The 2015 Society Board of Directors
President: Doug Perks has served on the boards of the Historic Shepherdstown Commission, the Harpers Ferry Historical Association, and the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission. Doug designed the Parks As Classrooms Educator's Guide and the Niagara Movement Educator's Guide for Harpers Ferry National Historical Park; coordinated the J. R. Clifford Youth Discovery Tent during the August, 2006, Niagara Movement Centennial Commemoration at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park; and coordinated the School House Ridge Elementary Program - a hands-on education experience in Civil War History for all Jefferson County 5th grade students. He has also developed and coordinated Burr Farm Days for all Jefferson County 4th grade students and the Prepared For Success- the History of Storer College program for Jefferson & Berkeley County 8th grade students while serving as education coordinator for the Harpers Ferry Historical Association. Doug also presents community lectures on local history.
Vice President: Dr. James Gregg Gibson. Jim is a 10th generation native of Jefferson County and the son of Urath C. Gibson (herself a former board member) and the late Newton M. Gibson. Jim was born in Jefferson County (in the old Yellow Hospital in Charles Town), attended primary and secondary school at Harpers Ferry and graduated from the Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, PA and WVU School of Dentistry. He is a direct line descendant of the Buckles, Engle, Darke, Moore, Swearingen, and Hollingsworth families. The Captain James Gibson 1812 Society was named for his great, great, great, grandfather. He is married to Barbara Phillips Gibson and has maintained a restorative and esthetic dental practice in Martinsburg since 1971. The Gibsons have restored and placed on the National Register of Historical Places a 5 unit section of Baltimore Row in Berkeley County and the 1790’s Allstadt House and 1820’s Allstadt Ordinary in Jefferson County. Jim served as Chairman of the committee that produced the Jefferson County Historical Society’s video/DVD – “The Land Between the Rivers” released in 2001. Jim is a member and past president of the Eastern Panhandle Dental Society, a member of the Stuart-Mosby Society, the Martinsburg Rotary Club, Harpers Ferry Men’s Cooking Club, and the Eastern Panhandle Experimental Aircraft Association. His personal interests are travel, historic restoration, and flying. Jim lives at Needwood Farm (a 7th generation family farm) on the Shepherdstown Pike between Harpers Ferry and Shepherdstown and has three grown children, all dentists.
She met her husband Jim, the Society’s Vice-President, at WVU and following graduation, she worked in the President’s budget office implementing the transition from payroll ledgers to computers. Since Jim always thought “the sun rose and set in Jefferson County,” following his graduation from dental school they returned to Needwood near Harper’s Ferry, a seventh generation family farm. They both love old houses and have been responsible for listing seven homes in the National Register. Over the years, Barb has taken an active role in the community, being a Sunday School teacher, a Girl Scout Leader, a PTA President, a soccer coach for four years, a member of the 1st environmental council in Martinsburg, President of the Berk-Mar Garden Club, and President of the Boarman Art’s Center. While on the executive board, she chaired the Art’s Center Christmas Show for 3 years.
Barb is a long-time member of the Society and after being elected treasurer a few years ago, has strived to keep the Society’s finances in perfect order. She has also worked side-by-side with Jim for forty years as the office/business manager of their dental practice in Martinsburg. Dental genes rule in the Gibson family for their three children, Heather, Andrew, and John Thomas, are all practicing dentists, truly a jaw-dropping accomplishment.
Recording Secretary: Dr. Keith D. Alexander is Assistant Professor of History at Shepherd University. After graduating from Penn State in 1992, Alexander worked in Washington, DC as an environmental policy analyst before returning to graduate school. He received his MA in 1996 and his PhD in 2003 in history from the University of Maryland. He has been involved in historic preservation efforts in West Virginia and in Germany. His research interests include green historic preservation and service learning in preservation education. He teaches classes in history, architectural history, and historic preservation at Shepherd University.
Since moving to Charles Town in 1996, Betsy has been involved in several community activities. She has been a member of the Charles Town Tree Board, the Old Opera House Board of Directors and Friends of Happy Retreat. She was also a member of the Washington Heritage Trail Board of Trustees and a Charles Town Landmarks Commissioner. She started the Charles Town Christmas Parade of Horses in 1996 and chaired Christmas in Historic Charles Town an 1998. In 2001 Betsy was a member of the Bicentennial Committee of Jefferson County. Betsy enjoys renovating old house, gardening, reading, bridge and theater. She is a member of the Dolley Madison Garden Club and the Friday Book Club.
Dr. Keith D. Alexander is Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Shepherd University and the coordinator of Shepherd's Historic Preservation program. After graduating from Penn State in 1992, Alexander worked in Washington, DC as an environmental policy analyst before returning to graduate school. He received his MA in 1996 and his PhD in 2003 in history from the University of Maryland. He has been involved in historic preservation efforts in West Virginia and in Germany. His research interests include green historic preservation and service learning in preservation education. He teaches classes in architectural history, environmental studies, and historic preservation at Shepherd University.
Bill Drennen. A native West Virginian, Bill earned a BA in architecture at Yale in 1964, was ordained a minister of Universal Life Church in 1969, and earned an MA in humanities at Marshall University in 1993. He served in the U.S. Navy in Panama and Vietnam and then was employed in various capacities as founding Vice-President of Communications Corps, Inc. in Washington DC, helping to create over 100 films. He later served as President of the Briar Mountain Coal and Coke Company in Charleston, WV. In 1989 he joined the State Historic Preservation Office staff and was later appointed Commissioner of Culture and History for West Virginia until 1997. Between 1997 and 2002 he served as a history instructor at West Virginia State College. Having just retired as a minister in the Universal Life Church, he now devotes his time to writing and meditating on human evolution and is currently employed by Home Hill Corporation, C&D Enterprises, Ltd., and Greg Didden Associates, Inc.--Realtors. He is also a consultant with Drennen & Jones: “Integration in America, and inter-racial communications. Bill is a former president of the Jefferson County Historical Society and a member of several local organizations, including the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Charleston Milling, Faces of Appalachia Advisory Board, Rotary Club of Shepherdstown, Cress Creek Country Club, and Gateway New Economy Council.
Curt Mason coordinates content for the Jefferson County Historical Society's web site and coordinates communications and marketing efforts of the Society. He was raised in Southern California in the ‘50’s and is a US Navy veteran. He earned a BS from Oregon State University, a Masters Degree in Physical Oceanography from Texas A & M, and retired from the federal government after thirty-six years as a coastal oceanographer. Since 2003, his burgeoning interest in historic preservation led him to restore two properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places: The Hermitage, his boyhood home and the oldest standing structure in Pasadena, CA, and his residence, White House Farm, in Summit Point, WV, one of the oldest homes in West Virginia. Lately he has been increasing public awareness about opportunities to participate in historical and cultural activities throughout the region by maintaining an email announcement list serve. He serves on numerous boards dealing with historical preservation.
Curt is married to Suzette Kimball, deputy director of the U.S. Geological Survey, and they have three children and six grandchildren. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Shepherdstown and the Shenandoah Region of the Antique Car Club of America and a board member of the Historic Shepherdstown Commission and the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia.
Susannah Buckles Flanagan was born in Jefferson County and grew up on Gap View Farm, where she and her husband Mike live with her father Frank W. Buckles. She is a graduate of Foxcroft School and Shepherd College, and lived in California and Italy before returning to the area in 1980. Susannah is a direct descendant of Robert Buckles, who settled in this area in 1732. She enjoys gardening and agricultural activities and is a member of the Shenandoah Garden club and an associate supervisor of the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District. Her other interests include historic preservation and land conservation.
Mr. Don Watts has been coordinating the digitization of the Society’s magazines and is also a board member and treasurer of the Old Charles Town Library. He actively participates in the Jefferson County Museum’s Colonial and Civil War Round Tables.. Mr. Watts was born in Berkeley County but he and his wife, Deborah, have only lived in West Virginia since 1987. Mr. Watts retired from the United States Air Force in 1987 and from federal civil service in 2007 as Executive Officer to the General Counsel at the Department of Health and Human Services. Since 2007 he has been a professional historic researcher and genealogist doing business as “Origins: Historical Researcher.” A few of the Jefferson County historical and genealogical projects he has completed are: transportation methods for the period 1735 – 1835 and farm agriculture and labor forces (slave labor specifically) statistics in Virginia for John C. Allen, Jr., for Mr. Allen’s book, Uncommon Vernacular, published in August 2011; for Mr. Steven Lubet, Williams Memorial Professor of Law, Northwestern University, for Mr. Lubet’s forthcoming book on John Edwin Cook (to be published by Yale University Press in Fall 2012) ; architectural and land title search on the William Vestal property at “The Bloomery;” and for the US Department of Interior, National Park Service in support of Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom. Mr. Watts has also conducted research outside of Jefferson County, including Berkeley and Hampshire Counties in West Virginia; Fauquier, Loudoun, Clarke, Warren, Winchester City and Frederick counties in Virginia; and other places in Massachusetts and Ireland.
Donna Northouse is the editor of the Society’s newsletter, “The Guardian.”. She has helped organize many all-day workshops on Jefferson County history and culture, the latest series following the Civil War years, beginning with 1861 in 2011. Four were funded by the Arts & Humanities Alliance and three by the West Virginia Humanities Council. All of these events have been free and open to the public and have provided staff development credit to teachers in the Jefferson County Public Schools. They have included presentations from local scholars/artists in the areas of art, architecture, and cultural history.
Donna’s editorial experience includes editing the Reference Book Review, a quarterly publication purchased mainly by librarians (1975-1990). She and her husband Cameron edited and published the Texas Arts Journal (1976) and Concept: An Anthology (1977).
Donna has over thirty years of experience teaching high school and college English classes plus administrative experience in language arts and multicultural education for the Dallas, Texas Public Schools. Donna received her Ph.D. in English from the University of South Carolina, her M.A. in English from the University of Nebraska, and a B.A. degree in English and Education from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She has been the recipient of five National Council on the Humanities Awards for her teaching and research (1988-1999) and received the Honorary Teacher of the Humanities Award from the Texas Council for the Humanities in 1995.
Donna Northouse is presently a docent for the Historic Shepherdstown Museum and does substitute teaching for the Jefferson County Public Schools.
The standing committees of the Society called for in the by-laws are the Executive Committee, chaired by the President, Carmen Creamer; the Nominating Committee, chaired by the Vice-President, Jim Gibson; and the Publications Committee, chaired by Hugh Voress;. The others are established and maintained as needed by the President and at present include the following committees and chairs: Finance, Barbara Gibson; Programs, Betsy Wells; Marketing/Communications, Curt Mason; Education and Tourism, Doug Perks; Historic Preservation, Walter Washington; Editorial (The Magazine), Jim Glymph; Membership.
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