by James Rada, Jr.

Thurmont Gets A New School

It used to be that if students in Thurmont were going to be late to school, they simply didn’t go because they would have been sent home anyway.

At the beginning of the 1877-1878 school year, Thurmont, which was still known as Mechanicstown at the time, had two schools. Both of them were one-room schools that could hold a maximum of 60 students each, “which is as many, if not more than can be comfortably seated in either room,” The Catoctin Clarion reported.

The Mechanicstown School District had around 200 students. Most of those students were sharp enough to tell you that seating limitations left 80 or more students without a place to attend school.

The catch was that it wasn’t always the same 80 students who were without a seat in the classroom. It was first come, first taught, with students who showed up late to a full school being told “that there is no room for them; the school room is over crowded and they must go home,” the newspaper reported.

With both the newspaper and the public demanding a solution, the Board of Education took action. Less than a month after The Catoctin Clarion took up the cause for a new school, the newspaper announced that Mechanicstown had its third school, another one-room school.

“Now all can be accommodated and the cause of education progresses in a more satisfactory manner,” the newspaper reported.

The new school also meant that 34-year-old Ephraim L. Boblitz had a new job. The young teacher had married his wife, Emma, in 1866, and they had recently had their first child, Caroline.

“We congratulate friend Ephraim in thus securing a school nearer home as it will save him the long walk, in all kinds of weather, which has been his for many years past, and also the scholars in getting such a good teaching,” the newspaper reported.

A few years later in 1880, the town got its first four-room school, which was built on East Main Street, according to The Frederick News. The students from the three one-room schools were all consolidated into this new school. Boblitz joined John Landers and Frederick White as teachers there.

Boblitz remained as a teacher in the school until he resigned in 1892 to become the superintendent of Frederick County Schools.

Meanwhile, Mechanicstown got its first high school that same year. William M. Martin was the high school’s first principal. At the time, it was a three-year high school, and the first commencement was held in 1895. There was only one graduate. The building later became the Maple Inn and was torn down to be replaced by Riffle’s Garage, which was also later torn down.

Boblitz served as the superintendent of schools until he died near the end of November 1906.

His funeral was held at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thurmont, where he had been an elder on the church council. Rev. Isaac Motter, president of the Board of School Commissioners, called him a good and just man, “…there were many who rise up and call him blessed for the training that had been received under him,” The Frederick News reported.

He was survived by his wife and five children, Carrie, Frank, Hattie, Nellie, and Lucy. He is buried in Wellers Church Cemetery.

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