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Susanna Miller Conrad Portrait Given to MRL

8/11/2014
Since 2003, George Conrad’s portrait has hung in Massanutten Regional Main Library.  It has taken some time and money, but now Susanna Miller Conrad’s portrait is officially beside her husband’s.

The Conrad descendants and Massanutten Regional Library Director Lois Jones made it happen.

“The placement of Susanna’s portrait on the wall beside her husband was the culmination of a multi-year project made possible by the generosity of this family.  Part of the enjoyment of the Sunday afternoon event was witnessing the coming together of a wonderful group of individuals, some of whom were meeting each other for the first time,”  says Lois Jones. 
 
According to Harriet Marshall, a Conrad descendant, the family knew the Susanna Miller Conrad portrait existed, but they did not know who had it or where it might be located.  Both portraits had been painted by Conrad’s daughter, Jenetta.   Then one family member, Nancy Harnsberger Hildebidle, Charleston, S.C., found it in her attic, where the heat and years had done some damage.   The Conrad family wanted the two portraits together and was willing to pay to have the portrait restored.  MRL connected with the Library of Virginia and Fine Art Restoration in Richmond, VA to restore the family heirloom.
 
The official unveiling of Susanna Miller Conrad’s portrait took place Sunday, August 10, at the Main Library with Conrad descendants attending the small ceremony. 

It was Gil Conrad, Jr.’s father, J. Gilliam Conrad, who originally presented George Conrad’s portrait to MRL in 2003.  Both Conrad and his wife, Jean, of Richmond, were present during the unveiling of Susanna Miller Conrad’s portrait Sunday. 

According to a 2003 news article from the Daily News Record, George Conrad’s name “denoted a settlement in the Elk Run Valley in eastern Rockingham County.  In 1881, the community changed its name from Conrad’s Store to Elkton.  The building that gave Elkton its earlier name still stands on Route 33 just west of downtown.  Weatherboard siding now covers the log structure.”

This dwelling, according to the new article, housed the first post office of Elkton with George Conrad as postmaster. 

George Conrad’s marriage in 1810 to Susanna Miller deepened the family’s Shenandoah Valley roots, as Miller was a descendant of the first white settler in the Valley, explains the Daily News Record.  Upon marrying Susanna Miller, Conrad moved to Harrisonburg and built a stone house on Main Street and opened a tannery business.   Conrad was the first person to be buried in Woodbine Cemetery.
 
Massanutten Regional Main Library has devoted wall space for the portraits of George and Susanna Conrad, along with some biographical information and a picture of Conrad’s final resting place.  The portraits can be viewed in the Circulation Department of the downtown Harrisonburg branch. 
                                                                           

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