Maria Isabella Boyd – Belle Boyd – was a Shenandoah Valley Virginian who in 1844 was born into a middle class family in Martinsburg, then Virginia, now West Virginia.
Her father had owned and operated a number of stores in Berkeley County, as well as in the nearby town of Front Royal. The family was not wealthy, but was well-connected in town and lived comfortably. At a very young age, Maria had developed a deep love for what must have been an enitire world to her: the Shenandoah Valley.
But by her twenties, she had reached such a level of national notoriety that northern U.S. Newspapers were referring to her as La Belle Rebelle, the Rebel Joan of Arc, the Siren of the Shenandoah, the Amazon of Secessia. How could this ever have happened, nearly all of it while she was still a teenager?
After Virginia seceded from the Union, this Martinsburg shopkeeper's young daughter fiercely supported the Confederacy, ultimately becoming a spy for the South. She regularly charmed Union soldiers she met, with the sole purpose of gaining military intelligence.
Her exploits had even captured the attention of U.S. Secretary of War, Edwin M. Staunton, who had her thrown into a D.C. prison for a brief period of time.
It's likely that, had Belle Boyd been older and a man, she certainly would have been executed for any one of many of her espionage activities. But both in historical fact and legend, Belle Boyd appears to have led a charmed life. She certainly proved that she could live by her wits in a dangerous situation.
Christmas Past was not always as festive in the Shenandoah Valley, particularly during the Civil War. German traditions included the Belsnickle. He was like Santa Clause, only a lot scarier! We're grateful to be able to feel the Holiday spirit here, year after year. To all who hold the Shenandoah Valley in their hearts year round, we wish you the very best this Season and a joyous and healthy 2017!
204 N George St.
A Christmas Carol: Scrooge and Marley. Holiday Drama. Rated G. Dec. 1-4, 8-11 performances. Tickets: Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.: $22 for adults. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.: $22 for adults. Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.: $22 for adults. Ages up to 17: $15. Ages 65 and older, and students 18-25: $19. For more information, call 304-725-4420 or visit oldoperahouse.org
35 Hillview Ln. 35 Hillview Ln. Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Dec. 4 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Complimentary snacks. For more information, call 540-377-6204 or visit www.rockbridgevineyard.com
Wonderment Puppet Theater, 412 W. King St. The Nutty Nutcracker. Saturday and Sunday shows at 1 p.m., Nov. 12 through Dec. 25. Doors open at 12:40 p.m. Dec 17 and 18: Snacks, cider, surprise guest. Reservation suggested. Admission: $6 for ages 2 and up, under age 2 admitted free. For more information, call 304-258-4074 or visit www.wondermentpuppets.com
Regional Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. Main St. The Brass 5 perform jazz-flavored holiday music. Cash bar available. Admission: $15 for adults and $13 in advance online, $8 for children and $7 in advance online. For more information, visit www.performingartsluray.com
Holidayfest: Dreams of the Nutcracker, performed by JMU Chorale and Symphony Orchestra. Dec. 3 at 8 p.m., Dec. 4 at 4 p.m. Reservations required. Tickets: $17. Subscriber: $14. JMU employees: $16. Ages 62 and older, $15, JMU students, $10. Children, $5. For more information, call 540-568-7000 or visit www.jmu.edu
901 Quarry RoadChristmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Christmas music, complimentary glass of mulled wine and a cookie. Discounts. For more information, call 540-955-5510 or visit www.veramar.com.
901 Amherst St. Reception Hall patio. Variety of plant selections: annuals, perennials, herbs, heirloom vegetables, trees, and shrubs. May 20-21, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Museum member preview from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., discounts available. Horticulturist talk: Historic, Heirloom, and Unusual Plants, May 20 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the museum reception hall. Benefits museum gardens .Free admission to garden and gallery. For more information, call 540-662-1473 or visit www.themsv.org
95 Chalmers Ct. Yuletide at the Barns of Rose Hill. Youth art and Russian art exhibitions run through Dec. 30. Local dance performance on Dec. 6 at 1 p.m., holiday concert by Shenandoah Valley Chorus at 4 p.m. For more information, visit BarnsofRoseHill.org
Antioch Church of the Brethern, Woodstock. Lessons and Carols. Candlelight service. Hosted by Masterworks Chorus. Admission: $12 per person. For more information, visit masterworkschorus.net
Rockingham County Fairgrounds. Exhibit Hall. Dec. 3-4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. holiday crafts and gift items from individual vendors. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, call 540-879-9417
Last Frontier Farm, Summit Point, W.Va. Sharon White, Winter Clinic Series I, Cross Country. For more information, call 859-493-2125 or visit virginiahorsecenter.org
Ross Performing Arts Center, 521 W Main St. Shenandoah Jamboree. The Chuck Wagon Gang and The Crestmen perform gospel music. Tickets: $25 and $35. For more information, call 540-943-9999 or visit waynetheatre.org
Christmas Parade. For more information, visit www.mainSt.martinsburg.com
Holiday themed event: Captain Flaggs US Quartermaster City, 1864: Prospects of Peace. Admission: Free with paid park admission. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/hafe
10 S. Market St. A Christmas Carol performance at 2 p.m. The 12 Dates of Christmas performance at 7:30 p.m. Opening night. Talk-back performance. Admission: Pay-what-you-will. For more information, call 540-851-1733 or visit www.americanshakespearecenter.com
Now through Jan. 8: The entire length of the Skyline Drive will be closed daily from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. For more information, visit nps.gov/shen
Grand Caverns. Caroling and live music in the Caverns. Special 30-minute candlelight cave tours every 15 minutes. Benefits local youth and scholarship programs. Ages 12 and under help decorate tree, bring a handmade ornament, free admission with donation of art and craft supplies or games. Hosted by Grottoes Ruritan Club. Admission: $5 per person. For more information, visit www.grandcaverns.com
Clearbrook Park. Walking in a Winter Wonderland. Large, walk-through light display. Nov 25 through Jan 1, 5:30-9:30 p.m. For more information, call 540-665-5678
160 Jordan Springs Rd. Dinner theater, live radio play. Its A Wonderful Life. Holiday classic, drama. Dec. 2, 3, 8-10 at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4 and Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. Reservations required. Tickets: $37.50 to $325. For more information, call 540-667-7744 or visit historicjordansprings.com
228 South Liberty St. Currently open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, visit harrisonburgfarmersmarket.com
Stanley Christmas Parade at 6 p.m. JMU Overtones Chorus concert at the Ed Good Memorial Park from 8 p.m. until 9 p.m. Light snacks and hot drinks for sale, along with in-memory-of, or in-honor-of, luminaries. For more information, call 540-778-1387
41-F Court Sq.Harry and Snowman. Drama Shows on Dec 3 at 4:45 p.m. Dec. 4 at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 5-7 at 4:45 p.m. Dec. 8 at 2:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. Members save 20 percent and get free popcorn. Tickets: $9.50 for adults, $8.50 for seniors and students. $8 for matinees before 5 p.m. For more information, call 540-433-9189 or visit valleyarts.org
610 Battle Park Dr. Kernstown Battlefield, 610 Battle Park Dr. Living Nativity: Follow the Star. Dec. 3-4 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit www.kernstownbattle.org.
Ross Performing Arts Center, 521 W Main St. Tour local homes. Advance tickets: $20. $25 at the door. For more information, call 540-943-9999 or visit waynetheatre.org
100 W. Piccadilly St. Annual Library Shop sale, sponsored by Friends of Handley Regional Library. Nov. 26 through Dec. 31. Hours and days may vary, call ahead. Architectural greeting cards, t-shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, and used books. For more information, call 540 662-9041, extension 28 or visit www.handleyregional.org
8895 George Collins Parkway. Christmas on the Farm. Historical interpretation of Civil War historical events. Decorate the museum Christmas tree. Film screening: Old Time Christmas. Shop in museum store. Admission: Free with paid park admission. For more information, call 540-740-3033 or visit www.vmi.edu/museums-and-archives/virginia-museum-of-the-civil-war
Kate Collins Middle School Auditorium. Old Dominion Performance Arts Studio: The Nutcracker. Dec. 3 at 1:30 p.m. Youth and adult tickets: $12 reserved seating. General admission: $10 at the door, $9 in advance. Ages five and under: $7 reserved seating. General admission: $6 at the door, $5 in advance. Discounts for seniors. military, emergency services employee, college student or school educator/administrator. For more information, call 540-324-4049
Bowman Library location, 871 Tasker Road. Drop off books, CDs, and DVDs. Volunteers available to assist donors. Items to be sold at a Used Book Sale to benefit three Handley libraries. For more information, call 540-662-9041, extension 31 or visit athandleyregional.org
Carter Center for Worship and Music. Seniors Sara Jean Forren and Jessica L. Patton: Clarinet recital. Free admission. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, visit bridgwater.edu
Family Drive-In Theatre, U.S. 11. Visit with Santa and Mrs. Clause. Free activity for movie patrons. Dec. 2 and Dec. 3, Dec. 9 and Dec. 10 from 6 p.m. til 8 p.m. For more information, visit thefamilydriveintheatre.com
Bluestone Vineyard, 4828 Spring Creek Rd. Outdoor Weihnachtsmarkt German Market. Local vendors and artisans. Wine and food available for purchase. Warm mulled wine available. For more information, visit www.bluestonevineyard.com
131 W. German St. The Chelsea Mcbee Band Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets: $7. For more information, call 304-870-4602 or visit www.operahouselive.com
Port Republic Town Hall, 8597 Water St. Sponsored by Port Republic Artisans, Village Artisans of Port Republic, LLC. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 3 and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 4. Fourteen artists with holiday-themed artwork. Free admission. For more information, call 540-908-1948 or visit villageartisansofport.com
Stonewall Jacksons Headquarters Museum, 415 N. Braddock St. Candlelight tours and open house. Holiday decorations, living history interpreters. Tickets: $5. For more information, visit www.winchesterhistory.org
Annual Holiday House Tours. Preview Party and Candlelight Tour on Dec. 3, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Daylight Tour on Dec. 4 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Hosted by Preservation of Historic Winchester. Tickets: Daylight tickets: $20 advance, $25 at the door, $6 ages 6-12 years. Preview Party: $40 PHW members, $50 non-members, RSVP required. Single admission to one house: $5 at the door of the house. For more information, visit www.phwi.org
ShenandoahValley.com is owned and operated by Shenandoah Valley Productions, a little “mom-and-pop” business, but one that’s located right here in the region. Our mission has long been to showcase the area’s visual beauty, unique “Valley” people and culture and, of course, some really, really rich history.
We first fell in love with Virginia in 1970, courtesy of the U.S. Navy, stationed in Norfolk. That was the year Virginia officially declared itself “for lovers.” But for us, the real love affair started in 1977, when we first visited the Shenandoah Valley on our wedding night. We moved here a year later, and well ...we are still here!
So it’s kind of a long story how we got from 1978 to this website, but here it is.
Website background photos are provided by a select group of photographers from across the region who share their own love of the Valley through the lenses of their cameras. Words alone may not really describe the place.
Our regional events listings are always up to date, and we’re not really selling anything on here. In fact, we get no outside funding, but are wholly independent. Like many of our friends and neighbors who also feel blessed to live here, free and independent, surrounded by peace and beauty.
Each month we head out to some part of this diverse region and do a feature story and travel video about it -- some cool event, piece of history or special place that makes the name "Shenandoah" so uniquely known worldwide.
So, come and set a spell, and please also consider making a donation. Either way, we’re glad you stopped by. Come on back to see us again!
Oh, and please visit our Facebook page, too.
An old farm tanker rusts in a Shenandoah County, Virginia farm field.