Saturday, October 18, 2014

Maplewood: History and Mystery

Maplewood:  History and Mysteries

                Depending on whom or what you read, the date of the building of the original Maplewood varies from 1755 to 1759. On Jan. 12, 1746 James Wood purchased the original 350 acres from King George II for thirty-five shillings. King George was busy fighting Charles James Stuart at the time.  What happened between 1746 and 1755 is a mystery.
                According to deeds, Robert Rollstone purchased “the house, building and orchard” in 1755; thus, the 1755 date seems accurate.  Rollstone did a quick turn-over to William Castleberry who then sold it to Archibald Hopkins for five shillings in 1757.  Why was everyone willing to take a loss on this property? The farm would remain in this Irish family for 122 years.  Although one account states that Archibald passed it to his son William in 1799, then William passed it to his son John Hinton Hopkins in 1841, a different account says that Archibald’s brother,  John, Sr.,  who  lived two miles away, married Jean Gordon and built Maplewood in 1760.  Either way, John Hinton Hopkins ended up with the property in 1841.
                According to “A Chapter of Hopkins Genealogy” by George W. Fetzer dated July 17, 1936, the Hopkins (John and his daughters, and his brothers)  were very wealthy and owned over 3,000 acres among them as late as August  1787.  In contrast, a Daily News Record article printed in 1992 states that the Civil War “nearly bankrupted John; thus, his wife was forced to sell off their land. “  The better story is that John had a son William,(presumably named after his grandfather), who was a VMI cadet and ended up fighting in the Civil War.  He was wounded in battle outside of Richmond, yet was transported back to Maplewood where, within a few days, he died.  Is it his bloody footprint that stains the hardwood floors to this day?   With no male heir, did John decide to sell?
                Either way, in 1879, the estate was broken up, and William Chrisman bought the house.  The Chrismans remained at Maplewood until 1951 when John Myers, Mrs. Shelvie Carr’s grandfather, purchased it.  Mrs. Carr and her husband purchased the home and a few acres at auction in 1981.
                Maplewood stands majestically on a rise before entering Singer’s Glen, which was known as Mountain Valley until 1860.  The original driveway is gone, but the old mounting block remains at the front portico. Double chimneys grace the ends of the front and Flemish bond bedecks the side nearest the road--American bond covers the other side!   The entire house has thirteen fireplaces, each with a different mantle. For more information, and the answers to some of the mysteries, attend the Massanutten Regional Library’s virtual tour of Maplewood on Thursday, Nov.  23rd at 7pm, presented by Mrs. Shelvie Carr and her granddaughter Emily Carr.

Cheryl L. Metz

Friday, October 10, 2014

George W. Rosenberger: Model farmer of Rosendale

George W. Rosenberger
Model Farmer of Rosendale
            George Rosenberger, an immigrant from Zurich, Switzerland, came to colonial Virginia, , established himself in what is now Page County, and served in the Revolutionary War.[i]  His son, George Washington Rosenberger was born in 1778 and died in 1858 in his eightieth year.  In about 1790, this George acquired the land at the present Rosendale location on which he built a two-over-two log house.  Evidence of the senior George Washington Rosenberger’s success can be deduced from the 1850 Census records in which his real property was valued at $24,000.  He also owned two working-age slaves.
In 1802 George W. Rosenberger married Margaret Zirkle (1780-1836) of New Market.  Their fifth child, also named George Washington, was born on February 23, 1823 at Rosendale and is the subject of the following article.   Fifty-five years later he was described as the “model Valley farmer.”  He added what is now the front face of Rosendale in 1870; the original house became the ell.  In the 1870 Census Rosenberger’s real estate was valued at $12,500, about half the value of his father’s real property twenty years before.  The difference could reflect local conditions after the Civil War.
George Washington Rosenberger married Barbara Ann Kagey in 1845.  They had eight children, five of whom died before 1887 when their mother died.  In 1892, George W. Rosenberger married Barbara’s sister, Amelia (Millie) Kagey, who had been living with the family at Rosendale for several decades.  He was sixty-nine years old and she was fifty-two years old when they married.  Of the three surviving children from the first marriage, one was Arthur Russell Rosenberger, a successful local banker and entrepreneur.  Another son, Charles W., oversaw the Rosendale operation after the death of the father and probably for some years before the father’s death.[ii]
Rosendale during the Civil War
            Documents found in the George W. Rosenberger Collection at the VMI Archives provide a glimpse of Rosendale and, by extension, the local the farming experience during the later part of the Civil War.  When the War began Rosenberger was thirty-seven years old.  Instead of serving in the military Rosenberger purchased a substitute.  From March 1862 to April 1863 Abner Canada was the substitute.   An archival document recounted Canada’s capture in Shenandoah County and his escape that returned him to his comrades.  In the Civil War Rolls found in A History of Rockingham County,[iii] Abner Canada does not appear.  The only Abner Canada listed in the 1860 Census was a sixty-one year old farm laborer in Rockingham County.   G.W. Rosenberger was listed as member of the Company H, 10th Va. Cavalry.  There is no record that he actually served in combat.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gabriel Jones and Bogota

Gabriel Jones of Bogota
On October 9, the second program of the Deyerle Series features Rachel Lilly, the current owner of Bogota, discussing the architecture of the Bogota house built by Jacob Strayer in the1850s.  Few local residents realize an earlier Bogota existed on the current property.  It was built by Gabriel Jones about 1756.  Gabriel Jones, nicknamed the “Valley Lawyer” was energetic, rascally, well-connected, and well-known in early Virginia. 
Bogota in the 18th Century
  On August 8, 1751 Gabriel Jones purchased from Christopher Francisco of Pennsylvania [i]  This parcel was originally part of the 5,000 acres patented to Jacob Stover.  On the same day in 1751, Thomas Lewis, son of John Lewis, purchased 530 acres from Francisco that was across the River opposite Jones.[ii]  The Lewis property, once known as Lewiston, is now known as Lynnwood.[iii]  Jones had married on October 8, 1749 Margaret Strother of King George County.[iv]   Thomas Lewis married Margaret’s sister.  Also near to Bogota and Lynnwood was Madison Hall in the “v” between the North River and the South River at Port Republic.  Madison Hall was the home of John Madison who married another sister of Margaret Strother.[v]  John Madison was a cousin of President Madison.  Madison Hall was the birthplace of another James Madison, the first Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, and served as Stonewall Jackson’s headquarters during the Civil War battle at Port Republic. 
244 acres on the north side of the Shenandoah River opposite the lower end of “Great Island” in the River.
The name “Bogota” is at least as old as the Jones’ ownership of the property.  Bogota derives from the South American Indian word “Bacata,” which means planted fields.  Jones lived here from about 1756 until his death in October1806.  His widow, Margaret, outlived her husband and her children, and remained at Bogota until her death at age 97 in 1822.  The house stayed in the family until it was sold to Jacob Strayer. [vi]
The first Bogota house was a wooden, one and a half story structure with dormer windows.  A not very sharp image of this house is in Isaac Terrell’s Old Houses of Rockingham County. The survey of the property for the National Register of Historic Places suggests that archaeological artifacts found near the intersection of Lawyer Road and Lynnwood Road are consistent with a house and habitation of this period being located at the site.  It is also believed that Gabriel Jones (and perhaps other members of his family) are buried nearby. [vii]   When the Strayers bought the property in 1830 from the Jones family they lived in the Jones house until the present Bogota was completed.  Wainscoting from the Jones house was used in what is now the sitting room on the left side of the front entrance. The current owners of the property do not know when the original house was destroyed. 

Gabriel Jones – Early Life
            Gabriel Jones was born on 14 May 1724 in York County near Williamsburg.  His parents, John (b. 1668) and Elizabeth Bates Jones (b. 1688), were from Montgomeryshire in northern Wales.[viii]  When the parents came to Virginia is not known.  Gabriel Jones claimed he was his parent’s fourth son and fifth child, but only mentioned two living siblings: an older sister, Elizabeth (b. 1721) and a younger brother, John (b.1725).  The father, a weaver of noble descent, did not do well in the colony.  He died before 1727.  A baptismal record from early 1727 showed the mother and children were in England.            In April 1732, at the age of seven, Jones was sent to the “Blue Coat School, Christ Church Hospital London, where he studied for seven years.  He was removed from the school in 1739 to start a six year apprenticeship under John Houghton, Solicitor, in the High Court of Chancery.  About the time Jones was admitted to the bar in 1745, his mother died.  The family was “of gentle blood,” but in “reduced circumstances.”[ix]  A descendent of Gabriel Jones preserved an old coin in wrapping paper on which Jones had written: “This is the patrimony I received from my mother.  From my father I received nothing.”[x]  As early as 1750 Jones used the same crest and coat of arms as the recently deceased mathematician William Jones indicating a relationship with that man.[xi]
            Free of his indenture, admitted to the bar, and reaching his majority, Jones returned to America about a year after his mother’s death.  Probably Thomas, Lord Fairfax, owner of the Northern Neck Proprietary, or, a friend, Hugh Mercer, influenced his decision to return.[xii]  The close relationship between Fairfax and Jones is evidenced by Fairfax’s appointment of Jones to legislative and judicial positions relating to the proprietorship and Fairfax’s appointment of Jones as an executor of his will.  Fairfax died in 1781.
Public Servant
Gabriel Jones truly served the Valley.  To help to fully understand the geographical extent of his service, the reader should recall the territorial vastness of the early Virginia counties.  In 1743 Frederick County was carved from Orange County, the mother of western Virginia Counties.  Frederick included Shenandoah, Clarke, and Warren Counties in Virginia, and, in present day West Virginia, Hardy, Berkeley, Jefferson, Morgan and Hampshire Counties.  Hampshire County was created from Frederick County in 1754.  Also, from Orange County, Augusta County was created in 1738, which had infinite western territory.  In October 1777, Rockingham County was carved from the northeast portion of Augusta County.
On his return from England to the Virginia colony, Jones first stopped in Fredericksburg, but soon relocated to Frederick County.  In March 1747 he purchased 172 acres along the Opequon Creek near the present day Kernstown and not far from the Joist Hite properties.   Here Jones served as a private secretary to Lord Fairfax.  In April 1746, at the age of 22 years, Jones was appointed the King’s Attorney for Augusta County, but he continued to reside in Frederick County from where he represented the County in the House of Burgesses.
Colonial Period: Legislative Representative in the House of Burgesses and Continental Congress
            As a representative from Frederick County he was elected to the Burgesses in 1748, 1749, and 1752.  He resigned from the House in 1753 to serve as the Frederick County Coroner.  When Hampshire County was created in 1754, Jones was its representative to the House of Burgesses in 1754 and 1755.  About 1756, Jones moved to Bogota, from where he served as an Augusta County Burgess in 1757, 1758, and 1771.  In 1774, at the age of fifty, Jones was elected to the Continental Congress but did not attend.   Jones carried out assignments for the Congress to ascertain conditions and defenses in the western areas around Fort Pitt.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Early Architecture and History in the Valley

2014 Deyerle Lecture Series

Early Architecture and History in the Valley

                On Thursday, October 2, at 7:00 pm, the Massanutten Regional Library will host the first of our lectures of the 14th annual Deyerle series, sponsored by the family of the late Dr. Henry P. Deyerle. The focus of the series is the Heritage of the Shenandoah Valley. The topic for 2014 is Architecture and History of houses in Rockingham County prior to the Civil War.
      The first lecture is an overview of architectural and construction characteristics common to Valley houses built between 1750 and 1850.  Ann Terrell Baker will be the speaker.  Ms. Baker is the author of Old Houses in Rockingham County Revisited, 1750-1850 (2000).  She will present a pictorial history on some of the houses discussed in the book.  Terrell’s book is an updated and expanded version of the volume published in 1970 by her father, Isaac Long “Jimmy” Terrell, titled Old Houses in Rockingham County, 1750-1850.  Both books are available at the Library.

While architectural style is subjected to “fads,” architectural interpretation is largely dependent on means, materials, and manpower at the location of construction.    One unique style does define early architecture in Rockingham County.  The styles found in the County were those brought by German settlers from Pennsylvania, English settlers from the Tidewater, and Scotch-Irish who traveled up the Valley.   Architectural styles of the early pioneers were remarkably similar wherever one went along the seaboard.  In this research no architect has been associated with or identified in Rockingham County during the period 1750-1850; however, a study of the houses reveals common architectural patterns.  (Note:  Scans of floor plans and some information are from Isaac Terrell’s book.)
Pioneer House

The basic and often first house of a settler was patterned in the pioneer style, which consisted, at a minimum, of one room with one fireplace.  Some structures had a pitched roof
making space under the eaves for storage or sleeping areas, which was reached by a ladder or by a circular staircase in a corner of the room.  An ell might be added at the rear of this room for storage.  If a fireplace was built in this addition, it was also used for cooking.  A house located on a slope could be dug-out for an additional room, and if a spring was there, it could be used as a fort against the Indians.  Construction materials were those at hand – stones and logs.  Though logs were used prior to 1750, what we think of as traditional chinked-log construction was introduced into the Valley by the Scotch-Irish in the mid-1700s.  As a pioneer prospered the original small houses were often added-on to with larger, grander extensions.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Film Nights at the Library

In September, the Main Branch of Massanutten Regional Library in downtown Harrisonburg will be holding a special film night. The first event will be Tuesday, September 30 at 6:30 and the program will continue through November with a different film each month. All films are award winning independent films. The program will be led by Dr. Robert Hoskins, Professor Emeritus, from James Madison University whose interests are in Graham Greene, 20th Century British Novels, and Film Studies.
     We encourage everyone to stop by our lobby display and discover a new movie or relive their favorite moments from a classic. Movies are magical experiences; they have the ability to convey emotions through images and sound.  Viewers are temporarily transported from normal life to an intimate world and are able to get lost in the drama and action, but then are able to return, safe and sound, at the conclusion of the film.

   This September we invite you to join us for Jens Lien’s The Bothersome Man. This Norwegian film follows forty something Andreas as he arrives in a new city with no memory of how he got there. As Andreas settles into the routine of life, he begins to realize that the town, the inhabitants, and their experiences are devoid of any type of emotion. Andreas attempts to flee the city but cannot. Soon Andreas finds a friend and a mysterious crack in a wall where music and light pour through, and Andreas becomes obsessed with finding the source and escaping the city. The Bothersome Man looks at the nightmare of a life without emotion—a contemporary horror-film but without the violence, scare tactics, and gore.

Massanutten Regional Library will be offering a free viewing of The Bothersome Man on Tuesday, September 30 at 6:30. We invite you to join us and hope you look forward to the upcoming films that will be shown on October 28 and November 18. Upcoming times and films will be announced shortly!
For more information contact Jon Hilbert @ 434-4475 x125

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Recognizing a Literay Art Form: Comics and Graphic Novels

Getting Graphic: Comics and Graphic Novels

When people first hear the word “comics” or “graphic novels” they often think of superheroes and
the comic strips found in newspapers. Superman and company certainly have their place in the history of comics, but there is also a larger universe within this segment of fiction that contains unlikely heroes, emotional storylines, and characters struggling with complex social issues. Graphic novels and comics have “grown up.” It is difficult to trace the exact moment when graphic novels and comics became more adult oriented, and opinions vary depending upon with whom you speak, but Alan Moore’s Watchmen hit the shelves in the mid’ 80s and that is a moment that accelerated a change in the industry.

Timing is everything and for Moore the release of Watchmen in the mid ‘80s was a game changer for the industry. Marvel and DC comics, while popular, had become boring and predictable. With Watchmen the public was introduced to an adult story that was complex and detailed. The story focuses on the concept of “what if” superheroes are real. This alone is a loaded concept because previously people took for granted that superheroes were “real” in comics, but this story takes archetypes we are comfortable with, like a police officer, and gives them superhero “powers.” In addition, Moore places these characters in a turbulent world where the heroes have to go into hiding, thus creating an anti-superhero world that is a result of fear and oppression. The story spans decades and reveals that these characters have been at the center of many major U.S. and world events. If you haven’t read Watchmen, try it—you will not be disappointed.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Mysterious Journal, a Magnifying Glass and a Librarian

A Mysterious Journal, a Magnifying Glass, and a Librarian

     One of my first assignments as a newly appointed reference librarian was to organize a small room that contains materials of historical and regional significance to our area. While sorting through a shelf one day, I stumbled upon an old diary that contained poetry copied from various newspapers from 1860 through the late 1870s. Intrigued by this book, I decided to figure out to whom the journal belonged and why it was being housed in the overflow of vault materials.
    The journal is old and not in the best condition. In addition, multiple names are handwritten on the inside cover making it difficult to determine ownership. I consulted my colleagues and we came up with a few answers. The person who wrote in this journal was educated and literate. This is indicated by the excellent handwriting and the interest in poetry. Furthermore, we concluded that the owner of the journal was female, again, the penmanship and style of handwriting possessed feminine qualities. After this point, I was about ready to give up on finding the writer of the journal. I had studied the inside and backside covers with a magnifying glass (literally) to uncover the name of the owner, but all leads were met with dead ends. I decided to leaf through the entire journal again, page by page, in hopes of finding a clue. On page 96, hidden amongst the poetry was a letter that I had overlooked! After reading the letter I finally had a name and down the rabbit hole I went…
Below is the transcribed copy of the letter copied verbatim: 

Dear Matilda: - My friend and companion,
How can you e’er pardon your Kate,
For not writing directly she came here,                            
And letting you Know of her fate?Such wonders I saw on my Journey!
I meant to have written them all
But forgetting to Keep up my diary,
I cant my adventures recall.
But when I arrived at Aunt Susan’s
With Bessie unpacking my box,
I heard a loud chorus of voices:
“Oh Kate, now you’ll meet Mr Cox!
We girls are all struck by his beauty!
He’s so rich, and so clever, and young!
And he wears the most matchless of neckties!
You’ll worship the song he has sung!”
When I heard this, my dearest Matilda
I put on my blue grenadine
That you Know is so very becoming -
I cant tell how praised it has been,
And I walked in the drawing-room singing
A few bars of an Opera air
Pretending I thought no one near me,
Yet I Knew Mr Cox would be there
And he was – standing up on the hearth-rug
With a photograph book in his hand,
They were right.  He was tall, And so hamsome;
And his whisker and necktie were grand.
His eyes were like violet blossoms
His teeth were as orient pearls
And I marked a large diamond glitter
As he drew his white hand thro’ his curls
There I heard my Aunt Susan say, gently:
“Mr Cox, my pet niece, little Kate.
Now come, let us hasten to dinner –
Even now I’m afraid we are late.”
Dear Matilda, Poets say “that love cometh
Unsought and remarkably soon,”
They are right – for an hour after dinner
When we went out to look at the moon,
You’d have thought he’d have Known me for ages
As we strolled up and down the long walk,
I am glad that papa was not near us –
He’d have started to hear all his talk.
For I Know how he blamed me for list’ning
To Fred Wrightou’s few flattering Jokes
But Matilda, I never was flattered
‘Till I walked ‘neath the moon at fair Oaks
He sais I’m a Sylph and an elfin –
A fairy and gossamer sprite;
Mamma calls me “awfully dumpty”
After all Charley Cox may be right.
My hair which my sisters call reddish
He tells me “like rich mellow gold –
Only owned by the angels of Eden
Only painted by Artists of old”
As proof of his love and attention
When I sit down to sing or to play
He turns o’er each leaf of my music
And non power can attract him away.
There’s that musical genius Jane Ford –
So dark and so ugly, and tall:
I hear she would die for his smiles,
Yet he never looks at her at all
You Know what a dunce I’m at chess
I can scarce tell a pawn from a queen
Yet he’s always challengeing me to a game
And neglects the fine player – Jane Green
I think it a symptom of love
When he praises all the things that I do
And says I am perfect because –
I feel that his judgments untrue.
He declares that he Knows he’s unworthy
So he humbly has offered, in fear
His heart and his hand his devotion for life
And a sum of ten thousand a year!
H said he should die if I loved not.
So I’m wearing his diamond ring;
Ordered my trousseau from Stewarts
And shall marry him early in spring;
He has left off his billiards, his beer, and Cigars
Sold his horse that he loved more than life
Sent his dog, that once snarled at me, off to a friend
And is building a house for his wife;
So now when you read how employed I’ve been,
My silence, dear Matty forgive;
And pray, as I pray, that my happiness now,
May continue as long as I live;
So write to me dearest as soon as you can –
At Fair Oaks some time I may stay;
And believe that thro life I shall ever remain
Your affectionate friend            Katy May

P.S. – I want your advise as to how I shall dress
Must I wear Meeklin or Honiton veil
I’m afraid if I have white Satin and pearls
It will make me look dreadfully pale.
End of post sct                                    K. M.