Browse Exhibits (4 total)
Ever since Shenandoah County was founded in 1772, the town of Woodstock served as the seat of local government. While the first court met in private homes, within a year a courthouse was in operation on this site. Ever since, this area has served as the legal, and often the cultural, social, and political, center of the county.
Large crowds were always present when court convened here on the third Monday of each month. Residents from throughout the county had to come to the courthouse to complete land transactions, to pay taxes, or to perform other legal transactions.
The presence of so many people was an opportunity most business owners could not pass up. Food vendors, horse traders, and money lenders flocked to town to provide services to visitors. Eventually these became permanent businesses, restaurants, and banks. Hotels also emerged to provide lodging. Theatres, music halls, taverns, pool halls, and bars also emerged in the general vicinity to provide entertainment. Downtown in Woodstock developed within a single block of the courthouse.
Court Square, as this area became known, was home to more than legal and business activity. Since it was the largest structure in the area, the Courthouse became a community center. Churches, social organizations, volunteer groups, and even the local library met inside. Plays were performed in the structure. Militia units mustered here. The Woodstock Fire Department was organized on this site and moved only a few buildings away. School was taught on Lawyers Row and educational programs were held in several area buildings. The local political establishment also used the Courthouse as its base. It was a polling site, the location of rallies, and the background for speeches.
The system of Court Days and the activity that surrounded it changed in the 20th century. Today the court system is in session throughout the year and residents can conduct legal transactions almost every day of the week. Large crowds only flock here for special occasions and most business is conducted outside of downtown. Yet the Courts, and the Courthouse, remain a symbol of the county and the town which built them.
Located in the northern section of the Massanutten Range, Fort Valley is 25 miles long and was formed by the flow of passage creek. Sometimes called a "valley within a valley" it is part of the Shenandoah Valley and lies within the jursidiction of Shenandoah County.
Depite its ties with the county, Fort Valley's geographic isolation helped its residence develop a unique community identity.
This exhibit attempts to define a portion of that community by bringing unique items from the area's past to you. Be sure to visit now and on a regular basis as we add new images that will help tell Fort Valley's story.
On April 6, 1917 the United States of American entered World War One when Congress approved a declaration of war against the German Empire.
Many across the country had argued for war because of German attacks on American shipping, attempts by the German government to ally with other nations against us, and because of perceived German atrocities in Europe.
However noble these principles were, Shenandoah County’s citizens mainly felt fear when war was declared. Residents were afraid for their fathers, brothers, and sons who would have to fight and die oversees. Local men also felt fear, fear for their families who would be left behind, fear of travelling to a foreign land when most had never left the region, and fear of death.
Despite this many locals responded to the call, most because of a sense of duty to report when ordered by the draft board. While we are unsure exactly how many served, based on national averages somewhere between 600 and 1000 county residents went off to war.
Those who did become part of the Armed Forces were subject to a wide array of experiences. Some stayed in the states serving in various essential ways. Others deployed oversees. Many saw combat in bloody battles in France and Belgium. A few even went on to be a part of the force occupying Germany.
After the fighting stopped, those serving were demobilized and sent home. They returned and tried to resume their prewar lives as quickly as possible. Most never talked about their experiences even though their war service certainly influenced their lives. Today, none remain to share their story.
This exhibit helps us understand just how strong an individual’s service in World War One may have influenced their life.
On December 7th, 1941 the United States of America entered the Second World War. Over the course of the next four years millions of Americans would become warriors and fight around the globe. Over 400,000 of them would die while serving.
Several hundred Shenandoah County residents became part of the Armed Forces. They served in almost every branch of the military and in combat theatre. Many never came home.
Local photographer Hugh Morrison captured images of these local warriors in his studio on Court Street in Woodstock. Often these soldiers, sailors, and marines had their photograph taken after completing their training or before deployment. They were usually photographed in their dress uniforms and usually had a joyful expression. Several appear alongside sweethearts, spouses, parents, or other family members.
A few of these images are of service members who died during the war. These photographs, usually the last showing these individuals, would have been cherished by their families.
The pictures displayed here help us remember local residents who served our country during this conflict. Help commemorate them by discovering their story and commenting on your experience.