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.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Society Closes on Tuesday Evenings for Summer

During June, July and August, the Society will not be open on Tuesday evening.  All other hours remain the same.  Click here for operatng schedule.