The Shawquon Ruritan has served Stephens City and the south county area since 1956. Our members are dedicated to assessing the needs of the local community and providing volunteer services to make our neighborhoods a better place to live, work and prosper.
The club continues a history of providing college scholarships to local high school seniors. The club also supports fire and rescue and sheriff departments, cub scouts and boy’s scouts, youth organizations, Area 13 Special Olympics, Newtown Heritage Festival, victims of severe illness, homeless shelters and food pantries.
Traditional apple butter making
Fall always means apple butter, at least for many churches and civic organizations in the Shenandoah Valley. As for the Shawquon Ruritans in Stephen City, they are no exception. Here at the Shiley residence, beneath a bright blue sky and end of summer sunshine, the Ruritan Club gathers each year to prepare the season’s jars of homemade apple butter.
Marshall and Pam Shiley have been members of the Shawquon Ruritan Club in Stephens City since 2006. Marshall is a diesel mechanic who founded his own company, MS Heating and Air Conditioning, in 1986. He first learned traditional apple butter making at the family farm on Cedar Creek Grade in Frederick County. He and Pam had previously coordinated apple butter making at Refuge United Methodist Church in Stephens City and White Post United Methodist Church in Clarke County.
The selling of apple butter has become a major fundraiser for the club and Marshall has been making Shawquon Apple Butter for the last 12 years. Marshall uses golden delicious apples from the Loretta McDonald farm. Loretta is an active member of the Ruritan and donates the apples in support of the club’s annual fundraising effort. The apples are usually picked in late August just in time to be used for the annual Shawquon apple butter production during the first week of September.
Marshall informed me that Loretta delivers 42 bushels of golden delicious apples which are used to cook three 50 gallon kettles of apple butter. This year Loretta will have the apples picked and placed in three 14-bushel wooden bins about a day before apple butter production begins. The bins are loaded onto a trailer and driven to the Shiley residence.
Each 50-gallon kettle should produce 45 gallons of apple butter. Each kettle requires 14 bushels of apples which, after peeling and core removal, are trimmed down to nine bushels of snits. The cooking of 27 bushels of snits will take approximately 12 hours per kettle and eventually produce approximately 1,000 pint jars of Shawquon Apple Butter.
The antique apple peeler used in current production is a 1930 F. B. Pease, manufactured in Rochester, New York. Apples are manually placed in cups on the machine and the core is mechanically removed along with all seeds, skin and stems, leaving only the apple pulp which will become apple butter. Over the course of two days, 4,200 apples will be peeled, cored and segmented by the apple peeling machine.
Before making apple butter, Marshall adds lemon juice to the bucket of water that the apples fall into after peeling to keep the apples from turning dark. The lighter the apples the easier for the Ruritan chefs to quarter and slice. Ruritan members work to remove any residual core, seeds or skin from the apple pulp over a two day period. The working of the apples is referred to as a “schnitzen party” (slicing and dicing up the 27 snits of apples). The apple pulp is stored in a cool place until ready to cook.
Marshall always sets the kettle up the night before and makes sure it is on level ground. He butters the sides and bottom of the kettle and stirrers and throws the remaining butter (two sticks) in the kettle. Marshall does this the night before because it saves precious time and it is dark and visibility is poor in early morning. He covers the kettle with a tarp to prevent insects and any dust or debris from getting inside.
The apple butter production begins between 4 am and 5 am. The kettle is made of copper with a rounded bottom and no seams. It sits on legs about one foot above the ground, leaving enough room to fit a gas burner. Marshall prefers using gas versus firewood because if it rains, the kettle can be moved indoors. Marshall modified a 50-gallon copper kettle top to include a 1950’s era McCulloch two-man chainsaw motor-driven post hole digger transmission, which now has an electric motor installed instead of the old chainsaw. The electric motor drives, via belts, the transmission that turns kettle-conforming wooden paddles, thereby stirring the apple butter. The electric stirrer eliminates the need for volunteers to stir and stir and stir for hours, providing increased consistency.
Marshall created two home-made, specially-designed wooden stirrers with an oblong hole on the bottom to help keep the sugar and apple pulp circulating within the kettle. This blade-like utensil must be rounded to fit the bottom of the kettle and prevent burning. The foot of the stirrer must be as long as the kettle is deep to continuously scrape off pulp from the kettle’s sides.
He adds one gallon of fresh apple cider while Ruritan members drop apples from wooden crates until the 50-gallon kettle is full. From the beginning the gas fire keeps the heat even and constant. Ruritan members fill the kettle with raw apples and finish no later than 3 hours after startup. Apples cannot be added to the kettle afterwards, allowing all apples to be cooked equally.
The pulp is at boiling temperature until it reaches the right level of thickness. Marshall cooks for approximately three or more hours before adding sugar. This process will “cook down” the apples to remove much of the water contained in the apples.
After six and one half hours, when a little volcano bubble emerges, Marshall puts a tablespoon of cooked apples on a cold saucer, tilts it and visually determines if the water runs fast from the apples. If it does, the apple butter is not thick enough. It has to stop “weeping,” meaning that water should not separate from the pulp. This is called a water test. Marshall usually runs five to six tests per kettle.
When the water is determined to have been cooked out, Ruritan members under Marshall’s supervision gradually add sugar to each 50 gallon kettle. A medium size sauce pan and handle is used to gently shake the sugar into the kettle, so no clumping occurs. After around three hours of continuously adding sugar, the various tasters agree the apple pulp is sweetened to the right taste.
After the last of the sugar is added, Marshall cooks for at least two or more hours, then checks for consistency. As the kettle content gurgles and spurts, the pulp slowly turns a russet brown color. The sugar caramelizes, darkening the apple butter’s color.
Marshall says apple butter making is a taste-as-you-go process. When he and the tasters are satisfied with color and sweetness, he begins to add spice (only cinnamon) but just after he cuts off the gas heat. Marshall uses artificial oil of cinnamon because the real stuff is very expensive ($65 an ounce). Marshall procures the oil of cinnamon in 4 oz. bottles. The cinnamon is added to taste. “If it does not burn your tongue today, it won’t be right tomorrow,” Marshall said. Ruritan members now begin to continuously stir, using a special home-made six foot long paddle-like stirrer to ensure the cinnamon is absorbed throughout the apple butter. Marshall made the handle from hickory, however he crafted the paddle from walnut because it is a close-grained hardwood that does not bleed wood flavor into the apple butter. To keep the apple pulp constantly rotating, Marshall recommends this cadence for the stirrer on duty: “Twice around left and back through the middle, twice around right and back through the middle.” Marshall and his discriminating tasters sample again and again, adding more cinnamon as necessary, stirring continuously. The cinnamon adding stage takes less than one half hour.
Marshall knows when it is done by judging the apple pulp thickness and russet color. It takes years of experience to know “doneness” and there is no computer algorithm or kitchen gadget employed to determine doneness. It is all about sweetness, color and consistency.
Now the jarring process begins
The jars, lids and rings have been previously sterilized in commercial dish washers and repacked in their original boxes at the McDonald farm and at the Shiley residence. The commercial machines can wash 72 jars at one time and it takes 15 washes to deliver 1,080 jars that will be required if each kettle produces 45 gallons of apple butter. While the kettles of apple butter are cooking, the custom labels are positioned on the jars.
Once pronounced done, the apple butter is poured into Marshal’s home-made four-gallon jar filler. The finished apple butter at this point is extremely hot – almost at the boiling point, so experience and extreme caution is a requirement for Ruritans handling the jar filling process. A production line of Ruritan members support Marshall. When Marshall manually fills the pint jar he slides it over to a member who puts the sterilized lid on and then another member applies the ring. One can hear the popping of the lids as the apple butter cools and a vacuum occurs, sealing the jars. The assembly line continues as the jars are then packed 12 to a box and carried to the storage area.
October is National Apple Month and there is no better way to savor the sweet goodness of tasty apple butter throughout the winter months than by keeping several pint jars in the kitchen cupboard. Consider buying a few pints as Thanksgiving or Christmas gifts for friends and family.
How to buy Shawquon Apple Butter
Shawquon Apple Butter can be purchased for $5 a pint bottle or $60 a 12-bottle case. The apple butter can be bought from the following local stores: The Seven-Eleven in Middletown, Stephens City Barbershop, Gore’s Fresh Meats, Split Ends Hair Salon and White Oak Trading Post.
About Shawquon Ruritan
Shawquon Ruritan meet at the Stephens City United Methodist Church at 7:00 PM every third Thursday of each month. Come join us and become a member. We are dedicated to improving communities and building a better America through Fellowship, Goodwill and Community Service.
Sons of the American Revolution participate in multi-event commemoration ceremony
On April 17, 2021, the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution participated in a multi-event commemoration ceremony. The Culpeper Minutemen Chapter sponsored a Patriots Day event, coupled with a grave marking, for Brigadier General Edward Stevens at the Masonic Cemetery in Culpeper. We gathered, in part, to honor Patriots Day.
After the French and Indian War, Great Britain enacted a series of measures to raise revenue from the American colonies. This included the Sugar Act, Stamp Act and Townshend Acts, which created a great deal of tension in the Colonies. Resistance was exceptionally strong in Boston, resulting in the 1770 Boston Massacre and the 1773 Boston Tea Party. On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry had warned, “The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms!” Less than a month later, that clash of arms occurred on April 19th at Lexington, Concord and the Battle at Menotomy.
On April 18, 1775, Dr Joseph Warren (namesake of Warren County) learned the British were marching that night on Concord to search for arms. Warren dispatched Paul Revere and William Dawes to alert residents of the news. At dawn on April 19th, several hundred British troops arrived in Lexington and met 77 militiamen on the town green. A shot was fired, resulting in several British volleys. Eight militiamen were killed with nine wounded. The British continued into Concord and not finding the arms they anticipated began burning the town. Hundreds of militiamen met a contingent of British soldiers at Concord’s North Bridge. The British fired in what became known as the “shot heard ’round the world”.
As the British set out to return to Boston, almost 2,000 militiamen began attacking the retreating column. The fighting continued as the British reached Lexington and met reinforcements, and the battle continued into the town of Menotomy, which became the bloodiest half-mile of the British retreat. With this battle, the Revolutionary War began. The colonists had proved they could stand up to one of the most powerful armies in the world at that time. This day became known as Patriots Day to honor the beginning of American independence.
Immediately after this ceremony, General Edward Stevens was honored with a grave marking ceremony. General Stevens had joined the Culpeper Minutemen in 1775 and commanded a battalion at the Battle of Great Bridge. He would serve as Colonel of the 10th Virginia Regiment, gaining honor for himself at the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown. Less than two years later, he resigned. In 1779, he became Brigadier General in the Virginia Militia, taking 700 men to join General Horatio Gates’ Army in the south. They fought at Camden, South Carolina, and at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, where he was wounded in the leg. He later led a brigade at the Siege of Yorktown.
Emceeing the ceremony was Culpeper Minutemen (CMM) Chapter President and Colonel James Wood II (CJWII) dual member Charles Jameson.
Participating in the event from CJWII were Dale Corey, Sean Carrigan, Barry Schwoerer, Jacob Schwoerer and Sean Schwoerer. Dual members included Bill Schwekte (CMM), Mike Dennis (CMM), Ken Bonner (Fairfax Resolves) and Mike Weyler (Colonel William Grayson and Order of Founders and Patriots of America (OFPA)).
A musket salute was fired by Ken Bonner, Sean Carrigan, Dave Cook and Barry Schwoerer.
Presenting wreaths were Virginia SAR President Jeff Thomas, Charles Jameson (CMM), Mike Weyler (Governor, OFPA), Dale Corey (CJWII), Barry Schwoerer (Colonel William Grayson), Dave Cook (Fairfax Resolves), Ken Morris (George Mason), Paula Schwoerer (Elizabeth McIntosh Hamill, DAR) and Jacob Schwoerer (Colonel William Grayson Society, Children of the American Revolution).
Empty Bowl Supper “To Go” on Main Street – April 24, 2021
Come out to enjoy our favorite fundraiser to benefit the House of Hope! The Empty Bowl Supper “TO GO” will be held on Saturday, April 24th, in historic downtown Front Royal, Virginia from 12pm-3pm, with extended entertainment and Main Street enjoyment until 6pm. The Empty Bowl Supper has been a well attended fun community event for several years. This year it is taking on a new “look” as we change the event to a “TO GO” style due to some of the restrictions the pandemic has put on events. Never fear, these changes have created exciting new growth for the event.
Registration will begin at 12noon on Saturday in front of the Visitor’s Center. Check in with the House of Hope volunteers at the event table and receive your soup tickets, “TO GO” bag, and learn about an exciting “Stay-Cation” raffle prize donated by Warren County Tourism!
Tickets are sold online or at Explore Art & Clay (100 E 8th St, Front Royal, VA 22630). With every ticket purchase you receive one hand painted ceramic bowl and two “TO GO” pre packaged soups.
Have you been on Main Street lately? If so, you may have noticed bowl displays in some storefront windows! Local potter Arline Link at Explore Art & Clay has been extremely busy throwing and preparing about 200 bowls for the event. Community groups and individuals have been painting the bowls to be ready for selection on the day of the supper. After registration, you will set off on the hunt to find your perfect bowl to go with your soup!
The Soup Station will be inside Downtown Market. Not only will you be stepping inside to select your two soups, you will be stepping into a wonderful business that is the home of approximately 78 local vendors! Perhaps you will depart Downtown Market with more than just your soup!
Soups you can look forward to and the establishments who are donating:
- Blue Wing Frog – Vegan Butternut Squash
- Vinova Tapas and Wine Bar – Gumbo
- PaveMint Smokin’ Taphouse- Chicken Dumpling Soup
- Soul Mountain Restaurant – Tomato Basil
- The Mill Restaurant – Cream of Broccoli, Beef Vegetable, Chili, Loaded Potato, and White Bean Chicken
- The Apple House – Loaded Baked Potato
- Mountain Home – Chestnut Apple Soup
- Manor Line Market – TBD
- Paladin Bar & Grill – Brunswick Stew
- The Blue Door Kitchen & Inn – Ribolitta (sausage, beans, vegetables)
- The Front Royal Brewery – New England Clam Chowder
- Downtown Catering – TBD
- Daily Grind – White Bean Chili
- Royal Spice – TBD
- House of Hope – www.warrencountyhomeless.org
- El Maguey – TBD
- Try Thai – TBD
Although some things are changing, some things remain the same when it comes to the music in the air. Passage Creek Rising will be playing live music at the gazebo for the first half of the event. Once Passage Creek wraps up we can expect JWX: The Jarreau Williams Experience. Be sure to pack your lawn chair and your dancing shoes.
Proceeds of the Empty Bowl Supper will go to the House of Hope. The House of Hope is a local program in Warren County to help homeless men who are ready to make a permanent change in their life. At the House, men are given life skills training, career counseling, and moral support. Providing a roof and a safe place to live, the men are able to maintain a steady paying job and save money. The goal is about 6-9 months of residency before graduating the program into independent living.
Main Street will be closed from: 10:30am until 7pm. The Town has partnered to help launch this wonderful event at it’s new location on Main Street. If you have questions, please contact Jennifer Avery, House of Hope board member at 540 683 0790 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of April 16th
Are you looking for the full movie-going experience without having to wait in the long lines that often accompany that experience? Then look no further because Royal Cinemas movie theatre is the answer. Get the whole gang together and enjoy a movie! We are continuing to practice “6 Foot Social Distancing” with 30% capacity reserved seating in all auditoriums.
Here is a list of this week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of Friday, April 16:
Ticket prices are as follows:
- Adult: $10
- Child (under 12): $7
- Military: $8
- Student (college): $8
- Senior: $8
- Matinees, All Seating: $7
- “Mortal Combat”
- “Wrath of Man”
- “Finding You”
- “A Quiet Place: Part II”
Sons of the American Revolution participate in the 278th Anniversary Commemoration of the birth of Thomas Jefferson
On April 11, 2021, members of the Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution (Virginia SAR) participated in the 278th Anniversary Commemoration of the birth of Thomas Jefferson. The ceremony was held at the Tuckahoe Plantation, Virginia. This was the boyhood home of Jefferson from the time he was two-years-old until he was nine-years-old.
Tuckahoe is a mostly complete plantation complex started about 1714 by Thomas Randolph. It has a plain clapboard exterior, but the interior is an example of outstanding craftsmanship from the eighteenth century. William Randolph inherited the complex from his father. He and his wife, Maria Judith Page, had three children. William and Maria died young; She in 1742 and he in 1745, leaving three young children as orphans. Peter Jefferson had married William’s first cousin, Jane Randolph, and they had become good friends. One of William’s last requests prior to his death was to have Peter care for his children until the eldest son was old enough to assume the responsibilities of managing the plantation.
Thomas, along with his parents and younger sister, lived at Tuckahoe for seven years. The children were taught lessons in a one room schoolhouse which is still present next to the main house. This was built at the direction of William Randolph in his will to ensure his son’s education was at home. In 1752, Thomas Mann Randolph at age 11 was deemed old enough to assume the management of the plantation. He died in 1795, operating Tuckahoe for 43 years. His namesake son married Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha.
The ceremony was conducted by David Cooke, President of the Thomas Jefferson Chapter of the Virginia Society. Participating with the Virginia State Color Guard were Colonel James Wood II Chapter members and dual members. These included Marc Robinson (President, Colonel James Wood II Chapter), Dale Corey, Brett Osborn, Ken Bonner (Virginia SAR Color Guard Commander, dual member from Fairfax Resolves (FR) Chapter), Bill Schwetke (Past President Virginia SAR and dual member from Culpeper Minutemen Chapter (CMM)), Charles Jameson (dual member and President of CMM Chapter) and Mike Weyler (dual member Colonel William Grayson Chapter and Governor, Virginia Order of Founders and Patriots of America (OFPA)).
Wreaths were presented by Brett Osborn, Charles Jameson and Mike Weyler among the 21 laid in honor of Thomas Jefferson. Included from the Fauquier Court House Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, was Cat Schwetke who provided a wreath and photographic support for the event.
The Family Yoga Project: Disconnect to reconnect for school-aged children
FREE 4 WEEK EVENT offered to school-aged children and their family. Meet the instructors, Laura Ruby (owner of Ruby Yoga, LLC), Joanna Martin (owner of Playful Explorations), and Joey Waters (long time Warren County educator) as they talk about this FREE offering! Move your body, work on breathing, practice mindfulness, and let go of stress during your Family Yoga time. Does your child need a few minutes away from screen time to reconnect to the rest of the family? Here is your chance!
Help your children disconnect from technology and reconnect with themselves!
- Wednesday, April 14 at 4:30pm
- Near Fantasyland Playground and Bing Crosby Stadium
- Bring your body and a towel or yoga mat to practice on
National Pajama Day pet adoption event at the Winchester SPCA
Friday, April 16th is National Pajama Day, and the Winchester SPCA is celebrating in a big way! Wear your PJ’s and adopt a pet for just $16.
Offer good to approved adopters. One day only: April 16th, from 10am to 5pm, at 111 Featherbed Lane, Winchester, VA 22601.
Pajamas should be appropriate to wear in public.