Currently viewing the tag: "frederick"

Deb Abraham Spalding

Willle Stover won first place at the Gettysburg Bike Show this year with his barn find 1948 WL Flathead 45 Harley Davidson he purchased from a Thurmont resident, Walter “Mack” Phebus, a former motorcycle mechanic at Delphey’s Sports and Hardware Store in Frederick. “It was meant to be for us to meet,” Willie said, “This is a Frederick-Thurmont bike, and it’s staying in this area.”

Willie won $500 for first place for that bike. It was the bike’s “first time out after many years,” Willie said, “Finding a rare bike, seeing the photos of the bike back in the day, and talking about the history with the owner is a real treasure!”

Willie belongs to AMCA Antique Motorcycle Club of America. After purchasing the bike on June 3, 2021, he rebuilt the transmission. Within a week, he had it up and running, and soon after, while riding it, he got hit by a van in Smithsburg. “Luckily” Willie said (and he was serious), “I was hurt more than the bike!”

After healing from his injuries, Willie straightened out the motorcycle’s original parts and it’s now back on the road again and will be entered in more bike shows.

Mack and the Blue 1948 WL Flathead 45

Mack knew he had to have the blue 1948 WL Flathead 45 as soon as he saw it! At the time, in 1952, he was a motorcycle mechanic at Delphey’s Sports store in Frederick, when a guy from Mount Airy traded the blue 48 Flathead in for a K Model Harley, a faster bike. Mack said, “In all my travels, I’ve never seen one like it. I was so afraid someone else was going to buy it before me.” 

This took place during a big transition for Harley Davidson, as the first year of the new foot shift came out in the 1952 K model. The clutch was moved from the heel toe to the handlebar. Back in those days, you had to kick a bike to start it. The first year of an electric start bike was 1965.

Mack was born in 1934 and raised in Frederick. His father, also named Mack, rode a JD Harley Davidson motorcycle. After WWII, there were so many of the olive drab green Harleys that his dad bought one and rode it all over the country. Then, his dad rode a 1945 WL Flathead until he died.

Dottie and Mack Sittin’ On That Blue Harley

Dottie was born in 1936 and was raised in Frederick, just two miles from Mack. While he didn’t have trouble attracting women while riding the ‘48, he only had eyes for Dottie. He and Dottie rode the blue ‘48 often. They have now been married 68 years. Mack and Dottie built a family, having three children. Soon, the ‘48 was parked in a shed when their money had to go to raise the family. “But I kept the ‘48!” Mack declared.

Mack worked for Maryland State Highway Administration for 31 years, retiring in 1985. The Phebus’s have now lived in Thurmont for 29 years. Mack quit riding in 1968 when the helmet laws were introduced. 

Delphey’s Sports Store

Mr. Delphey owned and operated Delphey’s Sports Store on West Patrick Street in downtown Frederick for more than 60 years. The Heart of Maryland Motorcycle Club was run out of Delphey’s and was one of the oldest clubs around. Delphey’s also started the first half-mile flat-track races in 1922. They’re still going on today, over 100 years later.

Safety Message from Mack

“Most of the guys that I rode with are gone,” Mack reminisced, “You generally pick a friend and ride around together. We rode all over the country. When I started riding, there were a lot of dirt roads. My bike had crash bars on both sides. I upset twice and those crash bars protected my legs.” Mack explained that there aren’t too many with the crash bars these days. They’re now called engine protectors to protect the gas tank if the bike falls.

“When President Eisenhower started building highways, the speed went up and there were more accidents. There’s a lot of oil on the highway. When roads are wet, that road is greasy and slippery. The motorcycle walks. It’s dangerous. I tell everybody, ‘Slow down on the road that’s wet because it’s dangerous,’” Mack added.  

Willie Stover, the new owner of the  1948 WL Flathead 45, is shown.

Dottie Phebus is shown on the 1948 WL Flathead 45 on W. Patrick Street in Frederick. She was in high school at the time.

Mack Phebus and his father, Mack Phebus, are shown on the 1948 WL Flathead 45. “We never rode each other’s motorcycles.”

Mike Randall, CRC Vice President

Like all youth sports organizations, Catoctin Rec Council (CRC) Softball had to navigate through the extremely murky waters of a pandemic. Balancing player safety with the desire to play is not an easy task for players and parents alike. But, the girls came out with renewed energy and vigor, beginning with cold and rainy practices in March and ending with championships in June.

This year, CRC fielded teams at all age groups: 8U, 10U, 12U, and 15U, with almost 70 girls from the area. Our teams played groups throughout the Frederick County Girls Softball League, including Middletown, Carrol Manor, Urbana, Libertytown, Frederick, Walkersville, Araby, and LUYAA.

“The great thing about our organization is that the players get to see good competition in Frederick County, and the parents don’t have to travel far to do so. Games are about two hours long, and we don’t play double headers like other organizations. It really is the best of all worlds for the girls,” said League President Melissa Thomas.

On May 21, CRC had its first annual Hit-a-Thon family picnic at the Thurmont Town Park. It was a fun day of face painting, cornhole, egg toss, obstacle courses, sack races, and of course, the Hit-a-Thon. All of the girls competed in fun events for various prizes, from a new iPhone 13 to Hoverboards or gift cards. “Bringing the Hit-a-Thon to Little League in 2013 was an exciting experience, so I thought I would try it again with CRC. We had a great day, and the girls will benefit from everyone’s willingness to pitch in,” explained CRC Vice President Mike Randall. Winners in each age group received Amazon gift cards of $50, $25, $10, and $5. The winners of the Hit-a-Thon were: 8U Distance Winners: 1st—Brantley Miesner, 2nd—Lillian Barnes, 3rd—Emma Hodnett, 4th—MiKayla Martinez; 10U Distance Winners: 1st—Addison Krietz, 2nd—Peyton Gallion, 3rd—Brylee Cameron, 4th—Alexis Roos; 12U Distance Winners: 1st—Raquel Owens, 2nd—Corine Jewell, 3rd—Delaney Warner, 4th—Jadyn Aubol; 15U Distance Winners: 1st—Tatiana Owens, 2nd—Haven Miesner, 3rd—Madeline Whetzel, 4th—Keelyn Swaney.

Overall Sponsor Winners were: 1st Place Overall Sponsors—Carli Savage  (selected a new pink iPhone 13); 2nd Place Overall Sponsors—Kaydense Cox (selected a $250 Amazon gift card); 3rd Place Overall Sponsors—Pressley Brantner (selected a $100 Amazon gift card).

The event raised over $11,000, which will be used to construct new batting cages and hitting stations for the girls at the town fields. CRC Secretary Dana Randall stated, “I’ve been involved with Frederick County softball for over 30 years, so it felt great to get back into an organization I love and raise funds for equipment just for the girls. My son and daughter both played ball here, and I felt it was time that the girls have just as good of facilities as the boys.” 

Every team played in the post-season championships, and each age group had its own County All-Star team. The Catoctin 12U White team won the Gold level Championship to cap off a stellar season, while both 12U Blue and 15U were runner-ups in their Championship series. 

Many thanks to the coaches, players, and parents for a great comeback season for CRC Softball. CRC would also like to thank the Town of Thurmont for the exceptional care and dedication they take in keeping the softball fields in great condition. The new lighted softball field will be a welcome addition to the community. If you are interested in helping the organization, see our Facebook page at


Catoctin Rec Council Softball teams 8U, 10U, 12U, and 15U.

Deb Abraham Spalding

Brandon Dyer of Emmitsburg graduated in June 2020 from Rock Creek School in Frederick. He is now working with the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) of Maryland to transition into work and volunteer opportunities. It is the goal of the DDA that people with developmental disabilities lead full lives in the communities of their choice, where they are included, where they participate, and where they are active citizens.

In keeping with the DDA’s vision, Brandon is helping his community whenever he can—for just an hour in the summer heat, or a few hours when the weather is better—by pulling weeds on Main Street, picking up trash in the community park, and helping others. Brandon is an outgoing, smiling guy who’s big on fist bumps. He loves meeting people and making people happy.

Brandon lives on a small farm and takes care of animals and pets, plus a greenhouse. He’s not a stranger to hard work. Actually, he thrives on daily interaction with the animals, and now through his volunteer work in the community, he’s expanding his circle of positive influence.

Brandon’s message is so important for our community, especially while we are all confronting these tough times locally and throughout the world. He wants to spread more laughter and smiles, and he reminds us to look out for each other and love and care for one another.

Brandon loves watching movies and theater productions, playing arcade games, riding roller coasters, rooting for monster trucks, watching extreme sports, and listening to music.

His mother, Mary Dyer, said, “Since the quarantine, he’s been watching Hamilton and other shows on the stage that are on TV or video. When this is all over, he’ll be back in a seat mesmerized by the stage.”

Thank you from your community, Brandon, for all you do!

James Rada, Jr.

Although the Hagerstown and Frederick Trolley last ran more than 65 years ago, the former trolley route has become a popular walking trail through Thurmont, from East Main Street along the side of Memorial Park to Moser Road.

The trail is less than three-quarters of a mile long, but plans have been made to extend the trail to the north and south. The H&F Trolley Trail Association formed to try and develop the trail so that it can connect with other trails in the county.

“Eventually, we would like to connect to the Carroll Creek Trail in Frederick off of Rosemont, and even get to Emmitsburg,” said Bryant Despeaux, president of the H&F Trolley Trail Association.

A fully connected trail could be an economic boon for the town and county. A 2012 Economic Impact Study on The Heritage Rail Trail in York County, Pennsylvania, found that the trail drew in 281,185 annual visits, resulting in over 4.4 million dollars in revenue to the local economy. The Heritage Rail Trail is similar to the proposed trolley trail, so it is hoped the results would be similar.

The southern trail extension runs from Moser Road south past the library and wastewater treatment plant and loops around a pond. This will extend the trail about 3,000 feet, and also takes the trail to the edge of the Thurmont municipal boundary. This extension will probably be the first one built.

The northern extension starts at Sunset Street and continues to the boundary of property owned by Mechanicstown, LLC. Mechanicstown, LLC has committed to extending the trail on the property as they develop the property. This would bring the trail to Radio Lane and close to the ultimate destination of Eyler Park. This extension probably won’t start until next year.

Despeaux said the estimate is that it will cost about $64,000 to develop these extensions. A large portion of that amount will go towards renting an excavator. The association has applied for three grants that will help reach this amount, although two of the grants will still require matching funds.

“We are hopeful we will receive at least one of them,” Despeaux said.

The organization is also soliciting donations and fundraising through various events.

You can learn more about the extension and the association at the Thurmont Greenfest on June 6. The H&F Trolley Association will be there building bluebird boxes.

Find out more by visiting

Trail Photos Courtesy of Bryant Despeaux

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

Blair Garrett

Catoctin Cougars roar past Frederick in the team’s home opener. The Cougars’ 45-15 tossing of Frederick was in part to an electric offense and a suffocating defense that held the Cadets in check for the majority of the game.

It was all Catoctin early on, as the team opened the floodgates against the Frederick team early and often, punishing turnovers and taking an early lead that the team would not relinquish throughout the rest of the game.

Head Coach Doug Williams attributed the team’s victory to a group of unsung heroes who played a key role in Catoctin’s first home game of the season.

“The offensive line did a pretty good job of blocking,” Williams said. “We had some good running and we mixed in a little passing, but our offensive line was really executing.”

The team stormed out to a commanding 31-7 lead by halftime, looking like a well-oiled machine over the first two quarters. The Cougars pulled off their game plan to keep the Cadets’ quarterback Kisaye Barnes contained, limiting Frederick to just one successful offensive drive without resulting in a turnover or a failed fourth-down conversion.

Barnes and Catoctin quarterback Ryan Orr were both unafraid to let the ball fly, but Orr’s passes were finding Cougar receivers, and the Cougars were finding the end zone. Where Catoctin did run into problems was when Barnes found open space to make a run up the field, which is something Williams and the rest of the coaching staff took note of.

“He’s given us problems every single year,” Williams said. “He can throw the ball, but we were most concerned with his running. Once he gets out into the open, he’s a little bit of trouble, so he was the guy we had to slow down and that’s basically what we did.”

The Cougars had no problem containing the passing game, intercepting Barnes multiple times throughout the game, and that swing of momentum proved to be the backbreaker as Catoctin capitalized and extended its lead. 

Key players in the game included RB/CB Carson Sickeri, who punched the ball into the end zone on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, and Ryan Orr, whose consistent decision-making kept Catoctin’s long offensive drives alive.

The Cougars are now 3-0 on the season, but Williams feels there is still plenty more work to be done to get this team firing on all cylinders. “We’ve got a long way to go to improve,” he said. “We’ve got to improve on defense, and we can’t be turning the ball over. We’re not going to win close games doing that.”

Despite some of the ball control issues the Cougars have had, they have out-scored opponents 131-51 this season. There are a few adjustments Catoctin plans to make to keep the momentum and the wins flowing. “I’ve got to do a better job teaching ball security and tightening up our defense and executing the fundamentals,” Williams said.

For the Cougars, the team’s winning is a direct result of the commitment and dedication they put in from training camp until now.

“What I like about our team is our kids are very coachable, and they come to practice ready to work hard every day,” Williams said.

The Cougars are in the midst of a home stand; they were back in action for a home bout against Smithsburg High School on September 27.

The Cougars and Cadets face off at the goal line, primed to punch the ball in for the score.

Catoctin’s Mason Shank picks up huge yardage for his team before slipping out of bounds.

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Thurmont-Camp-1963.jpg

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

by Valerie Nusbaum

Randy has a nemesis. It’s the mailman. Oh, I know the correct term is “letter carrier,” but my hubby refers to the person who delivers our mail as “the mailman” when he isn’t referring to him as “@#*$%.” I don’t know our current letter carrier, and I can’t say for sure if it’s a man or a woman because I haven’t seen or met him/her. Our former letter carrier, Steve Geer, is a very nice man, but he retired a while back.

Our current letter carrier is likely a very nice person as well, but Randy swears that “the mailman” is playing games with him. You see, Randy’s job is to fetch the mail from the mailbox every day. He enjoys it, I think. I don’t mind doing it, and sometimes I do, but whenever I do walk down to our mailbox, our neighbor Steve Fulmer tells me that I’m going to get in trouble for taking away Randy’s job.

Mail delivery usually happens around 4:00 p.m. on our street, and Randy gets home from work around 4:30 p.m., so he picks up the mail on his way into the house.  Oftentimes, though, the mailbox is empty when Randy goes to it.  He comes in the front door and announces, “No mail,” and then we hear the mail truck rounding the corner. This has happened enough times that Randy is quite sure the mailman is hiding somewhere and watching for Randy to make his journey to the mailbox and come back empty-handed. Randy stands at our front window and hurls insults as the truck passes our house, and I swear that a time or two I’ve heard laughter coming from outside.

Now, our letter carrier absolutely can’t be blamed for this…but one day not too long ago, Randy went after the mail and came back looking shell-shocked. He said to me, “I’ve really seen it all now,” and he held up the day’s mail. Someone had sent us a banana. Seriously. It was a real banana with a postage sticker and a mailing label attached.  No return address. Who knew that fruit could be mailed that way?  The banana wasn’t in a box or an envelope, and I must say it was in pretty sad shape by the time we got it. We don’t know who sent it or what the significance is, but I’m sure that someone had a lot of fun dreaming it up. It cost $3.75 to ship a 25¢ banana. I made Randy peel it just to make sure that the sender hadn’t put something inside, but we didn’t find anything. The banana was postmarked “Frederick.”

About two weeks later, we came home and found a cardboard box on our porch. Again, the package was sent through the mail, and again, I don’t blame our mailman for it.  In fact, he or she had to get out of the truck to put the package on the porch, and I believe it was raining that day. We took the box inside and, after making sure it wasn’t ticking, we opened it. Our surname was misspelled and the package was sent from Middletown. Inside the box, we found a roll of toilet tissue wrapped in bubble wrap. Written on the tissue were the words “I hear you like pi,” and when Randy began unrolling the roll (because at this point, why wouldn’t you?), we found a large portion of the pi sequence written on the paper at intervals, such as 3. 1  4, etc. Was this connected to the banana? My guess is that the same person or persons sent both. How does pi relate to a banana? I have no idea.  I figure that there’s no connection, but the sender(s) got really tickled thinking about us trying to puzzle it out. Maybe we’ll receive a banana crème pie next. I really don’t know.

A while back, I told you about the beautiful flower pot that showed up on our porch. Well, around the same time as the pi/banana incidents, a cute metal turtle flower pick showed up in the flower pot.  A week or two after that, we came home and found a sweet little frog riding a snail in our flowerbed.  What lovely surprises those were, and they had nothing at all to do with our mail. Randy and I both want to send our warmest thanks to our mystery friend(s) for these thoughtful gifts. You’ve brightened our days and our home.

We haven’t received any new puzzling items in the mail, and those are mysteries we may never solve.  I’m sure the person(s) behind all of these things have had nearly as much fun with it as we have. I’m also sure that one day in the not too distant future, Randy will be lying in wait for our letter carrier, and I want to be there with a camera. It’s not so much that I want to record the moment of their meeting for posterity; it’s more that I may be able to use the photos and video in court at Randy’s trial.

Blair Garrett

Tucked away in the mountains of northern Maryland lies a hidden gem not visible to the naked eye.

A combination of fine attention to detail and a deep appreciation of outer space has Yugen Tribe of Emmitsburg creating intricate keepsakes and jewelry for people around the world.

While the company’s reach has expanded to nearly every country on the planet, the business originally started on the shoulders of one woman, Lauren Beacham. “It started almost eleven years ago,” she said. “I was working as a gallery director in Frederick. I started making jewelry out of my own photographs, and it just started getting more and more popular. Eventually, I was able to quit my job and do it full time.”

Beacham’s artistic background paired beautifully with her scientific interests, building the foundation for her business to become what it is today. “I started designing jewelry about outer space, which was very niche, and I had no idea how it was going to go, but it really took off.”

Yugen Tribe’s variety of space-inspired jewelry has been featured in magazines, catalogs, and science-dedicated websites, catapulting its popularity into the stratosphere. “We started getting attention from very big catalogs, museums, companies, internet phenomenon, and it totally took off.”

With the ever-growing influx of business opportunities and demand of production, Beacham decided to branch out. She put the fourteen-hour workdays behind her, bringing in fellow science enthusiast Brittany Elbourn to help balance the vast needs of the business.

“It’s a combination of production, design, marketing, and customer service,” explained Beacham. “It’s just us two and we do everything.”

Between handling personal items for customers and the nearly six-month-long production boom for the holidays, the women of Yugen Tribe continue to find time to design new and interesting pieces for jewelry lovers everywhere.

In addition to the space-themed necklaces and bracelets, Yugen Tribe has worked on a line of heirloom pieces that provide special memories for their customers.

“We take customer photographs and put them into our jewelry, which tends to be more on the vintage side of things,” Beacham said. “We also do memorial stuff. A really popular seller is a bouquet charm. If a bride’s father passed away, she’ll send us his photograph; we’ll set it into this brooch (shown above), which she can attach to her bouquet, so he can still walk her down the aisle.”

The personal touch of these items seems to be the catalyst for the Tribe’s online success. The stories from customers behind personalized pieces give meaning to the work Yugen Tribe does. This builds a relationship that would normally be lost through a large corporation. “They share personal stories about who these people were to them,” Elbourn said. “It makes you feel connected to people.”

Despite all of the personal success for the duo, there has always been a major focus on giving back to the community and growing businesses. “One of the other things I really like doing is supporting other small businesses, especially women-owned businesses,” Beacham said. Yugen Tribe gives back quarterly, donating money to various organizations, including The Planetary Society, The Nature Conservancy, and The National Humane Society.

Developing a new business and taking the plunge to put all efforts into a new business can be a daunting task. For Beacham, her skill set gave her a unique talent that turned her ideas and creativity into a profession. Space-inspired jewelry is a hard market to crack, but fortunately, she has learned quite a bit along the way.

“It could turn out to be a total failure or it could be really amazing,” said Beacham. “But it turns out, the world is a whole lot nerdier than we thought.”

For more information about Yugen Tribe, please call 240-415-8137 or email

Pictured is Lauren Beachman, Yugen Tribe creater and owner.

A bouquet charm, one of the many unique keepsakes and jewelry designed and created at Yugen Tribe.

Photos Courtesy of Yugen Tribe

On Tuesday, April 23, 2018, the Cougars placed first in the Monocacy Division of the Ninth Annual Frederick County Unified Track and Field Championship.

Athletes represented ten area high schools for the event. Catoctin was in the Monocacy division with Frederick, Governor Thomas Johnson, Oakdale, and a combined team of Brunswick and Linganore. CHS had seventeen team members of the eighty athletes that competed. In the Monocacy Division, Cougars gave all of their heart and hustled to bring home the gold.

For years, Cindy Zeller traveled to Frederick and Columbia to help provide quality healthcare to people in those communities. That all changed this year, when she opened Brighter Futures Pediatric and Lactation Services in Woodsboro.

“I wanted to provide pediatric care in the northern part of the county, because we don’t have pediatricians up here,” Zeller said.

Zeller is a licensed nurse practitioner, who found her calling in pediatric care. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with training in sick care, plus advanced training and education in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses.

“We have different credentials, but we can do pretty much everything doctors do,” Zeller said.

Indeed, some studies have shown that nurse practitioners can do about 80 percent of what doctors do.

Zeller became a nurse in 1983, and when she got a job in a Frederick pediatric practice, she realized that was what she wanted to specialize in. She became a nurse practitioner in 1994, working first in Frederick and then in Columbia, but she always wanted to provide pediatric care closer to her home. “I’d much rather come here to work, where the services are needed, than travel somewhere else.”

A big hold up was that Maryland used to require a nurse practitioner to have physician oversight in order to see patients. The state changed the law in 2015, allowing nurse practitioners to operate independently.

In her new practice, Zeller sees patients up to twenty-one years old. She offers primary care, prevention and wellness, school/sports physicals, immunizations, newborn exams, lactation consultations, and consultations on other medical conditions.

“I want to be able to give my patients more personal care,” expressed Zeller.

Zeller started work on creating her own practice last June. One of the time-consuming tasks was making sure she was credentialed to work with different insurance companies.

Brighter Futures offers walk-in hours for acutely sick patients, but everyone else should call for an appointment.

Brighter Futures Pediatrics and Lactation Services is located at 10200 Coppermine Road, Suite 101, Woodsboro, MD. For more information, call 301-304-9390 or visit

Examination room at Cindy Zeller’s new practice, Brighter Futures.

Courtesy Photo

Kiara George, daughter of Teddy George and Donna Walter of Fairfield, Pennsylvania, was named to the prestigious title of Miss Catoctin-Aires Queen for 2017. This title was bestowed upon George from an overwhelming number of votes from the marching corps’ membership. George received the crown and sash from the outgoing queen, her sister, Shyanne George, who enjoyed the title in 2016. Kiara will now represent the group in its new year as queen. This title will permit her to be a featured performer in the group’s hometown parade, as well as other responsibilities throughout 2017.

First runner-up to the title was Erika Oland of Thurmont. Rachel Bechler of Frederick was named as court royalty. Each received a token for their participation in the royalty pageant.

In addition to the crowning ceremony, the group celebrated its undefeated marching corps status during its annual holiday show, held at Catoctin High School. Members of the organization performed in solo and group numbers, twirling batons, hoops, and color guard flags. The group also showcased its percussion line, capturing the 2016 Advanced Marching Corps Percussion Line Championship title with the Capital Area Marching Association organization.

The corps presented its membership with trophies for its championship title win of Advanced Majorette Corps and its undefeated season.  In addition, trophies were presented for perfect attendance, excellence in leadership, and most improved and most prepared twirler. Each member of the group received a duffel bag, displaying the 2016 championship title.

The Catoctin-Ettes, inc., a local, non-profit marching group, now begins preparation for its 2017 competitive season. There are openings in the areas of color guard, to include rifle spinning and flag twirlers; percussion (includes drums, cymbals and bells), as well as the majorette and pom pom lines. For more information about joining the group, please contact Donna Landsperger at 240-405-2604 or at

Utica Mills
by “My Father’s Son”
Between Thurmont and Frederick has long laid the humbly-pleasant settlement of Utica Mills, marked on the map today with solely the charming title of Utica. Where such an enchanting name derives (though mystery part of its appeal) led to investigation learning Utica to mean “old town” – appropriately so, honoring the community’s historical value compiling since it was founded 200 years ago.

The center of Utica Mills was just that; a large, stone, gristmill along Fishing Creek constructed by Jacob Cronise in 1815. This mill, once on the corner of present-day Old Frederick and Utica Roads, was accompanied by Mr. Cronise’s house, “the mansion house” as some referred. The Cronise house, a three-bay, end-hall layout built of stone and finished with stucco parging was built between 1815 and 1817- the final year delightfully found on the backside of a mantel during renovations in the 1970s. Now enlarged by multiple additions (also dated), 10616 Old Frederick Road is an admirable residence with 6-over-6 sashes, louvre shutters, and a Tuscan-columned porch running the width of the front elevation part of which is a southward, lower-roofed wing matching the main house in material. Multiple surnames have claimed the deed of the Cronise home including Rogers (1887) – followed by the Stottlemyer, Pearl, Ziebell, and current Jeffries families- the last in their second generation of ownership.

The most prominent of names to reside at this residence are the two granting the mansion its title as the Cronise-Todd House. Jacob Cronise, who built the house and mill, maintained the 74-acre enterprise until 1825. At this time, for the sum of twelve-thousand dollars, Jacob sold to brother Simon Cronise and relocated to operate the former Williams & Stinchcomb Mill at Ceresville Manor alongside where the Monocacy River ferry crossing was situated on the road to Libertytown. Simon Cronise operated the mill until his death and in September 1835 the property was sold to William H. Todd for eight-thousand dollars. Born in Ireland in 1781, Todd moved to Pennsylvania with his parents in 1795. He married Rebecca Barnes of Pennsylvania in 1804 and settled at Utica Mills after his parents’ untimely deaths. William’s brother, James Todd, moved to Creagerstown at this time also, the sibling’s living ten miles apart for the rest of their lives. The Utica Mill was inherited by William H. Todd’s son of the same name and by 1882 was shipping flour to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. In 1886 the property was listed for sale, an ad in the Citizen stating the mill to be “located in one of the most productive, healthy, and picturesque sections of the country.” The brick mill, inclusive “11-room stone mansion” and 90-foot Switzer barn were all lost by Todd in 1887 to his mortgagors.

No visible trace of the Cronise gristmill exists today in the pasture south of the Cronise-Todd House. Operated until 1900, the mill was demolished around 1924- the 1910 deed between Rogers and Stottlemyer mentioning the property’s improvements “excepting the old mill building” likely referencing its irreparable condition. At the time of the Maryland State Archive’s 1992 survey, residents of Utica relayed that the mill, in lesser form, is still present at its former site as the stone and rubble of the building were reused to raise Utica Road away from the active levels of Fishing Creek. Also untraceable at the site, though surviving longer than the mill until at least 1927, is the mill-race that broke away from Fishing Creek at a bend upstream from the nearby Utica Rd. covered bridge. This watercourse continued straight from the creek’s twist, running to the rear of the mansion house before flowing south past the mill and cooper shop to rejoin its tributary, powering two “overshot” mill-wheels.

North of the mansion house is the old Utica Mills General Store. Now a single-family home this was previously a two-story log cabin built before 1820 by Cronise as the village Post Office and Stage-stop. Originally on Cronise’s landholdings, this store was separated from the Mansion house at the time of the Jeffries’ 1975 purchase of the Cronise-Todd House from Peter & Betty Ziebell. The Ziebells retained the storehouse and 2.3 acres as their own, divided as to keep a c.1930-40 dairy barn and milk house built by Clarence W. Stottlemyer who lived in the manor-house from 1918 to 1965. Additions and modifications to the storehouse leave it today a long, narrow building mere feet from Old Frederick Road.

Franklin Stottlemyer purchased the Cronise-Todd property of 72 acres in 1910. “The farm at Utica” was sold to his son, aforementioned Clarence W. for $4,500.00 per Franklin’s Will. Franklin’s deed reflects the decrease in acreage by the previous Rogers’ donations of two plots: one to the Board of County School Commissioners for a school house (1891- part of a tract ironically called “The End of Trouble”), and another, adjoining the first; to the Utica Cemetery (1893). Both donated properties lay on the northern edge of Lenhart Road; the way to the stone, Baer farmhouse atop a knoll carved by the encircling Fishing Creek. Though John and Annie (Ramsburg) Baer moved after selling their farm to William and Jessie Lenhart in 1903, their daughter would return nearby when she wed Clarence W. Stottlemyer and lived in the mansion house opposite her parent’s old farm-road. The reputable Lenhart lineage continues to occupy the Baer farm 113 years later.

On the opposite corner of the Baer farm-road from the old school lot (now an extension of the Utica Cemetery) stands the Samuel Clem house. Reportedly built between 1820-40 this small home is erected in the German-vernacular style leading some to believe it may actually date to 1769. The childhood home of Augustus Clem, a forerunner in Frederick County’s print industry, Clem distributed reports like the “Little Sunbeam”, “Weekly Enterprise”, and “Monthly Visitor” from the 1850-90s from a single-level shop located immediately North of St. Paul’s Church. By 1886 Clem also printed the larger “Walkersville Enterprise.”

The grist mill, once the focal point of Utica Mills, was replaced as such in 1891 when the striking “Utica Mills Covered Bridge” was raised over Fishing Creek behind the Cronise-Todd House. This was not a new bridge! The 101-foot Utica Mills bridge is actually a fragment of the once double-span, Burr-arch, 250-foot covered “Devilbiss Bridge” that spanned the Monocacy on Devilbiss Bridge Road. Built in 1843, the original structure was washed away by the same storm causing the infamous 1889 Johnstown Flood. It is told that salvageable debris was gathered from the receded river’s banks and the surviving portion of the bridge dismantled and stored to be re-assembled 1.5 miles (as the bird flies) from its primary location. In 1978 the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places and in December 1996 an extensive, $337,000 restoration begun after an auto-accident exposed severe beetle and termite damage to the susceptible wood.

Utica has many valuable sites beyond the bridge that has long gained it recognition. The place is a perfect medium between city and country life – it’s quiet, open-space calm quickly transformed to the happenings of Frederick City by a short car-ride. In the last 30 years subdivisions like “Utica Mills” and “Mills Manor” have been added paying homage to their location. Many historic structures in proximity to the Cronise-Todd House remain and the majority of the names mentioned here pleasantly honored in the Utica Cemetery; particularly Rebecca Barnes Todd, whose memorial is embellished with a high-relief bouquet of roses & wildflowers and framed in elegant vines.

Layout of Utica Mills based off Maryland Land Records, local accounts, and historic descriptions.

by Valerie Nusbaum

Whenever I get an email from Randy on Friday afternoon that reads, “Pizza?” I know the weekend is here.  Once or twice a month, Randy cooks dinner on Friday night, which almost always means he brings home a pizza from the grocery store. I’m fine with that. The pizza is good, and I don’t have to cook it.

That’s exactly what we did this weekend. I had worked all day at a craft show on Friday and he’d put in a hard week at his job, so neither of us felt like going out or doing anything serious in the kitchen. We curled up on the couch in front of the television, ate our pizza, and caught up on some shows that we’d missed during the week. We were both napping by 7:30 p.m. Yep, we’re party animals.

Our usual Saturday morning routine is also very lively. We wake up early and try to figure out what happens next. This particular weekend wasn’t earmarked for anything, so we had forty-eight hours of free time.

Randy cooked breakfast. He made me a hearty bowl of cinnamon squares cereal, complete with skim milk and hot tea, and he had some raisin bran because fiber is his friend. We discussed current events and family matters while we paid the bills and read the newspaper. Randy always reads our horoscopes so that we’ll know whether to talk to people or hide from them. He calls them “horrible-scopes,” and most times he’s correct in saying that.

After breakfast, there was laundry to do and there were errands to run. Randy needed a haircut, and I needed to hit the treadmill. Sounds fun so far, doesn’t it? Just wait. It gets better.

I needed to take some photographs for a painting that I’m planning to do for an art exhibit, so I suggested that we drive down to Baker Park in Frederick. Randy was agreeable to that and we headed out.  The weather didn’t look promising, but we went anyway. I got some good photos without getting rained on. Randy took some pictures, too, so I should have plenty of reference for my painting.

Baker Park holds a special place in my heart. I’m not the sentimental one in our marriage. I don’t save ticket stubs or press flowers. Randy does all that stuff, and he doesn’t mind that I tease him about it. I have a fondness for the park, though, because that’s where Randy and I went on our first date. It’s also the place where we first shared a kiss, and a while later, it’s where we said the “L” word. No, I don’t mean leftovers, although I do say that quite often—so much so that Randy sometimes questions where all the leftovers come from since he doesn’t remember eating it the first time around. I thought for sure that Randy would take me to Baker Park to propose, but it was a rainy, cold night in November when we got engaged, and we stayed in where it was warm. But I digress…

Since we were in downtown Frederick, I mentioned to Randy that I’d love to get us a soft, hot pretzel from Pretzel and Pizza Creations, but I didn’t think it was a good idea. We’ve been eating too many carbs lately. Randy agreed with me and promptly drove us downtown and parked around the corner from the pretzel place.

“What? You brought it up and you know how I am,” he said. “I didn’t think about a pretzel until you mentioned it, and now I want one.”

“Can we at least share one?” I asked. He rolled his eyes and got out of the car grumbling that he’d be back. We split the pretzel, and it was delicious.

“We’ll have salad for dinner,” said my pragmatic husband. He’d been complaining of an upset stomach, and I asked him whether salad was a good idea.

Randy looked at me as though he thought I was clueless and said, “Here’s the thing…If I’m going to throw up, I’d rather it be a salad than a steak. I won’t feel sorry about losing the salad.”

We did, indeed, have salad for dinner. Randy did not throw up. We finished our chores around the house, took care of all the pressing business, and called it a night. Sunday was much the same. I lied when I told you this story would get better. Things have been pretty dull around here, and I stink at writing fiction. If you want suspense and intrigue, you should read James Patterson.

I do hope every single one of you had a blessed and beautiful Easter, and have a blessed Passover season. If you’re a wee bit Irish, I hope your St. Patrick’s Day was a celebration of epic proportion. I sincerely hope you’re the April “fooler” and not the April “foolee”!

Randy and I will be hiding eggs for our “kids.” They’re all more than eighty years old and can’t bend over, so we have to put the eggs at eye level.

James Rada, Jr.

While the design of the Thurmont Regional Library was inspired by the Catoctin Furnace, when you walk into the Thurmont Center for Agricultural History, you’ll see a different inspiration. Two windows from old Moravian Church that had been on Water Street in the late nineteenth Century, hang from one wall. On another wall hangs a grange mural painted in the 1960s by Elizabeth Holter Howard.

Tucked away in one corner of the library, the Thurmont Center for Agricultural History’s collections continue to grow.

“We are saving stuff for the future, when people start wondering more about the farms that used to be in the county and how they operated,” said Thurmont Library Manager Erin Dingle.

Mary Mannix, manager of the Maryland Room at the C. Burr Artz Library in Frederick, said that the idea for an agricultural history room first took root about seventeen years ago, when the Maryland Room obtained its first major agriculture-related collection: a set of annual reports from the county extension agent. There wasn’t room at the old library for the collections, so it remained at the Maryland room until the new library was built.

“We’ve been trying to collect primary and secondary information of the agricultural history and culture in Frederick County,” Mannix said. “A lot of it relates the county granges, which as a social organization have been a large part of agriculture in Maryland and the nation from post-Civil War to the mid-twentieth century.

Besides the extension agent reports, the room also has the Pomona Grange archives, extension service publications, Jefferson Grange archives, Maryland State Grange records, and many more. There are also private collections that have been donated to the room.

“You’ll see people using the room to find information regarding the history of family farms,” said Mannix.

The center also has local history, genealogy information, and microfilm copies of newspapers.

“People searching for the genealogy are probably the ones who use the room the most,” stated Dingle.

The center’s basic core genealogy resources can help a person trying to track down family members from Northern Frederick County.

Researchers can also find information about the area by searching through the Emmitsburg Chronicle, Catoctin Enterprise, and Catoctin Clarion on microfilm. There is also a small collection of local history books about the area.

“As agriculture continues to vanish from the area, I think more people will use the center as they want to find out more about agriculture history,” Mannix said.

The Thurmont Center for Agricultural History has the same hours as the library: 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 1:00-5:00 p.m. on Sunday. To access the center, check in with the librarian at the reference desk. If you will need research help, you may want to call ahead to make sure a librarian will be available to help you.

If you can’t make it to the center, research requests are accepted at no charge, except for photocopies at $.20 per copy. Submit the request, in writing, with as much information as possible to Erin Dingle.

“A Well Manored Family”

by “My Father’s Son”

COLUMN - new -Catoctin ManorMost are familiar with the historic site of Rose Hill Manor alongside Governor Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick. This classically southern home— built over eight years, beginning in 1790, for Thomas Johnson’s daughter, Ann, after she and her husband received the land as a gift from her father on the eve of their nuptials—became popularly known as the final home of Thomas Johnson. Rose Hill is a fantastic illustration of early-American residential architecture and the Maryland-style plantation home. Thomas Johnson spent the last twenty-five years of his life, from 1794-1819, living as a guest in the mansion.

Rose Hill is not the only trace of the Johnson family in Frederick County. Thomas Johnson, and his three brothers, had a huge impact on the emancipation of colonial America from the fringes of Thurmont, where their once prominent presence can still be seen. Our northern county region, between Lewistown and Thurmont, holds three sister-houses: Rose Hill’s lost relatives, standing within 1.7 miles of each other along the shoulder of the old Route 15 pavement (present day Maryland 806).

The story of these houses begins with James Johnson. In the late 1760s, James Johnson was a learned ironmaster. So, in 1768, he, along with his brother Thomas, lobbied for a plot of land they believed ideal for iron production. Prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and just in time for the American Revolution whose demand would allow the new iron-furnace to thrive, James began construction of the Catoctin Furnace. The first of the three local Johnson homes was conceived here. Positioned to oversee the daily operations of the furnace, “Catoctin Manor” was built by James on the corner of the “main road” (MD-806) and the “hollow road” (now Catoctin Hollow Road before it’s terminus was disrupted by the Route 15 bypass). The home was a side-hall, three-bay layout, built of stone and finished in a white plaster/stucco coating on the exterior. Some historic documentation questions whether James ever lived in this home, as another was built by him in or around the year 1775.

In 1826, the furnace was out of Johnson hands and bought at a sheriff’s sale in Fredericktowne for the sum of $10,000 by a man named John Brien. Brien greatly enlarged the Ironmaster’s mansion. Two more bays were added to the left of the front façade and, eventually, a large back section, forming the footprint of the house into a large “T” shape. This home stands in ruins at the Furnace Exhibit area of Cunningham Falls State Park, its stone remains crowned with cement for preservation. The still-visible foundation displays the original parameter of the house James Johnson built, as well as the later areas of addition. The Mansion and Furnace were acquired by the State Park in the late 1930s, and the home was once even under consideration to become a “Summer White House.” As the mid-twentieth century approached, citizens began to express concern over the deteriorating Ironmaster’s Mansion since the shutdown of the Furnace only a few years after 1900, one of the home’s last long-term residents of roughly ten to twenty years being the family of acting Superintendent L.R. Waesche. Ultimately, the Park Service had no funds to allocate to the large home, but did remove the stylish boxwoods that surrounded the residence to replant them at the White House.

James Johnson spent the last portion of his life, leading up to his death in 1809 at Springfield Manor, circa 1775 as reported by the Maryland State Archives (MSA). Springfield Manor, currently refurbished into an attractive event venue, vineyard, and distillery, stands proud over the farm fields of nearby Lewistown on Auburn Road. Springfield offers Georgian architecture, built of light-colored stone, once painted white, standing two-and-a-half stories tall, with the half-story constructed of red brick around narrow windows, providing ventilation to the former servant quarters. Springfield offers a centrally located, single-story covered front porch, similar to that of the enlarged Catoctin Manor. Based off the location of a matching stone summer kitchen near the home’s northeast corner, the MSA speculates that a Palladian layout may have been James’ intent for his final mansion. George Washington’s Mount Vernon is a prime example of a Palladian plan. Had Springfield possessed another matching stone structure, mirroring its summer kitchen, and pavilions or breezeways connecting these secondary structures to the main house to comprise two symmetrical wings, Springfield would surely have been the greatest Johnson house of them all.

The final sister, Auburn, came later in 1805. Beginning in 1793, Thomas and Baker Johnson operated the Furnace in a partnership after their brother James left the company. Thomas dissolved the partnership and left Baker in charge; Baker purchased the parcel of land between the furnace complex and his brother’s Springfield property and built Auburn. Auburn is a favorite to many who live in the area and those who frequently travel Route 15 alike. Perched in the trees, mere yards away from the southbound travel lanes, Auburn most resembles its proverbial niece Rose Hill, which is actually five to seven years Auburn’s elder. It is unaware how long Baker lived in his house at Auburn, as his 1809 will stated that all of the belongings of Auburn and the land on which it sat was to go to his son Baker Jr., who was already inhabiting the house at the time of Baker’s death. In recent history, Clem Gardiner and his wife Harriet graciously took care of the large estate before their passing and deserve all credit due to them for their accomplishment; their sons reserve life-estate on the property.

All three homes are of a central hall, five-bay symmetrical main house plan, built on fieldstone foundations with oversized multi-pane sashes and accompanying louver shutters with all but Catoctin Manor having smaller, informal side service-wings, some more ornate than others. Auburn’s service wing consists of both one- and two-story sections, possibly meant to go unnoticed in the grand scheme of the home, insignificant in design to the impressive main house. At Auburn, a centrally located porch, covering the front door and two small ornamental windows, rises two stories to create a columned portico, similar to, but less elaborate than, the Doric and Ionic combination of columns and carefully carved details of the portico at Rose Hill. The resemblance between the quartet of homes is surely not identical, but their liking to one another secures them as a proper collection.

Three men, four houses, and one business venture that tied them all to this area have left us a legacy of iconic treasures to share, so close their holdings once touched, and appreciate. Their beauty, scale, and symbolic wealth deem these homes be regarded with the extravagance and historic value that they represent. It is with hope that the next time one of these locations is passed, it is not with the absentmindedness of local daily normalcy, but with a special acknowledgment to those who left them behind.

Buck Reed

In this day and age of businesses with what can only be described as a lackluster workforce, it is refreshing to find an establishment like The Flying Barrel, where the customer is the focus. Think about the last time you walked into a service-focused industry and found an employee who wants $15.00 an hour, but could not even muster up a smile when asking unenthusiastically if they can help you.

The Flying Barrel is a bit different. Yes, it is a one-stop shop for everything you might want or need in a hobby dedicated to the creation of beer and wine. Having on-hand all the countless variety of equipment and ingredients needed to make the wide selection of different varieties of beer and wine is easy. Having all the equipment on-hand to make the products on premise is easy as well. The hard part is dealing with people on a personal level. Far too many businesses fail at this point, but not The Flying Barrel.

“We are fortunate in that brewing is a real community of people helping people,” said James McEver, owner of this brew on premise and brew shop for the past three years. “We have a great customer base that, when it gets busy, actually helps each other out.”

The Flying Barrel was first opened in 1980, and has been a Frederick institution ever since. Started by Bob Frank, and later purchased by James, it was first a home brew shop that specialized in educating enthusiasts in the art and science of fermentation. Later, it went on to become a brew on premise, where new brewers could get a hands-on experience making their own beer or wine under the guidance of more experienced aficionados.

In a world where online shopping and shipping is becoming the norm, The Flying Barrel is still a customer-oriented business. Need help with a recipe or a brewing technique? The Flying Barrel is still the go-to-place for information, ideas, and even feedback on your finished product. Although James is a hands-on owner—who is there almost every minute that they are open—there is no shortage of beer or wine enthusiasts who can help you with ideas for making a better product. And most everyone is willing to give your libation a taste, strictly for evaluation purposes. “There really is only one way to tell if your beer is good or not, and that is to taste it and evaluate it,” emphasized James. “You are not going to get that from a website.”

The Flying Barrel is located at 1781 North Market Street in Frederick, Maryland. Their hours of operation are: Monday and Saturday—10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday—10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.; Sunday—11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.; closed Wednesday. For more information, contact them at 301- 663-4491 or visit their website at

The Flying Barrel

Wide angle shot of the Brew House.

James Rada, Jr.

Ranger - Jim RadaJeremy Murphy (pictured right) was born and raised in Emmitsburg, graduating from Catoctin High in 1998. He visited both Catoctin Mountain Park and Gettysburg National Military Park on field trips and summer trips, never realizing that he would grow up to become the chief law enforcement officer for the Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site.

Murphy, who has been with the National Park Service (NPS) for fourteen years, took over the duties of planning, direction, and execution of programs dealing with law enforcement and resource protection, emergency services, and safety for the park rangers.

“I’m happy to be here,” Murphy said. “My family lives in the immediate area, and my wife’s family is from Taneytown.

Previous to coming to Gettysburg, Murphy was chief ranger for the Visitor Protection and Resource Education Division at Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick. He also served in law-enforcement ranger positions at Catoctin Mountain Park, Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, and Delaware Water Gap NRA. Prior to law enforcement, he worked for the resource management division and the maintenance division at Catoctin Mountain Park.

“I actually went to school and studied wildlife management and then I shifted to forestry,” Murphy said.

When he graduated from Penn State, Murphy originally tried to get a job with the Pennsylvania Forestry Service, but was turned down because he didn’t live in Pennsylvania at the time.

He had worked as a trail crew member for the NPS, which was seasonal work. He tried to get a job with NPS on a permanent basis through the NPS intake program, but the organization wasn’t hiring biologists. He did find out that they were hiring law-enforcement rangers. He applied and was hired.

“I’ve never regretted it,” Murphy said. “I like that my days are never the same.”

He has kept his work sites near his hometown, which has worked out well. He was involved with the sesquicentennial events for the Civil War sites in the area and the bicentennial events at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. When he was working at Catoctin Mountain Park, he even met President Bush. He is currently the planning section chief for the planned Papal visit this month to Independence National Historical Park.

“Each park I’ve been at has moments for me that stand out,” Murphy said.

His favorite park, however, is the Delaware Water Gap Park.

“It was the first park I was at on a permanent basis, and it was a treasure trove of natural resources,” he said. “I could go out and spend all day just hiking the trails.”

Murphy met his wife, Erin, through a mutual friend while he was working at Harpers Ferry National Military Park. They live in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, with their three children—Wyatt, Ayla, and Tristan.

Several Thurmont-area teens will be featured in the musical Spring Awakening, which will be performed at the Maryland Ensemble Theatre in Frederick, Maryland, in August.

The show is being produced by Catoctin Mountain Players, a community theater group founded by Leslie Kelly, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of romance fiction. Kelly, who lived in the Thurmont-Emmitsburg area for eight years and in Frederick County for more than thirty years, recently relocated to New Mexico, but came back for the summer, specifically to stage this musical and work with local teens.

“I had such a great time working on our first production, Into The Woods, which we produced at Catoctin High School in 2013. Live theater is a true passion of mine. Moving to a small town in New Mexico, where there is little interest in or support for that type of art was very difficult,” said Kelly.

Fortunately, Kelly has a lot of friends and family members in the area. “My two sisters opened their hearts and their homes for my daughter and me, and we’ve had a great summer so far.”

Kelly is very thankful for the assistance of Thurmont resident Cody Gilliam, who is her assistant director and costume designer. While Kelly has had to travel back and forth between Frederick and the southwest, Gilliam has been running rehearsals with the cast here. Thurmont resident Ethan Larsen, who plays Hanschen, explains, “Leslie and Cody have been a great team. They each bring something very different to the directorial process.”

Spring Awakening opens Thursday, August 6, at 7:30 p.m., at Maryland Ensemble Theatre in downtown Frederick. With an intimate performance space, and only four performances, Kelly fully expects the show to sell out and urges anyone who’s interested to get tickets while they’re still available. You can purchase your tickets through the group’s website at

Brent Comer as Melchior and Molly Cohen as Wendla-1

Molly Cohen as Wendla and Brent Comer as Melchior in the musical Spring Awakening.