The Shenandoah Valley Tapestry

It all Started with a Book

It all started with the book – Defend the Valley: A Shenandoah Family in the Civil War  by Margaretta Barton Colt. The book tells the story of the Civil War through the letters and private papers of the Barton and Jones clans—two great limbs of one family tree with roots in Winchester. The Bartons and Joneses collectively sent eleven men into battle, most in the brigade led by Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Defend the Valley presents a fully rounded picture of the daily struggles of ordinary families living through the Civil War and a documentation of the passing of a way of life.

Then Came the Painting

The book led to the contemporary primitive painting by Page Huff Dillon – Winchester & Frederick County, Virginia, (1995), commissioned by Margaretta Barton Colt. A committee of local historians from the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society chose the most important buildings to be represented and ensured their accuracy.

The painting is well known to many citizens of Winchester and a print of the painting can be seen in a number of local offices and homes.

That Launched the Tapestry…

The painting  then set in motion the idea of telling the Valley’s storied history through a community-based project – a tapestry stitched by members of the community. The main panel of the tapestry interprets Page Huff Dillon’s painting, including the thirty-four historic buildings, and reflects on the stories of people and events told in Defend the Valley. We called our project – The Shenandoah Valley Tapestry – A Journey Through Time

The Tapestry project is spearheaded by the Winchester Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America (WEGA) and the Multicultural Club Collage (MCC) of Frederick County, VA. Working together and serving as the Directors of the Tapestry project, the WEGA and MCC have been joined by The Handley Regional Library, the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society and the Village at Orchard Ridge to bring The Shenandoah Valley Tapestry to life. 

Eighty-one stitchers, including six children, of all skill levels, from five states and from abroad worked on the tapestry. More than 1400 people took just one stitch. All their names are recorded in the Tapestry Journal located in the Stewart Bell, Jr. Archives Room at the Handley Regional Library, Winchester, Virginia.