SUMMIT POINT — With farms that go back generations in the same family (even George Washington’s), pivotal Civil War sites like Harpers Ferry and much more, it’s little wonder that Jefferson County was the first West Virginia county to start up its own historical society.
“It’s really hard to go anywhere in the county that something didn’t happen,” said Doug Perks, the society’s president since May. ”The history here is just very deep.”
The Jefferson County Historical Society was founded in 1927 to help preserve that history. More than 80 years later, the 400-member society is still going strong. Since 1935, the group has published an annual magazine; it holds regular spring and fall meetings, and each summer it rolls out a summer picnic.
The picnic — this year’s is coming up on Aug. 7 — is held each year at a different historical home or farm somewhere in the county, said Perks.
This year’s picnic will take place at the home of former historical society president, Carmen Creamer, who lives at Locust Grove Farm in Summit Point with her husband, John, and marks the first time the event will be held there.
Locust Grove has been in Creamer’s husband’s family since the 1840s, said Creamer, adding that in the 20 years the couple have lived there they’ve done much to help restore it. Still, keeping up witih an old home takes lots of work, she said.
“We decided if we waited until we were done, we’d never have it open,” she joked.
The log portion of the house may date back as far as the 1790s, while the main part, done in a transverse hall plan much like Jefferson County’s Happy Retreat, was built in 1841.
Within a few years of the home being built, it came into the hands of the Shirleys, of whom John Creamer is a descendant.
Creamer said the family is an interesting one, and traces to the infamous “Wizard Clip” legend, to the Civil War and more.
In addition to opening the home to society members for the picnic, visitors will get a chance to hear some of that oral history of the farm, Creamer said.
The picnic is planned from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. and society members and their guests are asked to bring covered dishes to share. Fried chicken, barbecue and lemonade will be provided, Creamer said.
While the picnic isn’t open to the general public, it does provide an opportunity for people to join the Historical Society, Perks said. And he also hopes that soon the society will be offering even more benefits.
Since the beginning of the year, he said, members have been working on ways to expand the educational outreach opportunities it offers.
An audio tour of historic sites in the county is in the works, he said, and the society hopes to work on both repairing and adding to the number of historical road markers already located in the county.
“We’re looking at trying to be more active,” he said.