Walking Tours

Overview of Walking Tours in New Market, Virginia     PDF    Print   E-mail

‘History at your Feet”

Stroll the timeworn streets of the historic district of New Market, Virginia, with a local historian dressed in 1860’s apparel and hear the stories of the people who once lived or worked on Congress Street. The information shared on the New Market Walking Tours is compiled from local family histories, letters, personal journals, church records, US military records, and research of the Henkel family papers in various Virginia libraries.

The New Market Walking Tours are each approximately 90 minutes in length and cover approximately 8 blocks in distance. The tours guide stops in front of historic residences to recall the adventures of the people who once lived or worked there. New Market Walking Tours, with its motto, “History at your Feet” brings real-life stories to the visitor or simply put, history not necessarily found in a textbook.

The New Market Walking Tours, created in 2006, are the oldest, historian-guided walking tours in Shenandoah County, Virginia. Dr. Betty Karol Wilson, founder of the New Market Walking Tours, formerly a college professor and now the owner of the Apple Blossom Inn B&B, was asked by local residents to create a tour detailing the rich history of the town of New Market. Dr. Wilson is indebted to Susan Smith, Shenandoah County Schools librarian and resource coordinator, for her earlier New Market tour developed for fourth-grade history students. Ms. Smith is the New Market Walking Tours weekend guide and also the premier re-enactor of Jessie Hainning Rupert, “The Angel of the Shenandoah.”

In addition to the tours listed here, or as an alternative to walking, you may hire New Market Walking Tour Guide, Susan Smith, to present personally or to your organization a one-woman, 45-minute drama based on the life of Jessie Rupert, entitled “Angel of the Shenandoah”

The Women of Congress Street

Hear the stories of the women who lived on Congress Street during the Civil War.   The tour focuses on information about:

Lydie Crim, Battle of New Market nurse, later known as “Mother of the VMI Cadets”

Jessie Rupert, abolitionist, educator, and friend of Stonewall Jackson, later known as “The Angel of the Shenandoah”

Anna Maria Henkel, doctor’s wife and mother of twelve children, who outwitted the Yankees’ invasion of her home

Lucinda Rice, young mother, doctor’s wife and landowner

Eliza Branner, enslaved woman who helped save her mistress’ life on the eve of the Battle of New Market

New Market: An All-American Town

From its Native American Beginnings, to Bunker Hill, to the expansion toward the Wild West… if it happened in American History, there is a reflection of it in New Market. While some Civil War information is shared, this overview tour of the town primarily explores the colonial and federal history of New Market. Topics include: Native Americans, Lord Fairfax grant, John Sevier, Dr. Henkel and his apothecary, the Henkel Press, Commerce along The Valley Turnpike, Religion in New Market, New Market Architecture

Civil War Life in New Market

Hear the story of the VMI Cadets at the Battle of New Market, May 15, 1864. Other related topics include: The Nurses of New Market, The Burning, Pacifists during the Civil War, The Irish and the Emerald Guard, Rice’s Battery, Life of Enslaved Peoples, Life in New Market during Reconstruction, The Women’s Memorial Society.

All standard tours are approximately 90 minutes in length. Occasionally along the tour, there are places one may sit.   At least once during the tour, you will be seated in a church. If you are physically challenged, a shorter tour, entirely inside a church, can be arranged. If you do not have time to take the full 90-minute tour, you may also request an abbreviated tour.

Tours will be given every Tues., Fri, and Sat, beginning May 11 at 10:30 am.  Tours begin May 11 and end October 30, 2012. (No tours on May 29, 2012).

Tours, by advance arrangement, are available at other times by calling us.

Please schedule at least one day in advance. Please choose your tour when you book.  Saturday tours must be booked by the previous Wednesday at 5 pm.

Cost of tours

$10 per adult,

$5 for youth (ages 12-18) Children under12 are free

Group Prices: For 10 or more people $5 each

Free to New Market Residents

Other Information

New Market Walking Tours reserves the right to cancel for any reason.

New Market Walking Tours is not liable for personal injury or loss of personal property while on the tours.

If you are disabled, please call before you arrive so that we can re-route the tour to accommodate your needs.

We will walk in a rainy drizzle, but not in a downpour.

We will not tour if the temperature at 10 am is below 40 degrees.

Minimum number of people to schedule a tour: 2

There are no tours offered on the following days: July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, Martin Luther King Day, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day or Easter Day.


“…the guided walk of New Market was worth every cent.”   Alan and Christine

“Our recent visit to New Market would not have been complete without the inclusion of a tour by New Market Walking Tours. Dressed in period costume, our guide Susan Smith graciously braved a rainy day and exemplified a hearty spirit as she explained its history, people and places of interest. You felt as though you were there a hundred and fifty years ago as you touched a door that had been smashed by a rifle butt or saw the perch where Breckinridge surveyed the battlefield or learned about the important roll local women played. All in all, a must-do experience.” Bob and Doris Logan

“Dr Betty Karol Wilson may be a name you don’t know, but she should be up there on the marquee. You see, she’s the fun-filled hostess with all the academic credentials to teach you about New Market and the northern Shenandoah Valley of the 19th century. Dr Wilson conducts tours, complete with “quaint and colorful costumes,” of New Market that bring history to life and give you reason to go back to the library to read more about the rough and tumble characters and town life of the area, especially during the Civil War and its aftermath. See full comment by David Evans.

New Market Walking Tours in the press

“Small town with a spirit” – by Linda Blachly, Trips and Getaways magazine, Fall 2008 issue

“Lady of New Market” – by Elizabeth Rome, Daily News-Record, Harrisonburg, VA, November 10, 2007

“The Spooky Depths of Shenandoah” – by Christina Breda Antoniades, Washington Post, Oct 22, 2006

“A Walk Through Time” – by Alicia Wotring, Daily News-Record, Harrisonburg, VA, August 5, 2006

“History in the Making” – also by Alicia Wotring, Daily News-Record, Harrisonburg, VA, August 5, 2006