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A Belle Boyd Christmas open house

TheyâEUR(TM)ve decked the halls at MartinsburgâEUR(TM)s Civil War-era museum

TheyâEUR(TM)ve decked the halls at MartinsburgâEUR(TM)s Civil War-era museum

November 28, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

Visitors can enjoy a taste of Christmas cheer in the midst of one of West Virginia's most notable Civil War historical collections at the Belle Boyd House and the Ben Boyd Store.

In keeping with an 11-year tradition, the Berkeley County Historical Society is holding its annual Christmas open house at the museum on Race Street. The house, which was converted to a museum, was the childhood home of Belle Boyd, one the Civil War's most popular female Confederate spies, society President Don Wood said.

Several rooms in the three-story house have been decorated to reflect a variety of holiday themes. One room contains 80 different Nativity scenes from countries around the world. There also is a collection of Christmas angels and U.S. Christmas cards, toys and board games from the early 1900s.

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"Turnout for the last two days has been excellent. About 250 people have visited the museum since the open house started on Friday," Wood said Saturday.

A ceiling-high Christmas tree sits in the museum's ballroom decorated with hundreds of Christmas tree ornaments 50 to 100 years old, Wood said.

Carol Sibole of Gerrardstown, W.Va., who has lived in the area for 11 years, visited the Belle Boyd House for the first time Saturday.

"Very, very unique. I'm interested in the history of West Virginia," she said.

The Ben Boyd Store, which was owned by Belle Boyd's father, is connected to the Belle Boyd House and is part of the museum. The store sells Civil War gifts, personal war diaries and other forms of literature on the history of Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties.

Among the museum's historical displays is a collection of newspaper articles written about Belle Boyd as well as photographs and personal letters written by her.

Another room is dedicated to former president Abraham Lincoln. It contains an original newspaper article from The NewYork Times on the assassination of Lincoln, according to Wood. The room also carries other materials owned by Lincoln's bodyguard and friend, Ward H. Lamon. Lamon was an attorney and Berkeley County resident, Wood said.

Also on display are military uniforms and other historical war artifacts donated to the museum by West Virginia residents who served in the Spanish American War and World War I.

For sports enthusiasts, the museum also carries a collection of 1920s to early 1930s sports memorabilia on Martinsburg resident and professional baseball player Lewis Robert "Hack" Wilson.

The museum's Christmas open house display runs through Dec. 21. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is free.

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