Shenandoah Junction

 Family History stop #3 – Shenandoah Junction

Our trip following Jeff’s ancestors has taken us from Lancaster Pennsylvania to Shenandoah Junction in the northern Shenandoah Valley, West Virginia.

[ready_google_map id=’23’]

Map of Shenandoah Junction

Fits and Starts

Jeff’s 5th Great Grandfather Melchor Engle purchased two tracts of land from Lord Fairfax, along Elk Branch.  We initially thought Elk Branch that flows into Back Creek in the western section of the West Virginia panhandle west of Martinsburg WV was it.  However it is a long distance away from Shenandoah Junction where we knew Melchor ended up.  It was a nice drive through a pretty remote section of West Virginia.  We stopped by a bread and breakfast to ask about old property ownership and the owner brought out a booklet tracing several of the nearby properties transfers.  No Engle’s on this list.

Doing additional scanning using Google Maps Jeff found an Elk Branch just outside of Shenandoah Junction very close to the GPS coordinates we had for Melchor’s gravesite (  Now this Elk Branch made sense.

We even found an old lime kiln once operated by Frank Engle on the corner of Engle Switch and Engle-Mohers road.  Jeff thought this is the place of the original Engle farm… too many Engles to ignore!

Engle Switch - Engle Molers

Lime Kiln
Lime Kiln

Ends up Engle Switch was named for the B&O branch railroad line that went to the The Washington Building and Lime Company that used a lime quarry once owned by William Engle (Son of Melchor).  William, his son-in-law and grandson continued to manage the quarry, and the unincorporated community of Engle, West Virginia is named after Frank Engle.  But this is not the original Melchor Engle farmland.


Christine would not give up, and somehow found a document on the Jefferson (West Virginia) County Register of National Historic Places that referred to the Wildwood Farm House (Romenous House).  The document includes a lot of information including:

 The Wildwood Farm house is significant for multiple reasons. Wildwood embodies distinctive characteristics of a mid- nineteenth century farmhouse from the Mid-Atlantic, Shenandoah region. Wildwood is also an excellent example of a structure constructed using typical building methods found in this area during this time period and constructed using local materials found within the region with a high level of craftsmanship. Furthermore, Wildwood is significant due to the fact that it contains a graveyard that holds the remains of General William Darke of the American Revolutionary War who married into the family who once occupied the land around the lots containing Wildwood. Also, the graveyard formally contained the oldest tombstone in West Virginia, now located in the West Virginia State museum, belonging to Caterina Bierlin.

The document also gives an Historical Context:

Wildwood Farm House, also known as “The Ronemous Place,” was built C. 1850 and documented as existing before the onset of the American Civil War in 1860. Henry Ronemous began construction of the house after his marriage to Sarah Engle in 1848. Sarah Engle would inherit the land prior to her marriage to Henry Ronemous from her family member Mary Melvin. The family members of the Engle family and the Melvin family were early settlers of this area. Also, Sarah Engle’s ancestor Melchor Engle was the original owner of the land that was granted by Thomas Lord Fairfax and would later contain the structure of Wildwood. The structure is distinctive as it is more elaborate in its construction then other less modest structures found in the same area. Wildwood is an example of Greek Revival architecture produced at the end of the styles’ movement. This type of architecture is very common to the Mid-Atlantic region especially in the area of what is now Jefferson County, W.V. Evidence to support Wildwood as a Greek Revival structure are the low pitched roof with a slight eave overhang containing a band of trim below it.

Now, that’s a YAHOO!

Christine called and left a message with the current owner of the property that afternoon.  The next day we went ahead and drove to the property to see if we could see the gravesite.

Porch Farm
Melchor’s ‘Porch Farm’

The owner of the property was very gracious, and told us that earlier this last spring the Daughters of the American Revolution had a memorial for the Revolutionary War Heros.  General William Darke and Philip Engle (Melchor’s oldest son) were recognized war veterans.  The DAR party dressed up in period dress for the ceremony.  She pointed towards a field with a herd of cows, and told us to go through the field to find the cemetery.  The cow’s were friendly (thank goodness).

Melchor Gravesite
Melchor Engle’s Gravesite

So, my 4th Great Grandfather’s brother, Philip was a Revolutionary War Hero (at least 2 other brothers were documented as serving in the war as well).  Phillip’s Sons of the American Revolution plaque reads:

Revolutionary War Soldier and Patriot
Philip Engle
Born October 8, 1742, Died November 21

Forefather of Engle Family in this area.  His wives, Mary Darke and Isabel Pollock bore 18 children

Served under General Gates in the battle of Camdon during the South Carolina campaign

Furnished Material Aid to Virginia

Marker placed by General Adam Stephen Chapter, April 30, 2016

And Melchor’s gravestone reads First Engle Settler 1750 (Melchor arrived in Virginia between 1750 and 1753).

We are so happy to not only to have found Melchor’s grave but to also stand on the property that he was granted (purchased) from Lord Fairfax.

happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles

Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry West Virginia

We are surprised how close Harpers Ferry and even Washington DC is to where Melchor Engle took his family when he moved from Lancaster Pennsylvania to the Shenandoah Valley.

[ready_google_map id=’22’]

Map Of Shenandoah Junction & Harpers Ferry relationship

Almost the entire town of Harpers Ferry is part of the Harpers Ferry National Park.  We checked out the website to see if it was OK to take dogs (they are!) and drove from Front Royal where we are camping to the National Park.

Family History Perspective

Jeff’s 5th Great Grandfather moved to Shenandoah Junction about 1753, his youngest son George (my 4th Great Grandfather) 3 years old.  In 1751 Harper bought the land that was to become Harpers Ferry.  George lived in Shenandoah Junction until about 1781 getting married and having his first two children there.

Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington visited Harpers Ferry in the 1780s.

George moved on to Tennessee, but other decedents of Melchor stayed on to see the events of the beginning of the Civil War unfold virtually in their back yard.

The Park

We found a place to park just outside of the town so we didn’t have to worry about taking the shuttle ride.  The town is pretty hilly so we didn’t know how the dogs would do with a long walk.  Access to the park and parking is free with the National Park senior pass.

We are visiting in November during the week so the streets are almost empty.  We walked through the town and checked out John Brown’s fort.

At the point of Harpers Ferry, the Shenandoah River and Potomac River meet.  On the bluff we have a spectacular view of the two rivers.  There are the ruins of railroad bridges, along with one bridge that is still active.

There is a walkway along the bridge, so we are able to walk from West Virginia to Maryland over the Potomac River.  The dogs were not too enthused about it, but everyone made the trip safe and sound.

The Appalachian Trail goes through Harpers Ferry too!


Happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles