Bicentennial speeches touch on county history, promise

by KATE SHUNNEY

County Administrator and bicentennial co-chair Stefanie Allemong closed the speeches at “Morgan County Day” on July 6.

Summer heat and public health restrictions kept crowds small at the “Morgan County Day” celebration in Berkeley Springs State Park on Monday.

Morgan County Commissioners last year agreed to proclaim July 6 as the official day to celebrate the county’s 200th birthday. The county was officially formed in February of 1820.

Bicentennial committee organizers had envisioned a large gathering of county residents following the July 4th holiday weekend, and the chance to take a group photo and honor local families that have been in the area for more than two centuries.

Instead, local and district officials gave speeches about the occasion as attendees sought the shade of trees and a small group photo was taken in front of the Berkeley Springs State Park gazebo.

A bicentennial quilt, made by Delectable Mountains Quilt Guild for the county, was unveiled at the event.

State Senator and “native son” Charles Trump spoke about the county’s growth from 2,500 residents in 1820, and the historical events, like the coming of the B&O Railroad, that brought growth and more people. Trump said what hasn’t changed over 200 years is “the majesty” of the county’s landscape and natural features.

“This is a very special place,” he said, calling local residents “hospitable, welcoming, industrious people.”

Trump said he believes the county, at the beginning of its third 100 years, is “entering a moment” of prosperity and growth.

Commission President Joel Tuttle credited local historians with keeping and retelling the stories of Morgan County, from the tanneries and railroad history to Civil War events and various industries.

State Senator Charles Trump was one of several public officials to speak about the count’s bicentennial on “Morgan County Day,” Monday, July 6.

“We are entwined with so many historical icons,” Tuttle said, from signers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution to generals and presidents.

He recognized the communities of Paw Paw, Great Cacapon, Greenwood and Pleasant View as centers of county identity, with their “associated families, churches and community centers.”

Commissioner Sean Forney talked about how his family came to the county, starting with the purchase of a river lot in Paw Paw in 1960. He said he has talked to many people and asks why they chose to move to Morgan County.

“They always say the people, the scenery,” Forney said.

Commissioner Ken Reed listed several key moments in county history, connecting them to modern times and projecting into the county’s future. Reed said the young people of Morgan County today will know they can “handle anything thrown at them.”

Paw Paw Mayor Darlene Abe said she was born in Morgan County in an orchard near Paw Paw. She said the main characteristic of the county is “people helping people, people caring for people.”

Abe said she looks forward to preserving the hometown feeling so many have for the county, “so our children and grandchildren want to keep making Morgan County their home.”

Town of Bath councilman Chris Chapman said it was very appropriate to have the bicentennial celebration adjacent to the warm springs in the park.

“In many ways, they are the heart of Morgan County,” Chapman said.

Bicentennial organizer Jeanne Mozier reminded attendees that the Town of Bath was founded before the county and state were.

County Administrator and organizer Stefanie Allemong said she continues to look forward to more events hosted to celebrate the county’s 200th year.

 

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