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March 2020 Issue
In this issue:
  • March 8:  Germans Immigrants, American Pioneers:  The Brunners of Schifferstadt
  • Upcoming Lectures
  • Feature article:  Part II: The Journals of Dr. James A. Willard of Lovettsville
  • Community Center construction delayed -- again 
  • Nearby events of interest
  • Archive of back issues
Next in our 2020 monthly lecture series:

"German Immigrants,
American Pioneers:
The Brunners of Schifferstadt”

Sunday, March 8, at 2:00 p.m.
St. James United Church of Christ
10 East Broad Way, Lovettsville


The saga of one desperate German family's search for a better life in America, will be featured in the next lecture to be presented by the Lovettsville Historical Society on March 8. After years of likely indentured servitude in Pennsylvania, the Brunners moved to Frederick County, Maryland and rose to a level of affluence.

The story of the Brunner family provides a window into the great German migration that gave rise to the single largest group of Americans by national origin.  Many of the Germans who came to Pennsylvania in the early 18th century moved on to western Maryland and into Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, with some stopping in northern Loudoun County, in what became known as “The German Settlement,” now the Lovettsville area.

The story of that migration is told in the book German Immigrants, American Pioneers: The Brunners of Schifferstadt, by Patricia Ogden and Boyce Rensberger. The book begins as follows:

A surprisingly complete story of the founding and settlement of Frederick County, Maryland, can be told through the pioneering Brunner family and their Maryland house, which they called Schifferstadt after their home town in the old country. We know many details of the story’s beginning in the 1700s as the Brunners prepared to escape their ravaged German homeland. And in the 21st century we have the evidence of how they lived in Maryland—the stone house that stands today as an architectural museum in the City of Frederick…. In 2017, the U.S. Department of the Interior awarded it the elite designation as a National Historic Landmark, only the second site to be so honored in Frederick County. 

Ogden and Rensberger have tried to tell as much of the overall story as can be documented by historical records about the Brunner family and about the times in which they lived. They have relied upon the work of historians and of contemporaneous observers who left accounts of what they saw. And they have combed through government and church records of the Pennsylvania and Maryland colonies, which have yielded valuable information on the family and their lives and times.

Among topics which will be covered:

  • The family's perilous journey to Philadelphia in 1729. 
  • Their mystery years in Pennsylvania.
  • Their settlement in the wilderness of colonial Maryland. 
  • Their rise in economic status.
  • Their participation in the civic, religious and military life of the province of Maryland.
  • The large, stone home they built in Frederick Town. 

Patricia Ogden, a local historian, has devoted several years to digging up key facts from government and church records in Maryland and Pennsylvania. She is retired from the financial sector and lives in Frederick. Boyce Resnberger is a retired journalist with The Washington Post and The New York Times. He is a Brunner descendant who lived in six states before settling in Frederick and discovering that he had come home.

The authors will have a limited number of copies of their book for purchase for $19.95; only cash will be accepted. 

The Lovettsville Museum will be open after the program for a reception and refreshments.

The 2:00 program will be held at St. James United Church of Christ, at 10 East Broad Way in Lovettsville. It is free and open to the public, but donations and are welcome to defray expenses of the program.

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.  The  Society 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.  

Upcoming Lectures:
April 19 -  Loudoun County: Federalist Stronghold in Virginia, by Nancy Spannaus

May 17Secrets of Catoctin Mountain: Little known stories and hidden history in Frederick and Loudoun Counties, by James Rada.

June 14 – “’I am persuaded they will do great execution’: The Maryland and Virginia Rifle Companies of 1775,” by Travis Shaw

July 12  –  Climatic Change in Loudoun County, by Eugene Scheel
Thanks to Back Street Brews and Maureen for providing coffee for our Open House at the Lovettsville Museum after the "Lovettsville 101"  presentation on Feb. 9.  Visit them just down the street from the Museum, or online here.
History Feature:

The Journals of
Dr. James A. Willard
of Lovettsville:  Part II

By Michael Zapf

In our February 2020 Newsletter we introduced Dr. James A. Willard, who resided and practiced in Lovettsville from 1867 until his death in 1906.  Two sources of information give us in-depth insights into the man and his time.

The first source is a published genealogy entitled Willard Memoir or the Life and Times of Major Simon Willard: with Notices of Three Generations of the Descendants, and Two Collateral Branches in the United States . . . by Joseph Willard, published in 1858 in Boston.... In this study, the author acknowledges the contribution of “my friend James Willard, M.D. of Jefferson, Frederic County, Md. Who provided the background of the Maryland Willards.” 
Read more about Dr. Willard's Journals
Community Center construction delayed -- again

On January 15, Loudoun County announced that it was firing the contractor who was working on the first phase of the Lovettsville Community Center project. (Technically, the County "Issued a notice of termination" to Meridian Construction Co.) This will mean a delay of at least six months in finding another contractor, and then another 15-18 months for completion of the project, according to County officials.

Meanwhile, costs of the ill-fated project continue to escalate, from under $2 million at the inception, to $13,725,000 in the County's latest Capital Improvement budget presented in January.

Pretty amazing, when you consider that when voters approved the bond issue in November 2007 for renovation of five community centers, the total amount for all five was only $13,510,000.  In other words, as result of the County's decision to shift from renovation to demolition and new construction, and with all the safety and related issues that went with it, the projected costs for demolishing the present Lovettsville Community Center and building a new one, is greater than the cost of renovating all five Community Centers at the time of the bond issue.

Members of the Lovettsville Historical Society have been advised that, as a result of the termination of the construction contract, everything is on the table in terms of plans for the Community Center, including the siting of any new building.  In 2014, former Mayor Elaine Walker proposed building the new Center across the street in the Community Park site, and leaving the old building where it is for community use. She was told by County officials that this was impossible, because it might delay construction for up to two years!

At that time, the projected cost of the project had risen to about $5.5 million. Now, here we are, six years later and $8 million more in projected costs, and the project is at a standstill.  It seems like it is time for some serious rethinking of the County's plans.

For more background on the Community Center fiasco, see our article, "What we are losing, by demolishing the Community Center building" from our September 2019 Newsletter. 
Read more about the Lovettsville Community Center
Explore Our Website
Membership Information
Nearby Events of Interest

Sun., March 1, at 3 p.m. – Loudoun Preservation Society: “From Our Heart To Yours.” From the tough work we do to the stories we share, LPS is dedicated to keeping Loudoun’s past ever-present. Join us in celebration of our collective preservation efforts at this year’s LPS annual event. All are welcome! Light refreshments will be served and Loudoun’s great vistas will be all ‘round. For questions, comments & to RSVP email: Virt Family Farms.

Mon., March 2, at 7 p.m – Cresap’s Rifles: The Untold Story of the Riflemen Who Helped Save George Washington’s Army, by Champ Zumbrun. Through the eyes of Captain Michael Cresap, hear the extraordinary, previously untold story of the invaluable contributions made by crack riflemen from Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania who served as "George Washington's Continental Army Shock Troops." These backwoods men, some from Hagerstown, marched to Boston to assist Washington's army when they were at their weakest during the Siege of Boston in the summer of 1775.  Cresap's Rifles remembers, appreciates, and celebrates these long forgotten riflemen who helped change the course of American History and secured the freedoms and liberties that we enjoy today as Americans. Champ Zumbrun is a retired forester, a musician, songwriter, and author of two books and many articles on forestry, forest conservation and history. Western Maryland Regional Library, 100 South Potomac Street, Hagerstown, MD 21740.

Thurs., March 5, at 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. – “Digitizing Family Photos 101.” Gina McNeely, a volunteer at Thomas Balch Library, has been a picture researcher and photo editor since 1995. In 2007, she established Gina McNeely Picture Research to assist clients in finding and licensing compelling photos and footage for media projects. Her close proximity to the vast public domain collections at Washington, D.C.’s National Archives and the Library of Congress enable her to provide clients with quick, high-quality, and publication-ready digital imagery, often with no licensing fees. McNeeley will share helpful information on scanning your family photographs during this free two hour event. It will be held in the lower level meeting room of the Thomas Balch Library. For more information, call 703-737-7195. Thomas Balch Library, 208 W. Market Street, Leesburg, VA

Sat., March 7, at 2 p.m. – “Challenging Myths About Alexander Hamilton.” Many were taught that Alexander Hamilton was a tool of rich capitalists, a warmonger and an anti-democratic elitist. Get the real story from Lovettsville’s Nancy Spannaus, author of Hamilton Versus Wall Street: The Core Principles of the American System of Economics, and learn how his principles built the country and are relevant today. Lovettsville Library, 12 North Light Street, Lovettsville, 703-737-8050.

Sat., March 7, at 2:30 p.m. The Widow-Maker – Civil War Women’s Fight with the Pension Office.” After the Civil War, women were left to care for their veteran husbands, only to be denied their widow’s pension because they were “too independent.” Then the real fight began. Join Dr. Ashley Bowen as she shares the history of these women and the shifting ideas of government, gender, responsibility, and independence in the aftermath of the Civil War. When soldiers went marching home, there was no support system in place to care for their physical or psychological wounds. Instead, the Pension Office provided varying amounts of financial support to each soldier, and expected the women of the house to handle everything else. The wives of Civil War soldiers were responsible for the work of nursing their veterans—shaving their veterans, helping them eat, and bathing them—while also taking on many of the responsibilities that defined a nineteenth century father and husband, including manual labor, financial decision making, and farm management. When their husbands died, many of these women were told they would not receive their widow’s pension. According to the War Department, by caring for their husbands, the women had proven themselves too independent to need financial assistance. The program begins at 2:30 PM in the Delaplaine Randall Conference Room at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and is included with admission price, FREE for NMCWM members. 48 East Patrick Street, Frederick, MD 21701. For more info, call 301-695-1864.

Mon., March 9, at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Irish and Scots-Irish Family History Research Workshop. Many people believe that researching Irish ancestors is impossible because of the destruction of the Public Record Office in 1922. While many records were destroyed, others survived and large collections have come online in recent years. Join Fintan Mullan and Gillian Hunt from the Ulster Historical Foundation during their annual United States lecture tour to learn how to get the most out of Irish resources and records, gain strategies for breaking down brick walls, and grasp important historical context that may help fill in gaps in your research. Staunton Public Library (2nd floor Meeting Room), 1 Churchville Avenue, Staunton, VA 24401. Fuller contact details with additional information can be found at:

Fri., March 13, at 9:30 am – 12:30 pm – Irish Ancestry Research - Genealogy Workshop. (See March 9 event for details.) Library of Virginia, 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219.

Sat., March 14, at 10 a.m. – Civil War Walking Tour of Leesburg, with Richard Treat Gillespie. With its key geographic location just two miles from the Potomac Frontier that divided the Confederate and United States, Leesburg was bound to see a good deal of the Civil War. A Walking Tour of Civil War Leesburg with Rich Gillespie will examine the surviving Civil War townscape and watch the War develop and engulf the county seat of Loudoun. In a circuit of the historic district, the emphasis will be on what the 1,500 residents of the town would have seen at various places and what they would have experienced during 1861-65. The two-hour chronological tour will provide ample spots to sit for the weary and will paint some vibrant historic portraits to keep people enthralled. Included in the tour will be three skirmish sites, outside stops at two churches, the courthouse lawn, “the best street in town,” Harrison Hall where General Lee stayed, and the Episcopal cemetery. The tour leaves from Thomas Balch Library parking lot at 10 AM. Note: This tour requires good walking shoes. Thomas Balch Library, 208 W. Market Street, Leesburg, VA. 703-737-7195.

Sat., March 14, at 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Jefferson County Museum 2020 Opening Reception. The Jefferson County Museum will celebrate the beginning of the 2020 season with a free, public reception on Saturday, March 14. Visitors can view five new exhibits and enjoy refreshments from Alfredo’s Mediterranean Grille. 200 East Washington Street, Charles Town WV. For more information, contact museum curator Sarah Huston (681) 252-4267 or

Sat., March 14, at 1 p.m. – "He like a soldier fell:" Irish Brigade Hike. Follow the route of the Irish Brigade as they made their famous charge towards the Sunken Road at the Battle of Antietam. The program will begin at the New York State Monument at 1 PM. Please prepare for possible cold weather and wear suitable footwear for wet and uneven ground. Hike is free; park admission is $20/ vehicle. Antietam National Battlefield, 5831 Dunker Church Rd., Sharpsburg, MD 21782. 301-432-5124

Sun., March 15, at 2:00 pm. – “Too Much For Human Endurance: The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg,” by Ronald D. Kirkwood. After years of research, many books, and several generations, there was still uncharted territory about the Battle of Gettysburg until Too Much for Human Endurance: The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg. The author illustrates how the crucial importance of the Spanglers’ farm to Union victory at Gettysburg has been overlooked. The farm’s size, location, roads and proximity to the line allowed the Army of the Potomac to hold infantry and artillery close and rush them to the front, often just in time to prevent a Confederate breakthrough. The book includes tales of heroism, names, wounds, and treatments of Union and Confederate soldiers at Spangler, and also of the suffering of the Spangler’s and their neighbors during and after the battle and what happened to them.  Programs sponsored by Thomas Balch Library are held in the Lower Level Meeting Room and are free unless otherwise noted. Books will be available for purchase the day of the event.  Cash or Check only. Due to limited seating, we recommend registering in advance by calling 703-737-7195 or on-line at

Sun., March 15, at 3:00 pm. – History of the Washington and Old Dominion Rail Road. Hosted by Purcellville Historical Society. Purcellville Train Station, Purcellville VA

Thurs., March 19, at 6:45 p.m. – “James Henry Burton: A ‘Most Unscrupulous Partisan’ ” Join the Frederick County Civil War Roundtable as Logan Metesh describes Mr. Burton's incredibly busy life, whose work was much more far-reaching than any of his contemporaries. Burton's influence in the arms industry involved multiple inventions and patents - including perfecting the design of the main small-arm projectile used during the Civil War, despite history knowing it as the Minie ball; working for multiple different arms companies - including helping to build machinery at one facility, then using it in a US armory before the Civil War and absconding with it after Virginia seceded; and lending his expertise to multiple countries, including the USA, the CSA, England, Russia, and others - before, during, and after the Civil War. Free for members, $5 suggested fee for non-members. National Museum of Civil War Medicine, 48 East Patrick Street, Frederick, MD 21701. 301-695-1864.

Sat., March 21, at 9 a.m. – First Battle of Kernstown Commemorative Walking Tour. Learn about the Civil War’s First Battle of Kernstown (March 23, 1862) during this walking tour that takes place at the Kernstown Battlefield on the Pritchard-Grim Farm and the MSV’s Rose Hill Park. Led by author and historian Gary Ecelbarger, the walk begins at 9 a.m. at the Kernstown Battlefield, breaks for lunch at 11:30 a.m., then reconvenes at Rose Hill Park at 1 p.m. Free. Registration not required. Presented in partnership with the Kernstown Battlefield Association. Pritchard-Grim Farm: 610 Battle Park Drive, Winchester; Rose Hill Park: 1871 Jones Road, Winchester. More information here.

Sun., March 22, at 2 p.m. – “Railroads in NOVA: Why They Went Where They Went, and When They Went There,” by Charlie Grymes. Trains once steamed through Leesburg and tracks were proposed for southern Loudoun. The politics and economics of choosing where to build railroads were debated intensely in the 1800s, with cut-throat competition. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ended up having to float boxcars across the Potomac River. Visionary dreams of hauling coal across the Blue Ridge were realized, but Baltimore was the winner. Alexandria lost on coal, but finally won the “who will grow in NOVA” transportation game in the 1850s. Rational alignment of rail traffic finally occurred with completion of Potomac Yard in 1906. Programs sponsored by Thomas Balch Library are held in the Lower Level Meeting Room and are free unless otherwise noted. Books will be available for purchase the day of the event. Cash or Check only. Due to limited seating, we recommend registering in advance by calling 703-737-7195 or on-line at

Thurs., March 26, at 6:30 p..m. - 8:00 p.m. – “History on Tap: Harpers Ferry Off the Rails.” Join historians from the Mosby Heritage Area Association and Loudoun Museum as we discuss some of the strange, forgotten, and significant stories of Harpers Ferry and the surrounding areas along the Potomac River. History on Tap is made possible in partnership with Loudoun County Public Libraries. The program is free and open to the public. Ages 21+. Harpers Ferry Brewing, 37412 Adventure Center Lane, Purcellville, VA

Sat., March 28, 8:00 a.m. -- George Tyler Moore Center "Fire on the Mountain" Hike. Retired Harpers Ferry Chief Historian and Shepherd alumnus Dennis Frye has generously donated his time and talents to lead this strenuous, all-day hike to the Stone Fort at the top of Maryland Heights, the tallest mountain in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Additional stops along the way will further explore the role of Maryland Heights in the Civil War. Limited to 20 participants. TRANSPORTATION FROM SHEPHERD UNIVERSITY TO MARYLAND HEIGHTS WILL BE PROVIDED VIA AN EXTRAORDINARY DONATION FROM RIVER RIDERS. Cost: Your $25 donation helps fund educational programs of the Civil War Center! Thank you very much! For registration and details, see

Sun., March 29, at 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. – Conversations in History: Lord Dunmore and the Coming of the Revolution.” Presented by the Mosby Heritage Area Association in partnership with NOVA Parks. During the tumultuous summer of 1775, Virginians across the colony grappled with the question of joining in the revolt against Britain. At the center of this debate stood Royal Governor John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore. A stubborn and often tempestuous Scotsman, Dunmore’s actions in the face of revolution did much to galvanize the patriot movement in Virginia, and he has gone down as one of the most maligned men in Virginia history. A villain to most, Lord Dunmore was also seen as a liberator by many enslaved men and women who were promised freedom by his controversial proclamation of November 1775. Thousands would risk their lives for a chance at liberty. Join MHAA and NOVA Parks as we take a deeper dive into the complex life of Virginia’s last Royal Governor and look at how revolution came to the Old Dominion. We will examine how Virginia’s society fractured as patriot and loyalist factions came to blows, resulting in a military campaign that raged throughout Chesapeake Bay for nearly a year and left Virginia’s largest city in ashes. The talk will take place at Historic Mt. Zion Church, located at 40309 John Mosby Highway, Aldie, Virginia. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased by clicking here or at the door. For more information call (540) 687-5578.

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.
*   *   *   *   *

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.
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