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Rumsey Monument reaches 100th anniversary

By Staff | Nov 4, 2016

On Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m., Historic Shepherdstown will present a talk by local craftsman and Rumsey historian Nick Blanton, entitled “Setting a Steamboat in Stone: The Creation of the Rumsey Monument.” The talk will take place at the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education, located on King Street on the Shepherd University campus.

It will be preceded by presentation of Historic Shepherdstown’s 2016 Preservation Awards and recognition of Betty Snyder Lowe, Shepherdstown’s newly appointed Historian Laureate.

In his talk, Nick Blanton will explain how the residents of Shepherdstown changed James Rumsey’s steamboat story from a remarkable incident observed by relatively few people to a legend of much greater significance. In the hands of the Rumsey descendants and a few townspeople, this legend became a righteous cause to win aid for Rumsey’s indigent son. After that effort failed, two prominent Shepherdstown citizens, first Alexander Boteler and then George Beltzhoover, Jr., fought for recognition for Rumsey’s accomplishment. Ultimately, Beltzhoover succeeded in placing the present 80-foot monument above the Potomac River, completing the project in 1916.

Nick Blanton was one of the builders of the 1987 replica of James Rumsey’s steamboat, now located in the Historic Shepherdstown Museum garden. He once worked in Colonial Williamsburg’s gun shop. He is now a musician and maker of musical instruments mostly hammered dulcimers. He is President of the Rumseian Society and on the boards of Historic Shepherdstown, Shepherdstown Music and Dance and the Upper Potomac Dulcimer Fest.

Blanton’s talk is the final event in Historic Shepherdstown’s 2016 Speakers Series. The event is free and open to the public. The 2017 series will be announced early next year.

For further information, contact Historic Shepherdstown Administrator Teresa McLaughlin, 304-876-0910 on Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday or e-mail info@historic shepherdstown.com.