About Us

“Rocktown” reflects the beginning.

Before Harrisonburg and Rockingham were named, there was the Valley where a community informally known as Rocktown grew.

A foundation of limestone enriched the soil and freely flowing water sustained its bounty. The smooth valley floor served as a Native American pathway. Abundant natural resources attracted settlers, and generations built what we have today, often from the very stone that lay under their feet or broke their plow.

Stone homes, churches and schools, railroad beds, and scenic overlooks remind us of the men and women whose grit and vision laid the foundation of the place we call home.

Transforming rock from obstacle to resource has reflected and shaped the human cultures of this valley, and the name Rocktown History honors that history.

Established in 1898 as the Rockingham County Historical Society, our mission has always been to preserve and share the stories of the area and its people, highlighting their influences on our shared past. The work of our staff and volunteers and support from our community of trustees, members, and donors help ensure that the rich histories of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County are accessible, vibrant, and meaningful to all.


Penny Imeson was raised in Harrisonburg and enjoyed summers in western Rockingham. She completed undergraduate studies at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and later earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the College of William and Mary.

Penny’s career includes work at an interior design firm in New York City, in the budget department at Newport News Shipbuilding, and as a small business owner in Harrisonburg.

In 2011, Penny became the Executive Director of The Heritage Museum, a role which allows her to apply her business background while challenging her creativity and comfort zone.

Penny and her husband have three young adult sons. As the family grew, it also moved six times up and down the east coast and abroad. Penny did not anticipate returning to her hometown, but is delighted to be back in the Valley and close to her Rockingham Roots.

Margaret Hotchner, born in Missouri (pronounced Missourah), has lived in Virginia since 1971. During her young life, her father’s job with the American Red Cross required the family to move often: Japan twice, California, and Virginia.

Her interest in family history began at a young age, as she discovered her extended family through photo albums. In 2006, she and her husband relocated to Rockingham County, the home of her paternal ancestors – a true testament to the pull of her lifelong genealogy obsession!

Margaret retired in 2010 from Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She took a little time off to relax, but soon began volunteering at the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society in the Genealogy Library. She was hired a year later as the Administrator and enjoys the diverse nature of working in the office. After decades devoted to genealogy, it is no surprise that she also delights in assisting visitors in the Library, as well as providing paid research services upon request.

Board of Trustees

Randy Atkins, Director of Marketing, Valley Care Management

Kevin Borg, Professor of History, James Madison University

Allison Dugan, Assistant Director, Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center

Bradford Dyjak, Dayton Town Council Member and Massanutten Property Owners Association Administrator

Jim Fries, Partner, Brown Edwards, Certified Public Accountants

Erin Kennedy Hess, Advancement Assistant, Eastern Mennonite School

Randy Jones, Retired Public Information Officer, Virginia Department of Resources

Mark Litchford, Crop and Beef Cattle Farmer, Rockingham County

Kirk Moyers, Secondary Social Studies Coordinator, AVID District Director at Harrisonburg City Schools

Scott Suter, Professor of English, Bridgewater College

Clerk of Court Chaz Haywood presents historic Rockingham County Courthouse clock hands to a group of Rocktown History Trustees. The clock tower was installed on the fourth Courthouse in 1874. When the fifth and current Courthouse was finished in 1897, the original clock tower returned to service, but with new clock hands. Those hands were removed in 2017, after 120 years of reporting the time to Harrisonburg.

Rich In History