Gerrardstown, WV 25420
erious historical documentation of the
Gerrardstown area began in the 1740's, although it is an
accepted fact that Indians, presumably a controversial
variety of tribes, inhabited this land for hundreds of
years earlier. Little is known of their history here.
Morgan Morgan is said to be West Virginia's first white
settler, coming in 1726 and building a family cabin about
four miles southeast of present day Gerrardstown. There
is some evidence that John Springer, a squatter, built
his cabin on Fairfax land two miles south of town prior
In 1742-43 John Hayes led a group of Baptists to this
area and settled along Mill Creek. Here he built a
two-story limestone house, the "Old Stone
House", which was later inhabited by John Gerard.
John Gerard purchased over 1300 acres of land in the
surrounding area to farm, as well as becoming the area's
itinerant Baptist minister. The settlement became known
as Middletown, about midway between Winchester and
Watkins' Ferry at Williamsport, MD, on the Potomac River.
George Washington records in his diary that he traveled
through Middletown during his surveys of the territory
for Lord Fairfax in 1753-54. Later, Washington served as
a military officer here during the French and Indian War,
presumably due to his intimate knowledge of the land.
The settlers of Middletown periodically came under Indian
attack. When the Kelly family was slain, a mile west of
town near North Mountain, the settlers left the town, but
returned after the French and Indian War.
Fort Loudon (Winchester), Romney, Bath (Berkeley
Springs), and Middletown (Gerrardstown) were prominent in
their time. These settlements were at the time sitting on
the edge of the frontier and were among the largest
communities between the Blue Ridge and the Mississippi
The Revolutionary War affected the area very little
except for a few men who went east to fight in the war.
Several war veterans moved to this area later on.
John Gerard died in 1787 leaving much of the land to his
son, David, and the house to his wife, Mary. David
plotted the town into parcels, which he sold for $150, to
encourage settlement. For his good deed, the Virginia
House of Burgesses renamed the town
"Gerrardstown," in his honor. In some
historical documents, the Gerard name was spelled
"Jarrett," which may be why local residents
pronounce the town more like "Jarretstown"
The town grew and the area prospered in farming through
the 1800's. Although the Civil War affected the greater
area of the Shenandoah Valley, Gerrardstown remained
essentially untouched except in opposing sympathies of
its townspeople. Occupation was understood only by means
of which army rode into town on a certain day, if any.
The presence of the B&O Railroad through the
Panhandle caused the Lincoln administration to force the
three counties: Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan to be
included in the secession of western Virginia from the
Commonwealth of Virginia in 1863. A long, legal battle
ensued. Not until 1868 did Berkeley and Jefferson
counties become part of West Virginia. At that time the
State of West Virginia seated its first Congressman in
the House of Representatives. Bethuel Middleton Kitchen,
of Shanghai, Gerrardstown district, represented our state
in Washington, D.C. His lovely brick mansion stands as a
monument to his service, on a hill overlooking Shanghai
and Back Creek Valley.
Later in the 1800's and early 1900's, Gerrardstown became
a very prosperous farming community, having realized a
superb fruit industry. The first apples to be exported to
England came from Gerrardstown. Peach Billy Miller of
Gerrardstown shipped the first commercial peach crop to
Baltimore in 1867. The town boasted 2 newspapers, several
doctors, five general stores, and many self-sustaining
independent businesses. The people were well traveled,
some having been to Europe on several occasions.
Gerrardstown was the seat of the Magistrate/Justice of
the Peace of the district. The town was at its height
during the Victorian period.
The Great Depression affected Gerrardstown as it did the
rest of the nation. Businesses folded as the farming
industry took a downturn. People moved away to find work;
many never returned. Large farming parcels were later
sold in smaller lots and former prosperity of the farming
industry was gone forever.
Today, Gerrardstown remains intact - a testament to its
endurance in the face of modern industry and technology.
Its colonial founders left behind a rich history and
heritage of strength, courage, durability, and
When walking or driving through Gerrardstown, take note
of the flow of history through its architecture. Much has
been preserved, added to, or modified, but every period
of history since the Colonial Frontier is represented.
Whether looking at the "Old Stone House" with
its fireplaces built inside the house, viewing a
clapboarded log cabin, or comparing Federalist and
Victorian examples, Gerrardstown has it all.
Gerrardstown is listed on the National Register of
Historical Places and the Washington Heritage Trail.