Once again Hardy County welcomes visitors to the unique and history-laden place in which we live. Having been settled since the 18th Century, our ancestors survived wars with the Indians, the British and each other. They survived droughts and floods. These conflicts helped form the foundation for our beliefs, our homes, our ability to survive and our way of life.
Today, over 250 years later, there are structures still standing which have been dated to the 1770s. The locations of forts and battles are documented. Old homes have hidey holes in which the family valuables were stored when the Yankees paid a visit. And there are many stories about ancestors who left a legacy of hard work, humor and the ability to come back from adversity.
The people of Hardy County also have a history of supporting causes and projects which make life a little more bearable. In the 1920s the fledgling Moorefield Women’s Club began a circulating library located in the home of Mrs. M. M. Harwood. When that location was outgrown, the library was moved to the second floor of the McCoy Theater building until growth again required a move to larger quarters.
[private] A lot was purchased and a building constructed on the site of Miss Mamie Alexander’s store and photography studio. (Today, this is the law office of Attorney Joyce Stewart.) This was West Virginia’s first small town public library building and was completed in 1952. There was still the matter of paying off the debt which today doesn’t seem like a lot, but at that time was great at $12,000. In the fall of 1953, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Pryce-Jones offered to open Mill Island to the public charging fifty cents with all proceeds going toward the library debt. They raised $100 and this was the beginning of what has become Heritage Weekend.
In 1954 the first House and Garden Tour was held in Moorefield in June. It continued until 1960 when the debt was paid in full. The last two years the Tour was moved to September.
The ladies who had spearheaded the effort to pay off the debt rested on their well-earned laurels until 1963 when West Virginia celebrated it’s Centennial. That year the festivities spread across the county and the Farm Women’s Club started the craft show to both display and sell their wonderful creations.
From the beginning, the purpose of the tour was to raise money for the Hardy County Public Library. The by-laws of today’s association, provide that the bulk of the proceeds still go to the Library, but funding has also gone to historic preservations and restoration of such gems as the Old Fields Church and the Mathias Homestead. The years when Grant County participated their library also received some of the funds.
It is important to remember why we have the weekend. First, to support the library and historic restorations. Second, to bring visitors to the county who will spend money for food, lodging, crafts and entertainment, all of which can benefit local organizations, individuals and businesses. Third, to show off our historic homes and buildings and the pride we have in our own history and heritage.
We want to thank all the volunteers who work hard, put in long hours, and give up family time to bring Heritage Weekend to fruition. We’ve served on these committees three different times and we know what it takes. So, our hat is off to you who make Heritage Weekend possible.
Finally, take advantage of this opportunity to learn about Hardy County’s history. Support the groups and individuals selling food and crafts. And show your pride in the county where you have chosen to live.