Monday, September 5, 2011

Cecil County Historical Society Blog Moves to New Address

About a year ago, the Society moved to a new address on the Internet and that is www.cecilhistory.org.  For about a year, we've maintained both sites but a month ago we pulled the plug on the old site, one we'd occupied since 1996.   As part of the transition, we've moved the blog to its new home at

www.cecilhistory.org/blog.

Be sure to follow the latest news from the Society at that address.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Society Closed for 2011 Labor Day Holiday

The Society is closed Saturday, Sept. 3 and Monday, Sept. 5 for the Labor Day holiday

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tome Student Helps Society Make Expanded Yearbook Collection Available to Patrons

For years the Society has worked to build a large collection of yearbooks as these volumes, which call up memories from decades ago, make valuable research resources for individuals working on a family or local history project. Cover-to-cover there are portraits of each student, plenty of anecdotes, brief essays, highlighting specific memories, advertising, photos of activities, and school antics while many contain hand written notes to teachers and friends.

Since a large run of these titles has been assembled at the society and they span a considerable part of the 20th century, they are yet another valuable resource researchers can turn to. We are fortunate to have such a large records group, which now consists of 308 Cecil County volumes. Tome School issued the oldest title we hold in 1906, while many of the public high schools started publishing the annuals in the 1940s.

Nate Schwartz volunteered this summer to reorganize the collection, update our inventory, and create a finding aid. The Tome School sophomore has carefully repositioned the volumes, updated the holdings records, and is now beginning to enter the titles in PastPerfect, software for managing museum collections. The Society appreciates Nate’s work and researchers will find it valuable as they are now easily able to determine the current status of our holdings. Click here to see the finding aid, Nate created and determine if we have something that will help you with your investigation.

The core of the collection came about when retired Cecil County educator, A. Rebecca Smith, having taught in the school system from 1935 to 1976, donated 33-years of Elkton High yearbooks to the society, in order to assure they would have a permanent home. After that another volunteer, Kyle Dixon, worked to expand the A. Rebecca Smith Collection and obtain volumes from all the schools in the county, with a goal of creating a complete runs of the titles. It’s a project we’re still working on and Nate has moved it to the next level, as we continue to seek volumes to fill the gaps. Thanks Nate.

Research Library Closed Monday, Aug. 29, as Area Recovers from Passage of Hurricane Irene

The Society's library and museum are closed Monday as the area recovers from the passage of Hurricane Irene.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Society Closed This Saturday as Hurricane Irene Approaches the Area

With Hurricane Irene working its way toward the lower Delmarva Peninsula, severe weather warnings are up for Cecil County.  As a result the Historical Society will not be open this Saturday.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Team Digitizes Centuries Old Funeral Home Records, From One of the Two Undertaking Establishments in Cherry Hill

Two Historical Society of Cecil County volunteers, Billie Todd and Evelyn Wekke, are pouring over aging business ledgers from the Grant Funeral Home of Cherry Hill. Scanning the old, yellowing pages they meticulously extract information on deaths from the undertaker’s account books, cataloging information about the people whom W. J. Grant buried, including names, family ties and key biographical data.

Evelyn reads the fading handwriting penned in these volumes by the mortician from the late 1880s until the 1920s, as the Society’s resident genealogist, Billie, inputs the data into a spreadsheet. Once they finish this task, one that requires painstaking care, and attention to detail, they will digitize the images of these century old pages that document the services Grant provided for the burials and their work will be made available on the Society’s website. This efficient team has done other demonstration projects of this nature, linking web based data with the high quality images. Their effort makes valuable family history research materials accessible to patrons of the Historical Society.

Cherry Hill had two funeral homes. William J Grant operated one business, which his son, Joseph R., moved the North East in 1922. Alfred T. Abernathy, the other undertaker, died in 1934. His wife continued the business, according to newspaper accounts.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Heat Wave of 1969, Captured by Jim Cheeseman

The scorching summer heat has made outdoor activities nearly unbearable for a few days now, and people are coping with the tropical conditions in a variety of ways. Late Saturday afternoon, families’ crowded tables at Betterton Beach, enjoying outdoor picnics while hopefully catching a cooling breeze from the Chesapeake Bay. Elsewhere people outside quickly scattered for whatever shade they could find and restaurants were crowded.

When Cecil County was hit by a tropical wave of heat and humidity over 40 years ago, Cecil Whig photographer Jim Cheeseman was out taking pictures for the weekly newspaper.  He caught this one  of a young-man attempting to escape the heat of 1969 by resting briefly in a self-serve ice-box at a business in the county seat. Elkton had a National Weather Service Observation Station from 1927 to 1976, by-the-way. H. Wirt Bouchell, the local weatherman, recorded the highs and lows every day for nearly 50 years and the highest reading he recorded in Elkton was 106-degrees on July 10, 1936.

We have thousands of Jim's photos so be sure to check those out when you visit the Society, as week by week he captured the happenings in Cecil County for the paper.