Shepherdstown, West Virginia: Wikis


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Shepherdstown, West Virginia
—  Town  —
Location of Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Coordinates: 39°25′55″N 77°48′22″W / 39.43194°N 77.80611°W / 39.43194; -77.80611
Country United States
State West Virginia
County Jefferson
 - Mayor Jim Auxer
 - Total 0.4 sq mi (0.9 km2)
 - Land 0.4 sq mi (0.9 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 400 ft (122 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 803
 - Density 2,217.7/sq mi (856.2/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 25443
Area code(s) 304
FIPS code 54-73468[1]
GNIS feature ID 1546673[2]

Shepherdstown is a town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, USA. Shepherdstown claims to be the oldest town in the state. In 1734, Thomas Shepherd was granted 222 acres (0.9 km2), on the south side of the Potomac river. From that tract, he selected 50 acres (200,000 m2) and laid out a town. He named his town Mecklenburg and petitioned the Virginia Assembly for a charter. It was officially chartered in 1762 by the Virginia General Assembly. Thomas Shepherd was the sole trustee. He owned the town and had the responsibility to conduct its government. In 1798 it was renamed Shepherds Town, which was shortened to Shepherdstown after the Civil War. The town's population was 1208 as of 2002. The town is also home to Shepherd University.

View down German Street.
Shepherdstown Bridge over the Potomac.



Shepherdstown is located at 39°25′55″N 77°48′22″W / 39.43194°N 77.80611°W / 39.43194; -77.80611 (39.432005, -77.806108)[3].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.9 km² (0.4 mi²), all land.


As of the census[1] of 2000 and excluding Shepherd University's resident student population, there were 803 people, 410 households, and 168 families residing in the town. The population density was 861.2/km² (2,217.7/mi²). There were 454 housing units at an average density of 486.9/km² (1,253.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the town was 80.20% White, 17.19% African American, 0.50% Native American, 0.87% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, and 1.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.87% of the population.

There were 410 households out of which 13.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.8% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 58.8% were non-families. 41.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.96 and the average family size was 2.72.

In the town the population was spread out with 12.5% under the age of 18, 19.9% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 25.9% from 45 to 64, and 16.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 100.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.3 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $40,750, and the median income for a family was $55,000. Males had a median income of $35,833 versus $30,139 for females. The per capita income for the town was $28,539. About 7.5% of families and 15.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.1% of those under age 18 and 1.5% of those age 65 or over.


Colonial settlers began their migration into the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley in the early 1700s. Many crossed the Potomac River at Pack Horse Ford, about one mile (2 km) down river. The Colony of Virginia began issuing Valley land grants in the 1730s. In 1734, Thomas Shepherd was granted 222 acres (898,000 m²) on the south side of the Potowmack river, along the Falling Spring Branch (now known as the Town Run). From that tract he selected 50 acres (202,000 m²) and laid out a town. In 1762, the Virginia General Assembly chartered the town of Mecklenburg. Thomas Shepherd was the sole trustee: he owned the town and was responsible for its government.

More than six natural springs feed Town Run before it enters the south end of town. It never floods, nor runs dry; it meanders through backyards, under houses, across alleys and beneath five streets. This setting was conducive to millers, tanners, potters, smiths and other artisans. As a result, by 1775 it boasted 1,000 inhabitants.

In 1775, General George Washington issued a call for "Virginia Volunteer Riflemen." Captain Hugh Stephenson filled the ranks of his company here. The troops departed from "Morgan's Spring," about one-half mile (1 km) south of the town limits, on July 16, 1775. This famous "Beeline March to Cambridge" covered 600 miles (1000 km) in 24 days. Thirty-eight Revolutionary veterans are buried in the surrounding area.

On December 3, 1787, James Rumsey conducted a successful trial of his new invention, the steamboat, in the Potomac at the north end of Princess Street. The first newspaper, The Potomac Guardian and Berkley Advertiser, and book, The Christian Panoply, in what is now West Virginia, were published here (1790s). The Shepherdstown Public Library has a copy of the book.

A second charter, which allowed for self-government, was granted in 1794. In 1798, the corporate limits were extended and the name was changed to Shepherd's Town. After the Civil War, the town's name was officially contracted to Shepherdstown.

Shepherdstown was the birthplace of Robert Lucas (1781), the future governor of Ohio and territorial governor of Iowa.

The part of the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal, across the river from Shepherdstown, was built during the 1830s. Shepherdstown is the only town, in what is now the state of West Virginia, to have a canal lock named for it. Lock No. 38 is the "Shepherdstown Lock."

Two free schools were built here in 1848. One still stands on the southeast corner of Princess and New Streets. When West Virginia became the 35th state (1863) these became the oldest free schoolhouses in the state.

The Hamtramck Guard (The Shepherdstown Light Infantry) was dispatched to Harpers Ferry to subdue John Brown's raid on the federal armory (October 1859). At the outbreak of American Civil War, this group became Company B, 2nd Virginia Infantry, Army of Northern Virginia. They become part of the famous "Stonewall Brigade."

After the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, General Robert E. Lee's infantry crossed the Potomac at Pack Horse Ford. The town was overwhelmed with 5000 to 8000 casualties of that battle. Every house, building, church, alley and street was filled with the wounded and dying. The Battle of Shepherdstown (also known as the Battle of Boteler's Ford or Cement Mill) occurred on September 20, 1862, during Lee's retreat. More than 100 Confederate soldiers died here and were buried in Elmwood Cemetery. Elmwood's hallowed ground contains the graves of 285 Confederate veterans, and offers its own self-guided walking tour. The graveyard is located five blocks south of the 4-way stop on Route 480.

From 1865-1871, Shepherdstown served as the county seat of Jefferson County due to war damage to the courthouse in Charles Town. The Town Hall (northeast corner of German and King streets) housed the courthouse until it was moved back to Charles Town.

In 1872, the Town Hall Building was chartered as a "Classical and Scientific Institute." The building was then leased to the state and Shepherd College was born. The East Campus occupies about one-third of the town proper and the West Campus occupies a large area just northwest of the corporate limits.

The clay soil was conducive to brick making. By the late 1790s, there were several commercial brickyards, and kilns could be built with little difficulty. In many instances, bricks were "burnt" at the construction sites. They were plentiful and cheaper than nails. Roofing material affected the market value and the insurance premiums of the brick structures. Those covered with tile were much more valuable then those topped with wooden shingles. Fires starting in the shingles destroyed many brick homes, mills, stores and outbuildings.

The Shepherdstown Historic District was established and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 with a boundary increase to include the entire town in 1987.

On January 3, 2000, Shepherdstown was the site of the Peace Talks between Israel and Syria where both sides were urged to make the hard choices needed to end a half-century of conflict.

Presently, many of the town's historical buildings on German Street are home to quaint little shops and cafés. The town is also home to many local artistic and theatrical groups, many of which are affiliated with Shepherd University or operated by youth groups. Shepherdstown also boasts an active nightlife of fine dinning and live music.

The patriarch of the Shepherd family, Henry P. Shepherd, died July 4, 2007 at Bellevue, the family home. He is survived by an older sister, Elizabeth, still resident in Shepherdstown, as well as a younger brother Thomas, resident of Massachusetts, and dozens of nieces, nephews and grandchildren.

Sites on the National Register of Historic Places

Site Year Built Address Listed
Boidstones Place (Greenbrakes Farm) Shepherd Grade 1999
Cold Spring 1793 CR 17 1973
Elmwood 1797 CR 17 1973
Falling Spring-Morgan's Grove WV 480 1989
Fruit Hill (Robinson-Andrews-Hoxton House) Shepherd Grade 1988
Captain William Lucas and Robert Lucas House (Linden Spring) 1793 CR 31 1982
James Marshall House (Marshall Hall) Shepherd Grade 1988
Morgan's Grove WV 480, WV 230, Morgan's Grove Road 1999
Morgan-Bedinger-Dandridge House (Rosebrake) WV 48 1983
Rockland 1897 WV 480 1990
Rose Hill Farm (James-Marshall-Snyder Farm) Off WV 48 1990
Rumsey Hall (Entler Hotel) late 1700s German & Princess Streets 1973
Shepherd's Mill (Thomas Shepherd's Grist Mill) High Street 1971
Van Swearingen-Shepherd House (Bellevue) Shepherd Grade 1983

Notable residents


External links

Corporation of Shepherdstown links

Maps and satellite imagery

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