July 2019 Issue
In this issue:
  • Lecture July 14: "Geniuses of the Frontier: James Rumsey and John M. Hall" 
  • Upcoming LHS lectures and events
  • Ethan Smith wins LHS History Award
  • History Mystery:  John Axline's Revolutionary War service
  • Locating Loudoun's Historic Cemeteries - before it's too late
  • Nearby Events of Interest
  • Archive of Back Issues

Next in the Lovettsville Historical Society's
2019 Lecture Series:

“Making Something Out of Nothing:
Geniuses of the Frontier -
James Rumsey and John H. Hall” 

A multi-media presentation by Jim Surkamp

Sunday, July 14, at 2:00 p.m.

Within a forty-year span of time and within 25 miles of Lovettsville, two geniuses in Jefferson County spawned modern-day steam turbine technology and revolutionized the way we make things -- and the way the world makes things – later called “the American factory system."

On Sunday, July 14, the Lovettsville Historical Society will feature Jefferson County historian Jim Surkamp, who will present the stories of these two remarkable men: James Rumsey and John H. Hall.

Blacksmith and millwright James Rumsey (1743-1792) of Shepherdstown was the first to insist that steam engines could be designed to carry us on water. (The Brits had already launched the Industrial Revolution with its advances with the Newcomen and James Watt's on-land steam engine). But the world scoffed at crazy ideas like steam-driven navigation. James Rumsey ignited that idea. Thomas Jefferson spent an afternoon with him in Paris, and the next day wrote his friend, Joseph Willard, saying: "On the whole, Rumsey is the greatest, most original mechanical genius I have ever seen." 

Rumsey's impact was in his far-seeing patents in London. The real-world impact of John Hancock Hall’s (1781-1841) incredible feat at Harpers Ferry was immediate, and was copied far and wide – and continues to this day. 

The British captains of industry, upon seeing Hall’s game-changer at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London in 1851 – the first world’s fair  - were so flummoxed, they toured the U.S. and all the armories, and bought $120,000 worth of equipment in period money, and hired away Hall's protegé James Henry Burton to build and manage the famous Royal Enfield Arms Factory. (Shh... no one’s supposed to know an American, for goshsakes, built it!)

Before Hall, one man would make a musket and its parts perfect unto itself -- ONLY unto itself -- in about three months.

After Hall we could quickly produce ANY number of muskets and breech-loading rifles absolutely interchangeable in their 63 parts, and using just teen-aged boys to mind up to three machines at any given time. This system of machines – the birth of automation - was then applied to sewing machines, then bicycles, then cars, and then Henry Ford added the moving assembly line.

Everything is manufactured that way now. Hall was the man who changed the world. And yet, most people have never heard of him.

Surkamp’s presentation will be held at  St. James United Church of Christ, at 10 East Broad Way in Lovettsville.  Admission is free, but donations and are welcome to defray expenses of the program and to support the activities of the Lovettsville Historical Society.

For more information, visit or email

GoogleMap the Lecture Venue
Upcoming LHS Lectures
August 11 --  Daniel Morgan: American Rifleman Commander, a profile of one of General Washington’s most successful commanders of the Revolutionary War, presented by Randall Flood, an instructor at the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown, and CEO and Co-Founder of the American Revolution Institute for Civic Education. 
Sept. 8 -- "The Shenandoah Valley's German Heritage" presented by Karen Good Cooper, president of the Shenandoah Germanic Heritage Museum in Shenandoah County, Va.  Mrs. Cooper will describe how the German settlers in the Valley (and in the Lovettsville German Settlement), brought their ideas, methods, and customs to this area, and how the “Shenandoah Deutsch” affected so much of how we behave and work today.

Oct. 13 – “Germanna 101: the Story of Virginia’s First German Settlement.” Ashley Abruzzo, Germanna Foundation Membership Development Manager and Germanna descendant, presents an overview of of the Germanna Colony's history starting in 1714, how the Germanna Foundation was created, and its present-day mission to preserve, protect, and educate on Virginia's early German heritage.
Explore Our Website
Above:  Ethan Smith, Ed Spannaus, and Annie Smith.

Ethan Smith Wins LHS HIstory Award

Ethan Smith, son of Annie and Buck Smith, won the Lovettsville Historical Award at the 5th Grade Awards Ceremony, held at Lovettsville Elementary School on June 5.
Ethan’s history essay, “Battle at the Baptist Church,” discussing the fight at the Baptist Church in Waterford between the Loudoun Rangers and White’s Commanches, in August 1862, took top honors among a dozen or so optional essays written by 5th graders.  LES Principal Linda Textoris told the Lovettsville Historical Society that Ethan’s essay “really stood out” among those submitted, and that it was the only one focused on a local event.  As Historical Society Vice-president Ed Spannaus said, in presenting the award, Ethan’s parents had arranged for him to come to the Lovettsville Museum to gather material for his essay project.   Spannaus met Ethan and his father at the Museum, and, after hearing of Ethan’s interest, was able to provide him with a number of resources on the Loudoun Rangers and the Waterford battle, which Ethan then utilized for his essay.
“Normally people study the big battles like Bull Run or Gettysburg,” Ethan wrote. “I decided to take a different approach and write about a small siege that happened locally, making it interesting to me, and a lot of fun to research.”
Read Ethan's Essay

History Mystery:

John Axline’s
Revolutionary War Service

By Edward Spannaus

For some years, I have been puzzled by the oft-repeated story of Lovettsville’s John Axline in the Revolutionary War: that he alternately served in Lt. Col. Posey’s Battalion of the 3rd Virginia Regiment, and went home to manufacture gunpowder for the Continental Army, and that, as a consequence of this, the British Army raided his house and terrorized his wife. (This story is found, for example, on page 18 of Lovettsville: The German Settlement.)

What is confusing about this, is that the British Army was nowhere near Loudoun County during the Revolutionary War, this being a highly-patriotic frontier area. Unless they were moving in large numbers, British soldiers stayed close to the Loyalist areas on the eastern seaboard. But Axline had moved to this area before the War, and he served in a Virginia regiment. Moreover, there was no gunpowder manufacturing in this area, as far as I know.

So how to explain the story of John Axline?

Read the answer here

Finding Loudoun’s Historic Cemeteries --
Before It's Too Late

As part of a broader effort to identify and preserve Loudoun County historic cemeteries and burial grounds, a newly-developed, interactive Loudoun County cemeteries map was unveiled at the June 4 Board of Supervisors meeting. With the help of various community groups, County staff has identified 212 cemeteries and burial grounds which are pin-pointed on the new map.

However, there are still many abandoned burial grounds in the Lovettsville area which are not yet included in the County’s map and database. Lovettsville Historical Society members have learned of a number of reported family or enslaved burial grounds in recent months, and we are asking anyone with information about any abandoned cemeteries in this area, to share that information with us.

Read More
Nearby Events of Interest
Now until July 31 – Thomas Balch Library Exhibit: "Loudoun County Civil War Artifacts," presented by John and Betsy Creamer.  Thomas Balch Library, 208 W. Market Street, Leesburg, VA. 703-737-7195.
July 4, 10:00 a.m. – Public Reading of the Declaration of Independence, Lovettsville. The Histfar Foundation along with the Lovettsville Historical Society and NOVA Parks is hosting a public reading of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July at St. James UCC. The event is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted to offset expenses. St. James United Church of Christ, at 10 East Broad Way in Lovettsville. Free tickets are at 
July 5-7 -- Sharpsburg Founder’s Day: Celebrating over 250 years of history! The Founder’s Day Weekend celebration is sponsored by the Town of Sharpsburg. Follow our Facebook page -Founder's Day 2019-Sharpsburg, MD for more information about the event.
Sat., July 6 at 3 p.m. -- Frederick and the Battle of Monocacy – A Downtown Frederick Walking Tour. This First Saturday program will examine the events in July 1864 when General Jubal Early and a Confederate Army entered Frederick. In a series of rapidly unfolding events leading up to July 9, 1864, Confederate troops inundated Frederick, ransomed the city for $200,000, and began a fight with Union troops stationed three miles south of town. This “pay-what-you-please” walking tour will take attendees to various locations downtown where important events in this drama took place. The program will begin at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine at 3:00 PM on July 6. Register ahead of time to hold your spot, as space is limited.  National Museum of Civil War Medicine,  48 East Patrick Street,  Frederick, MD 21701.  301-695-1864
 Sat., July 6, at 7:00 p.m. --  Salute to Independence:  Celebrate Independence Day at Antietam National Battlefield with a free concert by the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.  Concert starts at 7:30 p.m.   Fireworks at approximately 9:45 p.m.  Be prepared for large crowds of up to 20,000 people. Antietam National Battlefield, 5831 Dunker Church Rd., Sharpsburg, MD 21782.  For more information, visit  or call 301-432-5124.
Wed., July 10, 7 p.m. -- No Forgotten Fronts: From Classroom to Combat, with Lisa K. Shapiro. At the beginning of World War II, Professor Lauren Post of San Diego State College asked his students entering military service to write to him. Thousands of letters arrived from places like Pearl Harbor, North Africa, and Normandy, beginning with the salutation, “Dear Doc,” and describing vivid accounts of training, combat, and camaraderie. Pilots wrote about seeing planes shot down. Men in POW camps sent word about the location of other prisoners and Post passed information on to frantic families. These intimate, first-person accounts capture honest, in-the-moment reactions to war that resound with heartache and gratitude. Each month, Post excerpted the letters and mailed the Aztec News Letter around the world. Fraternities, typing classes, and families donated time and money for printing and postage. When the latest issue arrived, servicemen and women read it cover-to-cover, and then passed it to another Aztec in service. He sent pilots Aztec stickers to put on their planes. Soldiers sent him Nazi flags and sand from Iwo Jima. He tallied up the medals they earned and took time to call their mothers. He could not rest until he knew that every student who had been taken prisoner was released. For years afterward, men and women dropped by his small campus office to thank him for helping them make it through the war. This is the story of the devotion of a remarkable college professor who held his students, their campus, and an entire community together during World War II.  Lisa K. Shapiro is an Associate Professor of Business at San Diego Mesa College and holds degrees in Management and Literature and has taught composition and creative writing in San Diego. Thomas Balch Library, 208 W. Market Street, Leesburg, VA. 703-737-7195.
 Wed., July 10 at 7 to 8 p.m. -- Whiskey History: Rye vs Rye.  Join us for our second program on “Whiskey History” this summer.  Mark Vierthaler, Tenth Ward’s Head Distiller, will present a program on “Rye vs. Rye,” discussing the different types. After his free program, guests may purchase tickets to taste Tenth Ward Distillery’s local samples. This event is co-hosted by Heritage Frederick, Tenth Ward and Frederick County Public Libraries. Tasting Tickets: $10pp.  Heritage Frederick, 24 E. Church St., Frederick MD.
Fri., July 12 at 6 p.m. -- Culture & Cocktails: The Ransom of Hagerstown with Steve Bockmiller. Enjoy a drink and have a think! At Culture & Cocktails, a lecture program at the Miller House Museum, tackle a historical topic with the help of a little liquid fortitude. In the summer of 1864, the city of Hagerstown was one of several locations held for ransom by Confederate troops. Author and historian Steve Bockmiller will recount this dangerous time in local history alongside a pop-up exhibit of the Washington County Historical Society's artifacts from the ransom. Your ticket price will include your first drink, and refills will be available for a small fee. This event is for adults ages 21 and older, please! For more information, contact the Washington County Historical Society.  $15/person; $10/WCHS member. Miller House Museum, 135 W. Washington St., Hagerstown, MD 21740.  301-797-8782.
Sat., July 20 at  6:00 p.m. -- Haunted Heritage of Brunswick. Return to the Brunswick Heritage Museum and continue to listen to the stories from the past. Investigate alongside members of The Ghost PIT. The only difference use the equipment!!! Use the stuff you see on t.v. and find out for yourself what it's like to communicate with the other side. Tickets are still just $15 and spots can be reserved by contacting James at the museum or by email at  Brunswick Heritage Museum, 40 W Potomac St, Brunswick, Maryland 21716.   (301) 834-7100.
About Us
In 2019, the Lovettsville Historical Society & Museum continues its mission of preserving and promoting the heritage of Lovettsville, and also our surrounding area formerly known as “The German Settlement."  The success of our mission relies heavily upon on our membership, which provides the needed resources and also committed volunteers to share our 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.
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Lovettsville: The German Settlement is available for sale at the Lovettsville Museum.
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