A longtime resident shares his stories

Born in the 1930s, George Rutherford has lived in two towns, Charles Town and Dog Town, but both occupy the same geographical location. A number of neighborhoods which were populated primarily by Black residents were known by unique, unofficial names such as Dog Town, Potato Hill, and others.

As a Black man, his experiences as a boy, a student, and later, as a grown resident of the county, are unique to him specifically, but also generally are the same as experienced by African Americans who faced closed doors and non-existent opportunities.

We are including two videos of Mr. Rutherford. The first is a shorter edited video highlighting his thoughts about Black History Month and some of his memories as a student in Charles Town during the 1930s and 1940s.

In the second unedited video, he speaks of his memories of early school days, his time in the military, experiences with local businesses, and more. Mr. Rutherford says he lived the ideal of being raised by a village in which the Black families were responsible for all of its children, whether they knew them personally or not.

He is approaching his 50th year as a member of the NAACP and has seen changes in its focus during the most turbulent of the civil rights era and into today’s continued discussions of race relations, not only in Jefferson County, but in the entire country.

We are also including a link to information and a recording of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which was considered the “Negro National Anthem” when Mr. Rutherford was a boy. He discusses the importance of the song during his comments.

We will continue to bring more examples of oral histories from Jefferson County residents in the future. All of them will be retained and kept in the archives of the Charles Town Library and Jefferson County Museum.

Video 1 – The edited version of George Rutherford’s comments regarding early school memories and Black History Month
Video 2 – The unedited version of George Rutherford’s comments regarding early school memories, Black History Month, his experiences in the military, and much more.

Follow this link to learn about the song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the “Negro National Anthem” discussed by George Rutherford in Video 1.

Here is a re-post of an earlier video about Miss Ollie Blessing and her work to bring books to all children in Charles Town.

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