Currently viewing the tag: "Gettysburg"

Blair Garrett

Storytelling is something humans have done since the beginnings of communication.

The ability to harness a whirlwind of ideas and narrow it down into a digestible story that pulls a reader’s mind into the author’s imagination is one of those rare-to-find skills.

An effective storyteller crafts and creates gripping content that engages readers in a way that keeps them looking for more.

James Rada Jr., 54, of Gettysburg, knows a thing or two about storytelling.

“I’ve always wanted to be a writer,” Rada said.

To date, Rada has published over 30 books, with three becoming bestsellers in 2020.

Rada’s journey to reach where he is has been a long one, but he’s picked up a lot of steam since his launch in the mid-90s.

“My first novel was published in ‘96,” Rada said. “I started working as an indie publisher in 2000, and I really liked that, so I stuck with it.”

Over the years, Rada has written about a variety of subjects. Anything from historical fiction to horror to young adult stories to the Civil War era history has caught his eye.

Rada first tasted success with his premier historical novel, titled Canawlers. Canawlers details the life of a family navigating the hardships of the Civil War on the C&O Canal. The C&O Canal ran between the Confederate and Union armies during a particularly volatile time.

During the inception of Canawlers, Rada’s focus relied on covering places he could visit and draw inspiration. Several of his books feature places about which he has intimate knowledge. Secrets of Catoctin Mountain, Secrets of the Gettysburg Battlefield, and Canawlers are all great examples of that first-person experience manifesting into an interesting and riveting story.

Great artists, creators, and storytellers often develop ideas for future work off of untold loose ends in their books, chord progressions that didn’t provide the right melody for a song, or projects where all of the pieces didn’t quite fit. Readers of Rada’s books would often ask what happened to characters outside of his story’s focus. That interest sparked creative fires that led to follow-up books.

“My goal was to tell the story of the canal,” Rada said. “Once I started doing the events, people would come up to me and say, ‘Well, what happened with George, and what happened with Alice and David, and did they get together?’” Rada continued. “I hadn’t really thought about that because that wasn’t the purpose of the story, so I had to start thinking about that, and that’s where the other canal books came in.”

These burning questions needed answers, and the pen hit the paper. Rada’s second and third iterations of some of his most popular stories are contoured to tell his complete story, beginning to end, even if it wasn’t the initial scope of the first volume.

Rada has made plenty of adjustments with his books, figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. With the increasing market for electronic books and the consumption of online media, Rada made a change that propelled his novels to the next dimension.

“Last year, I pivoted from what I was doing,” Rada said. “I started looking more at ebooks, marketing what I had, and I got a mentor.”

 Rada’s efforts to expand his work to the masses paid off, and it reflected with more sales, more visibility, and more confidence going forward.

“The first book I did after that was Strike the Fuse, which was the second book in a trilogy,” he said. “That one got up to number 81 in the free Kindle market, and the top 300 in the paid Kindle market, and number 1 in six different categories on Kindle.”     

The train didn’t stop there, though, as Rada’s Four Score & Seven Stories Ago: A Gettysburg Writers Brigade Anthology took off shortly after, reaching heights Rada hadn’t expected.

“An anthology from my writers group got into the top 10 in three categories after some marketing. I relaunched the canal books, and all of those made it into the top 10 in multiple categories, and the top 10,000 on Amazon. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you realize there are 33 million books on Amazon, it’s something,” Rada said.

There are big plans in the works for Gettysburg’s newest best-selling author, but he plans on sticking to what excites him the most to write about.

“I’ve always written stories that appealed to me,” Rada said. “If you’re not interested in what you’re writing about, then your reader is not going to be interested in it.”   

Whether it’s mystery that captivates you or history that fascinates you, Rada has something for just about everyone, and there is always more to come. “I’ve got a long way to go, but I feel like I’m really catching some traction now.”

Rada is a writer and contributing editor for The Catoctin Banner Newzine. He also contributes to multiple other publications. You can find his books and novels online in paperback and ebook format or visit jamesrada.com.

Jim Rada displays his dozens of short stories, novels, and thrillers that he has written over his career.

written by James Rada, Jr.

A new serial fiction romance story for your enjoyment

1: Angels

When he recalled this day, Caleb Sachs was sure he would tell people Heaven had whispered to him, and in doing so, created the blustery wind that seemed to tell him, “Look! An angel.”

No one would mistake Caleb for a visionary man. Because the Sachs were the only Jewish family in Emmitsburg, they were too far away to travel to a synagogue on Shabbat. Since his father was a shopkeeper and Saturday was the busiest day of the week, he had made allowances. His father kept the shop open on Saturday, closing mid-afternoon, and then recognizing Shabbat from mid-Saturday through Sunday.

Caleb followed his father’s rules. He didn’t work after the store closed, and he read the Torah in the evening. However, he also liked to wrestle, play cards, and race horses with his friends. Although they were still a bit young, when Matthew Hayes could sneak a bottle out of his father’s tavern, Caleb and his friends would sneak off into the woods and drink.

This day, though, Caleb was sober and serious. His father had trusted him to drive the wagon to Gettysburg and pick up an order coming in on the Harrisburg and Gettysburg Railroad. It could have shipped to Emmitsburg on the Emmitsburg Railroad, but that would have involved sending the freight to Baltimore, transferring it to the Western Maryland Railroad, and then transferring it to the Emmitsburg Railroad at Emmitsburg Junction. Not only would that have taken another two days, but it would also have cost additional freight charges. With Gettysburg only 12 miles away, it was easier to send a wagon to pick up the goods at the depot in Gettysburg.

At 16 years old, this was Caleb’s first solo trip to Gettysburg, and he meant to show his father he could be trusted to do a man’s job.

He drove north out of town along Emmitsburg Road, which would take him right into the center of Gettysburg. He crossed the wooden bridge over Flat Run. It was a little trickle of a stream that rarely needed a bridge to span it unless it had rained recently.

That was when the wind picked up as Heaven whispered to him. He started the wagon up the hill when he saw her. She stood on the crest of the hill on the west side of the road. The sun behind her silhouetted her figure as she danced around to the sound of music that only she heard. The white shawl she wore billowed out, appearing to be an angel’s wings, and locks of her blond hair flew in all directions around her head forming a halo.

She looked so beautiful, Caleb had to stop the wagon to watch her.

She was so engrossed in her silent song, she never saw him, although he was only 20 yards away. Then, either she finished what she was doing, or perhaps she heard him. She stopped and ran off in another direction.

Caleb knew he would remember her. Even though he’d not seen her face, something about the love of life she showed in those moments or the carefree spirit of her dance told him she was beautiful no matter what she looked like.

The thought of her kept a smile on his face during the 12-mile ride to Gettysburg. He grinned at the stationmaster, who must have thought Caleb was crazy. He kept smiling as he loaded the goods his father had ordered for the store into the wagon bed.

On his way back to Emmitsburg, Caleb wondered if he shouldn’t have introduced himself to the woman. It just hadn’t seemed right. He had an image of what she looked like in his mind. Perhaps he imagined her nothing like she actually looked. It didn’t matter. The face he saw in his mind belonged to the angel he had seen dancing. Whether it was reality, it was still truth.

Margaret Rosensteel entered St. Joseph’s Church through the front doors. She paused a moment to let her eyes adjust to the dimmer light as she looked into the chapel. It had been warm in the light of the bright sun, but winter still clung to the inside of the church. The stoves couldn’t generate enough heat in the large room, and too few people sat in the pews to generate enough body heat to warm the room.

The young girl genuflected and slid into a pew near the rear of the chapel. Father Harmon was already well into the Mass, and he didn’t even glance at her.

Sister Mary Agatha did, though. The Daughter of Charity sat across the aisle and three rows forward of Margaret. The sister glanced back, saw Margaret, and she smiled. Then she mouthed, “You’re late.”

Margaret raised her eyebrows and shrugged. It wasn’t the first time, and it undoubtedly wouldn’t be the last time she was late to Mass. Her mother compared her to one of the foolish virgins in the Bible who arrived too late to greet the bridegroom, and so was locked out of the home.

“But I’ll never be a bride, Mama, so what does it matter?” Margaret had answered once.

“You’ll be married to God, but I guess you’ll be late for him, too.”

“Well, he must know what he is getting into. He made me this way.”

Margaret had known she was destined to be a Daughter of Charity since she was six years old. That was the year she nearly died from scarlet fever. As she had burned up from the fever, her parents had tried to lower her temperature and prayed at her bedside.

The doctor had told her parents to prepare for the worst, but Margaret had recovered. The Rosensteels declared their daughter’s recovery to be a miracle. That is when they told Margaret she would become a Daughter of Charity when she was old enough because they had promised God they would do so if he spared her life.

Margaret had trouble concentrating on Mass this morning. It was the first sunny and warm day of the year, and she wanted to be out and about, dancing and singing in the sunlight. Instead, she was sitting inside, trying to remember her Latin, so she could understand Father Harmon.

She walked outside after Mass ended and lifted her chin toward the sun, so her face could drink in its warmth. She heard the jangle of wagon traces and looked up Emmitsburg Road. She saw a pair of horses pulling a wagon crest the hill. Different size boxes were piled on the rear, but it wasn’t the boxes Margaret noticed. It was the driver.

He was a young man about her age. He sat proudly in the seat with his shoulders thrown back and his face concentrating on his work. She had never seen him before, although she spent most of her time on the family farm rather than in town.

As he passed, he glanced at her and did a double-take. Then he smiled and lifted his hat to her. Moments later, he was past her. Margaret turned to watch him as he turned the wagon onto West Main Street.

She couldn’t get past the fact that he looked familiar. She couldn’t place his face. Some might say it was the face of an angel.

James Rada, Jr.

Note: Portions of this article are pulled from a series of articles The Catoctin Banner ran in 2014 about the history of newspapers in Northern Frederick County.

William R. “Bo” Cadle, Jr., died January 21, 2020, at the SpiriTrust Lutheran Village in Gettysburg with his wife, Jean, by his side. Although no longer living in Emmitsburg, the Cadles left their mark on how northern Frederick County receives its news.

The Cadles started the monthly Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch in 1993. You can still read old copies of the newspaper at www.emmitsburgchronicles.com.

“Volunteers helped us do all sorts of things. An unexpected and greatly appreciated alliance between people in the community (readers and merchants and the worker-bees) over the following months helped the paper to gain firmer footing,” Bo Cadle wrote in a 2002 editorial.

Bo was born October 10, 1931, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  He graduated from Frederick High School, received a degree in science from the University of Maryland, served two years in the Air Force and then earned his Master’s in Education. Although not a trained newspaper man, Bo had a desire to contribute to his town by keeping its residents informed of local news.

A couple years later, after he started his own paper, Bo encouraged Lori Zentz to get into the newspaper business. Chronicle Press had started the Catoctin Banner in 1994, but by 1995, Art Elder was looking to sell the paper. The Cadles already had the Regional Dispatch running, so they contacted Zentz about taking it over.

Zentz saw a need for local news in Thurmont. WTHU in Thurmont was publishing the Thurmont Times, but this was seen more as a coupon supplement than a newspaper. The Gazette published a Thurmont/Walkersville edition, but it, like the Frederick News Post focused more on happenings around Frederick. Meanwhile, the Regional Dispatch was primarily focused on Emmitsburg. The Catoctin Banner was eight pages when Zentz took over, and it grew steadily, at one point reaching 32 pages. Her goal was to create a paper that was about Thurmont.

Both the Banner and Dispatch continued operating independently, focusing mainly on their respective areas.

Cadle nicely described a community newspaper when he wrote in 2002, “As far as we know, there were few, if any national conversations, ever held, but the Dispatch chatted on. Writers, of less than national stature, but with their unique voice, kept us informed of what was going on in our churches, clubs, service organizations, and homes across the greater community. Local merchants and groups were willing to bend their bottom-line thinking and underwrote the Dispatch by placing ads or making donations to insure that the Dispatch was able to pay its way. Small-town journalism was taking root, not spectacularly but the entire community, the Dispatch’s extended family, was contributing and the paper became a household word.”

In 2002, the Cadles decided to pass on the Disptach to Raymond and Jennifer Buchheister. They changed the name to The Emmitsburg Dispatch, and eventually started publishing a sister publication, The Thurmont Dispatch. The Buchheisters published each newspaper twice a month. The Dispatch newspapers ceased publication in November 2008. Just a year before, Deb Abraham Spalding had taken over publishing The Catoctin Banner and also received helpful advise from the Cadles.

The Catoctin Banner continues publishing and living up to its name. It combines the news and events of the Catoctin region in much the same way some elements of both Emmitsburg and Thurmont have combined.

Although Bo is gone, we at The Catoctin Banner still remember his positive impact on our history, the history of our local newspapers, and the history of the greater Emmitsburg area.

James Rada, Jr.

A small group of town and county representatives helped dedicate the three new waysides that are the hoped-for beginning of a historic Emmitsburg walking trail. The dedication took place Saturday morning, June 29, 2019.

The Emmitsburg Town Commissioners approved the development and installation of three markers in town to describe some historic sites in Emmitsburg.

The first is on the southeast corner of the town square and talks about the historical significance of the square.

“Just think for a moment,” Mayor Don Briggs said during his remarks, “We are standing where so many before have stood, moved around in Independence times, the Civil War, both World Wars, the Depression, and waved to President Eisenhower and Mamie on the way to their farm in Gettysburg.”

The other two markers are across the street from the Emmit House and the Doughboy statue. The Emmit House is a historical building with roots back to 1850, when it was known as Black’s Tavern.

The Doughboy is a historical statue erected to honor the town’s World War I Veterans.

Mayor Briggs; Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner; County Councilman Michael Blue; Emmitsburg Town Commissioners Tim O’Donnell, Cliff Sweeney, and Joe Ritz; and other county representatives were on hand to cut the ribbon, officially dedicating the waysides. Blue also read a proclamation from the county, declaring June 29, 2019, as Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day.

Briggs said that the square wayside dedication marked the end was nearing for the square revitalization and sidewalks projects. The town square revitalization efforts started in 2011. Since then, trees were planted, attractive brick work replaced cement, a town clock was erected, an informational kiosk installed, ADA-compliant curbing installed, and more. Briggs called it an “eight-year overnight success.”

“Once again, the square is pedestrian attractive, safer, and friendly,” Briggs remarked.

The waysides are designed and written by Ruth Bielobocky of Ion Design Firm and Scott Grove of Grove Public Relations.

The waysides are funded with a $9,000 grant from the Maryland Heritage Area Authority. The long-term goal is to create a historic walking tour through the town.

On June 29, 2019, Emmitsburg Town, Frederick County dignitaries, and community members gathered to dedicate the new wayside signs on a historic Emmitsburg walking trail through town.

Joan Bittner Fry

The Lake View Hotel, C. J. Remsburg, Proprietor, Lewistown, Maryland, Long Distance Phone 840-2

While looking through my postcard collection, I came upon a small brochure about Lake View Hotel, and I quote the brochure:

“Lake View Hotel is located midway between Frederick and Thurmont, Maryland on the Western Maryland and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroads, within two hours’ ride of Baltimore and Washington.

The hotel is high above sea level, overlooking the highest range of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One could hardly wish for a more ideal spot to spend a vacation than Lewistown, Maryland, located in picturesque Frederick County.

The Lake View is a large six-story (some places say 4-story) concrete building, with roof garden and sun parlor, commanding an excellent view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, far famed for their beautiful scenery.  The hotel contains 50 rooms, baths and toilet rooms, also 25 private baths, making it the largest and one of the most modern houses in this section of the country. The bed rooms are all large and airy, newly furnished in the most up-to-date manner. We can accommodate 125 guests. The dining room is spacious, light and well ventilated. Cuisine under the personal attention of the proprietor. Piazza is large and shady and the hotel is lighted throughout with acetylene gas.

In connection with the house is a 200-acre farm, producing all varieties of fruits and vegetables, with which the table is abundantly supplied; plenty of fresh milk, eggs, poultry, etc., the best the country affords.

Aside from the lobby may be found smoking room for gentlemen, private parlor and writing room for ladies. For health, comfort and beauty of natural scenery, this place is second to none in the mountains of Western Maryland.”

The hotel is located 6 miles north of Frederick; rail transportation could bring pleasure seekers to a peaceful setting that featured a casino, hotel, and lake. Charles Remsburg was a native of nearby Lewistown, having grown up on a farm originally laid out by his grandfather, Jacob. In addition to the family trade of farming, Charles found success in the late 1800s goldfish boom and was one of the county’s largest exporters.  He was also an investor in the Westminster, Frederick, and Gettysburg Railroad, which would traverse property owned by his family. He obtained this land and created a scheme to cash in on the new trolley line that would connect Frederick and Thurmont.

In 1908, Charles merged his many fishponds and formed a lake in the shadow of the picturesque Catoctin Mountain to the west. He looked to capitalize on the rail transportation line’s ability to deliver visitors in the same manner as neighboring mountain retreats, such as Braddock Heights and Pen Mar Park.

The brochure also boasts an up-to-date livery where saddle and driving horses could be had at a moment’s notice; ladies riding suits to hire; croquet, tennis, dancing; rambles over the mountains; and a large shady lake for fishing. Those fond of motoring could find one of the best automobile roads in the country, leading from Washington and Baltimore to Pen Mar and Gettysburg, passing the door of the Lake View Hotel. Persons afflicted with tuberculosis were requested to not apply for accommodations. (The State Sanatorium at Sabillasville for TB patients opened in 1908.)

From an article in Frederick Daily News, September 10, 1908:

“The hotel featured an elaborate amusement center in the form of a casino (a 2-story building with a first-class skating rink and a beautiful dance hall. On the first floor were 4 bowling alleys, a pool room, and cloak and toilet rooms). Guests were invited to use the lake for bathing, swimming, and boating, as row boats were made readily available.

The Lake View Casino opened in early September 1908. The crowd was estimated to have been at least a thousand persons, over 300 from Frederick alone.  Many went in carriages and other vehicles from surrounding towns.

Not all persons who desired to skate could be accommodated, as only a portion of the number of skates ordered arrived.  They are expected shortly.”

Sadly, the full potential of the site was never realized, suffering a devastating fire two years later, just prior to the opening of the hotel in May 1910. Mr. Remsburg had grossly under-insured his building, and with the outlay for the hotel, he was not in the position to rebuild the casino.

Over the next four years, the Lake View Hotel hosted pleasure seekers, but would suffer the same fate as the casino on June 16, 1914. Just days before opening for the summer season, the hotel burned to the ground. This time, a faulty heating apparatus was to blame.

Mr. Remsburg gave up his endeavors in the hospitality resort business and went back to an enterprise that was decidedly “fireproof.” He returned to putting his full attention to the business of raising goldfish.

In 1916, the Maryland Conservation Commission assessed the state for future fish hatcheries, especially trout. The following year, Lewistown was selected for the commission’s first hatchery. The state also stocked Remsberg’s Lake View with a supply of small-mouth bass, crappie, and catfish.

Plans for the proposed Lewistown hatchery were drawn up during the fall of 1917, and by January 1918, a 22 x 44-foot temporary hatchery had been completed at the site, and 400,000 trout eggs had been placed into the new hatchery.

Lewistown Hatchery Today

Little remains today that would suggest the size of the hatchery operation that once existed until the early 1950s. A sign on Fish Hatchery Road, off U.S. 15 south, states: “Lewistown Trout Hatchery and Bass Ponds Frederick County – Purchased by State 1917” (shown right).

Mr. Remsburg’s influence would have a profound effect on the son of his next door neighbors, Milton and Rosanna Powell. Their son, Albert M. Powell, developed a love of fish, as well, and served as the longtime Superintendent of Maryland State Fish Hatcheries. The Albert Powell Hatchery is located in Hagerstown, Maryland. Construction of this facility began in 1946 and was completed in 1949.

From Powell’s obituary: “Albert M. Powell, Fisheries Expert of Lewistown, Maryland, died in February 1991 at Homewood Retirement Center at age 93. He was retired superintendent of inland fisheries, retiring in 1967, after working in the state’s freshwater fish program for more than 40 years and briefly for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. He had been a member of the American Fisheries Society, The Potomac Valley Fly Fishing Association, and the Frederick County Fish and Game Protective Association. He wrote a history of the state programs and became an expert on shipping live freshwater fish, sending one shipment of small mouth bass to South Africa.”

The next time you travel to or from Frederick on Route 15, you will understand the meaning of Powell Road and Fish Hatchery Road, and possibly remember the ill-fated Lake View Hotel and Casino.

The Lake View Hotel — 1908.

Charles “Chuck” Caldwell has talked with Civil War soldiers, fought against the Japanese in WWII, and chased mushroom clouds after atomic bomb explosions. Now ninety-two years old, he had become part of the history that he loves so much.

His story is now the focus of a fascinating new biography by The Catoctin Banner’s contributing editor James Rada, Jr. Clay Soldiers: One Marine’s Story of War, Art, & Atomic Energy takes the reader on a journey from the Civil War to the age of the atom bomb and back again as it follows Caldwell’s adventures in life.

Chuck first came to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1936 on a family vacation and then again in 1938 to attend the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg as a fourteen-year-old boy. The 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg was the last great reunion of Civil War Veterans. About 2,000 aged men gathered in the fields between the Peace Light Memorial and Gettysburg College. Caldwell was there to meet with as many as he could and ask them about the Civil War. To mark the occasion, he had an autograph book filled with pictures of him with the Civil War Veterans and their autographs, Civil War units, and hometowns. He even has the autographs of the men who turned out to be the last-surviving Union and Confederate Veterans.

Born in Princeton, Illinois, in 1923, Chuck spent most of his youth growing up in Orrville, Ohio. A Crimson Tide fan (still to this day), he was in his freshman year at the University of Alabama in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He joined the Marines and was sent to Parris Island for training in January 1942.

During WWII, he served in the Pacific Theater and fought at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Guam. He received a Purple Heart for wounds he received at Guadalcanal. That is also where he contracted malaria.

At the end of the war, he married Jacqueline Murphy, a WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) he met in the hospital while recovering from a malaria attack.

After the war, Chuck went back to the University of Alabama on the G.I. Bill, and by the time he graduated in 1949, he had a job waiting for him in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The city had only been recently loosening its secret status to allow the public more access to the place where the first atom bomb was developed.

Chuck made displays and drawings for the newly formed Museum of Atomic Energy. He worked there about a year, until he was recalled to service for the Korean War. He didn’t have to fight in this war. When he returned home, he decided to switch jobs. He took a job doing technical drawings for one of the plants in Oak Ridge.

He spent the summers of 1957 and 1958 at the Nevada Test Site, setting up sensors in fake towns in the desert. When an atom bomb was detonated, he was part of the teams that would go back into those towns to try and find any of the fissionable material that they had set up for the test.

“I bet I am one of the few people still around who has actually been under an atomic explosion,” Chuck said.

In the early 1960s, Chuck became a full-time artist, sculpting miniatures for a variety of clients, including Major League baseball teams, the Franklin Mint, and the Ringling Brothers Circus Museum. Some of his miniatures were even displayed in the Knoxville World’s Fair.

Caldwell’s story is a fascinating one about an ordinary man who has been a part of so many extraordinary events in history. Rada’s narrative, based mainly on interviews with Caldwell and a review of his personal papers, captures the story perfectly.

Midwest Book Review called Rada “a writer of considerable and deftly expressed storytelling talent.”

Rada is the author of six historical fiction novels and nine non-fiction history books, including No North, No South…: The Grand Reunion at the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and Battlefield Angels: The Daughters of Charity Work as Civil War Nurses. He also won a first-place award for local column writing from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association in May, 2016. The award was for his “Looking Back” column that runs monthly in the Cumberland Times-News.

Clay Soldiers retails for $19.95 and is available at local bookstores, online retailers, and his website at www.jamesrada.com.

Charles “Chuck” Caldwell has talked with Civil War soldiers, fought against the Japanese in WWII, and chased mushroom clouds after atomic bomb explosions. Now ninety-two years old, he had become part of the history that he loves so much.

His story is now the focus of a fascinating new biography by The Catoctin Banner’s contributing editor James Rada, Jr. Clay Soldiers: One Marine’s Story of War, Art, & Atomic Energy takes the reader on a journey from the Civil War to the age of the atom bomb and back again as it follows Caldwell’s adventures in life.

Chuck first came to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1936 on a family vacation and then again in 1938 to attend the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg as a fourteen-year-old boy. The 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg was the last great reunion of Civil War Veterans. About 2,000 aged men gathered in the fields between the Peace Light Memorial and Gettysburg College. Caldwell was there to meet with as many as he could and ask them about the Civil War. To mark the occasion, he had an autograph book filled with pictures of him with the Civil War Veterans and their autographs, Civil War units, and hometowns. He even has the autographs of the men who turned out to be the last-surviving Union and Confederate Veterans.

Born in Princeton, Illinois, in 1923, Chuck spent most of his youth growing up in Orrville, Ohio. A Crimson Tide fan (still to this day), he was in his freshman year at the University of Alabama in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He joined the Marines and was sent to Parris Island for training in January 1942.

During WWII, he served in the Pacific Theater and fought at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Guam. He received a Purple Heart for wounds he received at Guadalcanal. That is also where he contracted malaria.

At the end of the war, he married Jacqueline Murphy, a WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) he met in the hospital while recovering from a malaria attack.

After the war, Chuck went back to the University of Alabama on the G.I. Bill, and by the time he graduated in 1949, he had a job waiting for him in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The city had only been recently loosening its secret status to allow the public more access to the place where the first atom bomb was developed.

Chuck made displays and drawings for the newly formed Museum of Atomic Energy. He worked there about a year, until he was recalled to service for the Korean War. He didn’t have to fight in this war. When he returned home, he decided to switch jobs. He took a job doing technical drawings for one of the plants in Oak Ridge.

He spent the summers of 1957 and 1958 at the Nevada Test Site, setting up sensors in fake towns in the desert. When an atom bomb was detonated, he was part of the teams that would go back into those towns to try and find any of the fissionable material that they had set up for the test.

“I bet I am one of the few people still around who has actually been under an atomic explosion,” Chuck said.

In the early 1960s, Chuck became a full-time artist, sculpting miniatures for a variety of clients, including Major League baseball teams, the Franklin Mint, and the Ringling Brothers Circus Museum. Some of his miniatures were even displayed in the Knoxville World’s Fair.

Caldwell’s story is a fascinating one about an ordinary man who has been a part of so many extraordinary events in history. Rada’s narrative, based mainly on interviews with Caldwell and a review of his personal papers, captures the story perfectly.

Midwest Book Review called Rada “a writer of considerable and deftly expressed storytelling talent.”

Rada is the author of six historical fiction novels and nine non-fiction history books, including No North, No South…: The Grand Reunion at the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and Battlefield Angels: The Daughters of Charity Work as Civil War Nurses. He also won a first-place award for local column writing from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association in May, 2016. The award was for his “Looking Back” column that runs monthly in the Cumberland Times-News.

Clay Soldiers retails for $19.95 and is available at local bookstores, online retailers, and his website at www.jamesrada.com.

Nicholas DiGregory

To the typical wandering traveler, cruising up or down U.S. Route 15, the little town of Emmitsburg does not appear to be a major attraction. While the town’s tourism landmarks—such as the stately National Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton and the picturesque Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes—do draw a crowd, Emmitsburg itself can easily be overlooked on maps and guides dominated by more popular destinations in cities like Gettysburg or Frederick. To an unknowing tourist, the little town of Emmitsburg appears to be just that—a little town.

However, looks can be deceiving. Beneath the quaint, small-town look and feel of Emmitsburg is a tightly knit community of friends and neighbors, many of whom have lived in the area for their entire lives. It is the strength of this community that gives the town of Emmitsburg a uniquely vibrant character.

While the quality of the community has always been the primary motivating factor for Emmitsburg’s prosperity, the strength and unity of that community has been challenged over the past few months by an unexpected controversy, which arose from Emmitsburg’s own Mount St. Mary’s University.

In the early autumn of 2015, disagreements between the university’s administration and its faculty reached a breaking point, with the then-president Simon Newman pioneering for changes that many at the university believed to be unethical. When the arguments boiled over into the community, many local faculty members, staff members, students, and alumni picked a side in the increasingly vociferous debate. The debacle at Mount St. Mary’s gained national attention from such sources as The Washington Post and several scholarly societies from across the country.

The resignation of university president Simon Newman, whose policies were at the center of the dispute, indicates that the school desires to move past the controversy; however, the decision has come too late for many members of the Emmitsburg community. Lack of straightforward communication from the university, coupled with sensationalized reports in local and national media, have left the community of Emmitsburg with few facts and many wounds.

We, at The Catoctin Banner, hope that the information that follows helps to resolve many of the questions that may remain regarding the whirlwind of allegations and accusations that have poured out of Mount St. Mary’s University over the past few months. It must be noted that The Catoctin Banner does not support any involved party other than the community as a whole; our efforts to present what transpired at Mount St. Mary’s University are not intended to harm, but to encourage healing among the embittered parties for the good of the community.

What follows is a documented account of the events that transpired at Mount St. Mary’s University over the past few months.

In the fall of 2014, the Mount St. Mary’s University met with three candidates for the university presidency, which was set to be vacated by Thomas Powell after eleven years of service. Upon reviewing the candidates, the university’s Board of Trustees selected Simon Newman as the 25th president. Trustee member and Mount alumnus Francis W. Daily said that Newman was selected primarily for his financial experience, although communication skills and Catholic identity also played a part in the hiring.

At the time, Mount St. Mary’s was dealing with considerable debts; Newman’s financial expertise was a necessity for the struggling university. A fifty-one-year-old from the United Kingdom, Newman held almost thirty years of experience in the financial sector, specifically in private equity, strategy consulting, and financial operations. During that time, he led several businesses from the brink of bankruptcy, coordinating for more than $200 million in profit improvement.

Newman took charge of the university on March 10, 2015, five months earlier than expected. In an editorial piece, the editing staff of the Mountain Echo student newspaper welcomed Newman to his new position. While the authors of the article cited that Newman would have “his work cut out for him” in improving and increasing the campus’ living spaces and other facilities, they also affirmed that there was “utmost faith” in his ability to “guide the university through these times of concern.”

Newman’s program for improving the university, deemed Mount 2.0, outlined several key changes in the university’s programs and functions. Newman, with the support of the Board of Trustees, implemented several changes to the university’s academic development and marketing. Among other major changes were a re-evaluation of the core curriculum and the addition of two new financial programs: Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Relationship Management.

While Newman’s financial decisions were originally lauded by the majority of those at the university, he came under fire for one particular decision in October 2015. On October 29, 2015, Mount St. Mary’s administration notified its employees of the elimination of the university’s long-held retiree health care benefits. Prior to this announcement, retired employees of the university that had served before 1996 were allowed to remain on the university’s health care plan. After Newman’s adjustments, these employees were removed from the program, as well as spouses of current employees. Retirement fund benefits for current employees were also cut in half.

While many retired and current employees of the university acknowledged that these benefits could not be funded forever, they criticized the way that Newman and the university administration went about implementing the changes. In a letter from three retired professors addressed to members of the university community, it was stated that the retired professors were “shocked” by the “very abrupt termination of the retiree health benefit.” The letter also stated that Newman implemented the changes behind the backs of many of the retirees.

“We were also shocked by the way we were informed—by receiving a letter in the mail or an email, and in some cases, not being informed at all,” the letter read.

While the administration assured that the benefit cuts were necessary for the continued operation of the university, members of the university community began to distrust Newman’s methods. This distrust reached its climax on January 19, 2016, when the Mountain Echo reported that Newman’s newly-created student retention plan was engineered to ensure the dismissal of twenty to twenty-five of the university’s worst-performing students. Additionally, the article referenced a conversation between Newman and Professor Greg Murray, where Newman allegedly referred to poorly-performing students as “bunnies” that needed to be drowned or have a “Glock to their heads.”

The university’s administration responded swiftly to the article, condemning it as “grossly inaccurate.” A subsequent statement from John E. Coyne, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, confirmed that Newman used the “inappropriate metaphor” but denied that Newman’s new retention program targeted unintelligent students for dismissal. Coyne’s statement blamed the misinformation on an “organized, small group of faculty and recent alums working to undermine and ultimately cause the exit of President Newman.”

Opponents of Newman and the administration were further inflamed in February, when Newman ordered the termination of two university faculty members, one of which was tenured. Professors Thane Naberhaus and Edward Egan were escorted off campus by security, and their university equipment was seized. Newman himself did not address the men about their termination, but rather had letters delivered to the professors, stating that their termination was due to unspecified violations of university policy.

The majority of the faculty members believed that the terminations were retaliatory, as both men had objected to Newman’s policy changes. While the university offered later that same week to reinstate both professors, the damage had already been done. Articles about the university’s termination of the professors—one of whom still had tenure—were published in several local newspapers, as well as The Washington Post. Letters to the editor of the Mountain Echo poured in from current and past members of the university community; some stood with the faculty while others sided with Newman.

In light of the national publicity, the university faculty members voted overwhelmingly in favor of asking for Newman’s resignation. Despite the 87-3 vote, Newman insisted that he had no intention to resign.

On February 29, 2016, Newman did step down from the presidency. The Board of Trustees appointed Karl Einoff as the acting president.

 

Nicholas DiGregory

The Emmitsburg Tattoo Company is somewhat of an anomaly, insofar as tattoo shops are concerned.

In terms of appearance, the storefront is clean, sleek, and inviting—an image that is supported by the shop atmosphere itself.

While the inside of the shop is decorated with many items and images that befit any reputable tattoo shop, the walls are also adorned by police and military stickers and memorabilia. A large section of the wall is covered in fliers and business cards of local businesses, and a hefty plastic jar sits on the counter for donations to local charities.

As soon as you meet co-owner and tattooer Don Sonn, you understand why the Emmitsburg Tattoo Company is the way it is. As tattooers go, Sonn is a little bit of an anomaly, too.

Before getting into tattooing in 2003, Sonn worked full-time writing computer code. However, the tattoo shop held more appeal for Sonn than a desk job ever could.

“As I started getting more heavily tattooed and hanging out in tattoo shops, I felt like I belonged there, and I never really felt that in an office setting,” said Sonn.

Sonn apprenticed at Baltimore Street Tattoo in Hanover, Pennsylvania, until 2007, and worked in Gettysburg until he opened Emmitsburg Street Tattoo with his wife, Brandy Malocha, on November 5, 2015.

In addition to their appreciation of tattooing, both Sonn and Malocha are strong supporters of the community and its first responders. Malocha is a full-time police officer herself with the Montgomery County Police Department.

“We are pro-police, pro-military, pro-community, and pro-hang-out-and-have-a-good-time,” said Sonn. “We love to draw, play guitar, and hang out and have a good time with folks. I love the social aspect of the business.”

In a business where speed and money tend to overplay the social and ethical factors, Sonn and Malocha have created a shop that defies the trends.

“We want to create a comfortable, cool environment, with solid, quality tattoos, and a business with some ethics to it,” said Sonn. “We welcome anybody who wants to come and hang out—it doesn’t have to be just about the tattoos.”

Since the shop’s opening, Sonn and Malocha have actively supported the community through donations and social events. Emmitsburg Tattoo Company has donated funds to the volunteer fire department, animal shelter, and, most recently, the Emmitsburg Council of Churches’ Fire Relief Fund.

As for the social events, the Emmitsburg Tattoo Company recently held their first acoustic guitar night, and they are planning on hosting a kids coloring night in January 2016.

This is why the Emmitsburg Tattoo Company is such a unique tattoo shop. For Sonn, tattooing is not just a job, it’s a chance to build a community of friends and get the most out of life.

“I’m not a big superstar, rock star tattooer, and I likely never will be,” said Sonn, “But that’s not why I’m here; that’s not my pursuit. I have always tried to be the most well-rounded tattooer and create a setting where people can sit and hang out and have fun. This is the coolest thing in the world, and we just want to have some fun and involve people in the community as much as possible.”

The Emmitsburg Tattoo Company is located at 2 W. Main Street in Emmitsburg. To contact, email emmitsburgtattoocompany@gmail.com or call 301-447-6837.

Emmit Tattoo

Don Sonn (right) and apprentice Mark Coscia (left) are the everyday faces of Emmitsburg Tattoo Company. Sonn has been in the tattoo business since 2003.

Photo by Nicholas DiGregory  

Last To Fall CoverRichard D. L. Fulton and James Rada, Jr. will be holding a book siging at St. Philomena’s on the Emmitsburg Square  in April.

When were the last U.S. Marines killed in the line of duty on the Gettysburg battlefield? If you said 1863, you’d be wrong.

The year was 1922. Two marine aviators crashed their bi-plane on the battlefield during military maneuvers that summer and died in the accident.

Their story is part of a new book by Richard D. L. Fulton and The Catoctin Banner’s Contributing Editor James Rada, Jr. called The Last to Fall: The 1922 March, Battles, & Deaths of U.S. Marines at Gettysburg.

“This is a story that Rick, with the encouragement of his wife, Cathe, and I have been wanting to write individually for years,” Rada said. “We finally combined our efforts and put together something that neither of us could have done alone.”

The 176-page book is 8.5 inches by 11 inches and contains more than 155 photographs depicting the march from Quantico to Gettysburg and the simulated battles on the actual Gettysburg battlefield.

“The march involved a quarter of the corps at the time,” Fulton said. “It was part PR stunt, but it was also an actual training maneuver for the marines.”

As part of the march, the marines stayed two separate nights (going to and coming from Gettysburg) on Hooker Lewis’s farm just north of Thurmont. They showed visitors around their camp, visited Emmitsburg and Thurmont, showed movies in camp, and played a baseball game against the Emmitsburg team.

“On their way to Gettysburg, they marched into Emmitsburg and were greeted by Civil War veterans who were still living in town,” Fulton said.

While on the Gettysburg battlefield, many of the marines were willing to hike back into Emmitsburg to enjoy the hospitality there, rather than go into Gettysburg, which was much closer.

The Last to Fall also contains pictures of the marines in Emmitsburg and Thurmont.

“It’s surprising how few people know about this event nowadays,” Rada said. “It involved a large body of marines marching through Washington and Maryland and got a lot of national coverage at the time.”

Rada, Fulton, and Cathe, who served as a research assistant, searched through hundreds of documents and photographs, looking for the details of the march and battles, but the book was meant to tell a story. For that, they went hunting through lots of newspapers in order to piece together the stories of the marines on the march and the people they met along the way.

“What’s really fun is that the marines re-enacted Pickett’s Charge both historically and with then-modern military equipment,” Rada said.

The event was also marred by tragedy when something happened to one of the bi-planes and it crashed into the battlefield, killing the two marines flying it. The pilot, Capt. George Hamilton, was a hero of World War I.

President Warren G. Harding and his wife, along with a number of military personnel, politicians, and representatives of foreign governments, stayed in camp on July 1 and 2 with the marines and witnessed some of the maneuvers.

Richard D. L. Fulton is an award-winning writer, who has worked for many of the local newspapers. He lives in Gettysburg with his wife, Cathe, who was also a big help in tracking down photos of the 1922 march. The Last to Fall is Fulton’s first book.

 James Rada, Jr. is an award-winning writer, who Midwest Book Review called “a writer of considerable and deftly expressed storytelling talent.” Small Press Bookwatch listed Rada’s Saving Shallmar: Christmas Spirit in a Coal Town as “highly recommended.”  He is the author of five historical fiction novels and seven non-fiction history books, including No North, No South…: The Grand Reunion at the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and Battlefield Angels: The Daughters of Charity Work as Civil War Nurses.

The Last to Fall: The 1922 March, Battles, & Deaths of U.S. Marines at Gettysburg retails for $24.95 and is available at local bookstores and online retailers.

Fulton and Rada will be signing  books at St. Philomena’s on the Emmitsburg Square on Saturday, May 2, 2015, from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

James Rada, Jr.

museumAs the Confederate Army retreated from Gettysburg on July 4, 1863, they encountered Union troops in the area of Blue Ridge Summit. A two-day battle ensued in the middle of a thunderstorm that eventually spilled over the Mason-Dixon Line into Maryland.

“It is the only battle fought on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line,” said John Miller, Director of the Monterey Pass Battlefield Museum in Blue Ridge Summit.

While lots of books, movies, and stories have focused on the importance of the three-day Battle of Gettysburg, little light has been shed on how the Confederate Army made its retreat south from the battlefield through enemy troops with weary men. The Battle of Monterey Pass involved about 4,500 men with 1,300 of them winding up as Union prisoners and 43 soldiers being killed, wounded, or missing. Major Charles K. Capehart of the 1st West Virginia also earned his Medal of Honor during the battle.

Through the efforts of Miller and other volunteers and supporters, Blue Ridge Summit has a small museum and a growing area of protected land dedicated to educating the public about the battlefield.

The museum opened last October on 1.25 acres along Route 16 in Blue Ridge Summit. The Monterey Pass Battlefield Museum displays a collection of artifacts related to the Battle of Monterey Pass. It has galleries that look at different aspects of the battle, such as the overall Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania and Washington Township at the time of the battle. Outside the museum is a marker erected by the State of Michigan commemorating the participation of Michigan troops in the battle.

“It is one of only five such markers outside of the state of Michigan,” Miller said.

Most of the uniforms, weapons, pictures, and other artifacts were donated to the museum, and the attractive building was built through the hard work of volunteers.

“The purpose of the museum is to educate people about the battle,” Miller said, “but it also can set a standard for other community organizations along the retreat route that want to see how they can do it.”

Places like Hagerstown and Falling Waters are among the towns looking at doing something similar in their communities.

Although the museum wasn’t open in time to catch a lot of the tourist traffic in 2014, more than 300 did visit.

“It’s been slow at first, but the number of visitors will grow as more people learn about it,” said Miller.

The Friends of Monterey Pass have been working with tourism councils in the surrounding counties to tie the museum into the counties’ Civil War tourism plans.

When it reopens in April, the Friends of Monterey Pass hope to add 116 acres of land over which the battle was fought to the museum. Miller said that before the museum reopens for 2015, he hopes to have some additional displays in the museum as well as some interpretive panels for a driving tour of the new piece of land.

Monterey Pass Battlefield Park is located at 14325 Buchanan Trail East, Waynesboro, PA 17268. For more information, visit their website at www.montereypassbattlefield.org.

James Rada, Jr.

It might be Rube’s Crab Shack now, but in the 1930s, the building that sat on that piece of property was a chicken house…literally.

“My father got a tractor and dragged a chicken house down the road to there,” says Mike Fitzgerald.

Two gas pumps were added and the site became a gas station for travelers going north to Pennsylvania and Gettysburg. Mike remembers that the station sold Atlantic gasoline and that a person could buy five gallons for just 90 cents. That same amount costs about $16.00 nowadays.

“When Prohibition ended in 1932, my dad replaced the chicken house with an inexpensive six-sided building,” says Fitzgerald.

The business also started offering food that Naomi Fitzgerald, Mike’s mom, prepared. Advertisements proclaimed that Fitz’s had “Maryland’s Finest Hamburgers.” Diners could also get steamed crabs and soft-shell crab sandwiches there, which is something many Emmitsburg residents had never eaten before.

Before long, Mike’s father, Allen, was expanding that business to include a dining room and bandstand. He also added slot machines in the bar area.

“People on the road would stop in to play the slot machines in the bar and buy a hamburger for 10 cents and a beer for 15 cents,” Fitzgerald says.

Fitz’s soon became a popular off-campus place for Mount students to go and have fun.

“In 1963, a guy came in who knew Dad,” Mike says. “He was an attorney in New York. He said that when he went to the Mount and would run out of money, my dad would give him credit.”

That surprised him a bit, but it also answered a question that Fitzgerald and his mother had been wondering about.

“When Dad died in 1940, we found a cigar box filled with class rings,” says Mike.

While Allen was willing to extend credit to the Mount students, he would hold their class rings as collateral. Judging by the number of class rings in the box, a number of students never paid off their bar tabs.

Naomi took the rings and gave them to someone at the college in the hopes that they might be reunited with the owners. The Catoctin Banner inquired at the Mount about what happened to the rings. We were told that someone would check and get back to us about it, but that didn’t happen. So, once again, those rings are “out of sight, out of mind.”

Editor’s note: This is a new feature that The Catoctin Banner is introducing, where we tell the stories of the Northern Frederick County communities through the eyes of the older generation. If you have an interesting story that you would like to tell, contact us at news@thecatoctinbanner.com.