Monday, September 29, 2014

'Round Here: A Look At My Town

The picture shows W. King St. post card on ebay
The next couple of days I'm fixing to tell ya 'bout where I live here in West Virginia. When talk'in to the older folks yer either borned and raised here or transplanted. (also means city slicker) Some of us here don't right care too much for the transplanted. 
Growing up here, this town reflected small town USA with only 'bout 36,000 people residing in Berkeley County, Martinsburg at one time coulda been used fer the back drop for Mayberry, RFD with it's street lined homes and farms just on the edge of the town. Until the
later 80's we still had a gas station here jest like Goobers in Mayberry. It was called, H and L Mills. Eryone knew eryone here back then. 

What's become of this town today? I reckon I won't talk 'bout that in this post. It'll only git the blood pressure all stirred up. 

I guess I'd be telling my age saying that I remember the days when the milkman delivered milk to yer home. My grand daddy was a milk man here.This here post is some of the history of Martinsburg/ Berkeley County West Virginia.  

Martinsburg is a city in and the county seat of Berkeley CountyWest Virginia in the state's Eastern Panhandle region of the state. Berkeley County is the second oldest county in West Virginia.  It was founded in 1778 by General Adam Stephen after Colonel Thomas Bryan Martin, a nephew of Thomas Fairfax,

The first post office was established at Martinsburg in 1792. (It was still Virginia then mind ya) Our post office here was the oldest in the state. Of course we lost our post office a coupla years ago. Having the oldest post office wasn't enough to save it. Our mail now comes from Baltimore, Md. I reckon I won't git started on that rant! 

The Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad reached Martinsburg in 1842. The B&O Roundhouse and Station Complex was first constructed in 1849.

There are stories about the underground railroad here. According to William Still, "The Father of the Underground Railroad," a freedom-seeking slave made an escape from Martinsburg on the Underground Railroad, Christmas night, 1856. Robert Brown, alias Thomas Jones, fled by riding a horse while it swam across the freezing Potomac River. After riding forty miles, he walked in cold wet clothes for two days, to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He received assistance there, and then went by train to Philadelphia, and the office of William Still with the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. Brown's wife and four children had been sold, and all he had was a likeness of his wife, and locks of hair from each of them. We still have the underground tunnels in the city that were used as part of the underground railroad.

Martinsburg is rich with civil war history. In 1854, ten-year-old Isabelle "Belle" Boyd, later a famous spy for the Confederacy, moved to Martinsburg with her family, where her father Benjamin opened and operated a general merchandise store. After the Civil War began, Benjamin joined Second Virginia Infantry, which was part of the Stonewall Brigade. As a result, his wife Mary was in charge of the Boyd home when Union forces under General Robert Patterson took Martinsburg. When a group of Patterson's men tried to raise a Union flag over the Boyd home, Mary refused. One of the soldiers, Frederick Martin, threatened Mary, and Belle promptly shot him. She also burned union flags that were hung in the yard of their home. Although acquitted of wrongdoing in the matter, she soon became involved in espionage, sending information to Confederate generals Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and J.E.B. "Jeb" Stuart. Often she was helped by Eliza Corsey, a Boyd family slave whom Belle had taught to read and write. In 1863, Belle was arrested in Martinsburg by the Union Army and imprisoned. The Greek Revival home that Benjamin Boyd had built in 1853, and which he had sold in 1855, was purchased in 1992 by the Berkeley County Historical Society. The historical society renovated the building and now operates it as the Berkeley County Museum, also known as the Belle Boyd House.

Of course none of this was enough to save the ole Battlefield at the site of the Battle of Falling Waters though. Between the small group that tried to save it and developers I reckon I don't have ta tell ya who won that game of poker. We now have a Walmart sitt'in on the battlefield. 

The city of Martinsburg was incorporated by an act of the West Virginia Legislature on March 30, 1868.
The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 began July 14, 1877 in Martinsburg and spread nationwide.
This barn on 901 sets jest 'bout three miles away
Telephone service first began in Martinsburg in 1883.
In 1889, electricity began to be furnished to Martinsburg as part of a franchise granted to the United Edison Manufacturing Company of New York.

Tomorrow's post is about Progress in a small town

You may not believe it but that street in the pic above with picture perfect post card of beautiful street lined homes became known as THE HILL aka small town drug central in the 80's. If'n you were raised in a big city then I reckon ya won't understand most of these posts. This town should be a poster child for what happens to small cities when they try'n grow'em into big towns they weren't meant to be. It's sad know'in that my grand babies won't realize just how wonderful Martinsburg used to be. They don't believe me now when I tell'em.

Pic Credit: post card on ebay
Mail Pouch Barn  pic found on pinterest
Steven Ratsch Photography 


  1. There are a lot of topics I could rant about myself. And if we're awake we can see where all of America is headed.

  2. That's wild the tunnels are still there.
    When landmarks are destroyed to make room for things such as parking garages, that's sad.

  3. Shelly Very Very True!!!

    Alex Yep the tunnels still run under the town! I agree on the landmarks especially with the Battle of Falling Waters. The old civil war hospital there in Harlan Springs was restored, but it's apartments now.

  4. Our blogs have a similar theme at the beginning...except I'm a transplant.


  5. "Of course none of this was enough to save the ole Battlefield at the site of the Battle of Falling Waters though. Between the small group that tried to save it and developers I reckon I don't have ta tell ya who won that game of poker. We now have a Walmart sitt'in on the battlefield."

    Bet that makes the re-enactments fun...


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