Historic Shepherdstown Commission’s September Speaker Series will be held on Wednesday, September 6, at the Erma Ora Byrd Auditorium on the Shepherd University campus. Dr. Benjamin Bankhurst of Shepherd University will be the featured speaker. His talk is entitled Loyalist rising and conspiracy in the Potomac borderlands before Yorktown.
Bankhurst is the Ray and Madeline Johnston Chair in American History and Associate Professor of History at Shepherd University. He completed his graduate studies at King’s College London. His research focuses on migration to the Appalachian frontier in the colonial and revolutionary periods. Bankhurst is the co-director, alongside Dr. Kyle Roberts of the Congregational Library and Archives in Boston, of the Maryland Loyalism Project, a public archive and database documenting the experiences of Chesapeake loyalists in the era of the American Revolution.
Prohibition in Jefferson County is the subject of Historic Shepherdstown Commission’s June Speaker Series event, scheduled for Wednesday, June 21, at 7 p.m., at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education on the campus of Shepherd University. The talk will be given by Lori Wysong, the director of the Jefferson County Museum in Charles Town.
Prohibition in Jefferson County officially lasted barely two decades, but its roots go much further into history and its legacies still impact us today. It brought forward social, economic, and legal issues particular to the region and others that reflected national dilemmas. This presentation will focus on histories of local bootlegging, temperance, and more, as well as on the creation of a new exhibit about Prohibition at the Jefferson County Museum.
Wysong is originally from Maryland and holds an MA in History with a concentration in Public History from Villanova University. In the past, she has worked at museums and historic sites in West Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Pennsylvania. She is a local historian and author of the book Historic Washington, DC: A Tour of the District’s Top 50 National Landmarks.
Dr. Keith Alexander, associate professor of history at Shepherd University, discusses the importance of oral history in his talk entitled “Living Libraries: Using Oral History to Preserve the Past.” The talk was given to accompany Historic Shepherdstown Museum’s exhibit: Educational Opportunities for Black Jefferson County Residents Before and After Brown v Board of Education, which was based on oral interviews conducted by Dr. Alexander’s students. The talk and the exhibit were funded in part by the West Virginia Humanities Council
On Wednesday, May 11, 2022 @ 7 p.m. Historic Shepherdstown will have its second speaker series talk, Shepherdstown Opera House: A Place of Many Dates presented by the owners, Steve & Harriet Pearson. It will be held at the Byrd Center Auditorium on Shepherd campus.
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.
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.
Edward McMullen 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.
Wednesday, April 13, at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at Shepherd University’s Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education.
Austin and Carmen Slater, owners of the Christian Clise House on West New Street in Shepherdstown, will give the final Historic Shepherdstown Speaker Series talk of 2021 on October 13 at 7 p.m. via Zoom.
The Slaters’ talk, “Love Begins at Home”, will recount their experience renovating the 18th Century home. Additionally, the Slaters will step us through the process of making application for the West Virginia State Historic Restoration tax credit, which they successfully navigated.
Earlier this year, the Slaters received Historic Shepherdstown’s Preservation of Historic Structures Award for their restoration work.
The Christian Clise House, circa 1789, was built as a log house. Clise purchased the lot from Abraham Shepherd in 1785. Succeeding owners enlarged the house, adding a center hall, siding and other unique architectural details. The house is an excellent example of refined log and chink construction covered with painted weatherboard siding.
The Slaters undertook the project both to restore and preserve this unique and historical residence. Improvements included removing paint from the exterior rubble foundation, renovating the southeast and northwest chimneys, replacing the roof over the basement door, and uncovering a window under the front porch.
Both Austin and Carmen Slater have a deep interest in history. Austin holds an MBA from George Washington University and an B.S. from Shepherd University. He is the retired president and CEO of the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative and remains involved in finance and investment activities. Since he moved to Shepherdstown, he has joined the Board of Historic Shepherdstown Commission and become a volunteer at Antietam National Battlefield. Carmen is a licensed personal trainer and a former dental hygienist. Having renovated and operated several homes and investment rentals, Carmen was the hands-on force behind restoring the Christian Clise House. A passionate animal rights supporter and environmentalist, she devotes much of her time to her ever-expanding organic garden.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021. The first Fall Speaker Series event will feature Dr. Dianne Roman. The topic of Dr. Roman’s talk, which will begin at about 7 p.m., is “The Ladies Garland: The Story of an 1820’s Jefferson County Women’s Magazine.”
Dr. Karen Gray, volunteer historian at C&O Canal National Historical Park, will give the next Speaker Series talk for Historic Shepherdstown Commission on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Her talk will focus on “The C&O Canal: Surprising Truths and Colorful Myths.” This overview of Chesapeake and Ohio Canal history and engineering will look at some of the canal’s most persistent myths and little understood truths. Dr. Gray will distinguish the four very distinct eras of the canal’s history and explain such little understood physical characteristics as its three canals and river navigation stretches.