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NEH teachers come to Shepherdstown to learn about their heritage

By Staff | Jul 20, 2018

SHEPHERDSTOWN – Twenty-five teachers are accepted into the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for Teachers every year at Shepherd University to learn about Appalachian storytelling, music, literature and culture. But, this year, at least one of the teachers have come to the institute for more than educational purposes.

Honoria Middough, a teacher in Carrboro, North Carolina, said she has already taken advantage of her free time during the institute, to learn more about her family’s history in West Virginia.

“I did a lot of research in the Scarborough Library, and they gave me some ideas about where to start looking for information about my great-great grandfather,” Honoria said, mentioning the Library of Congress didn’t have any information to help identify her great-great grandfather’s name.

Middough’s great-great grandmother, Helen Middough, married Middough’s great-great grandfather, J. Middough, in Virginia, and moved to West Virginia with him and his mother, Amanda Middough. The couple had several children together while in West Virginia, but when Helen moved back to Virginia with their children and Amanda, her husband did not return with her.

“I figured while I’m here for this educational opportunity, I’d see what I could find out,” Honoria said, mentioning finding out his first name could help her identify how he acquired property, which was passed down to her grandfather, who then sold it before her birth.

J. Middough passed down 100 acres of land in rural Virginia to his descendants, which doesn’t make historical sense to Honoria, since African Americans didn’t usually own land in the South in the 1800s. However, Honoria thinks he may have passed for white, because his mother was called “bright skinned” by people who remembered her after her death.

Along with hoping to find out what the “J.” stands for and why he didn’t return to Virginia with his family, Honoria also wants to unearth information about a white woman, Jesse Wells Middough, who went by the last name “Middough,” even though she wasn’t born with the last name, and was only recorded to have married a man with the last name of “Wells.” Jesse died in 1942, and is the only Middough recorded living in West Virginia around the same time as Honoria’s family.

If you have any information regarding Honoria’s family history, email edit@shepherdstownchronicle.com.