Heritage Society Chronicle – December 2018

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From the President:

It has been a very exciting year at the Warren Heritage Society. We have a new Executive Director whose brief bio is included in this publication (see page 4). She has a fund raising background and has started out with many goals for the Society including many more programs.

The Society received a bequest from a former member, Pearl C. Zigler. She was active in the Warren Heritage Society and the Garden Club of Warren County in earlier years and was involved in the establishment of the Belle Boyd Garden. Her bequest is to help maintain the garden. It came at a very fortunate time as our boxwood shrubs were diseased and needed to be removed. In this process, the whole garden has been cleaned up with the Master Gardeners directing some of the activities. We do greatly appreciate their interest and care of our gardens.  Her nephew, John Wampler, came to visit us at our request, and we had a small ceremony recognizing his aunt’s contribution to the Warren Heritage Society (see photo page 5).

We have already started cleaning up the garden by removing the diseased boxwoods. The Master Gardeners have been assisting us in the garden renovation.

Again, it has been a busy year and it has been my pleasure to serve the Warren Heritage Society.

Lorraine Hultquist

From the Executive Director:

2018: What a Year!

From everything I have heard, 2018 was an exciting year here on the campus of the Warren Heritage Society. Note that word “exciting”. Excitement occurs when unexpected things happen.

It was unexpected that the Executive Director hired in July would leave without warning in September due to unexpected circumstances – only a couple weeks before the Festival of Leaves. But that’s what happened. That sudden departure made the planning and execution of the Festival of Leaves this year more…exciting…than ever before.

Archivist Deborah Corey stepped up to the plate and became Acting Executive Director of the Heritage Society. She orchestrated the many moving parts and kept the balls in the air for everything. Business Manager Susan Jeffery did a splendid job of organizing the vendors and paraders, with invaluable help of Volunteer Tina O’Loughlin.

The result was a very successful Festival of Leaves – the police told us that they thought more than 25,000 people attended.  That was remarkable – even more so considering the weather started out damp and cold that very day as if to add to the challenge!

There were 30 groups in the parade, and over a hundred vendors.  There were four different bands, and eight performance groups.  We had six Living History exhibitors, and a real live blacksmith, Haakon Lerwick. And of course, our signature Apple Butter makers, Dean and Kandi Lamb’s Seasons of the Hollow.

Special thanks needs to be given to Alan Fox and Bryon Biggs for managing the entertainment; to Laura Biggs, Waltraud Hornick, and Vernee Peterson, who organized and cooked in the Outdoor Kitchen; Joe Ortiz for running the Children’s Corner; Michael Hirsch, for event day vendor and parade coordination.

Connie Marshner

Warren Heritage 2019 Calendar:

Warren Heritage Society is publishing a unique 2019 calendar. This is a fundraising project for the Society, of course, so a large part of your purchase price is a donation to the Society.

As we see it, this Calendar is one more way the Society can save history and make history for Front Royal and Warren County.

  • The calendar features pictures from our Archives – and also pictures that residents and former residents of Front Royal sent us.
  • It features important dates in the lives of our town: such as the day certain businesses opened, or certain happy anniversary and birthday messages – some written in code, some not.

We have included as many events as we could learn of: school calendar, dates of plays and concerts, and other important things like that.

There’s never been a calendar like this before – and we trust that it will be the beginning of a new tradition in Front Royal.  So grab your own piece of history – you’ll want to reserve your copy right away.  It can be yours for the suggested donation of $18.00 per calendar.

To reserve your copy, please email Susan at: WHSBusinessManager@comcast.net.

Upcoming Events at Warren Heritage Society:

On Saturday, March 30, we’re having Heritage Day. It’s going to be a busy day:

  • 10 am: The Archives will open. The public is welcome to come. We will help you search for your ancestors. And we’re hoping to organize some ancestry-hunting events for young people at the same time. Stay tuned for details!
  • 2 pm: Talk. Darryl Merchant, Chair of the Warren Blue Ridge Heritage Society, will speak on “The Displaced Mountain Folk and the Opening of the Shenandoah National Park”.
  • 4 pm: Heritage Tea. Tickets for the Tea will be $15. Closer to the day, you’ll be able to buy tickets on our website.

On Saturday, May 25, we’re celebrating Constitution Day. This is the date in 1788 on which Virginia ratified the U.S. Constitution.

  • 2 pm: Talk. Richard Hoover will speak on “The History of Front Royal and Warren County”.
  • Simultaneously, we’re hoping to organize special events for young people elsewhere on campus. Stay turned for more details!

For your summer planning: We will have a Summer Camp in 2019! This will take place the week of July 15, and will be open to children ages 6 through 18. Details to follow closer to the date.

Thank you thank you thank you, volunteers:

Warren Heritage Society could not survive without our treasured volunteers.

Our buildings are old and need lots of TLC. That is given to them in abundance by our awesome Building and Grounds Crew. Led by Dale Corey, the stars this year have been Jamie Walker, Bill Grewe, Patrick Corey, and Sean Carrigan. Not to forget Donnie Thompson and the Methodist Men’s Group, who have been cutting our grass for years.

The Laura Virginia Hale Archives handled close to a thousand calls this year, all of which received our careful attention. This was the year we started to reorganize our Materials Collection (the artifacts that fill several rooms of the Ivy Lodge). Alex Snyder has been indispensable to that effort.

Turner Robertshaw Funeral Home donated all its records to the Heritage Society, but all of those need to be organized and digitized.  Thank you to Lillian Sager for working steadily and tirelessly on that – and also for manning the country store museum during the Festival of Leaves. Lillian received our “Volunteer of the Year” award for her faithful service in 2018.

Thank you too to Olivia Heflin, who is fulfilling her National Honor Society service obligation by helping us do many things here at the Society. She fits us in between classes and her softball team obligations, and we deeply appreciate Olivia.

If you have two or more hours a week, and would like to help save history or make history as a volunteer, please contact Connie at WHSExecutiveDirector@comcast.net, or call 540-636-1446 ext. 1#.

Welcome Aboard!

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce the hiring of our new Executive Director, Connie Marshner. We had a number of applicants but Connie’s fundraising capabilities and energy she brings to the Society stood out from the crowd. Here is Connie’s bio:

Connie grew up around the country: her father was a Captain in the U.S. Navy. His father’s father had come from Ireland and fought in the Union Army; his mother’s father had been a Confederate Colonel from Tate County, Mississippi. During the Depression, the family moved to Mississippi – so her father grew up with Southern sensibilities and Wisconsin discipline, all of which he solidified in the U.S. Naval Academy, and passed on to Connie.

Growing up in the Navy, Connie lived in a number of states, but none of them in the South – so she elected to attend the University of South Carolina, from which she graduated with a degree in Secondary Education in English. When Christendom College opened in 1977, her husband, William, was one of its founding faculty members. Connie’s mother moved to Front Royal in 1980. Because Connie was still working in Washington, her husband commuted until the family moved to Front Royal in 1995.

Connie was Vice-President for Development at the American Family Business Institute, a 501(c)(6) trade association with an affiliated PAC and foundation, and before that Senior Development Officer at The Leadership Institute in Arlington. Later on, she headed her own fundraising and marketing consulting firm, Connie Marshner and Associates.

Connie and Bill have four children, who are scattered from Nevada to Pennsylvania, and eight grandchildren. Fortunately, one daughter lives in Winchester, so Connie gets to enjoy grandmothering on weekends!

And oh yes, Connie has an interesting hobby: all things Irish! She has a lifelong interest in Irish history and is working toward fluency in Gaeilge, the Irish language. She recently achieved distinction in the TEG, the European Union proficiency examination in Gaeilge.

So don’t be too surprised if you hear about a possible future exhibit on “Celtic Connections of the Shenandoah Valley”!

I do hope you’ll find time in the New Year to stop by the Ivy Lodge to meet Connie and enjoy our exhibits and historic homes. I think you will be quite pleased with the addition of Connie to the staff and with her warm and welcoming personality.

A word from our incoming President:

Good bye to 2018 and welcome to 2019, which promises to be a year of change for Warren Heritage Society! As of January 1, 2019, Lorraine Hultquist steps down as President and I will become President.

Lorraine Hultquist served two years as President. Under her guidance, major landscaping and beautification projects were completed.  These projects will continue to give beauty and joy long after her tenure is over.

As the new President, I  will oversee the continuation of Lorraine’s work, and will also continue to improve the grounds and plan for the much-needed repair and maintenance of our buildings.

To help fund the repair of the buildings, our new Executive Director Connie Marshner has re-launched our GoFundMe campaign. Please visit it at  https://www.gofundme.com/manage/save-the-balthis-kitchen. And please spread the word to your friends too!

I look forward to 2019 as a time of change and renewal, and I’m ready for the challenge. I’m confident that with everyone pulling together we can go far!

In case you don’t know me, I’m a lifelong resident of Front Royal. I literally got my love of the history of Warren County at my mother’s knee. My mother, Lucy Compton Kephart, was a long-standing member of the Warren Heritage Society and served on the board for many years. When she retired from the board, I was appointed as her replacement – and I am honored to serve the Heritage Society.

I’m looking forward to meeting you at one of our upcoming events.

THE EARLY CHURCHES OF WARREN COUNTY (cont’d. from May 2018 Chronicle)

The Herdon brothers came to Front Royal in the 1830s preaching new doctrines of the Baptist faith. A division occurred between the “old school” and the “new school”, properly known as Primitive Baptist and Missionary Baptist. In 1914 the Fist Baptist Church (Missionary) was erected on the corner of North Royal and First Street, its current location.

There were several other Baptists churches in the county. One was located on Blue Mountain near the Howellsville Methodist Church; one at Riverton, disbanded due to flood waters; and the Zion Primitive Baptist Church at Nineveh, organized in 1801. According to Frederick County records, the land for Zion Church was surveyed in 1797 and in 1801 the church was built, making it the oldest standing church structure in Warren County. Several cannonball holes in this building of hued beams and wooden pegs, with plaster of red clay, hogs’ hair and lime, point to the Civil War and perhaps to the 1864 Battle of Nineveh. Other old Baptist churches are Browntown (1873), Bentonville (1887), Third Lion (1895) and Second Guildfield (1911).

Several union churches existed in which a number of denominations jointly kept up the building and shared its use. Recently restored is the Union Church at Glen Echo, owned by Primitive Baptists, Southern Baptists, United Methodists and Brethren. The Union Church in Browntown also served four denominations; today it is used by Primitive Baptists. The Brethren Church in Browntown is now a private residence with its former membership largely included in the Church of the Brethren in Front Royal.

The Lutherans came up the valley from Pennsylvania and Maryland and settled in Browntown and met, at first in private homes. Jacob Masemer, a building contractor, came to Browntown with F.P. Cover of Hanover, PA, to build the Cover Tannery. These men inspired by a Lutheran distributor of Bibles and religious books, supervised the building of the Union Church and in 1885 built a beautiful sanctuary, the Ebenezer Lutheran Church, on the exact spot where Henry Compton had operated a barroom. The Rev. J.I. Miller was the first pastor.

In July 1942 the Rev. J. Glenn Bolick came to Front Royal to organize a Lutheran church at the intersection of North Royal Avenue and Seventh Street, the Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church, now located at Sixth Street and Virginia Avenue. The Rev. Bolick also served the Ebenezer Church, but during his second summer told the Browntown congregation he felt his “time was wasted to preach at Ebenezer any longer.” By that time there were only four members and they decided to unite with the Front Royal church. The Ebenezer Church was offered to the Baptists.

Williams Chapel on Chester Street is the oldest church in Front Royal and the only one to survive from antebellum days. It was completed and dedicated in 1849 by the Presbyterians who first organized in 1794 and shared several houses of worship through the intervening years. Town records indicate that in 1885 the Front Royal Presbyterian congregation bought a lot for a new church where the Northern Virginia Daily office now is located. Today the Presbyterians worship in a large, modern brick sanctuary on Luray Avenue.

In 1867 a Presbyterian congregation was organized at White Post. In 1882, with 18 members of the Front Royal church unable to cross the bridgeless Shenandoah River, the White Post congregation joined them and established a new church at Nineveh. The Nineveh Presbyterians worshiped in the Zion Baptist building for 10 years, then acquired from Magnus Leach the old Quaker site and built their own church. The first building was struck by lightning and burned to the ground in 1913. The Presbyterians used the Zion church again while they rebuilt the present structure, dedicated in 1916. It was enlarged and remodeled in the 1970s. Today the Buckton and Nineveh congregations are served by one pastor.

Many historic events took place within the walls of Williams Chapel. It was the seat of the Warren County government during the first year after the Civil War when the courthouse was being used as a military hospital. Three parties held conventions in this church in 1888 and it was the location of Confederate spy Belle Boyd’s lecture that same year. Afterward the church was used as an elementary school. In October 1889 the old church was sold to M.C. Richardson who sold it nine years later to the Methodist Episcopal Church. This denomination has worshiped in its historic little church since that time and named the church after their bishop.

The Methodists have a long history in Warren County. William Water carried Methodism across the Blue Ridge around 1775 and, according to a history of the Front Royal United Methodist Church, the first meeting house of that congregation was built in 1792. The pioneer Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury in his diary mentions the existence of a Methodist Chapel in Front Royal in 1805 at a time when other circuit riders were carrying the gospel to more remote areas of the county.

The town trustees and property owners met in March 1816 in the Methodist Church, a weather-boarded meeting house occupying the site of a later church which was incorporated into the Murphy Theater building. The present Front Royal United Methodist Church was dedicated May 23, 1909. In 1919 the congregation separated, making a second charge at Riverton, to help minister to a growing membership as well as duties at Randolph-Macon Academy. In 1955 the educational building was added to the Front Royal Church which is now the largest congregation in the town.

More than 100 years ago oxen dragged logs out of Blue Mountain to construct a Methodist Church at Howellsville. Methodists prospered in Linden, where most of the church-going people today are Methodist. The original church burned but there have been three churches owned by the Methodists in that section of the county. Other Methodist churches are at Linden, Bentonville, Rocky Lane, Reliance and Bennett’s Chapel.

A small band of Roman Catholics had been worshiping in homes in Warren County and Front Royal for many years when, on September 7, 1884 they gathered for the dedication of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church at West Main Street and Luray Avenue. Built as a memorial to John Carroll Jenkins, a Maryland soldier who died for the Confederacy and whose family gave the money for the erection of the building, the church was dedicated by the Rt. Rev Bishop Keane of Richmond.

It was the desire of the Jenkins family that a church dedicated to the young soldier’s memory be built near the site of his death at Warm Springs, but they were persuaded that there was a greater need in the Shenandoah Valley. Front Royal was chosen and the land for the building was donated by George W. Macatee, a prominent local citizen. The Jenkins family paid not only for the construction of the church, but also the altar, bell, pews, vestments, lamp and sacred vessels. The exterior is distinguished by a Gothic bell tower simply crowned with a cross. The simplicity of the interior reflects its early beginnings, though natural wood paneling and exposed beams were added at a later remodeling. A treasure of the church is the beautiful rose window over the altar. St. John’s originally was a mission church, but over the years the congregation grew and in 1940 St. John’s was designated a parish with the Rev. Martin T. Quinn as its first resident pastor.