Currently viewing the tag: "Frederick county"

An Isolated Town Arrives in the 20th Century

Although Catoctin and South mountains aren’t the largest mountains in America or even the Appalachians, their crooks and crannies provided land where isolated communities sprung up. One of these communities was Friends Creek, west of Emmitsburg in Frederick County.

“Friends creek dashes musically over its rocky bed, dropping frequently into quiet pools, the ideal home of the trout. Close in on each side crowd stern, densely-wooded mountains, forming a pocket, typical of hundreds of similar localities through the entire range of the Appalachian chain,” the Frederick News reported in 1922.

Despite the towns and cities within a reasonable distance from the small community, Friends Creek remained in a bygone era even as the region moved into the 20th century. It was made up of 25 to 30 homes that were not much more than one- to four-room cabins. Each home was filled with large families and multiple dogs.

“The people make a living by tilling little patches of ground cleared off on the less precipitous slopes of the hills and by hunting and fishing. In the summer many of the men go out into the fertile valleys not far away and work on the large farms,” according to the newspaper. “In the winter their chief reliance is on hunting and trapping, and it is whispered that further back in the mountains ‘the moon shines bright upon the moonshine distillery…’”

Few of the residents were literate, and most had such basic math skills that when they dealt with people from the outside world, they needed someone to help them.

“Stubborn in his resistance against what he considers the iconoclasm of modern civilization, standing firmly upon the ways of his forefathers, regardless of their retarding effect upon his own development and comfort, retaining the customs and folklore of past centuries, maintaining an austere and cheerless religion, filled with queer superstitions peculiar to isolated mountain people…,” according to the Frederick News.

But the newspaper noted that by 1922, the modern world had finally started creeping into Friends Creek. Beulah Weldon and Margaret E. Newman were given the credit for easing Friends Creek into the modern world. Weldon was the community’s teacher and Newman was the graduate nurse.

Both of them were also trained social workers associated with the Henry Street Settlement. The Henry Street Settlement was an organization that had formed in 1893 in New York City to provide social services and health care to needy New Yorkers.

However, Weldon and Newman saw that Friends Creek was in need, and they believed they could help.

Newman told the newspaper, “My principal motive in leaving New York and coming here was to help the country children, the native Americans, to get a better share of what is due them. In New York there are fine schools, which are almost swamped by the children of recent immigrants, eager to learn, but remote regions such as this are permitting the children, many of whom are direct descendants of Revolutionary war heroes, to grow up in ignorance. The truth of this terrible proportion of illiteracy among our native-born population was brought home forcibly to men, as to many others, by the revelations of the draft records made during the last war.”

The Frederick County Board of Education supported the women’s efforts. They had built a decent schoolhouse in the community, but they had trouble finding a teacher to work there for any length of time. The Frederick News said the that the reason for this was, “The mountain homes, swarming with children, with no possibility of securing a private room, the meagre and unvaried food and the general isolation did not appeal to young school ma’ams: in fact, no boarding place could be found, and it was not within the power of the Board of Education to furnish a home.”

Even when a teacher could be found for the school, attendance was low. The average attendance was only 8 to 10 pupils, which led to the school being closed intermittently for lack of students.

Newman and Weldon arrived in Friends Creek in the summer of 1919. Newman had learned of the community from her father who had bought land in the area with the plan of planting an orchard. He had often told his daughter he wished something could be done for the people.

The women found a place to live in Friends Creek due to the generosity of Dr. Howard A. Kelly of Baltimore. He bought a rustic home on 53 acres for $300 and allowed the women to live there. They moved in and slowly made improvements to the property over the years when they had time. They also kept a small garden, cows, horse, poultry, sheep and “a flivver,” which is slang for cheap car.

It took time for the community to accept the women, but over three years, they helped the people of Friends Creek make significant problems. Interestingly, the religious leaders were resistant to the changes. The community had two religious groups; Pentecostals or “Holy Rollers” and the “Church of God.”

The Holy Rollers, in particular, were against the changes. The pastor was said to have told his congregation “if the Lord intended them to read and write the Holy Ghost would teach them,” according to the newspapers.

Weldon and Newman persevered.

Weldon started holding school with two classes: those who had attended school and those who hadn’t. At first, the latter class was larger than the former. As the children quickly learned, attendance improved. Eventually, all the children, except those in one or two families were attending school.

Another issue they dealt with was the health of the children. When Weldon and Newman arrived, only 12.5 percent of the children were at a normal weight. The remaining children were underweight. Newman started visiting homes and speaking with the families about nutrition. Since most of the students did not bring a school lunch, the women started a school lunch program.

“As there was no place but the schoolroom to  cook the food the distraction was found too great and this was given up, but the teacher and nurse take daily with them to the school a gallon of rich milk from their own cows, which is given to the children who seem to need it most. Few of the families in the settlement own a cow,” the Frederick News reported.

Through diligent efforts, by 1922, 80 percent of the children in the community were at a normal weight.

Weldon and Newman also dealt with problems of poor clothing that was held together by safety pins, snakes, tuberculosis, dental health, and even farming conditions.

It was hard work, but Friends Creek and its residents eventually joined the 20th century.

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The original Friends Creek Church of God, built in 1868. It was one of two churches in the Friends Creek community in the early 20th century in Frederick County.

Frederick County offers a free monthly distribution of seasonal produce, canned goods, and shelf-stable products in a farmers-market-style setting on the third Friday of each month at the Frederick Senior Center, located at 1440 Taney Avenue in Frederick. The next distribution is Friday, March 15, from noon until all food is distributed.

Please park on the main parking lot and visit the Market tents on the side parking lot. Volunteers are available to assist with shopping and carrying your food to your vehicle. Don’t forget your reusable shopping bag.

All Frederick County residents age 60-plus with an income at or below $1,600 per month are eligible to participate. Please bring a photo I.D. to register the first time.

For more information, email the Division of Aging and Independence at or call 301-600-1234.

Frederick County is going red in support of American Heart Health Month. During the entire month of February, the County will be launching several events to encourage a #HeartHealthyFC. Several government agencies and partners will be participating.

“I am so proud of and grateful to the various divisions and community partners who have joined us to launch our first-ever Heart Healthy Frederick County campaign,” said County Executive Jessica Fitzwater. “Heart disease claims more lives each year in the United States than any other cause of death. This campaign is a great way to increase awareness and encourage interconnectedness in the name of health.”

Heart Health Month events include: Hands-Only CPR non-certificate classes, sponsored and taught by Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue and hosted by Frederick County Parks and Recreation; We Heart Storytime!  sponsored by Frederick County Public Libraries, featuring Frederick County 9-1-1 employees; Heart Health – Veg It Up! cooking classes for kids and adults, sponsored by Frederick County Parks and Recreation; and Mental Health and Heart Health class (TBD) for ages 50+, sponsored by the Frederick County Division of Aging and Independence and taught by Estelle Dupree, LCPC, LC-ADAS Therapist with the Frederick County Health Department.

The public is invited to participate by wearing red in honor of Heart Health Month on Wear Red Day, which is February 2.

For more information on Heart Healthy FC, including the full calendar of events, visit

Richard D. L. Fulton

For the bicyclist enthusiast who has no issue with braving the winter months enjoying bike trails, Mountaindale appears to offer several challenging options in any season.

Mountaindale, itself, is located in Frederick County and has been described as a “log cabin community.”  The community remains in a generally rural area of Frederick County.

The first trail system established in Mountaindale and the surrounding county lands was essentially established as game trails by prehistoric nomads thousands of years ago, before the Native American tribes with which everyone is generally equated even existed.

Archaeologists have even discovered prehistoric spearheads, so unique that they bear the name Mountaindale points, dating from the Middle Archaic Period (4,000 to 6,000 B.C.).

Even though prehistoric inhabitants were well acquainted with the area, very little information about Mountaindale has yet to make it to the 21st century internet.

However, information regarding a number of Mountaindale biking trails has been reported.

All of those in the trail systems noted below are located wholly or mostly within the City of Frederick Municipal Forest and Watershed and/or Gambrill State Park, according to, and the trails below also employ the names as given on that website. described the trail systems within the Municipal Forest and Watershed as being “a virtual labyrinth of interconnecting trails.”

Just a few are noted below.

Salamander Trail (also known as the Skink and Salamander Trail):

The length given for Salamander (loop) Trail is 3.7 miles and is classified as suitable for mountain bikes and hiking, according to 

The trail begins on Gambrill Park Road, a short distance to the north from the intersection of that road and Tower Road, and then continues in a circuitous loop until it returns to its starting point, according to, who also rates the trail as “moderately challenging,” and takes a little over one hour to traverse. The trail also leads past a geographical feature known as Salamander Rock (also known as Salamander Mountain).

Gambrill Yellow (loop) Trail (apparently also known as the Yellow Poplar Trail):

The length given for the Gambrill Yellow Trail is 7.2 miles, and is listed by as appropriate for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, and is described as “moderately challenging,” and can take some three hours to complete the trek. Dogs are welcome but must remain leashed. 

This loop trail begins and ends in the parking lot of the Gambrill State Park Trail System parking lot.  The trail passes several landmarks, including the Middletown Overlook, Bootjack Springs, and North and South Frederick viewpoints.

Knuckle Buster Trail, VW Trail, and Catoctin National Recreational Trail:

Knuckle Buster Trail, VW Trail, and Catoctin National Recreational Trail is a loop-trail system, which begins and ends in the area of Hamburg Road Parking Lot.

The loop is given as being 2.8 miles in extent, according to (note: for just using the Knuckle Buster Trail alone, refer to the references listed at the end of this feature). The loop can take from a little over an hour to an hour and a half to complete and is classified as being “moderately challenging.”

The trail may be used for hiking, mountain biking, and running. reports that dogs are welcome but must remain leashed, further noting, “The trail is not well marked in places, so downloading the map ahead of time is recommended.”

Lawn Mower, Rocky Stream Bed Trail, and Kubla Khan Loop:

Lawn Mower, Rocky Stream Bed Trail, and Kubla Khan Loop is a 4.1-mile trek, according to, which also classifies the trail as “moderately challenging.”

The trail has its access located off where Gambrill State Park begins, and ends on an access road off Gambrill State Park. noted, “this is a popular trail for mountain biking.”

Dogs are welcome, and may be off leash in certain areas. 

For maps and information on other Mountaindale trails, visit and

The Volunteer for Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Northern Frederick County group of volunteers will again offer free preparation of Federal and MD tax returns this coming spring.

Starting January 23, 2024, you can call 301-471-5757 (the same phone number as last year) to make appointments for the first week in February 2024 or later. The group, working under IRS guidelines and certified by IRS to prepare certain types of returns, will follow the same general process for making appointments and preparing tax returns as last year. For example, when you call for an appointment, a volunteer will ask you several questions about your 2023 income, filing status, and other tax factors to determine if IRS allows them to prepare your taxes. If IRS does, the volunteer will give you an appointment time at the Thurmont Regional Library, located at 76 E. Moser Road in Thurmont, that is convenient to you. The volunteer will also ask you to bring several documents to the appointment, including a photo identification for all individuals listed on your returns, last year’s Federal and MD returns, and your social security card or number. At the appointment, the volunteer will prepare your tax returns while you wait and may ask you questions that help them better prepare your returns.

Saturday, November 4, has been announced by the Frederick County Division of Solid Waste as its next Residential Household Hazardous Waste event. This bi-annual event is the preferred disposal method of household hazardous wastes generated from Frederick County’s residences. Residents can drop off, at no cost, items like fluorescent bulbs (compact and tube), old gasoline, mixed oil/gasoline, brake fluid, thermometers, lithium-ion batteries, button batteries, solvents, pool chemicals, photo chemicals, and road flares, from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m., at 21 Stadium Drive, also known as the upper parking lot of Harry Grove Stadium.

To prepare for this event, organizers encourage residents to plan by anticipating some time to wait in line, having items organized, separated by type, accessible inside their vehicle, and following all signs and directions. As a courtesy to other residents, residents must access this event via a right turn only; please enter the stadium parking lot via New Design Road, not Market Street.  Further, for safety purposes, walk-ups to this event will be prohibited, and items will not be accepted from cars parked along Stadium Drive. This event is not open to commercial entities. Commercial entities needing advice for disposing of their hazardous waste should call 301-600-2960.

For a complete list of acceptable and unacceptable items, please visit There, you can also sign up for other resources, announcements, and reminders via the Recycle Coach app or sign up for reminders via text message.

The Frederick County Division of Solid Waste and Recycling provides integrated waste management for the County and its residents with waste reduction, recycling, and disposal programs. More information on these and associated events can be found by calling 301-600-2960 and online at under “Departments.”

The Frederick County Division of Energy & Environment (DEE) has introduced a network of air quality monitors to be stationed around the County. The new system will provide real-time assessments of fine particulate matter concentrations in our air; for example, microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are small enough to be inhaled and go deep into the lungs and bloodstream, causing serious health problems. The DEE has initiated this project to track local air pollution, especially in high-risk regions and where people may not be able to respond to air quality problems.

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Serena McIlwain and her staff recently visited one of Frederick County’s new air quality monitoring sites. “It was great to host Secretary McIlwain and highlight how Frederick County is working to tackle environmental justice issues. I am proud of the work the DEE is doing to collect and share data to address health and environmental disparities in our community,” said County Executive Jessica Fitzwater.

Air quality concerns can vary significantly within a region. To protect those most exposed to poor air quality, the county intends to place at least five of the twelve new air monitors in areas with low-income or disadvantaged populations. These residents are more likely to be affected by air quality issues and may have fewer resources to address them.

According to Frederick County Sustainability Program Administrator Tiara Lester, “Last summer, smoke from Canadian wildfires blanketed our region and briefly drew many people’s attention to the issue of air quality. But many people experience similar air quality issues most or all the time.” Neighborhoods bordering industrial operations can be continually exposed to particulates in the air. And those who live or work near busy roads may breathe in many different pollutants regularly.

A key goal of this project is to better understand the air quality of specific areas in Frederick County and make that information accessible to the public. The manufacturer of the air sensors provides an interactive online map that allows the public to easily access air quality data, allowing users to zoom out and view the big picture of air quality in our region or zoom in for readings from a single air quality monitor.

Two monitoring stations have been installed in Frederick County, one at the County Division of Housing’s facility on Sagner Avenue and one at the City of Brunswick’s Milton E. Frech, Jr. Operations Center.

“We are honored to lead the way in Frederick County by being the first municipality to join the air quality monitoring network,” said Brunswick Assistant City Administrator Jeremy Mose. “This program will help us track and reduce the sources of air pollution that threaten our health and environment.”

The project provides the opportunity for collaboration among Frederick County government agencies and external community-based organizations. Project partners include the City of Brunswick, the City of Frederick, the Frederick County Sustainability Commission, Mobilize Frederick, the Frederick County Health Department, and the Frederick County Family Services Division. The Frederick County Division of Energy and Environment is committed to creating a healthier, sustainable, and more equitable community for all. For more information on their other projects and programs, please visit their website at or follow @SustainableFCMD on Facebook and Instagram

with Michael Betteridge

A Century Later:

An Old Sport with a New Name

On October 11, 1923, a new sport was launched in Frederick County: field ball. This was an 11-on-11 game for girls, played on a field where the players ran up and down the field passing the ball to each other and trying to put it through a goal. It was kind of like basketball on a soccer field. In that first game, Frederick defeated Thurmont 13-0. This girls’ sport was played up until the 1940s when it eventually died out.

One hundred years later, field ball is back. Only now, we call it flag football. Flag football is not a new sport, and girls playing football is not new either. But girls playing flag football is new and exciting and is taking off all over Frederick County.

As a culture, we have been trying for the past 50 years to redefine the role of women in sports. It has been a difficult process. And, uniquely, because of the contact involved, football has been one of the few sports where women rarely competed.

When I was in my early 20s, I remember my brother burst into my bedroom shouting: “Quick, quick, Joe Garagiola is over at Jackie’s house, interviewing her.” 

Well, Joe was a really big name in sports broadcasting, so I knew this was huge. It was huge because our next-door neighbor had just made the first cut on the Washington Senators baseball team. The first woman ever to enter Major League baseball. Jackie could hum a fastball. Jackie never made it past the second cut. There are no breakthrough female athletes in Major League baseball or the NFL. However, women have managed to break through the coaching barrier at the NFL level.

While coaching youth football, I remember playing Chambersburg in the opening round of the playoffs at the Gettysburg High School field. Fairfield and Chambersburg were tied at the end of regulation. The tie-breaker formula was to line up on the 10-yard line. Each team had four downs to score. Chambersburg won the toss, lined up, and immediately punched it in behind their big strong fullback. When that fullback took off her helmet and smiled at the crowd, one of my players gasped and said, “She’s a girl.”

Girls can play football. Several years ago, I was asked to broadcast an Arena Football game at the Frederick Sports Complex. After the game, the Baltimore Charm began practice. It was the Ladies’ Lingerie Football league. Leaving the word “lingerie” out of the discussion for a minute, these were some big, strong athletic women, playing a dangerous contact sport at collision speeds, and they were good! That lingerie thing was just silly. It defines the struggle, once again, over the identity of women’s sports.

One hundred years later, high school girls’ sports have overcome the challenges of stereotypes, and an exciting new sport has evolved this fall: High School Girls Flag Football. 

The Catoctin Cougars flag football team is coached by former Catoctin Cougar’s softball and basketball star, Lizzie Dougherty. Lizzie graduated from Catoctin in 2018. Lizzie drove in the tying run in the CMC championship softball game that helped her team beat Linganore for the County softball title. Ironically, her Cougars softball coach, Jess Valentine, is now the head coach of the Tuscarora Titans girls flag football team. These two former Cougar players stood across the field from each other last September 20—mentor versus mentee, coach versus player, now coach against coach. We covered the game broadcast, and it was truly a surreal moment seeing Coach Valentine in Tuscarora green. Apparently, you can coach at more than one school in more than one sport. Case in point, next spring, you will see Coach Valentine back in Cougars blue in the dugout with Lizzie Dougherty, an assistant softball coach. It’s a good thing the Cougars don’t play Tuscarora in softball this year. That could be very confusing for some of the Tuscarora players.

The rules for flag football are very different from regular football. The field is smaller. There are no kickoffs or punts. The game demands speed and agility, not strength and power. You can expect a lot of fun trick plays that utilize backs and receivers in motion and counter plays to fool defenses. With a running clock and two 20-minute halves, the game was over in a blink. It lasted one hour and four minutes. It was truly a learning experience for our broadcast team. We enjoyed it immensely. We were very impressed with the speed of Tuscarora. They are fast and athletic. Coach Valentine even dialed up some old school gadgetry, pulling the Statue of Liberty play out for a nice gain in the second half.

Our Lady Cougars were led by senior quarterback Peyton Davis, who ripped off some pretty good runs of her own. Maddie Ohler made some great catches and showed some real finesse and running ability. Maddie, Kayden Glotfelty, Mackenzie Lewis, and Aubrie Courtney looked like the same excellent athletes we saw in the state championship softball game last May. Morgan Gregory was the defensive star of the game for Catoctin. She had six tackles and one quarterback sack.

There are two more home games on the schedule for the Lady Cougars flag football team: Wednesday, October 4, and Wednesday, October 11. Put a star on one of those dates on your calendar and head over to the new, beautiful Catoctin football stadium to enjoy some electrifying, girls flag football. What a great way to spend an evening. Go Cougars!

New Service Translates Callers’ Text Messages

Frederick County will become the first county in Maryland to offer an enhanced 9-1-1 system. Starting September 1, people who call or text Frederick County’s 9-1-1 center will find a range of improved capabilities, including language translation for over 170 languages and dialects and precise location of mobile phone callers.

“Every person should be able to call 9-1-1 and know that help is on the way,” said Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater. “Improving access for everyone is essential, and this enhanced service is just one of the many ways Frederick County is growing into a more vibrant and inclusive community.”

The Frederick County Division of Emergency Management is partnering with Baltimore-based Convey911 to add a series of capabilities to support the division’s 9-1-1 specialists. With the new capabilities, staff will be able to deliver quicker, more accurate, more inclusive, and accessible 9-1-1 text and voice services to the residents of and visitors to Frederick County during emergency incidents. The improved capabilities include:

Language interpretation for both parties in a 9-1-1 call or text conversation in over 170 languages and dialects, with automatic detection of the language. Census data show over 35,000 Frederick County residents speak a language other than English.

Precise location of mobile devices contacting 9-1-1, in partnership with RapidSOS (latitude/longitude) and NextNav (vertical axis).

Sending text messages requesting location tracking in an emergency to phones that did not directly dial 9-1-1. This can happen in cases of lost people, welfare checks, or when a call is transferred to 9-1-1 from 9-8-8 or a non-emergency line.

Beginning October 1, Frederick County will activate ConveyConnect live interpretation service with over 22,000 public safety trained interpreters available to support over 350 languages and dialects, including sign language (ASL, SSL, SEE, PSE and Hungarian). After the initial roll-out to the 9-1-1 center, the county will make the critical capability available to public safety staff in the field who need to directly communicate with residents and visitors they are serving. Convey911’s patented process to securely and reliably remove language barriers to facilitate service delivery is initially being deployed to 9-1-1 services in Frederick County. Convey911 can also provide the same language translation services to other county agencies as needs are identified

The Frederick County Health Department is proud to announce the creation of a new Suicide Prevention Coalition. The mission of the Frederick County Suicide Prevention Coalition is to make Frederick County free of suicide through community collaboration rooted in suicide prevention best practices for safe and responsible gun storage, eliminating stigma surrounding suicide, and support for anyone thinking of or impacted by suicide.

“The members of this coalition will work to address this serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities,” shared Andrea Walker, the lead for the Coalition and the director of the Behavioral Health Services Division and Chief Behavioral Health Strategist for the Frederick County Health Department. “Our goal is for Frederick County to be free from suicide, not to simply reduce the suicide rate.”  

Suicide prevention has been an identified area of concern in the community for several years. In Frederick County, the number of suicides has been trending upwards over the last decade. Men are more likely to complete a suicide than women, and one in six deaths by suicide are Veterans. For the last decade, suicide has been a subcommittee topic of the Frederick County Local Health Improvement Plan (LHIP), which is facilitated by the Frederick County Health Care Coalition. The current Mental Health LHIP Workgroup, which Walker also leads, currently has one subcommittee focused on suicide prevention. The Suicide Prevention Coalition is the outgrowth of this foundation of community interest and need.

More than 20 collaborators have come together to support this Coalition, which will focus on outreach and education, responsible gun ownership, postvention and supportive services, and Veterans. Workgroups on these topics and a complete list of collaborators, is available at The website also contains information about warning signs of suicide; tips on how to talk to someone thinking about suicide; data and reports; and local, state, and national resources.

For family or individual crisis support, call 988. In the case of immediate danger or loss of life, call 911. For more information, visit or contact the Frederick County Health Department at

When it rains,It Pours

by James Rada, Jr.

A freak storm hit Frederick County and Adams County in Pennsylvania on June 18, 1996, and stalled over the region as it dumped rain. When the storm ended on June 19, it had dropped 11 inches of rain in Northern Frederick County.

“A series of storms, like boxcars, followed the same line, dumping all their rain on the same spot,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

Rivers and creeks overran their banks. Water covered bridges and flooded into basements. The Frederick Post reported that residents near the Monocacy bridge at Bridgeport “woke to find their homes in the middle of an ocean.”

Farmers lost crops that were inundated in water and mud. Even some livestock in fields were floated away, often being found in neighboring farms, if found at all.

Police, fire, and ambulance units spent a busy day responding to calls. Both of Emmitsburg’s ambulances were disabled in the flooding, and one was missing for a while because the radio shorted out in the water, and the crew was unable to communicate.     

The Monocacy River reached a high-water mark of 24.45 feet, a record.

“In our nomenclature, it’s much greater than a 100-year flood,” USGS hydrologist, Bob James, said in an interview.

A Maryland State Police helicopter had to rescue one man stranded on top of his car at Flat Run. Four young women ran into a similar problem when their car stalled trying to cross over Owens Creek at Annandale Road. The helicopter was unable to reach them because of tree cover, so an air boat was sent to them. The water was 28 to 36 inches deep on the road. One firefighter was swept away during a rescue and had to be rescued himself.

“The entire town of Emmitsburg was closed to traffic for several hours Wednesday morning (June 19th) as overflow from Toms and Flat Run creeks virtually surrounded the Frederick County town,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

At least 47 basements reported flooding in Emmitsburg. Some had water as deep as five feet. Emmit Gardens, the lowest point in town, had to be evacuated.

“This place was like a little island to itself,” Art Damuth told the Gettysburg Times.

Four people died in the flood, but only one from the north county area.

The Red Cross set up at Mount St. Mary’s to provide food and shelter to displaced families.

As the water receded, people assessed the damage to their homes. The Town of Emmitsburg estimated that $100,000 to $200,000 damage had been done to municipal properties. Although the amount of damage didn’t reach a threshold for federal aid, the north county death apparently was enough for Congress to waive the threshold and offer aid to the north county area.

In the aftermath of the flood, officials from Emmitsburg and Frederick County looked at ways to mitigate future flood damage, such as dams or dredging Flat Run. In the end, the most cost effective option that helped the most people was to flood proof 20 homes in Emmitsburg by elevating the homes and building walls around them. The Frederick News reported it “is among the first and largest flood-control proposals advanced in western Maryland after three severe floods in the mountainous region this year.”

The plan also included the regular clearing of brush, fallen trees, and debris from Flat Run. The estimated cost for this plan was estimated to be around $100,000.

“Moving people out of their homes or building a dam are both impractical. This is a good plan,” Emmitsburg Mayor William Carr told the newspaper.

Buying or Selling in Today’s Market

By Elle Smith, J&B Real Estate, Inc. Realtor

It’s no secret that the real estate market in our area has been in a strong sellers’ market. And, it’s no secret that Frederick County is a desirable area. I’ve been blessed to call this area home my entire life, and I would not want to live anywhere else. So, I can understand why our area is so popular. Whether buying or selling a home, it’s never too early to start preparing.

During the holiday season, the market tends to slow down. This year is no exception. While the market is still healthy, we have seen a slowdown in activity. This makes it the ideal time to prepare to sell. If you have been considering selling, take this time to get your home ready for the spring selling season.

When I go on listing appointments, the number one question I get asked is “What do we need to do to prepare to sell our home?” The biggest thing you can do is declutter. The less clutter, the more spacious a home will feel. This may involve boxing things and putting them in storage. Make sure all appliances and major systems are in good operating condition. Touch up paint and drywall—neutral colors are always an excellent choice. Enhance the curb appeal: keep grass mowed, leaves raked, snow shoveled, and make a welcoming entrance. Remove or minimize personal items and photographs. Finally, clean your home top to bottom. Try to view your home through the eyes of a potential buyer. Think about what would make it appeal to you if you were seeing it for the first time. Updated bathrooms and kitchens will get more interest from potential buyers. And, with the increase in working from home and virtual school, home office areas are increasingly important. Outdoor living spaces—patios, decks, sunrooms—are also a big draw for potential buyers.

Selling your home during the holiday season can be challenging, but do not let it deter you from listing now. There are advantages to selling your home this time of year. Traditionally, there are less homes on the market, and therefore, less competition. Some buyers want or need to buy a home before the end of the year for job reasons. Even if you are waiting for spring to put your home on the market, it is never too early to start preparing your home for sale.

Buyers, don’t let the term “sellers’ market” scare you if you have been wanting to buy a home. With interest rates at record lows and rental prices at record highs, this is a good time to buy a home.

Depending on the property, you could pay a monthly mortgage payment that is less than a monthly rental payment. And, with the lack of rental properties in our area, buying a home is a realistic option.

When writing an offer on a home in this market, you want to be a competitive buyer. So, always be pre-approved with a mortgage lender before beginning your home search. A pre-approval will tell you how much house you can afford and will give you a summary of cash you would need at settlement. Meeting with a real estate agent is also one of the first things you should do. Maryland encourages all parties to have representation, so having an agent represent you as a buyer is in your best interest.

A buyer’s agent will meet with you to discuss your needs and wants. They can create a search for you that will alert you to “coming soon” and “active” properties on the market. They will represent your best interests in the home-buying process. Looking online is great, but sometimes the home you love may be under contract before you see it online. A buyer’s agent can send you alerts the minute a property hits the market.

 Buying or selling a home can be an exciting, yet overwhelming, step. Having a professional there to help you along the way can make it less stressful.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year.

Within a few weeks, founding group members of the Sabillasville Environmental School—A Classical Charter, will know if their hard work has paid off. Over the past year, the group wrote a charter school application as a solution for keeping a school in Sabillasville.

If approved, the public charter would operate out of the current Sabillasville Elementary School building. As a public charter, the school would be free and open to all students in K-8 who live in Frederick County.

The group is proposing a school that will teach a classical curriculum, with a focus on environmental science, which will include several hands-on learning projects, such as a green house and garden space and market days where students will apply math and business skills to sell their produce. If approved, the charter would start operation in August 2022.

On August 18, the superintendent of Frederick County will make her recommendation to the Board of Education as to whether or not they should approve the charter application. On September 10, the Board of Education will conduct a final vote on approval of the charter school application.

Founding group members are encouraging community members to email their letters of support for the school to the Board of Education prior to their final vote on September 10. Emails may be sent to For more information about the Sabillasville Environmental School, visit their Facebook page.

In Frederick County, as of January 21, 2021, over 12,000 residents have received their first vaccination for COVID-19. Currently, the county is vaccinating people in group 1A and those who are 75 years and older who live or work in Frederick County. Residents who are interested in receiving the vaccine must visit the website at, and complete the “Vaccine Interest Form” located in the blue box.  Please note, completing this form does NOT make an appointment for you to get the vaccine.

They will contact people who have registered on this form by priority group as they receive more vaccines.

You will be contacted by the email you provide in the form. When you are contacted, you will need to register for your appointment online.

You only need to complete the form once.

It may be several days, weeks, or longer until you are contacted since it depends on vaccine availability.

If you are unable to complete the form online, you may call the Frederick County COVID-19 Appointment line at 301-600-7900, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please note that this call center is specifically to help people make appointments if they cannot do so themselves online. They are asking our community to please check on friends, family, or neighbors who may not be able to make their appointment online and help them with that process so that the call center can help those most in need. Appointments slots continue to be limited, but more will be available each week.


James Rada, Jr.

While the national election may be tied up in the courts for some time yet, the results for Frederick County are clear. Most people stayed home and voted for Joe Biden as President of the United States.

While President Donald Trump commanded large leads in the early voting and Election Day totals, more than three times as many people voted for Biden over Trump by mail. The final tally in the county was 61,692 votes for Trump and 73,491 votes for Biden (44.3% vs. 52.8%). The Libertarian, Green, and Bread and Roses parties also picked up 3,050 votes in the county.

For our U.S. Representative in District 8, Frederick County went for Republican Gregory Coll (57.2%) over Democrat Jamie Raskin (42.6%). However, the district covers more than Frederick County, and Raskin, the incumbent, won re-election.

Other county races included:

Board of Education (Vote for 3)

Sue Johnson (21.5%)

Jason “Mr. J.” Johnson (16.3%)

David Bass (15.1%)

Rae M. Gallagher (14.6%)

Lois Jarman (13.9%)

Dean Rose (13.8%)

Judge of the Circuit Court—Theresa M. Adams (97.7%), Others (2.3%)

Judge, Court of Special Appeals At Large—E. Gregory Wells to Continue, Yes (86.6%), No (13.4%)

Judge, Court of Special Appeals—Kathryn Grill Graeff to Continue, Yes (86.2%), No (13.8%)

Local Ballot Questions

All four county ballot questions concerned charter amendments, and all four passed with more than 75 percent approval.

Local Charter Amendment A: Council Non-interference

This Charter Amendment amends the Frederick County Charter to require the County Executive to provide any information that is requested by an individual County Council member that is for the purpose of introducing and evaluating legislation or to engage in the review and monitoring of Government programs, activities, and policy implementation.

Local Charter Amendment B: Borrowing limitations

This Charter Amendment amends the Frederick County Charter to reduce the percentage of assessable property the County can pledge from debt from 5 to 3 percent of assessable real property, and from 15 to 9 percent of assessable personal property.

Local Charter Amendment C: County Council Special Elections

This Charter Amendment amends the Frederick County Charter to provide that the County Council shall fill a vacancy on the Council by choosing one of three persons from a list submitted by the central committee of the same political party as the vacating member. If no list is submitted or the vacating member was not a member of a political party, the Council shall appoint a person it deems best qualified to hold office. If the Council fails to fill the vacancy within 45 days, the County Executive shall fill the vacancy by following the same procedure. All persons considered for appointment shall be presented to the public and shall be interviewed by either the Council or Executive, allowing for public comment, prior to appointment. If the vacancy occurs in the first year of the vacating member’s term, after a person is appointed to temporarily fill the vacancy, a special election will be held to elect and fill the vacancy for the balance of the term.

Local Charter Amendment D: County Executive Special Elections

This Charter Amendment amends the Frederick County Charter to provide a process to fill a vacancy in the position of County Executive. The County Council shall fill a vacancy of the Executive by choosing one of three persons from a list submitted by the central committee of the same political party as the vacating Executive. If no list is submitted or the vacating Executive was not a member of a political party, the Council shall appoint a person it deems best qualified to hold office.  If the Council fails to fill the vacancy within 45 days, the Council shall appoint the County’s Chief Administrative Officer. All persons considered for appointment shall be presented to the public and shall be interviewed, allowing for public comment, prior to appointment. If the vacancy occurs in the first year of the vacating Executive’s term, after a person is appointed to temporarily fill the vacancy, a special election will be held to elect and fill the vacancy for the balance of the term.

by James Rada, Jr.

Things That Go “Boom” In the Night

January 2, 1887, was a cold day in Frederick County. Thermometers hovered around eight degrees. Fireplaces and stoves were stoked with roaring fires to fight back the cold that was pushing its way through every crack and crevice of a home.

Several inches of snow, hardened with a covering of ice, covered the ground, and sheets of ice coated the roofs of buildings. Moonlight reflected off the frozen snow, giving it a slight glow even at midnight.

“A young gentleman returning home in his sleigh about this time, says the cracking of the ice on a roof, by which he passed, was so loud and forcible, that it scared his horse,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported.

Although few people reported feeling anything, doors swung open, and objects toppled over “as if burglars were doing the houses,” according to the Clarion.

Many more people described hearing sounds that sounded like explosions. The Emmitsburg Chronicle compared it to the sound of a well being excavated.

“But mostly the sounds were above, as some describe them—like unto the clatter of tearing off a roof,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported.

The Catoctin Clarion reported, “At this point the report was sufficiently loud to suggest to Mr. J. W. Weast, a merchant at that point, that his safe had been blown up and he hurriedly dressed himself and visited his safe, only to find it intact.”

Reports came in from all over Frederick County and parts of Carroll County. Westminster residents seem to have felt the earthquake and experienced damage.

The Frederick Daily News reported that because no one in Emmitsburg felt any tremors, no one actually considered it an earthquake.

The Emmitsburg Chronicle offered a scientific reason for the noises not being an earthquake, writing “to one suddenly awaking in the night, and considering that there have not been received any accounts of clocks being stopped, or household things displaced, as in earthquake manifestations, together with the simultaneousness of the occurrences at points, miles apart, we infer the who matter was purely electrical. Indeed a writer not long ago undertook to prove that seismic phenomena were but electrical manifestations, on the earth’s surface and not from the interior.”

Although the county is not prone to earthquakes and doesn’t sit on a fault line, it was an earthquake—albeit an unusual one—that hit the county that night. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, east of the Rocky Mountains, fault lines are a poor indicator of where earthquakes will hit. The USGS website states, “In contrast, things are less straightforward east of the Rockies because it is rare for earthquakes to break the ground surface. In particular, east of the Rockies, most known faults and fault lines do not appear to have anything to do with modern earthquakes. We don’t know why. An earthquake is as likely to occur on an unknown fault as on a known fault, if not more likely. The result of all this is that fault lines east of the Rockies are unreliable guides to where earthquakes are likely to occur.”

Whatever the reason for the earthquake, it was a disturbing way for Frederick County residents to welcome in the new year on January 2, 1887.

Recently, the Frederick County Retired School Personal Association (FCRSPA) had its fall luncheon at the Lewistown Fire Hall. The guest speaker was Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).

Dr. Hrabowski has been credited with transforming a commuter college into an institution known for its research and innovation, especially regarding African American students. He has written three books and been the recipient of many awards and honors. Dr. Hrabowski spoke about the role of higher education in American society and the importance of telling our own stories.

Membership in the FCRSPA is open to all those who have retired from Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS). For membership information, email or call the FCRSPA Member Chairperson at 301-788-1117.

With four homes in the Thurmont-Emmitsburg area and four more in planning for construction next year, Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County is already helping make homes affordable in the area.

Now the organization has joined Habitat for Humanity organizations across the country to launch a new national advocacy campaign aimed at improving home affordability for 10 million people in the United States over the next five years.

Nearly 19 million households across the United States are spending at least half of their income on a place to live, often forgoing basic necessities such as food and health care to make ends meet. In Frederick County, the ALICE Report from the United Way tells us that 34,688 households, or 39 percent of our local population cannot afford basic needs such as housing, childcare, food, transportation, and health care. The stability that housing should bring continues to remain out of reach for many people.

“We want to start focusing on where the ALICE Report identified the greatest need,” Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County Executive Director Ron Cramer said. Emmitsburg and Thurmont show the highest need, and Brunswick and Frederick City also top the list.

This could benefit Thurmont and Emmitsburg because the towns also have affordable land compared to other locations in the county.

“We build where we find land that we can afford,” Cramer said.

Marking significant growth in Habitat’s commitment to ensuring that everyone has a safe and decent place to call home, the Cost of Home campaign seeks to identify and improve policies and systems through coordinated advocacy efforts at the local, state, and federal levels.

Cost of Home focuses on improving housing affordability across the housing continuum in four specific policy areas: increasing supply and preservation of affordable homes, equitably increasing access to credit, optimizing land use for affordable homes, and ensuring access to and development of communities of opportunity.

Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County already has taken steps toward these goals. The local organization has advocated in the past for a change to the County’s Impact Fee structure, and is now asking local residents to join that effort through the Cost of Home campaign.

Frederick County is one of the only counties in the State that has “flat-rate” impact fees, meaning the fee is the same, regardless of size, type, density, location, or any other factor on the home. A nonprofit homebuilder like Habitat for Humanity can waive these fees; however, if they do so, the fee passes to the low-income homebuyer as a lien on their home. The result is that these flat-rate impact fees have a regressive effect, falling disproportionately on those with lower incomes.

As part of this campaign, Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County is continuing to advocate that the County Council revise the legislation on Impact Fees to make them more affordable for lower-income homebuyers.

by Buck Reed

If you were not lucky enough to learn the art of cooking from your mother or, even better, your grandmother, all is not lost. It really is never too late to practice and obtain the skills needed to use the most important room in your home.

There are a number of outlets here in Frederick County that offer a glimpse into the culinary world. Frederick Community College offers classes to both professional and novice cooks who are looking to expand their cooking chops. The Department of Parks and Recreation also offers classes for kids, adults, and couples. Both offer a delicious experience in a relaxed professional atmosphere.

But what about learning to cook from a book? Can you gain the finesse needed to become a skilled cook between the pages of a cookbook? I would say no. I do not care what current culinary superstar wrote the book, there is no way you will be able to pick up every single idea they have about cooking. I do believe that if you read a successful, chef’s words you can develop your own philosophy on cooking. You may eventually be able to duplicate their signature dish as well and, given time, you my even be able to make some subtle changes to the dish to make it your own.

If you are working from a book you need to concentrate on the techniques that the chef/writer is working with and duplicate and perfect them. Then, you need to concentrate on getting your flavors down. All this takes time and effort, and there is no shortcut. Nobody is born or wakes up one day with the skills and knowledge it takes to be a great cook. You must practice. You must taste new dishes and try to figure out what ingredients and techniques were used to obtain their results.

Which brings us to the internet. Right now, there is no shortage of videos, blogs, and even websites promising a complete set of cooking courses that promise to make you a culinary icon, if not in your kitchen then in your own mind. As soon as I run out of ideas for this article, I promise I will start working on my own website, promising the same lofty goals. And given my experience, it is very easy for me to say that I can learn something from almost all of these outlets. But, if you do not have the basics down, it might be very difficult for you to gain any benefit from these sources.

Cooking is made up of a great deal of science; you can glimpse that science from a book to some extent, but the rest of it is art. And art is pain and understanding and calls upon us to open our minds to new ideas. Finding the right source of instruction that would suit you is something you will have to seek out yourself.

James Rada, Jr.

There was a time in Frederick County when workers needed to follow the work. Every year, a couple thousand workers would journey up the East Coast to work on farms and in factories in the county. They lived in migrant camps in Thurmont, Frederick, and Araby.

Galen Hahn was among them. He didn’t travel with them or work the jobs they did. He ministered to them in the 1960s.

Born and raised in Frederick County, Hahn is the son of John and Helen Hahn. He was confirmed and ordained into Christian ministry at Grace Reformed United Church of Christ in Frederick.

While in high school, Hahn spent a couple summers working with the pastors who served the migrant communities in the county. He initially served as a guide, getting a pastor who wasn’t local to the different places he needed to go, but he continued volunteering and serving the migrants. After he graduated college, Rev. Hahn returned to the county as the migrant pastor.

“It wasn’t just a meeting on Sunday,” Hahn said. “I had to go day to day, week to week. The bulk of the people I worked with were children and a few women.”

This is because the men, and most of the women, were in the county to work, and they worked seven days a week. In the Thurmont area, they worked in a canning factory owned by J. O’Neill Jenkins.

The migrant camp was a set of run-down barracks that were “falling apart,” according to Hahn. For these poor accommodations, the families paid $2.00 per person, per week. The camp, which was near the Weller Church cemetery, no longer exists.

Hahn has written a book about his time as a migrant pastor, called Finding My Field. It includes pictures, which he has since donated to the Maryland Room in the C. Burr Artz Library in Frederick.

The book is the story of the migrant ministry in Frederick County and the people who cared enough for the migrant farm workers to pursue justice for them.

“Toward the end of my life, I am enjoying the opportunity of revisiting some of my early days of involvement in ministry before ordained ministry became my life,” Hahn said. “I was early affected by race, poverty, justice, and ministry to children where these were issues. These issues stayed with me throughout my ordained ministry.”

Although he now is retired and living in North Carolina, Rev. Hahn previously served as pastor of the Mt. Pleasant Reformed United Church of Christ and the Sabillasville United Church of Christ. He has also served as a chaplain at Stauffer Funeral Home, Victor Cullen Center, and Victor Cullen Academy.

You can purchase his book online at and Copies are also available to check out in county libraries.

Thurmont Migrant Camp

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Before Migrants Arrived in 1963

Connie  Stapleton at the Thurmont Camp Garbage Area.

Thurmont Camp Barracks Family Room.

Photos Courtesy of the Maryland Room, Frederick County Public Libraries

Frederick County hides a wealth of natural resources underground. It is mined for iron, copper, gold, lead, silver, zinc, aluminum, stone, limestone, silica, calcium, and clay. At one time, Frederick County also had a short-lived coal mine or did it?

In October 1877, coal was discovered on the farm of Mary Ann Cretin near Motter’s Station. This was an amazing find. Maps of Maryland coal resources with the Maryland Department of the Environment show the state’s coal deposits are in the Western Maryland mountains, beginning beneath the mountains that run along the border between Garrett and Allegany counties.

After the mine opened, the Catoctin Clarion announced that it “is really amounting to something and coal in large quantities is being taken from it.”

People were apparently visiting the farm just to see the coal mine in operation. They said that the coal seam being mined was about a foot thick.

Samples of the coal were tested by a blacksmith whose last name was Weaver “who pronounces it equal to any he ever used for his purposes. All who have seen the specimens taken from the vein pronounce it genuine coal and the owner of the land is in high glee in anticipation of a big fortune,” according to the newspaper.

Many people were comparing it to the high-quality bituminous coal mined in Allegany County. Coal mining was a major industry in that county, and some hoped it could become so in Frederick County.

“This will be a big thing in Frederick County and the cost of coal in the future will be lessened a great deal,” the Catoctin Clarion reported. “It will also cause others to make an examination of their lands and probably bring to light some richer minerals, which must be about in this region so close to the mountains.”

Despite the hoopla, the newspaper announced that mining on the property had ceased in November after less than two months in operation.

“The proprietor is still hopeful, however, that a big let lies buried under the ground, but he doesn’t feel justified in digging for it just now,” the newspaper reported.

A letter that appeared later in the Catoctin Clarion suggested the coal mine might not have been what it seemed. The letter writer said that a man named Harris Bush had been hauling coal to Emmitsburg years ago when the load proved to be heavy to pull. Bush unloaded much of the coal to make it easier for his horses to pull the remainder. The letter writer believed this to be the source of the coal mine. Although the letter writer said the coal had been dumped near Motter’s Station, it doesn’t seem likely that it would have been the coal mine on Cretin’s farm. For one thing, the coal wasn’t found near a road. Also, witnesses saw the coal seam and coal being dug from the ground. Bush’s excess coal would have sat on top of the ground.

However, the Motter’s Station coal mine is improbable. It was found in a region where coal has not been found, even today. The coal seam also petered out quickly.

So, was there a coal mine in Northern Frederick County?

Cretin believed so, but when she died in 1899, no other coal had been found on her farm or in the county for that matter.

Although coal seams are only known to be found in Western Maryland, Motters Station once had a short-lived coal mine in the late 1800s.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner announced the appointment of Kevin Fox (pictured far right) of Thurmont as Deputy Fire Chief and Director of Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services.

“Kevin brings years of experience in both the volunteer and career fire service,” Executive Gardner said. “He is well-respected, professional, and will hit the ground running. As the Director of Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services, he will be able to listen to the many needs of volunteers around the county, represent their interests, and build consensus on complex issues. I am confident Kevin Fox will do an outstanding job for the citizens of Frederick County.”

In this role, Fox will support the work of, and coordinate with, Frederick County’s volunteer fire and rescue companies. Fox has served as acting director since December 2017, when Clarence “Chip” Jewell retired.

Fox was selected through an open recruitment process. He has extensive knowledge of both the career and volunteer sides of emergency services. He has volunteered as an EMT and firefighter for more than thirty years, serving in numerous leadership positions, including past president of the Thurmont Community Ambulance Services and vice president of Guardian Hose Company in Thurmont. He has worked for Frederick County Government since 1990, first as an emergency communications dispatcher, and then, in 1999, as a firefighter with the Division of Fire and Rescue Services. For the past four years, Fox has been the division’s spokesperson. In 2015, he was promoted to battalion chief. Fox also teaches part-time for the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute.

Pictured from left are VHC Fire Chief Chad Umbel, Dave Zentz, and Director/Deputy Chief of Frederick County Volunteer Fire/Rescue Services Kevin Fox.

Photo Courtesy of Vigilant Hose Company

James Rada, Jr.

Morris Blake spent decades working in security with Maryland Department of Natural Resources, National Park Service, Francis Scott Key Mall, Frederick County, and Mount St. Mary’s; but, last year, he turned in his badge to become a hair stylist and has never been happier.

Blake, who turns fifty-seven this year, has lived in Thurmont all of his life.

“I live in the same house they brought me home from the hospital to,” Blake said.

He started working for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as a ranger at Cunningham Falls when he was twenty-two years old.

One incident he remembers from this time is when he and his training officers approached a man near the dam, who was sitting on the pipe hole. They saw that he had weapons in his vehicle, and they convinced the man to come up from where he was sitting to talk to them.

The man was depressed, but cooperative. When the training officer asked if it would be all right to check the man’s weapons, the man reached into the vehicle, pulled out his shotgun, and racked it.

“They didn’t give up bulletproof vests, but I tell you, every day after that, I wore one,” recalled Blake.

Although this man proved to be harmless, Blake realized that he could easily have been shot, so he went and bought his own bulletproof vest to wear from then on.

After seven years with the State of Maryland, he moved across the road to become a ranger with the Mounted Horse Patrol at Catoctin Mountain Park. He enjoyed working with the horses, in particular, giving rides to handicapped children who came to the park. However, tightening budgets cost the park its two horses, Jimmy and Commander, who were sent to work at the St. Louis Arch National Park.

So Blake moved on to mall security at Francis Scott Key Mall. He found himself moving up quickly in rank (although his duties and pay remained the same). When he asked Director of Security Gary Wood about it, he was told that it was because he was reliable and could be trusted.

When Wood retired, Blake became the director and realized why his work ethic had been rewarded. The younger officers couldn’t be trusted to keep working without supervision. They would goof off or flirt with girls. This meant that Blake wound up working long hours to supervise them. “I became director of security, but the work was sun up to sun down, and I couldn’t take it any longer.”

Blake then served one year in security at the Mount before landing a job with Frederick County at Winchester Hall. Not too surprisingly, the politics of the place seeped down, even to his department, until he could no longer tolerate it. He left after ten years. “I gave up the badge and came to the clippers.”

He decided to become a hair stylist because he wanted a job that would allow him to work with the public and give back to them. He attended school to earn his license and became a barber and stylist at Here’s Clyde’s in Thurmont in March 2016.

He explained that three of the women at Here’s Clyde’s he grew up with, and he looks at all of them as if they were his sisters. He also enjoys seeing people walk into the salon that he hasn’t seen for years.

Besides working in security, he was an organist at the Grotto in Emmitsburg for ten years before becoming the music director at the Fort Detrick Post Chapel, which he has done for the past four years. While the security jobs have been work, the music work has been a labor of love.

Blake doesn’t regret any of the jobs he has done because he learned from all of them. Even when the jobs were wearing him down, he stayed happy for the most part. He continues to be happy with a short walk to and from his job and being able to spend time with friends, new and old.

Morris Blake is shown at Here’s Clyde’s in Thurmont, where he works as a  barber and hair stylist.

James Rada, Jr.

When Luther Powell and his brothers attended the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, they saw a presentation about raising goldfish. Upon returning home, they realized that their farm had a good water supply, so they dug ponds and began a new business venture.

The idea caught on with other farmers who saw it as a way to make money from their ponds, and within a few years, nearly all of the goldfish in America were coming from Frederick County.

“At one point, 83 percent of the goldfish in the country were from Frederick County,” said Bill Powell, Luther’s grandson.

Bred in China for their color, goldfish were the first non-indigenous fish brought into the United States.  The historical record does not confirm an arrival date, but stories with references to goldfish put their arrival as early as 1826. They were being sold as pets by the 1850s, and interest in them spiked after P. T. Barnum opened the first public aquarium in 1856.

One suggestion for the popularity of goldfish in the county is that the German families that settled in the county enjoyed a fish-rich diet, which had led to a depletion of fish in the local streams. They purchased carp from the government to supplement the natural fish population. The carp were shipped in cans, and some goldfish, which are cousins to carp, also stowed away in the cans.

Ernest Tresselt wrote in his book Autobiography of a Goldfish Farmer, “That’s how goldfish found its way to the Maryland countryside, on the tails of edible carp. It is easy to speculate that one or more farms in Frederick County got goldfish along with their carp during the period when the carp culture in farm fish ponds was advocated as a supplementary food supply.”

Charles J. Ramsburg of Lewistown is believed to be the first goldfish farmer in Frederick County.  By the early 1900s, Ramsberg was shipping about a million fish a year around the country, according to History of Frederick County.

Another pioneer in goldfish farming was Ernest R. Powell of Lewistown. In 1892, at the age of twelve, Powell began to breed goldfish. By 1910, when his biography appeared in History of Frederick County, Powell had become successful enough in his enterprise to be identified as “one of the largest dealers of goldfish in Frederick County.”

More farmers began entering the business, using existing farm ponds or new ponds dug by hand with shovels, wheelbarrows, and horse-drawn scoops. “In the early part of the century, I think people in the county, especially farmers, saw goldfish as a way of making extra money,” Tresselt said in a 2006 interview.

Tresselt believed that goldfish farming flourished in the county in part due to “the availability of water on many farms because of the mountain streams and springs. The temperate climate, with its distinct seasonal changes, is ideal for the propagation of goldfish.”

George Leicester Thomas, who founded Three Springs Fisheries in 1917 in Buckeystown, believed that the success of goldfish farming in Frederick County was largely due to the fact that the mineral content of the water was well-suited for goldfish. Thomas’ grandson, Charles, agreed, saying that the rich color of the goldfish resulted from good breeding stock and water rich in nutrients from truckloads of manure dumped in the ponds. “The manure has nutrients that fish thrive on and actually all they have to do is open their mouths in order to eat,” he told the Frederick Post in 1981. It was these nutrients in the water, according to Thomas, that gave Frederick County goldfish the reputation of being the best-colored goldfish in the country.

George Thomas started his business as a roadside stand in Buckeystown that sold the vegetables and goldfish that he grew on his farm. “He had a keen eye for finding some type of venture where he might be successful,” Charles Thomas said of his grandfather in a 2006 interview. While customers may have bought his vegetables, they tended to show more interest in the goldfish bred in his goldfish hatchery, Three Springs Fisheries. When the U.S. postal authorities agreed to establish a branch office near the fishery to assist in the shipping of the goldfish, they asked George Thomas to select a name; in 1932, the Lilypons post office branch was created. By the end of World War II, Thomas’ fish hatchery, now known as Lilypons, had become the world’s largest producer of goldfish.

Hunting Creek Fisheries near Thurmont was started by Frederick Tresselt, a graduate of Cornell University, who had worked at the state trout hatchery in Hackettstown, New Jersey. “In driving around the county with a friend in 1922, Dad was amazed to see all the goldfish ponds in the area,” his son, Ernest, said in 2006. “Every farm that could, had fish ponds. It was a cash crop for them [the farmers].”  Hunting Creek Fisheries opened in 1923 and is still in operation today as a family-run business, raising ornamental fish and aquatic plants.

Tresselt believed that Frederick County might not have had the oldest goldfish farms in the country, but the county did have the most goldfish farmers. At the peak of goldfish farming in the county (1920s and 1930s), he estimates that as many as thirty or more farms were raising millions of goldfish.  The 1925 News-Post Yearbook and Almanac listed the county’s production at three-and-a-half to four million goldfish on 400-500 acres.

The Powells eventually had 45 acres of ponds on their properties, and would ship out 120,000 goldfish a week from September through November.

“In the early days, we would get the fish out of the ponds and ship them around the country to five and dime stores,” Powell said.

These goldfish were sold for $10 to $50 per thousand, and the value of the yearly production was approximately $75,000. By 1932, production increased to seven million goldfish on 500-600 acres, with goldfish selling for $35 to $70 per thousand (retail price five-ten cents each). Reports estimated Frederick County goldfish farmers had brought $1.5 million into the county.

In 1920, county farmers organized the Gold Fish Breeders Association of Frederick County, in part to fight against the high cost of shipping, property assessments on goldfish ponds, and other issues of importance to Frederick County goldfish farmers. The organization ended once many of the county goldfish farmers left the business.

Early goldfish farming was relatively simple. In the spring, farmers stocked their ponds with breeder goldfish. The goldfish reproduced, and the young grew through the summer. Feeding the fish was kept at a minimum. Generally, some form of ground grain, like wheat middlings or ground corn, was the food of choice. The breeders were kept in the deepest ponds since these ponds provided a good water supply over the winter.

Powell said that his family looked for fish with long fins and thick bodies. They would spread Spanish moss in the ponds where the goldfish could lay their eggs. The moss was then moved to empty ponds so that the goldfish wouldn’t eat the newly hatched fish.

In the fall, the goldfish were harvested and sorted by size. Buyers would come driving trucks full of fish cans in which to carry the fish, or farmers would ship the fish to the buyers. A single farmer might ship thousands of fish each day during the harvest.

“At first, we were shipping dark fish to bait shops for fishermen, but later they began to say that the colored fish caught more fish, and they wanted them,” Powell said.

Goldfish production in Frederick County soared. By 1920, eighty percent of goldfish produced in the United States originated in Frederick County. By 1931, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that the goldfish industry was a $945,000 business in the United States.  Throughout the 1930s and into the 1940s, the publications of the News- Post Year Book and Almanac note that Frederick County had “more goldfish produced than in any part of the United States.” Interestingly, the yearbooks list goldfish as “selected crops harvested” rather than “livestock on farms.”

Competition was inevitable, however, and by the late 1930s, the appearance of larger, more diversified, growers across the country reduced the demand from Frederick County farms.

Modern technology also worked against county goldfish farmers. Advances in shipping techniques, and the increased variety and quality of goldfish available from growers around the world, gradually changed the goldfish market. By the 1950s, fish could be shipped in plastic bags by air freight. The plastic reduced shipping costs and the planes extended the distance the goldfish could be shipped. This further increased the competition in the market. Air transportation allowed areas that had not previously engaged in goldfish farming—such as Arkansas—to become competitive or even better locations than Frederick. “By going south, you had a longer growing season,” said Charles Thomas. “In a place like Arkansas, instead of having only one crop each season, you could have two.”

The result was that farms producing only common goldfish seasonally, such as those in Frederick County, could not compete. By the 1940s, only a few farms in Frederick County were still cultivating goldfish. “Everything changed,” Tresselt said. “We have to supply fish year round. The competition made it unprofitable for most farmers, and they went out of business.”

Powell’s family got out of the goldfish business in the 1960s. “People didn’t want them. They were starting to ban them from being in lakes. The county had a severe drought that made it hard to keep the ponds full. Fishermen were using spinning lures more than live bait, and kids didn’t want goldfish as pets. They wanted tropical fish that were harder to care for,” Powell said.

By 1980, Lilypons, once the world’s largest producer of goldfish, had diversified so that it now specialized in water garden supplies and plants more than in fish. Hunting Creek Fisheries and Eaton Fisheries also survived by diversifying their offerings into plants, game fish, and/or other types of ornamental fish, such as koi.

Today, there are still fish ponds in Frederick County. Lilypons devotes some of its nearly 500 ponds to goldfish. Hunting Creek Fisheries still has ponds in Thurmont and Lewistown, as does Eaton Fisheries in Lewistown.

Other goldfish ponds have disappeared, however. The Claybaugh fish ponds in Thurmont are now covered over by Mountain Gate Restaurant, Exxon, and McDonald’s. Fish ponds belonging to Ernest Powell and Maurice Albaugh, along Moser Road, no longer exist. The area east of the Maple Run Golf Course used to have Ross Firor’s ponds, but does no more. The ponds on William Powell’s Arrowhead Farms on Apples Church Road north of Thurmont and Frank Rice’s goldfish ponds alongside Route 15 south of Thurmont have been filled in and turned back to pasture.

Frederick County no longer is the biggest producer of goldfish in the country, but there was a time when the county led the country in growing the fish of emperors and kings.

The story of Frederick County’s heroin crisis will soon be shown on the big screen in a documentary film, being produced by Emmitsburg, filmmaker, Conrad Weaver.

“The heroin and opioid epidemic has devastated hundreds of families, individuals, and businesses all across our county. We see it in the news nearly every day, and it’s easy to think that it’s someone else’s problem. We think that it’s a Frederick or Baltimore issue. It’s not! It’s in our neighborhoods. My neighborhood. My small town. It’s our community’s problem, and we must work together to solve it. I couldn’t simply stand by and watch; I had to get involved. That’s why I’m making this film,” said Weaver.

The film is being called Heroin’s Grip and will tell the story from a variety of angles. Weaver intends to interview current addicts, healthcare and mental health workers, officials from the law enforcement community, as well as families whose lives have been shattered by heroin and opioid addiction.

“We need more documentary films like this so that you become a part of the solution,” said Charlie Smith, State’s Attorney in Frederick. Smith was interviewed for the film to include his perspective on the epidemic.

Filming began in early February and will continue through the spring months. Weaver hopes to complete production by early September in order to submit the project to a number of major film festivals around the country. He plans on releasing a DVD version, along with educational materials related to the film sometime in 2018.

Weaver is not working on this alone. He’s recruited Caressa Flannery, a Frederick entrepreneur and mother of a heroin addict who’s in recovery. Together, they have partnered with the Maryland Heroin Awareness Advocates, who will help manage the fundraising efforts for the film.

Weaver is launching a Crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo to raise money for the production of the film. Interested donors should visit the film’s website at for more information.

Weaver is an award-winning filmmaker. Most recently, he received a Mid-America Regional EMMY© Award for his 2014 documentary, The Great American Wheat Harvest.