Currently viewing the tag: "Emmitsburg Chronicle"

1896 – too much Married

by James Rada, Jr.

Sigmund Freud once said, “If you want your wife to listen to you, then talk to another woman; she will be all ears.”

If that’s true, just imagine how attentive Phoebe Stouffer was in 1896 when she saw her husband talking to his other wife, Mary Stouffer. Actually, it was just as much a surprise to Aaron D. Stouffer of Smithsburg to find out he was married to two women.

Stouffer had first married Mary A. McPherson of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, on October 9, 1877. Rev. Jacob Ohler performed the ceremony. The couple lived near Smithsburg for a year before they separated.

Mary then married Aaron Speake of Smithsburg in 1880. Two years later, “she executed before Justice Oswald an instrument in writing purporting to be a contract of divorcement from her husband,” according to the Emmitsburg Chronicle.

Whatever Mary had, it was not an act of divorcement. However, Stouffer believed this meant he was divorced. The following year, he married Phoebe Hovis in Waynesboro. Rev. F. F. Bahner performed the ceremony.

Stouffer and Phoebe were happy together, even more so as their family grew.

“For thirteen years Stouffer believed he was divorced from his wife,” the Chronicle reported. “Someone told him he was not and that he was guilty of bigamy, a penitentiary offense.”

Aaron was so overcome with guilt and worry about his situation that he went into State’s Attorney Charles D. Wagaman’s office in Hagerstown and “accused himself of bigamy and saying he was ready to go to jail,” according to the Chronicle.

He wept while he explained to Wagaman what had happened. His first wife, Mary, was still alive and not legally divorced from him. Wagaman believed Stouffer was sincere and offered clemency. That state’s attorney even filed a bill in the Court of Equity on Stouffer’s behalf for a divorce.

The Maryland Legislature granted equity courts jurisdiction to hear divorce applications in 1842. Before that, it required an act of the legislature to divorce. Wagaman may have used a combination of adultery and abandonment as the grounds to get the divorce approved. However, this was not the most common reason for a divorce at the time, according to Georgetown University Law Library. “Divorces from bed and board, under which the couple was still legally married, were granted for cruelty or desertion. Most petitions were for divorce from bed and board, perhaps because cruelty and desertion were the most common complaints.”

Once granted, it required that all parties involved would have to remarry and, hopefully, live happily ever after.

by James Rada, Jr.

The Mount During the Civil War

In the years leading up to the Civil War, Mount St. Mary’s College enjoyed prosperity. The college celebrated its golden anniversary in 1858, and student enrollment was around 200 young men.

“The Mount was thriving, as was most of the South thriving before the Civil War,” Father Michael Roach, said on the DVD Mount St. Mary’s: The Spirit Continues…

This changed with the outbreak of war in 1860. The school lost student and faculty who were sympathetic to the southern cause. The college had to support southern students who stayed behind because funds from their parents could not make it north. The college’s expenses increased while its income fell. In the 1859-1860 school year, Mount St. Mary’s had 173 students, not including the seminarians. Two years later, the enrollment had fallen to 67 students, its lowest number in 50 years.

Mount President John McCaffrey was known for his Confederate sympathies and refused to let the U.S. flag fly. “When Lincoln was shot, Federal orders were issued ‘for every house to display some sign of mourning. An officer visited the college, but there was no sign visible,’ until Dr. McCaffrey produced ‘a small piece of crepe’ on a door which had been opened back so that it would not be visible until closed,” according to the Emmitsburg Chronicle.

McCaffrey may have represented both the prevailing sentiment of the campus and the county. Steve Whitman, associate professor of history at the Mount, said on the DVD. “McCaffrey eventually, and some of his professors, were monitored, observed, by President Lincoln’s loyalty police. These were men appointed all over the country to keep an eye on folks who might be or were suspected of being Confederate sympathizers.”

It should not be surprising that the prevailing sympathies on campus were predominantly southern, since more than half of the students before the war had been from the South.

Though Confederate in his sympathies, McCaffrey was not hostile to the Union. A Pennsylvania officer wrote, “Two miles from Emmitsburg we passed Mount Saint Mary’s and taking advantage of a moment’s halt a party of three or four rode up to the main entrance… We were cordially received by the president and with characteristic hospitality a collation was in preparation for us.”

After the battle of Antietam in September 1862, six of the seven seniors remaining in the school slipped away to visit the battlefield. When they returned three days later, McCaffrey expelled them. However, within a month, he changed his mind and reinstated them.

In the spring of 1863, Union soldiers arrested Mount student Maurice Burn for sedition. Burn, who was from Louisiana, had written his father and expressed his southern sympathies. Burn was jailed when he refused to sign an oath of loyalty to the Union. McCaffrey wrote Lincoln pleading Burn’s case, and the youth was released to McCaffrey’s custody.

That year, the college also held an early graduation in order to get the students away from the area. A troop build-up had been seen, and the faculty believed the students would be safer with their families. The battle turned out to be Gettysburg.

Three students were killed during the war, according to Mount St. Mary’s: The Spirit Continues… One of those young men was Maurice Burn. Those young men were buried at the college cemetery on the mountain.

Picture shows the student body at the Mount in July 1863.

by James Rada, Jr.

More Accomplishments of HARNEY UNIVERSITY

Note: This is the third in a series about the “achievements” of Harney University.

While Harney University achieved legendary status in just about every field of study in the early 1900s, things didn’t start off that way.

The faculty, which included Jacob Turner, Jerry Overholser, Daniel Shorb, Sterling Galt, and Bill Snyder, wasn’t always known for their professorial skills. However, even before Harney University became famous, the group of men who met regularly at the Slagle Hotel in Emmitsburg were showing off their storytelling skills in the pages of the Emmitsburg Chronicle and planting the seeds for the future university.

Uncle Bill’s Column seems to be the forerunner to Harney University and boasts the same mock seriousness that the university would come to use. The column, “Uncle Bill,” answered such curious questions and requests as: “Please give in, in the Aztec language, a portion of Mrs. Roosevelt’s remarks about Mr. Harriman,” and “What noted fish are found in the Hongaloonbink River?”

In a 1909 story in the Emmitsburg Chronicle, Dan Shorb, Bill Snider, Ed Brown, and Nathan Hoke added to the Frederick County legend of the snallygaster monster by recounting their encounter with the beast. The men fought with it for hours, chasing it to Carroll County. It was described as having “ghost-like wings,” bristles that stuck from its snout, and “its hide was the color of the down side of a catfish.” It could also breathe fire.

“Bill Snider says it sounded for all the world like Flat Run at high tide where the waters rush over the rocks at Whitmore’s Wharf, only more so,” the Chronicle reported. “The air was charged with some peculiar smell, rather loud too for it wakened the man in the signal tower at Dry Bridge.”

During 1910, a number of articles talked about the airship that Dan Shorb built. It was 130 feet long and 16 feet wide and carried “two auto-magneto-bi-sparking generators, a cogless centripedal concussion plane and three wireless rudders,” according to the Chronicle. It had an 87-horsepower engine, fueled with horse mint oil. Its maiden voyage was to include dignitaries who would accompany the inventors “on this, the initial, and most likely, the final trip,” according to the Chronicle.

While that flight apparently went smoothly, one that followed two months later did not. Shorb admitted there was an explosion during the flight. “He had just fed his airship and put it in his stable and was about to take the gears from his clothes’ horse when a snow burst full of robins (some of which escaped to Leitersburg) collided with the gyroscope and ignited the spaker in his silo which exploded with terrific force, and as the wind blowing in an easterly direction, it struck the fodder and carried the shock to Westminster by way of Thurmont,” according to the Chronicle.

By 1912, Shorb was beginning to be called a doctor in the newspaper, a hint at what was to come. In May, the Chronicle ran a short piece about him proclaiming that he would not run for the presidential nomination of either political party.

The following piece ran in the Chronicle in September 1912. Although it doesn’t mention any of the typical members of the Harney University faculty, it definitely has the feel of one of their stories.

“After many months of careful experimenting and the expenditure of $16,547 in real stage money, Drs. Herr Van Mueller and John E. Davidson have perfected a flying apparatus, called by them the Gyro Scutoplane. It is propelled by an eight-cylinder hexagonal engine using monkey feathers for fuel and is capable of attaining a speed of 85.6 miles a minute. A diagram and full particulars of this invention may be seen in the current issue of the Pallbearer’s Review. Decorations have been given to both the scientists and each has received a medal of the Order of the Plush Ladle, conferred by the Sultan of Slush.”

By this time, Harney University had already started being mentioned in the pages of the newspaper, and a legend was born.

The building drawing is from the Emmitsburg Chronicle and supposedly showed the Harney University Science Hall that Dr. John Culp, Professor Emeritus of the Science of Pingpongology, presented the university.

Courtesy Photo of the front of a postcard

More Accomplishments of HARNEY UNIVERSITY

by James Rada, Jr.

During the early part of the 20th century, the highly successful Harney University was known for the many great achievements of its faculty. If it was to be believed, the reputation of the school outshone any other college in the country.

If it was to be believed. Which it wasn’t.

The faculty, as it were, consisted of Jacob Turner, Jerry Overholser, Daniel Shorb, and Bill Snyder, who met regularly at the Slagle Hotel in Emmitsburg. The staff would have also had to include Sterling Galt, editor of the Emmitsburg Chronicle.

The adventures of the Harney University faculty wasn’t an attempt to fool readers of the newspaper. The stories were too outrageous to be believed. It was a way to inject humor into the news and bring a smile to faces of readers.

Here are some of the fantastical achievements of Harney University and its faculty.

January 24, 1913: The Khedive of Egypt sent Dr. Dan Shorb a wireless message that consisted of four lines of gibberish made up of letters (some upside down) mixed with numbers (including fractions) and a few odd characters. Translated, the message was supposedly talking about how the parcel post system in Egypt was so successful and required so many camels that the manufacturing of camel-hair brushes, camel hair shawls, and “camelopards” had ceased.

July 25, 1913: Harney University now had a War College, which the federal government was consulting over how to handle tensions with Mexico. The recommendation of the War College was that seven airplanes loaded with molasses be sent to the border, along with troops from Zora, Four Points, and Poplar Ridge, who would be armed with 800,000 rounds of Limburger bullets.

According to the Emmitsburg Chronicle, the plan was simple. “The molasses will be released from the aero-planes, about 100 tons from each machine. This will have the same effect on the enemy as tangle-foot flypaper has on flies. When the opposing forces are rendered incapable of marching or standing erect, Limburger bullets will be discharged at them at a rate of 10,000 a second. Death will be instantaneous due to the smell of the cheese. An important feature of this mode of warfare is that death will be so horrible that no further recruiting will be possible—no one will enlist in the Mexican army.”

August 8, 1913: Jacob Turner was appointed the chair of snakeology at the University of Harney. He wanted to offer a correspondence course in snake charming. “The professor now has 28 snakes of different varieties fully trained and he says he has no difficulty in making them do anything he asked. In the collection, there are two copperheads which he has taught to dance the tango and a black snake taught to walk the slack wire blindfolded,” the Chronicle reported.

September 12, 1913: Twenty-seven men, under the direction of Dr. Jerry Overholser and Dr. Daniel Shorb from the University of Harney, built an airship underwater. “The main feature of the engine, which is of the complex eccentric type, is the simplicity of the duplicidentate. The meta centre articulates with the friction real and top burtons on the warping chock. This flutes the suction pipe in such a manner as to lap joint the back gear. The lubricator, connecting with a center balance spring, throws the pinch cock under the carburetor, at the same time opening the muffler cutout near the nephoscope. This feeds the silo juice through the bunghole and sparks the fifth wheel near the gunwale. The cloud anchor, which is regulated by a heliograph, is so adjusted on the pinochle deck that it releases automatically from the whiffletree, making it possible to stop and remain stationary by putting on the reverse clutch while going at the rate of 184 knots a second.”

They planned to take the ship on a test flight from the Popular Ridge standpipe to the Eiffel Tower, stopping for lunch at the Sandwich Islands.

September 27, 1913: Dr. John Glass of Harney University came out against the Federal Reserve issuing smaller bank notes. Instead, he had a formula using rubber and yeast that he wanted currency printed on. He told the Emmitsburg Chronicle, “Expandable bills will allow local residents to stretch their dollars further, allowing more to be bought with each bill.”

October 15, 1915: James Arnold and Howard Harbaugh went hunting with Shorb and brought back a Gnukokukua Hen, three Aviskovis Hawks, and a Night Heron, which were supposedly displayed in the Chronicle’s front window.

October 8, 1915: Daniel Shorb of the “Board of Strategy, of Harney University” invented a rapid-fire noodle soup gun for the French Government. The gun fired noodles to entangle the legs of enemies and feed them when they were your prisoner. The French ordered five million of them and awarded Shorb the Order of the Imperial Soup Ladle and granted him a lifetime pension of 450,000 francs annually. He was also working on a macaroni tent that would both feed and shelter prisoners.

December 12, 1918: George Sanders sued the Emmitsburg Motor Car Company because the company sold a car to Rebecca Shorb, who then proceeded to get into an accident with Sander’s horse-drawn wagon. The Chronicle reported, “Mr. Sanders, citing evidence recently published by the University of Harney that women’s brains did not have sufficient capacity to master the art of driving, feels that the Emmitsburg Motor Car Company should not have sold Miss Shorb the car. ‘By selling a car to a woman,’ Mr. Sanders said, ‘they have endangered all hard working men who have to use the roads to make a living, and thus are liable for any damage they produce. Women should stick to their proper roles—namely cooking, cleaning and taking care of youngins, and leave complex tasks that require thinking to men.’”

The building drawing is from the Emmitsburg Chronicle and supposedly showed the Harney University Science Hall that Dr. John Culp, Professor Emeritus of the Science of Pingpongology, presented the university.


by James Rada, Jr.

Note: This is the first in a series about the “achievements” of Harney University.

Emmitsburg is known for being the home of Mount St. Mary’s University, but for a while, another nearby university regularly made the newspaper with stories of great innovations in science and technology that its learned professors developed.

That university? The esteemed Harney University.

Never heard of it? That’s not surprising since despite all of the achievements credited to its faculty in the Emmitsburg Chronicle, the university didn’t exist…at least not as an educational institution.

A group of residents met regularly at the Hotel Slagle and came up with unusual stories that the newspaper published.

The faculty, as it were, consisted of Jacob Turner, Jerry Overholser, Daniel Shorb, and Bill Snyder, who met regularly at the Slagle Hotel in Emmitsburg. The staff would have also had to include Sterling Galt, editor of the Emmitsburg Chronicle. Whether the group came up with the goings-on at the university or it was something Galt did alone is not known.

What is known is that the stories provided readers of the Chronicle a lot of smiles and laughs in the early 1900s.

Here are some of the fantastical achievements of Harney University and its faculty.

October 7, 1910: The Harney University football team won a game against a team from Pigs Misery. The game was played on Musk Rat Field, which was a gift to the university from Dan Shorb. Shorb was listed as a former professor of “Propaeduetics and a John Glass lecturer on the Theory of Aviation.” The newspaper reported that 11,000 people attended the game and seven different bands played between quarters. One player named Murky Suds made a daring play. “This professional in a daring dash of 90 years with eighteen men on his neck, dislocated the goal post and tore away the gunwale and three hatchways on the port side of his physiognomy,” according to the Emmitsburg Chronicle.

March 15, 1912: Roald Amundsen was the first person to reach the South Pole. The Emmitsburg Chronicle disputed his claim, saying that Dr. John Glass and Dr. Bill Snyder of Harney University had found the pole two years earlier at 3 a.m., “brought it back to Harney, and preserved it in alcohol.” The paper went on to further note, “Dr. Glass is not even willing to concede that Amundsen got to the farthest point south unless he is able to produce the lawn mower which Dr. Snider left on the front lawn under the cherry tree near the house which they lived while in those southern parts.”

November 15, 1912: Dr. Dan Shorb received the election returns using an intricate machine so that “long before the telegraph instruments of the county had ticked the news, Prof. Bushman, who had his airship anchored on the prairie dog house nearby, was on his way to Emmitsburg with bushel baskets filled with the correct information,” according to the Chronicle. He also claimed not to need his wireless device to get the returns from Thurmont, Harney, and Jimtown. His eyesight was so good, “He simply looked over the shoulders of the clerks, from his private office at Pigs Misery, and wrote down the results. Some slight difficulty was experienced in reading the tally sheet at Poplar Ridge, owing, the doctor said, to a bad wick in one of the lamps at that place,” the Chronicle reported.

November 29, 1912: President Woodrow Wilson was planning on appointing Dr. John Glass and Professor Dan Shorb of Harney University to help revise the tariff code on codfish balls. “Clarence Buckingham, brother of the Duke of Buckingham, will also revise the tariff on dill pickles. In an unrelated note, Col. Stonebottle, one of the most prominent citizens of Emmitsburg, painted his overalls on Saturday,” the Chronicle reported.

December 13, 1912: The Harney University faculty held a pinochle tournament, competing for a trophy. It had been a dill pickle in 1911. “The trophy this year will be a loving cup filled with spinach, presented for this event by the Young Lady Society for the Prevention of the Use of the Denatured Alcohol and Strawberry Shortcake,” according to the Chronicle.

The Slagle Hotel where the esteemed faculty of Harney University met to discuss matters of world-changing importance.

The Year is…1879

A Pleasant Fall Ride Through Emmitsburg

by James Rada, Jr.

In early October 1879, Samuel Motter, publisher of the Emmitsburg Chronicle, took a ride around Emmitsburg with a friend.

“All the world knows that the drives, calculated to afford pleasure and delight, are very numerous around Emmitsburg, and the heart which is not alive to the beauty of the scenery and the unexampled loveliness everywhere around must be wanting in refined sensibilities,” Motter wrote in the newspaper.

It was a lovely day for a ride. Although it was October, it was 80 degrees out. He wrote, “You who used to sit by glowing stoves, at this time of year, with buttoned-up coats and with sensible forebodings of winter’s approach, think ye of us, riding in an open buggy, with straw hats, and the high temperature we have mentioned!”

They rode down the old “Dutch Lane” to Poplar Ridge Road. The road at the time was old, but it had been widened, leveled, and was kept in excellent condition. His only complaint was that the road had some steep hills. It started at Carlisle Street (North Seton Ave.) continuing from a broad alley. It went uphill to a ridge where the last of a stand of poplar trees stood. This last tree was “lonely and grand in its position, the last of the giant tribe which gave the name ‘Poplar Ridge’ to those heights, and which from its well-defined proportions, its symmetrical top and proud form, being visible over all the plain for miles to the southward, a lady of taste called ‘Stonewall Jackson.’”

Silver Run and the old brick schoolhouse could be seen from the ridge. Looking toward Emmitsburg, the first thing Motter saw was the old Elias Lutheran Church “with its whitened sepulchers glinting in the sun-light, where rest the remains of so much worth and goodness and such wealth of tender associations as cling to the memories of those who once gave direction and life and influence to the living forces of the neighborhood.”

To the right of the church, he saw another church, the Church of the Incarnation (Reformed) “with its golden cross at the top, about 100 feet high erected in the year 1868, on the lot once known as John Nickum’s.”

He also noted how the relatively new Presbyterian Church towered above its surroundings.

Finally, he wrote, “And there to the east and southward is St. Joseph’s Church (Roman Catholic) with its massive walls and solid spire. Here too the cemetery shows forth the white light reflected from the monuments that commemorate, much of the worth which gave active exercise to itself in the earlier as well as the latter history of Emmitsburg.”

As he moved south, he enjoyed the view, writing, “Beautifully the prospect opens, the autumnal hues everywhere meet the eye, here are the sumach shrubs, there a lone gum tree, yonder a clump of trees, farther off a whole grove appears, end erewhile the eyes rests upon the pile of ‘St. Joseph’s House,’ the groves among—ornamenting the plain, and whose metal roofs and radiant crosses dart forth scintillations of light athwart the valley.”

Off to the southwest, he could see Mount St. Mary’s College, although it was almost obscured among the autumn foliage. Motter described it as “the venerable old church perched upon the hillside and sending forth its reflected light to the far distant horizon.”

Motter and his friend crossed the Taneytown Road bridge over Flat Run. He noted that when the bridge was being built, that water level was so flat that not enough water could be drawn to mix mortar for the bridge. It had to be hauled from another location.

He also mentions a haunted house in Emmitsburg. It was the home of a man named Patrick Savage, who may have lived north of town, along the Gettysburg Road. Motter wrote that Savage was dead, but his “ghost had been said to appear there since his death, not seldom.”

All in all, it was a pleasant ride for Motter and his friend, and it gives readers a look at Emmitsburg as it was 141 years ago.

Picture of Emmitsburg Courtesy of

The Year is…1899

A Spurned Love Affair Turns Deadly

by James Rada, Jr.

On April 22, 1899, 16-year-old Orpha Harshman of Wolfsville started off on a two-mile walk to her sister’s house. She took a shortcut across a field that would cut the journey in half.

Her stepbrother, Edward Morgan, 25, watched and followed. He caught up to her on a mountain ridge out of sight of any houses.

Although there were no witnesses to what happened next, the Emmitsburg Chronicle presented this version of events:

“As she arrived at the rocks, Morgan sprang out and called upon her to offer up her last prayer, as her time had come. He, at the same time, thrust a revolver in her face. She begged him to spare her life, but to no purpose. It is said that, finding her pleadings were fruitless, she summoned all her courage and attempted to strike the weapon from his hand, when he quickly placed it to her temple and fired, the bullet entering the right side of the head and passing out on the left. In attempting to ward off the weapon, the sleeve of her dress took fire from the powder and was burned off, as well as a portion of the dress over her bosom, under which her arm lay where she fell. Her arm was badly burned, and her bosom seared from the fire.

“Feeling satisfied he had killed her, Morgan then placed the revolver to his own head and attempted to send a bullet into his brain, but the leaden missile struck the right cheekbone, and glancing came out of his eye. He then fired a bullet into his left leg. Finding these two ineffectual, he placed the barrel of the revolver against his abdomen and emptied the two remaining chambers into his bowels and fell over by the side of his innocent victim.”

Peter Baer lived nearby. He heard the pistol shots and a scream. More shots, in quick succession, followed a few minutes later, but Baer paid them no mind, according to the Catoctin Clarion.

Charles Kline was driving his mother home in a buggy when he heard the shots. He drove toward the shots and found Morgan’s and Harshman’s bodies lying in pools of blood. The sight upset Kline so much that he didn’t recognize the bodies. He thought they were tramps.

Kline drove his buggy to Scott Martin’s house and told Martin to get a doctor. Kline then drove back to the bodies with some other people who were at Martin’s house.

They examined the bodies, and surprisingly, found them both alive. However, Harshman died a short time later. Morgan’s body was loaded onto a wagon and taken to his home. The doctor could do nothing, and Morgan died five hours later.

The story soon came out that Morgan had been obsessed with his stepsister (Morgan’s father married Harshman’s mother).

“The family had been living happily and contented until about six months ago, when Mrs. Morgan observed her husband’s son was paying what she considered too much attention to her daughter,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported. “The more she resisted, the stronger became his attachment for her.”

Morgan became so desperate that he asked Harshman to elope with him. She refused him and said if he didn’t leave her alone, she would leave home.

“Seeing she was determined in her purpose, he told her that unless she married him, she would never live to be the bride of another,” according to the Chronicle.

Instead, Morgan’s father told him he needed to move out. Morgan did, but he stayed in a building near his family home. He also spent a lot of time in Hagerstown getting drunk, and a week before the murder-suicide, he purchased the pistol he would use to kill Harshman and himself.

Both Harshman and Morgan were buried in separate cemeteries. Harshman was buried in the Grossnickle Dunkard Church cemetery and Morgan in the Wolfsville Reformed Church cemetery.

Even in death, Morgan still could not be near Harshman.

Galt Starts the Effort to Recognize Thomas Johnson

by James Rada, Jr.

Thomas Johnson was the first governor of Maryland, serving from March 21, 1777, to November 12, 1779. “John Adams said that Governor Thomas Johnson of Maryland was one out of four citizens of Maryland and Virginia without whom there would have been no revolution,” John Williamson Palmer wrote in Century Magazine.

Johnson was one of the forgotten Founding Fathers, which was a problem that Sterling Galt of Emmitsburg set out to correct in 1917.

Sterling Galt purchased the Emmitsburg Chronicle in 1906. He was the fourth owner of the twenty-seven-year-old newspaper. Back in those days, small newspapers had few employees. The owner was the publisher and the primary reporter. Galt was very active in the community and had shown that he had political aspirations with a failed run for the state senate in 1911.

In January 1917, he met with a group of similarly civic-minded men in the office of the school commissioner in Frederick. There, the group formed the Thomas Johnson Memorial Association and elected Galt its president and William Delaplaine the secretary. The group’s mission was to have a suitable memorial created for Maryland’s first governor and Frederick County resident, Thomas Johnson. The men planned to solicit donations of no more than a dime to fund the memorial.

Before the group could build up any steam, World War I started. A few fundraising drives were conducted, but people wanted to send money to support the troops, not build a memorial. Then, Galt died on December 28, 1922, and it seemed like his organization would die as well.

Then in 1926, life returned to the group. It reorganized and began holding meetings. Not only did they praise Johnson’s service as governor, but he had also been an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, a member of the Continental Congress, and the man who nominated George Washington as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.

“The people of Frederick County have long felt that some recognition of his invaluable services to the State and to the nation should be given, and some suitable memorial erected here in Frederick to his memorial.”

A bust of Thomas Johnson was sculpted in clay by Joseph Urner in 1926. However, since all funds were being publicly raised, it wasn’t until years later that it could be finally cast in bronze.

The bronze bust in Courthouse Park was finally unveiled in 1929. It sat on a granite base with a plaque that listed many of Johnson’s accomplishments. The speakers at the event included Judge T. Scott Offutt, president of the Maryland Society, Sons of the American Revolution, and Charles Francis Adams, U.S. Secretary of Navy and the great-grandson of John Adams.

Galt’s efforts in organizing the group that eventually made the memorial a reality were noted in the speeches.

Some of Offutt’s comments seem oddly prescient of today and what eventually happened to the memorial.

“We stand in a different world from the one he knew,” Offutt said. “Manners, morals, methods, and indeed the whole face of civilization have changed.”

He then went on to criticize a society that was letting itself drift into “paternal socialism” and losing the freedoms that Johnson’s generation had won for the country. “The press does our thinking for us, the state guards our morals, boards and commissions of one kind or another manage our affairs, and hordes of bureaucratic officials consume our substance and pester and bedevil us with ‘don’ts’ and ‘musts’ until we are afraid to call our lives our own…” Offutt said.

In 2015, the bust of Johnson was caught up in the controversy surrounding another Frederick County resident and Supreme Court justice who had a bronze bust in the park. Roger Brooke Taney is known for delivering the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision in 1857, which said that slaves could not be American citizens. Johnson became part of the controversy because he was a slaveowner and that outweighed the good he had done for the country.

On March 18, 2017, both the Scott and Johnson busts were removed from in front of the courthouse. They will be refurbished and placed on display in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

Photo of the bust of Thomas Johnson, courtesy of

1971: The Mount Goes Co-Ed

by James Rada, Jr.

Although Mount St. Mary’s University was named for a woman, she wouldn’t have been able to attend the college until 1971. It was only in its 164th year that the college decided to admit female students.

Some females from nearby St. Joseph’s College had been attending a limited number of classes at the Mount beginning in 1970. The two colleges had entered into a cooperative agreement that allowed students from either school to take a class at the other school if it wasn’t offered at their home college. The schools even provided transportation between the two campuses to aid the students. During the 1970-71 school year, 119 men from the Mount attended one or more classes at St. Joseph’s, and 100 women from St. Joseph’s attended one or more classes at the Mount.

While the agreement seemed to address the educational reasons for the Mount going co-educational, it didn’t address the cultural or financial issues.

St. Joseph’s College announced that it would close in 1973. This caused concern at Mount St. Mary’s, which had also seen its enrollment dropping. The school had 1,100 students during the 1970-71 school year.

“We are, of course, saddened by the Saint Joseph announcement but we do not feel that the wave of bleak prophecy which has pervaded our own campus is justified. Our situations are in no way similar even though we face the same serious problems of most of the nation’s private colleges,” Mount President John J. Dillon Jr. said during a speech.

In June of 1971, it was announced that the Mount would begin admitting women as non-resident students beginning with the 1971-72 school year. They would be admitted as resident students the following year.

To ensure that students from St. Joseph’s College wouldn’t be delayed in their graduation because of the transition, the Mount also waived some of the curriculum requirements at the Mount for students who needed it, according to the Emmitsburg Chronicle.

While admitting female students helped the women of St. Joseph’s College, it also helped the Mount, which had been seeing fewer applications.

“I feel that the tragedy at Saint Joseph can make us a stronger college if we all work in that direction,” Dillon said. “Mount St. Mary’s is, after all, your college.”

The Mount student body celebrated the decision. David Fielder wrote in the Mountain Echo, “This year, however, we have witnessed the emergence of the Mount into the twentieth century with the administration’s radical new policy concerning co-education. We actually have female names listed in the registrar’s office, and, come next year, Mounties may even find men and women living near each other within the campus grounds. Thus one might conclude that we’ve been granted the other half of what it takes to have a student body.”

While the males were certainly happy to see women on campus, the Mountain Echo pointed out that it was a good academic decision for the school. According to the newspaper, in 1969, 40 colleges and universities had gone co-ed. It was a move being made to attract high-caliber students, of which, 81 percent said in a Princeton University survey that they wanted co-educational schools.

However, not everyone was happy. Women who were losing their college with the closure of St. Joseph’s College lead the way with this group. One woman wrote a letter against the move in The Valley Echo called “Better Dead than Co-Ed.”

The overlapping between the admittance of female students and the closing of Mount St. Mary’s allowed for a gradual transition. Today, women make up the majority of the student body (55 percent) at the Mount.

by James Rada, Jr.

Author’s Note: The following is an article I wrote ten years ago for The Dispatch newspapers. I’ve reprinted it with a few tweaks and added an update at the end. When I originally wrote this, no one knew what had happened to Tolbert Dalton. I wish I could take credit for solving this mystery, but it was the work of members of the Society for American Baseball Research. I wanted to bring closure to what was a sixty-four-year-old mystery.

Many a young boy picks up a bat, walks to the plate, and dreams of slugging his way into immortality. Tolbert “Percy” Dalton was such a boy, and he did manage to find his own type of immortality. Not because he is forever remembered as one of baseball’s greats, but because he is one of the few Major League players whose death date was unknown for sixty-four years.

Dalton was also a lay preacher for the Columbia Primitive Baptist Church in Burtonsville, Maryland.

“The church he was an elder in, to my knowledge, had other smaller worship locations in the state of Maryland. As an elder, we understand that he would make occasional appearances at Sunday services at the main church. He would speak to certain topics relevant to the beliefs the church had. He would also baptize new members,” said Richard Bozzone with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). Bozzone has been researching Dalton to try and find where and when he died.

On August 1, 1948, two deacons from the church visited Dalton’s Emmitsburg home. Dalton had failed to show up for a church meeting on July 4.

Dalton had only lived in Emmitsburg for a year, having moved there from the Catonsville, Maryland, area to become editor of the Emmitsburg Chronicle, when it restarted publication after a five-year hiatus during World War II. He and his wife lived with his wife’s daughter and son-in-law, Lois and George Heller.

The two deacons couldn’t find Dalton. No one in his family knew what had happened to him.

Dalton, who went by the name of Jack during his baseball career, played four seasons of professional baseball. He was an outfielder, who started in the minor leagues in Des Moines, where he batted .208 in 1910. He was invited mid-year to join the Brooklyn Robins, predecessor to the Dodgers. He slumped and was sent to the minor league team in Newark, New Jersey. He returned to the Robins in 1914, and then played for the Buffalo Blues in 1915 and Detroit Tigers in 1916. His best year was 1914, when he batted .319. The following year, his batting average was .293, with 28 stolen bases. He finished his career in 1916, playing most of the season for San Francisco in the minor leagues and eight games for Detroit.

However, by 1948, at sixty-two years old, his glory days were forgotten. Dalton was living in Emmitsburg with his second wife, Thelma Bradshaw.

Though Dalton was too old to steal bases, he possibly found one thing he could still steal. Ralph Harris, a former member, and editor of the Primitive Baptist Church newspaper, knew two of Dalton’s sisters (now deceased). He asked them what happened to their brother.

“Their response was that he had absconded with the subscription funds for the church paper. Although Cary did not have firsthand knowledge of the theft, the story was confirmed by several of the church leadership when he became editor,” Bozzone said.

Dalton happens to be one of the very few 20th century Major League players for whom death information is not known.

“There are fifteen 20th century players for whom we do not have death details, but Dalton is, by far, the most well-known of the players,” Bozzone said.

Bozzone has been assisted in his search for Dalton by a SABR member, Al Quimby. What has made the task so difficult is that not even the family of Jack Dalton has information on what happened to him.

No missing person report appears to have ever been filed with the Maryland State Police. No articles about his death have ever turned up. He simply vanished.

SABR member Bill Haber of Brooklyn, New York, also worked on the Dalton case. Though now deceased, Haber’s research over twenty years has corrected errors in more than two hundred professional baseball players’ biographies. Haber tracked some of Dalton’s relatives to Emmitsburg in 1978. He was told that Dalton had seemingly fallen off the face of the earth and never made contact with any of his relatives after he left Emmitsburg. He did not even show up for his brother’s funeral in 1954.

Dalton was born July 3, 1885, in Henderson, Tennessee. He had three sisters, Lura, Lena, and Lola, and one brother, Pleasie.

Following Dalton’s baseball career, SABR determined that in 1921 and 1922, he was a salesman living in Baltimore. In 1930, he was residing in Elkridge, Maryland. By 1940, he was living at Catonsville at 2 North Prospect Street. In April 1942, his World War II registration card lists him as a clerk in the Finance Office of the U.S. Army’s Third Corps headquarters in Baltimore. After the war, he became involved with the Primitive Baptist Church and moved to Emmitsburg.

This was all that was known about Dalton for decades, until Quimby came across Dalton’s death certificate in Pittsburgh. The document stated that Dalton died of a heart ailment in Allegheny General Hospital on February 17, 1950. He was sixty-four years old. The certificate was discovered in 2012, when Pennsylvania allowed access to death records before 1961. The Social Security number confirmed that it was the same Tolbert Dalton who had disappeared from Emmitsburg.

What happened during the two years that he was missing and why he left are still unknown. One interesting point from the death certificate is that it stated Dalton was unmarried. This is incorrect. He was still legally married to Thelma Dalton at the time of his death. She died in 1966 in Royersford, Pennsylvania, which is across the state from Pittsburgh.

While there are still unanswered questions about Dalton, at least the mystery of his disappearance has been solved.

Tolbert “Percy” Dalton

            Photo Courtesy of Richard Bozzone

by James Rada, Jr.

Early Public Education in Emmitsburg

Emmitsburg has always had plenty of schools. Of the 158 one-room schools in Frederick County in 1890, more than 20 were near Emmitsburg. This doesn’t even include the private and parochial schools in town at the time.

In a 1908 Emmitsburg Chronicle article, an old-timer recalled his experiences with some of Emmitsburg’s early schools.

One school was on the former site of Helman’s store where Mrs. Reed, a widow, taught class.

“I was packed off to school when I was about five years old, with a small yellow book called an English Primer. The seat, a rough bench, was much too high for my short legs, and my feet hung some distance above the floor. The school was a sort of a go-as-you please affair, and I did not receive much attention from the mistress, who, by the way, was a very good-natured lady. Yet, as it is the school boys’ want to go ahead, I made rapid progress and soon learned to throw paper wads and pinch the boys that sat next to me,” the unidentified man recalled.

He also recalled that the first public school in town had been on the site where St. Euphemia’s School would eventually stand. Robert Crooks was the “man’s” teacher.

“Other well-liked and successful teachers of the old public school were Mr. John Walter, a graduate of Mount St. Mary’s College, and a Mr. Tearce, who came to Emmitsburg with the Gutherie family from Pennsylvania. Mr. Tearce’s assistant was Squire Knouff, well known in this community for many years. Mr. Tearce was…“a genuine athlete; he joined in all our outdoor games, and many a time in playing corner-ball, I had his broad back for a target.

With all this comradeship with his pupils, inside of the schoolroom he was master and commanded the respect and love of his scholars,” recalled the man.

He was taught grammar, geography, algebra, and history.

“In the Summer when the public schools were closed, we had, what were then called, ‘subscription schools.’ I attended one that was held in a brick house on Broad alley. This building is still standing in good condition and is now occupied as a dwelling, by John Ellis. It was called the ‘Potter Kiln School’ because the house had been built for a potter’s shop. In the rear stood an immense potter’s kiln that had been unused for many years. It was a representative of one of the extinct industries of Emmitsburg: The darkness inside this kiln and the many small openings made it a fine place for boys to play hide-and-seek,” the man recalled.

Darius Thomas was the first teacher. Isaac E. Pierson, a lawyer, also taught at the school and was a harsh disciplinarian. “He did not believe in whipping but inflicted cruel and unusual punishment by making a boy stand up before the school with a girl’s sunbonnet on his head; a terrible penalty, far more dreadful to the boys than the rod,” the man recalled.

He recalled the Union Academy at Elias Church as one of the best.

“It was established long before the public schools were started and was considered a sort of finishing school,” the man recalled.

Today, most of the old school buildings are gone, but a few remain that have been repurposed. However, the education the students received in the 19th century helped create the solid citizens who built Emmitsburg into a thriving town.

Emmitsburg Baseball Celebrates 60th Anniversary  

Deb Spalding

60th Anniversary EBSLIn 1955, Articles of Incorporation for the Emmitsburg Little League stated the objective of the league to be, “to implant firmly in the boys of the community the ideals of good sportsmanship, honesty, loyalty, courage and reverence so that they may be finer, stronger, and happier boys and will grow to be good, clean, healthy men.” The objectives were to have been achieved by providing supervised competitive baseball games. Since 1955, thousands of boys, and now girls, too, have been impacted in a positive way by this league.

According to a January 28, 1955 Emmitsburg Chronicle article, Paul Claypool was the organizing chairman of the project and the Emmitsburg Lions Club was the first sponsor of the league. Coaches slated that first season included James McKeon, Carlos Englar, Dr. John J. Dillon, Jr., and Prof. Paul Conway. Organizational contributors included Herbert W. Roger, George L. Wilhide, and John J. Hollinger. Additional team sponsors soon came forward.

Organizational officers were slated in June and included Guy R. McGlaughlin, president; Robert Daugherty, vice president; John J. Dillon, Jr., secretary; and J. Edward Houck, treasurer.

Opening day was held Tuesday, June 22, 1955 with Leonard Zimmerman’s Cards beating Jack Rosensteel’s Yankees 4-0. Emmitsburg’s Burgess,Thornton Rodgers tossed out the first ball.

The concession stand was built in 1975 and named Sayler’s Stand for former league president, Bob Sayler, who served food from the concession stand for thirty years. Sayler passed away in 1997 at the age of seventy-five.

The first girls to play in the league started to appear in the 1960s and 1970s. They were mixed in as members of the boys’ teams. Today, there are several girl’s teams ranging in age from 8-16. They play in the Frederick County Girls Softball League.

Former league president and long-time league volunteer, Mary Topper, said, “In 2004, the league decided to join a new league, the Mason Dixon League, which included Taneytown, Littlestown, and Charles Carroll. The reason for the change was the lack of boys teams in Emmitsburg. The officers thought it was good for the players from nine to twelve years to experience new competition. Our teams were very successful in this league.”

A few years later, the Emmitsburg Little League changed from little league to being independent and officially became the Emmitsburg Baseball and Softball League. At this time, teams went on to play in Pony league. Since 2009, teams have been playing in the Cal Ripken League because this league plays by rules used in major league and high school baseball.

Older boys, aged 13-19, currently play in the Frederick County Babe Ruth League. EBSL currently has two teams in the 13-15 league and one team in the 16-19 league.

EBSL has hosted the Frederick County Babe Ruth 13-15 year end-of-year tournament for the past two years under the leadership of Doug Wivell. Also, EBSL has hosted the State Tournament for Cal Ripken for the past three years, and the Emmitsburg 12U All Stars have won the Maryland state title three years in a row under the coaching of Dave Wantz III, Jimmy Click, and John Malachowski. They advanced to Waynesboro, Pennsylvania for the Regional Championships the first year and to New York the second year, then returned to Waynesboro again this year. The 12U Redsox were undefeated during this season.

Emmitsburg’s 12U girls softball team won first place in the silver division. The 15U girls came in second in their division. With success of the Mason-Dixon League, Emmitsburg will continue to play against other teams in Fairfield, Gettysburg, and Taneytown.

Past presidents include Guy McGlaughlin, Dr. William Cadle, Thomas Bollinger, Richard McCullough, Thomas “Tip” Harbaugh, Robert Sayler, Thomas Ryan, Roy Wivell, William Wivell, Lisa Krom, Dean Torgenson, Mary Topper, Brian Holt, Jeff Little, Brian Devilbiss, Jeff topper, and Tom Kelly.

The league would like to thank the town and the sponsors for their support. To volunteer on the board, serve as a coach, or become a sponsor, please email

CHS Sports Boosters to Hold Re-Dedication Ceremony

The Catoctin High School (CHS) Sports Boosters will hold a re-dedication ceremony of the memorials to former Catoctin athletes and fallen military heroes, 1Lt. Robert A. Seidel, III and LCpl. James Willard Higgins, Jr. prior to the Homecoming football game at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, September 25, 2015, in Cougar Stadium. The memorials have been completely restored in memory of Jeff Wivell, who was instrumental in the initial creation of the monument area.

Emmitsburg Editor Tries His Hand in Politics

by James Rada, Jr.

Sterling Galt purchased the Emmitsburg Chronicle in 1906. He was the fourth owner of the 27-year-old newspaper. Back in those days, small newspapers had few employees. The owner was the publisher and the primary reporter.

The debut editorial stated the goal of the newspaper as this: “Our first aim shall be to present the CHRONICLE as a medium through which the outer world may learn our aims, our hopes and high resolves. We shall not try to amuse our readers with rhetorical flourishes, nor with sonorous sentences, neither shall we indulge in meaningless jests, nor silly observations, but endeavor, in an unpretending way to give our readers the current news of the times, with such items of local interest that may present themselves: we shall try to practice the recent suggestion of an esteemed clerical friend, who we estimate as a model editor, substantially, that ‘the value of a newspaper consists not so much in what we put into it, as in what is kept out of it.’”

Galt worked hard living up to the dream of what the newspaper could be. He reported on community events and big stories, such as the murder of Edward Smith by Fred Debold. Although it didn’t happen in town, it was a big enough story that Galt put out a special issue on August 9, 1906.

Galt had his own plans for his future, though. As editor of the newspaper, he had become a leading member of the Emmitsburg community. He saw its strengths and problems, and he started to think he had solutions rather than simply reporting on what other people came up with. By reporting on other communities, he had a good feel for what issues were on the minds of their residents.

When readers picked up the October 27, 1911, issue of The Weekly Chronicle, they read a letter from Galt to his readers: “Having accepted the nomination by the Democratic party of the State Senatorship of Frederick county, I feel that the due observance of a practice, entirely ethical in its character, constrains me to withdraw from the active management and editorship of The Weekly Chronicle during the active campaign.”

He stepped back from his job to try and avoid the impression of bias. If that was the intent, it didn’t work.

During Galt’s absence, E. L. Higbee, a man Galt said had “long been associated with me,” was given management and editorial control. However, Galt still owned the newspaper. As someone Galt trusted, it wasn’t surprising that Higbee backed Galt, and the newspaper showed it.

The next issues of the paper focused heavily on Galt and his candidacy. Even that first issue, where Galt announced he was stepping down from running the newspaper, featured support for Galt’s candidacy.

  1. M. Gluck, Galt’s reverend, wrote: “I know his positions on practically all political questions will be assumed to the larger interests of his constituents and can say without reservation that if he is elected he will consider all such questions from the standpoint of their effect on the welfare of the people regardless of the influence they might bring to bear on his private affairs. In other words, he would be an unselfish public servant.”

Of his own candidacy Galt wrote, “If I am sent to Annapolis I shall go there untrammeled, uncoerced—not the tool of a boss or an organization or the vassal or representative of any league, clique, society, union, association, corporation or combination of interests, and I shall endeavor at all times and under all conditions to serve the PEOPLE as justice, honor and duty point the way.”

The election drew a lot of voters to the polls. Emmitsburg had more than 700 registered voters and 632 voted in that election. It took poll workers in the district until 4:00 a.m. the following morning to finish counting the votes.

The heavy positive coverage given Galt in The Weekly Chronicle wasn’t enough. He received 4,813 votes, but his opponent, John P. T. Mathias of Thurmont, was the incumbent, garnering 5,290 votes.

Following his loss, Galt resumed his duties as editor and went back to trying to help the community.

Galt died on December 28, 1922. Under his editorship, The Weekly Chronicle was considered one of the best weekly newspapers in the state, according to editorials in other newspapers.

Following Galt’s death, John Elder and Michael Thompson purchased the The Weekly Chronicle in 1922.


Image source: Maryland State Archives SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (Charles McCurdy Mathias Collection) Cabinet Card of John P.T. Mathias, c. 1885, MSA SC 5620-1-3.

by James Rada, Jr.

Emmitsburg Gets Three Burgesses in Four Months

Emmitsburg once went through three burgesses in the span of four months in 1939.

It began when Burgess Michael J. Thompson died unexpectedly on May 31. He had gone out walking through Emmitsburg, including stopping at the Hotel Slagle, before heading home. He had only been home a few minutes when the heart attack struck and he died about 12:20 p.m.

“Mr. Thompson had been in ill health for the last two years, and the attack this morning was third he has suffered within the last year,” The Frederick Post reported.

He was only sixty-one years old. He had been born in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1877. He loved playing sports, but, in 1893, while playing football for Suffield Academy against Taft School, he broke his right leg. He healed, but then broke it again the following spring while sliding into second base during a baseball game.

His playing days were over.

When he attended Holy Cross, he organized the school’s first football team and coached it in 1896, while he was still only a freshman. The following year, he refereed his first game between Boston College and Brown.

He soon became a regular referee for college games.

“His most famous game was the Harvard-Carlisle Indians contest in 1903, when he allowed the ‘hidden-ball’ play. Jimmy Johnson, the Indian quarterback, in a close formation, slipped the ball under the jersey of Dillon, a husky tackle, who lumbered unmolested down the field and across the goal line,” The Frederick Post reported.

He came to Mount St. Mary’s College in 1911, and served as a coach and referee for twenty-three years before retiring.

He was also a former publisher of the Emmitsburg Chronicle.

Two days before Thompson was buried, John B. Elder became the burgess, since he was the head of the town council. Like Thompson, he was also a publisher of the Emmitsburg Chronicle.

With Elder’s move to burgess, Council Member Charles Harner became the head of the town council.

Harner and Elder were the only two members of the town’s governing body at this time. Usually, there was a burgess and three members of the town council. However, the third seat on the council had gone unfilled in the last election. Thompson had been planning on appointing a person to fill the seat, but he had died before it could be done.

One August 21, The Gettysburg Times reported that “Emmitsburg now has its third burgess since the May election as municipal affairs underwent a second unexpected change, occasioned by the sudden resignation last Friday of Guy S. Nunenbaker, retired engineer.”

Elder had unexpectedly resigned from his position as burgess at the beginning of the month. Luckily, Thornton Rogers had been appointed to town council before Elder’s resignation, so Harney wasn’t left as the sole member of town government.

Richard Zacharias became the new burgess and served out Thompson’s unexpired term.

This wasn’t the first or last time that Emmitsburg would have trouble finding people to serve in Emmitsburg’s government. Many of its elections lacked contested races and, once, no one even filed to run for the office of burgess.

“A light vote is anticipated inasmuch as apathy of local citizens to run for office was prevalent during the past week when no one filed his intentions to run for the office of Burgess,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported in 1955 just before the election.

The newspaper speculated that most people probably thought that incumbent mayor Thornton Rodgers would run again, but he, too, chose not to seek re-election. When no one had filed for burgess in the election, Rodgers allowed himself to become a write-in candidate.

He was re-elected with 91 votes (out of 438 registered voters) of residents who wrote in his name.

James Edward Houck was elected burgess in 1961, but even then, people referred to the position as mayor. He won the election by only four votes over the incumbent Mayor Clarence Frailey.

Houck wrote in an article for the Greater Emmitsburg Area Historical Society about his time in office, “Being elected Burgess of Emmitsburg in the early 1960s was quite an eye-opening experience for me. The regular duties that you expect to do and the things you want to accomplish are only a small portion of the job.”

Additional charter changers in 1974 made official the change from a burgess to a mayor.

In 2006, the number of commissioners on the board was increased from four members to five. Changes were also made to keep the mayor from voting on issues since he also has veto power.

F_X_Eby Jim Houck, Jr.

Note: This is the story titled “History of the Francis X. Elder Post, No. 121 American Legion From its Beginning,” as written by “Abigail,” a writer for the Emmitsburg Chronicle. The article was published in the Emmitsburg Chronicle in 1940.

Original Post Founded In 1920. Present One Originated in 1936. Lester J. Damuth and Charles J. Rowe Instumental In Its Formation.

By Abigail

An American Legion Post was organized here in 1920 for the first time and was named Francis X. Elder Post No. 75. The original Post was the nucleus of American Legion activities in the community and undoubtedly served as an incentive to augment the membership and the splendid spirit that is a part of the present Post.

It was not until March 12, 1936 that the present Francis X. Elder Post, No. 121, Department of Maryland, was organized by Mr. Lester J. Damuth and his committee. State Commander Charles S. Houck, of Walkersville, addressed the veterans and assisted in the organization of the new Post. Those veterans who were members of the organization at that time follow; John H. Rosensteel Jr., C. C. Combs, Charles J. Rowe, Louis H. Stoner, Clarence Baumgardner, Gerald N. Ryder, Lester J. Damuth, Maurice H. Moser, Clarence G. Fraley,  James M. Alvey, J. Ward Kerrigan, George Wagerman, Raymond Baumgardner, Guy C. Angell and J. Ralph Angell.

It was agreed to name the Post the Francis X. Elder Post in honor of the first Emmitsburg boy to enlist and the first to be killed in action. Francis X. Elder, son of the late Mr.  and Mrs. James B. Elder, was born in Emmitsburg on June 30, 1893. He inlisted in the service of his country on May 9, 1917. He was in France from June 15, 1918 until death. He was killed in action on October 11, 1918. Others killed in action were Captain Henry higbee Worthington and Martin Hahn. Killed by accident was first lieutenant john Reading Schley. Died of disease, Charles Francis Gelwicks, Francis Edward Rowe. Robert Bruce Reifsnider, Arthur Bentzel and Vernon Ross Ohler.

The following Officers were elected for the year of 1936-1937; Post Commander, Lester J. Damuth; Post Adjutant, Charles J. Rowe; Vice Commander, Maurice H. Moser; Finance Officer, Louis H, Stoner; Historian, C.C. Combs; Sergeant -at-Arms, George Wagerman; Chaplain (Temporary), Reverend Father Francis Dodd; Membership Chairman, Clarence G. Frailey; Grave Registration Chairman, Gerald N. Ryder; Service Officer, Charles J. Rowe; and Child Welfare Chairman, Clarence Baumgardner. The Executive Committee was composed of John H. Rosensteel Jr., Clarence Baumgardner and James M. Alvey, and was asked by the Post Commander to draw up the by-laws of the newly formed Post.

During the year, the Post took an active part in flood relief by sending food, clothing and money to the relief committee of the Francis Scott Key Post in Frederick. They were one of the first Post to receive the “Community Service Citation”.

All veteran’s graves were marked and registered this year. In November the by-laws submitted by the above named executive committee were unanimously approved. The Armistice Day Services were held on November 8 in Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church, Rev. Francis Dodd, Post Chaplain was in charge of services.

A military funeral was conducted for John S. Hobbs, a World War veteran, at Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church in December of that year.

In February 1937 the Post donated $47.00 for flood relief in the Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio River section. The money was sent to the Red Cross. Again the Post received the “Community Service Citation”.

In March 1937 the local Legion Post celebrated its first anniversary in the Fireman’s Hall with a banquet and dance at which 135 Legionnaires and their guests were present. The Colors of the Legion were presented to the local Post by Bryon Hobbs, Department Commander. At the same time C.L. Shrine, Vice Commander of the Western Maryland District and Morris Frock, Post 42 of Hagerstown, presented the charter and citation. Among the notables present were; Major Elmer J. Munshower, Superintendent of Maryland State Police; Rev.John L. Sheridan, President of Mt. Saint Mary’s College; Rev. William J. Groeninger, Pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church; Rev. E.L. Higbee, Pastor of the Reformed Church of the Incarnation; Rev. Phillip Bower, Pastor of the Elias Lutheran Church; Rev. Francis Dodd, Chaplain of the local Post; Miss Louise Sebold, President of St. Joseph’s College Alumnae; and Mr. John D. Elder, brother of Francis X. Elder and Editor of this paper.

In May of 1937 the Post sponsored the Walk-a-Show, on Decoration Day the services were held in the Methodist Episcopal Church at 3 pm; Rev. Raymond E. Cook, Department Chaplain, delivered the sermon. Charles J. Rowe, Post Adjutant introduced the speakers after a brief talk and introductory remarks.

In July the following Officers were elected for the year 1938; Post Commander, Maurice Moser; Vice Commander, C.C. Combs; Adjutant, C.J. Rowe; Finance Officer, Louis H. Stoner; Sergeant-at-Arms, John Walter; Historian, William S. Sterbinsky; Chaplain, Rev. Francis J. Dodd; Raymond Baumgardner was named to the Executive Committee. A committee of two was named to investigate insurance for the colors, Charles J. Rowe and James Alvey.

In September Adjutant Charles J. Rowe announced that the Mayor and Commissioners granted the Post permission to take over the Doughboy War Memorial. The Armistice Day services were held in the Reformed Church of Incarnation and the Pastor, the Rev. E.L. Higbee, delivered a very eloquent address for the occasion. About 30 members were present.

In January 1938 the Posttook action to reduce hazards to motorists on Tollgate Hill. On January 19, the Legion turned out for the funeral of Mrs. James B. Elder, mother of Francis X. Elder, for whom the Post was named. in March of 1938 about 75 Legionnaires, Ladies of the Auxiliary and friends attended the second annual banquet of the Post held in Hotel Slage. Post Adjutant, Charles J. Rowe, presented two rifles to the Post, purchased by his mother, in memory of her son, Francis Edward Rowe, who died at a Naval Training Station during the war.

The memorial services in this year were held at the Presbyterian Church, with the Pastor, Rev. Irwin N. Morris, delivering the impressive sermon. In June the following Officers were elected for 1939; Commander, C.C. Combs; Vice Commander, Raymond Baumgardner; Adjutant, J.E. Prendergast; Chaplain, Rev. Francis Dodd; Historian, William S. Sterbinsky; Treasurer, Dr. O.H. Stinson; Finance Officer, Charles D. Gillelan. Charles J. Rowe and James Alvey were appointed as delegates to the State convention with C.C. Combs and Allen Rosensteel named as alternates.

In August the newly-elected Officers were installed by the State Commander, Bruce Blair. A bugle was accepted as a gift from Mr. Ralph S. Sperry. In September the Post was honored in having one of its members elected as one of the State’s Vice Commanders. This outstanding Legionnaire was Charles J.Rowe. The Armistice Day services were held at Elias Lutheran Church. The Pastor Rev. Phillip Bower, gave a very appropriate and impressive address. In the afternoon the Armistice Day Parade was held with the following

Posts represented; Drum Corps of the Francis Scott Key Post No. 11, Frederick, members of the same Post with the Forty and Eight; Members of the Morris Frock Post, Hagerstown; Carroll Post, No. 31, Westminster; Hesson-Snyder Post, No 131, Taneytown; Drum and Bugle Corps of Albert J. Lentz Post, No. 202, of Gettysburg; and the colored Post of Frederick of Frederick with its band. Immediately following the parade all assembled on the local Community Athletic Field where the Hon. Judge J. Fred Johnson, of Washington gave the principle address. State Commander Herbert L. Rhodes, and past State Commander Bruce Blair, both spoke briefly. There was singing by the entire assembly led by Post Historian, William S. Sterbinsky, accompanied by the Fairfield High Band.

On November 20 the Post attended the funeral of Mrs. Edward H. Rowe, the mother of the Vice Commander, Charles J. Rowe, which was held from her home.

On March 23, 1939, the Post celebrated its third anniversary in the Green Parrot Tea Room with about sixty guest present. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Frailey was the principal speaker and District Vice Commander, Charles J. Rowe, disclosed some interesting information concerning the local Post.

Memorial services were held this year at the United Brethren Church, in Thurmont. The Rev. Ivan Naugle, a recent member, and the Pastor, was in charge of the services. At a meeting held on September 4 the following Officers were elected for the ensuing year of 1940; Commander, Raymond Baumgardner; Vice Commander, L. Mackley; Adjutant, J.E. Prendergast; Treasurer, Lesley Fox; Historian, Allen Rosensteel; Sergeant-at-Arms, Henry Warthen. The new committees were appointed by the Commander.

The Charter Members of the Post follow; James Alvey, Guy Angell, Ralph Angell, Morris Barrick, Clarence Baumgardner, Raymond Baumgardner, C.C. Combs, Lester Damuth, Francis J. Dodd, Lesley Fox, Clarence G. Frailey, William Frailey, Edgar Freeze, David Gall, Vincent Hartdagen, J. Winfield Houser, Luther Kelly, Harry Knight, Arthur Malloy, William Miller, Maurice Moser, Allen Rosensteel, John H. Rosensteel Jr., Charles J. Rowe, Gerald N. Ryder, Arthur Starner, William Sterbinsky, Dr. O.H. Stinson, Louis Stoner, Harry Valentine, Robert Valentine, George Wagerman, John Walter and Curtis Weddle.

The deceased members of the Post are John H. Rosensteel Jr. and Robert Valentine.

The present total membership is sixty-one.


I would like to share with you the last words written by Francis X. Elder in a letter to his mother from the front line in France.

                                                         Dearest Mama,

As I am about to enter the big fight for Democracy it is my desire now, whilst I have the opportunity to pencil you a few lines briefly, and bid you, Papa and all, a sincere farewell and may our dear and most precious God always protect you in this life, and knowing this, I will die cheerfully for a good cause, if it to be his holy will, otherwise it will be the happiest moment of my life when I can once more kiss those motherly lips. If the worst happens to me, take the news, courageously be brave!, as I am going to try and be. If I come through O.K. I will write at once and let you know.

Hoping for the best and trusting I will see you all on earth, or that we will meet in Heaven, I am your most affectioate and loving son.”

                                                                                                                                  Farewell,                                                                                                           Priv. Francis X. Elder


Happy Birthday, Francis X. Elder American Legion Post 121.

God Bless America, God Bless our American Veterans, and God Bless You.

Mount St. Mary’s and the Civil War

by James Rada, Jr.

Looking Back COLUMN photoIn the years leading up to the Civil War, Mount St. Mary’s enjoyed prosperity. The college celebrated its golden anniversary in 1858, and student enrollment was around 200 young men and growing.

“The Mount was thriving, as was most of the South thriving before the Civil War,” Father Michael Roach, instructor of church history at the Mount, said on the DVD “Mount St. Mary’s University: The Spirit Continues…”

This changed with the outbreak of war in 1860; the school began to lose students and faculty who were sympathetic to the southern cause. More than half of the students prior to the war came from the South. Not all of them headed home, and the school wound up supporting them because funds from the students’ parents could not make it north.

The college expenses increased while income fell off. During the 1859-1860 school year, Mount St. Mary’s had 173 students, not including the seminarians; two years later, the enrollment had fallen to 67 students, its lowest number in fifty years.

The remaining students and faculty began to take sides in the conflict, either pro-Union or pro-Confederacy. While this created some tension on campus, it never became open hostility. The consensus opinion seems to be that a majority of the campus supported the Southern cause.

“[President John] McCaffrey eventually, and some of professors, were monitored, observed, by President Lincoln’s loyalty police. These were men appointed all over the country to keep an eye on folks who might be or were suspected of being Confederate sympathizers,” Steve Whitman, associate professor of history at the Mount, said on the DVD “Mount St. Mary’s University: The Spirit Continues…”

Though Confederate in his sympathies, McCaffrey was not hostile to the Union. A Pennsylvania officer wrote, “Two miles from Emmitsburg, we passed Mount Saint Mary’s, and taking advantage of a moment’s halt, a party of three or four rode up to the main entrance…We were cordially received by the president and with characteristic hospitality a collation was in preparation for us.”

In the fall of 1862, the sounds of battle during the Battle of South Mountain could be heard at the college.

“As we were going up to Mass to the old church on the hill, and as we were returning from Mass, we could hear the firing distinctly. Yet, recreation went on the terraces and the ordinary routine of college life was followed, as if nothing unusual was happening,” Monsignor James T. Dunn, an 1863 Mount graduate, wrote after the war.

After the battle of Antietam in September 1862, six of the seven seniors remaining in the school slipped away to visit the battlefield, leaving only a note for McCaffrey that read: “Dear Doctor McCaffrey: We are very sorry for what we are going to do but we cannot help it. Please do not be worried about us: we will be back surely on Friday evening. Yours truly. Class of ‘63.”

This wasn’t the first time boys had left the campus without permission to see a battle or soldiers. McCaffrey decided to put an end to it. When the boys returned three days later, McCaffrey expelled them. However, within a month, he changed his mind and reinstated them.

Small Confederate raids occurred around the college and “Vice-President, Rev. John McCloskey, an excellent horseman and a notable figure on horseback, rode for quite a distance alongside the commander, General J. E. B. Stuart,” according to Dunn.

The next big event for the college was in 1863, as troops entered the area on their way to Gettysburg. “Many of us sat on the fences along the road watching and listening to their sayings. We naturally looked upon the men as sheep led to the slaughter, and we were not a little surprised when we overheard two of them closing a bargain on horseback with the remark: ‘Well, I will settle with you for this after the battle. Will that suit you?’ The other party readily assented. The whole period of life is treated as a certainty, even by men going into battle,” Dunn wrote.

He wrote that his commencement was held about a week earlier than planned “on account of the threatening appearance of everything without, and so that the students might safely reach their homes.”

Mount President John McCaffrey was known for his Confederate sympathies and refused to let the U.S. flag fly. “When Lincoln was shot, Federal orders were issued ‘for every house to display some sign of mourning. An officer visited the college, but there was no sign visible,’ until Dr. McCaffrey produced ‘a small piece of crape’ on a door which had been opened back so that it would not be visible until disclosed,” according to the Emmitsburg Chronicle.

In the spring of 1863, Mount student Maurice Burn was arrested by Union soldiers for sedition. Burn, who was from Louisiana, had written his father and expressed his Southern sympathies. Burn was jailed when he refused to sign an oath of loyalty to the Union. McCaffrey wrote Lincoln pleading Burn’s case, and the youth was released to McCaffrey’s custody.

In all, three students were killed during the war, according to “Mount St. Mary’s University: The Spirit Continues…” One of these young men was Maurice Burn, who had been arrested and paroled for sedition. Those young men were buried at the college cemetery on the mountain.