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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
Charles Town, West Virginia
April 18, 2018     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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April 18, 2018

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LOCAL -SPIRIT of JEFFERSON and FARMER'S ADVOCATE PAGE C3 Wednesda~ April 18, 2018 DOUG PIFER It was early May when my wife andleaves spread like green butterfly wings I first encountered twinleaf, a real gem everywhere, but no flowers. of a spring wildflower, in the woods. How could my wife and I, both sea- Big clumps of plants were all around soned naturalists, have missedthe flow- us. Double leaves stretched out more ers of twinleaf? We felt relief to learn than 8 inches across, like pairs of butter- that twinleaf is among the hardest flow- fly wings. Here and there among them ers to find in full bloom. The sun must grew a strange green seed capsule at the hit the flowers to get them to open, but end of a ten-inch stem. I'd seen twin- the first strong breeze causes the petals leaf in the wildflower books for years to fall off. The weather had been sunny but, judging from the pictures, I always but very windy, so we had been lucky imagined it to be small and unobtrusive, just to see the buds opening! These leaves looked enormous! Last year near the end of June while Late last March we went back to the leading a bird walk at Yankauer Nature same woods. Among the white flowers Preserve, I saw the big leaves and ripe of bloodroot and early clumps of Dutch- pods of twinflower again. The seed cap- man's britches we saw clumps of twin- sules were nearly mature, and the top leaf about to bloom. Beautiful purplish of one of them had opened like a very buds were just starting to appear above small, hinged lid. ground. Surrounding them were rolled Inside were several seeds with strange, up leaves that looked like miniature rep- fleshy spikes projecting from them. licas of the big ones we saw the previous Called eliosomes, these growths attract spring but most of them were reddish or ants, which enter the pods and remove purplish in color, the seeds. Ants then carry the seeds into Many of the buds were nearly open, their underground tunnels to feed their showing eight pure white petals very young larvae. After the immature ants similar to the flower of the bloodroot have nibbled off the good parts, the blooming nearby. We came back a few seeds remain until they sprout into new 'days later to the same spot, hoping to twinleaf plants. "see twinleaf in full bloom. We saw the Twinleaf also reproduces asexually RIGHT: For some flowers, the earliest days of spring -when trees are devoid of leaves and sun can reach the forest floor - are prime time. through underground rhizomes, which is why the plant often occurs in exten- sive stands or clumps in the woods. By the time the weather gets hot, the leaves wither and twinleaf lies dormant until next spring. Interestingly, our sighting of twinleaf, Jeffersonia diphylla, was in Jefferson County, which is named after Thomas Jefferson. Pennsylvania botanist Ben- jamin Smith Barton first saw twinleaf growing in the garden of fellow bota- nist William Bartram. Barton named the pant to honor his friend Thomas Jeffer- son, the future president then serving as the secretary of state. - Doug Pifer writes from his home in Shepherdstown Tribute FROM PAaE Cl about abolitionist John Brown and his 21 companions and how their insurrection to abolish slavery in Harpers Ferry in 1859 is sometimes referred to as "the spark that ignited the Civil War," too little is known about the companions in the ill-fat- ed army. Five resolute black men partici- pated in the revolt in Harpers Ferry. Lewis Leary and Dangerfield New- by were killed during the struggle. Shields Green and John Anthony Copeland Jr in addition to Brown and four other brave revolutionists, were tried and then hanged at the gallows in Charles Town. Osborne Anderson escaped and wrote a book entitled "A Voice from Harpers Ferry" (1861) before serv- ing in the Civil War. The Jefferson County Black History Society re- searched and published two related books: "The Capture, Trial and Ex- ecution of Shields Green and John Copeland" (2003; revised 2006) and "The Life and Death of Dan- ,gerfield Newby" (2005). The Jefferson County Black His- i tory Society conducted a symbol- "ic funeral and burial for Green and Copeland, whose bodies were ex- humed and taken to the Winchester -(Va.) Medical College, for dissec- ' tion by students in the anatomy lab- : oratory. After learning the significance of a primitive stone house located on .East North Street erected in 1829- 71830 by a free black man named Francis Webb, the Jefferson Coun- ty Black History Society set its am- bition on purchasing that property. The stone structure was attached via a covered hallway to a larger two-story house in need of substan- tial repair. The Jefferson County Black His- tory Society planned originally to raze the two-story structure, but an investigation showed that stmc- "ture also has historical significance. John Frederick Blessing, who pre- viously owned the house, had be- friended abolitionist John Brown ,while preparing him meals dur- ing his confinement in the Jeffer- son County Jail as he awaited trial. Ownership of the Webb-Blessing -' House had remained with the Bless- ing family. In 2003, the Jefferson County Black History Society bought the property from the Blessing heirs. Philanthropist Vincent Groh of Hagerstown, Md was a major do- nor. Substantial restoration has been done to the property, and since -2009 tours have been conducted upon request. Friends of the Webb-Blessing House, established in 2016, donate funds to maintain and improve the property. Restoration of the struc- ture and grounds are ongoing. (For more, see the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society newsletter written by Friends of the Webb-Blessing House at jcblackh- The Society has developed var- ious exhibits including on black schools and black teachers; the Charles Town Colored Horseshow; BRIAN M. CHRISTOPHER Members of the MarshalI-Holley-Mason American Legion Auxiliary helped create a recent exhibit at the Jefferson County Museum.The post, established in 1934 during segregation, is named in honor of James Henry Marshall, Lew- is Holley and Marshall Mason, threeAfrican-American veterans of World War I from the Eastern Panhandle. The Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society's Webb-Blessing House is one of the most historic homes in the county. It dates to 1829 when a free black man named Francis Webb built the stone structure. It's attached to a larger two-story house next door through a covered hallway. That home had belonged to John Blessing, who'd be- come friends with abolitionist John Brown in the fall of 1859 during his trial and as he awaited his execution. The home had remained in the Blessing family through most of the 20th century. This 2003 photo shows the founders of the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society with philanthropist Vincent Groh (second from left). The Hagerstown, Md man was a major donor as the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society bought and began restoring the property and homes. Now tours are available upon request and the home features a number of black history exhibits. Shown with Groh are (from left) the late James A. Tolbert, Jim L. Taylor, George C. Rutherford and the late Nathaniel F. Downing Sr. I I [. The Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society began in the fall of 2000 to rediscover and preserve the legacy of African- Americans in the county. Jefferson County black churches (featured at the Cultural Center in Charleston in 2005); "John Brown and the Provisional Army"; "Major Martin Robison Delany, First Black Nationalist"; Allen E. Cole, Kear- neysville native and professional photographer in Cleveland; a col- lection of newspapers and newslet- ters and military exhibits on black veterans and items from the Span- ish-American War, World War I and Word War II. The Jefferson County Black His- tory Society procured funding from the American Public University System for the creation of the Jef- ferson County African-American Military Room at the Webb-Bless- ing House. The Jefferson County Black His- tory Society also has created a num- ber of publications including "Black History Tour Guide of Charles Town" brochure in 2001, the 2002 poster "Charles Town Black Schools"; a collection of black his- tory news articles and events in Jef- ferson County; "The Black Book," a directory of African-American facts from 1800 to 2004; "A Road Trip through History," a video in 2006; the Webb-Blessing House brochure in 2009; the 2009 book, "African Americans of Jefferson County" from Aracadia's "Images of Amer- ica" series; and the Jefferson Coun- ty African-American Heritage Trail map in 2010. Over the years, the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society has presented numerous black history lectures and presenta- tions, including an adult education class in black history. It's also con- ducted countless black history tours for local and out-of-state visitors. The Jefferson County Black His- tory Preservation Society acknowl- edges the deeds and contributions of its gracious supporters, especial- ly APUS. The sun has set for two of the founders of the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society. The leaders of the JCBHPS are ap- preciated immensely for their labor and earnest effort to make a positive difference. - Linda Downing Ballard is a Jefferson County resident, a native of Charles Tow and one of the daughters of the late Nathanial Downing Sr.