NCTC Cultural History
The Shepherd family and later history is not as detailed in this account as it could be, and only some general themes have been followed during their period of ownership in the 19th century. The Shepherds in the second half of the nineteenth century did not require their Upper and Lower farms to be self-supporting. They made money through businesses in New Orleans and elsewhere, and applied their wealth to their estates in West Virginia. Through their workmen and farm managers, they continued to raise a variety of livestock and grow a number of crops on these farms. Some members of the Shepherd family continued to receive ground rents from lot holders in Shepherdstown throughout most of the 19th century. R.D. Shepherd built and donated the central portion of the prominent Shepherdstown building now known as McMurran Hall as a Town Hall in 1859; additions to the building in 1866 allowed its temporary use as the Jefferson County Court House. Shepherd family members were also instrumental in forming a state teachers college in town, which has evolved into Shepherd College, part of the West Virginia University system.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the Springwood estate, or Lower Shepherd Farm, was up for sale. In 1907 it was purchased by a Colonel IV Johnson, former state auditor of West Virginia who had been living in Roanoke, Virginia (JCDB 99, p212). An April 1907 edition of the Shepherdstown Register recorded that he was in town looking for property to buy, and on May 30, 1907 the paper noted that he and his family were moving into the Lower Farm. He was there only a short time, as 3 years later he sold it to a William H. Martin of Waynesville, Illinois (JCDB 103, p500), who moved in with his wife and two daughters in April of 1910. Martin had been born in the Shepherdstown area way back in 1831 (!), had moved west to Ohio as a young man working as a blacksmith and farmer, joined the Union army during the Civil War, outlived his first wife, married again in 1898 and started a second family (two daughters), and finally decided to retire in Shepherdstown at the age of 79. When he died in November of 1928 at 97 years of age he was described as the oldest man in Jefferson County (Shep. Register, Nov.22, 1928). Martin added several of the farm buildings seen on the property today, including the barn that had been lost in a fire. Martin moved into town a few years before his death and rented the house to tenants, a practice continued by his wife Estelle after his death.
The farm was sold to Dr. Nevins B. (N.B.), and wife Pearl, Hendrix in 1941 (JCDB 174, p323). Hendrix was the first surgeon at the Kings Daughters Hospital in Martinsburg; he bought Springwood as an investment property but continued to live in Martinsburg. One of his sons, N.B. Hendrix Jr., lived at Springwood until about 1961. Hendrix Sr. also bought RiverView Farm and an adjacent parcel to the east of Springwood, once again consolidating much of the original colonial Van Swearingen estate. The entire property was willed to son Charles and his wife Jessie Sardo Hendrix in 1969. Charles was a Navy submarine captain, Naval Academy Class of 1939, who first moved with Jessie to Springwood in 1960. Jessie was originally from California and was working for an admiral there when she met Charles. Prior to WWII she had been a congressional administrative assistant working for Congressman Frank Buck. They married at the Naval Academy Chapel in 1946 and had various duty stations including Hawaii and Washington prior to moving to West Virginia. Charles and Jessie spent about two years doing minor refurbishing and modernizing of the old Swearingen mansion, including sealing up several of the fireplaces and adding a modern kitchen, discovering a huge old kitchen fireplace
complete with blackened iron cookpot behind a wall in the process. Floors, walls, moldings, fireplace mantles and other architectural details are reportedly original from 1759, though undoubtedly the Shepherds made a considerable number of changes. The farming operation on the Hendrix Springwood estate, in part run by local farmer Bill Knighten for many years, eventually included over 300 Hereford beef cattle, 70 hogs, and 200 Suffolk sheep. Farming operations were taken over by the local Griffith family in about 1977. The sheep herd started as daughter Maryfs 4-H project, and eventually grew large enough to pay for her undergraduate degree at Shepherd College (Jessie Hendrix, pers. comm). Charles Hendrix spent many years commuting daily between his farm and the Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he had started the Oceanography program; he died in 1976. Jessie Hendrix sold the property to the US Fish and Wildlife Service in March of 1992, retaining the Springwood
mansion and several surrounding acres. Jessie Hendrix died peacefully at home in April of 2008. Daughter Mary Hendrix earned her Ph.D. from George Washington University in anatomy/cell biology and conducted cancer research with a number of institutions across the country before becoming the president of Shepherd Universityin 2016.
The RiverView Farm house and other buildings that comprised RiverView Farm were dismantled, hauled away or buried in 1984, though the foundations of several buildings can still be seen; the last tenants lived there in the 1950s. It had been sold by a member of the Shepherd family in 1902 to Jacob Rush, who seems to have been in default when he sold it in turn to David Jones in 1935. Jones sold it in 1941 to NB Hendrix.
The eastern portion of NCTC, acquired by the Browning heirs in their lawsuit in the 1790s, contains the remains of at least two farmsteads. One of the houses was occupied by the Entler family from 1851 to about 1888 near the river; only a foundation and basement depression is still visible just north of the pond. The other house and outbuildings near Terrapin Neck Road were part of a working farmstead as late as 1938 (it is visible on an aerial photograph taken as part of the National Aerial Photography Program in Feb. 1938). This 86 1/2 acre farmstead, pieced together after 1888 from 3 separate smaller parcels including the former Entler farm, was owned by George F. Turner from 1887 to 1909, William J Foutz from 1909 to 1936, briefly by Jefferson Security Bank in 1936, Ernest Stutzman from 1936 to 1941, and Gilbert Wright from 1941 to 1943, when it was purchased by the Hendrix family. A road now overgrown in the woods was first shown on a county map published in the 1920s and is still visible in a 1938 aerial photo. According to Charles Hanshew of Martinsburg, WV, the steep terminus of the road down to the river bottom was built by his family in the mid-1930s. His family pitched two large tents complete with carpeting on gFoutzfs Bottomh during the summer months for recreation and to escape the heat in Martinsburg. The road may also have been used for access to a commercial fishing operation (called gfishpotsh) on Shepherd Island and around Terrapin Neck, run by the Lemen family from the 1890s to the 1930s, and gave access to a recreational cabin built by Ernest and Leone Stutzman (ca 1937) during their ownership - the cabinfs old chimney can still be seen down the hill north of the commons building. Ernest was a longtime professor at Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, and finished his career as a researcher at a Veterans Administration Hospital. The house on this farmstead near Terrapin Neck Road, occupied by German native Conrad Crowe and his family in the 1850s, was torn down in the late 1960s after it became an attractive nuisance to local youths. Local resident Sharon Smith remembers as a teenager in 1967 a long-abandoned, small house with peeling white paint and reddish metal roof with two bedrooms upstairs, a kitchen and general living quarters on the main floor, a cistern/root cellar below ground accessed through the back door and porch, and lots of old blue canning jars lining the windowsills. A single small barn is still standing among the old foundations and debris in the woods.
Archaeological work has documented the remains of human cultures that utilized this property on the Potomac River going back more than 8000 years - the river terrace in particular has numerous artifacts including potsherds, hearth stones, projectile points and lithic scatters. The mere 270 years of occupation by a European culture pales in comparison. From a visual standpoint, the look of the overall landscape today probably has not changed dramatically from the time of the first European settlement. The scattered trees, patches of forest, and open meadows seen today would not seem unfamiliar to Poulson, Mounts and Jones. Nearly all of the trees around the campus and lodges have grown since the 1940s. The Swearingens would also not feel out of place with the farming operations here during the 20th century. Cattle, horses, sheep, hogs, corn, wheat, and hay were laboriously brought here in the 1730s and 1740s and have persisted to nearly the present day. The activities on a 1760s-era plantation that featured a relatively wealthy, public-spirited landowner supervising the farming operation in the European feudal tradition, with the labor supplied by others - slaves in this case - eking out a largely subsistence lifestyle on the land, can still be seen in some lesser degree with the small tenant farming operations of the 1930s on RiverView Farm, with a tenant supplying labor in return for a house, garden patch, facilities for a few cattle and chickens, and a profit-sharing agreement with the owner. The main
difference being, of course, the ability of the laborer to choose his habitation, landlord, and subsistence lifestyle.
Floristically speaking, the biggest changes on the landscape can be seen in the composition of the herbaceous plants in the meadows, fence rows and forest floor. Non-native European annuals are now a prominent part of the NCTC plant list; the native plants are still on the property, but many have been crowded to the edges, hollows and slopes that could not be reached by plow or hungry grazing animals. The first efforts at conservation in the 1930s, some of which are now seen as undesirable and wrong-headed, have also left their effects on the landscape. Consider Japanese honeysuckle, once used to control erosion but now draping and choking forest edges, and the impenetrable thickets of multiflora rose, once touted as a way to provide wildlife habitat along fencerows, now making a walk through the woods a more sensory experience than one might have bargained for.
I would like to end this history with the thought that even hundreds of years after spending time on a landscape, your story can still be told- because the evidence persists (though motivations are harder to fathom after a number of years). We have within each of us the ability to leave a legacy of thoughtful decisions, care and appreciation of the land that surrounds and sustains us. May we strive to ensure that our conservation efforts are rewarded with future writers who can find positive things to say about us.