Belle Boyd House ushers in holidays

November 27, 2001

Belle Boyd House ushers in holidays

By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

Terry Tucker was playing Christmas selections on a piano in the Belle Boyd House on Sunday when Don Wood called her attention to a unique musical instrument in the corner.

It was a melodian, an instrument similar to an organ that was popular during the Civil War era.

Tucker jumped at the chance to play it as Wood removed the top of the antique wooden instrument.

Tucker, Wood, who is president of the Berkeley County Historical Society, and several others quickly gathered around the melodian to sing "We Three Kings."

The melodian took some getting used to, Tucker said.

Using her foot, she had to constantly pump a pedal under the instrument to keep air moving across reeds inside.

There is another pedal beside it which is used to create volume swells.

The donated instrument, which came from the Ligemfelter estate in Berkeley County, has a date of 1855 stamped on it, said Wood. Looking at the instrument with its lid on, it would be hard to tell it from a small table.


The melodian-inspired number came during the first day of a month-long series of Christmas music specials that are being planned at the Belle Boyd House.

The Berkeley County Historical Society receives $2,000 a year from the state Budget Digest to put on a Christmas celebration and a celebration in June to recognize Belle Boyd's birthday, said Wood.

On Sunday afternoon, a small crowd gathered in a first-floor room of the Belle Boyd House on East Race Street as Wood sang a collection of Christmas carols, including "O, Holy Night."

"That's a favorite of mine," Wood said after finishing the song.

"Me, too," said a woman in the room.

Wood said he became interested in singing as a young boy and took lessons after graduating from Martinsburg High School. He usually sings at churches and is the choir director at Greensburg United Methodist Church.

"I enjoy it. I always have," said Wood.

The Belle Boyd House is the only house still standing in Martinsburg that was lived in by Belle Boyd, a Confederate spy during the Civil War. She was best known for shooting a Yankee soldier who was trying to wrestle a Confederate flag from her mother.

Besides historical artifacts pertaining to Belle Boyd, the house includes exhibits of Civil War photographs and artifacts, an Abraham Lincoln room, a military museum containing uniforms from the Spanish-American war to the present and a small collection of American Indian artifacts.

Included in next weekend's entertainment will be a performance Hedgesville Middle School's Sweet Harmony. The group will perform at 2 p.m. Dec. 2.

The rest of the schedule is:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Sunday, Dec. 9: Lee Jones plays the melodian, 1:30 p.m.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Saturday, Dec. 15: Wood, Tucker and Ardyth Gilbertson make a repeat appearance, 1:30 p.m.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Sunday, Dec. 16: Mary Dailey will play guitar and Penny Hall will play the hammered dulcimer, 1:30 p.m.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Saturday, Dec. 22: Jones returns to the melodian, 1:30 p.m.

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