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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Westbound Day 4 Martinsburg, WV to Uniontown, PA 195 miles

The westbound weather forecast is 1-3" of snow.  I am doing more Berkeley Co. exploring this morning and leave for Uniontown this afternoon.

About 30 years ago I wrote to the Berkeley County Courthouse seeking the license for the marriage of William and Sarah.  I knew they married in Martinsburg in 1846 but I wanted a copy of the license or some other documentation.  My inquiry was answered by Don Wood who was President of the Berkeley County Historical Society.  He sent me notarized copies of the marriage license and a record of the death of Mary Isabelle Grove, William and Sarah's first child who died at age 2 and was buried in Darkesville Cemetery according to the county records.

Just as I was leaving Martinsburg today I thought I would stop into the Berkeley Historical Society's headquarters on Race St. just to see if anyone was there.  The sign on the door said they were only open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays in the winter.  Since I was in Martinsburg on Wednesday and Thursday I assumed I would find no one there.  I was in luck.  There were two volunteers working. I explained I was leaving Martinsburg after spending two days there. I was just curious to see if they had any Grove information that I was not already aware of.  After 5-10 minutes of explaining who I am and how I am retracing my Grove family migration I let them know that Don Wood had mailed me information many years ago. As my luck would have it of course it was Don Wood I was speaking to.  He immediately pulled the Grove family file and there were my letters from 30 years ago asking for information.  I spent about an hour there.  Don Wood confirmed the abundance of Grove's still living in the area.  He also confirmed that related family names are Bowers, and Van Metre's.

Next stop was Darkesville.  I presume William and Sarah buried their two year old daughter within proximity of their home in 1849.  This would mean they lived somewhere near Darkesville which is just 7 miles south of Martinsburg.  I visited the cemetery in 1981 and it was totally overgrown and almost in accessible.  Don Wood let me know that it had been cleaned up since then and I would be able to walk it easily  but he doubted I would find a marker for Mary Isabelle.  He was right.  I couldn't find any readable Grove markers but it was the same cemetery of my 1981 visit.
I left Martinsburg about 1:30 pm headed for Uniontown, PA but I got side tracked.  The first diversion was in Williamsport MD where I was able to visit the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal aqueduct.  That was a great find, totally unexpected but I had this national site to myself.  The canal parallels the Potomac River and in the early 19th century it was another east west route.  Today it is a bike/walk trail from Cumberland MD in western Maryland to DC in the east.  My second diversion was Ft. Frederick in Maryland.  This is also a national historical site.  It is  preserved just as it looked as a defense of the country during the French/Indian War which pre-dated the US Revolution.  This was considered a outpost on our western frontier.

Again, the best part about visiting these places on a 20 degree January day is I HAVE THE PLACE TO MYSELF.  Just as I experienced at Antietam I was the only person there.  If you have ever visited a popular historical site in the summer during peak tourist season you often have to imagine what the place would look like with no one there.  Well I get to experience it that way.

The trip from Ft. Frederick into Uniontown was uneventful  except for the beauty of the Allegheny Mountains.  I  was totally unaware of how mountainous western Maryland is.  It reminds me of New Hampshire with stunning views across valleys, rivers, and gaps.  I followed I 68 west, also called the National Freeway, since it follows the original National Road which became US Route 40.  I have a hypothesis that William and Sarah (and probably other Grove's) migrated west along this road since their third child, Franklin Shepherd was born in Springfiled, OH; their 4th child Edward Dunlap was born in Urbana, OH and their 5th and final child Charles Miller was born in Richmond, IN.  I 68 deviates from US Route 40 but I followed Route 40 north into Fayette Co. PA.

That two lane highway climbs and descends some pretty tough grades, particularly Mt. Summit which descends into Uniontown.  I'm glad I got through that stretch since it began to snow just as I reached my hotel in Uniontown.