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River history presentation slated Jan. 11

By Staff | Jan 1, 2010

Blackford’s Ferry at Shepherdstown, Circa 1936-1939.

Through May 2010, the Jefferson County Historical Society and the Men’s Club of Shepherdstown are hosting a series of presentations by local experts on aspects of Jefferson County history.

In the fourth of the series, on Jan. 11, Dr. Keith Alexander of Shepherdstown will discuss the history of eighteenth century waterfront commerce in and near Shepherdstown.

Alexander’s presentation is free and open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. at War Memorial Building, 102 E. German St., Shepherdstown. It will be preceded at 6 p.m. by a social hour at the same location for members of the Society and the Men’s Club. Please note that Doug Perks presentation originally scheduled for Dec. 8 will be held on May 10.

Alexander is Director of Archives at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies andthe coordinator of Shepherd’s Historic Preservation program. He received his MA in 1996 and his PhD in 2003 in history from the University of Maryland. He has been involved in historic preservation efforts in West Virginia and in Germany. His research interests include green historic preservation and service learning in preservation education.

Alexander’s presentation will explore the Potomac’s role in the settlement that became known as Shepherdstown. The river functioned as both barrier and highway, with ferries and mills being the main waterfront industries in the eighteenth century.

Early in Shepherdstown’s history, residents viewed the Potomac as playing a key part of their town’s future by serving as a vital artery for trade and transit. Though this potential was never fully realized, examining the river’s early meaning to Shepherdstown helps us better understand our community and provides historical context for recent efforts to bring new life to Shepherdstown’s waterfront.

Watch for monthly reminders and abstracts about each of the following presentations as well:

February 8 – Jim Taylor, Black History of Jefferson County

March 8 – Walter Washington & Betsy Wells, The Washington Family in Jefferson County

April 12 – Doug Estep, The Mine Wars’ Impacts on Jefferson County

May 10 – Doug Perks, “I Am a Son of Virginia, and Her Destiny Shall be Mine,” the story of Jefferson County’s struggle over whether to secede from the Union.

– For more information about the Men’s Club and the Historical Society, please visit their respective web sites at http://www.smc25443.org/ and www.jeffersonhistoricalwv.org