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Harper's Ferry


Harper's Ferry

Mapa da Harper's Ferry

Mapa retirado de Batalhas e líderes da Guerra Civil: I: Sumter to Shiloh, p.115

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Índice de Assuntos da Guerra Civil Americana


Parque Histórico Nacional Harpers Ferry

Parque Histórico Nacional Harpers Ferry, originalmente Monumento Nacional Harpers Ferry, está localizado na confluência dos rios Potomac e Shenandoah e em torno de Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Ele contém o local histórico mais visitado no estado da Virgínia Ocidental, o Forte John Brown. [3]

O parque inclui terras no Shenandoah Valley, no condado de Jefferson, no condado de West Virginia Washington, em Maryland e no condado de Loudoun, na Virgínia. O parque é administrado pelo National Park Service, uma agência do Departamento do Interior dos Estados Unidos. Originalmente designado como Monumento Nacional Harpers Ferry em 1944, o parque foi declarado Parque Histórico Nacional pelo Congresso dos EUA em 1963. O parque inclui a cidade histórica de Harpers Ferry, notável como um centro da indústria do século 19 e como cenário da John Brown's insurreição abolicionista fracassada. Consistindo de quase 4.000 acres (16 km 2), inclui o local sobre o qual Thomas Jefferson escreveu uma vez: "A passagem do Potomac pelo Blue Ridge é talvez uma das cenas mais estupendas da Natureza" após visitar a área em 1783. [4] Devido a uma mistura de eventos históricos e amplas oportunidades recreativas, tudo dentro de 50 milhas (80 km) de Washington, DC, o parque foi listado no Registro Nacional de Locais Históricos em 15 de outubro de 1966. Em 2017, o Parque O superintendente foi Tyrone Brandyburg. [5]

O parque foi originalmente planejado como um memorial a John Brown, responsável pelo que é de longe o incidente mais famoso da história da Harpers Ferry, sua invasão em 1859 e captura do arsenal federal. Os oficiais do NPS na década de 1930 se concentraram no ataque de John Brown e na Guerra Civil para justificar a aquisição de partes da Harpers Ferry para um parque histórico e militar. Como a figura do próprio John Brown, isso se provou extremamente controverso, com oposição das Filhas Unidas da Confederação e dos Filhos dos Veteranos Confederados. [6]: 86 Em 2021, não havia menção a John Brown na página inicial do Parque (http://www.nps.gov/hafe). Embora existam páginas sobre ele, não são fáceis de encontrar.


Harpers Ferry

Enquanto seu Exército da Virgínia do Norte avançava em Maryland no início de setembro de 1862, o general Robert E. Lee fez planos para capturar a guarnição vital da União em Harpers Ferry na retaguarda de sua força invasora. Embora o Exército do Potomac do major-general George McClellan estivesse em perseguição, Lee dividiu seu exército, enviando três colunas sob o comando do general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson para Harpers Ferry enquanto o resto do exército marchava em direção a Hagerstown, Maryland. Cercado em três lados por alturas íngremes, o terreno ao redor da cidade tornava quase impossível a defesa, um problema agravado pelo comandante da União, coronel Dixon S. Miles, que não tinha experiência em liderar tropas. Durante três dias, Jackson colocou a artilharia nas alturas acima da Harpers Ferry e, na manhã de 15 de setembro, ordenou uma barragem de artilharia que bombardeou a cidade, seguida por um ataque de infantaria da divisão do major-general A. P. Hill. Enquanto a rendição era debatida, Miles foi atingido por uma bala que estilhaçou sua perna esquerda, um ferimento que acabou sendo fatal. Jackson tomou posse de Harpers Ferry antes de se juntar ao resto do exército de Lee em Sharpsburg, deixando a divisão de Hill para processar a liberdade condicional de 12.000 prisioneiros.


A Harper's Ferry original operou de 1733 até ser substituída por uma ponte rodoviária coberta de madeira por volta de 1824 na confluência dos rios Potomac e Shenandoah. [2] [3]

Construído em 1836-1837, [3] a primeira travessia do B & ampO sobre o Potomac foi uma treliça de madeira coberta de 830 pés (250 m). Foi a única travessia ferroviária do Rio Potomac até depois da Guerra Civil. A ponte de via única, que compreendia seis vãos de rio mais um vão sobre o Chesapeake e o Canal de Ohio, foi projetada por Benjamin Henry Latrobe, II. [4]: 34 Em 1837, a ferrovia Winchester e Potomac alcançou Harpers Ferry do sul, e Latrobe juntou-se à linha B & ampO usando um vão em "Y". [4]: 65

John Brown usou a ponte B & ampO no início de sua tentativa fracassada de iniciar uma insurreição de escravos na Virgínia e mais ao sul.

A ponte foi destruída durante a Guerra Civil Americana e substituída temporariamente por uma ponte flutuante. [4]: 65

As duas travessias atuais, que estão em alinhamentos diferentes, são do final do século XIX e início do século XX. Uma treliça de aço Pratt e uma ponte de viga de placa foram construídas em 1894 para transportar a linha B & ampO Valley (agora a subdivisão CSX Shenandoah) em direção a Winchester, Virginia, ao longo do rio Shenandoah. Isso foi complementado em 1930–1931 com uma ponte de viga de placa de convés que transporta a linha principal da ferrovia Baltimore and Ohio (B & ampO) para Martinsburg, West Virginia (a linha agora é a subdivisão CSX Cumberland).

Um túnel ferroviário foi construído ao mesmo tempo que a ponte de 1894 para transportar a linha através de Maryland Heights, eliminando uma curva acentuada. Na década de 1930, a extremidade oeste do túnel foi alargada durante a construção da segunda ponte para permitir a curva mais ampla possível através do rio.

Edição de acidente

Em 21 de dezembro de 2019, um trem de carga CSX descarrilou na ponte, jogando vários carros no rio. Não houve feridos e a ponte foi reaberta posteriormente. [5]


Harpers Ferry Raid

Nossos editores irão revisar o que você enviou e determinar se o artigo deve ser revisado.

Harpers Ferry Raid, (16 a 18 de outubro de 1859), ataque por um bando armado de abolicionistas liderados por John Brown no arsenal federal localizado em Harpers Ferry, Virginia (agora em West Virginia). Foi o principal incidente precipitante da Guerra Civil Americana.

O ataque a Harpers Ferry pretendia ser o primeiro estágio de um plano elaborado para estabelecer uma fortaleza independente de escravos libertos nas montanhas de Maryland e Virgínia - um empreendimento que conquistou o apoio moral e financeiro de vários bostonianos proeminentes. Escolhendo Harpers Ferry por causa de seu arsenal e por causa de sua localização como uma porta de entrada conveniente para o sul, John Brown e seu bando de 16 brancos e cinco negros apreenderam o arsenal na noite de 16 de outubro.

Lutas esporádicas ocorreram em torno do arsenal por dois dias. Em 18 de outubro, as tropas estaduais e federais combinadas (as últimas comandadas pelo coronel Robert E. Lee e incluindo o tenente Jeb Stuart) subjugaram Brown e seus colaboradores. Dezessete homens morreram na luta. Brown foi indiciado por traição em 25 de outubro. Ele e seus seis seguidores sobreviventes foram enforcados antes do final do ano.

Embora o ataque a Harpers Ferry tenha sido denunciado pela maioria dos nortistas, eletrificou o Sul - já temeroso de rebeliões de escravos - e convenceu os proprietários de escravos de que os abolicionistas não parariam por nada para erradicar a escravidão. Também criou um mártir, John Brown, pela causa antiescravista. Quando soube que Brown havia sido executado, o ensaísta, filósofo e abolicionista dedicado Henry David Thoreau disse:

Ouvi, com certeza, que ele havia sido enforcado, mas não sabia o que isso significava - e não vou acreditar depois de alguns dias. De todos os homens que se dizem meus contemporâneos, parece-me que John Brown é o único que não morreu.


História da Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry foi colonizado pela primeira vez em 1732 por Peter Stephens, cujos & quotsquatter & # 39s rights & quot foram comprados em 1747 por Robert Harper, que deu o nome à cidade. Por volta de 1750 Harper obteve a patente de 0,5 km² na localização atual da cidade. Em 1761, Harper estabeleceu uma balsa para cruzar o rio Potomac, tornando a cidade um ponto de partida para os colonos que se mudavam para o vale de Shenandoah e mais a oeste. Em 1763, a Assembleia Geral da Virgínia estabeleceu a cidade de & quotShenandoah Falls no Mr. Harper & # 39s Ferry. & Quot

Em 25 de outubro de 1783, Thomas Jefferson visitou Harpers Ferry. Ele viu & citou a passagem do Potomac através do Blue Ridge & quot de uma rocha que agora leva seu nome. Jefferson chamou o site de & quot talvez uma das cenas mais estupendas da natureza & quot.

George Washington, como presidente da Patowmack Company (que foi formada para completar as melhorias do rio Potomac e seus afluentes), viajou para Harpers Ferry durante o verão de 1785 para determinar a necessidade de canais de desvio. Em 1794, a familiaridade de Washington com a área o levou a propor o local para um novo arsenal e arsenal dos Estados Unidos. Parte da família de Washington mudou-se para a área. Charles Washington, irmão mais novo do presidente, fundou a cidade de Charles Town, cerca de seis milhas a sudoeste. O sobrinho-bisneta do presidente Washington, Coronel Lewis Washington, foi mantido como refém durante a operação de John Brown em 1859.

Em 1796, o governo federal comprou um terreno dos herdeiros de Robert Harper e, três anos depois, começou a construção do Arsenal e do Arsenal dos Estados Unidos em Harpers Ferry. Entre 1801 e 1861, quando foi destruído para evitar a captura durante a Guerra Civil, o arsenal produziu mais de 600.000 mosquetes, rifles e pistolas. A industrialização continuou em 1833 quando o Chesapeake & amp Ohio Canal alcançou Harpers Ferry, ligando-o a Washington, D.C. Um ano depois, a Baltimore & amp Ohio Railroad começou o serviço de trem pela cidade.

Em 16 de outubro de 1859, o abolicionista radical John Brown liderou um grupo de 21 homens em uma invasão ao arsenal. Brown e seus homens atacaram e capturaram vários edifícios que ele esperava usar as armas capturadas para iniciar um levante de escravos em todo o sul. Os homens de John Brown foram rapidamente imobilizados por cidadãos locais e milícias, e forçados a se refugiar na casa de máquinas adjacente ao arsenal. Um contingente de fuzileiros navais dos EUA, liderado pelo então tenente-coronel Robert E. Lee, invadiu a casa das máquinas e capturou a maioria dos invasores, matando alguns e sofrendo uma única baixa. Brown foi julgado por traição contra a Comunidade da Virgínia, condenado e enforcado em Charles Town. O ataque foi um catalisador para a Guerra Civil.

A Guerra Civil foi desastrosa para Harpers Ferry, que mudou de mãos oito vezes entre 1861 e 1865. Quando a Virgínia se separou em abril de 1861, a guarnição dos EUA tentou queimar o arsenal e destruir o maquinário, para evitar que os confederados o usassem. Os moradores locais salvaram o equipamento, que o Exército Confederado transferiu para um local mais seguro em sua capital, Richmond. O Exército dos EUA nunca renovou a produção de armas em Harpers Ferry.

Após o fim da Guerra Civil, em 1867, o historicamente negro Storer College foi fundado em Camp Hill pelo reverendo Nathan Cook Brackett. Ex-alunos notáveis ​​incluem a lenda do jazz Don Redman e o primeiro presidente da República Federal da Nigéria, Nnamdi Azikiwe. O Storer College fechou em junho de 1955, e o campus agora faz parte do Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Em 15 de agosto de 1906, o Movimento Niagara, liderado pelo autor e estudioso W. E. B. Du Bois e pelo ativista político William Monroe Trotter, realizou sua primeira reunião em solo americano no campus do Storer College. O encontro de três dias, realizado para garantir os direitos civis dos afro-americanos, foi mais tarde descrito por DuBois como "um dos maiores encontros que os negros americanos já realizaram". Em 1911, os membros do Movimento do Niágara juntaram-se a outros para formar a Associação Nacional para o Progresso das Pessoas de Cor, mais conhecida como NAACP.

Em 1944, a maior parte da cidade tornou-se parte do National Park Service e agora é mantida como Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Todas as áreas da cidade fora do Parque estão contidas no distrito histórico de Harpers Ferry, reconhecido pelo governo federal.


Robert E. Lee sobre os motivos de John Brown & # 8217s

Sobre Brown, Lee escreveu: “Ele confessa que seu objetivo era a libertação dos escravos da Virgínia e de todo o Sul e reconhece que ficou desapontado com suas expectativas de ajuda tanto da população negra quanto da branca, tanto no sul e Estados do Norte. Os negros, que ele expulsou de suas casas neste bairro, pelo que pude saber, não lhe deram assistência voluntária. Os servos dos Srs. Washington e Allstadt, retidos no arsenal, não tomaram parte no conflito, e os transportados para Maryland voltaram para suas casas assim que foram libertados. O resultado prova que o plano foi a tentativa de um fanático ou louco e tímido, que só poderia terminar em fracasso e seu sucesso temporário, foi devido ao pânico e confusão que ele conseguiu criar aumentando e diminuindo seus números.

Naquela noite, um boato falso de que um bando de homens havia atacado uma casa em Pleasant Valley, Maryland, fez com que várias famílias corressem para Harpers Ferry em busca de proteção.


Conteúdo

Harpers Ferry Editar

Robert Harper fundou a comunidade de Harpers Ferry em meados do século XVIII. Robert Harper nasceu em 1718 em Oxford Township, perto da Filadélfia, Pensilvânia. Como era construtor, Harper foi convidado por um grupo de quacres em 1747 para construir uma casa de reuniões no Vale Shenandoah, perto do local atual de Winchester, Virgínia. [2] Viajando por Maryland em seu caminho para o Vale do Shenandoah, Harper seguiu para a área onde os rios Potomac e Shenandoah se encontravam. Atraído e maravilhado com a ampla potência hídrica latente que residia nos rios e com a localização estratégica para viagens e transportes, Harper obteve a patente de 125 acres (0,51 km 2) do terreno em 1751. [3] Ele construiu uma balsa para a travessia o rio Shenandoah para ajudar os pioneiros a chegarem ao seu destino nas novas terras do oeste. Após a criação da balsa, mais pessoas foram atraídas para a área e ela se tornou um destino com negócios florescentes.

O arsenal nacional Editar

Em 1794, o Congresso dos Estados Unidos aprovou um projeto de lei chamando "para a montagem e reparo de arsenais e pentes". O presidente George Washington, com ampla liberdade para cumprir esta ordem, selecionou Harpers Ferry, então uma parte da Virgínia, para a localização do Harpers Ferry National Armory. [4] Em 1796, o governo dos Estados Unidos comprou uma propriedade de 125 acres (0,51 km 2) parcela de terreno dos herdeiros de Robert Harper. Posteriormente, em 1799, a construção do arsenal nacional começou. Três anos depois, a produção em massa de armas militares começou. [4]

Armas de fogo e canhões são pesados ​​e precisavam de fácil acesso ao transporte fluvial e ferroviário. As necessidades de combustível da fundição significavam carregamentos pesados ​​adicionais. O Armory estava localizado em Harpers Ferry por ser geograficamente central e durante o período Antebellum, no centro da rede ferroviária do país. A única ponte sobre o rio Potomac que poderia transportar uma carga pesada - durante parte desse período, a única ligação ferroviária entre as cidades do leste e Ohio e o "oeste" - era a ponte ferroviária de Baltimore e Ohio em Harpers Ferry.

O arsenal nacional em Harpers Ferry era na verdade o segundo arsenal nacional. O primeiro foi o Springfield Armory, construído em Springfield, Massachusetts, em 1794, depois que o Congresso aprovou o projeto de lei para criar o primeiro arsenal nacional do país.

Após sua inauguração, o tamanho do arsenal parecia inadequado para uma força de trabalho. Consistia em apenas uma sala e os trabalhadores somavam apenas vinte e cinco. No entanto, o arsenal produziu muitos mosquetes, rifles e, posteriormente, pistolas para os Estados Unidos. Entre 1821 e 1830, o arsenal produziu 11.855 armas. A cada década depois disso, a produção diminuía. [5] O edifício dependia da energia do rio para movimentar as máquinas do arsenal.

Edição de expansão e atualizações

Em 1844, o estado deficiente do arsenal foi levado em consideração e a demanda por equipamentos militares aumentou, e assim foi realizada a reforma e ampliação do arsenal. As atualizações do arsenal começaram em 1845-1854 com a construção de sete novas oficinas e a instalação de 121 novas máquinas. [4] As novas oficinas tinham uma superestrutura de tijolos com estrutura de ferro e cobertura de chapa metálica inclinada. Esses edifícios de arsenal reconstruídos tornaram-se conhecidos coletivamente como "U.S. Musket Factory". [4] O canal do arsenal foi alargado para que mais água pudesse chegar ao arsenal, o que significava que receberia mais energia. Junto com a ampliação do canal, sete novas turbinas hidráulicas foram instaladas. As atualizações formaram uma unidade funcional bem integrada que melhorou o fluxo de trabalho de um estágio de produção para o próximo. [6] Todas as expansões do arsenal foram feitas em pesadas fundações de pedra e incluíram molduras de ferro fundido no estilo geral da arquitetura "gótica de fábrica". [6]

Além disso, mais pessoas foram empregadas para trabalhar no arsenal do que antes: a força de trabalho aumentou de minúsculos 25 em 1802 para cerca de quatrocentos trabalhadores em 1859. [4] Além disso, as condições de trabalho melhoraram, mas apenas ligeiramente.

Raid de John Brown Editar

Em 1859, o arsenal tornou-se o local da famosa apreensão do abolicionista John Brown, que, embora sem sucesso em incitar uma revolta de escravos, ajudou a precipitar a Guerra Civil Americana e a eventual emancipação dos escravos nos Estados Unidos.

Durante a Guerra Civil Editar

Enquanto a Virgínia ainda estava na União, o arsenal enviava regularmente armas e materiais manufaturados para os Estados Unidos. No entanto, uma vez que a Guerra Civil começou, o arsenal nacional tornou-se um ponto de controle vital para os Confederados e a União.

Perto do início da guerra em 18 de abril de 1861, apenas um dia após a ratificação convencional da secessão da Virgínia, os soldados da União, em número menor e privados de reforços, incendiaram seu próprio arsenal na tentativa de impedir o uso dele por um Milícia da Confederação da Virgínia com 360 homens ao todo. Os residentes de Harpers Ferry (muitos dos quais ganhavam a vida com o arsenal) conseguiram apagar os incêndios com rapidez suficiente para salvar a maior parte do maquinário de fabricação de armas do arsenal. Depois de resgatar o equipamento, os confederados enviaram-no para o sul por ferrovia para Winchester, Virgínia, e de lá para Richmond, pois a Virgínia decidiu reabrir o Richmond Armory. [7] O Sul praticamente não tinha produção de armas pequenas e um suprimento inadequado de matérias-primas. O maquinário retirado da Harpers Ferry tornou-se a base da fabricação de armas confederada. [8] Duas semanas depois, os confederados abandonaram Harpers Ferry. As forças do sul confiscaram o que restou no arsenal e queimaram o resto dos edifícios restantes do arsenal. [4] Eles também explodiram a ponte da ferrovia de Baltimore e Ohio, mas retornaram em duas semanas para destruir a Rifle Works e uma ponte que cruzava o rio Shenandoah. [6]

A localização estratégica do arsenal Editar

Durante a Guerra Civil, o arsenal tornou-se um local de grande importância estratégica porque estava localizado muito perto da linha Mason-Dixon, ou a fronteira entre os estados livres e escravistas. Consequentemente, a União utilizou-o como um meio eficaz para fornecer às tropas armas rapidamente enquanto marchavam para a batalha. [ quando? A desvantagem de estar na fronteira era que o arsenal poderia facilmente mudar de mãos e cair no controle dos confederados - a cidade de Harpers Ferry mudou de mãos pelo menos onze vezes durante a Guerra Civil. [6]

Rescaldo da Guerra Civil Editar

Devido ao grau de danos ao arsenal durante a Guerra Civil, o governo dos Estados Unidos decidiu não restabelecer o arsenal em Harpers Ferry, em vez de focar nas áreas de rápido desenvolvimento a oeste do rio Mississippi. [8]

Hoje, o local é coberto principalmente por aterros dos trilhos.

John Brown's Fort Editar

O Forte de John Brown foi o único edifício a sobreviver à destruição causada pelos Confederados e pela União. Era o carro de bombeiros e a casa de guarda do arsenal, [4] onde Brown e seus invasores se barricaram. Depois da guerra, foi dado o nome de Forte de John Brown.

Este edifício foi movido quatro vezes. Na primeira vez, liberando o local para a ferrovia usar como aterro, foi transferido para Chicago, onde foi exibido na Exposição Colombiana de 1893. Abandonado depois disso, foi movido de volta para uma fazenda perto de Harpers Ferry. De lá, foi transferido para o local que era o mais longo, e onde era mais homenageado: Storer College, uma escola estabelecida para libertos em Harpers Ferry, que também recebeu pelo Congresso a moradia dos gerentes do Arsenal, situada em Camp Hill .

O forte permaneceu em Storer até o fechamento do Colégio em 1955, contribuindo muito para o papel da Harpers Ferry como destino de turistas afro-americanos no início do século XX. Posteriormente, foi transferido pelo Serviço Nacional de Parques para perto de sua localização original.


Harper's Ferry - História

Este é um relato histórico de alguns dos eventos e pessoas envolvidas na criação, operação e atividades da Igreja e Escola Católica de São Pedro. É apenas um relato parcial, com base em pesquisas com base em evidências documentais disponíveis, como correspondência, testamentos, escrituras, registros fotográficos e artigos de jornais das respectivas épocas. Essas evidências documentais fornecem apenas uma visão limitada das muitas experiências passadas, personalidades variadas e dinâmicas da vida social e religiosa que giravam em torno deste lugar no passado. Esperançosamente, à medida que obtemos dados adicionais de outras fontes documentais e do registro arqueológico, este relato crescerá em detalhes, amplitude e na variedade de perspectivas passadas que podem ser representadas.

Criação da Freguesia

A construção da Igreja Católica de São Pedro na Cidade Baixa, Harpers Ferry, começou em 1830 e foi concluída em 1833 (Smith 1959: 6, 13). Foi a terceira igreja construída em Harpers Ferry, e a única igreja não localizada em terras do governo (Theriault 1996). Antes de 1830, a Igreja Católica mais próxima estava localizada em Martinsburg, várias milhas a noroeste de Harpers Ferry. O reverendo John Gildea foi o primeiro pastor da paróquia St. John Catholic, que foi estabelecida em Martinsburg em 1825, com Harpers Ferry atribuído a ele como uma missão (DWC History: 1). Em 1830, os oficiais da Igreja decidiram que o número de pessoas que procuravam assistir aos serviços católicos em Harpers Ferry havia aumentado a um nível suficiente para justificar a construção de uma nova paróquia ali (Magri & amp Dittmeyer 1930: 6). Segundo alguns relatos, o padre Gildea providenciou para que uma igreja católica anterior fosse construída no final da década de 1820 ao longo da rua Shenandoah na cidade baixa, mas foi prontamente destruída por uma enchente.

Várias igrejas de diferentes denominações foram estabelecidas em Harpers Ferry durante o período de 1825 a 1852. A Free Church foi a primeira da Harpers Ferryy, construída em 1825 em uma propriedade adjacente ao local de St. Peter's. Foi destruída por um incêndio em 1845 e a Igreja Episcopal de São João foi construída na mesma propriedade em 1852 (Shackel 1996: 166 Null 1983 Snell 1959d: 2-4). Outras igrejas estabelecidas em Harpers Ferry incluíam uma igreja metodista episcopal em 1828, St. Peter's em 1833, uma igreja presbiteriana em 1841, metodista protestante em 1843 e luterana em 1850. Antes do estabelecimento dessas igrejas, os gerentes do Armory reclamaram da falta de um ponto focal para manter a disciplina moral e religiosa dos trabalhadores do Arsenal e suas famílias, e os residentes frequentemente se reuniam em áreas de reunião, como oficinas para os serviços de domingo (Snell 1959d: 1, 3-7 Shackel 1996: 166).

Um anúncio de 5 de maio de 1830 na Virginia Free Press solicitou contribuições financeiras para a construção da nova paróquia de São Pedro: "'As assinaturas foram abertas em Harpers Ferry, para a construção de uma Igreja Católica Romana naquele lugar e é declarou que contribuições liberais foram feitas por pessoas de outras denominações, bem como por membros dessa Sociedade. '"(Smith 1959: 6, citando Virginia Free Press, 5 de maio de 1830, p. 3, col. 1). Uma pedra fundamental foi lançada em 15 de outubro de 1830, e a construção começou naquele ano, embora a propriedade ainda não tivesse sido totalmente entregue à Igreja (Magri & amp Dittmeyer 1930: 6). John Tearney, um mestre pedreiro, supervisionou a construção do primeiro edifício da Igreja (Gilbert 1995: 59).

Um artigo de 9 de maio de 1833 na Virginia Free Press descreveu a criação desta nova paróquia da seguinte maneira:

De 1833 a 1896, a estrutura da Igreja de São Pedro tinha 39 pés de largura, 75 pés de comprimento e uma altura interna de 25 pés até os beirais. Tinha um andar de altura, construído com paredes de tijolo sobre uma fundação de pedra, uma fachada frontal de tijolo de grandes dimensões e um campanário central feito de madeira (Smith 1959: 7 ver imagens de 1861, 1865, 1890 e 1895 acima e abaixo). Havia quatro janelas em arco em cada parede lateral e uma janela na sala da sacristia na parte traseira da Igreja (extremidade oeste). A fachada frontal tinha três janelas em arco e duas janelas redondas, junto com a porta de entrada, e quatro degraus de pedra que conduziam a essa entrada.

O interior incluía tetos abobadados, um púlpito de mármore e uma imagem da Virgem Maria e do Menino Jesus (Smith 1959: 7-8). A História do Vale da Virgínia de 1833, de Samuel Kercheval, declarou: "A Sociedade Católica Romana ergueu várias capelas em vários lugares. Eles construíram um edifício soberbo em Harper's Ferry, com um belo púlpito, com a imagem da Virgem Maria com o menino Jesus em seu colo "(Kercheval 1850: 318).

A manutenção e melhorias foram realizadas nas décadas seguintes, muitas vezes com a ajuda de fundos angariados através de feiras locais e festivais organizados pelos paroquianos. A Igreja recebeu um novo altar, feito por um artesão chamado "Sr. Vilwig" de Winchester, Virginia, em 1877. Um novo órgão de tubos foi instalado em 1882 (Virginia Free Press, 6 de outubro de 1877, p. 3, col. 3, 23 de setembro de 1882, p. 2, col. 2). Um jornal local observou que a Igreja havia recebido uma nova camada de tinta em 1877, e novos afrescos estavam planejados para serem concluídos no Natal de 1881 (Virginia Free Press, 13 de outubro de 1877, p. 3, col. 3 Espírito de Jefferson, 6 de dezembro de 1881, p. 3, col. 1).

Igreja e Reitoria de São Pedro, 1890. e copie a coleção Leib, York, Pensilvânia. Clique na imagem acima para ampliá-la.

Robert Harper e seus sobrinhos-netos, James B. Wager e Gerard B. Wager, e sua sobrinha-neta, Sarah Ann Wager, doaram a propriedade em que São Pedro fica (Magri & amp Dittmeyer 1930: 20). O último testamento e testamento de Harper em 1782 reservou aproximadamente quatro acres para uso no estabelecimento de uma Igreja. Os três irmãos Wager concretizaram seu desejo em 1831, transferindo o terreno em que St. Peter's agora está localizado para a Igreja Católica (Magri & amp Dittmeyer 1930, app., Citando Jefferson County, West Virginia Deed Book 17, pp. 6-7, 10 de maio de 1831). Esses meios de transporte previam que o terreno só pudesse ser usado para o estabelecimento de uma instituição religiosa. Essas condições foram satisfeitas e a Igreja Católica manteve a propriedade dessas terras até o presente.

A Igreja de São Pedro foi o ponto focal para uma variedade de atividades religiosas e sociais ao longo dos anos. Casamentos, funerais e missas eram realizados regularmente. O bispo da diocese local oficiava os serviços da Confirmação na Basílica de São Pedro quase todos os anos. Feiras, piqueniques e festivais foram realizados para arrecadar fundos para uma variedade de causas, incluindo iniciativas de caridade e melhorias para a Igreja e sua congregação.

A Basílica de São Pedro também foi um ponto focal para um movimento crescente de temperança na década de 1840. John H. Hall, um inventor de Massachusetts que operava uma fábrica de rifles local, havia empreendido um esforço anterior para organizar e operar uma "Sociedade de Temperança" em Harpers Ferry na década de 1830. No entanto, essa sociedade aparentemente se tornou inativa no início da década de 1840, quando outras sociedades de abstinência foram se formando.

Hall não estava sozinho na tentativa de promover a temperança nessas comunidades manufatureiras. Os gerentes da fábrica de armamentos de Springfield, Massachusetts, proibiam o consumo de álcool nas dependências da fábrica e rescindiam o contrato de trabalho de qualquer pessoa que violasse essa regra. Em contraste, James Stubblefield, o segundo superintendente do arsenal administrado pelo governo em Harpers Ferry (de 1815-1829), não promoveu a temperança. Sempre um empresário, Stubblefield tinha uma participação parcial em uma destilaria local e tinha parentes que eram donos de uma taverna na cidade. Junto com Armistead Beckham, o primeiro mestre armeiro (de 1815-1830), Stubblefield também possuía ações da firma de Wager, Beckham, que operava uma loja de varejo no terreno do arsenal. Em vez de condenar o consumo de álcool pelos trabalhadores do arsenal, Stubblefield tendia a encorajá-lo, desde que ninguém se tornasse perturbador (Smith 1977: 150-51 Shackel 1996: 114).

Ao mesmo tempo que os esforços de Hall declinaram no início da década de 1840, várias "Sociedades de Abstinência Total" foram organizadas em Harpers Ferry em conjunto com igrejas locais. As atividades dessas sociedades ganharam impulso ao longo das décadas de 1840 e 1850. A Sociedade Católica de Abstinência Total de Harpers Ferry foi organizada em associação com as atividades da Igreja de São Pedro. Essa sociedade havia alistado 383 membros em 1843, e continuou a crescer depois disso (Virginia Free Press, 19 de janeiro de 1843, p. 3, c. 1).

Muitas sociedades de temperança e abstinência foram organizadas em outras cidades industriais no início do século XIX. Essa tendência foi motivada em parte por sentimentos reformistas criados anteriormente pelo movimento evangélico chamado de segundo grande despertar. Também foi motivado pelas preocupações de proprietários e industriais que dependiam de uma força de trabalho produtiva (Wallace 1978: 296-97, 322 Johnson 1978: 60-61, 79-84). As atividades de muitas sociedades de temperança foram eclipsadas durante a Guerra Civil. No entanto, eles ganharam impulso novamente no final dos anos 1800, particularmente por meio da promoção voltada para membros da classe média trabalhadora, e resultou, em última instância, na proibição nacional do álcool na década de 1920 (Mrozowski et al. 1996: 71-74).

The First School House & amp Rectory

A Igreja adquiriu, por arrendamento, um terreno adjacente adicional em 1854, no qual construiu uma casa-escola, que hoje faz parte do edifício existente da Reitoria na parte oeste da Igreja. A Igreja primeiro solicitou que este pacote fosse fornecido sob um contrato de arrendamento, conforme refletido em uma carta de 16 de dezembro de 1853 do Superintendente Benjamin Huger do Harpers Ferry Armory ao Coronel Henry Craig do Escritório de Artilharia dos EUA:

Uma escola foi construída naquele terreno entre 1854 e 1857, e mais tarde foi convertida na Reitoria existente em 1889 (Smith 1959: 14 Snell 1959c: 8-9 Theriault 1996). Esta escola foi construída como uma estrutura de pedra de dois andares, e o exterior foi coberto com gesso e marcado para se parecer com os contornos das pedras lapidadas. O edifício tinha uma cúpula centrada na crista do telhado e um grande alpendre de dois andares no lado sul, ambos removidos posteriormente (Snell 1959c: 9 Theriault 1996).

Esta primeira escola foi aberta a estudantes católicos e não católicos e funcionou até aproximadamente 1886, quando uma segunda escola foi construída para St. Peter's na Shenandoah Street (Snell 1959c: 9 Magri & amp Dittmeyer 1930: 20). O edifício da Igreja ficava originalmente a 60 pés a leste desta primeira escola, mas agora está mais perto após a reconstrução de 1896 da Igreja. The Catholic Church has retained ownership and possession of these additional parcels and improvements to the present day (Smith 1959: 2, 9, 13).

View Artists' Renderings of Harpers Ferry in 1857 and 1859

Restoration work on the Rectory in 1971 and 1972 revealed details of the construction of this first school house. The original dimensions of the building were 40 feet in length and 22 feet in width. A later addition of 10 feet extended off the west end. This addition is evident by the existence of an original exterior bearing wall, which is 24 inches thick and made of stone, located 10 feet inside the current west facade (Gavin n.d.: 3-4). The building sits directly on an out-cropping of Harpers Ferry shale, which intrudes into the space of the basement. The original walls appear to be made of the same type of stone used in the dry-stacked retaining walls on the north and south sides of the Rectory grounds (Gavin n.d.: 4). Those retaining walls were likely built by Armory personnel as part of general landscaping work undertaken around the time the school house was constructed (Snell 1959c: 10).

The Church and School in 1865. Click on this image to see enlarged portions of an 1865 photograph.

The privy off the west end of the Rectory is also made with a stone base, which was unusual for such an outbuilding. Most privies in the area were built of wood frames (Gavin n.d.: 4). It was likely constructed at the same time as the first school house. This privy is visible in a photograph made in 1865, shown above (Snell 1959a: 112-13 Harpers Ferry Archive Photo No. HF-361), and in another taken between 1892 and 1896 (Snell 1959a: 116 Photo No. HF-99).

A timber frame bell tower was added to the grounds in approximately 1880, and stood just north of the northwest corner of the school house. This bell tower served the Church until a year or two after completion of the 1896 Church renovations, which added a new stone bell tower on the southeast corner of the Church. In 1890, an earlier bell weighing 400 pounds was replaced with a new bell weighing 1,400 pounds. The new bell, made by the McShane firm of Baltimore, was 3 feet 6 inches tall and cost $430.00 (Virginia Free Press, June 4, 1890, p. 3, col. 1 Spirit of Jefferson, July 29, 1890, p. 3, col. 4). This tower is visible in photographs taken in 1886, 1890 and 1895 (above).

St. Peter's Church and Rectory, 1865-1900. Click on the image to the left for a detailed map of the site's structures and features.

The Second School House

A second school house was built in 1886 on the north side of Shenandoah Street, on a lot at the base of the slope off the south side of the Church (see 1865-1900 map above). This second school house was one and half stories tall, and was made of brick. It was open to Catholic and non-Catholic students alike, and was operated from 1886 to 1899, when school operations ended due to a shortage of students (Snell 1959c: 9). The reduction in the number of school-aged children likely resulted from a general trend of families moving out of Harpers Ferry to other towns and cities in the region that offered greater employment opportunities (Magri & Dittmeyer 1930: 20).

Second School House, 1895. Click on this image to see the second School House in an 1895 photograph excerpt.

This school building was slightly damaged by fire in 1896, and promptly repaired (Spirit of Jefferson, Nov. 24, 1896, p. 3, col. 3). It fell into disuse after the school was closed in 1899. Eventually, the ruins of this building were removed from the lot in the mid-1950's, after the State of West Virginia acquired the property from the Church (Snell 1959c: 12 Jefferson County, Deed Book 191, pp. 259-60, Jan. 7, 1953, Harpers Ferry Archive, Doc. No. HFD-174).

The Parsonage Unbuilt

The Church had earlier considered building a parsonage on another lot on the south side of Shenandoah Street in Harpers Ferry. On August 13, 1852, Reverend Joseph Plunkett, the pastor of St. Peter's, wrote a letter to Colonel Benjamin Huger, the Superintendent of the Armory. He stated that the "'Bishop of Richmond asks for a parsonage for his church at this place,'" and he observed that "'Vacant Lot No. 2, on Block D, Shenandoah St.'" would be suitable (Snell 1959b: 13, quoting letter from Plunkett to Huger, Aug. 13, 1852, Microfilm Reel 26, vol. 2, p. 141). In June 1852, Secretary of War C. M. Conrad had issued a directive stating the government's desire to encourage the establishment of churches, schools, and other public institutions in Harpers Ferry by reserving lots for such use (Snell 1959b: 13-14).

Lot 2, Block D, Shenandoah Street. Click on the image to the left for a map showing the unused site for a parsonage.

This Lot 2 was part of a tract purchased by the U.S. government from John Wager, Sr. for use in establishing the Armory. The Armory sold these parcels in Block D at private and public auctions in August and September of 1852, but reserved Lot 2 for the Church to use as a parsonage (Snell 1959b: 1, 13-14). St. Peter's obtained a lease for Lot 2 in 1852, and the Government conveyed full title in that parcel to the Church in 1868.

However, Church officals never built a parsonage on that lot, likely due to the frequency with which Shenandoah Street was flooded by storms and the overflow of the river (Smith 1959: 6 Snell 1959b: 2, 13-14). Instead, the Church pastor and support staff lived elsewhere in the area until 1889, when the first school house next to the Church was converted into a Rectory. For example, the 1860 census indicates that Reverend Michael Costello, the pastor at that time, lived with William Stephen's family in their house in Lower Town (Snell 1959b: 15).

Houses were built on the parcels adjoining Lot 2 in the early 1800's, and those houses were likely used as residences for Armory workers and their families. These neighboring properties were damaged frequently by the floods that flowed through Shenandoah Street during this period (Snell 1959b: 2). Lot 2 contained four houses, all made of wood and ranging in size from one to two stories tall, in the period of 1811 through 1852 (Snell 1959b: 11). Those structures were dismantled by the time the lot was conveyed to the Church. Lot 2 later remained largely vacant, except for a livery stable maintained there after 1859 (Snell 1959b: 15-16). The State of West Virginia eventually acquired this parcel in the 1950's.

Surviving the Civil War

Harpers Ferry changed hands between Union and Confederate control fourteen times during the years of the Civil War (Hearn 1996: 290). St. Peter's was the only church in the town that was not severely damaged or destroyed by the heavy bombardments and destruction leveled on Harpers Ferry by both northern and southern forces. The Reverend Michael A. Costello is credited with this feat of preservation. Born in Ireland in 1833, he became Pastor of St. Peter's in 1857, and was in his late 20's during the War (Barry 1903: 148 Smith 1959: 9 Virginia Free Press, Dec. 17, 1857, p. 2, col. 4). Rather than accept an invitation from Bishop McGill to travel to Ireland during the War, he stayed at the Church throughout the hostilities and even during severe artillery bombardments from the surrounding heights (Magri & Dittmeyer 1930: 12 Hearn 1996: 288).

Father Costello witnessed the dramatic events of John Brown's 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry first hand. After one of the Harpers Ferry residents was shot by a member of Brown's company, Father Costello was summoned to give last rights to the dying man. Later, after the United States Marines stormed the Armory firehouse in which Brown and his company had barricaded themselves, Father Costello was summoned to give last rights to two wounded soldiers, one of whom died. Costello later visited Brown in his jail cell in Charles Town. He related these events, experiences, and his views on slavery, the hazards faced by free African Americans, and the dangerous prospects of a coming war in the following letter to a fellow priest at All Hallows College.

You must look upon me as one of the most ungrateful children of All Hallows, as one who has forgotten all he owes to his "Alma Mater" in having allowed so long a time to elapse without writing but such is not the case. On the contrary, it is only when separated by time and distance that a person can fully realize how strong and endearing is the chain that binds him to the hallowed place where his mind was nurtured in piety and in learning and as trials, dangers and difficulties encompass the young and inexperienced minister of the sanctuary, the more affectionately will he turn to his college home.

You know that I was appointed shortly after my arrival in Richmond to take charge of my present mission. I have two churches which are thirty miles apart, to attend, besides several small stations that I visit occasionally. At Harper's Ferry, where I principally reside, I have a very pretty little church, capable of holding between 400 and 500 persons and, as it is too small to hold all the congregations at the same time, I have leave to say two Masses on Sundays. The church is literally built upon a rock, and it is one of the first things that strike the visitor's view as he approaches the town. Harper's Ferry is situated in the north-east part of Virginia, two hundred miles from Richmond, and eighty miles from Baltimore. The waters of the Potomac river wash its banks on one side, while the Blue Ridge confines it on the other. The scenery at this locality is most picturesque and romantic. Nature has been lavish indeed in her gifts, so as to render it one of the most beautifully wild scenes in the United States. Truly worthy is it of the artist's pencil and of the poet's dream and the author of "the declaration of American Independence", the great and illustrious Jefferson, has but done it justice when he declares that "it is worthy of a trip across the Atlantic to see the scenery at Harper's Ferry". The population is about 4000. Of this number there are between six and seven hundred Catholics. Harper's Ferry is chiefly remarkable for its scenery, and for an armoury where arms are manufactured for the United States. Latterly it has become famous throughout the Union as the theatre of war. I suppose you have heard about the invasion made by Northern abolitionists to liberate the slaves of Virginia, and as an account from me may not prove uninteresting to you, I shall give you a short sketch of it.

On the night of the 16th of October last, a party of abolitionists came to Harper's Ferry, and while the citizens peacefully slept, they took possession of the United States' Armoury, Rifle Works, and Arsenal. Next morning, when the inhabitants awoke, they were surprised to see parties of armed men patrolling the streets, and as some of them attempted to pass to their employment they were taken prisoners by the insurgents and marched into the Armoury, where they were placed under guard. As soon as the object of the insurrection became known, the citizens prepared to defend themselves and drive away the invaders. Accordingly, armed with any old guns they could find, they shot at the enemy who appeared in the streets, and the invaders returning their fire mortally wounded one of the citizens. The wounded man being a Catholic, I was called to attend him, and as I had to pass through the insurgents on my way, when I started I had very little hope that they would allow me to pass, as they were making prisoners of all they could catch. However, they allowed me to attend the dying man. I administered to him the last Sacraments, and he died soon after. During the day volunteer companies came from every direction to the aid of the inhabitants, and the firing continued without intermission, several of the invaders and four of the citizens losing their lives. At night, I attended another member of my congregation who was dangerously wounded. Meantime a company of the United States' soldiers arrived from Washington, and were immediately drawn up in front of the engine-house, into which "Osswattomie" Browne and his followers with their prisoners were finally driven.

On the morning of the 18th a white flag was dispatched to Brown with a command to surrender, which he refused to do, unless he was allowed to pass in safety to Maryland, taking with him his prisoners until, he reached there, when he would give them their liberty and then the soldiers might attack him and his party if they liked. Of course those terms were not listened to, and the order was given to storm the engine house, and take all the invaders at the point of the bayonet, in order that the prisoners might be rescued in safety. Soon after, the door of the fortress was battered down, and in a few moments "Ossawattamie" Brown and his deluded followers were secured. In the final attack on the insurgents two of the soldiers were wounded, one of them mortally. As both were Catholics, I was summoned to attend them. As private Luke Quin fell, pierced through with a ball, his first exclamation was to Major Russel, of the United States Marines, who seeing him fall, went up to him. In pitiful accents he cried out: "Oh! Major, I am gone, for the love of God will you send for the priest". I administered to him the holy rites of the Church he died that day, and was buried with military honours in the Catholic graveyard at this place. The invaders who survived were tried at Charleston [i.e., Charles Town] in this county, and were convicted of treason against the commonwealth of Virginia, murder, and attempt to excite slaves to rebel. Five of them, have been already executed, and two more are under sentence of death. The abolitionists calculated, when they invaded Harper's Ferry, that the slaves would immediately flock to their standard, and for this purpose they came provided with over 1000 pikes and 200 Sharps rifles, to arm the Negro population to free their coloured brethren throughout Virginia. They were, however, sadly mistaken, for they could not get a single slave in Virginia to join them, and the first man shot by them was a free Negro who refused to take arms and join their standard. I have seen the slaves, trembling with terror, hide themselves, for fear the insurgents would come and take them, though the boon offered was liberty. The fact is that the slaves are much better off than the free Negros, and they know this to be the fact, hence it is that they prefer to remain as they are, and it is better for them, I am sure. The invasion against the rights of the south by northern abolitionists has created the greatest excitement throughout the country, and it does not require a prophet to predict that if a dissolution of the union of the States ever takes place, it will be on account of the question of slavery. I hope, however, that such a misfortune will never happen to this country, for no matter how high political excitement may be carried, I believe that there will always found good and sound men in the north and in the south who will rally round the constitution and preserve it inviolate. I visited "Old Brown", who was the commanding general of the invaders some time previous to his execution, and he informed me that he was a congregationalist. He said that he would not receive the services of any minister of religion, for he believed that they as apologists of slavery, had violated the laws of nature and off God, and that they ought first to sanctify themselves by becoming abolitionists, and then they might be worthy to minister unto him. Let them follow St. Paul's advice he said, and go and break the chains of the slaves, and then they may preach to others. I told him that I was not aware of St. Paul's ever giving any such advice, but that I remembered an epistle of St. Paul to Philemon, where we are informed that he sent back the fugitive slave Onesimus from Rome to his master. I then asked him what he thought of that, and he said that he did not care what St. Paul did, but what he said, and not even what he said if it was in favour of slavery!

I hope you enjoy good health, and that all the directors are well and happy. Remember me to them very kindly. Will you kindly send me two latest Annual Reports of the College I am always pleased to hear news about it. I hope that you do not forget to pray for me. Wishing every happiness to you, and continually increasing to my dear Alma Mater, I remain, dear Father Harrington,

Your devoted and affectionate child in Jesus and Mary.

During the War, Father Costello reportedly raised a Union Jack flag over the Church to dissuade the Confederate artillery from aiming their guns at it. If true, this would make sense given the Confederate forces' view of Britain as a potential ally. The Confederate forces' artillery fire from the surrounding School House Ridge, Maryland Heights and Loudoun Heights in September 1862 was particularly heavy and destructive. They targeted their fire at Union forces located on nearby Camp Hill and Bolivar Heights (Hearn 1996: 172-75). Colonel William H. Trimble of the 60th Regiment from Ohio described the barrage of fire leveled at the Union troops as so fierce that there was "'not a place where you could lay the palm of your hand and say it was safe'" (Frye 1998, quoting Trimble).

St. Peter's Church, 1861 and 1862. Click on the image to the left to see a larger view of Harpers Ferry in 1861, and the image to the right to see a panoramic view of the Church and Town in 1862.

The Lower Town of Harpers Ferry came under artillery fire at other times, including June and July of 1863, and July of 1864, when the Union artillery on Maryland Heights was targeted at Confederate forces that had made incursions into the town (Hearn 1996: 247-48). Many buildings were damaged in the course of these various hostilities. Remarkably, all bombardments missed St. Peter's, even though it was located close by other buildings that were destroyed. For example, St. John's Episcopal Church, located on an uphill lot adjacent to St. Peter's (see 1895 image above), was heavily damaged (Null 1983). The undamaged St. Peter's Church and the school house were used as make-shift hospitals at various times during the War, and Father Costello held services and administered the sacraments as much as possible throughout its duration (Hearn 1996: 288). He died of an illness just a few years later, at the age of 34, and was buried in St. Peter's cemetery (Virginia Free Press, Feb. 21, 1867, p. 2, col. 4).

The drama of the War left St. Peter's with a number of local legends. Two ghost stories are applied to the Church. In one, the ghost of a priest walks the path along the north exterior wall of the Church, reading a book, and then turns abruptly, disappearing into the wall, at a spot where the original 1833 Church's front facade likely stood. In another story, the stone steps leading into the east entrance of the Church are haunted by the cries of a baby who was killed there by a falling mortar shell. Archaeological excavations in the summer of 2000 dispelled a third belief. A large capstone from the Armory wall rests in the ground just outside the west, exterior door of the old School House. Some speculated that the School and Church were used as temporary hospitals during the War, and that this capstone was hauled to the School yard as a marker to cover a burial of limbs amputated from unfortunate soldiers. No such remains were found beneath the capstone by the archaeologists.

St. Peter's Church, before 1896.

Renovations in 1896

A visiting priest conducted the last mass service in the original Church building on July 2, 1896. That structure was replaced in the following year by the current neo-Gothic structure, built with granite walls and red sandstone trim (see 1983 image below). Those materials are not native to the Harpers Ferry area, and were brought in for this project. The granite was obtained from Loudoun County, Virginia, and the sandstone from Seneca, Maryland (Spirit of Jefferson, Aug. 31, 1897, p. 2, col. 1).

John Tearney's son Edward was a supervisor in this construction project (Gilbert 1995: 59, 62 Theriault 1996). The main construction contract was awarded to "Mr. Withrow" of Charleston, and the brickwork to George Armentrout of Charles Town (Spirit of Jefferson, Aug. 26, 1896, p. 2, col. 4 Sept. 8, 1896, p. 3, col. 1). William Phillips' Sons handled the finish work, including wood trim, door frames, window frames and sashes (Farmers Advocate, Jan. 23, 1897, p. 3, col. 1). This construction project overall cost approximately $12,000 (Spirit of Jefferson, Aug. 31, 1897, p. 2, col. 1).

The renovation enlarged the Church's footprint to 39 feet in width and 90 feet in length. The piazza on the front (east) side of the Church was enlarged, and the front facade of the Church, with a new recessed portico, was built several feet further to the west. The central steeple was replaced with a larger bell tower located at the southeast corner of the new front facade. An original lean-to of brick on the west end of the Church was similarly replaced with a cut-stone apse. Heating stoves were replaced with a central heating system. A slate roof was also added in this renovation, but has since been replaced with a roof of composite shingles (Smith 1959: 9 Theriault 1996 see image below).

St. Peter's Church and Rectory, 1983.

More Recent Developments

An expanded St. James Catholic parish was established in Charles Town, just six miles to the west of Harpers Ferry, in 1967. Charles Town was assigned as a mission to St. Peter's Church from 1899 until that time (DWC History: 7). Due to the reduced size of its congregation, regular services at St. Peter's were curtailed in 1995, as part of a reorganization and revitalization plan of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. This plan called for the preservation of St. Peter's Church in view of its historical significance, and anticipated that occasional liturgical celebrations would be held there each year (DWC History: 13). St. Peter's remains open to the public, and receives hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, many of whom come to tour the surrounding Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Reverend Brian Owens, pastor of St. James Church, maintains responsibility and oversight for the activities at St. Peter's.

Reverend Owens is working to coordinate substantial restoration work on the Church, Rectory and surrounding grounds. This work will include improvements of the landscape and repairs to the stone retaining walls that surround the grounds. Archaeological investigations have been conducted to coincide with these efforts in order to preserve the record of artifacts located on those grounds.

Archaeological Investigations

From the 1950's through the mid-1990's, the National Park Service conducted extensive archaeological and historical research on many properties located throughout Lower Town, Harpers Ferry and nearby Virginius Island. However, due to their location on private property, no such archaeological investigations of the grounds of St. Peter's Church and Rectory were conducted in the course of those efforts. The Church and Rectory grounds offered a potential wealth of archaeological data on the daily lives and material culture of the Church pastors, support staff, teachers, students, parishioners, and neighbors, for the time period of 1830 onward.

St. Peter's Church and Rectory, 1865-1900. Click on the image to the left for a detailed map of the site's structures and features.

In the summer of 2000, the author of this article organized excavations on the grounds of the Church and School. A team of sixteen volunteers, including participants who travelled from as far away as California, Louisiana and England, undertook these efforts. They surveyed the site and excavated three-foot-square units and one-foot-wide shovel test pits along a grid of survey lines (called transects) laid out along the cardinal directions. This team excavated 26 units and over 50 shovel test pits in the areas surrounding the Church and School House. We uncovered thousands of artifacts, including an array of nineteenth-century ceramic types, iron hardware, two religious artifacts, and various materials from later time periods as well.

The soil layers on this site proved to be notably shallow. The Church and School were built on a ridge of rock on a steep hillside overlooking Lower Town Harpers Ferry. This bedrock, called Harpers Ferry Shale, often lies just twelve to sixteen inches below the grass surface at the site. The soil layers extend deeper along portions of the southern, downslope edge of the property. No dele Strange Story of Harpers Ferry, Joseph Barry applied his usual poetic license in describing the landscape of St. Peter's: "There can be no doubt that this church, at least, is 'built on a rock,' for there is not soil enough anywhere near it to plant a few flowers around the House of Worship or the parsonage, and the worthy Fathers have been obliged to haul a scanty supply from a considerable distance to nourish two or three rosebushes" (1903: 6-7).

As a result of such a shallow space for soils on this shoulder of bedrock, the grounds surrounding the Church and School House have been extensively disturbed and churned up over time by erosion and the impact of past construction and landscaping work. Almost all excavation units contained artifacts which had been jumbled, with some older artifacts higher in the soil than more recent ones. When archaeological sites exist in an undisturbed state, they possess more orderly layers of sediment and soil that contain artifacts, with the earliest found at the deepest layers and the most recent found closest to the surface.

There are three general causes of such deposition of soil and artifacts onto the site, and their disturbance over time:

    the artifacts were discarded and deposited into the soil on-site, and the soil and artifacts were later mixed and disturbed by landscaping and construction work

Works in Progress

An array of parishioners, students and scholars are continuing efforts to learn more about the history of St. Peter's Church and School, and about the lifeways of the many people who shaped and enlivened these social, educational and religious centers over time. The past documents that should reflect the daily events and operations of the Church and School likely exist in private archives, which are the focus of ongoing research efforts. Additional documents may be available in the public archives of historical societies in the region as well. For example, substantial gaps exist in some collections of the local nineteenth-century newpapers, which researchers hope to fill in future work. Oral histories provide valuable and varying perspectives on St. Peter's past events and present importance. Archaeological excavations have been completed. Some additional excavations may be undertaken in the future, but the disturbed character of the layers of soil and artifacts at the site makes documentary and oral history research a greater priority in future efforts. By comparing and contrasting the varying stories and facts yielded from the documents, oral histories and archaeological record, we hope to obtain the richest view possible of the many pasts and individual stories that played out at St. Peter's Church and School.


This archaeology project was supported by the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This web site has also been featured as a lesson plan by Education World, The Study Web, and Bigchalk Education Network, among others.

Referências citadas

  • Barry, Joseph, The Strange Story of Harpers Ferry. Shepherdstown, West Virginia: Shepherdstown Register, 1903.


Harpers Ferry National Historic Park

If you have an interest in History, Harpers Ferry is a good place to visit. The fact that John Brown led a raid on the the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry was the historical info that I recalled from history class. I knew John Brown made an attempt to lead an uprising of slaves, and that he failed and was hanged.

Looking deeper into the history of 1859 and 1860 revealed more facts. After his hanging, John Brown’s name was frequently read in newspapers around the country. With the 1860 presidential election looming, politicians were greatly divided with the slavery issue at the forefront. Because politicians could not agree on a candidate for the Republican Party for the 1860 election, they compromised on Abraham Lincoln. So now I know that the actions and hanging of John Brown compelled politicians to deal with the issue of slavery and resulted in secession and the Civil War. John Brown was a great proponent of the Declaration of Independence. He believed in “Liberty for All”, including education for all Americans, black or white. His actions set off a sequence of events that led to the start of the Civil War and freedom for slaves.

Reconstruction of John Brown Fort

The second major historical event at Harpers Ferry began in March 1862 when Union Colonel Dixon Miles was assigned to the remnants of a once productive Armory. Before the Confederate Army burned the Harpers Ferry Armory in 1861, it produced 10,000 firearms a year. Because of it’s location, Harpers Ferry remained important to the military as a supply base for the Shenandoah Valley and to protect the railroads. Due to the destruction from the Confederate assault, there were very few local residents, but Colonel Miles commanded thousands of military troops at Harpers Ferry.

As the Confederate troops moved north, Stonewall Jackson led a massive assault on the Union troops at Harpers Ferry. The Union troops were pinned in the valley with the confederates stationed in the hills firing at will against them. The Union Commanders held a military council and determined that they must surrender or die. On September 15, 1862, the Union soldiers raised white flags. However, a stray Confederate shell mortally wounded Colonel Dixon before the Union surrender could be finalized. During the surrender, the Confederate Army captured the largest number of Federal military soldiers in the Civil War…over 12,000 troops.

During our visit to Harpers Ferry, we visited the Murphy-Chambers Farm. Today, the farm is a wonder of nature and a peaceful place to hike. But during the Civil War, it was the site of a major defeat of the Union military.

Harper Ferry’s very early history dates back to 1783 when nature-loving Thomas Jefferson first travelled through the Shenandoah Valley. Along the high trails above Harpers Valley, Jefferson enjoyed the mountains and rivers and found nature at it’s best. According to history, Thomas Jefferson first stood at the location of Jefferson Rock on October, 25, 1783. A news article about his travels through the Shenandoah area was published in Virginia in 1785 and these quotes from Jefferson were included.

“The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature.

You cross the Patowmac above the junction, pass along its side through the base of the mountain for three miles, the terrible precipice hanging in fragments over you, and within about 20 miles reach Frederictown and the fine country around that. This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”

Jefferson Rock, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

The very top original slab of Jefferson Rock became unsafe due to weather and curious tourists. Sometime between 1855 and 1860, stone reinforcement pillars were place at the corners to offer better support.

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”
Michael Crichton


A Historic Visit at Harpers Ferry

When I was traveling to West Virginia during my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states, I knew the top thing that I had to visit in the Mountain State of West Virginia was definitely Harpers Ferry. If you are looking for an old town full of history, Harpers Ferry is the place to visit.

Where is Harpers Ferry?

Harpers Ferry is located in the northeastern corner of West Virginia near the Maryland border. The Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet in Harpers Ferry. These two rivers are part of how Harpers Ferry got it’s name. In the mid 1700s, Robert Harper was passing thru the area and saw the two rivers as a way to generate industry. He purchased the land and started a ferry across the Potomac River. The town was eventually named Harpers Ferry.

The Point where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers Meet

History of Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry is full of history dating back to the 1700s. In 1796, the first President of the United States, George Washington purchased land in Harpers Ferry as a site of a US armory and arsenal. This was one of only two facilities of it’s type in the United States and in the 60 years the armory was in operation it produced more than 600,000 muskets, rifles and pistols.

Probably the most well known event in history that Harpers Ferry is known for is John Brown’s raid that essentially led to the Civil War. John Brown was an abolitionist known for his aggressive action towards slave owners. In October of 1859, with the help of fellow abolitionist, Harriet Tubman, John Brown planned a raid on the armory in Harpers Ferry. On October 16th, John Brown and 22 freed slaves raided the armory at Harpers Ferry.

After taking over the armory, locals from Harpers Ferry fought back, resulting in casualties on both sides. John Brown and his remaining men, barricaded themselves in the armory’s engine house, which became known as John Brown’s Fort. On October 18th, Robert E. Lee tried to get Brown to surrender and when Brown refused they stormed the fort and arrested John Brown. Less than two months later on December 2, 1859 was hanged after being found guilty of treason.

John Brown’s raid may not have ended slavery, but it definitely started a more aggressive approach to trying to end slavery. This more aggressive approach led to the Civil War which eventually ended slavery in 1865.

Harpers Ferry was a very strategic location during the Civil War and played a key role in many battles, most notably the Battle of Harpers Ferry in 1862. During the battle, Confederate General Robert E. Lee invaded the town and with the help of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson forced the war’s largest surrender. Even though the Confederates took control of the town after this battle, the town went from confederate and union control a total of 8 times during the war.

Visiting Harpers Ferry

The town of Harpers Ferry is part of the National Park Service and is known as the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The museums and visitor centers are open daily (except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years) from 9am to 5pm.

Parking in Harpers Ferry is minimal, therefore its best to park at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Visitor Center just a few miles outside of town. The cost to park here is $20 per car, annual passes are available for $35 per year and the America the Beautiful Annual National Park Pass is also accepted. There is a shuttle bus that runs regularly from the visitor center to town throughout the day.

What to do in Harpers Ferry

With all this history, what is there to do in Harpers Ferry? The answer is quite a lot, it’s a great place to spend the day. Here is a list of the top things to do in the Historic Lower Town of Harpers Ferry:

  • John Brown’s Fortand Monument – This is definitely the top thing to see in Harpers Ferry. The fort has moved quite a bit since John Brown and his men barricaded themselves there in October of 1859. In 1891, it was dismantled and transported to Chicago for a few years, then it was returned to Harpers Ferry and was located at a couple of different locations before it was ultimately purchased by the National Park Service and moved to it’s current location in 1968 which is 150 feet east of the original location. There is a monument that marks the original location of the fort.
  • John Brown’s Fort
  • Inside the fort
  • Monument on original site of John Brown’s Fort
  • U.S. Armory Site – Located next to the original site of John Brown’s Fort is the US Armory site. At this location, they have signs set up throughout the site with historical information on the Armory.
  • Arsenal Square – Located behind John Brown’s Fort is Arsenal Square. This is where the Arsenal which held the weapons made at the Armory was located. It once held about 100,000 weapons at this site.
  • Museums and Period Exhibits – There are multiple museums and exhibits to check out both at the visitors center and in lower town. Unfortunately at this time a lot of the museums are closed but some of the period exhibits are availabe to see. And just walking thru town seeing the outsides of the buildings makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. They have done a very good job of keeping the old facades of the buildings.
  • The Point – Just past John Brown’s Fort is The Point. This is where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet. When standing at the Point, you can see the three states of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
  • St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church – Up a hill above Harpers Ferry is the only church that survived the Civil War without any destruction, St. Peter’s. The views from the church are stunning and definitely a must see.
  • Ruins of St. John’s Episcopal Church – Continuing up the hill past St. Peter’s you will come upon the ruins of St. John’s Episcopal Church. This church served as a hospital and was damaged during the Civil War. The ruins were very interesting to see.
  • Jefferson Rock – Continuing up the path past the ruins, you will eventually reach the top of the hill. This is where Jefferson Rock is located. This rock is named after the third President of the United States, Thomas Jeffereson. In the 1780s, Jeffereson wrote of the view from this point. It’s definitely quite the view to take in!
  • Unofficial Midpoint of the Appalachian Trail – The path up to Jefferson Rock is part of the famous Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail is a 2,200 mile trail that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Many people set out to hike the entire trail each year. Although it’s not exactly the midpoint of the trail, Harpers Ferry has been known as the mental midpoint and is also where the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters is located. The headquarters offers many hiker services as well as has exhibits and a gift shop. If you like to hike, why not take a shorter hike along the Appalachian Trail while in Harpers Ferry.
  • Self Guided Battlefield Driving Tour – Outside of Lower Town of Harpers Ferry, you can take a self guided driving tour of the Battlefields from the Civil War. Along the driving tour, there are signs giving information about the Civil War battles.

Harpers Ferry definitely has a lot to offer and is a great place to spend the day. It’s a wonderful trip for a family, so you can bring the history books alive for your kids.