History group hosts speaker, awards

Posted: November 13, 2012

The Winchester Star

Heather Wade, executive director Conococheague Institute

Winchester — Special awards, new officers and a closer look at the 18th-century western frontier will mark the French and Indian War Foundation’s 11th Annual Meeting.

The foundation will host the event from 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the Godfrey Miller Fellowship Center, 28 S. Loudoun St., Winchester. The event is free and open to the public.

This year’s guest speaker will be Heather Wade, executive director of the Conococheague Institute in Mercersburg, Pa., a nonprofit organization that preserves history and historical records from the colonial frontier and the French and Indian War, said Linda Q. Ross, president of the foundation.

Wade will talk about the institute and the resources it offers for those wanting to learn more about frontier life and the war, Ross said.

“We want to learn a lot more about the place, because it is only two hours from here,” Ross said.

Two awards will be given at the event: The Fort Loudoun Award and the Judge Robert Woltz Award.

The Fort Loudoun Award is given to an individual who has displayed outstanding contributions to the preservation of the history of the French and Indian War and has given a great deal of time to define the war in the Winchester area, Ross said. It has been presented since 2007.

The Woltz Award, which was awarded for the first time in 2011, goes to an individual who is influential in promoting the importance of Washington’s early years and the colonial time period.

The awards will be handed out during the business meeting, which starts at 2 p.m. The meeting also will include recognition of new officers. Wade will speak at 3 p.m.

Stevan Resan, a member of the foundation’s board, said he brought Wade to its attention because of the institute’s proximity to Winchester and the relevance of the work done there.

“There are resources that we can draw on and activities that we might be able to have jointly with them, either with our members going up there or their members coming down here,” said Resan of Whitakers.

The institute, which was founded in 1994, sits on a 30-acre historic farmstead called Rock Hill Farm, said Wade of Mercersburg. Among its attractions are a two-story log house built around 1752, a smoke house dating to 1756 and more than 3,000 volumes dealing mainly with the colonial Pennsylvania frontier and the French and Indian War.

Where the farm sits was a mile from the western frontier during the war, Wade said. It was the farthest outreach for a lot of the European settlers as they tried to get into the Ohio Valley.

“It really is a very interesting period of history, especially when you look at it from the standpoint of this frontier era, where so many different ethnic groups were in constant conflict,” she said. “The human drama that played out here is unbelievable.”

Wade plans to share some of that history with the group and find out what most appeals to them, since the institute is always looking for new programming ideas, she said. She became the institute’s executive director Sept. 2, 2011.

Prior to that, she spent seven years as an assistant professor and university archivist at Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. She specialized in the administration of literary collections and the care of works of art on paper for several years and administered collections of artists who illustrated children’s books.

She also worked for the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

She received a bachelor’s degree in French and History in 1996 from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pa. In 2002, she received a master’s degree in applied history from George Mason University in Fairfax.

The goal of the French and Indian War Foundation is to preserve and interpret colonial history, with an emphasis on 1754-1763, the time period during which the French and Indian War was fought, Resan said. The foundation also places special emphasis on the role the war had in shaping George Washington and his connection to Winchester.

“It was the training ground essentially for George Washington. He had no military experience previous to the French and Indian War,” Resan said. “George Washington didn’t just appear magically in the Revolutionary War and all of a sudden they appoint him commander-in-chief of the forces.”

Refreshments and wine will be served at the event.

Information

The French and Indian War Foundation’s 11th Annual Meeting will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 540-665-2046 or go to frenchandindianwarfoundation.org.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com.