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Tours, period clothing and soup highlight 200th anniversary of Boydville

May 12, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Chris Cox, a historian with the Berkeley County Historical Society, lectures Saturday on Berkeley County's role in the War of 1812 at the 200th anniversary celebration of the building of the Boydville mansion in Martinsburg, W.Va.
By Richard F. Belisle

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Period dresses, some worn through the decades by the home’s doyennes, Harry Deward “Buddy” Everhart’s locally famous bean soup and tours of the 8,500-square-foot home highlighted Saturday’s 200th anniversary celebration of the building of the Boydville mansion.

Boydville was built in 1812 by Col. Elisha Boyd, commander of a Virginia militia unit in the War of 1812 who later was promoted to general. The mansion sits on 13 landscaped acres at 601 S. Queen St.

Jane Faulkner Wiltshire Snyder of Shepherdstown, W.Va., is a descendant of the Boyd/Faulkner families. The families owned and lived in the mansion from 1812 to 1958, when it was sold to Roderick and May Cheeseman.

The Berkeley County Farmland Preservation Board owns Boydville today.

Mary Boyd, Elisha Boyd’s daughter, inherited Boydville when Elisha died in 1841. She married Charles James Faulkner I. The couple had eight children, including Charles James Faulkner II, who was Boydville’s next owner, Snyder said.

Charles II was appointed by President James Buchanan to serve as minister to France shortly before the Civil War. When the war broke out, he returned to Boydville and became a colonel on Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s staff.

“He wanted to remain a Virginian,” Snyder said.

Charles II served two terms in the U.S. Senate after the war.

His son, Charles James Faulkner III, was next to inherit Boydville.

He left Martinsburg to work as a lawyer for the Armour Company in Chicago. His sister, Sally, Snyder’s great aunt, lived in the mansion until Charles III returned to retire at Boydville. Sally stayed on until she died in 1953.

Snyder brought several examples of vintage family clothing for Saturday’s exhibit, including dresses worn by her grandmother and mother, and a child’s sailor suit worn by her father, Harrison Flick Wiltshire.

The clothing exhibit, which hung in rooms on both floors of the mansion, was coordinated by Barbara Bratina, who also served as a costumed guide.

An example was a “Harvest gold-colored peau de soire satin evening gown with a shirred short-sleeve netted skirt with a row of bows just below the hipline.” It stood out in a room of dresses from the 1930s.

A highlight of Saturday’s celebration was a lecture on Berkeley County’s role in the War of 1812 by Chris Cox, a historian with the Berkeley County Historical Society.

Floyd Kursey, chairman of the Berkeley County Farmland Preservation Board, kept busy selling bean soup made from Everhart’s recipe. It was the epicurian sensation of the day.

Everhart, 88, of Hedgesville, W.Va., said he got the recipe “picking the brain of a woman who was a good cook. She made chicken, vegetable and bean soup every year for the Hedgesville Fire Department.”

Everhart said he’s been making soup for around 40 years, beginning with an annual fundraiser for the Tomahawk Ruritan Club.

“When I got there, they gave me the job,” he said. “They were cooking country ham for sandwiches, and I used the scraps to make soup.”

He said the recipe is so simple — water, unsoaked beans, country ham scraps and “a little pepper” — that he’s never changed it.

“I can start making soup at 9 a.m. and they can serve it at noon,” he said.

In September 1944, Everhart was a waist gunner on a B-17 bomber on its fourth mission over the Germany-Czechoslovakia border when it was shot down. Everhart, the only survivor, became a German prisoner of war until the end of World War II.

He recalls that the prison guards were older men.

“They were like grandfathers. They treated us OK, but when the Gestapo came in, they were young men and they were mean,” he said.

The remains of his fellow bomber crew members were brought home for burial in a communal grave in a national cemetery in St. Louis.

“I’ve been there,” he said.

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