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Letter to Editor

By Staff | Feb 3, 2012

Heidi Carbaugh

Hagerstown, Md.

I am a student at Shepherd University and a concerned citizen. For several years I have been interested in historic preservation and history. Having moved to this area from Leesburg, Va., I did not know too much about the Eastern Panhandle, aside from Harpers Ferry.

As I studied more closely the history of the area, I discovered a family who was once very prominent in this area the Bedingers.

Mary Bedinger, if the name sounds familiar, wrote an account of the battle of Antietam entitled “A Woman’s Recollections of Antietam.” Mary, of course, was related to Major Henry Bedinger.

Major Henry Bedinger served in the American Revolution, was the second largest landowner in Berkeley County and the town of Bedington is named for him. However, if you go searching for something tangible related to him, you will only come across two shameful sites. The first site is his grave, which is in Shepherdstown. The second site is his home which sits on Route 11 near Tabler Station Road and the airport.

Henry Bedinger’s home, constructed of local materials, is a testament not only to American architecture but to the history of Berkeley County and the Panhandle. The house, which sits on some 300 acres, and was constructed in the late 1790s-early 1800s, is literally falling apart. It is currently owned by Berkeley County Development Authority, and for some reason, Berkeley County has decided that it is okay to tear down the property.

I cannot say that I approve of this action I know I certainly have no political sway, but this is just a thought in a time when Americans are progressively looking forward, always trying to better the future, shouldn’t we look to the past? Without our history we lose a sense of ourselves, a sense of place. You may not know it or you may have heard it and not cared, but history is an inexplicably important part of our identity as a people. I do not have plans to strap myself to the house to stop its demolition or anything nearly as radical as that, but I just ask that the community look long and hard into itself to discover that if Henry Bedinger’s house is demolished, a major resource for understanding vernacular architecture, the history of the people and the history of this area is lost. I can only hope that this small little plea will reach the heart of someone somewhere who would be willing to help me in this fight to save our history.