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. 

Great News!

“Capito announces nearly $500,000 for Preservation of Shepherdstown Battlefield”

June 2, 2023 from The West Virginia Daily News

Download the official Press Release

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced on June 2, 2023, that the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board will receive $492,097 for preservation of 149.6 acres at Shepherdstown Battlefield in Jefferson County, W.Va. This funding was made available through the National Park Service’s (NPS) American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP), which receives support from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Senator Capito voted to permanently authorize LWCF through the Great American Outdoors Act in 2020.

“The preservation of battlefields is an important aspect of maintaining our country’s history, and I’m encouraged to see NPS providing funds to do just that in West Virginia. Protecting the Shepherdstown Battlefield will help generations to come learn about West Virginia’s formation in 1863, and the role our state has played in the foundation of our nation,” Senator Capito said.

Member Activities in May – June

May 17

SBPA Director and Author Kevin Pawlak to speak at the Opera House, and long-time member Jim Surkamp receives the Price Preservation Award!

Historic Shepherdstown Speaker Series Presentation, Awards Scheduled

May is Historic Preservation Month, and the first Historic Shepherdstown Commission Speaker Series presentation and annual Historic Preservation Awards ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 17 at the beautifully renovated Opera House on German Street in downtown Shepherdstown.

Author Kevin Pawlak, a Shepherd University graduate and local history expert, will discuss the recently released book “John Brown’s Raid: Harpers Ferry and the Coming of the Civil War, October 16-18, 1859”, which he co-authored with Jon-Erik Gilot.

The Preservation of Historic Legacies(James C. Price) Award is going to Jim Surkamp, for his years of actively promoting and preserving the local history, sharing his knowledge of historically significant families, and creating numerous videos about historic events in Shepherdstown.

Please consider attending to show your support of these Preservation Heroes!

May 20 – 21 and May 27 – 28

Battlefield Artifact Display with Historic Shepherdstown

The SBPA and Historic Shepherdstown will have ‘Pop Up’ displays at Evolve on May 20 – 21 from 10 am to 5 pm and on May 27 – 28 from 11 am to 5 pm. The SBPA will display artifacts from the Battlefield that are on loan from members. These include a partly restored 1842 Springfield Musket found in the Potomac River below Packhorse Ford, a cannon ball, bullets and unknown objects. We will present maps and books about the Battle of Shepherdstown and have merchandise for sale.

Evolve is located at 106 West German Street, near the Sweet Shop. Historic Shepherdstown is an active, non-profit, membership organization dedicated to preserving Shepherdstown’s architectural character, and building public understanding of Shepherdstown’s distinctive history.

Volunteers are needed for all four days. To participate, please contact Mike Nickerson for a time slot (304-995-6975).

June 24

The SBPA has secured a booth at the Shepherdstown Streetfest!

Once again this year, the SBPA will promote education about the Battle at the Shepherdstown Streetfest with a booth in front of the Mary Tyler Moore Civil War Center on West German Street. We will be handing out information, discussing the battle, recruiting volunteers, accepting donations and selling merchandise. Volunteers are needed for 2-hour time slots from 10 am – 8 pm. Please contact the SBPA to participate.

Park Day 2023

April 17, 2023

Hello Battlefield Supporters,

We had a great Park Day 2023 cleanup on Saturday, April 15 with over 24 participants from Shepherdstown and Jefferson County, WV, as well as Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. We had a good weather day with only 20 minutes of light rain. Both the Cement Mill Riverside Park and the Far Away Farm were significantly improved and maintained, with loads of brush and deadwood, and many bags of trash collected on River and Trough Roads. Thank you to all the participants for a great day of community improvement of this key historic site.

This Park Day cleanup was followed by an exceptional 3-hour tour of the battlefield led by Dr. Tom McGrath, Author and Professor. Tom started at the farmhouse providing context for the events that led the Shepherdstown battle’s climax on the afternoon of September 20, 1862. We followed A.P. Hill’s men’s route where they marched across the Far Away Farm towards the ridge where the Union forces were massed. The tour angled down the ridge onto Trough Road, then we travelled up a driveway to the bluffs where the 118th Pennsylvania fought. After a very intense closing presentation and discussion, tour participants hiked back down to Trough Road and up to the farm on the ‘old wagon road’ in a large circuit of the battlefield core.

A great day was had by all doing community service for Park Day in the battlefield then participating in a historic tour that included the Far Away Farm. Thank you to Martin Burke and John Demer of the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission, Dr. McGrath, the day’s participants and all battlefield supporters!


Dr. Mike Nickerson
Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association
Ph: 304-995-6975
Email: [email protected]

Park Day 2023
Park Day 2023

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

April 4, 2023

The SBPA receives congratulations on the listing of the Osbourn Farm to the National Register of Historic Places

In early May, the SBPA received letters of congratulation from Patricia Rucker, WV Senate, and Susan Pierce, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, WV Department of Arts, Culture and History, informing us that the historic James Osbourn Farm was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 4, 2023. Both letters similarly stated, ‘This designation identifies your property’s significant contribution to the history of West Virginia. Congratulations on the honor.’

Yes, Battlefield Supporters we are doing it! Step by step by step we are working together, year after year, to preserve the Battle of Shepherdstown. This is an incredible honor that we have helped make happen by our continued efforts! Every SBPA member and Battlefield Supporter should be congratulated and be immensely proud of this formal recognition that the Osbourne Farm will be forever preserved as the site of the Battle. Congratulations and a HUGE thank you go to John Demer and Martin Burke at the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission for their tireless efforts on behalf of the Battlefield and who submitted the National Register application. Thanks also to the Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle, the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Program, and neighbors and supporters of the Battlefield.

The SBPA gratefully welcomes this recognition. Battlefield supporters can be very proud of our achievements to protect, maintain and improve this incredible and historic site in Jefferson County, WV along the Potomac River. This was a Civil War conflict catalyzed by geography- a wide river ford that had been used for 15,000 years by Native Americans, 250 years by settlers on the Wilderness Trail, decades by industries such as the C&O Canal and the Boteler Cement Mill, and then by the retreating Confederate Army on September 18 after the Battle of Antietam. Union Army pursuit made the Battle of Shepherdstown unavoidable on September 19 – 20, 1862. Even though a victory for A.P. Hill’s Confederate troops, the fight ended Robert E. Lee’s hopes of re-crossing the Potomac and continuing his Maryland campaign. The Battle remains the bloodiest battle to take place in the future state of West Virginia and offered Lincoln the opportunity of issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.

Thank you to WV Senator Rucker and Deputy Pierce for these valued Letters of Congratulations and for your continued support of our efforts to preserve the Battlefield!