Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Annual Drawing

At 6:30 p.m. this evening, the Society held the drawing for the antique trunk. This year's winner is Betty Fritz of Rising Sun.
Click here to see a vidcast of the drawing. - This is a larger file of the same vidcast.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Portions of 1954 Holly Tree Broadcast Online

As Cecil County prepares to ring in the holiday season with the lighting of the Jackson Station Holly Tree, we are pleased to post a virtual exhibit containing clips of sounds from the 1954 ceremony, as well as photos.
Please click here to go to view the virtual exhibit and see our comments in the post below this one about the Holly Tree.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Travelers' Christmas Tree

One tradition for kicking off the Christmas Season in Cecil County is the annual lighting of the “Holly Tree by-the-tracks.” The Baltimore & Ohio held the first public ceremony in 1948 when thousands of people gathered to ring in the season as lights from thousands of bulbs on the evergreen softly illuminated the Jackson, MD hillside. For many years the company dispatched a special train from Mount Royal Station to Jackson for the occassion. After 1971, the tree was dark for a time until a group of volunteers started making sure the tree festively blazed for the holiday season.

The Society has an old 33 1/3 long playing record that captures the magic of the 1954 lighting ceremony, including carols by the B & O Glee Club and the B & O Women’s Music Choir. That old vinyl, a long unheard broadcast, has sat silently on a shelf, but we recently digitized the audio. We then enjoyed the snap, crackle and pop of the vinyl recording, as another lost Cecil County sound poured from the speakers. Musical selections directed by Dr. James Allan Dash, a narration by the master of ceremonies Walter Linthicum, gasps of delight and loud applause, and much more poured from our speakers. We’re going to post a special vidcast containing portions of that broadcast this week so you too may enjoy the special festive occassion that took place over a half-century-ago.

To illustrate the audio, we have a selection of photos from Jim Cheeseman, old postcards and B & O railroad materials of past evenings along the tracks. But we needed some current shots for the vidcast so on an unseasonably cold Saturday, about the time dusk was settling on the head of the bay, we drove down Holly Tree Lane. On this early winter evening, we found three members of the Holly Tree Committee getting things in order for the festive evening on Dec 1st. Mike Morgan, President of the group, along with Ed Slicer, former Cecil County Director of Parks and Recreation, and John Gallaher were there working through the cold approaching darkness to make sure everything worked. So we talked with the volunteers, took a few photos, and then drove down to Port Deposit to enjoy a fine evening meal at CM Tuggs, in the heart of another old county town, Port Deposit that is ready for the Christmas season.

Be sure to check back later this week for the vidcast and come to the opening ceremony on Dec. 1 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ernest Howard Fact File Digitized

A fast facts file on Cecil County History was created by Ernest A. Howard in the 1960s or 1970s. Based on years of research, he outlined basic data pertaining to the area's towns, villages, companies, geography, churches, organizations, and much more on 3 X 5 cards. Although it was created nearly half-a-century ago, the cards are a source our volunteer staff consults when helping patrons with an initial investigation for they contains a basic framework for initiating a project. Since our library staff finds valuable insights on those old 3 X 5 cards, the Society’s editor, Milt Diggins, digitized the material so our Internet patrons would have access.

Click here to access the Howard Files, including his almanac.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Diggins Title Coming Soon

We are pleased to announce that Milt Diggins, the editor of the Society’s Journal, has a new Cecil County history title coming out in a few months. Part of the Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing, Milt spent the summer examining thousands of Cecil County photos and he has selected over 200 of these for his volume. Many of these images have been unseen for decades, some are from glass-plate negatives from the 19th century, and, since he also worked with private collections, some of picture have never been published. We eagerly look forward to hosting a reception for Milt and Images of America – Cecil County in a few months at the Society. Watch our blog and keep an eye on our calendar for an update. We’re sure you will enjoy this title.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Clifford Jones & Fletcher White Recall George Washington Carver High School

Each year hundreds of graduating seniors receive high school diplomas in Cecil County. But in June 1964, when nine students at the George Washington Carver in Elkton stepped forward to receive degrees, it was a particularly historic moment for it marked the end of segregated high schools in Cecil County. At the commencement five boys and four girls walked proudly across the stage to receive well-deserved diplomas from Principal Charles Caldwell. The final graduating class was made up of Edward Townley, Genevieve Jones, Bryant Wilson, Carolyn Clark, Robert Henson, Barbara Banks, William Calm, Dorothy Waters and Robert Owens. After all these years students at that school still glowingly recall experiences and some of the people who helped them meet the challenges.

While the old high school is long gone, 66-year-old Clifford Jones’ memories are as indelible as the ink on his diploma. For the class of 1960 graduate, there was the feeling of accomplishment at getting his diploma, but the friendships developed during those times in a tight-knitt school are important too. “We didn’t have a football team, but we competed in track and basketball. Our team was in the regional playoffs and we went to Hyattsville to play there. On the track we were good and we got to compete in Chestertown and other places.” Despite being out of school for almost a half-century, Cliff remembers the teachers who influenced his life and the lessons they instilled in him. “Mrs. Bessicks, my first grade teacher, I can never forget for she was a pillar in the community and her husband taught music. Mrs. Fitzgerald taught English. Our teachers were dedicated and set high standards. All of them lived right here in Elkton and we saw them in church on Sunday and wherever else we want. Mr. Caldwell, the principal, was fantastic but he was strict. If I got in trouble in school, he would spank me and then call my mommy”. Cliff went on to say that when he got home his mother, Margaret Coursey, would be waiting and he’d get another spanking. He also recalled that Mr. Caldwell helped him get his first job at Merrey’s Candy Store at the corner of High Street and North Street.

Fletcher White graduated in 1953 and he brought his yearbook to show us. He too echoes Cliff's observations as we recently walked around the property, while the two men recalled many good times. Fletcher's father built houses too and we had a chance to see some of his work and Fletcher recalled working on the school building.

Though it’s been over 40 years since students filled the classrooms and wandered the halls of the Board of Education’s Booth Street Center (the former high school), many pleasant memories are still alive after the passage of decades for that quick fleeting journey through the halls of George Washington Carver brought many valuable experiences, lessons, and knowledge to young scholars, as well as life-long recollections and friendships. We enjoyed spend a pleasant couple of hours with Cliff and Fletcher as they shared memories from decades ago.

Fletcher & Cliff stand outside the Board of Education maintenance building, recalling that this facility served as the high school until a newer building opened.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Truman Appears in Elkton

The past came back back to life last night when President Harry Truman walked on stage to perform for a Historical Society audience as part of our season of living history performances. The thirty-third President of the United States, Harry Truman, dispensed his Missouri straight talk in a one-man show called “Give ‘em, Hell Harry!” Of course, the real Truman died in 1972, but the nation’s leader was played on this special evening by Gerald Riley of Wheatfield Theatre Company. Two Mount Aviat Academy students, William & Rielly Graham, who also happen to be two of our youngest members, greet the important visitor after the show. Check out the Society event blog for additional upcoming performances during our winter living history series.

Death & Burial Records Added to Web Site

Evelyn Wekke and Billie Todd, two of our volunteers, have digitized some of the death and burial records in our collection. (Evelyn is shown at right working in the library.) Their products can be accessed by clicking on the link here. Maryland law required a burial permit in order for a body to be interred and a sexton or other person could not permit a burial unless it was accompanied with a certificate. Locally the burial permits were issued by coroners and the burial spreadsheet contains abstracted data data from 1912 to 1955. The death certificates came from the file copies kept in the local corners office. These records are important sources of genealogical information and Evelyn and Billie are working on more of these valuable projects, including additional death records. Billie, our most experienced genealogist and the person we turn to with our complex family history research questions, is also working on digitizing (with images) some of our naturalization records. We thank them for this valuable contribution for we're sure researchers will find insights here. Please check back occasionally as we add more of the content they've created to the web site.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Legacy of Lynching on the Eastern Shore

Sherrilyn Ifill, a professor at the University of Maryland and the author of On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century, held an open discussion of lynching’s legacy on the Eastern Shore at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Chestertown, last week. While facilitating the conversation on the long silence that followed these grim incidents, the Civil Rights attorney pointed out that that these terrible crimes did not bypass Kent County. The time flew by all too quickly during this insightful evening as many interesting points were made, including the fact that no one seemed to know about the cases in Kent. As I drove back to Elkton, I had plenty of time to think about the evening. The title is a valuable account of a violent period and the research was first-class. But as I drove on I began thinking about the discussion, particularly about the silence and the fact that the crowd that filled the sanctuary was unaware of the Kent County tragedies. The same would apply in Cecil County I believe for there were cases here so I thought we should at least get these tragedies into the historical record.

  • On the evening of July 29, 1872, three African-American men were brought before the Magistrate Bell in Warwick on the charge of firing a dwelling near Sassafras. During the hearing, it was ordered that John Jones, Robert T. Handy and a young person named Thomas were to be committed to the Cecil County Jail for further investigation. Special Constable Merritt put the three men in his carriage (two were manacled and one was riding free) for the trip to the county seat. As they passed through a woods near Pivot Bridge (outside Chesapeake City), a group of men “in disguise” surrounded the carriage and took the prisoners. Hours later, when Sheriff Thomas and Deputy White arrived from Elkton, they found one of the men “strung up by a rope around his neck to the limb of a hickory tree,” according to the Delawarean. No trace of the other two men was found.
  • In September 1861, a young African-American named Frederick was charged with rape. After an investigation in Cecilton, the Cecil Democrat, reported that he was “taken to a tree in the vicinity of the act and hung.”

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Passenger Service Discontinued on the Octoraro Line

Regular passenger service for stations on the Maryland part of the Octoraro line became a thing of the past when "Gilligan's Train," which had been an institution for more than half a century, was taken off the road on April 13, 1935. On that Saturday evening, Conductor T. S. Wilson eased the Oxford-Baltimore Express past the quiet lonely Rowlandsville station a little after 5 p.m. for the last time. (The photo of the Rowlandsville Station is from the first decade of the 20th century.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sharing Stories of The Octoraro Branch Railroad

Last Saturday about 20 people came to the Rising Sun Library to participate in a discussion about the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Octoraro Branch. Old photographs, timetables, maps and newspaper clippings were used to initiate a discussion of the line through Rising Sun, Liberty Grove, and Rowlandsville. Several audience members shared their knowledge, some of them drawing on the things they had heard from earlier generations of residents, stories of using the train for trips to the city or for moving into the area. Others enthusiastically shared their enjoyment in strolling through this particularly scenic part of Cecil County and discussed the possibility of a rails-to-trails route. Jack Hill, a biologist and railroad enthusiast, came down from Pennsylvania to share some of his knowledge. Jack has been investigating the history of the line for a few years and he is presently writing a book on the old Philadelphia and Baltimore Central Railroad with the tentative title of Out of the Ashes – the Octoraro Branch. We’ll look forward to hosting a book signing for this valuable title and hearing Jack’s talk on his research when it rolls of the press. We’ll blog on this a little more on this later.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Society Aids in Production of Emergency Management DVD

The Cecil County Department of Emergency Services recently released an interactive emergency preparedness DVD, which “teaches people how to prepare for disasters.” The production, focusing specifically on the county, also contains a 10-minute video examining the history of some of the area’s major emergencies and the development of disaster management. The Historical Society assisted in the development of this important public safety product by preparing the script and by making the resources of our research library available. As the archives for the County, we are pleased to support local government initiatives such as this. We also congratulate the agency on its professionally done production, which will be of great value to citizens. For a copy, contact the Department of Emergency Services.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Veterans Groups Continue Vauable Support to Society

Over the years Cecil County Veterans groups have been some of the strongest supporters of the Society and they have greatly helped advance our mission of being the keepers of the area’s heritage. These organizations funded projects to conserve fragile local newspapers, record memories of veterans from World War II, produce exhibits for the public, and much more. This year when we appealed to the veterans, the Rising Sun Legion Post 194; Elkton VFW Post 8175; VFW Post 8185, Port Deposit; American Legion Susquehanna Post 135, Perryville; and VFW Post 7687 Chesapeake City answered the call, donating $4,000 to the Society. For our largely volunteer group, which raises most of its money through volunteer efforts and does much to serve the community, this is an important donation. The money will be put to work improving the local collection. The County has some of the finest veterans groups in Maryland and we appreciate their continued service to the community and their support.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Order of the First Families of Maryland Scholarship

The Order of the First Families of Maryland seeks to perpetuate the memory of the settlers of Maryland, foster an interest in colonial research, and aid in education, recently emailed the Society about a scholarship the organization is offering for college students. We’ve imbedded a copy of the Colonial History of Maryland Scholarship application and accompanying fact sheet here. Also if you have questions about the organization visit the OFFMD web site or if you have questions about the scholarship email the Sappington Scholarship Chair, The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Forde at

Friday, August 31, 2007

Victorian Tea on Sept. 8th Cancelled

The Victorian Tea on September 8th is cancelled.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Book Signing for Haunted Maryland on Sept. 8

On Saturday, Sept. 8, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Society will host the first book signing and public event associated with the release of Haunted Maryland: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Old Line State, by local author Ed Okonowicz. This latest volume of regional folklore by the award-winning author and folklorist was released in August by Stackpole Books of Mechanicsburg, PA., and it includes legends, superstitions, history and strange tales associated with Maryland’s historic heritage. Since before the Revolution, through the Civil War era and into modern times, Maryland has been the historic center of the nation. In this informative and entertaining book, learn about the famous people and other Old Line State residents with eerie tales to tell.

According to Okonowicz, “A number of local, Cecil County stories, are included in the new book, but every county of the state is represented. I’m sure readers will find a wealth of fascinating lore associated with the state’s significant historical heritage and, once again, the link between legends and history is apparent in nearly every entertaining and eerie tale.” His new book, Annapolis GHOSTS: History, Mystery, Legends and Lore, also will be on sale and be part of the discussion.

Ed will present a talk at 11 a.m. about the research he conducted and his experiences writing the book. After that, he will be available to sign copies of the book, which are being offered as a fundraiser through the HSCC. Haunted Maryland lists for $9.95 and Annapolis Ghosts for $11.95. There is a discount for members.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

KI Lecture Cancelled - Wed, Aug 22

The lecture on canning on Delmarva is cancelled for Wednesday, August 22. All others continue as planned.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

KI Lecture Series Kicks Off

The Key Ingredients lecture series kicked off Wednesday evening with a fascinating lecture called "Before the Age of Acme" by Dr. Constance Cooper, the manuscript librarian at the Historical Society of Delaware. Dr. Cooper outlined what it was like to shop for food in the era before supermarkets and convenience stores replaced corner stores and she provided the audience with a fun look back at the history of food shopping. Once the slide-illustrated talk was over, the audience had plenty of questions for her about how food shopping, preparation, and service habits have changed over the centuries.You won’t want to miss the other upcoming talks in this series, which all take place at 7:00 p.m. on the designated date at the Society, 135 E. Main Street, Elkton:

  • Wednesday Aug 22 at 7:00 p.m. Ed Kee presents a lecture on "Saving Our Harvest," the story of the Mid-Atlantic's canning and freezing industry
  • Monday, August 27 -- 'Building Houses out of Chicken Legs – Black Women, Food & Power” is the subject by Dr. Psyche Williams Forson. Using a receipe of scholarly analysis, personal interviews, film advertisments, cookbooks and literature, Williams-Forsythe examines the role of the chicken in African American Life, paying special attention to the connection between chickens and African-American Women. From slavery to the present, families have been fed with chickens raised by these women, who have made their livings cooking and serving in houses, resturants, on the roadside, at the harbor and in churches.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 5 -- Dr. Cooper returns for a talk on the "The Delmarva Peach Industry."
  • Wednesday, Sept. 12 -- A talk on Growing Heirloom Vegetables by Heather Morrisey, a history and how to guide for growing heirloom vegetables.

Key Ingredients: America by Food, has been made possible by the Maryland Humanities Council. Key Ingredients is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the Federation of State Humanities Councils. These lectures are also underwitten by a grant from the Maryland Humanities Council.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Night on the Town - Key Ingredients Exhibit Opening Video Blog

We've posted a videocast of the Key Ingredients Exhibit Opening, an evening when the shops, galleries, and restaurants of downtown Elkton filled with patrons as folks came to the county seat to celebrate the arrival of the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit. Conducted locally in cooperation with the Arts Council, the exhibit was made possible by the Maryland Humanities Council. In addition to the larger file, there's a smaller flash visual for those with slower connections. Click here to go to the media page. When the video screen comes up, hit "loop all" to star

Friday, August 10, 2007

Congratulations to Photo Contest Winners

The Society congratulates the winner of the photo contest. First place was won by an entry submitted by Laurene K. Poole; 2nd place by Rich McNeil; and 3rd place by Amanda Butler.

A Night on the Town

On a very comfortable August evening, a great crowd turned out to help the Society welcome the Smithsonian Key Ingredients Exhibit to town. People filled the Society, as great music flowed, and shop owners and restaurants stayed open in the business district to welcome visitors downtown. If you didn't make it this evening, you missed a wonderful opening, but the exhibit and programming will continue through Sept. We'll blog a little more on this in the days ahead, but we were so excited with the pleasant evening, the heart of the old town filling with strollers enjoying the county seats ambiance and entertainment, that we wanted to get something up on the blog quickly.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Generosity of the late Albert Moore Benefits Society

The Historical Society was one of many benefactors of the estate of Albert V. Moore who passed away on December 5, 2005, at the age of 92. Mr. Moore was born in Providence in 1913. As a young man he worked for the Providence Paper Mill and then at the William duPont estate at Fair Hill before eventually retiring from the University of Delaware. Cecil’s history was important to him and having lived through much of the 20th century he knew a great deal about the area’s past. The bequest of this friend of the Society and long-time member is greatly appreciated for it will enable us to do more vital work as the county’s heritage keepers, something that was significant to Mr. Moore. In a largely volunteer organization that raises most of its money through donations from members and fundraising efforts by volunteers, Mr. Moore’s nearly $8,000 bequest allows us to accomplish tasks that would not have been possible if Mr. Moore had not remembered the organization in his will. In this photo, he is shown with his wife Ruth, who passed away away a few years earlier.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Key Ingredients Exhibit Opens Friday Evening

“Key Ingredients: America by Food" a traveling Smithsonian exhibit that is making a tour across the nation, opens this Friday evening in Elkton. The show and associated programs, which are being sponsored locally by the Historical Society of Cecil County and the Arts Council, explores the connections between Americans and the foods they produce, prepare, preserve and present at the table.

The opening reception runs from 4pm to 7pm at 135 E. Main Street in Elkton, home of the Historical Society. In addition to the Smithsonian exhibit highlighting the evolution of American cuisine from food gathering by Native Americans to today’s home cooking techniques, the story is also told through a Society curated exhibit containing county photographs, illustrations, artifacts and an interactive computer station. The reception features refreshments and live music by Soul Oh.

As Cecil digs into this exhibit, area restaurants and merchants are joining in with a taste loop in Elkton. Nearly twelve downtown businesses will stay open and at each location patrons will be offered beer and food. There is a nominal charge at each place (approximately $2 to $4). The taste loop kicks off at 135 E. Main Street, where a $2 cup is purchased. A map detailing the business locations that are open for the evening will also be available.

Food service enterprises participating in this exciting evening are: Bentleys, Elkton Diner, the Howard House, the Grist Mill, Judy’s Java, Main Street Café, Union Hospital Café, and the Wellwood Club

Key Ingredients: America by Food, has been made possible in Cecil County by the Maryland Humanities Council. Key Ingredients is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the Federation of State Humanities Councils. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Hearst Foundation.

For a full schedule of events for the remainder of the exhibit, which runs through September 22, visit the Society’s web site at

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Final Call for Photo Contest Entries

The Society is pleased to invite all photographers, including amateur and expert (and any level in between), to participate in an open photography show, “From Cultivation to Culinary Delights: Interpretive Photographs of Food in Cecil County.” The photographer is free to interpret food in Cecil County in any form – agriculture, harvesting, cooking, business, and industry (such as grocery stores, restaurants) – through photography. The photographs will be displayed at the Elkton Alliance, 101 East Main Street, from August 10 through September 22, 2007. The following rules apply for all entries: (1) the photographer may submit only one photograph for the show; (2) the photograph must be taken of an image located in Cecil County, MD; (3) the photographer must submit

two original prints of the one photograph [one print will be hung in the exhibit and one print will become part of the permanent collection of the Historical Society of Cecil County]; (4) the photographer may use any medium of photography, including digital enhancements to an existing photograph; (5) the photographer may write a short description of, or inspiration for their photograph (not required, but suggested); and (6) the photograph must be submitted not later than August 9, 2007 to the Historical Society of Cecil County, 135 East Main Street, Elkton, MD 21921. All entries will be judged and prizes will be awarded.

The photography show is co-sponsored by the Historical Society of Cecil County and the Cecil County Arts Council and is being held in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution’s “Key Ingredients: America by Food,” a traveling exhibition that examines regional food, at the Elkton Arts Center from August 10 through September 22, 2007.

The first prize is $300 cash and the second prize is $100 gift certificate to Bentley's Restaurant. The third prize is a joint membership to the sponsoring organizations. The prizes are underwritten by Jodlbauer's Furniture Elkton.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Society Congratulates Elkton Town Board

At the July meeting of Elkton’s Mayor and Commissioners the Town Board appointed an historic & architectural review committee. A few years ago, an older part of the town, a section with a character reflective of the past and distinctive architecture, was designated as a historic district. The Mayor and Commissioners apponited the commmittee in order to preserve this valuable community asset. The Society congratulates the Mayor and Commissioners for taking such a visionary step to preserve a valuable section of the community, one that contains a number of dwelling representative of the colonial era and other unique architectural periods and styles.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Young Scholar Initiates Original Research Project

This summer Abigail Bratcher, a Rising Sun High School Senior, is undertaking a valuable research project, which will be published by the Society toward the end of 2007. It’s always exciting to see young scholars enhance academic skills and prepare for college by exploring Cecil’s past. We first met the serious scholar when she worked on a research paper for Mrs. Dillaway’s AP 11th grade history class. Earlier in the year she participated in Maryland History Day, a juried state-competition that requires extensive, independent research of historical materials related to a national theme. As she worked through that process, she won the Cecil County History Day competition with a paper on Maryland’s role in the Civil War. Abigail plans to study history or anthropology as she prepares for an academic career in one of those disciplines. Look for her original research examining events in Cecil as the darkness of the Civil War rolled over the nation in a future edition of the Journal.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mayor Fisona Wants Passenger Service in Elkton

It’s been a quarter-of-a-century since a conductor has called out at "all aboard" at the old depot in Elkton. But Mayor Joseph Fisona is working to see that the quiet of the station is shattered by more than the swish of fast trains rushing by for he wants a few of those runs to stop for passengers. Some time ago he started a petition drive, collecting signatures urging state and federal officials, as well as Amtrak to bring regular passenger service back to the county seat.

He's continuing with his campaign for on a very pleasant July Sunday he was working for the community again on this initiative and we had the opportunity to accompany him to the Kilby Farm for a Sustainable Energy Fair. At the fair he collected more signature to support this effort. He's shown in the top photo talking to former Cecil County Commissioner Phyllis Kilby about mass tranit. In the photo below, he's sitting next to some of the Society's historic photos of the railroad station, while he pauses to enjoy a delicious cup of Kilby's Ice Cream.
If you’re interested in a little more history of the train in Elkton and an old photo click here. The Society thanks Mayor Fisona for his effort on behalf of the community to return important commuter service to the eastern part of Cecil County.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Last Whipping Post Sentence in Cecil County

Each week the reference staff answers a number of queries on a range of subjects, and this week the volunteers had to do a little extra digging to find the answer when a patron wanted to know when was the last time a whipping post sentence was handed down in Cecil County. In December 1940 the Cecil County Circuit Court ordered a 42-year old prisoner to serve 60 days in the jail and the sheriff was to give him ten lashes on the bare back at the whipping post as the sentence on a wife beating charge. A local newspaper, the Cecil Democrat, remarked that this was the first time in 46-years that a person was sentenced to the whipping post. The task of carrying out this assignment fell to Sheriff David Randolph. At one time this method was used as punishment for forgery, theft, Sabbath breaking, blasphemy and other crimes and before it was dropped in the 20th century it applied only to wife beaters. Neighboring Delaware kept its whipping post law on the books until 1972, though the last criminal in Delaware was whipped in 1952 for beating a woman.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Researcher Alert - Additional Naturalization Records & More Added to Collection

We're constantly adding new research materials to our holdings and this past week we've added a few items, which will be of great assistance to researchers. We now have a large run of naturalization records from about 1889 into roughly the 1920s. We also acquired the register of intended voters for 1925 and records from the Bohemia River Bridge.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Elkton Wedding Chapel Receives Marker

Wednesday a group gathered in downtown Elkton to unveil the county's newest roadside marker from the Maryland Historic Trust. Joining the owners of the Little Wedding Chapel, Bobby Ann and Frank Smith, were Dianne Broomell, who coordinated the project for Delegate Michael Smigiel's , Delegate Smigiel, Senator Pikin, and others. Diane read the following remarks at the unveiling:

"Today's event is the culmination of two years, one month, and one day of effort to preserve an era for which Elkton should be remembered. Applying for an historical marker with the Maryland Historical Trust can be a long, cumbersome process but it is well worth the effort.

After contacting Nancy Kurtz, the National Register Coordinator, she was surprised Elkton didn't already have a marker signifying this event and she encouraged us to send in the application.

The most involved process was the research in order to provide documentation showing how the Elkton Wedding Chapel Era impacted Cecil County from the 1920s to the 1950s. Just as tedious was drafting the proposed text for the marker because you are attempting to write a whole chapter in 55 words or less. At least three drafts were attempted which subtly resemble the final draft.

Since the Historic Little Wedding Chapel is the last one from this period, it's only appropriate that this would be the location for the marker. In fact, Bobby Ann and Frank have done a wonderful job in keeping this period alive and their chapel has been featured in National Geographic and the Baltimore Sun, usually on Valentine's Day.

Today is is very reward to see the final product and to know that this important time in Elkton's history will not be forgotten."

Remarks by Diane Broomell

Please enjoy our videocast of this event

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Naturalization Records, Optometry Register & More Added to Collection

It’s always exciting when we add primary source research materials to the collection, especially when the documents involve records that haven't been accessed in a century or more. With some degree of regularity that sort of exciting thing happens, and just last week we had an opportunity to receive a group of new research materials materials when we were taken to a seldom visited storage room deep in the basement of the old courthouse, a room that overflowed with leather-bound volumes of old records.

As the official county archives we were asked to check out some of these unexpected treasures, to see if they belong in the research archives. Well they do for they are full of nuggets of information for genealogists and local history researchers. As these records aged and were seldom used by the public, they were placed in long term storage and were largely forgotten.

In the material that we have acquired thus far are three volumes of naturalization records from about 1905 – 1921, a debt docket the middle of the 19th century, and the Optomestrists Registration book. We have these just in time for the summer vacation season, a time when many genealogists hit the road in search of elusive ancestors. These might just contain some clues for the traveling or local genealogist. Continue to monitor the blogosphere as we continue sifting through these materials.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Society Remembers Anne Copley

Anne Copley, who passed away on May 9, was remembered at a Memorial Service earlier today at Jenner’s Pond in West Grove PA, when friends and family gathered to honor her life. She was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1921, graduated from Tucson High School in Arizona, and Ohio State University in 1943. Anne volunteered at the Society for nearly 30 years, and served on the board for most of that time.

A tireless contributor, she worked in the library nearly every Monday helping family historians, old house researchers, and students discover the county’s legacy. She always put the organization first and supported new ways for doing things as we began reacting to changes taking places in special collections libraries, as far back as the mid-80s. During her decades with us, she helped usher in a wide-array of innovations, ranging from employing our first museum professional nearly two decades ago to adapting to computers and all that meant for the organization. Anne had a vision for improving the Society and she helped implement advancements as she worked on and supported many of the changes we’re benefiting from today.

I still recall in the early ‘90s as we began experimenting with offering lively, engaging programs focused on broader audiences, how she put together our first public workshop, one on researching the history of your old house. On that pleasant autumn Saturday morning, as we nervously waited to see if anyone would show up, the room suddenly filled with new students. Once everyone settled into a comfortable seat, Anne, Miss Taylor and a few others went right to work offering a fantastic seminar on mining data on the county’s past. As I write this now, I still recall that pleasant day so many years ago.

We are a much better Society because of her involvement and because of her strong belief in moving forward. When I talked to her daughter, Phyllis Machledt, soon after she passed away, she mentioned that the historical society was always very important to her mother and a few days before she passed away, she was talking about important matters concerning the future of the organization. Over the past three decades as we launched many steps to improve the institution, Anne was always someone I turned to for advice when we were assessing new initiatives for the Society. If we moved forward, she was there to help support the change and to work on the enhancement.

Anne, a major leader and contributor to the organization for three decades, will be missed, but her leadership, wise-advice, and her many hours of work will serve as a continuing example to those whom she touched and to a new generation of leadership that is beginning to guide the Society through the 21st century.

Friday, June 1, 2007

New Historic Marker Arrives in Time for Summer Tourist Season

Early Friday morning, a State Highway Administration crew was seen putting up a new sign on Main Street in Elkton, in front of the little Wedding Chapel. A closer look showed that they were erecting a familiar looking cast iron sign, one of the State’s historic roadside markers. We’re pleased that there’s an abundance of these signs around the county, but this one is particularly interesting since it tells of Elkton’s famous marriage history. Its arrival is timely since the summer tourist season is getting underway here at the top of the Chesapeake and we hope to see many visitors taking a moment to gain insight into this important aspect of our past. Joining Bobby Ann and Frank Smith, the owners of the Little Wedding Chapel or Delegate Michael Smigiel (far right) who worked to get the sign erect and his chief of staff, Cailey Locklair.

While you're on the net, surf on over to our media section and see our videocast on this new marker:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Remembering on Memorial Day

As the nation pauses on this Memorial Day to remember those in the military who made the ultimate sacrifice, the Society is posting a vidcast of the call-up ceremony at the Lt. Victor J. McCool Armory in Elkton on May 25. The Society was pleased to be there to see the men off on this call-up and to see many veterans from the area's service organizations in the group, such as the commander of the Elkton VFW, Charlie McCoy. The County's veterans group have always been supportive of the Society and this is our small way of saying thank you to the men and women who serve and have served this country.

We're leaning this technology so bear with us as we climb the learning curve that will take society services to another level. There are three choices, ranging from a high quality slide show to a straight-forward photobucket exhibit. Depending on your connection speed and system you may select one or the other. This is our first vidcast, but we plan many more of these productions, along with podcasts in the future. (hit loop view button to start the show) (a smaller version of above. Hit loop all to start.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Old Armory Sees Another Group of Soldiers off for War Duty

As noon approached on a beautiful spring day in Elkton, we were honored to attend an activation ceremony for 131 soldiers of Company D, a part of the 1st Battalion of the 17th Infantry Regiment, which is joining 1,170 other Maryland National Guardsmen heading to Iraq. The Lt Col. J. Victor McCool Armory basked in the mid-day sun on the eve of the Memorial Day Weekend, as American flags waved in the slight breeze and anxious family members stayed near loved-ones. When Captain Jonathan Preteroti, the company commander, called the company to order, he remarked that it was with great sadness that the men were leaving behind their families, but they had a mission to accomplish and the company would serve the nation with honor. The company has been activated three times for overseas deployments during time of war, World War I, World War II, and now the global war on terrorism, he added. Joining in to honor these brave soldiers were Delegates Michael Smigiel and Dick Sossi, along with Senator E. J. Pipkin and Elkton Mayor Joseph Fisona. On behalf of the state delegation, Smigiel presented the company commander with five Maryland Flags to be carried with the troops in Iraq. “As you view these flags each day, let them serve as a reminder that you’re in our prayers and thoughts, each single day,” he said to the troops assembled before them.

Hundreds were on hand to give these men a send off and the Society is pleased to honor their duty by recording this important day and the hard months ahead as we archive material, including many photographs from this memorial day weekend, the published materials from the Cecil Whig, and an audio recording of the ceremonies, which we are turning into our first podcast. Our thoughts are with the soldiers and their families on this call-up as they depart from Elkton on a nine month mission to protecting the nation from terrorism. As our nation's defenders begin their long journey and say good-by to loved ones, please view our slide show honoring these brave men. We're also beta testing a new and improved flash program for our slide shows so you may want to check this one out too. We'll have it out of beta soon, but please fveel free to take a glance at this presentation too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gilpin Falls Covered Bridge Preservation Effort Honored

Over 115 members of the Historical Society of Cecil County were on hand Monday evening when the Society presented its first ever preservation award to the Gilpin Falls Covered Bridge Committee. The recognition, given at the organization’s spring meeting at the Wellwood Club in Charlestown, was presented to Earl Simmers, a representative of the committee, who was the evening’s speaker. The purpose of the Ernest A. Howard Award is to recognize an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the preservation of the county’s historic resources and has faced huge challenges in trying to protect the built environment or save a scarce resource.

As the number of covered bridges in the nation dwindles each year, the 19th-century wooden structures falling victim to flood, fire, and neglect, this local grassroots group has been busy leading an effort to preserve Cecil’s own span, which is threatened by time, inattention, and decay. With only a handful remaining in Maryland, the committee has persistently worked to save this most threatened of county resources for it is an irreplaceable reminder of another century and time.

Despite the many risks faced by this relic, the tireless committee has not given up on the structure owned by Cecil County Government. Built in 1860, it was of vital economic importance until the early 1930s when the structure was closed to vehicular traffic. Today the bridge is a highly visible tourist attraction on one of the area’s main highways for visitors. In trying to help it survive for future generations, the committee does its work through advocacy with local government and the community, by applying for grants to help underwrite preservation cost, and by raising money any way they can, which ranges from selling postcards and T-shirts to soliciting private and corporate donations. The committee asks everyone to help them save the bridge. Donations should be made payable to the Historical Society of Cecil County, Gilpin Falls Covered Bridge, and should be sent to 135 E. Main St. Elkton, MD 21921 or to W. Earl Simmers, 99 Simmers Rd. Rising Sun, MD 21911. For additional information on how you can help, call Simmers at 410-658-6220.

The award is named after Ernest A. Howard a man who was especially instrumental in helping to build the strong Historical Society of nearly 1,000 members, which serves the county today. Born in Childs in 1885, this benefactor of the organization was deeply involved in the successful revival of the nonprofit in the 1950s and served it as historian and editor of the newsletter. He worked tirelessly to preserve local heritage and was active in the restoration of several old churches and others buildings. In 1955 he was a central figure in the establishment of a modern headquarters for the Cecil County library, and he donated a wing to the library in part to provide a home for the Historical Society. Howard passed away in 1973.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What Happend in the Library

The next time you walk into the Eva M. Muse library at the Historical Society, you are in for a big surprise, especially if you are a regular patron, for the reading room and the stack are undergoing some significant changes. It’s been 22 years since we established the basic footprint in those areas and while our collections have grown enormously since the mid-80s, the arrangements of those facilities have not. One of the charges we had for our collections manager, Eric, was to reorganize the facilities and museums to reflect the changes that have taken place in nearly a quarter of a century. Well this past week he jumped right into the task and with a small crew of volunteers (Sarah & Fernando) he’s been busy reorganizing, cleaning, painting, and building new shelves in order to make more efficient use of the room and provide better organized collection for patrons. He assures me that it'll be finished when we open Monday. Eric has been doing an outstanding job in providing professional care for the collection, and catching up with 75 years of collections management needs, along with the contributions that have accumulated since we were formed. As we’ve watched his plans unfold in other areas, its been great to see an organization with strong collections move ahead. Stop in soon and see how much better the library is with these changes.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Rodeo Earl Smith, the Old Range Rider

Wednesday evening Rob Churnside walked into the Society with his guitar and said I’m going to play a couple of local songs for you that I’ve just written. Well that something we’ve never heard before so everything came to a quick halt and we settled into comfortable chairs for a little performance. Oh how much we enjoyed those creative local piece.

The first one was a ballad about the escapades of Earl Smith an old range rider who lived in Cecil County for decades. A rodeo rider, Hollywood stunt man, boxing and wrestling promoter, television and radio personality, amusement park owner and who knows what else, he began his entertainment career as a young man in the 1890s performing as an expert rider and roper in Wild West Shows. As movies became popular he started performing stunts in the early Hollywood shows with the famous Tex Cooper. For Twenty years he operated the Morton Park Pool, an amusement park outside Philadelphia, and when he retired from that he purchased the Silver King Ranch on U.S. Route 40 at Perryville.

On the eve of his 86th Birthday, our local newspaper, the Cecil Whig, said he was a “hale and hearty octogenarian “ who once earned a “living by physical strength, daring skill, a flair for entertaining, and plenty of good old American guts.” When he died in 1980 at the age of 89, the newspaper said: “One of Cecil County’s most colorful personalities” has passed away. He was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.

There’s a very interesting essay about Rodeo on the web pages for that you might want to read since it provides insight into the colorful nature of this fascinating man. We’re going to see if we can get Rob to give us a little audio outtake that we can get on the blog because we’re sure you’ll enjoy this local-flavor piece about an entertaining man, even in his twilight years.

Rob’s other song was called Caecil By-God. Thanks Rob for entertaining us for a few minutes and for helping to preserve a unique part of Cecil's past that is fading into the myst of time. We enjoyed the pieces a lot and look forward to hearing much more.

In this January 1970 photo Rodeo Earl is receiving an an award from Cecil County Sheriff Thomas Mogule, the Maryland State Police and others. It was taken in January 1970 by Jim Cheeseman at the Cecil Whig.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Lights, Camera, Action . . . . Old Home Movies Tell a Story

Tucked away in closets and drawers gathering dust, are old home movies made in Cecil County. Some of those flickering images recall how area families celebrated holidays, birthdays, graduations and the gathering of relatives. Some focus on sports and school events, town parades, and fairs, but also squeezed on the aging footage are valuable scenes of the landscape and our built environment. These types of relics from the past grow more valuable with each passing decade and they capture a few minutes of time in a unique, valuable format.

For some time now we’ve said that we’d like to add some of those reels to our collection. Well Jane Bellmyer came through for us again. (You may recall that in 2006, she helped us kick off our Cecil Sounds collection.) A few weeks ago she brought us several reels of film showing the Weaver family, Wiley Manufacturing, the Conowingo Dam, the Susquehanna River and the bridges across the waterway. We just had those digitized so we can watch them on the computer and we just finished take our first glance at those decades old movies. We found them fascinating, especially the scenes of the launching of a boat at Wiley Manufacturing and the water rushing through the Dam.

Click here to review an out-take of this video on our web site. We're still working on publishing this piece, so we'll have improvements on the page over the next few days so check back occassinally as we process this valuable addition to our research collection.

Thanks Jane for continuing to help us build unique collections for researchers.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

1945 George Washington Carver High Yearbook Holds Lots of History

We've been on a quest to build our yearbook collection for a couple of years now and we have over 250 from various Cecil County Schools, though we're still working to fill gaps. Yesterday we filled one of those spots when Michael Cain, who is researching the Boddy family line in Port Deposit, mentioned that he has a 1945 yearbook from George Washington Carver High School in Elkton. When we told him how much we'd enjoy seeing one of those, in a flash Michael turned to his laptop and pulled up scans of the Carver Mirror from 1945. Then he offered a copy of the digitized edition to the Society. We were so excited about acquiring this volume that we immediately created a virtual exhibit so you may easily enjoy this valuable resource from your home. Go to and hit the button for George Washington Carver to enjoy this outstanding digital exhibit. We'd like to add more of these so keep us in mind if you have some and want to give them a permanent home.

Thanks Michael for the contribution. There is so much valuable information in yearbooks.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

All Aboard

Mayor Joseph Fisona is working with Delegate Dave Rudolph and others to try to bring passenger train service back to the Elkton Depot and they called to ask us to develop some historical data for a presentation they’re doing this week. The last time a regularly scheduled passenger train stopped at the station on Bow Street was April 25, 1981. The Chesapeake, train 420, scheduled to stop at the station at 6:29 p.m. on its run north from Washington, D.C., completed its final run that spring evening a quarter-of-a-century ago. Passenger service had returned in 1978, when the Chesapeake, a new Amtrak train, started running between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. When it made its first run across the top of the Chesapeake, 150 people greeted it at Elkton.

Since that time the quiet at the old depot has not been broken by the conductor shouting “All Aboard,” though many Acelas and other fast trains thunder past the old station that once served as an important commuter station in Cecil County. We hope Mayor Fisona, Delegate Rudolph and others are successful and we think them for the working on trying to bring commuter service back to eastern Cecil County. The Mayor has a petition at various places around town so you may want to sign it if you too want to see service return to the brick station.
Meanwhile, over the weekend we pulled together some data for them and we thought you might be interested in seeing the time-line and a sample image they are using in their presentation. The photo shows Elkton's Pennsylvania Station soon after it opened about 1930. the cars of commuters and travelers jamming the parking lot during those days of the Great Depression.

---- Elkton, a railroad town -- Chronology

January 9 -- A train operated by the Wilmington & Susquehanna Railroad makes an experimental run to Elkton, as work continues on building the line to the Susquehanna River. Many townspeople were on hand to greet the first arrival of
a train of cars.

July 31 -- the road opens for regular service. For more than a century, the
railroad plays an ever growing role in Elkton's development.

The Philadelphia Wilmington & Baltimore railroad guide says: "The railroad has proved of great advantage for Elkton . . . The population of this place prior to construction of the road was about 900 although 160 years had elapsed since its settlement, while since that time the number of inhabitants has increased fully 50-percent.

Eighteen passenger trains a day stop at the Elkton station.

Only 3 trains a day stop at the depot and all service would soon stop.

After a period of interruption, passenger service returned to Elkton in 1978 when a the Chesapeake, a new Amtrak train, started running between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. When it made its first run across the top of the Chesapeake, 150 people greeted it at Elkton.

April 25 -- Train 420, scheduled to stop in Elkton at 6:29 p.m. on its trip north from Washington, D.C. makes its call at the old depot. Since that time the quiet at the old depot has not been broken by a conductor shouting "All Aboard," through Acela and other fast trains thunder past the old station that once served as an important commuter station in Cecil County.

Hitting the Streets in Elkton

We are busy transforming the Society from a well-resourced research library and small museum into an institution that offers a broader array of history related programming and makes our institution an important cultural part of Cecil County and downtown Elkton. We opened the door on this new era for our institution about a year-and-a-half ago, when our board put in motion a revised strategic plan. Part of this plan calls for hitting the streets with walking tours, which explore the rich history and heritage of the community. Well we were busy focusing on that aspect of our enhnacement process Saturday for we first hit the streets with members of Girl Scout Troop 174. After that group of wonderful young ladies finished seeing the Reverend Duke’s Log House and much more, we had others. One group was off to the Elkton Cemetery for a walking through the old burial ground, and another cluster of visitors walked down Main Street, to hear about the fascinating past right here. If you’re interested in a walking tour of Elkton, e-mail us and we’ll set something up for you. Check back often for updates on how we're continuing to progress, including news about our next series of fascinating living history programs.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lost Video Joins Cecil's Lost Sounds

The Society launched a new collections initiative aimed at capturing largely forgotten recordings from the County’s past at the end of 2004. We got the idea from the National Public Radio after hearing a broadcast called Lost and Found Sound. When our request first went out for help in capturing these materials, the Cecil Whig’s Jane Bellmyer answered the call, finding four old audio tapes from WSER, an Elkton AM radio station, which was a full service broadcaster in that era when local DJs hosted most of the shows and produced the news, sports, and advertising. Jane was the news director at the station from 1980 to 1988. Since the time when she helped us kick off this collection, we’ve added other items and you may want to read the press release on the subject..

Jane occasionally comes in with some additions, but a month or two ago she brought in some 8mm home video of the launching of a boat at Wiley Manufacturing, a Port Deposit company that closed several decades ago, and some family home footage. We are in the process of getting those digitized so these lost moving images will be available to researchers. We’ll also add some samples to the web site so you will know that we have them available.

Additionally, we acquired two new items for our oral history collection this past week. Kara Green, our project coordinator, interviewed 94-year-old retired school teacher, Lilian Watkins and 84- year-old Karl Feucht, a retired farmer. We’ll get some samples of those up online shortly. Both are very insightful pieces.

Please keep us in mind if you have some audio or video from a long ago parade, sports-event or some other local public activity, for we would like to add those to the collection. In this new information era, sounds and video are going to be important additions to research collections as print media becomes less important.

This is just one of many new initiatives being undertaken by the Historical Society of Cecil County to collect and chronicle unique aspects of our past. It joins other innovative program such as the Cecil County Veteran's Oral History Project.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sad News

12 Apr 2007 4:53 pm

While I eagerly worked to create our first blog, my cell phone brought some sad news that dampened my enthusiasm for the task on this cool spring day. The Cecil Whig's Katy Ciamaricone was on the line, saying she needed to talk with me about Jim Cheeseman who had passed away earlier in the day. Shortly after that conversation our regular office line rang and it was Don Herring, a retired editor from the Whig.

If you don't know the "Cheese" served Cecil Countians as a photojournalist for over 20 years, capturing attention-grabbing images for our weekly and then daily newspaper as his camera documented the unfolding of history here at the top of the Chesapeake. He was there when the big disasters took place and he was there as the county celebrated holidays and everyday happenings.

He retired in 1983 and back in the mid-1990s I still recall another time the phone rang. This time the voice crackling over the line was Jim's, joking and jovial as always. Would we be interested in adding his photographs spanning three decades to our library, he inquired. Oh how exciting that call was for I couldn't wait to get over to his apartment to see the scope of the pictures and negatives. In a few weeks, joined by his former editor, Don Herring, we sat for many days pulling box after box of unorganized material together and adding his recollections to as many as possible.

Today we have over 10,000 of his images, which are such a valuable collection for studying our past. Jim left us with a permanent, unmatched visual record, with a unique depth and quality, focusing on everyday life in Cecil from 1963 to 1983.When his health was still good, he would often stop in to chat and joke with our volunteers and tell stories about his experiences. He always seemed to be in the middle of the action, whether it was chasing police cars and fire trucks, attending fire company banquets or church events, taking pictures of presidents, or visiting around Elkton after he retired.

That time and those memories seem a lot more distant as I write this late on a Friday afternoon as strong guests from an approaching nor'easter rattle our historic old bank building in downtown Elkton. But even now I vividly remember sitting there with Jim and Don over 10 years ago, pouring over those old images as "the Cheese" easily recalled time-tested stories about many of the pictures and related many tales about his escapades from the 1930s on. He always enjoyed an audience and he was entertaining for I still recall many of those stories.

I too remember his visits to the Society and seeing him around the community as he worked every job to its maximum, before and after retirement, often announcing "never fear the Cheese" is here or something like that. He had a great sense of humor, was always joking, and got along easily with people. That approach helped him for he was able to work his way into about any unfolding news event.

So long Jim. Though we'll never hear that familiar phrase again, we will carefully look after the "Cheeseman Collection" ( for we are pleased you selected us to be the custodians of such priceless materials. As the time you traveled every corner of Cecil, from Bald Friar to Warwick and everyplace in between, grows more distant, your record of the county grows immensely more valuable and your work will serve as a tangible reminder of the contribution you made.

Click here to see a slide show containing some of Jim's work


Blogging at the Society

13 Apr 2007 4:41 pm

One spring day in 1996, back when the Internet was new and less a critical part of everyday life, the Historical Society created a presence on the net. Beginning with that first generation site eleven years ago, virtual visitors were able to read articles from our newsletter, find information about the Society, and send e-mail queries on genealogy and local history. Over time, our virtual home, which is open around-the-clock, has grown and I've been excited as we've added oral histories, created digital collections, captured Cecil's lost sounds, and added lots of our photographs to the web site.

Now, eleven years later, as another spring gets underway at the top of the Chesapeake Bay, I'm excited to add something else to our online home, a blog. A blog is essentially an online diary, a public place to quickly share things that are of interest to members and patrons. Watch the blog for quick pieces about whatever exciting thing has our attention and we'll give you brief notes on additions to the collections and news that has our attention, or comments on local history matters. (Of course, don't forget to check out the news and events section for formal press releases and more details.) In the months and years ahead our goal is to deliver even more information on the web and we have some great plans for digitization. I'll comment more on those in the weeks and months ahead.

Generally look for weekly, conversational updates here.