Shepherdstown In September 1862 – A Confederate Hospital

Kevin Pawlak

The Historic Shepherdstown Commission Speaker Series will feature Kevin Pawlak, Historic Site Manager for Prince William County’s Historic Preservation Division, on May 12 at 7pm.

Pawlak’s presentation will be based on his 2015 book titled Shepherdstown in the Civil War: One Vast Confederate Hospital, September 1862.

In September 1862, Western Maryland became the focus as Robert E. Lee’s thus-far victorious Confederate army advanced north across the Potomac River to deal the final blow to a United States that seemed to be on its last leg. Lee began his campaign with the goal of defeating a Union army on northern soil and gaining independence for the eleven states of the Confederacy, while U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and George McClellan, commander of the Union Army of the Potomac, struggled to keep the United States as one nation instead of two. This decisive campaign culminated along the banks of Antietam Creek, stopping the Confederacy’s quest for independence and helping to grant freedom for enslaved people. The Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single-day battle of the war, changed the course of the Civil War and of the United States itself. It also turned Shepherdstown into “One Vast Confederate Hospital.”

Pawlak is a 2014 graduate of Shepherd University, where he majored in History with a concentration in Civil War and 19th Century America and minored in Historic Preservation. He is a Certified Battlefield Guide at Antietam National Battlefield and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, He is on the Board of Directors for the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association, the Save Historic Antietam Foundation, and the Friends of Ball’s Bluff Battlefield.

In addition to his book about Shepherdstown, he has written “To Hazard All: A Guide to the Maryland Campaign, 1862”, with Robert Orrison, published in 2018, and “Antietam National Battlefield”, published in 2019. He is a regular contributor to the “Emerging Civil War” online blog, and is currently working on a study of George B. McClellan and the Army of the Potomac in the Maryland Campaign.

May is also Historic Preservation Month, and HSC’s annual Historic Preservation Award winners will be acknowledged before Pawlak’s talk. Austin and Carmen Slater will receive the Preservation of Historic Structures Award for their restoration of the Christian Clise House. Bruce Massey and Jerry Bock, the inspiration behind the Shepherdstown Tour of Historic Churches, will receive the Preservation of Historic Legacies Award, also known as the Dr. James C. Price Award. Finally, longtime HSC board member Vicki Smith will receive the Service to Historic Shepherdstown award.

This will be an online-only event. To register and receive a Zoom link, email

Four Experts to Discuss Artisans of the Lower Shenandoah Valley

On Wednesday, September 11th, Historic Shepherdstown will present “Artisans of the Lower Shenandoah Valley,” a panel discussion by four experts on the history of decorative arts in this area. Located at the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education on the Shepherd campus, the free event will begin at 6:45 with Historic Shepherdstown’s annual meeting followed by the talks from 7 to 8:30. Light refreshments will be served afterwards.

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

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

The titles of the individual talks will be:

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

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

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

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 10 Speakers Series: Dennis Frye

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

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

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

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

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



Speakers Series: Shenandoah Valley’s Germanic Heritage

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

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

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

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

The 2018 Speakers Series will feature three additional programs:

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

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

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


Historic Shepherdstown to Feature Quilt Events in May

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

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

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

Both events are free and open to the public.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sept. 6, 2016: "Shepherdstown: Decisive Battle of the Maryland Campaign of 1862" by Dr. Tom Clemens