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Historical society working to educate, keep history alive

August 08, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

KEEDYSVILLE - Just shy of being a decade old, the Keedysville Historical Society is committed to keeping the history of this community alive.

"There are so many new people moving in and so much change in south county," said Patricia Barber, the new president of the society.

Susan Gemeny was one of the original members and for the past several years has been the president. She recently turned the reins over to Barber.

"Several of us in town thought we ought to do something more educational than just bricks and mortar," Gemeny said. So the society was formed in 1997.

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The group encompasses most of south county and it tries to keep its activities well-rounded for that reason.

"We have planned trips to the Pry House, the Mumma farm and the Roulette farm," Gemeny said.

In addition, the members have set up several panel discussions with older people in the community who can share what they know with others.

"Many of us joined because we wanted to know more about our houses," she said. A lot of emphasis has gone into researching the history of homes in Keedysville.

There have been programs with a paleontologist, about Crystal Grottoes and Ferry Hill as well as with a conservator for older homes from the National Park Service.

Some items have been donated, such as a Keedysville quilt which was bought at auction in New Jersey. But there is no place to display these items, Barber said.

"I've gotten to meet the two ladies who grew up in the house I now live in," Barber said. "They go back to 1926."

The house, which is on Main Street, has been the residence of the Barber family since 1994. "We went to the Washington County Courthouse and Dennis Weaver helped us research our house," she said,

Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Patricia Barber and her husband, Simon, came to the United States in 1979.

"We were in Washington, D.C., but we wanted to live in the country," she said. She and her husband have two children, Nell and Stephen.

Now that they have settled into their country home, the Barbers are becoming more involved in their new community.

"We would also like to do things with the Boonsboro and Sharpsburg Historical societies," Barber said.

The Keedysville group meets at the town library but has no place to call home.

"In Keedysville, the post office and the library are the melting pots where people come together," Barber said.

With about 30 members, the society meets the third Monday of the month at 7 p.m. Membership forms are available at the Keedysville Post Office.

A new banner was introduced at the society's recent summer picnic at Taylor Park in Keedysville.

Member Richard Walton said interested people can explore the town's Web site, which soon will have a space devoted to Keedysville Historical Society information.

That Web site is at www.keedysvillemd.com.

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