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Jul 20 2009
Civil War Trails Marker Unveiled at Kennedy Farm; Ceremony Attended by Maryland State Senator, Washington County Commission President and National Park Service Management; CVB Sponsors New Marker Which Explains HQ Which Served John Brown and the Raid on Harpers Ferry

Participants applaud at the new marker's unveiling; back row L to R - Sprigg Lynn, Harold Keshishian, "Captain" South Lynn, Maryland State Senator Donald Munson, Washington County Board of County Commissioners President John Barr, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Chief Historian Dennis Frye, Hagerstown-Washington County CVB President and CEO Tom Riford; front row - the two children of Dr. Justin Hartings, board member of the Washington County Board of Education performed the actual "unveiling" of the marker, and officially removed the cloth covering.

(Sharpsburg, MD) -- Hundreds of people gathered for the unveiling of a new Civil War Trails Marker at the Kennedy Farm near Sharpsburg, Maryland. The marker was paid for by the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and help for the design came from the National Park Service.

Elected officials, National Park Service management, business and community leaders, and also the current Architect of the U.S. Capitol Stephen Ayers attended the ceremonies. Harpers Ferry NHP Superintendent Rebecca Harriett attended the event along with several members of the staff and management of the National Historical Park. Harpers Ferry NHP covers nearly 4,000 acres, and is located in parts of three states: West Virginia, Virginia, and also about a thousand acres in Washington County, Maryland. The Kennedy Farm is just outside the boundaries of the park, however, the NHP draws a lot of visitors to the nearby historical farmhouse.

The event was covered by several media outlets, including NBC television network news and a magazine from Washington, DC.

While the production and installation of the new Civil War Trail marker was financially sponsored in full by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the CVB is also responsible for the annual maintenance costs for the marker, which is part of the Civil War Trails program. This is the second new marker installed this summer in Washington County.

The Civil War Trails program, which connects more than 900 interpretive markers at Civil War sites in Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, West Virginia and North Carolina, placed the marker for the Kennedy Farm in time for the Open House held this past weekend.

It was 150 years ago this month that John Brown arrived at the farmhouse, and began planning and staging the Raid on Harpers Ferry. The Open House was attended by hundreds of visitors, and organizers say that people came from more than ten states to have a chance to see and touch history.

Abolitionist John Brown left his mark on history when he rented the small farmhouse on Chestnut Grove Road to recruit and train an army in the summer of 1859, using the alias "Isaac Smith." On October 16th of that year, his "Provisional Army" marched the 6 miles to Harpers Ferry, to raid and capture the federal arsenal. John Brown hoped he would cause a slave uprising, however Brown was captured, tried, and hanged in December, 1859.

The Kennedy Farm is located at 2406 Chestnut Grove Road, and the Open House commemorated the 150th anniversary of John Brown's Raid with tours, demonstrations, a music concert, games, gifts, and refreshments. Park Service personnel gave interpretive and educational demonstrations, and "Captain" South Lynn gave tours of the historic farmhouse. Many children played games from the 19th Century, learning about the time period of John Brown's Raid.

Magpie held performances during the weekend, with original John Brown and Civil War music.

The Kennedy Farm is a National Historic Landmark. The property is co-owned by "Captain" South Lynn and Harold Keshishian, and Sprigg Lynn (South Lynn's son, who actually lived in the farmhouse for several years). A non-profit foundation helps raise money for the privately-held historical site.

"Brown came to Washington County, and planned the raid for several months," said Tom Riford, president and chief executive officer of Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "He lived at the Kennedy Farm and executed his raid from Washington County." Riford said it was a spark that led to the Civil War. The new Civil War Trails marker explains John Brown's Raid, and the Kennedy Farm's place in history.

The Maryland Civil War Trails program provides several driving tours which explore Lee’s invasion of Maryland, Lee’s invasion of the North and retreat, the escape of John Wilkes Booth into Virginia and the divisions in Baltimore between Union and Confederate sympathizers.

The Civil War Trails program is administered by the nonprofit corporation headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. The organization helps design the graphics on the displays depicting the historical significance of the site, manufactures the markers, installs them and maintains them. The CVB is the contracted organization in Washington County which pays for the annual maintenance costs for all 20 of the markers currently in the county.

The Civil War Trails program started 15 years ago, and brings history to life. Since its beginning, 945 interpretive exhibits have been erected in 220 counties spanning six states. West Virginia and Tennessee are the latest states to join the program. West Virginia plans to put up as many as 150 Civil War Trails signs by 2011 for the start of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

The signs, which cost $2,600, have a $200-a-year maintenance fee. Virginia was the focus of the CWT program initially. It expanded to include Maryland, North Carolina and Pennsylvania in addition to West Virginia and Tennessee. Maryland and North Carolina officials continue to expand the Civil War Trails programs in their states.

For more information about Hagerstown-Washington County, see: Washington County is part of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area (, and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area (

For more information about the Civil War Trails program, see: For more information about events and activities surrounding the 150th Anniversary of John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry, see: For information about the Kennedy Farm, see: The Kennedy Farm is a member of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The next event scheduled for the Kennedy Farm is the reenactment of John Brown's March on Harpers Ferry, set for October 16th.


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