Author Archives: michaeljdouma

German Handwriting in Rockingham County, Virginia

Literacy was power, and those who could read and write were able to hold political office, interpret legal documents, participate more readily in the marketplace, and stay informed of news from beyond the valley. Periodical subscriptions in the valley were limited to an elite audience, and the “nonsubscribing masses” were therefore dependent on these elites […]

Historic Inscriptions in the Shenandoah Valley

In the thousands of names and dates inscribed on the walls of Virginia’s Grand Caverns I see a giant puzzle, a sort of tapestry of American culture, two hundred years in the making. Some names, dating as early as 1808, were engraved in the form of type-set letters, the red walls carefully scarred to reveal […]

Hampshire is my Willoughby

One of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes is “A Stop at Willoughby.”  In case you haven’t seen it, or don’t remember, this episode features a New York City white collar worker who steps out of the train into a late 19th century town. In typically Twilight Zone fashion, his visit to this lost place is […]

Capon Bridge Founders’ Day History Presentations

I served as a volunteer for the Capon Bridge Founder’s Day festival. Mostly I just handed out surveys for the West Virginia Humanities Council, but this required me to attend all of the history events, which I probably would have done anyway. Here are a collection of photos from the event.

On Female Vikings and Voynich Translations

(I know what you are thinking: what an unoriginal article for a blog post. There must be hundreds of articles online with the same title.) The internet has the potential to magnify new historical discoveries. A new piece of evidence or a new theory can quickly leap from historical journals and magazines into popular social […]

Introducing the Hampshire County History Podcast

I’m starting a podcast about local Hampshire County, West Virginia, history, partly to educate myself about my new home region, but also with the goal of increasing historical consciousness for community building. I believe that awareness of history is central for overcoming problems of social alienation and disregard for the local environment. Join me in […]

Veneklasen – Hall House

A follow-up to my blog post of August 26. The owner of the Hall House sent me a few more pictures of the bricks, and it appears to me that they are of consistent color with the white brick produced at the Zeeland brickyard in the 1870s. The images below show the brick in detail, […]