JCHS Annual Picnics

Perhaps the most popular of the Society’s events is its annual picnic. From modest beginnings the picnic has grown to absorb fully 20% of the Society’s annual budget. The first mention of a summer get together appeared in Volume XXXV of The Magazine when Dr. John A. Washington reported that “Shepherdstown was host to an usual afternoon meeting on August 2 [1969] held at Shepherd College. After an informative welcoming address by President James A. Butcher, a walking tour was conducted by Dr. James Price. Participants were treated to delightful anecdotes related to Main Street dwellings and other buildings near the College. The dampening effects of a rainstorm were offset by Mrs. Butcher’s graciousness in serving tea at the President’s residence, Popodicon. An associated event was the presentation to Mr. Kenamond at his house of a meritorious award.” Absent fried chicken, deviled eggs, and a cornucopia of covered dishes and desserts, this was the first time that the Society convened for a summer meeting.

The term “picnic” appears for the first time in 1970. In an article titled “Of Interest To Members” article, it was once again the Society’s President, Dr. John A. Washington, who reported that “the Society held a later summer picnic-meeting on Saturday, Sept. 12, at “Piedmont”, the home of Miss Louise C. Briscoe, a charter member.” According to Dr. Washington, “the affair proved to be very pleasant” with “seventy-five persons, including guests, gathered at the beautiful old home at four p. m.” Dr. Washington’s idea caught on, and most years since 1970 the Society has hosted a summer picnic at one of the many historic homes in Jefferson County.

For one reason or another, some houses have hosted more than one picnic. Two homes have hosted three picnics. Roger and Wanda Perry have hosted three at their home, The Hill, Beallair was the site of picnics in 1985, 1994, and 2010. Samuel Washington’s home Harewood and younger brother Charles’ home Happy Retreat both welcomed summer picnics on two occasions. Fruit Hill was the venue in 1984 and 2018. Over fifty years, these homes and thirty-six others opened their doors to the Society’s members and their guests offering them a glimpse of Jefferson County’s rich history.

Perhaps because there were no picnics in 1972 and 1973, two were scheduled in 1974. Sometime in July, “a picnic supper” was held at Belvedere, home of Adelia Willis Wilson. A second picnic supper planned for Morgan’s Spring, the home of Mr. and Mrs. John R. Beasley “was cancelled due to inclement weather.” Threatening skies, always the bane of picnic suppers, caused the cancellation. The Beasley’s were given a reprieve and had another year to prepare – the 1975 picnic was held at Morgan’s Spring.

Since 1974, the summer picnics have received mention somewhere in The Magazine. In 1977, the Summer Picnic Meeting appeared for the first time in the Table of Contents as a separate entry, and it has found a home there since. Many of the accounts are accompanied by a photograph of the festivities, and they always include an account of the evening’s proceedings. One of the highlights of each picnic is a tour of the property and explanation of its history. Occasionally, guests are feted with a special presentation. The 1975 picnic was also the 200th Anniversary of the Bee Line March, and the Beasley’s invited State Senator Robert Steptoe who “appeared in top hat and frock coat and made a well contrived oration, reminiscent of those made from the porch of the stone house in 1858.” The summer picnic can be the vehicle for significant announcements as it was in 2000. On August 2, 2000, Dr. John E. Stealey III announced that after twenty years of service, the second longest tenure in that office, he was stepping down as the Society’s President. However, he offered to continue as Editor of The Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society, the Society accepted his proposal, and Dr. Stealey continued in that position. His tenure as Editor of The Magazine spanned twenty-three years, from Volume XLVII (1981) to Volume LXIX (2003).

Initially, picnics were held in July. On at least one occasion a picnic was scheduled for September. Eventually, August was chosen as the ideal month, and in the 1980s, presumably to facilitate planning, the Society settled on the first Wednesday in August as the date for the annual picnic. As you can imagine, picnics are vulnerable to summer thunderstorms. In recent memory, the picnic in 2010 at Beallair and in 2012 at The Hill were shortened by summer showers. Although held under threatening skies, the 2013 picnic at Locust Grove escaped rain-free, but participation was noticeably affected. At the suggestion of former Director Walter Washington, the words “Held Rain or Shine” were added to the postcard notice assuring that if willing to chance it, the picnic was on.

Annual Picnics

  • 1969: August 2nd, 1969 an afternoon tea at Popodicon, home of Shepherd College President Dr. and Mrs. James A. Butcher. Following a walking tour of Shepherdstown led by Dr. James Carter Price, members assembled at the home of Alva Dayne Kenamond, the Society’s first president, where the current president Dr. John A. Washington presented Dean Kenamond with the Certificate of Commendation from the American Association of State and Local History.

  • 1970: September 12th, 1970 at Piedmont, home of Louise C. Briscoe 1971 August 7th,

  • 1971: prior to a tour of Traveller’s Rest (before restoration) at Harewood, home of Dr. and Mrs. John Augustine Washington

  • 1972: No mention of a picnic

  • 1973: No mention of a picnic

  • 1974: Picnic supper “in July” held at Belvedere, home of Adelia Willis Wilson. A second picnic supper was cancelled due to inclement weather. It was planned for Morgan’s Spring and decided that it would be the site of the picnic 1975.

  • 1975: July 16th, 1975 at Morgan’s Spring, owned by Mr. and Mrs. John R. Beasley

  • 1976: No summer picnic in lieu of county-wide Bicentennial Celebrations. See “Bicentennial Events in Jefferson County,” The Magazine Volume XLII, December 1976, pp 54-62

  • 1977: July 16th, 1977 at the Thomas Shepherd Mill owned by Ira and Anne Middlebrook Glackens

  • 1978: “…on an ideal summer evening in August” at the home of Louise Leonard Nelson in Harpers Ferry

  • 1979: August 9th, 1979 at Priest Field Pastoral Center operated by the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, WV August 6th,

  • 1980: at the home of James Blackwell and Elizabeth McDonald Browse Davis in Charles Town

  • 1981: August 19th, 1981 at The Hill, the home of Roger Johns and Wanda P. Perry

  • 1982: August 11th, 1982 at the home of James Blackwell and Elizabeth McDonald Browse Davis in Charles Town

  • 1983: August 3rd, 1983 at Arcadia, home of Millard Kessler and Dean McKoin Bushong

  • 1984: August 8th, 1984 at Fruit Hill, home of Archibald Robinson and Ruth deWindt Hoxton, Jr.

  • 1985: August 7th, 1985 at Beallair, the home of Donley Clayton and Mary Jo Kederis Williams Kennard

  • 1986: August 6th, 1986 at Richwood Hall, home of Brower and Annette Harwood Murphy

  • 1987: August 5th, 1987 at Rion Hall, the home of Ora Ward Cooper

  • 1988: August 10th, 1988 at Windward, the home James Edward and Lynn Byron

  • 1989: August 2nd, 1989 at The Hill, the home of Roger Johns and Wanda P. Perry

  • 1990: August 1st, 1990 at Walnut Hill, home of Turner Alan and Louise Heskett Ware Ramey

  • 1991: August 7th, 1991 at Harewood, home of Samuel Walter and his mother

  • 1992: August 5th, 1992 at Ripon Lodge, home of Archibald McGill Smith and Joyce Werstlein Morgan II

  • 1993: August 4th, 1993 at Claymont Court, owned by the Claymont Society for Continuous Education

  • 1994: August 3rd, 1994 at Beallair, the home of Donley Clayton and Mary Jo Kederis Williams Kennard

  • 1995: August 2nd, 1995 at Hazelfield, the home of William Howard Adams

  • 1996: August 7th, 1996 at Altona, home of Henry Bedinger and Faye Byerly Davenport III

  • 1997: August 6th, 1997 at Elmwood, the home of Oscar Cebren and Janet Brown Stine

  • 1998: August 5th, 1998 at Leeland, home of Woodbury and Patricia Carter

  • 1999: August 4th, 1999 at Springdale, home of Conrad Calvert and Mary Ann Glenn Hammann

  • 2000: August 2nd, 2000 at Morgan’s Grove Park

  • 2001: August 1st, 2001 at Bell Vue, home of Henry Shepherd V

  • 2002: August 7th, 2002 at Aspen Pool Farm, home of Commander Charles Francis and Bethel Hottel Printz

  • 2003: August 6th, 2003 at Tudor Hall, a Bicentennial Farm, home of James Amon and Lillian Unneberg Grantham, Sr.

  • 2004: August 4th, 2004 at Aspen Hill, home of Elizabeth Smith

  • 2005: August 3rd, 2005 at White House Farm, home of Curtis and Suzette Mason

  • 2006: August 9th, 2006 at Millbrook, home of Henry Walton and Jeannette Hinz Morrow, Jr

  • 2007: August 1st, 2007 at Happy Retreat, home of William Gilfillan and Mary Bliss Gavin

  • 2008: August 6th, 2008 at Mount Ellen, the home of Yves and Giulia Tencalla

  • 2009: August 5th, 2009 at the Allstadt House and Ordinary, owned by James Gregg and Barbara Phillips Gibson

  • 2010: August 4th, 2010 at Beallair, owned by the Wormald Companies

  • 2011: August 3rd, 2011 at Boidstone’s Place, owned by John C. Allen, Jr.

  • 2012: August 1st, 2012 at The Hill, the home of Roger Johns and Wanda P. Perry

  • 2013: August 7th, 2013 at Locust Grove, home of John and Carmen Creamer

  • 2014: August 6th, 2014 at Gap View, home of Susannah Buckles

  • 2015: August 5th, 2015 at Clay Hill, the home of William Strider

  • 2016: August 2nd, 2016 at Smithfield Farm, home of Ruth Prichard

  • 2017: August 2nd, 2017 at Popodicon, traditional home of the President of Shepherd University

  • 2018: August 1st, 2018 at Fruit Hill, home of Archibald Robinson and Connie Hoxton III

  • 2019: August 7th, 2019 at Happy Retreat, owned by the Friends of Happy Retreat

  • 2020: Cancelled due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The picnic was scheduled to be held on Wednesday, August 5th, 2020 at Harewood, the home of Walter Washington.

  • 2021: The JCHS cancelled the picnic due the COVID Pandemic and all members received printed cards of 10 historic scenes in Jefferson County. These cards are now available for purchase.

  • 2022: Membership Picnic was held Wednesday, September 14, 2022 on the front lawn of Harewood, Circa 1770, Home of Walter Washington. This was the wedding venue of Dolley Payne Todd and James Madison. Approximately 180 members and guests attended and toured the home built by Samuel Washington, brother to General George Washington.

The JCHS picnic of 2012.

The JCHS picnic of 2012.

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