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The Year is…1918

by James Rada, Jr.

The Pandemic to End All Pandemics — Part 3

Spanish Flu rampaged through Frederick County and the world in the fall of 1918. During October 1918, the State of Maryland shut down public venues and businesses, and those places that could still open had trouble finding healthy workers.

On October 11, the Frederick Post reported that 50 people in the county had died from the flu; however, this seems too low just looking at the daily numbers it was reporting. The newspaper noted on October 12, “There are homes in this city where entire families are ill and bed-ridden with influenza and nobody to help care for them.”

County Health Officer T. C. Routson and the Red Cross called on student nurses to help care for the sick. They only had mixed success because many young women were afraid to help. Afterall, they didn’t want to catch the flu themselves.

On October 14, the Frederick Post tried a good news, bad news thing. New cases of the flu had “slumped.” Yea! However, more people who already had the flu were dying.

By October 17, Mount St. Mary’s College alone had 160 students and faculty sick with the flu, after first appearing on campus the previous week. Two Daughters of Charity were on the campus trying to help, but it wasn’t enough. The situation at the college was so serious that Monsignor Bradley, president of the college, asked Maj. Dwight D. Eisenhower at Camp Colt in Gettysburg for medical assistance. The camp was experiencing its own problems with the flu, but Eisenhower did send two doctors to help. The doctors placed the college under military quarantine, and no one was allowed off the grounds.

The Mountaineer noted, “In consequence of this quarantine, all students who were free from any sign of the disease were sent to their homes early in December and did not return until January was well advanced.”

With only eight deaths on the 17th, the Frederick Post declared that the flu was “waning.” It noted in the article that the death rate was lower, but you don’t see the higher death rates in the paper except for the one instance. The paper reported on October 18, “With only four deaths yesterday, the average death rate per day, which is usually about nine or ten, has been cut down less than half.”

A week later, the newspaper reported that there had only been two flu deaths in the county the previous day. “This is the smallest number of victims for a single day since the influenza became an epidemic.” Sadly, the doctor in charge of the main Red Cross hospital had fallen victim to the flu and died.

The Perfect Storm

Many communities were already shorthanded medically because doctors had been drafted to serve in WWI. Then, along came the flu, which intensified by the shortage, making many of the remaining doctors sick at a time when the workload was drastically increasing. The remaining doctors found themselves working longer hours with contagious people. This would wear them down and make them susceptible to flu and the process would repeat.

One example of this can be seen with Dr. Brown and Dr. Kuhlman in Jefferson. They had 30 patients sick with the flu, but they were sick themselves and bedridden. Dr. Brown tried to help his patients over the phone without much luck.

Routson noted that Thurmont’s efforts to fight the flu were hampered because all of the doctors there were sick with the flu. At its peak, Thurmont doctors were seeing 50 to 60 patients a day.

Other professions faced similar problems. An ad in the Frederick Post urged residents not to make unnecessary phone calls. “The influenza epidemic had brought a heavy overload of calls to our wires. It has caused a serious shortage in our operating force. Calls other than those concerning important government work, and those compelled by the epidemic, embarrass the country’s war program and place lives in jeopardy.”

Even newspaper delivery was affected because many of the carriers were sickened with the flu. In Brunswick, rail service was crippled because “about half of the population has the flu,” according to the Frederick Post.

The Third Wave

Halloween passed on October 31 without any celebration.

Maryland listed its closure order on November 4. There was a resurgence of the flu in December in Washington County, but it didn’t kill anyone. Parts of Frederick County also saw a resurgence. The Catoctin Clarion in late December reported, “Influenza, a disease dreaded by a big majority of people, is not disappearing very rapidly at this time, the number of cases increasing rather than decreasing in various communities.”

The third wave of Spanish Flu hit particularly hard in the Fairfield, Pennsylvania, area, as well as the eastern part of the county. One doctor was quoted in the Star and Sentinel as saying, “I have just come from four homes. Three or four people were sick in every one of them. One of the families had both parents and the two children ill. I have another family in which there were six cases.”

Reports said the second outbreak wasn’t as pervasive, but it could still be deadly. This is typical of locations where there was a third outbreak.

Christmas 1918 was somber. A lot of people had lost someone they knew to the flu. Officials urged people to do their shopping early when fewer people would be in the stores. Church Christmas programs were canceled for fear of having too many people in a confined space.

Determining Impact

Maryland conducted a door-to-door survey in March 1919 in Baltimore, Cumberland, Lonaconing, Frederick, Salisbury, and three rural districts in Frederick, Washington, and Wicomico counties. The information is useful, but not conclusive, something that the survey noted when it acknowledged some of the shortfalls.

Although deaths in Maryland didn’t exceed births in 1918, it came close with 32,183 deaths, which was about 10,000 more than five years in either direction. The death rate was 2,257 per 100,000 or about 700 more than the years on either side. No other year from 1902 to the present day comes close.

The U.S. Census also reported that the decade between 1910 and 1920 is the only decade since 1900 that Frederick County lost population, to which Spanish Flu certainly contributed.

Looking at the Maryland survey, newspaper reports, surrounding county information, and county reports, it appears about 350 people or .7 percent of the county’s population died from the flu. However, this might be underestimated because it is known that during the pandemic’s peak, some doctors were so overwhelmed that they couldn’t fill out death certificates until days later, sometimes leaving the cause of death blank.

What is known is that Spanish Flu was the worst disease to hit Frederick County.

Employees needed to wear facemasks while at work during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918.

The 39th Regiment on its way to France, marching through Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Chapter of the Red Cross made masks for them. 

The Year is…1918

The Pandemic to End All Pandemics — Part 1

by James Rada, Jr.

Although the country essentially quarantined itself state by state this spring, it’s not the first time such a thing has happened. However, when it happened in 1918, 675,000 Americans died in roughly two months. Worldwide, the death toll may have reached 100 million people, or 1 person out of every 20.

The Spanish Flu is the worst disease the world has ever known.

The First Wave

Much like COVID-19, when the Spanish Flu was noticed and when it began are two different times. It first appeared in Spain in February 1918, hence, the name. However, because Spain was a neutral country during World War I, the press was free to report on the flu, although other places were said to be having troubles with the disease. One historian believes he traced the flu back to a Chinese avian flu in 1917.

With this first wave of the Spanish Flu, people got fever, chills, and aches for three days, and then they would be fine. It was 1918’s seasonal flu, and there was nothing to be concerned about except that more people than usual caught the disease. The odd thing about the flu of 1918 is that rather than attacking the very old and very young with weaker immune systems, it also attacked healthy adults in their 30s and 40s.

By May, 8 million Spaniards had or had recovered from the flu. Not only did the flu attack people of all ages, it attacked people at all social levels. King Alfonso XIII of Spain and King George V of England caught it.

The flu spread worldwide, including the United States, when it appeared at Camp Funston in Kansas in March. Because flu was not a reportable disease, it’s uncertain how many cases there were, but 233 soldiers developed pneumonia, and 48 doughboys died. Given the number of soldiers in camp, this was not considered a remarkable mortality rate.

With a virulent flu sidelining so many soldiers across the world, it affected the progress of World War I.

In one instance, the 15th U.S. Cavalry contracted the disease while at sea. They called it the “three-day fever.” Doctors noted that while the disease lasted three days, it often took a week or two for the victim to recover fully.

King George’s Grand Fleet could not put to sea for three weeks in May because 10,313 men were sick. The British Army’s 29th Division had planned to attack La Becque on June 30, but had to put off the operation because too many soldiers were sick with the flu to mount an effective offensive. German General Erich von Ludendorff blamed the flu for his failure to mount offensives.

Then the flu vanished as temperatures warmed.

The Second Wave

Spanish Flu appeared again in late August. This time, it was even more contagious and much more deadly.

One physician wrote that patients rapidly “develop the most vicious type of pneumonia that has ever been seen,” and later when cyanosis appeared in patients “it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate.” Another doctor said the influenza patients “died struggling to clear their airways of a blood-tinged froth that sometimes gushed from their mouth and nose.”

The second wave first appeared in America at Boston. On August 28, 1918, eight sailors reported sick with the flu. The next day, the number was 58, and by day four, it was 81. After another week, the number was 119, and civilians were getting sick. On September 8, three people died.

By this time, it had spread beyond Boston. Flu reports were coming in along the East Coast.

On September 26, 50,000 residents of Massachusetts had the flu; in Boston alone, 133 died that day from flu and 33 from pneumonia.

In Frederick County

Spanish Flu first appeared in Frederick County around the end of September 1918. On September 20, local newspapers warned that an outbreak was coming. At that time, only one known case of the flu was in Maryland. By September 25, hundreds of cases had been reported, mostly soldiers at Camp Meade, although there was no reference to any in Frederick County.

Given the headlines, Spanish Flu struck suddenly, although not unexpected, in Frederick County. “Spanish Flu Sweeps Co.; Fifty Cases,” read a Frederick News headline on September 26. The article notes one thing thwarted researchers trying to get an accurate count, and that is that all flu cases weren’t being reported to the health officer, either because the doctors were too busy working or because influenza wasn’t a disease that they were required to report. By the way, that changed after the Spanish Flu outbreak, at least in Maryland.

The following day, 10 more cases were reported. The first death from flu in the county, George Cronise of Buckeystown, occurred on September 29. He was a young man of 23, but his resistance had been compromised because he had been sick for two weeks with a slight case of typhoid fever.

The Spanish Flu had arrived in Frederick County and was starting to kill.

The St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty during the Spanish Flu pandemic.

The 39th Regiment on its way to France, marching through Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Chapter of the Red Cross made masks for them. 

The Year is…1896

An English Dutchess Born at Blue Ridge Summit

by James Rada, Jr.

When Alice Montague and Teakle Wallis Warfield were married in 1895, Alice was already pregnant, and Teakle was dying. He had tuberculosis, which is probably why they traveled to Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1896. Besides being a popular summer resort, it was also believed the fresh air was good for a person’s health.

The Warfields stayed in Square Cottage at the Monterey Inn in Blue Ridge Summit. It was the town’s largest hotel at the time, and featured not only a central building but also wooden cottages.

While staying there, Alice went into labor, and Bessie Wallis Warfield was born on June 19, 1896, seven months after her parents had been married in Baltimore.

Wallis would never remember her father, though. He died on November 15 of that year, before she was even five months old.

Wallis and her mother were taken in by Wallis’ uncle, Solomon Davies Warfield. He was the postmaster of Baltimore and a wealthy bachelor. They lived in a four-story row home on Preston Street.

Alice Warfield married John Freeman Rasin in 1908. Wallis was confirmed in 1910 at the Christ Episcopal Church.

Between 1912 and 1914, Wallis attended the most-expensive school in Maryland: Oldfields School. According to Charles Higham in his book, Mrs. Simpson, this is where she became friends with Renée du Pont, a member of the DuPont Family, and Mary Kirk, whose family founded Kirk Silverware.

Wallis married Earl Winfield Spencer, Jr., a Navy aviator, in 1916. The marriage was marked by long periods apart, as Spencer was stationed at different postings. She began traveling in Europe and China during the 1920s. She also began a number of affairs with men she met during her travels.

Higham wrote that an Italian diplomat said of Wallis, “Her conversation was brilliant, and she had the habit of bringing up the right subject of conversation with anyone she came in contact with and entertaining them on that subject.”

Not surprisingly, Wallis and Spencer divorced at the end of 1927. She was already having an affair with a shipping executive named Ernest Aldrich Simpson. He divorced his wife, Dorothea, to marry Wallis on July 21, 1928. They lived in England, which is where Wallis came to meet Edward, Prince of Wales, at different house parties hosted by members of the upper class.

It is believed that Wallis and Prince Edward began an affair in 1934, while his current mistress was traveling abroad. By the end of the year, he was deeply in love with Wallis, and she with him.

However, his family was against the pairing, primarily because of Wallis’ marital history. Things became even more complicated when George V died on January 20, 1936. Edward became Edward VIII, the king of England. He watched the proclamation of his accession with Wallis from a window in St. James’s Palace, which was a break from royal protocol.

Heavier attention now fell on his relationship with Wallis. Most of British royalty seemed against the relationship.

When it became apparent that Edward wanted to marry Wallis, it became a legal issue because the Church of England, which the British monarch headed, did not permit the remarriage of divorced people with living spouses.

To make matters worse, Wallis would be a two-time divorcee, since she had filed for divorce from her second husband on October 27, 1936.

As the English public became more aware of the affair, it became a scandal. Under pressure from the British government, Wallis announced that she was willing to give up her newest love, but Edward was not ready.   

He abdicated the throne on December 10, 1936, and his brother, the Duke of York, became King George VI the next day.

Edward addressed his country via radio and said, “I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility, and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.”

He and Wallis stayed apart until her divorce was finalized in May 1937. She took on her maiden name and the couple reunited. They married on June 3, 1937, and the child born at Blue Ridge Summit became the Dutchess of Windsor.

The Year is…1953

by James Rada, Jr.

Being a Good Neighbor on Catoctin Mountain

It’s nice to have good neighbors. It’s even nicer when the neighbor is the President of the United States.

Works Progress Administration laborers built the 22 camp buildings at Camp Greentop between 1934 and 1938. The log buildings were a mix of sleeping cabins, administrative buildings, and lodges. The plan was for Camp Greentop to look the same as Camp Misty Mount, but it was changed during construction so that the League for Crippled Children in Baltimore could use the buildings. According to the National Park Service, the camp was one of the first handicap-accessible facilities in the country.

Although the camp was built to house 150 children, 94 children—53 girls and 41 boys (ages 7 to 15)—were enjoying the outdoors there in June 1953. Most of them suffered from cerebral palsy or polio. On the morning of June 28, their neighbors, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, came to visit.

“Responding to an invitation sent to him by some of the children, the President turned up at the camp about 9:30 a.m.,” the Frederick News reported. “The children had not been told that Eisenhower and the first lady were coming, and they cut loose with squeals of delight as their distinguished guests drove up.”

The first couple had been staying at Camp David, the presidential retreat near Camp Greentop on Catoctin Mountain, and were on their way back to Washington, D.C.

The Eisenhowers spent a half-hour at the camp, meeting and talking with the children. Although the visit surprised the children, they gathered and sung a couple of songs for the Eisenhowers.

“Do you know what the President did this morning?” Mamie asked one little girl. “He got up and made hotcakes.”

One boy said to the President, “Hello, President Eisenhower, I saw you on television.”

Eisenhower chuckled and replied. “You ought to be looking at Gary Cooper on television.”

As the visit wound down, Eisenhower looked around for his wife, who had been led away by a group of children. “I think I’d better go and get my little gal,” he told the group of children near him.

He located Mamie and helped her into the car, but before they left, the President found Fred Volland, the camp business manager. He asked what the children’s favorite dessert was. Then he slipped Volland some money and said with a grin, “Give them the dessert on me.”

From Catoctin Mountain, the couple continued on to Washington, D.C.

Camp Greentop Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Photograph shows a pair of campers at Camp Greentop in 1937.

The Year is … 1871

There’s Gold in Them There Hills!

by James Rada, Jr.

With the arrival of the railroad in Thurmont, you would have thought that attention would have been focused on how it connected Thurmont with the world and the economic development opportunities it brought with it.

“The sound of the steam whistle twice a day in the suburbs of our hitherto quiet little town has awakened everything up to newness of life, and a spirit of ‘go-aheadativeness’ which is quite refreshing,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.

However, attentions shift quickly, and the same page of the March newspaper that printed the above quote also had three articles about mining and the possibility of finding gold in Catoctin Mountain.

One article headlined “Gold! Gold! Gold!” talked about the gold strikes in North Carolina, Georgia, and California in the early 1800s. The writer then noted that the place where gold had been found had been in California, “bears a strong resemblance to the Red Land curve beginning at the dividing sections near ‘Spitzenberger’s Tavern,’ and gravitating to near Graceham and Emmittsburg. —The question comes up can it be that gold may be found in this locality?”

The article noted that an old miner had noted this and other markers that indicated to him the high probability of gold in the area.

“Has the country from Fishing creek to Flat Run been thoroughly ‘prospected?’” the Catoctin Clarion asked.

If not gold, then the article suggested that there might be other useful metals, such as iron, copper, zinc, or silver.

A second article supported Maryland’s proposal to do a statewide geological survey, as this would be the best way to determine what mineral resources were in Northern Frederick County.

The editorial praising the Western Maryland Railroad even called for prospecting in the area. “We must develop the bowels of the earth.”

Yet another article talked about prospectors coming to the area. “As the snow disappears from the mountains, our active prospectors for valuable minerals, which are believed to be embedded in the hills and canons of the Catoctin base, will be on the alert in search of the rich treasures.”

Although no gold was found on Catoctin Mountain at this time, a gold mine was eventually worked on the mountain. It was located close to Braddock Heights in the 1930s. Samples from the mine assayed at .22 ounces of gold per ton. With gold trading at $35 per ounce (about $620 per ounce in today’s dollars), this meant that there was about $7.70 (about $136 in today’s dollars) in gold per ton of raw material. Gold was first found in Maryland in the early 1800s, but it wasn’t commercially mined until after the Civil War, according to GoldRushNuggets.com.

“The majority of the gold that has been recovered here is found in the northern and central parts of the state. Unlike much of the gold on the East Coast, which are limited to glacial deposits, there are actually lode gold deposits present here, with several dozen mines that have been worked since the original discovery of gold,” according to the website.

The state’s peak production was in the 1940s, and it was only 1,000 ounces of gold. Besides Frederick, gold in Maryland was found in the Catonsville area, the Liberty area, the Simpsonville area, the Woodbine area, and the Great Falls area.

by James Rada, Jr.

In November of 1973, flocks of blackbirds, grackles, cowbirds, and starlings discovered the 60-acre white pine forest owned by Edgar Emrich of Graceham. Emrich had no trouble sharing his trees with the birds.

There were thousands of trees that he had originally planned to sell as Christmas trees when he had planted them in 1957. He hadn’t, and the tree farm had turned into a forest.

“I remember we’d go outside and make a game of trying to dodge the droppings,” Mrs. Austin Young told the New York Times about the birds. “Of course, there were only thousands of them then.”

As the months passed, more and more birds decided to call Graceham home, and by March 1974, an estimated ten million birds had migrated there. Graceham was becoming known as Bird Land.

“Their problem apparently stems from a quirk in the migratory patterns of the birds. They flew south from their warmer-weather homes in New England and southern Canada, but something about Graceham suited them perfectly—Mr. Emrich’s pine trees or perhaps the rolling acres of fields nearby—and they settled in,” the New York Times reported.

And the birds were causing problems. Dead birds abounded, droppings could be measured in inches, and the whole area had a foul odor. Residents had trouble sleeping because of all the chirping and shrieking from the birds at night. “Their flappingly thunderous comings and goings are frightening the children, unsettling the dogs, and scaring the cows,” according to the New York Times.

“Our dog, Herman, shakes when they fly by,” Clare Myers told a reporter. “They go into his dog house, chase him out and eat his food. We need help to stop this or otherwise we’re going to turn into the world’s biggest bird cage.”    

The birds ate the chicken and cattle feed before the animals it was meant for could get to it, and they even got into fights with cats and dogs. The birds also affected the local flora and fauna.

“Now, virtually every tree is dead or dying. The droppings, at least three inches thick after the last five months, have deadened the trees’ roots,” the Abilene Reporter noted.

Dr. Kenneth Crawford, a veterinarian with the Maryland Department of Health said, “No robins, no pheasants, no rabbits—no wildlife of any kind is left in the grove. Those birds chased everything else away.”

More importantly, the millions of birds represented a possible health hazard for the four hundred residents of the town. The excessive droppings could cause histoplasmosis, a fungal disease that occurs in the soil where there is a large amount of bird or bat droppings.

Dr. Charles Spicknall, Frederick County chief public health officer “toured the bird roosting area at sunset just as the flock of an estimated several million blackbirds, starlings, and grackles soared and swooped in from daytime feeding grounds up to fifty miles from the little hamlet of Graceham,” the Frederick Post reported.

The town held a meeting in Graceham Moravian Church to discuss what to do about the birds. Poison was suggested, and Emrich even volunteered to dig a mass grave for the bodies.

Ornithologists said that birds would head north again during the spring and summer, but they also said they would probably return in the fall.

Graceham wasn’t the only town experiencing problems with large numbers of birds. Hopkinsville, Kentucky; Albany, New York; Frankfort, Kentucky; and New York City were all having problems to one degree or another.

However, Graceham had another problem besides millions of birds, and that was dozens of media. Reporters, photographers, and the wire services were all driving to Graceham to report on the invasion of birds, and their cars and trucks blocked the roads in the small town. Graceham was written about in newspapers all over the country.

A county meeting held on March 20 laid out a three-phase plan for getting rid of the birds. Phase 1 would use loud noises and explosive devices to scare the birds away. Phase 2 involved thinning out the pine grove to make it less attractive to the birds. Phase 3 was to develop a long-range program to ensure the birds didn’t come back. Poison was once again mentioned, but only as a last resort.

Frederick County Commissioner Don Lewis said, “I’ll not be a part to the mass killing of birds. We don’t want to create a slaughter ground in Graceham.”

Phase 1 was put into play the next evening. It began around 5:30 p.m., with shotgun blasts and explosive devices sounding off around the perimeter of the pine grove. Loud recordings of bird distress calls and high-frequency sounds played in the grove. Around 7:30 p.m., it appeared that the birds were being discouraged and flying off elsewhere. “Within twenty minutes, the tide shifted as the birds caught Crawford short of firepower on the southeastern perimeter and larger numbers of them began flying through the break,” the Cumberland News reported.

Not to be discouraged, Phase 1 continued for five days. Crawford reported a 90 percent success rate, although residents were skeptical.

“We’ve won the battle but not the war,” Crawford said. “We won’t win the war until we eliminate the unbelievably dense forest that’s there.”

For Phase 2, every third row of trees in the pine grove was removed.

By the end of April, the birds were gone, though whether it was the natural time to leave or they had been driven off by the noise was unknown.

Unfortunately, the birds returned again in October.

Emrich said, “The birds are returning to my trees in increasingly large flocks. We don’t have the big, long streams we had last winter but they’re increasing. They started coming back about two months ago, and it looks like they’re young birds who were born here last winter.”

Luckily, they did not return in the millions, and fewer returned each season as the migratory patterns returned to normal.

This shot from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds, typified how Graceham looked in 1973.

Courtesy Photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1971: The Mount Goes Co-Ed

by James Rada, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deb Spalding

In addition to serving as The Catoctin Banner’s Contributing Editor, and writing the monthly column “Looking Back” that appears in the Banner and four other newspapers, full-time freelance writer James Rada, Jr. is the author of 18 books. These include five historical novels, seven historical non-fiction books, and others exploring a wide range of genres including young adult fiction, thrillers, and fantasy.  Jim said that 80 percent of what he writes is history based, adding, “If I have an interest in the story, I will explore it.”

Raised in suburbs of Baltimore, Jim first discovered his love for writing while in kindergarten. He dictated the words for his first “book,” Mickey’s Dream, to his teacher and then drew pictures to go with it. It was about Mickey and Minnie Mouse going on a date.      Then, in third grade, he and a friend wrote stories about the Bionic Boys. Jim called these stories fan fiction since they were watching “The Six-Million Dollar Man” on television. Seeking to encourage Jim and his friend in their writing, his third-grade sent them to the first-grade classes to read their stories to the students. They loved the stories. Jim explained, “Seeing that reaction from the kids — that’s what hooked me on writing.”

Though his work spans several genres, the foundation of his writing is, “To share the stories of ordinary people who have led extraordinary lives.” He was interviewed as a subject on WHAG’s Sunday Newsmaker in October. You can view the interviews online at Your4State.com.

Jim’s short stories were first published when he was in high school. He also wrote his first novel, The Guardian Angel, in high school, but he never published it. Jim has claimed a natural growth in his writing, starting with short stories, and progressing to novels.

A graduate of Brigham Young University, he majored in Mass Communications with an emphasis in advertising. This gave him experience in copywriting, ad production, and public relations. He even sold newspaper ads in college.

After college, while working at a biotech company, he began selling some short stories. He said, “Short stories didn’t pay well then, and they don’t pay well now. I was just happy to be published.”

The time was 1993 and Jim decided to become a free-lance writer. He advises promising writers, “Start while you have a job. Develop contacts with magazines and news-papers for articles, so you get the clips you’ll need in your resume. Work with a lot of different magazines.”

Jim and his wife moved to Western Maryland in 1994 where he eventually took a job as a newspaper reporter. As a reporter, Jim drove in demolition derby, flew in a B-17 bomber that had to make an emergency landing, rode with police on drug bust and had to sit in the back with the perpetrator, and had a lot of fun experiences.

Other assignments weren’t so fun. September 11, 2001 was his day off. When he heard about the planes hitting the Twin Towers in New York that morning while running errands, he went in to work to give extra help. He was told to take a photographer and head towards Summerset, a town about 45 minutes away where a plane was said to have crashed. Jim said, “Even the police didn’t know where they were going.” They finally arrived at the site at Shanksville where Jim went house to house to interview people. He was there all day and wrote an article about the crash and their impressions of the day. He was one of the first three reporters on the scene. By afternoon, tons of people had arrived.

His first two novels were published in 1996. One was a young adult novel and the other was a thriller. While they sold plenty of copies, neither one made him a lot of money.

Then in 2000, he decided to publish his third novel himself. Canawlers would become part of a trilogy following a fictional family during the Civil War on the C&O Canal as they faced problems on the canal that were caused by both the Union and Confederate armies, as well as problems caused by Mother Nature and the railroad. He wants his readers to understand is that the canal was the true dividing line between north and south, not the Mason Dixon Line. He said, “The people working the canal were truly caught in the crossfire at that time.”

He advises wannabe authors that marketing is more work than writing the book and putting it together. He described, “Promotions, press releases, talking to people, book signings, and shows, it’s a lot of work.”

His family moved to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 2004 when his wife got a job as medical technologist for Frederick Memorial Hospital. Jim worked for a short time as a reporter before becoming the editor with the Dispatch newspapers in Emmitsburg where he worked until he became a full-time freelancer in late 2008.

His most recently published book, Clay Soldiers: One Marine’s Story of War, Art & Atomic Energy, is Jim’s first biography. It is about the experiences of 92-year-old Chuck Caldwell. When Chuck was 14 years old, he attended the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and has autographs from the soldiers. He fought at Guadalcanal as a marine. He also worked with the aboveground atomic bomb tests in Las Vegas. Jim said, “He has a rich history of military experience, perseverance and determination that others need to hear.”

Jim has received many writing awards from the Maryland Delaware DC Press Association Society of Professional Journalists, Associated Press, and others.

Visit jamesrada.com or amazon.com to learn more and purchase his books.

jimrada

James Rada, Jr. is shown at a library exhibit, one of many where he promotes his books.