Battlefield presentation to S.A.I.L.

Dr. Mike Nickerson, President, SBPA and Grant Smith, President, Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle gave a luncheon presentation to the Shepherdstown Area Independent Living (SAIL) group about the past, present and future of the Shepherdstown Battlefield, and an update on our valued partners’ efforts to preserve the Battlefield.

The meeting occurred at the Trinity Church at their September meeting at noon on Friday, September 22.  About 25 attendees enjoyed lunch, history and mechanisms for land preservation and conservation including land trust and farmland easements.

Pictured are Dr. Nickerson, SBPA (left) and Grant Smith, LTEP.

Questions followed about local history, battlefield artifacts, prospects for a new National Battlefield and about local families such as the Botelers (Cement Mill owners), Blackfords (Ferry operators and MD farms) and the Folks-Myers-Lowes.

The SBPA had an information table with books, maps, merchandise, pamphlets and battlefield artifacts.  Of great interest, a participant was able to identify an artifact from the Battlefield found by Dr. Nickerson that was unknown for many years.  It is a saddle horn ‘tree’ that was part of a ‘McClellan’ saddle that was in standard use by the Union Calvary during the Civil War.  How great is that?

Awards Picnic on the Osbourn Farm

A Battlefield Picnic on the Osbourn Farm was hosted by the SBPA on August 26 from 4 – 6 pm.  It was a highlight of the 2023 summer!  The SBPA received the 2023 Conservation Award from the Two Rivers Giving Circle.

The picnic was ‘sold out’ at 65 people and the SBPA took the lead on renting a tent, tables and chairs.  Live music was provided by a local band from Packhorse Ford, “Paul the Resonator and the Potomac Valley Dustbusters”.

In addition to the presentation of the award, Dr. Nickerson, SBPA President, thanked the SBPA Officers and Board of Directors, our Donors and Supporters, our Preservation Partners, the many Volunteers and Battlefield neighbors, and our County, State and Federal representatives for their long term and continued support.

The sound system was provided by Bill Unger and catered appetizers were from Grazeful, LLC., from Martinsburg.  Thank you to the Two Rivers Giving Circle, volunteers who helped set up and clean up, and all who attended.  Thanks for mowing the lawn Julie!

Battlefield Booth at Local Festival

On Saturday August 19, 2023 the SBPA presented a table at a local music and agriculture festival near Shepherdstown. 

The Tomato Jam Festival was a success with over 300 people attending.

At our booth we discussed the battle and our efforts to preserve properties, and showed books, maps, artifacts, pamphlets and MORE

Volunteer Pam Underhill (pictured) did some Table Time, and also thanks to Rosemary and Hannah Nickerson and the Russo family for a great day.

Walking Tour, Video at the Opera House

Sunday, September 17, 2023: Jim Surkamp is doing a 40 minute walking tour then showing a 30 minute video about the impact of the Antietam Battle on Shepherdstown.  Jim advises that:

“The walking tour will address the care of the wounded in Shepherdstown during that September using many unpublished diary accounts of young women and townspeople. Any of your members who wish to join the tour need to email ME at [email protected]  . . . Telling me that they “DEFINITELY WILL ATTEND”, “MIGHT ATTEND” OR “WILL NOT ATTEND” the walking tour before the showing at the Opera House. It is limited to twenty people and  we prefer members of the sponsoring organizations.”

The video, Shepherdstown Remembers Antietam” will be shown at the Opera House.

Please read this announcement from Harriet Pearson of the Opera House for more information.

SBPA Activities Update

by Mike Nickerson, President, SBPA

Hello and hope you all are well.

It’s been a busy summer! Just a month ago or so I was touring the James Osbourne Farm with local descendants of the Folk family, who purchased and owned Mountain View Farm in 1883 – 1943. That was an interesting tour.

Moving into new business:

Battlefield Tour

Two weeks ago Dr. Tom Clemens led a battlefield tour of (who knew?) Civil War enthusiasts from the U.K. I think a European market for our tour is a great idea! Way to go, Tom.

Protection of Carvings

Last week, SBPA member Jerry Moore and I installed UV-blocking plexiglass over the carved signatures in the corn crib. This was done to physically protect them, and the installation actually improved the visual on the individual signatures – which include James Osbourn 1861; C M + S M (1883); and D. H. F. (Daniel H. Folk).

Betty Snyder Lowe helped identify Daniel in her book “The Folks of Swan Pond”. The Folks purchased Mountain View Farm as a wedding present for their daughter. At the time the Folk Family owned the Lord Fairfax Northern Neck Estate House off Route 45 west of Shepherdstown. Thanks for initiating this JT!

Sign Installation at the Osbourn Farm

This week, Martin Burke installed the first of two signposts at the entrance to the Osbourn Farm.

Then on Saturday, SBPA VP Steve Alemar and Martin installed the second one which includes the SBPA sign!

Stop by and see how good they look! Great job, Martin and Steve!

Battlefield Updates for the Shepherdstown Museum

Dr. Nickerson has been working with Museum staff to update their info on the Battle of Shepherdstown, successful preservation efforts and the activities of the SBPA. The info they had on hand was quite old, some was inaccurate, and they had nothing about the efforts to preserve properties in the battlefield. They now have accurate text, maps, place names, preserved properties, and SBPA info.

SBPA Info Table at a Local Festival

Next up, my daughter convinced me to set up a Battlefield booth at a music festival just out of town on Flowing Springs Road. As I have everything ready to go, I agreed.

So, on Saturday, August 19 from 3 – 8 pm we will have books, maps, artifacts, pamphlets and MORE at the Tomato Jam Festival off Flowing Springs Road between Witmer and French Roads. Anyone who wants to take a shift at the booth contact me. Otherwise, Rosemary and I will set it up and take it down. It should be a fun event with local music, crafts, etc. For more info:

Picnic on the Osbourn Farm

That brings us to the Battlefield Picnic on the Osbourn Farm coming up on August 26 from 4 – 6 pm. A highlight of the 2023 summer! The picnic is ‘sold out’ at a maximum of 55 people for the event. The SBPA took the lead on renting a tent, tables and chairs, which will be delivered and set up on Friday, August 25. We have arranged a local bank from Packhorse Ford to play at the event, they are “Paul the Resonator and the Potomac Valley Dustbusters”. There will be catered appetizes from Grazefull, LLC.,. from Martinsburg.

The event will be a greet and graze session with music from 4 – 4:45 pm. Then talking, awards, Farm history, etc. from 4:45 – 5:45 pm. Then a return to mingling and music till 6:30. I will bring everything I have for a SBPA table. Including our banner. I’ll be there from Saturday at 2 pm on thru cleanup. RM and Hannah have also agreed to help.

Afterwards, whoever wants to can stay at the Farm to enjoy beers, wine, etc. for us! The fireflies are still pretty amazing!

SBPA to co-sponsor ‘Shepherdstown during Antietam’ video at the Opera House

This is an event happening on September 17th and co-sponsored by the Shepherdstown Museum, Opera House, George Tyler Moore Centre, and the SBPA. Jim Surkamp is leading a tour before the video premiere of buildings used as hospitals during and after Antietam. Then the video will be shown at the Opera House. Owners Harriet and Steve Pearson will be attending the August 26 picnic so say hello. The Surkamp effort seems to be mostly a rehashing of Kevin Pawlak‘s excellent book. The Opera House seems to be leading the advertising for this effort. I don’t know if tickets are needed, etc but info will be posted on the Opera House website.

MN talk to SAIL

The SAIL organization (Shepherdstown Area Independent Living) requested a speaker about the Battle and efforts to preserve the Battlefield at their September meeting at noon on Friday, September 22. I have not been given the location but it may be in the clubhouse of the new development across the road and up the hill from the Shepherdstown Daycare Center.

That’s enough for now! Hope to see you all soon or on August 26 which promises to be a very nice event.

I can’t resist showing another great picture from the Streetfest and our ‘Kids with the Musket’ photo shoot:

Tales from the Far Away Farm Tour

On Saturday, July 15, 2023 the SBPA hosted descendants of the former Mountain View Farm (aka Far Away Farm).

The group of Myers – Folk – Lowe family members related to the Folks and Myers who owned the Mountain View Farm from 1883 – 1943.  They toured the farm with SBPA President Dr. Mike Nickerson

The family members showed us these initials from before the battle, carved by James Osbourn in 1861, farm owner during the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown.

These initials were carved by William Clayton Myers and Fannie Sue Folk Myers in 1884.  George Folk bought the farm and gave it to his daughter Sue Myers as a wedding present in 1883. Photos of them on the farm are on pages 510 – 515 of the book, “The Folks of Swan Pond”, by Betty Lowe.  She visited the farm for the first time on Saturday.

Daniel Folk is a brother who was walking by the farm pond and suffered a ‘spell’ that caused him to faint.  He fell into the pond and drowned.

Last but not least, the cannonball that went through the wall of the farmhouse from a Union cannon in Maryland.  Here’s the original hole from inside a closet in the upstairs bedroom. The original house burned in the 1890s and is listed by Jeff Co Assessors as rebuilt by 1900.  The hole in the brick stayed as is but they used the cannonball to plug the hole on the outside wall of the house. It originally ended up inside a cupboard in the same room.

Family members had a lot of stories about the farm and house.  Each timber beam, fireplace, room, the snakes…..

And the Battlefield Association had a nice battlefield display – in the shade!  Thanks to Dr. Rosemary Nickerson for assisting.

Mountain View Farm Tour for Myers-Folk-Lowe Family Descendants

Just a quick note on an upcoming tour.  This Saturday, July 15 the SBPA has the pleasure to host members of the Myers Family on their ancestral farm, Mountain View Farm, also known as the Far Away Farm and the James Osbourn Farm.  At 1 pm we will convene at the farm house, and family members who have not seen their family’s former house in over 50 years or more will have an opportunity to walk through the home and grounds.  We greatly appreciate the generosity of the current farmhouse renters who have granted this very special access.

Some may know the Myers descendants locally as the Lowe family that run the mulch plant, Potomac Farms Nursery, and Ken Lowe – Developer of the Clarion and Quality Inn.  As owners of the Mountain View Farm from 1883 to 1943, the family has a special role in the story to preserve the Battle of Shepherdstown.

Much of our current knowledge of the farm during that time is due to the diligent work of Elizabeth Snyder Lowe, documented in her book, “The Folks of Swan Pond”, of which I have a copy.  Five generations of the Folk family farmed Swan Pond in a house built by Lord Fairfax to run his northern neck estate.  Swan Pond is located off Rt. 45 on the right before reaching the Opequon Creek.  A Folk daughter was given Mountain View Farm (Osbourn Farm) as a wedding present in 1883.  Ms. Lowe, who is a Folk family member, will be attending the tour of the farm that she described in her 1989 book.

Thanks to Shepherdstown native and Folk-Myers family member, Jerry T. Moore for bringing much of this to light.  J.T. is an active SBPA member who loaned his family’s artifacts for the recent SBPA weekend displays at Evolve, including artillery shells and a musket.