KEHOE BOOK

Kathy Kehoe of Strasburg holds a copy of her book “Strasburg,” which is part of the popular Images of America series published by Arcadia Publishing. Kehoe spent four years on the book and will hold her first book signing at the Strasburg Visitor Center from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

For Kathy Kehoe, history means more than searching through census data and courthouse records. For her, the real essence of a town’s history is the people who built it and their legacy.

And thanks to fellow historians from the Strasburg Museum, Kehoe has published a book of 150-plus historical photographs of the town, many dating back to the turn of the century. The photographs document various businesses, buildings and the families who carved out lives for themselves at the base of Signal Knob.

Simply titled “Strasburg,” the new book is part of Arcadia Publishing’s long-running series, “Images of America.”

Kehoe will be at the Strasburg Visitor Center from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday signing copies of her book, which will be for sale at the museum.

Kehoe, a social worker by trade, has been collecting what she calls the “folk history” of Strasburg for over two decades.

She says folk history is “what people remember, not so much facts and figures.” It’s the small ways that Main streets have changed over the years and the stories about these mostly forgotten places that made researching and writing this book interesting for Kehoe.

One mostly forgotten place is Jimmy the Greek’s, a local restaurant that graced the Main Street of Strasburg just after the end of World War II. Another is the old limestone quarry that broke ground in 1902.

But one of Kehoe’s favorite photographs is the first one to appear in the book. A family picture dating back to the 1920s of the Rev. John D. Hawood, who came to Strasburg in 1890 to lead worshipers at the Strasburg Christian Church.

Approached in 2018 to captain the project, Kehoe originally partnered with fellow Strasburg historian Gloria Stickley, who died in 2021 before the book could be finished.

Stickley’s vast knowledge of the area can’t be replaced, but Kehoe and others at the Strasburg Museum and the Strasburg Heritage Association are determined that some of that knowledge is preserved for future generations.

Stickley and Kehoe originally planned to use the photographs stored at the museum, but due to the stringent requirements of the publisher, many of the photographs were unable to be scanned into the computer.

Left suddenly without enough photographs to fill an entire book, Kehoe reached out to the community to find enough photographs to complete the history.

“I made a lot of phone calls,” she joked, adding that finding the right caption for the right photograph at times felt like “putting a puzzle together.”

Sometimes through the phone and sometimes face to face — or mask to mask — Kehoe interviewed several people who can trace their family roots to before the turn of the 20th century.

Putting people at ease and interviewing them is not new to Kehoe. Although the Strasburg native always dreamed of becoming a writer, she was called to serve others and instead pursued a career in social work.

Although it’s clear Kehoe is relieved to be finished with the book, she isn’t slowing down and plans to continue collecting the stories that tell Strasburg’s history.

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