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West Virginia's existence as a separatestate-organized June 20th, 1863, just 36 years ago is too brief to have yet much of a history. But it has a heritage from the Mother state, Virginia—the oldest of the thirteen original statesthat is rich with historic incidents and achievements, and justly the pride of her sons and their descendants.

The home of James Rumsey, and the birth-place of the steamboat, of which he was the inventor, was at Shepherdstown, in Jefferson County. To understand the character of the man and his work it is well to know something of the surroundings in which he lived, and the circumstances under which he operated.

Jefferson is the extreme eastern county of West Virginia, separated by the Potomac river from Maryland on the north, and adjoining and bounded by Loudoun and Clarke counties, Virginia, on the east and south. Jefferson was originally a part of Spottsylvania county, established in 1721, of which Fredericksburg was the county seat. Later a part of Orange county formed in 1735, then of Frederick county formed 1738. Berkeley county was taken from Frederick in 1772, and Jefferson from Berkeley, by which it is bounded on the west, in 1801. It has an area of 210 square miles, rolling in surface but the land is fertile and productive. It has a population of about 16,000, nearly one-fifth colored.

The county is noted as the place of residence of four Generals of the Revolutionary army,-Darke, Gates, Lee and Stephen, each of whom owned fine estates round which still cluster many interesting reminiscences. Items of natural interest to educators, and “W. V. U.” people of today, are the Academy, at Charles Town, founded in 1795, at which three sons of James Madison, while President of the United States, and many others who became eminent in the history of the county, were educated. Jefferson was also the first county in the state to adopt and establish a freeschool system.

Sherherdstown, the oldest town in West Virginia, is situated on the right bank of the Potomac, in the northern end of the county of Jefferson. The country in its vicinity was first settled by Germans, about 1730, before George Washington was born. The site of the town was purchased and laid out by Thomas Shepherd, and by act of the General Assembly of Virginia, in November, 1762, established as a town under the name of Mecklenburg, the Preamble reciting that said Shepherd had laid off 50 acres into lots and streets for a town.

It was incorporated by Act of the General Assembly of Virginia, in December, 1793, under the same name-Mecklenburg-and by another Act, passed in 1798, taking in additional territory, the name was changed, in honor of the founder, to "Shepherd's Town.”

The early and pre-colonial organization of the town is shown in the names of some of its streets. The main crossstreet is named "King"; another west of it, and on which Rumsey lived, is named "Duke", and the one next east, leading down to the river and at the foot of which Rumsey made his memorable steamboat experimeuts, "Princess” street. While the appearance of age in some respects is still manifest to the observant visitor, in other respects the town has kept pace with the march of progress, and presents some marked contrasts between the close of the 18th and 19th centuries.

In July, 1775, the Shepherdstown Company, one of the earliest organized in the Revolutionary War, started from Morgan's Spring near by, made the whole of its then rapid and "bee line" journey to Boston to join Washing

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