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The Stewart Bell Jr. Archives will Reopen on July 8

Beginning Wednesday, July 8, the Reading Room of the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives will reopen to researchers. For the safety of staff and researchers, and to protect our collections, we have had to make some changes to our procedures. Researchers will now need to make appointments to do research in the Archives. Currently, researchers are limited to a one hour research appointment per day. Research appointment times are as follows:  

Monday to Thursday: 10:15 AM to 11:15 AM, 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM, 1:15 PM to 2:15 PM, 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM, 3:45 PM to 4:45 PM, 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM

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Blog Type: Archives Homepage
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(His)tory: John Bruce

John Bruce (1793-1855) was a man who spent over twenty years of his life finding ways to make an impact on his community. He was born in Scotland, but emigrated to the United States and settled in Winchester. Some people make impacts through teaching and preaching, some through caring for people’s well-being, but others find that they are best suited to improving the community through other means, as John Bruce did by overseeing various constructions.

Bruce must have had an eye for beauty as well as good construction, because he was the architect for the original Christ Episcopal ...

Blog Type: Archives
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May 25: Memorial Day and the First Battle of Winchester

Memorial Day, a day to honor and mourn those who died serving in the Armed Forces, originated in the years following the Civil War, through it did not become a federal holiday until 1971. The Civil War caused more bloodshed than any other conflict in U.S. history, claiming the lives of about 500,000 soldiers. After the war, Americans began holding tributes to fallen soldiers every Spring. Memorial Day later expanded to honor those who lost their lives in other conflicts and wars.

By coincidence, Memorial Day this year falls on May 25, the 158th anniversary of the First Battle of W...

Blog Type: Archives
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New to Digital Collections! The Journal of Alexander Balmain

The Stewart Bell Jr. Archives Digital Collections now includes the Journal of Rev. Alexander Balmain, the rector of Frederick Parish from 1782 to 1821. The journal covers the years 1777 to 1820 and includes a wealth of information for people interested in the early history of Winchester and its inhabitants.

Balmain was born in Scotland in 1740 and originally trained to be a Presbyterian minister. He first moved to America 1767 to tutor the children of Richard Henry Lee in Westmoreland County. He returned to England briefly to become ordained as a minister in the Established Church...

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(Her)story: Businesswomen of Winchester

Winchester has certainly been home to many remarkable people, including many women over the decades who owned and operated their own businesses. Several in particular stand out for the unique ways they showed strength in their careers as businesswomen.

Upon the death of her father in 1926, Lucy Fitzhugh Kurtz (1874-1968) inherited not one, but two businesses: the Kurtz Furniture Store and the Kurtz Funeral Home. The two businesses were incorporated in 1947 under the name of George W. Kurtz, Inc. Lucy remained the company president until 1968, the year she died at the impressive ag...

Blog Type: Archives
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May I Have this Dance?

While going through a collection of personal papers, staff at the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives found this sweet handmade dance card for a Grand Masquerade Ball. There isn’t much information about who hosted the ball or when, but the dances, which include a grand march, the two-step, the waltz, German figure, and the Virginia Reel were all popular in the middle to late nineteenth century.

This particular item comes from the papers of Isaac Fontaine Hite (1807-1884), Hite was born at the Belle Grove plantation in Middletown, Frederick County, to Major Isaac Hite Jr. and his wife, Ann T...

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(Her)story: Willa Cather

Did you know that a famous classic American writer was originally from Frederick County?  When people think about Willa Cather (1873-1946), they often associate her with the Midwest (she spent her teenage and college years there, and many of her novels are set in the Midwest), but actually Cather spent much of her childhood in our neighborhood.  

Willa was born at the Boak House in Gore, and the next year moved with her family to the house known as Willow Shade, about a mile to the east.  She lived in that house until the age of nine, when her family moved to N...

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Who was Nemo?

 

Recently, one of our researchers sent us an old news clipping found in a family scrapbook. The article, entitled “The Handley Library A Priceless Boon: Nemo Thinks All the Winchester People Should Feel Very Grateful For It” was undated but the content suggests it was written shortly after the Handley Library opened to the public in 1913.

It’s hard to miss Nemo’s excitement about what the library meant for the City of Winchester and its residents, both present and future.  ‘”Ma Winchester” can well be proud of the ownership of such a splendid building in which...

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(His)torytime from the Archives: Admiral Byrd

Many of us are stuck at home right but we can still let our imaginations soar with stories from the past. Winchester native Admiral Richard E. Byrd (1888-1957) had an unquenchable thirst for adventure his entire life. At the age of twelve, he made an unsupervised journey around the entire world.  When the United States entered into World War I, Byrd received flight training and by 1918 had earned his wings. 

Though Admiral Byrd accomplished many things during his career, he is probably best known for his Polar expeditions.  In 1926, Byrd, along with pilot Floyd Benn...

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Surprises in the Pages of an Old Account Book

Are you a doodler? If you are, you might appreciate this sketch found in an account book kept by George William Bragg between 1880 and 1884. The sketch shows a fantastical landscape of giant books connected by ladders and stacks. Meanwhile, a small figure in a top hat scrambles to reach the peak via a high staircase leading to what is labelled “room at the top.”

It’s not uncommon for archivists to find sketches and doodles in the pages of manuscripts, rare books and other items in their collections. Some are detailed works of art; others are more abstract patterns. The margins of ...

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Records of Frederick County, Virginia Courts-Martial of Militia Troops Now Online

Frederick County, Virginia, Courts-Martial of Militia Troops conducted between September 1755 and October 1761, transcribed by John Walter Wayland from originals in back pages of  Frederick County Deed Book 18, are now available online through the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives Digital Collections.

Ordered that John House of the foot Company Commanded by Capt. William Vance be fined Five shillings or fifty lbs Tobo.[tobacco]  For absenting him Self from one private muster within Twelve months last past.

John House’s name appears in a list of delinquents submitt...

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Shenandoah Valley Heritage Day is March 7, 2020

The Stewart Bell Jr. Archives and the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley are again partnering to host Shenandoah Valley Heritage Day on Saturday, March 7, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV).

This year’s conference honors the centennial of women’s suffrage with two lectures related to women’s history. At 10:30 a.m., Barbara Batson of the Library of Virginia will discuss the challenges and opportunities of tracing women’s history. A second presentation at 12:00 p.m. discusses the preservation of historic textiles and will be led by MSV Curator of Col...

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The Doom of the Saloon: New Exhibit Focuses on Prohibition

“Patient and long we waited for the day/ When the saloons should all be wiped away,” begins The Doom of the Saloon, one of several song scores to be found in the book Best Temperance Songs, published in 1913.   This book and many other prohibition related items are featured in the latest exhibit by the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives.

Federal prohibition began in 1920 following the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to United States Constitution which banned the production, importation, and sale of alcohol. In Virginia, however, a statewide ban on alcohol began in 1916 f...

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Remembering Company I, 116th Virginia Infantry

On September 2, 1919, only a few months after their return from Europe, members of Company I of the 116th Virginia Infantry marched down North Loudoun Street as part of a World War I Victory Parade.

Company I was organized at Winchester in March 1911 and formed part of the longest serving unit of the Virginia National Guard, the 116th Virginia Regiment. The regiment, formed in 1741, had participated in every major American conflict beginning with the French and Indian War.

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917 the men of Company I a...

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