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January 2022 Issue
In this issue:
  • Aircraft piece from 1940 Lovettsville crash donated to Museum
  • Seeking our Palatine German ancestors in New York’s Mohawk Valley
  • The Featherbed bridge: Preserving a Loudoun County Landmark
  • The Wright brothers' roots in the German Settlement
  • New issue of Bulletin of Loudoun County History
  • Volunteers needed!
  • Nearby Events
  • About us
  • Archive of back issues

Aircraft piece from 1940 Lovettsville crash donated to Museum

A piece of engineered metal from the August 31, 1940 airplane crash near Lovettsville has been donated to the Lovettsville Museum by Robert Zirkle and Carol Sue Zirkle of Shenandoah, Virginia. The item was part of the estate of Robert’s aunt, Ruth Righter, who died in 2018 – who had never lived in or even visited this area as far as Mr. Zirkle knows.

Handwritten on the metal piece is the following: “Sunday September 1, 1940,  From Air Plain Wreckage Of The Pennsylvania Central Airlines Corporation.  Taken From The Wreck At Lovettsville Va.”

How did this come into Mrs. Righter’s possession? Mr. Zirkle has no idea. “The piece of metal we donated to the museum was a mystery when I found it in my Aunt's Estate, which I inherited in 2018,” Mr. Zirkle explained. “I found the piece of metal in the back of a bedroom dresser drawer. For the 69 years that I knew my aunt, this piece of metal was never spoken of to my knowledge.  My aunt was born in 1924, making her 16 years old when the accident happened. I find it very hard to believe she would have traveled 120 miles to see the remains of the crash site. Especially when the piece was picked up the day after the crash.”

Mr. Zirkle added that he probably would have discarded it, had not been for what was written on it. But, other than what is written on it, he has no other indication of its origin. “We truly believe it came from Lovettsville, and it needed to go back to the Lovettsville Museum,” Mr. Zirkle stated.

The Lovettsville Historical Society thanks the Zirkles for this donation. For more on the story of the 1940 crash, see the documentary video shown as part of the LHS Lecture series in 2016, and other news articles and reports on our website.

See more photos here

Seeking our Palatine German ancestors:

A short trip to New York’s Mohawk Valley

By Edward Spannaus

If you have visited the Lovettsville Museum, you may have seen a display called “How We Got Here: The Palatine Emigration to America, and to the German Settlement.” The display traces the early 1700s routes of travel from the German Rhineland, to the Lovettsville area, and it includes a map of the Palatine Settlements in New York State, which were located in the Hudson, Mohawk, and Schoharie Valleys. 

I recently had a chance to visit this area while accompanying my wife to a history event in Fort Plain, New York, in the Mohawk Valley. (Fort Plain is between “Palatine” and “Palatine Bridge” on the map -- see website link below.) In just a few minutes drive, I came across many indications of the historic Palatine presence in this area. Not just churches and historic markers – as you will see in the pictures below – but even many local businesses have “Palatine” in their name (such as Palatine Valley Dairy, Palatine Nursing Home, Palatine Cheese Co., etc.).

Few, if any, of the Germans who established Loudoun County’s German Settlement in the early 18th century came here directly from Germany. Although it is well-known that the First Families of Lovettsville and the surrounding area came from Pennsylvania and Maryland, what is less well-known is that a number of those families first landed to the New York colony in 1709-10, and then relocated to Pennsylvania, many between 1723 and 1729.
Keep Reading about the Palatine Germans

John G. Lewis Memorial Bridge Rehabilitation:

Preserving a Loudoun County
Historical Landmark

By Clare Matheny

If you have driven on Milltown Road, Taylorstown Road, or Loyalty Road, in the past year, you have seen the detour signs for Featherbed Lane. Since early 2021, Featherbed Lane has been closed to through traffic. This is a long time for an existing gravel road to be under construction, so why is the closure so important?

The John G. Lewis Memorial Bridge is a steel truss bridge, originally built in 1889, that has spanned the Catoctin Creek since 1932. The bridge is one of the last of its kind, and until recently it still carried an average of 60 cars per day on the single-lane wooden pier. For years, the structural stability  of this historical landmark was in question, and in February 2017 preliminary engineering work on the bridge began. This five-year, 5.6-million-dollar project is set to be completed in Spring of 2022.[1]

The plan is to install the existing truss above a new steel beam and timber deck bridge, add a new bridge pier, and upgrade the bridge railings. On April 9, 2021, a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crew lifted the bridge off its foundation and set it to the side to be repaired. A video was tweeted on bridge lift day by VDOT Northern VA that shows and explains the process.

But how did a bridge constructed in 1889, end up over the Catoctin Creek in 1932?

Keep reading about the John G. Lewis Bridge
The renovated Wright Brothers historical marker in Hillsboro. 

The Wright brothers' roots in the German Settlement

On Dec. 21, the Town of Hillsboro unveiled a refurbished historical marker honoring Susan Koerner Wright, the mother of the pioneers of flight, Wilbur and Orville Wright. You can read about the ceremony here and here.

At the ceremony, the Wright brothers’ family was traced back to their grandparents, John and Catherine Koener. We have traced them back a generation further, as was described in a 2017 “Cemetery Note” on the Frye-Koerner family, posted here on the website of New Jerusalem Lutheran Church in 2017. On their mother’s side, the Wright brothers’ roots were planted deep in The German Settlement, as the Lovettsville area was previously known. And historians have concluded that the brothers' mechanic inclinations were passed down through their mother's side of the family. 

The Wright brother’s mother, Susan Koerner Wright, was born near Hillsboro in 1831. Her parents (Wilbur and Orville’s grandparents) were John Gottlieb Koerner, a carriage maker who emigrated from Saxony, and Catherine Frey Koener (1796-1889), who was born in the German Settlement in Loudoun County. Catherine Frey and John Koerner were married at New Jerusalem Lutheran Church in Lovettsville in 1821, and later moved to the Midwest.

Catherine’s parents (Wilbur and Orville’s great-grandparents) were Phillip Frye (1743-1831), a German-born wheelwright, and Dorothea Boger Frye (1758-1827). The Bogers and the Fryes were both among the early German settlers in the area. Dorothea was born In Lancaster PA, and she reportedly married Phillip Frye around 1775 in Loudoun County.

The Wright brothers great-grandparents, Dorothy (above left) and Phillip Frye (above right) are buried at New Jerusalem Lutheran Church in Lovettsville.

Great-great-grandparents: Dorothea’s parents had emigrated to Pennsylvania from Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. Phillip’s parents, Jacob Frey and Magdalena Nash, had emigrated from German-speaking area in Alsace, France sometime prior to 1731, when they were reportedly married in Pennsylvania. Jacob Frye/Freu (1711-1785) is also buried at New Jerusalem, in a grave that is no longer marked.

The 2021/22 edition of the Bulletin of Loudoun County History is now available, The cover photo is of the July 2021 Patriot Grave Marking at New Jerusalem Lutheran Church in Lovettsville. Articles include: (1) The W&OD Railroad and its predecessors, one of the greatest influences in the development of Northern Virginia and Loudoun County. (2) The Delegates of the 1883 Mass meeting in Leesburg, an effort by Blacks to assert their right to serve as jurors and election officials, (3) The history of Islam in Loudoun County, complete with examples of local Islamic art, (4) The importance of the horse and mule during the American Civil War, (5) Saddlery in Loudoun, an essay on a network of largely unknown artisans in the county's horse industry, (6) History of Quilting in Loudoun County from 1830 to the present day, (7) Preservation of home archives by one of the county's best known experts. The new issue is available on and various local locations, and will soon be at the Lovettsville Museum, where past issues are also available.

Volunteers needed!

This year, put your enthusiasm for history and your talents to work for the Lovettsville Historical Society & Museum. Part-time volunteers are sought to help with:

  • Social media
  • Event planning and organizing, including use of video, streaming, and meeting platforms.
  • Museum guides and docents (we will train you)
  • Scanning documents into our digital data-base;
  • and lots of other things we haven’t even thought of, but you may have.

Contact us at


Nearby (virtual & in-person) events of interest:


 Jan. 1 - 31, Thomas Balch Library Exhibit: “The Ashby's Gap Turnpike: A Journey Through History.” Presented by the Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area Association. For centuries, the road once known as the Ashby’s Gap Turnpike carried travelers and goods across the Loudoun Valley and over the Blue Ridge Mountains and into the Shenandoah Valley beyond. Untold numbers have traversed its path, from Native American hunters, Civil War armies, and enslaved workers, to modern day tourists and commuters. It represents a vital historical link to our regional past, tying together communities and people in three counties – Loudoun, Fauquier, and Clarke. This exhibit is a brief exploration of the road’s history, as well as a look at the modern preservation efforts along its route. This VPHA exhibit features photographs and artifacts of life along the Ashby's Gap Turnpike, and will be on display at the Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg from December 1, 2021 to January 31, 2022. Please visit for more information and for hours.

Jan. 15, 2022 until Jan. 2023 – “Contributions: African Americans in the Shenandoah Valley.” African Americans have contributed to the shaping of the Shenandoah Valley for more than 300 years and their influence can be found throughout the MSV Collection. With art, objects, and documents, “Contributions” tells the stories of those who endured enslavement, resisted oppression, and achieved success. More than 40 significant African Americans in the northern Shenandoah Valley’s history—from the 1700s to today—are highlighted in the exhibition. On view through January 16, 2023, “Contributions” will be updated with new discoveries, ongoing research, and community collaborations. Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, 901 Amherst St, Winchester, VA 22601


 Mon., Jan. 10, at 2:00 p.m. – “Loudoun Heights Revisited” (online presentation). Presented by the Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area. Early in the pre-dawn hours of January 10, 1864, Mosby's Rangers made a surprise attack on Union troops encamped on Loudoun Heights. In the confused melee that followed, the Union men put up a stout resistance and Mosby suffered one of his greatest setbacks of the war. Join us online as we revisit the sites associated with the clash at Loudoun Heights and discuss some of the personalities involved in the fight. This program will be available online at the VPHA Facebook Page as well as on our YouTube channel.

Wed, Jan. 19, at 7:00 p.m. – Webinar: The War for the Common Soldier: How Men Thought, Fought, and Survived in Civil War Armies. Dr. Peter Carmichael looks into the soldiers' own words to find common threads in their experiences and ways of understanding what was happening around them. He argues that a pragmatic philosophy of soldiering emerged, guiding members of the rank and file as they struggled to live with their violent and volatile world. Presented by the Army Heritage Center Foundation. Register here.

Wed., Jan. 26, at 7:00 p.m. – “The Ledger and The Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America” (virtual program). Historian Joshua D. Rothman discusses his best-selling book about the brutal business of Alexandria slave traders Isaac Franklin, John Armfield, and Rice Ballard. The Franklin & Armfield slave- trading operation was the largest in our country’s history. Thousands of enslaved men, women, and children – many from Northern Virginia – were forced on a grueling march or boat passage to the deep south where they were sold in the domestic slave trade. Countless people died along the way. Presented by: Afro-American Historical Association of Fauquier County, Black History Committee of the Friends of the Thomas Balch Library, Donation in Memory of John B. Garner, Edwin Washington Project, and Syphax Pastfinders LLC For more information, visit

Visit the Lovettsville Museum

We are open to visitors on Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., or by appointment. Call 540-822-9194, or write to:
Explore Our Website
Membership Information
About Us
Our Mission:
The mission of the Lovettsville Historical Society is to foster a sense of place and community by preserving, protecting, and educating about the history and heritage of Lovettsville and the  German Settlement.  

   We achieve this by:
    1.  Operating, maintaining, and expanding the Lovettsville Museum in order to acquire, display, and preserve artifacts, documents, and records which relate to our local history;
    2.  Maintaining and operating a physical and online research library for use by historians, genealogists, and the public;
    3.  Educating the public about Lovettsville area history through programs, printed and online resource materials, and events.
Members and volunteers needed

The success of our mission relies heavily upon our membership, which provides the needed resources and also committed volunteers who share our passion for local history. Please encourage your friends, family, and others to join the Lovettsville Historical Society (LHS), or renew their annual membership, to ensure our continued success in preserving and promoting our local heritage.

There are many opportunities for members and others to participate in supporting the Lovettsville Historical Society and also meet others who share in our passion for preserving and promoting our local history. This includes volunteering to help with the museum, fundraising, organizing events, website and social media, and publicizing our activities.  We enjoy hosting special presentations for groups such as Scouts, school classes and tourists. Lastly, the donations of local historical artifacts such as family documents and pictures (or digital scans thereof), ensure that we can continue our efforts to expand our presentation of local genealogical information.

The Lovettsville Historical Society, Inc. is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization under the Internal Revenue Code.  Contributions and membership dues are tax deductible under Internal Revenue Code Section 170.  The Society has been deemed to be exempt from registration under the Commonwealth of Virginia's charitable solicitation law.
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Lovettsville: The German Settlement is available for sale at the Lovettsville Museum.
 Archive of Back Issues
 In case you missed any past issues of our monthly newsletter, here are links to our recent Back Issues, for your reading enjoyment.

December 2021
November 2021

October 2021 
September 2021
August 2021
July  2021

June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021

December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020

April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020

December 2019
November 2019 issue
October 2019 issue

September 2019
August 2019
July 2019 October 2018 
September 2018 
August 2018 
July 2018 
June 2018 
May 2018 
April 2018 
March 2018 
February 2018 
January 2018 

December 2017 
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017

If any of the above links don't work correctly, please let us know by email at
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