A Notable Galaxy

Measuring southwest from the old court house in Woodstock along the Valley Pike 25 miles, one passes the birthplaces of seven members of Congress and one foreign minister. All of these birthplaces are literally on the Pike or close to it -- five of them within a few rods of the highway, two at a distance of one mile or less, and the other not more than two miles away. What other highway of equal distance in America can excel this record? All of these eight men were born, it is said, in the edge of Rockingham, near the Shenandoah line (Fairfax Line).

Two of the seven men referred to were U.S. Senators, namely, Pennybacker and Riddleberger.

Robert Allen and John James Allen were born in Woodstock; H.H. Riddleberger was a native of Edinburg; Green Berry Samuels was born at Red Banks; James M.H. Beale's birthplace was Dunmore Mt. Airy, a mile or less east of the Pike, two miles above Mt. Jackson; Isaac S. Pennybacker's place of nativity was Pine Forge, less than half a mile east of the Pike, at Cedar Grove Church; Charles L. Kagey's boyhood home was less than a mile west of the Pike, opposite Cedar Grove; and John Sevier was born about two miles west of the Pike, opposite Tenth Legion. Sevier, though not a native of Shenandoah, was for nine or ten years a prominent resident of the county.

It seems probable that James Machir, a member of Congress from Virginia, 1797 to 1799, was also a native of Shenandoah County. If so, he was likely born at or near Strasburg.

Jacob K. Shafer, member of Congress form Idaho territory, 1869-1871, was born (1823) in Rockingham, near the birthplace of John Sevier.

Excerpted from John W. Wayland's A History of Shenandoah County, Virginia

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Created November 15 2001