The Stewart Bell Jr. Archives is a local history and genealogy center jointly operated by the Handley Regional Library and the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society. Our holdings include a variety of materials documenting the history of the Lower Shenandoah Valley from 1732 to the present, with an emphasis on the City of Winchester and Frederick County, Virginia.
Books and Journals
The Archives holds a wide range of historical and genealogical titles. Please note that items in the Archives are non-circulating.
North Carolina's Confederate Hospitals
This book is an organizational examination of North Carolina's Confederate hospitals and why they existed. The first two chapters provide the reader with a general understanding of the Confederate Medical Department and the military and civilians that were essential in the day-to-day operations of a hospital. The remaining chapters are arranged chronologically and discuss the key military operations and events that occurred in the state or in Virginia that drove hospital requirements.
The Lost Civil War Diary of Captain John Rigdon King
On a crisp fall day in October of 1862, a precocious seventeen-year-old boy went into a bookshop in his hometown of Hagerstown, Maryland, and purchased a composition book. Into his new diary, John R. King would steadfastly record what he did, saw and heard daily, as the Civil War raged around him. During May of 1862, after learning the photography trade, John took portraits of Union soldiers stationed in the Shenandoah Valley. Then, on May 23, 1862, when he heard the sounds of battle, he attempted to flee on a wagon. He was soon captured by Stonewall Jackson's troops. His treasured diary was taken. Force marched to a Confederate prison, John vowed revenge. Two weeks after escaping from captivity, John joined the Union Army. He fought with fury, courage and valor, was wounded three times and became a war hero. Later, John was not only appointed by two presidents to prestigious positions in the Pension Bureau, but he also became leader of the Grand Army of the Republic. After being lost for 150 years, his diary was recently discovered and is now being published.
Clarke County, Virginia Marriages, 1887-1925
This book is the second in a series on marriage records of Clarke County, Virginia. The first book covered marriages from 1836 to 1886. This volume covers marriages from 1887 to 1925. The county maintained a marriage register beginning in 1865. Information on this register included the individual's age, status, names of parents, place of birth and residence, date and place of marriage, date of license, and husband's occupation, as well as additional comments as to consent, etc.
Amherst Papers, 1756-1763
Jeffrey Amherst was Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty's Forces in North America during the French and Indian War. Documents from his records relating to the war are located in the British Public Records Office as "W.O. 34: General Sir Jeffrey Amherst 1712
Quite Ready to Be Sent Somewhere
Native Vermonter Aldace Freeman Walker, valedictorian of Middlebury College's Class of 1862, future lawyer and Chairman of the Board of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, gave his commencement speech in the uniform of a First Lieutenant, U.S. Volunteers, and promptly set off for war. After nearly a month of initial training in Brattleboro, Vermont, Walker's regiment, the Eleventh Vermont Infantry, arrived at the Seat of War in early September 1862. For the next twenty months Walker and his regiment occupied the forts in the northeastern quadrant of the Defenses of Washington, drilling socializing and fretting that the war might pass them by.
in mid-May, 1864, as Lieut. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Potomac began the bloody Overland Campaign against Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, the Vermont "Heavies," as they came to be known, were called up to active campaigning, joined the famous "Old Vermont Brigade," in the Sixth Corps, and participated in every battle of that unit from Spotsylvania until the end of the war.
Walker's 288 letters to his parents and younger sister are regular, often long, and always lucid and opinionated, Historian Benjamin Franklin Cooling III, who has written extensively on the defenses of Washington during the Civil War, opined that " no better account of the 'life and times' of junior officers in the wartime defenses of Washington remains" than Walker's letters home.
Breaking Brick Walls: African American Ancestry
African American genealogy research can be a challenge, especially before 1870 and emancipation. Have you hit a brick wall? This month's Family History Hunters program on June 8th at 12:30pm in the Benham Gallery at Handley Library will feature a presentation from Brenda Burton Nelson, who has broken through barriers and uncovered her and her husband's genealogy. She will present a case study about how she was able to break down brick walls and find her husband’s ancestors.
Discover Your Family History
A library genealogy program is a great way to discover your family's history. These programs are free and offer access to historical records, census data, and other valuable resources that can help you trace your family tree. With a library genealogy program, you can uncover fascinating details about your ancestors and gain a deeper understanding of your family's story. So whether you're just starting out or have been researching your family tree for years, a Stewart Bell, J. Archives genealogy program is definitely worth exploring. Here are upcoming programs:
Beginner Genealogy Workshops
Did you know that more than 102 million people research their family history? You can be one of them! The questions often asked are where do I start, and how do I find what I need?
Our Beginner Genealogy Workshops are for individuals who are just starting in their genealogy quest or who have started and need assistance. The workshops include a five-step process that covers the basics of ancestry research.