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Jefferson County, West Virginia


Page Contents for Shepherdstown, West Virginia

Statistics & Facts


History & History-related items

City Attractions


Chamber of Commerce.

Organizations, Churches, and Sports.




Statistics & Facts

The West Virginia state capital is Charleston.
The population of Shepherdstown is approximately 803 (2000), 1734 (2010).
The approximate number of families is 397 (1990), 518 (2010).
The amount of land area in Shepherdstown is 0.72 sq. kilometers.
The amount of land area in Shepherdstown is 0.4 sq. miles.
The amount of surface water is 0 sq kilometers.
The distance from Shepherdstown to Washington DC is 57 miles.
The distance to the West Virginia state capital is 229 miles. (as the crow flies)
Shepherdstown is positioned 39.43 degrees north of the equator and 77.80 degrees west of the prime meridian.
Shepherdstown elevation is 405 feet above sea level.
Shepherdstown median income is $ 40,750 (2000).
The Shepherdstown median home price is $ 158,100 (2000).
Shepherdstown average annual precipitation is 49.8 inches peryear.
Shepherdstown average annual snowfall is 20.2 inches per year.
The average winter temperature is 31.4 degrees F.
The average spring temperature is 52.9 degrees F.
The average summer temperature is 75.7 degrees F.
The average fall temperature is 55.1 degrees F.


in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia area of West Virginia. It is about 65 miles from Washington, DC. Other nearby communities include Bolivar, Harpers Ferry, Ranson, Charles Town and Martinsburg in West Virginia and Sharpsburg, Keedysville and St. James in Maryland.
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History & History Related Items

The small community of Shepherdstown may be the oldest town in the state of West Virginia. Shepherdstown is situated on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River, and archeological evidence indicates Native Americans camped in and around the area long before the Europeans. Several major battles between warring tribes are said to have occurred at a ford a few miles downstream.

The first permanent English settlement in the present county was attempted in the Shepherdstown area in 1719, but no records were kept of the settlers' names. In 1727, several German immigrant families founded the town of New Mecklenburg, renamed Shepherdstown in 1798 in honor of Captain Thomas and Elizabeth Shepherd. Thomas Shepherd had received a patent on October 3, 1734 for much of the land in that area and he was the town's leading citizen until his death in 1776. Other early settlers included John and Isaac Van Meter who obtained grants to large tracts of land in the county in 1730. Descendants of European settlers may have migrated here as early as 1719. Once known as Potomoke, it eventually became known as Mecklenburg in the 1730s and was chartered in 1762 by the Virginia General Assembly. It was renamed Shepherd's Town in 1798 in honor of Thomas Shepherd, an early settler. After the Civil War, the communities name was officially recognized as Shepherdstown. Shepherdstown claims to be the oldest town in the state. Both Shepherdstown (then know as Mecklenburg) and Romney (in Hampshire County) were chartered by the Virginia General Assembly on December 23, 1762. However, Romney claims that it is the oldest town in the state because its earliest settlers arrived before Shepherdstown's earliest settlers arrived. In 1762, the General Assembly also authorized the community to host a bi-annual agricultural and mechanical fair "for the sale and vending of cattle, victuals, provisions, goods, wares and merchandise." Like many small communities, it had a variety of cottage industries including a local gunsmith who made long rifles. After "Redcoats" and "Minutemen" clashed at Lexington and Concord, local settlers began drilling in the lot behind what is now the Entler Hotel. They were organized into a company led by Hugh Stephenson. Beginning July 16, 1775, they participated in what would become known as the "Beeline March" to Boston, Massachusetts. They marched nearly 600 miles in 24 days -- a tremendous feat given the condition of roads in those days. Shepherdstown also was the home of James Rumsey, the first man to propose using steam instead of wind to propel vessels. He built a steamer and sailed it on the Potomac River in the presence of George Washington and others on December 3, 1787, 20 years before Robert Fulton, who is generally regarded as the inventor of the steam boat, made his first successful steam voyage. In 1791, The Potowmack Guardian and Berkeley Advertiser, western Virginia's first newspaper, was first published in Shepherdstown, by Nathaniel Willis. Publication ceased in 1799 when he moved to Martinsburg and began publishing the Martinsburg Gazette. With its economy closely linked to local agriculture growth, change came slowly to the small community. The community was briefly considered as a site for the National Capital. That may have come to pass if it were possible for 19th century sea-going vessels to sail up the Potomac River. As it was, the community experienced a small boom with the construction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal along the north bank of the Potomac in the 1830s, giving local farmers access to Washington markets. The canal was the cause of some acrimony during the Civil War. According to one account, Rebel sympathizers from the Shepherdstown area snipped at canal boat men and workers at the Antietam Iron Works at the mouth of Antietam Creek, Maryland. Sharpsburg area residents retaliated by placing a very old cannon near the Ferry Hill estate and bombarding the town with whatever projectiles were handy. Truces were made and broken and the shelling stopped after Rebels reportedly captured the cannon and dumped it in the Potomac River. The greatest crisis the town experienced occurred September 17, 1862, when hundreds of wounded Confederates from the Battle of Antietam flooded into town. It wasn't long before there wasn't a single building in the community that wasn't converted into a field hospital. Many of the men who didn't survive that battle are buried in the town's cemetery. Three days after Federals and Confederates tangled at Antietam, rebels repelled a half-hearted attempt by the Yankees to pursue them in a brief but bloody battle on the bluffs overlooking Pack Horse Ford. (The ford also is known as Swearingen's and Blackford's ford.) Just months before the end of the Civil War, the Jefferson County seat was moved to Shepherdstown. In June 1866, a new courthouse was built in the town by Rezin D. Shepherd, a descendant of Thomas Shepherd. The structure was reportedly placed on the site of Shepherd's Fort. What followed was a protracted political battle over which community would be the county seat -- Shepherdstown or Charles Town. The battles raged in the courts and the state legislature, and finally, in 1871 the state Supreme Court declared Charles Town as the county seat. Dejected but not defeated, the Shepherdstown community leaders found a way to make use of its now empty courthouse. In 1872 they incorporated "a classical and Scientific Institute" and named it Shepherd College. A year later, they persuaded the state of West Virginia to use it as a "normal school" -- a teacher's college. Its name was officially changed to Shepherd College State Normal School in 1872 and then to Shepherd State Teachers College in 1931. In 1943 it was renamed Shepherd College and in 2004 it became Shepherd University.

More history may be found on this page

Loads of historical links may be found on this page.

Here is another history page for Shepherdstown.
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Contemporary American Theater Festival
Held each year in July at Shepherd College
Phone: 800-999-CATF

Upper Potomac Dulcimer Fest
Held in the Fall, usually the second weekend of September. A three day Spring festival is held in Harper's Ferry, usually around the end of March.

The Shepherdstown Visitor's Center
Phone: 304-876-2786

George Tyler Moore Civil War Center
Shepherdstown, WV 25443
The history of the Civil War in Shepherdstown.

The Rumsey Monument
This monument honoring James Rumsey, inventor of the steam ship, was built on Princess Street.
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Shepherdstown City Government

Corporation of Shepherdstown
104 North King St.
Post Office Box 248
Shepherdstown, WV 25443-0248
Telephone: 304-876-2312
Fax: 304-876-1473

Shepherdstown Chamber

Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce
Box 426
Charles Town, WV 25414
Phone: 304-725-2055
Toll-free: 800-624-0577
Fax: 304-728-8307

Shepherdstown Organizations

Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce
Box 426
Charles Town, WV 25414
Phone: 304-725-2055
Toll-free: 800-624-0577
Fax: 304-728-8307

Shepherdstown Libraries

Shepherdstown Public Library
King and German Streets
PO Box 278
Shepherdstown, WV 25443-0278
Phone: 304-876-2783
Fax: 304-876-6213

Shepherdstown Schools

Shepherdstown Elementary School
410 S Church St
Shepherdstown, WV 25443-9777
Phone: 304-876-5270

Shepherdstown Jr High School
705 Minden St
Shepherdstown, WV 25443-9447
Phone: 304-876-6120

Jefferson High School
Flowing Springs Road
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Phone: 304-725-8491


Shepherd University
P.O. Box 3210
Shepherdstown, West Virginia 25443
Phone: 304-876-5000
Toll-free: 800-344-5231
Fax: 304-876-3101 Shepherdstown


The population of Shepherdstown was:
1990 - 1,287
2000 - 803

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