Author Archives: jamesrumsey

Annual Meeting November 29

The Annual Meeting will be Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 6:00 PM in the Entler Hotel at the corner of Princess and German Streets.

It will be in the bottom floor meeting room. Enter through the door on German St, go all the way to the back.

Setting History in Stone: Building the Rumsey Monument

On Wednesday, November 9 at 7:00 p.m., Historic Shepherdstown will present a talk by local craftsman and Rumsey historian Nick Blanton, entitled “Setting a Steamboat in Stone: The Creation of the Rumsey Monument.” The talk will take place at the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education, located on King Street on the Shepherd University campus.
It will be preceded by presentation of Historic Shepherdstown’s 2016 Preservation Awards and recognition of Betty Snyder Lowe, Shepherdstown’s newly appointed Historian Laureate.
In his talk, Nick Blanton will explain how the residents of Shepherdstown changed James Rumsey’s steamboat story from a remarkable incident observed by relatively few people to a legend of much greater significance. In the hands of the Rumsey descendants and a few townspeople, this legend became a righteous cause to win aid for Rumsey’s indigent son. After that effort failed, the cause was carried forward by two prominent Shepherdstown citizens, first Alexander Boteler and then George Beltzhoover, Jr., Both thought Shepherdstown should recognize Rumsey’s contributions with a monument. Ultimately, Beltzhoover succeeded in placing the present 80-foot monument above the Potomac River, completing the project in 1916.
Nick Blanton was one of the builders of the 1987 replica of James Rumsey’s steamboat, now located in the garden of the Historic Shepherdstown Museum. He once worked in Colonial Williamsburg’s gun shop. He is now a musician and maker of musical instruments mostly hammered dulcimers. He is President of the Rumseian Society and on the boards of Historic Shepherdstown, Shepherdstown Music and Dance and the Upper Potomac Dulcimer Fest.
Blanton’s talk is the final event in Historic Shepherdstown’s 2016 Speakers Series. The event is free and open to the public. The 2017 series will be announced early next year.
For further information, contact Historic Shepherdstown Administrator Teresa McLaughlin, 304-876-0910 on Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday or e-mail

Old Technology, Modern Ideas

You’ve reached the Rumseian Society, of Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

The Society was first created in Philadelphia, in 1788, to further the inventive career of James Rumsey, and was disbanded with his death, in 1792. It was re-created in 1903 in Shepherdstown, to build the Rumsey Monument that still stands overlooking the Potomac, and was re-created again in 1984 to build the Rumseian Experiment, a replica of James Rumsey’s 1787 steamboat. The Experiment steamed for the last time in 2007, but it can still be seen in the Rumsey Boathouse Museum in Shepherdstown.

The current Society project is the building of Rumsey’s rotary steam engine. If it is successful, we hope to mount it on a boat.

Portrait of Rumsey by West, Smithsonian Museum of American Art

Alexander Botelers Sketch of Rumsey's Portrait

Label from an apple crate, circa 1930?

Rumsey's apparatus for testing water turbines

James Rumsey. Photo of the West portrait in Turner's biography: retouching has changed him considerably