By James, Preserve WV AmeriCorps serving at Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum
Recently, the Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Museum received a donation from local resident Jim Schmitt that sparked wonder and imagination into Shepherdstown’s past. The donation was of two baseball gloves and a jersey that read “Red Sox” on the front. These were left over treasures of the Shepherdstown Red Sox, a black baseball team that operated from the 1930’s until the late 1960’s. The donation not only impressed and awed the members of HSC, but also pointed out a dire problem facing the museum. While the museum has operated since the 1970’s and the various hands that have run it did their best to represent the history of Shepherdstown as a whole, there was no real representation of the African American community in the museum.
The baseball team items seemed like a perfect opportunity to address this problem head on and started a wave of interest and activity in order to bring this important part of the history into the museum. To do this initial research on the baseball team was done through pulling out an article that was published in 1986 that summarized the history of the team. But interestingly enough there were people living today who could remember the Red Sox playing in Shepherdstown. Since the ’86 article was the only bit of history found at the time, a project emerged in order to get the stories of the black community and the baseball team’s role in it, oral histories.
HSC decided to partner with Shepherd University’s Keith Alexander who ran an oral history class at Shepherd and allow the students to contact these people to hear their stories and memories. Finding members of the community who were old enough to remember the Red Sox and willing to participate was challenging for the students who decided to then expand their search to the African American community in Jefferson County. The oral histories were presented at a HSC event this past month and the histories will soon be passed over to the university archives, HSC archives, and the Jefferson County Historical Society archives.
In a recent development, two former players of the Red Sox agreed to step forward and be interviewed for the project. Reverend Charles Hunter and Clarence Branson had both played on the Red Sox in the 1960’s and were born and raised in Shepherdstown. In an hour and half interview they recounted stories of playing for the team, the sense of community felt in the town, and the discrimination they had experienced in their lifetimes. The stories were very helpful and incredibly interesting. Both men also still have their uniforms from playing and are willing to lend them to HSC for use in their display. The African American and Shepherdstown Red Sox display is still likely to be ready several months in the future, a lot of the initial research has been made possible by the truly amazing stories told through the oral history project.
AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent federal agency whose mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. To learn more about AmeriCorps see www.americorps.gov. The PreserveWV AmeriCorps program is sponsored by Volunteer West Virginia, the state’s Commission for National and Community Service: www.volunteerwv.org/
This AmeriCorps program is funded in part by a grant from Volunteer WV, the State’s Commission for National and Community Service and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Volunteer WV encourages West Virginians of all ages and abilities to be involved in service to their community.
A documentary “The Preservation and Restoration of Helen Apartments,” directed and produced by Tyler Carden and Brian Jarrell (students in the Fine Arts Department at Liberty High School in Raleigh County, WV), is now available for viewing.
Video footage was collected April 10-11, 2015 during the clean-up and mothballing activities of the historic Helen Apartment Building organized with WeGROW: Winding Gulf Restoration Organization. The students completed the film in three weeks.
The documentary debuted May 13th during a commission meeting of Volunteer West Virginia: The State Commission on Community and National Service. Our thanks are extended to Jeremy Rodriquez, chairman, and the students of the Fine Arts Department at Liberty High School and the many volunteers and supporters of the cleanup and mothballing project.
The video is available on the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia YouTube Channel. Unused B-Roll footage from the project may be used for additional productions in the future – stay tuned!
$3 Million in Short-Term Planning Assistance Available to Coal-impacted Communities under the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) InitiativeThe U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) recently announced the availability of $3 million in planning assistance to communities impacted, or which may be impacted, by contractions in the coal economy. These funds are made available as part of the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, a new interagency effort to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector.
Economic changes often result in job loss and other concrete negative impacts, but can also generate mounting concerns about perceptions of uncertainty and risk in the regional economy. One of the first critical steps that communities need to take is to build a cohesive strategy for how they will adapt to these changes. Effective planning creates a road map which practitioners, policymakers and other stakeholders can use to identify and take the actionable steps necessary to realize their desired economic vision. These new planning funds will support the bottom-up strategies developed by the local communities.
Successful applications will enable affected communities to develop detailed strategies to: diversify their economies, create jobs in new or existing industries, attract new sources of job-creating investment, and/or how to provide a range of workforce services that result in industry-recognized credentials for high-quality, in-demand jobs.
Successful applications may also include projects that explore the feasibility of specific economic development diversification projects, entrepreneurship promotion, or assessments to provide community stakeholders key asset and impact information from which to conduct future strategic planning.
Funding will be available until expended or until September 30, 2015.
To apply for this funding, please follow instructions included within the Planning and Local Technical Assistance FFO and the addendum.
For additional information, please contact your EDA state representative.
The Mt. Wood Cemetery Restoration Project is participating in the Amazing Raise Ohio Valley, a 24-hour online giving challenge sponsored by the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley. This giving day will take place TODAY, Tuesday, May 5, and we really hope you will participate! The minimum gift is only $10!! The money you donate goes to supporting this important project – like hiring monument companies to reset the large obelisks that have fallen, buying supplies for our monthly volunteer workdays, and going forward, restoring the 10 mausoleums that are found within the cemetery. You can make your donation here: https://www.giveov.org//#npo/wheeling-national-heritage-area
This past year has been a great one for this old cemetery located off National Road and overlooking the city of Wheeling. It is the City’s oldest cemetery and has been a victim to its topography (gravity) and heavily vandalized in years past. We have had a very successful past two years working in the cemetery — resetting 11 large obelisks, leveling and resetting over 100 smaller monuments and gravestones and cleaning hundreds more!
But, we still need your help! There are still hundreds of gravestones that need our attention! This work can only continue through the generosity of donors like you!!!
May 10th, 2015 is the 107th celebration on Mother’s Day in Grafton, West Virginia.
Since 1908, a celebration for mothers has taken place at the Andrews Methodist Church, now known as the International Mother’s Day Shrine, in the town of Grafton, West Virginia. This historic building has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Story of Mother’s Day:
On May 1, 1864, in the little village of Webster, four miles south of Grafton, West Virginia, Granville and Ann Jarvis welcomed their daughter, Anna Jarvis, into the world. The Grafton area was an important railroad center during the Civil War and Mrs. Jarvis’ birthplace had served as a temporary headquarters for Gen. McClellan in 1861.
During the war years, Ann Jarvis worked very hard to provide nursing care and promote better sanitation, which helped save thousands of lives on both sides of the conflict. After the war, she continued her work to help heal the wounds of the war years and bring families and communities together again. Young Anna received her basic education in the public schools of Grafton and attended Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia.
In 1902, after the death of Granville Jarvis, the family moved to Philadelphia. It was there that Ann Jarvis passed away on May 9, 1905. Two years later, in 1907, on the second Sunday in May, Anna invited several friends to her home in Philadelphia, in commemoration of her mother’s life. On this occasion, she announced her idea – a day of national celebration in honor of mothers – a Mother’s Day.
The following spring, Anna wrote to the Superintendent of Andrews Methodist Church Sunday School in Grafton, suggesting that the church in which her mother had taught classes for twenty years, celebrate a Mother’s Day in her honor. The idea appealed to Mr. Loar and on May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day service was held in the church. Anna established the white carnation as the symbol of the celebration and developed other text and visual tools in honor of the event. It was Anna who coined the term, “Mother’s Day Association”, used during the period she was developing her concept of what Mother’s Day should be. Subsequently, West Virginia Gov. William E. Glasscock issued the first Mother’s Day proclamation on April 26, 1910. In 1912, at the General methodist Conference in Minneapolis, MN, Anna was recognized as the founder of Mother’s Day. A joint resolution in the United States Congress designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. The official resolution was approved by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.
For more information, see: http://www.mothersdayshrine.com/the-founding-of-mothers-day/
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