There is a sense of community in Shepherdstown that exists in a swirling pattern focusing first on the vibrant heart of the city’s German Street before moving outward to neighborhoods both old and new. The city’s heartbeat plays its rhythm softly in the background for times gone by, and ever more strongly today. And it takes on a music of its own as the different instruments of the citizens are tuned to the life surrounding its history—but with more modern musical notes from Shepherd University, a mix of students and faculty harmonizing with a diverse blend of residents united in their appreciation of Shepherdstown life.
While many make a daily trek to our nation’s capital and the national capital region, still others enjoy the lifestyles of country living that spreads out from the city center in all directions—but whose delight of downtown Shepherdstown extends to the restaurants, shops, and community events that fill a happy calendar with parades, markets, and the passersby that meet and greet so frequently.
Then there is a deeper history that dates back to the Revolutionary War days where Shepherdstown first began a chapter that would later merge with the Community Club and greater things to come. From when the first battles of the revolution were joined, and the cry for Virginia volunteers was made, there is a rich history from an origin that began at Morgan’s Grove.
There at the spring is where volunteers formed the Shepherdstown Company that made the “Beeline March” that began on July 16, 1775, marching to the Boston area in response to George Washington’s request for support after Lexington and Concord. Traveling some 600 miles from what is now Morgan’s Grove Park, the company joined up with George Washington’s Continental Army in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Today, the area surrounding the starting point is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, with an even richer history unfolding as the significance of the march is appreciated in a larger context.
A Core Group
That appreciation had reached a new plateau, when in 1988, the Secretary of the Army designated Morgan’s Grove for its role in the Beeline March and as the birthplace of the United States Army! And the Community Club of Shepherdstown, who purchased Morgan’s Grove Park in 1961, has carried the mantle for preserving that heritage as part of their community trust, community spirit, and with a sense of national pride since that year.
Indeed, Shepherdstown’s role in early American history established it as a place that “comes together for the common good.” Today, that mantra has become a collective theme throughout Shepherdstown, from the mayor down to the many civic organizations that make up the community.
So how long has the Shepherdstown Community Club “come together” to serve the members of the community for the common good?
Originally known as “The Men’s Club of Shepherdstown,” the club was formed as an outgrowth and successor to the former Lions Club, which was in operation from 1943–1944. In 1945, a constitution was drawn up which dissolved the Lions Club and established the Men’s Club, a local service organization.
As can be imagined, those were times when service groups flourished in support of the war effort, and civic spirit was a most honored endeavor. A core group of community leaders stepped forward to meet on February 1, 1945, with resolutions that still stand as the core for the Club in current by-laws and the mission statement. The resolutions included: representing the civic interests of Shepherdstown and the community, and to develop the whole life of the community; to gather into a congenial social fellowship; to cooperate with all organizations engaged in the promotion of the public welfare; and to foster among the citizens adherence to the highest ideals of business and professional relationships.
Born of Service
With that in mind, one of the Club’s first orders of business, determined in the following year, was to accept an offer to buy, from the Methodist Church, the building at 102 East German Street—which was included in the minutes from October, 1946. Also included was “A Statement of Democratic Principles” that spoke to the times where “… from the fire of two world wars a world community was emerging,” and also spoke to the “… proper exercise of individual responsibility at the polls” that “demands honesty and integrity.”
Those words were reflected by the board that approved the purchase as well as the name for the building—The War Memorial Building—a memorial to the men who gave their lives in World War II and an expression of gratitude to the men and women who gave their services.
That original gratitude echoes today as a cornerstone for the Shepherdstown Community Club mission: to enrich the quality of individual, family, and community life by: providing a community center and a park where all ages can gather, and promoting civic interests through various events and activities
To that end, where is the club today, and what does the future hold ?
Every year, the annual election of board members occurs in November. This past year, several members stepped down, as new members stepped forward to reinvigorate, bring new ideas, and uphold traditions as they work to sustain the club’s purpose and goals.
As a result, the board increased from eight members to eleven. And there were several others that have since volunteered for committees formed for the park, events, and continued work to maintain the War Memorial Building. Also noteworthy are the many additional opportunities still available to help serve the community through the club.
That said, if interested, join the Club for its monthly dinner meeting at the War Memorial Building on the third Tuesday of every month. The guest speaker this month is Stacy Rohn, director of the Boys and Girls Club for Charles Town, Martinsburg, and Inwood.
This month will include a mystery dinner theater—Death by Chocolate—with players from the club acting out the various roles.
While the Shepherdstown Community Club members are dedicated to working hard to serve the community, there is a camaraderie and fellowship that includes plenty of fun. And for those who make a practice of helping others, there is a satisfaction born of service which brings a smile to those served, and often enough, an even bigger smile to those who serve.
— ARTICLE BY : Steve Wabnitz, Secretary, Shepherdstown Community Club