mexican-American War. He was married to Eliza Clagett Selby of Shepherdstown, and eventually lived in a home on East German Street. He was mayor of Shepherdstown from 1850-1854, and he served on the Jefferson County Court from 1853-1858. He died at his home in Shepherdstown in April 1858 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery. After his death, his men and officers renamed the Shepherdstown Light Infantry the Hamtramck Guard in his honor.

Another new piece that will be on display is an enlarged copy of two pages from a diary kept by Shepherdstown resident Cato Moore Entler, who was the son of Joseph Entler, owner of Shepherdstown’s Great Western Hotel, and the nephew of Daniel Entler, who owned the Entler Hotel that now houses the Museum.

The display features a list of Shepherdstown soldiers who served in the Civil War, including notations such as “arm shot off”, “deserted” and “died at Gettysburg.” The diary was generously loaned to the Museum by Jefferson County resident William Strider. The full diary, in which Entler recorded details of events in town including election results and personal observations, is available at: https://historicshepherdstown.com/portfolio-item/c-m-entler-1852-diary.

Volunteers Needed

Do you have an interest in history? Do you want to help preserve the legacy of Shepherdstown and the surrounding community? Please help us tell the full story of Shepherdstown. This is the time of year that Historic Shepherdstown begins to recruit members for the Board of Directors, HSC committees, and docents to help in the Museum.

Board members serve three-year terms and are elected at our annual meeting in September. The Board meets on the first Wednesday of the month. Board members oversee the operation of Historic Shepherdstown Commission and the Historic Shepherdstown Museum. They also chair and serve on our various committees. You do not have to be on the Board to be a volunteer committee member or docent. We welcome community volunteers. If you have a skill, we have a use for it.

We are looking for board members and volunteer committee members who are interested in helping to maintain the Historic Entler Building complex and garden, docent at the museum, plan and publicize our events and speaker series, fundraise and write grants, help oversee our finances, recruit members, and help us market ourselves to the wider community.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering for the Board or for a committee can contact HSC administrator Teresa McLaughlin at [email protected] or by calling 304-876-0910. Please provide contact information so we can follow up with you.

Next Speaker Series event

Our next Speaker Series program will be held on Wednesday, June 23, at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Our speaker will be C&O Canal historian Karen Gray, and her topic will be “The C&O Canal: Surprising Truths and Colorful Myths.”

This overview of Chesapeake and Ohio Canal history and engineering looks at some of the canal’s most persistent myths and little understood truths. In a heavily-illustrated PowerPoint presentation, Dr. Gray distinguishes the four very distinct eras of the canal’s history and explains such little understood physical characteristics as its three canals and river navigation stretches. She’ll also address the common misunderstandings about the boatmen, the canal company’s bankruptcy, eventual sale, and rocky 33-year path that to its current state as a National Historical Park.

Born in Big Valley, Alberta, Karen Gray grew up in Spokane, Washington, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Whitworth University in Spokane; a three-year post-graduate degree from the Harvard Divinity School; and a Ph.D. under the faculty of theology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Dr. Gray lived in DC for 30 years, and for 20 of those years worked for the Smithsonian Institution’s Associate Program developing educational tours in the mid-Atlantic states region on subjects ranging from art to zoology.

In 2001 she moved to Hagerstown where she volunteers for the C&O Canal NHP as an expert on the canal’s history and engineering. She also teaches non-credit classes in history, literature, religion, and philosophy for Hagerstown and Frederick Community Colleges.

This talk is especially timely, as the C&O Canal is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a National Park this year, and the World Canal Conference will be held in Hagerstown, MD, in late August. To register for Dr. Gray’s talk and request a Zoom link, please email [email protected] or call 304-876-0910 and leave your email address.

Kevin Pawlak’s talk now available on YouTube

Kevin Pawlak’s May Speaker Series talk is now available on YouTube. Pawlak, the Historic Site Manager for Prince William County’s Historic Preservation Division, spoke about “Shepherdstown in the Civil War: One Vast Confederate Hospital, September 1862.” Pawlak’s talk was based on his book of the same name, which was published in 2015. The book is available through the HSC website, at the Museum, or at Four Seasons Bookstore in Shepherdstown.

Pawlak’s talk focused on Shepherdstown in the days immediately following the Sept. 17, 1862 Battle of Antietam. The video begins with the announcements of our annual Historic Preservation Awards. The talk can be found at https://youtu.be/PJOqv05bWrU or by searching YouTube for Historic Shepherdstown Museum. Much thanks goes to our summer intern, Seth Kunkle, a Communication Arts major at Hood College in Frederick, MD, for editing the video and setting up our YouTube channel.

Hold the dates!

Our annual Fall Fundraiser will resume on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. The event will be held outdoors, under a tent. Details will be available later this summer.

Our annual meeting and Dr. Dianne Roman’s talk “The Ladies Garland: The Story of an 1820’s Jefferson County Women’s Magazine” will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. A decision on whether to hold an in-person, Zoom, or hybrid meeting will be made later in the summer.

We are looking forward to seeing you at the Museum reopening on June 12. Please remember to contact [email protected] for a link to Karen Gray’s talk and to volunteer to help Historic Shepherdstown Commission. If you have not joined or renewed your membership this year please do so at https://historicshepherdstown.com/support/join-renew/. Thank you!

Have a wonderful summer,
Donna M. Bertazzoni
President, HSC Board of Directors

Historic Shepherdstown newsletter – December 2020

Dear Supporter of Historic Shepherdstown,

Season’s Greetings from the Board of Directors of the Historic Shepherdstown Commission. We want to thank you so much for your generosity during our recent $60 for 60 Years fundraiser. As of Dec. 11, 2020, the date of our Zoom Happy Hour, we had raised $7,955, far exceeding our hopes. You have truly come through for us, and we appreciate every one of you.

We want to let you know who won the basket raffle. The names were drawn during the Happy Hour by our administrator Teresa McLaughlin, from in front of her Christmas tree in her living room. Those in attendance noted that she regularly mixed up the entries before drawing the names, appropriately, from a basket. The winners are:

  • Autumn basket and sign: Jerry Bock and Bruce Massey
  • Cat Lovers basket: Jim and Peachy Staley
  • Relaxation basket: Eleanor Finn
  • Food and Wine Favorites basket: James Leathers
  • Book Lovers basket: Jim Auxer
  • Christmas Wreath and basket: Nicola Sanchez 

Many thanks need to go to the members of the Events Committee – Wendy Beckner, Anne D’Alauro, Mina Goodrich, Ebonee Helmick, Donna Bertazzoni and Teresa McLaughlin – for the work they did to organize this fundraiser and compile and contribute to the baskets.

We want to announce a few end-of-the year pieces of news:

Wanda Perry of Charles Town has lent the Historic Shepherdstown Museum a table that is believed to have been used by Colonel John Francis Hamtramck. Mrs. Perry purchased the table in the fall of 1986, when the contents of the Wyncoop-Morgan-Selby-Hamtramck-Shepherd-Billmyer house on East German Street in Shepherdstown were sold at public auction. Mrs. Perry acquired the table so it would remain in Jefferson County because family members often referred to the piece as the “General’s Table”, a reference to Colonel Hamtramck. He lived in the German Street home with his wife, Sarah Ellen Selby Hamtramck, following the death of Sarah’s father, Walter Bowie Selby, in 1855. Colonel Hamtramck was the great-grandfather of Elise Selby Billmyer, the last descendant to own the home. The table is currently in the front parlor of the museum. Other Hamtramck items on display in that room are Colonel Hamtramck’s diploma from West Point and his presentation sword. We want to thank Mrs. Perry for her generous loan.

This year’s Christmas ornament, featuring the Opera House, is still available. Contact Teresa McLaughlin at 304-876-0910 or visit our website, www.historicshepherdstown.com, to order yours. Some ornaments from previous years are also still available. Each ornament costs $20.

The schedule for the 2021 Speaker Series has been set. The first event has been scheduled for May, in hopes that by then, Covid-related restrictions on gatherings will have eased. Kevin Pawlak, who gave an abbreviated presentation at our annual meeting in September, will be our first speaker. Details will be forthcoming.

Our annual membership drive will be held in January and February. Please keep an eye on your mail for membership information.

Finally, while 2020 has not been the year any of us hoped it would be, we want to sincerely thank all of you for your continued support and wish you joy and happiness as we move forward into 2021. Please stay safe and healthy over the holidays and during the winter ahead.

Sincerely,
Donna M. Bertazzoni
President, Historic Shepherdstown Board of Directors

2019 Shepherdstown Tour of Historic Churches – Dec. 26th 2-6pm

The popular Shepherdstown Tour of Historic Churches will once again be hosted by Historic Shepherdstown & Museum. Assisted by the Shepherdstown Visitor Center, the event will take place on December 26th from 2-6 pm.

Read more

Children’s Holiday Events, 2018

Historic Shepherdstown will present two events for children during Christmas in Shepherdstown. Both will take place at the Shepherdstown Museum in the Entler Hotel building at the corner of German and Princess Streets. On December 1, right after the 10 a.m. Shepherdstown parade, Santa will greet children at the Museum. The next weekend, on December 8 at 2 p.m., Mrs. Margaret Entler, wife of the original proprietor of Daniel Entler’s Hotel, will present ” ‘Twas a Night Before Christmas,” the famous poem written in the early 1820’s, the same period when Daniel Entler opened the hotel.

As he has done for many years, Santa will talk with children about their Christmas wishes in the parlors of the historic hotel and museum. Santa will present each child with a small gift. This event will begin when the parade ends, around 11 a.m., and end around 1 p.m. The Museum will be decorated for Christmas.

On December 8, ” ‘Twas a Night Before Christmas” will feature Mrs. Entler, portrayed by Karen Johnson, recounting some of the town’s and the hotel’s history and reading Clement Moore’s famous poem. The old-fashioned Christmas decorations will be reminiscent of 19th century Shepherdstown and will represent parts of the poem. There will be activities for the children, along with a copy of the poem for each child and some small surprises.

Historic Shepherdstown’s President, Jerry Bock, noted that “it is good to have children visit the Museum, whether it’s for Santa, Mrs. Entler or a school tour. We want to provide a welcoming place for children and their families. We also want to share this town’s exciting history with its younger members.”

Both events are free.

The Shepherdstown Museum will be open for visitors on weekends from November 24 through December 16: Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

For more information, contact Historic Shepherdstown at [email protected] or 304-876-0910.

Deed Chains

Every home has a history. In Shepherdstown, chances are good that a long line of people owned and/or lived in your home before you did. Creating a deed chain is one way to document this succession of owners and your home’s place in Shepherdstown’s history.

A deed chain is a listing of all known owners of a property, from the first person to purchase it to the present-day owner, if possible. A deed chain typically lists:

  • the grantor (seller) and grantee (buyer) for each purchase
  • the date of the purchase
  • the deed book and page where the purchase was recorded
  • a link to the deed, if available

It may also list:

  • the purchase price
  • the date the deed was recorded
  • any interesting details the deed chain creator has been able to find out about the people who lived there and events that took place there, from newspapers and other sources

Start with your deed when creating the deed chain. It will list not only you and the people from whom you purchased your home, but also the people they purchased it from, along with the deed book and page where the previous owner’s deed is recorded. With this information, you can go to the County Clerk’s Office at the courthouse in Charles Town and look up the deed for the previous owners. That deed will tell you where to look for the next deed, and so on.

You can print out the deeds at the County Clerk’s office for a small fee, and most of the deeds are also online (although there are some gaps in coverage, and you cannot print from the online site.) The County Clerk’s Office has deeds back to 1801, when the county was formed. If you want to extend your search further, you’ll need to look at deeds in Berkeley County and in Frederick County, Virginia. You can check with the Berkeley County Historical Society; the Society has deeds available on microfilm for much of the area. Once you have a list of names, you can stop there, or if you are hooked, you can begin to research the owners and find out what kinds of contributions they made to the town.

The Sharpsburg Historical Society has done a great job of putting together deed chains for many of the homes in Sharpsburg. They can be viewed here:

https://sites.google.com/site/davidhackley/sharpsburghistory

If there is interest, we might consider doing something similar. Please contact us if you would consider  volunteering to do a deed chain for your home.