Winchester Tales

Winchester Tales Winchester Virginia History

Operating as usual


Winchester Tales III & IV
Book Launch Dates

Saturday, January 30th
Saturday, February 6th

There are two book launch/signing dates in case you can’t make one or the other. 😊

I look forward to seeing everyone there and thank you so much for your continued support!

- Mike

THAT WAS THEN - THIS IS NOW:George Washington Kurtz and the "Continental Morgan Guard" car/float. Cumberland Valley Rail...


George Washington Kurtz and the "Continental Morgan Guard" car/float. Cumberland Valley Railroad Station parking lot, Henkel house at 316 West Boscawen across street. World War I victory parade. Date given as September 2, 1919.

THAT WAS THEN - THIS IS NOW:The Cork Street Tavern was once The Rustic was built in the 1830's and saw the C...


The Cork Street Tavern was once The Rustic was built in the 1830's and saw the Civil War and the turbulent times of prohibition. Some say there are some hidden areas in the basement where bootleggers once plied their trade.

THAT WAS THEN - THIS IS NOW:The corner of Kent and Piccadilly Streets...sometimes, progress would rather destroy than re...


The corner of Kent and Piccadilly Streets...sometimes, progress would rather destroy than rebuild.

THAT WAS THEN - THIS IS NOWTown House Restaurant at the corner of Amherst Street and Fox Drive in 1940 and today.


Town House Restaurant at the corner of Amherst Street and Fox Drive in 1940 and today.

We made it onto The Winchester Book Gallery’s - Top 10 Best Seller list! We made it to number five and we had only been ...

We made it onto The Winchester Book Gallery’s - Top 10 Best Seller list! We made it to number five and we had only been selling books there for a couple of months. I think if we had a whole year, I think we would’ve taken the number one spot! 😉

Thank you so much Christine Patrick! 😊

"WITHIN SIGHT"Colonel Henry Peyton406 North Loudoun StreetMay of 1780..In 1780, an old man looks out the window of a lar...

Colonel Henry Peyton
406 North Loudoun Street
May of 1780
In 1780, an old man looks out the window of a large stone house in Winchester. The home was just added on to by his son which now sits on North Loudoun Street. The first part of the house was made of log, but John Peyton built the stone front in early 1780 so his new bride and his aging father had a nice place to live. The old Colonel, Henry Peyton, had been a close friend of George Washington during his time in Winchester. Now, as Colonel Peyton looked out the window towards the old ruins of Fort Loudoun, he thought back to the times he would talk with young George Washington within the fort's walls.

During the French and Indian War of the 1750s, the town of Winchester already contained more men than it could lodge. Washington, in an effort to remedy the situation, dispatched the Prince William militia to raise stockades and build storehouses on the Little Cacapon and Patterson Creeks. Washington originally intended to send Captain Baylis to command the contingent, but Baylis' superior, Colonel Henry Peyton, insisted upon going. Peyton was one of the incorporators of the town of Dumfries and served as a justice of the peace for Prince William County and at one time was County Sheriff. He had recently been elected as a burgess from Prince William upon his successful challenge of the validity of Henry Lee's election on the grounds that Lee "had treated the Freeholders of the said County, to engage their Votes." In other words...Lee bought the votes.

When Peyton arrived at Fort Loudoun in Winchester, Washington issued immediate orders for Peyton to head west. He needed Peyton to strengthen the garrison at Cockes' Fort and Ashby's Fort near Romney and then to erect a fort for the security of the pass at the mouth of Little Cacapon. The next day, a humiliating report was received by Washington announcing that one sergeant and fourteen of Peyton's devoted private soldiers had deserted, a loss which represented one sixth of Peyton's enlisted strength. Washington immediately issued an order stating that in the event any militia ordered to the small forts on the South Branch deserted, they would immediately be drafted into the Virginia Regiment.

It is believed that Colonel Peyton (who had a home in Prince William County) moved his family to Winchester by 1755. His son John, (who built this house in 1780), was born in 1756 and married the honorable Congressman Robert Rutherford's daughter, Susan, in Winchester. By 1780, the Colonel had taken active part in the revolution, but had taken ill. At this time, he began to liquidate his holdings in Prince William County and was living in a wing of his son's home on North Loudoun Street in Winchester. Only a hundred yards from the office in Fort Loudoun where Washington gave him his first orders so many years before.

Colonel Peyton died in 1781 while on a trip to his old home in Prince William County and was buried there in the family plot. He was only 56 years old.

In the 1770s, this home was the Edmonson Tavern which had a sign outside of an old clipper ship. During the Civil War, Union officers were billeted in the Peyton home. On either side of the grand fireplace in the main room, hung large oil paintings of the Honorable Robert Rutherford and his wife Mary (John Peyton's father in law). The soldiers slashed the paintings with their sabers and ended up burning them in the yard.

“THE IMMUNITY”George Washington in BarbadosNovember 2, 1751..The streets were empty as she pulled the shawl over her hea...

George Washington in Barbados
November 2, 1751
The streets were empty as she pulled the shawl over her head to hide the pox on her face as walked briskly down Main Street. The epidemic of 1759 hit Winchester hard and everyone was suspicious of one another. As the woman made her way down the street, she saw a man walking towards her and she immediately looked down and crossed the street. The fear in Winchester at this time was so great that Governor Fauquier suggested that the Winchester court be moved seven miles south to Stephensburg (Stephen’s City). Lord Fairfax liked this idea as it would bring the court closer to his home at Greenway Court in White Post, but James Wood did not like the idea. He worked too hard to establish this town and he would not give it up without a fight. So, like any good politician, he went door to door to the people and asked them to vote to keep the court in Winchester. In doing so, he undoubtedly exposed himself to smallpox and died later that year.

In the mid 1700s, smallpox ravaged Boston and Philadelphia and Benjamin Franklin and preacher Cotton Mather were very concerned about their cities. Both men were advocates for inoculation. Boston was initially against it as they thought it was voodoo brought over by African slaves. Cotton Mather was taught the old African method of inoculation by his slave “Onesimus” and immediately inoculated all of his children. Onesimus is responsible for saving thousands of lives in early America by teaching the art of inoculation. The people of Boston were outraged by the practice, but when they saw the success, they quickly changed their minds. Unlike Boston, Benjamin Franklin and the medical community of Philadelphia were very receptive to the practice. Franklin helped establish a means to inoculate the poor as the procedure was very expensive. Through Benjamin Franklin’s efforts, thousands of people in Philadelphia were saved.

In 1751, Lawrence Washington, half-brother to George Washington, suffered terribly from Tuberculosis. A friend had told him to travel to Barbados where the climate would relieve his condition. Not wanting to go alone, Lawrence talked 19-year-old George into accompanying him on this trip. They arrived in Carlisle Bay on November 2nd and rented a home high upon a hill overlooking the ocean. Immediately, Lawrence complained that the heat was intolerable. Young George, who at that time had never strayed more than 200 miles from Mount Vernon, found the island fascinating. He admired the military officers on the island but more importantly, he was captivated by the fortifications. On November 17, he contracted smallpox and was confined to his bed for weeks. Smallpox was endemic in the Caribbean, but it was actually fairly uncommon in Virginia. George Washington had not contracted smallpox as a child because the disease barely touched Virginia between 1732 and 1751.

George Washington recovered soon enough, but Lawrence did not improve. Lawrence had probably intended to remain in Barbados for several months, but he complained in a letter home that the climate had not afforded the relief he expected. He decided to go on without George Washington, who sailed for Virginia at the end of December. This brush with smallpox and the immunity it afforded Washington would save his life during the smallpox outbreak which ravaged his army at Valley Forge. This immunity would allow him to stay firmly in command while many others fell ill.

Unlike his good friend James Wood, George Washington would survive these troubled times and luckily for us, survive to help build a new nation.

“THE AMBUSH AT HANGING ROCK”Daniel MorganApril 16, 1756..The blood was filling his mouth and pouring out of the exit hol...

Daniel Morgan
April 16, 1756
The blood was filling his mouth and pouring out of the exit hole in his left cheek. As he firmly grasped the horses’ mane, he felt the back of his neck and found the entrance wound. The shock was setting in as he stopped and looked back to see if he was still being followed. After the ambush, a single warrior had chased him 200 yards before turning back. As the euphoria of shock and the dizziness from blood loss commenced, he looked up and felt a soft breeze. He believed this was the peace one felt before death. As he looked up, the canopy of the trees became blurry as they softly swayed back and forth as he lost consciousness. His horse stayed on the path and kept moving forward. Daniel Morgan was choking on his own blood and his life hung precariously in the balance.

Only an hour before, Daniel Morgan and two escorts had left Fort Edwards in Capon Bridge on the way to Fort Ashby with dispatches from Fort Loudoun in Winchester. As the trio rode by Hanging Rock, a precipice with a narrow pathway, a party of French and Indian raiders lay in ambush. The initial volley killed the two soldiers outright and severely wounded Morgan. The ball that struck Daniel Morgan entered the back of his neck, passed into the mouth near the socket of his jawbone, and exited through the left cheek. The musket ball knocked out all of the teeth on his left side.

Lucky for Morgan, the warriors believed he had been mortally wounded and sent only a single rider in pursuit while the remainder looted and scalped his dead companions. The warrior was surprised that Morgan was not only alive but was actually outrunning him. Frustrated, the warrior threw his tomahawk at Morgan, but missed. When Morgan first reached Fort Edwards (in present Capon Bridge), the soldiers inside the fort must have taken him for an Indian at first…but it was not red war paint that covered his face, it was blood. When he reached the gate, he was delirious and barely hanging on. He fell headlong from the bloodied animal, and his condition was serious. He would spend weeks recovering at Fort Edwards.

The incident left a noticeable scar on his left cheek that he wore as a badge of honor for the rest of his life. He would sit for a painting many years later, and he would ask the artist to paint him his left side…to show the scar.

As Jim Moyer would say on his French and Indian War Foundation website, “Daniel Morgan might have made his fame in the War for Independence but he got his lifelong wounds from the French and Indian War.”

“THE HARD LUCK HERO”Hack WilsonWinchester, VAMay of 1935..In the spring of 1935, a very short and burly man takes some p...

Hack Wilson
Winchester, VA
May of 1935
In the spring of 1935, a very short and burly man takes some practice swings at the old Rouss field along Millwood Pike in Winchester. He stands at only 5’6, and weighs 230 lbs., he is a fireplug. He wears the uniform of the Martinsburg Blue Sox and he is there to take on another semi-pro team, the Winchester Park Club. The man knocks the mud off of his cleats and steps into the batter’s box. He looks around and sees only 20-30 people in the stands. He closes his eyes and faintly hears the roar of the massive crowd when he hit the center field scoreboard with one of the longest home runs in Wrigley Field history. He opens his eyes as a pitch comes in, “strike one!” The umpire calls. Then “Strike two!”, as he lunges at an outside pitch. Then “strike three!” as he swings and misses. He makes his way back to the dugout as an obnoxious spectator yells something in his direction. This is Hall of Famer Hack Wilson and his playing days are coming to an end.

Lewis Robert Wilson moved to Martinsburg, WV in 1921 to join the Martinsburg Mountaineers baseball club in the class D – Blue Ridge League. In 1922, he would meet Virginia Riddleburger and they would be married in Martinsburg. By 1923, Wilson was traded to the Portsmouth Truckers where he led the league with an impressive .388 batting average. Late in the season, New York Giants manager John McGraw bought his contract. In the 1925 season with the Giants, Hack Wilson would hit the longest home run on record at Ebbets Field. In the following year, he fell into a two-year slump which led McGraw to send him back to the minors. But this would be fortuitous for Hack as the Chicago Cubs snatched him up for the 1926 season.

In 1927, Wilson would lead the league in home runs, but his temper and drinking started to show. In 1928, he rushed into the stands and beat up a fan who was heckling him. The roaring 20s in Chicago didn’t help Wilson as he frequented Al Capone’s Supper Clubs and even became friends with the gangster. In 1929, Wilson hit .345 with 39 home runs and a league-record 159 RBI’s. In 1930, Wilson had what some baseball historians call “the best single season hitting performance in baseball history.” In 1931, it all crashed in on Wilson as his drinking was at its zenith. Yet, he still could garner records as he hit an inside the park grand slam home run, which was only the third time in major league history. Yet, Cub’s manager, Rogers Hornsby, sent Hack back to the minors and this is where Wilson’s fall from grace truly began.

By 1935, Hack Wilson was back with the Martinsburg team and he had just struck out to the boos and jeers at Rouss field in Winchester. Hack Wilson would finally hang up his cleats and open a pool hall in Martinsburg. Due to Hack’s alcoholism, Virginia left him and took her son Robert to Baltimore. Hack fell on hard times and lost the pool hall. He went to Baltimore where he went to work for the Baltimore City Pool. When the city manger found out who he was, they made Hack the manager out of pity. In November of 1948, Hack Wilson would suffer a fall while intoxicated and would die of pneumonia three days later... he was only 48 years old. No one came to the morgue to claim his body. The local bar in Baltimore passed around a hat and the National League donated the funds to finally bury him in Martinsburg.

It’s quite amazing what this man accomplished. In 1930, he set the major league record for runs batted in (191), yet five years later he labored in the minors. In 1931, he was the highest paid player in the National League in salary ($33,000), yet four years later he earned $3,000 from the Martinsburg team. It is estimated that Wilson earned more than a quarter of a million dollars in his major league career, yet on November 23, 1948, he died penniless in Baltimore, Maryland.

The single-season RBI record of 166 stood for over thirty years until Babe Ruth hit 171 in 1921. Ruth's mark was then broken by teammate Lou Gehrig six seasons later in 1927 when Gehrig hit 175 RBI's. Finally, Hack Wilson hit 191 RBI's in 1930 with the Chicago Cubs, and smashed the record....which still stands today!

In 1979, Wilson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.

“THE FIRST LADY OF BLUEGRASS”Lynn Morris Winchester, VA..On a crisp fall day in October, a woman walks out of her home i...

Lynn Morris
Winchester, VA
On a crisp fall day in October, a woman walks out of her home in downtown Winchester and turns on the sidewalk towards Fairmont Avenue. She breathes in the clean crisp air and notices a small orange cat peeking out from behind the bushes of a neighbor’s home. She loves all animals, but she is especially partial to cats. She tries to call to the timid animal but the words are difficult for her to get out. The stroke she suffered years before didn’t affect her mind, only her speech. She still possesses the voice of an angel but the words are now difficult to pronounce. As the little cat runs away, she smiles and continues walking. The temperature that day is in the 30s and her hands are stiff. In 1974, these hands were in top form and helped her win the National Bluegrass Banjo Championship. Her clawhammer and 3-finger style on the banjo were exceptional. As she reminisces about the old days, she puts her cold hands into her coat pockets and continues on her way. This is Lynn Morris and she is the First Lady of Bluegrass.

Lynn was raised in Lamesa, Texas, where she started with piano lessons at an early age, but switched to the guitar. At age 21, she fell in love with the banjo when she heard a bluegrass band in Colorado Springs. Lynn bought a banjo and never put it down, and in only five years, she would win the national banjo title. When Lynn traveled back to Texas to visit her family, she would meet the man who not only became the harmony in her band, but he would create the harmony in her life. Moving East from Colorado, Lynn would join the established band called "Whetstone Run." In 1988, Marshall and Lynn would start a new chapter when they formed "The Lynn Morris Band."

During most of Lynn's career, there weren’t a lot of women topping the bluegrass charts. So, aspiring female singers, like Alison Kraus, naturally gravitated to her music. Lynn Morris and Alison Kraus shared the stage and performed together throughout their careers, but Lynn Morris was breaking down doors when Alison Kraus was still in high school. In those days, Bluegrass was a male dominated industry and most International Bluegrass Music Awards (IBMA) were given to men. Lynn, with Marshall on bass, recorded five successful albums with The Lynn Morris Band. Lynn was IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year THREE times and won IBMA Song of the Year for her recording of Hazel Dickens’ powerful “Mama’s Hand.”

In 2003, Lynn suffered a stroke three days after what was expected to be a routine knee replacement procedure, leaving her with a substantial reduction in facility on her right side, and aphasia that restricts her ability to communicate verbally. After Lynn’s stroke, Alison Kraus and friends put together a benefit concert for Lynn in Nashville to help with the mounting medical bills. They are close friends even today. Lynn Morris is a treasure, not only for Winchester, but for the nation.

Sometimes those who knock down doors don’t receive the accolades or fame as those who walk in behind them. That doesn’t dampen Lynn Morris’ spirit or generosity. She is so kind and upbeat and Marshall’s love and support is inspirational.



Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Winchester Tales posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Museum

Send a message to Winchester Tales:


Nearby museums


My grandson knows I love history, and for Christmas he purchased for me 'Winchester Tales and Winchester Tales II'. Almost finished the first one, and it is very well written and informative. Very much appreciated, thank you for your efforts. I originally come from Massachusetts and there is amazing history there as well. Interestingly enough, George Washington's ancestors come from Tring, England as do mine. He is related to Charlemagne as is our family.
Where can your books be purchased?
I just seen the story about Elizabeth Sundown Larrick born around 1745. She and Casper would be my 5th great grandparents. I have a similar story about them. Very nice to see the article, Thank you for sharing. ♥️
Congratulations on the turn out for your book signing. My wife and I arrived at 4 PM. The line was out the door (even in the rain.) So I thought I'd do some shopping and come back when the line went down. But when we came back an hour later the line was still out the door. I'll grab the books at Solenberger.
Fantastic set of books. Congratulations on your success.
Since we're on the topic of Orchardists I wanted to mention my great-great-granduncle James Langley Robinson who was a pioneer in the field. For those not familiar he was the grandfather of J. Kenneth Robinson who was a Congressman in this area. Uncle Jimmy, as my grandmother referred to him was descended from Quaker stock being descended from Steer, Jackson and other Quaker families. His wife Sallie is also descended from Steer and Jackson and also Robert Mackay, Sr. Here's their family Record:
Very cool!! Thank you for posting these, I used to love all the stories my father would tell me about this area growing up, and this reminds me of those times.
I'm trying ti find some history on the old Zeropak and the train depot just down the street. Any help would be grateful. Thanks
Anyone have an old photo of the house that was next to the Winchester Star. Its no longer there since the late 90's. It was my husband's grandmothers
I don't know if I shared this or not but I run the website Robert Mackay Clan which is about Robert Mackay Sr., a Quaker pioneer who settled in what is now Warren County. He had connections to Winchester. He along with his business partner Joist Hite were instrumental in settling the Valley of Virginia. Our family is one of the oldest, if not the oldest Mackay (McKay, McCoy, McKoy etc) families in North America. Most other families came over during the time of the Highland Clearances. Check us out:
Stonewall Jackson and wife in front of the Taylor hotel
I'm really enjoying the old pictures of Winchester. Thank you.