The major tannery industry during the 19th and 20th centuries is the topic of the second Bicentennial lecture highlighting Morgan County’s historic economic sectors: Tanning Leather in Berkeley Springs and Paw Paw. Jeanne Mozier delivers the lecture via live stream on Saturday, April 25, 11 a.m. at the Museum of the Berkeley Springs.
Mozier is a published author, a West Virginia History Hero, President of the Museum and co-author of “Historic Images of Berkeley Springs.” She wrote about local tanneries in Goldenseal Magazine in 2011.
Mozier initially became interested in tanneries when she discovered that the Star Theatre was built on the lot that once held the De Ford Tannery as was the Ice House. Barbara Norton recently shared with Mozier her research on the tannery in Paw Paw. According to Mozier, the tannery in Berkeley Springs occupied much of downtown during the 1880s and 90s coming into conflict with the prominent hotel industry of the time. “There was even a murder involved, over bark,” she said.
The tannery in Paw Paw was even more important than in Berkeley Springs, employing 100 people and contributing to Paw Paw being the largest town in the county in the late 19th century. By the 1940s, it employed 450 people. The tannery continued operating until 1951.
“We’re hoping that people make use of the live stream to enjoy the lecture at home,” said Lori Hansroth, manager of the Museum of the Berkeley Springs which is producing the lecture series. “The lectures are being filmed and archived and will be shown at the Courthouse during the Bicentennial.”
Future lectures feature economic topics including railroads, sand mining and innkeeping as well as the Civil War, Daniel Morgan and an overview of county history. Funding for the Bicentennial is provided by Morgan County Commission, Travel Berkeley Springs, WV Humanities, Two Rivers Giving Circle and FAST.
The live stream will be found on the Museum of the Berkeley Springs and the Morgan County WV Bicentennial 2020 Facebook pages.