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231 Dominion Rd.
Gerrardstown, WV 25420
(304) 229-1617

 


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 to 1742.

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 River.

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 In some historical documents, the Gerard name was spelled "Jarrett," which may be why local residents pronounce the town more like "Jarretstown" than Gerardstown.

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 persistence.

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.

   
   

2002 Mill Creek Manor B&B

   


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