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Evidence supports Morgan Springs’ connection with Beeline March

By Staff | Feb 21, 2020

There are many newcomers to the area who don’t know why the 1988 anniversary of the U.S. Army was held in Morgan’s Grove Park. Many people think the spring in the park is Morgan Springs, which it is not. Morgan Spring is located midway towards Shepherdstown.

The Jefferson County Historical Society publishes a yearly magazine, and Volume, LVIII, Dec. 1992 published an article, “Shepherdstown and the Morgan-Stephenson Companies, 1775-1988.”

The editor at the time was John Stealey, a noted historian. His editor’s foreword to the article by Lt. Colonel Joseph Whitehorne, a U.S. Army historian, is worth reading.

“One of the sites was the place of origin of the Beeline March in 1775 at Morgan Spring on Falling Spring Branch, Shepherdstown, WV.

“Publication of this article is timely as the Morgan Spring property has recently been compromised despite the site’s designation as a registered landmark under the provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act.

“Without complying with federal law, particularly Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the Conservation Fund, Inc, headquartered at Arlington, Virginia, and the Appalachian Fruit and Berry Laboratory of the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture launched a major construction project that disturbed archaeological features and the site’s surroundings.

“The local operating arm of the Conservation Fund, Inc. is the Freshwater Institute, also known as the Spring and Groundwater Institute.

“Among the activities were the placement of a long trailer, extensive ditching, grading of roadways and building sites, and the dumping of more than 3,200 tons of shale.

“The State Historic Preservation and interested parties are trying to compel belated compliance with the provisions of federal law.

“The effort may result in some degree of mitigation of damages at the landmark.

“What the future holds for this significant Revolutionary War site, of the the few in West Virginia, remains uncertain.”

At the time, I was researching and writing the “Morgan’s Grove Historic District,” the Conservation Fund was uncooperative, and did not recognize the springs had been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the “Falling Spring, Morgan’s Grove/ Falling Spring Complex” in 1988.

It is believed the Conservation Fund did not want publicity about the springs, because they wanted to apply for a government grant without going through the federal requirements. Regional newspapers, and even The Washington Times, covered the situation. After several years of intense meetings and negotiations, the Conservation Fund, demolished the concrete pads, took the trailers away,and cleared out the roads they had constructed.

What they did not do, was remove the tons of shale and gravel that was dumped into the marshy spring area to create a pad for huge tanks, so the springs were compromised, and made smaller. The agency has moved to another spring area outside of town.

Diana Suttenfield, of Shepherdstown