Sunday, December 27, 2009

Death Certificates added to Web Site

Evelyn Wekke and Billie Todd, two of our volunteers, have digitized a number of our collections over the past few years and Evelyn recently completed another one. This time it is death certificates from the 1940s and 1950s. It joins earlier work the two had done with death certificates from the 1920s - 1940s and burial permits from 1906 to 1912. (Evelyn is shown at right working in the library.) These products can be accessed by clicking on the link here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Book Features Details About Powerful World War II Era Bainbridge Naval Training Center Football Team

Wilbur D. Jones, Jr., the author of “Football! Navy! War! How Military ‘Lend-Lease’ Players Saved the College Game and Helped Win World War II“ will speak about his new title and sign books at the Historical Society of Cecil County on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 1:00 p.m. While highlighting the Navy’s role in preserving the game and football’s impact on national morale and the war effort during the 1940s, it has a significant local angle. One of the star players, “Choo-Choo” Charlie Justice trained at the Bainbridge Naval Training Center.

During World War II, the U. S. military and colleges joined forces, fielding competitive teams to prepare men for combat. The book highlights the Department of the Navy’s role in preserving the game and football’s impact on national morale and the war effort through their “Lend-Lease” to colleges of officer candidates, including All-America and professional players. It describes wartime college and military football.

From a local perspective, the book features details about the powerful Bainbridge Naval Training Center teams of 1943-45, whom Jones rates as the No. 1 military wartime team. Bainbridge opened in 1942 as a boot camp and advanced training station, and closed in early 1970’s. The center was located at the Jacob Tome Institute at Port Deposit. This is a major previously unpublished work on the history of Cecil County and region during WWII.

“Exciting military games were a diversion from war’s horrors and sacrifices, and they helped boost bond sales and home front morale for civilians and the military,” Jones writes. His book covers such games as Great Lakes Navy’s final-minute 19-14 upset over perennial power Notre Dame in 1943 (though the Irish won the national championship anyway). Featured in previously unpublished detail is the sport’s wartime star, teenaged halfback Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, a kid among the All-Americas and NFL players at Bainbridge Navy and a postwar superstar at North Carolina.

Admiral James L. Holloway III (Ret).., 20th Chief of Naval Operaitons and Chairman Emeritus of the Naval Historical Foundation said Football! Navy! War! “is an untold story about the relationship of America’s great game with the armed forces – especially the United States Navy – during this struggle against the Axis powers. As one who fought alongside many of the outstanding athletes that Wilbur Jones portrayed, I can testify how the smash-mouth tactics of the gridiron were applied in the waters and archipelagoes of the Western Pacific. The book is a must-have for any patriot and fan of the sport.”

Don Jenkins of Sports Illustrated said: “I’ve been waiting for somebody to do this book and preserve these treasured college football memories, and now Wilbur Jones has done it – and done splendidly.”

The author, Wilbur D. Jones, Jr., is a retired Navy captain with four decades of service. He spent several days in Cecil County working on this project. This free program takes places at the Society’s headquarters at 135 E. Main Street in downtown Elkton. Light refreshments will be served.

Click here to read a full review of this title in the Star News Online (Wilmington, NC)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Haunted Eastern Shore at Oct. Meeting

OCTOBER 19, 2009
6:00 P.M.



The October Dinner Meeting of the Historical Society of Cecil County will be held on Monday, October 19, 2009 at 6:00 P.M. at the Chesapeake Inn Banquet Room, 605 2nd Street, Chesapeake City. Please enter through the Ballroom entrance which is to the right of the restaurant entrance. Please inquire with the valet if you need to use the elevator. There is limited parking so carpooling is suggested.

Our guest speaker will be Mindie Burgoyne who has recently published the book “Haunted Eastern Shore: Ghostly Tales from East of the Chesapeake” Mindie is a native Marylander who currently lives on the Eastern Shore and works for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. There will be copies of her book for sale at the dinner meeting.

The cost of the dinner is $23.00 per person for members and $25.00 per person for non-members. You may select between Crab Cake or Chicken Marsala. Your meal will include salad, coffee or tea and dessert.

Please send your reservation by mail to the Society, with your check, to Paula Newton, HSCC, 135 E. Main St., Elkton, MD 21921. Please make your check payable to the Historical Society of Cecil County. The deadline for reservations is October 9, 2009. This is a catered dinner making it impossible for us to take late reservations or walk-ins. If you have any questions, please call the Historical Society at 410-398-1790.
Don't forget to list the names of the attendees and their meal selection.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chautauqua 2009 Coming to Cecil County in July

"Rights & Reformers" - July 2009

When:4 pm - 6 pm

Where: Perryville Outlet Center, Heather Lane, Perryville, MD

Description: Performers bring important historical personalities and their accomplishments to life, in live, free, summer presentations. This year's theme is "Rights and Reformers". On Friday the 10th, listen to Woody Guthrie celebrate the life of working people in his songs, poetry and prose. On Saturday the 11th, hear how Jackie Robinson dealt with being the first black player in major league baseball. And on Sunday the 12th, see how Eleanor Roosevelt changed both our nation and the world through her commitment to social activism.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Society Wraps Up Spring Meeting With Living HIstory Performance

Saturday evening, the Society wrapped up its spring meeting.  For entertainment, Abby Harding performed in character as Mary Pickersgill the flag lady of Baltimore.  In addition, the Society presented the Ernest A. Howard Award to the publishers of Cecil Soil and recognized other special guests, including Vince & Sid LaMonica and Mrs. Letts.

Enjoy the slide show presentation containing photos from the evening.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Publishers of Cecil Soil Receive Prestigious Earnest A. Howard Award

The Historical Society of Cecil County presented the Ernest A. Howard Award to the publisher of Cecil Soil Magazine, Ed and Carol Belote, at its spring meeting on Saturday, March 28. This prestigious recognition honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to the preservation of the county's historic resources, while facing huge challenges in trying to protect the built environment, save scarce relics, or record folkways. Each and every page of the local publication, completely filled with unique content, captures the area’s history, culture and the arts in a way that no other serial does. In its premiere issue nearly 5 years ago, the publisher said the magazine, which was written by and about the people of the area was "a grass-root forum established to honor and promote the people and businesses."

Ed had a vision about publishing a magazine for the “gentle people of Cecil County” in 2003. Struggling to bring his idea to readers, he had challenges that had to be overcome in a time when start-up publications were under pressure. He had to obtain high-quality local editorial matter to fill pages, get advertising to support the enterprise, make sure circulation was good, and arrange all the back-shop affairs. Somehow at Back Porch Publications, (the name of his holding company), Ed and his wife, Carol, a team of two, overcame many start-up obstacles, at a time when print publications were disappearing.

As Cecil County changes in the first decade of a new century, it is important that our residents, new and old, know about the heritage of the place that is their home. In the short five years, since the premier issue hit the streets, the community has embraced this homegrown periodical, its editorial material focused solely on the county. It is also valued for its website, ( which received over 255,000 hits in January 2009. Six times a year residents look forward to the arrival of Cecil Soil at their doorsteps, Paula Newton observed. "We thank Ed for his efforts and we look forward to a continued partnership that records time’s passage at the head of the Chesapeake. We also thank Ed for being a strong supporter of the Society."

The award is named after Ernest A. Howard a man who was especially instrumental in helping to build the strong Society of 1,000 members, which serves as the county's heritage-keeper. 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.

The prestigious award is only given to someone who has overcome significant obstacles to preserve our past. It was last awarded to Earl Simmers for the work he did to preserve Gilpin Falls Covered Bridge. As the number of covered bridges in the nation dwindled each year, the 19th-century wooden structures falling victim to flood, fire, and neglect, this local grassroots project involved an effort to preserve Cecil’s own span. It too was threatened by time, inattention, and decay. With only a handful remaining in Maryland, Earl 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, he never gave up on the structure owned by Cecil County Government. Right now, thanks to Earl's tireless, effort the bridge is being preserved with the help of a federal grant. Without his tireless effort, it was at serious risk of being lost.

Ed remarked that he was delighted to be honored by the Howard award. I know he published lots of Cecil’s history fifty years ago, so it’s exciting for us to be following in those footsteps in the 21st century. “Carol and I are pleased that we have been able to create a growing homegrown product for the county’s readers and advertisers,” Ed added. “It is the stories of the everyday people that make our magazine what it is.” To illustrate, he discussed his premiere issue that featured Vince and Sid LaMonica and the story about Circus Park by 90-year-old Mildred Letts. Both Mrs. Letts and the LaManoicas were on hand to receive special recognition from the Society. “I joke with our advertisers that their material will be around for a 100 years because I know the society is archiving each copy.”

“We are pleased to place Cecil Soil in this class,” Paula Newton remarked. "Without Ed's exceptional publication permanently documenting the memories of our residents, many of these recollections would fade in time. We have government agencies to record facts and figures for posterity, but the most important historical records, the memories of the people, would be lost were it not for this venue for sharing recollections of people, places and things right here in the county. Ed, thank you for joining in as a keeper of our heritage," she concluded. "We proudly archive each and every one of these publications and use them frequently as people research the county's past.”

Monday, March 16, 2009

Naturalization Records Added to Web Site

Billie Todd, one of our senior genealogist, has created a digital collection of Cecil County Naturalization Records from 1903 to 1906. She abstracted all the family history information from each document and created an image, which is accessible on the web. The site address is

Thanks Billie for making this record group available.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Registry of Cecil County Covered Bridges Online

Maryland's Covered Bridges are the subject of an excellent web site found at This virtual repository of fascinating information includes data on about 20 structures that faded from the Cecil County landscape a long time ago and our two existing structures. If you are looking for a narrative history on a bridge, the basic technical data and photos or illustrations, in many instances, this is the place to go. Be sure to check out the registry of structures since Jim Smedley has done an excellent job compiling data for a number of counties in Maryland. Thanks Jim for making this body of material available on the web. We'll add a link to your site since your work will help researchers.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rising Sun Community Little League History Blog Created

The Historical Society of Cecil County has created a blog focusing on the early years of the Rising Sun Community Little League. The idea for this web 2.0 product came about after James Crothers, an original member of the Rising Sun team, pulled together a fascinating history about the early years, 1954 and 1955. Once he finished his extensive and thorough research, he gave the Society the opportunity to publish this excellent local history. We were so pleased with the material that we dedicated two issues of the Inkwell, our print membership publication, to the informative cluster of articles and essays. The material is exactly what local historical societies should be doing these days, capturing the memories and recollections of times that are beginning to grow distant in memory.

But as we looked at the product we noticed a lot more material, such as photographs, old newspaper stories, and brief biographical pieces, that weren’t going to be able to make it into print so we added a blog to the series. This will allow us to make all the material available to the public, add additional content as more information comes along, and have comments, as well as interactive discussions with anyone surfing our way. Anyone clicking on the weblog is welcome to share additional memories, ask questions or post feedback on the virtual history home for the early years of the Rising Sun Community Little League. When we asked the author if he would be willing to moderate this site in the blogosphere for us, he said sure he would give it a try. The site was thus created.

Please feel free to add your comments, posts, memories and feedback to the site and watch the blog for additional pieces, brief notes, and comments on the subject. Be sure to check out the other parts of our virtual library on the World Wide Web, while you are at. We thank James Crothers for allowing us to publishing this excellent series and for also agreeing to serve as our blogmaster on this weblog.

Click here to go to the blog

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Past Comes Alive at Society on March 28th with Mary Pickersgill Performance

The past will come back to life during a fascinating living history performance at the Society on March 28 at 7:00 p.m. For this theatrical, living history presentation, University of Delaware History major, Abby Harding, returns for another popular performance. Abby was last with us in Feb 2008 when she played to a packed house, appearing as Tillie Pierce a young witnessed to the battle of Gettysburg.

This year she performs as Mary Pickersgill, the well known 19Th century flag maker. While she was especially known for her ship’s flags, during the War of 1812 she was selected to make a huge high-flying flag for Fort McHenry. The commander, General Armistead, knew that this would help raise the spirits of Baltimoreans during the British attack on the city for Fort McHenry.

You don’t want to miss her performance and interpretation of Mary Pickersgill for this year’s living history show. This is a free program.

Click here to go to brochure describing program

Editor of Society Journal Retires: Look for the Inkwell Soon

By Paula Newton, President of the Society

Milt Diggins, after a long stint as Editor of the Historical Society Journal, has decided to retire from that position. Consequently, the Board of Trustees has decided to resurrect the newsletter format which will be much more economical to publish and mail. It will also allow us to modernize our membership print product by incorporating color and more graphics in the product you receive as a member.

We will continue to publish the Inkwell three times a year with the content remaining much the same as the Journal. This issue features an exciting article about the history of the establishment of the Rising Sun Little League. As always, we invite contributions of historic articles or queries from our membership. Thank you for your continued interest in the Historical Society of Cecil County and we hope you enjoy this new/old format.