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by Buck Reed

Summer is for Softshells

The heat and sunshine of summer are here, and in other regions of the world, that might mean a lot of different foods. But here in Maryland, summers aren’t summer without crabs. And we know all different ways to enjoy these local “beautiful swimmers.” Crab cakes, crab dip, crab soup, and even big bushels of steamed crabs are always following the namesake of “Maryland,” because of the blue crab of the Chesapeake Bay. For me, summer doesn’t really start until I have had my first soft shell crab.

Soft shell season traditionally starts with the first full moon in May and shuts down in September, so there is plenty of time. During this time is when they are marketed live and fresh, which is the best time to enjoy them. You can find them frozen in January, but I choose to wait. This is when the crabs are molting their hard shells and sporting a new softer one that stays soft once they are pulled from the water. And some people say there is no God!

If you are purchasing and preparing them yourself, they are easy enough to clean yourself or ask the person behind the counter to do it for you. Just make sure they are alive when you do.

As far as cooking, it is difficult to mess them up. Just do not overcook them. One important trick is to poke a few holes in the legs and claws to allow moisture to escape during cooking otherwise they can be dangerous.

But this might be one of those occasions where you might want to stick to ordering when you are out. But you only have about six weeks to find a place that does soft shells well. So, get started!

Blair Garrett

The young guns are finding their groove for the Mount St. Mary’s Men’s Basketball team.

The Mount has gotten off to a rocky start during the early stretch of road games, but the season is still young, and the team has been navigating its way through the toughest part of its season.

Finding rhythm with a new team, a new system, and a new coach is never easy, but the learning process so far has forced the playmakers of The Mount to expedite the feeling-out process and begin learning just how to play Mount St. Mary’s basketball.

With the team being entirely comprised of underclassmen, adjustments and team chemistry have to be made and created on the fly, allowing little time to learn systems and strategies necessary to build a competitive team.

But under first year head coach Dan Engelstad, the team is coming along just fine, despite what its record may say.

Seven of the Mount’s first eight games have them hitting the road to face off against quality opponents like Maryland and North Carolina State, but the team made its home debut November 21 against the North Carolina A&T Aggies.

The Mountaineers’ first half was electric, clawing back to force multiple lead changes and working plays down low to their big forwards for easy scores. The team’s offensive rebounding was causing relentless pressure, and second and third chances for the team’s point scorers to capitalize.

Mount forward Nana Opoku was creating havoc down low, snagging everything that came his way, helping Mount St. Mary’s cultivate a 31-27 lead at halftime. Opoku finished the game with 11 points and 9 rebounds, just missing out on completing the double-double.

North Carolina A&T came out guns blazing in the second half, though, storming off on a 22-7 run to take a lead they would not give back up for the rest of the game.

The Mount had no quit to their game, with freshman guard Vado Morse punishing the Aggies from beyond the arc, hitting 80 percent of his threes to add to his team-leading 17 points. Sophomore guard Jalen Gibbs also had a strong game, sinking 15 points of his own and beginning to develop a strong 1-2 punch with Morse.

Despite Morse’s second-half streak, the Aggies’ offense continued rolling, cruising to a 74-60 victory and sending the Mount to 0-5 on the season.

Even with the home loss, the team has stretches where the offense looks dominant and the defense is tenacious. The key to getting that first win is the consistency to sustain that pressure for the entirety of the game.

As the season progresses on, The Mount will be looking for the home-town crowd to provide the energy that ignited their first-half spark against NC A&T. The team’s next home match tips off Saturday, December 8, against Lehigh University.

The Mount’s strong first half defense held North Carolina A&T to just 28 points in the first frame.

Photo by Blair Garrett

by James Rada, Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tolbert “Percy” Dalton

            Photo Courtesy of Richard Bozzone

In January of this year, Art & Design by Valerie Zombro Nusbaum entered into a licensing agreement with Stupell Industries of Johnston, Rhode Island. Nusbaum has given Stupell permission to reproduce some of her watercolor paintings onto large canvas and to use certain specially-created images in other mediums. Home decor items and wall art featuring her designs will be available this summer at Home Goods stores across the country.

Stupell Industries has been in business for over forty years, and their CEO discovered Nusbaum’s art online through her Etsy shop. Nusbaum and her husband, Randy, started Art & Design in 2000. They’ve sold their work at art shows and craft fairs all over Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. In addition to her prints of her original watercolors, they offer wood crafts, homemade potpourris and sachets, polymer clay novelty brooches, and one-of-a-kind jewelry designs. Etsy shop has been open since 2011.

Noah’s Ark print, one of Valerie Zombro Nusbaum’s art pieces that will soon be showing up in Home Goods stores across the country.


Deb Spalding

Twenty-one year old Corporal William Ferrell—Kyle to those close to him—was known for doing good things for others. While serving with a Marine Corps security force, he helped stranded motorists along Route #15 in northern Frederick County, Maryland, on more than one occasion. He was known to use his free time to do good deeds.

Around 10:50 p.m. on the evening of Tuesday, September 29, 2015, while helping a stranded motorist in the northbound lane, approaching Catoctin Furnace in Thurmont, he was hit and killed by a driver of a dark heavy-duty truck that is said to have been carrying two cars on a car carrier. The weather was dark and miserable, with a downpour of rain. It was a difficult night to be driving.

The driver of the hit-and-run vehicle has not yet been caught, and should have significant damage to the right side of the dark-colored, heavy-duty vehicle. It is hoped that someone notices the truck, with a double axle on the back and front-end damage. Please turn this person in. There is also a reward out. Call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP or text CRIMES (274637), or you can submit a tip online at You may also call local law enforcement at 301-600-4151. Your information will be kept confidential.

“Cpl. Ferrell’s last stop before being hit along Route #15 was to have dinner at The Furnace Bar and Grill. It seemed fitting that a tribute in his honor be held there,” said a Marine in a leather jacket, named Tony. Tony is a member of the Hagerstown Chapter of the Leathernecks Motorcycle Club, Intl., Inc., a motorcycle club made up of active-duty and former Marines. These folks put together a fundraiser to honor Cpl. Ferrell at The Furnace on October 23, 2015.

Leathernecks, members of Cpl. Ferrell’s unit, and others, gathered to pay tribute to a man loved by his community and friends. Funds raised will be used toward the purchase of a traffic light in Cpl. Ferrell’s honor for the Carthage Fire and Rescue Company in North Carolina, where Ferrell volunteered. Additional donations can be made online at

“Someone knows where the perpetrator is. The damage I saw on Cpl. Ferrell’s truck—someone’s seen it, but doesn’t know they saw it. We are going to catch this guy,” stated Tony.

Locally, residents in the Catoctin area extend sincere condolences to Cpl. Ferrell’s family and unit. We are outraged that someone would hit, kill, and run away. The tragedy of the accident is amplified due to the fact that Cpl. Ferrell served our country, his home community, and ours.

Let’s keep our eyes open, tell our friends, tell our social media contacts, and when you’re somewhere that might have surveillance video that may have recorded this vehicle on the run—ask to take a look. Please help spread the word.

Photo by Deb Spalding

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Members of the Leathernecks Motorcycle Club, members of Cpl. Ferrell’s unit, and others, gathered on October 23, 2015, at The Furnace Bar and Grill in Thurmont to pay tribute to a man loved by his community and friends.

Grace Eyler

Crossbow_1On August 15, 2015, the U.S. Crossbow Club (USCC) celebrated its 2nd Annual Awards Banquet. Located on Tower Road in Thurmont, members from across Maryland, and as far away as Ohio, joined together to share stories of their crossbow hunting adventures, to display their mounted trophy animals, and to receive awards for their hunting and fishing accomplishments. Although these USCC members come from all walks of life, the one thing they all have in common is their passion for hunting, fishing, and their crossbows. Dennis R. Britton of Thurmont is the club’s founder and first president. He recalled purchasing his first crossbow at Jefferson Archery in 2008. At the time, Britton was sixty-five years old and could legally hunt with a crossbow, but after reading Maryland’s laws and regulations governing hunting with a crossbow, he found them to be biased, discriminating, and unfair when compared to other legal archery hunting equipment: (1) a crossbow hunter could only hunt on sporadic specified dates of the archery season whereas the traditional bowhunter could hunt every day of the archery season; (2) a crossbow hunter had to be at least sixty-five years old, while the traditional bowhunter had no age limits; and (3) a crossbow hunter had to be physically impaired whereas a traditional bowhunter did not. He recognized the laws and regulations prevented many younger and healthier hunters from having a choice of hunting weapons. A firm believer in equal rights and freedom of choice, Britton campaigned for a change that would benefit all sportsmen across Maryland, regardless of age or disability.

Britton started in Thurmont with a door-to-door petition to enlighten as many residents as he could about the uneven archery hunting laws. After collecting over 2,500 signatures, Britton then sent the petition to the Maryland Governor’s Office, The Department of Natural Resources, and key state senators. He thought 2,500 votes could convince Governor Martin O’Malley to reverse his way of thinking in an election year, and they did. Beginning with the 2010-2011 Maryland hunting season, crossbows became a legal archery hunting weapon for everyone, without limits or restrictions for the entire hunting season!

In September of 2010, Britton founded the Maryland Crossbow Federation to unite all Maryland crossbow hunters into a single voice, and to represent that voice in all legal crossbow matters.

Britton said, “Because of reputation and popularity, our membership has grown overwhelmingly and has spread into Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Ohio, as well as Germany, Canada, and South America. On February 4, 2015, the Maryland Crossbow Federation became legally known as the U.S. Crossbow Club.

Today, Britton and his wife, Lucy, warmly welcome archers to the club’s headquarters and new crossbow range. The site has twenty Ironman targets, with no two targets being placed at the same elevation or distance. It is the only archery range in the state of Maryland to have permanent-placed straight in-line targets at 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 yards, great for calibrating long distance scopes.

During the awards ceremony, Dennis reminded his fellow members that, “…Our mission as a club is to promote more crossbow hunting and shooting opportunities for everyone, without limits and restrictions, and to recognize each member for their outdoor sports accomplishments.”

The U.S. Crossbow Club (USCC) has the most extensive awards programs in the world.

Britton said, “We have awards for all Maryland and National big game species, in both fair chase and estate hunting conditions,” adding, “We are the first hunting organization to recognize our member’s fishing and crabbing talents, and also the first hunting organization to recognize our member’s harvesting of Maryland and National doe whitetail deer.”

The 2nd Annual All Awards Presentations ceremony began with the club’s Biggest Catch Award, where award recipients reminisced about their fishing stories.

Next, another unique award was presented: the Maryland-National Heaviest Whitetail Doe Award, which was created to (1) allow young whitetail bucks to mature; (2) create award opportunities to those that never see a mature whitetail buck; (3) help in managing our ever-growing whitetail deer herd; and (4) recruit and retain crossbow hunters.

Other awards included Hunter of the Year; Estate Hunter of the Year, for harvesting the most different species of big game animals; and the USCC Golden Arrow Award and Estate Golden Arrow Award, for harvesting the most big game animals of the same species.

After members received their awards, Lucy gathered everyone for a tasty barbecue lunch. Members dined and swapped stories of their outdoor adventures. As the afternoon progressed, members said their goodbyes, and are now looking forward to next year’s gathering.

For more information on the USCC, contact Dennis Britton at 301-271-7001 or at

You do not have to be a Maryland resident or even a U.S. citizen to enjoy the benefits of being a U.S. Crossbow Club member.

Jeff Feaga, Frederick County Community Restoration Coordinator

Neighborhood Green Eligible Watersheds MapThis summer, it seems that it is either intensely raining or incredibly hot and humid. As a result of all this rain, the creeks and rivers are flowing higher than average. Much of the water is also brown and full of sediment. You don’t have to be a trout fisherman to understand that sediment and polluted stormwater can negatively affect fish and other aquatic organisms. You don’t even need to be a trout fisherman (but it helps!) to realize that the Catoctin Mountains of Frederick County are one of the few places in Maryland, besides Garrett County, where brook trout are successfully reproducing. The presence of brook trout in the Catoctin region and the obvious beauty of Frederick County inspire many residents to make efforts to conserve the area’s creeks and natural resources.

Residential-scale practices such as tree plantings, rain gardens, rain barrels, and conservation landscaping help conserve our creeks and natural resources. But, how do you learn about and/or pay for these projects? Fortunately, Frederick County’s Neighborhood Green program gives many area homeowners a clear path to do so. Neighborhood Green is a county-managed conservation program that is funded through grants originating outside of the county. The focus of the program is to help homeowners complete and afford small-scale Best Management Practices (BMPs) around the exterior of their homes. The term BMP refers to structural, engineered, or management changes that are designed to treat polluted stormwater.

The Neighborhood Green program is currently available to any homeowner in the Owens, Hunting, Fishing, Tuscarora, and Middle (Upper Catoctin) Creek watersheds (see map). Although outside of The Catoctin Banner readership area, a similar program is also available in southern Frederick County in the Bush Creek watershed and the Point of Rocks area. As opposed to some of the larger BMPs such as stormwater retention ponds that you may already know, Neighborhood Green concentrates on residential-scale practices such as tree plantings, rain gardens, rain barrels, and conservation landscaping.

Rain GardenA rain garden is an excavated depression in the soil that is planted with vegetation. It allows rainwater runoff from impervious areas like roofs, driveways, and compacted lawn areas to infiltrate into the ground. Rain gardens should not allow water to pond in them for longer than 24 hours. Some people mistakenly believe that a rain garden will attract mosquitoes, but they actually drain too quickly. One of the most important things to remember about a rain garden is that conditions are going to range from very dry between storm events to saturated during and following storms. There are many different species of plants that can grow well in a rain garden, but the range of wetness and the well-drained sandy soils that are used to create the garden mandate that species need to be carefully considered when choosing optimal species for success.

Conservation landscaping benefits the environment by improving water quality, preserving native species, and providing wildlife habitat. One of the simplest conservation landscaping projects is when people replace fertilizer-hungry turf grass with more vigorous flowering plants. Other conservation landscaping projects target areas of the yard that are at a high risk of erosion, such as steep banks or the tops of waterways where concentrated flow can wash away soil. Sometimes well-placed rocks are used in conservation landscaping to help combat erosion issues.

Rain barrels are self-explanatory, but not everyone has thought about the details of their design and the best ways to use them. The 58-gallon barrels used in the Neighborhood Green program are constructed by hard workers at the local Scott Key Center and are made from recycled food transport containers. These barrels have mosquito screens on top to keep unwanted things out, an overflow hose that directs water away from the barrel when it is full, and a threaded spigot to attach a regular garden hose. It is best to place a rain barrel at a location that has a higher elevation than the place where you would like to use the water. Elevating the barrel on some rocks or blocks is also a good way to make sure that gravity is in your favor.

Paul and Hillary Rothrock live in a rural area of Thurmont and already participated in Neighborhood Green. They took advantage of the most-popular practice in the program: tree planting. The Rothrocks had not been living at their rural, historic home for very long before they started making plans to improve their property. One side of the property tended to become overly wet following storms. There, the Rothrocks decided to plant some river birch trees that are tolerant of wet conditions and should help the area dry after rainfall. On another side of the property, a weedy slope with good sunshine beckoned to be partially cleared and planted with two fruit trees and berry-producing shrubs. Two rain barrels were installed to help water the new trees and divert water away from the house’s foundation.

Paul noted that, “I’m going to try to be patient while the new plants grow, but I’m excited to get a lot of fruit and berries off of them.” For the Rothrocks, the improvements made through the Neighborhood Green program are just another way that their new house is becoming a home.

All interested homeowners are encouraged to visit to find more information or to complete an application. Or, they can contact Jeff Feaga at or 301-988-0443. Once an application is received, their contact information will be passed along to the contractor, which for most people in the Catoctin area is the company Patriot Land and Wildlife Management. An enthusiastic project manager named Matt Dye from Patriot will contact the homeowner within a week or two of receiving the application. Matt will arrange a date to visit each site, where he will talk with the homeowner about their priorities, observe the layout of the land, and take a soil sample. Based on the findings from the visit, Patriot will prepare a brief stormwater management plan. Patriot will then discuss the plan with the landowner and recommend which practices could be implemented on the site. The site visit, soil sample, and management plan are entirely free, and the homeowner is not required to implement any of the practices recommended by the contractor.

If homeowners choose to implement any of the recommended practices, they must pay the first $200 of project costs. Once the initial homeowner cost share has been paid, an additional $800 of grant funding is available to complete the project. Prices for the BMPs have already been set by the contractors, so the process is transparent. Homeowners will be surprised how far the $1,000 of project money ($200 from homeowner and $800 from the grant) will stretch to purchase a rain garden, multiple large caliper trees and a rain barrel, or even several hundred seedlings. All practices are completely installed by the contractor, so all that the homeowner needs to do is look out the window and appreciate them!

James Rada, Jr.

Freemasonry conjures up images of a secret society with hidden rituals and, thanks to the movie National Treasure, hidden treasure. Yet, the Masons are far from secret. They are men who work hard to find brotherhood, enlightenment, and truth.

When John Hagemann first came to Thurmont in 2006 and joined the Acacia Lodge No. 155 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, another Mason pointed to a long row of 8×10 photographs hung on the wall of the Masons’ lodge social hall in Thurmont. They were the Worshipful Masters (lodge presidents) of the Acacia Lodge, and Hagemann recognized many of the last names as members of long-time Thurmont families.

“I was told that if I worked hard, one day my picture could be up there, and it is,” Hagemann said. He is the current Worshipful Master of the Acacia Lodge #155 in Thurmont.

The Masons came to Maryland in 1750, not in Baltimore, which was the largest population center at the time, but in Leonardtown. They weren’t established in what is now Frederick County until just before the Revolutionary War. Not much is known of the early lodges in the county. The largest lodge was called Hiram Lodge, and there was a lodge that served the army during the War of Independence. Those two lodges, along with other small lodges, combined to form the Columbia Lodge in 1815.

“The Masons met in a home at the corner of Market and Second Street,” said Kenneth Wyvill, Grand Master of the Maryland Masons. This combined lodge was enough to meet the needs of the county Masons for sixty-six years. “As population centers grew and shifted, Masons would decide to form new lodges,” said Wyvill.

The first lodge to break off from the Columbia Lodge in Frederick was Acacia Lodge No. 155 of Mechanicstown (now Thurmont). In all, six new lodges formed in Frederick County between 1871 and 1906.

Thirteen Masons in the area formed the lodge in Mechanicstown, with Robert Lyon as the first Worshipful Master (lodge president). The new lodge’s first meeting was held on May 22, 1871, in a room on the third floor of the John Rouzer apartment house, opposite the Lutheran Church on Church Street. Besides choosing officers, it was decided to name the lodge the Acacia Lodge.

Not all of the charter members of the Acacia Lodge came from the Columbia Lodge. Others came from lodges in Baltimore, Westminster, and Union Bridge.

Even before the Acacia Lodge received its charter and was officially recognized, it had begun to grow as two new members were added.

The Acacia Lodge was examined by other Maryland Masons in October 1871 to see if its membership was proficient enough to support their own lodge and on November 21, 1871, the Acacia Lodge was granted its charter. “They first rented the International Order of Odd Fellows hall to meet in,” Hagemann said.

The Acacia Lodge continued to grow between 1872 and 1876; however, for the next two years, many of the members found themselves working away from Mechanicstown. “Membership dwindled and the Maryland Grand Lodge actually took back our charter, but the members still continued to pay dues,” Hagemann said.

The charter was revoked in 1879, but the local Masons still paid dues and worked to establish stability to their lodge. They applied for restoration of their charter in 1887 and it was granted on December 19.

One of the things that the members decided would help their stability was to own their building rather than continue to rent space. Beginning in 1894, the Masons under Worshipful Master Leonard Waesche began looking into buying the Bussard Building (where the lodge is currently located at 12 E. Main Street) and adding a third floor to it. “The lodge bought the building in 1898 and added the third floor to it for our lodge hall,” Hagemann said.

The Masons also made repairs to the first and second floors of the building and began renting out the space. Over the years, the first two floors have been a livery, doctor’s office, post office, grocery store, drug store, beauty parlor, and more.

When the lodge celebrated its first fifty years at the Thurmont Town Hall on November 29, 1921, only three of the original members were still living: George Stocksdale, Leonard Waesche, and David Martin.

World War II saw a surge in attendance at lodge meetings, mainly because of servicemen stationed at nearby Camp Ritchie who came to the Acacia Lodge. The Acacia Lodge conferred Masonic degrees on servicemen on behalf of other lodges through the Masonic Service Association.

“At the end of World War II, we had 156 members, which is the largest we’ve ever been,” Hagemann said. Of that number, 84 were veterans.

In 1959, the U.S. Post Office moved out of the first floor of the lodge building and into a stand-alone building that the Masons had built. However, a new tenant was found to fill the vacant first floor of the lodge building.

The last tenant for the second floor of the lodge left in 1960. The space remained vacant until 1962, when it was decided to use the floor as the lodge’s social hall, and it continues to be used for that purpose today.

Though generally believed to be a Christian group, Masons include many faiths. Each lodge has a book of faith on its central altar. The Acacia Lodge uses a Bible, but other lodges can include a book of faith for the predominant religion of the lodge. “It doesn’t matter what religion you are, you just have to believe in a higher power,” Hagemann said

The Acacia Lodge in Thurmont currently has 77 members, although Hagemann notes that like many civic and volunteer organizations, the average age among members seems to be rising as fewer young people become involved with organizations. The Acacia Lodge is one of 102 Maryland lodges and 15,000 Masons.

Emmitsburg also has a lodge, Tyrian Lodge #205. Ernie Gelwicks is the Grand Master of this lodge at the present time, a Past Master, a Grand Inspector for the Grand Lodge of Maryland, Sir Knight in the Knights Templar, and Noble in the Scottish Rite Shriners. The Emmitsburg Lodge was formed and met above Annans Store, later moved and merged with Acacia in Thurmont before being re-charted in 1906, they met after that above the Vigilant Hose Fire Co., then met in Taneytown until buying their present location. Many prominent Emmitsburg Leaders and businessmen founded Tyrian Lodge in Emmitsburg.

The Masons are involved in many civic activities and participate in parades and building dedications. They can be identified in full regalia that includes tuxedos, top hats, and aprons. The local Masons dedicated the cornerstone of the Thurmont Library and have contributed money to many local efforts, such as purchasing a new flag pole for the town and paying for the memorial stone for servicemen in Memorial Park.

“We also have an annual $1,000 scholarship that we award to a senior in the Catoctin High district,” Hagemann said.

Hundreds of Maryland Masons will be participating in a parade in Baltimore in full regalia for the re-dedication of the Washington Monument on July 4. The Masons laid the cornerstone for the original monument in 1815, and re-laid the stone in 1915.

“We’ll be using the implements from the time period of 1915 to rededicate the cornerstone,” Wyvill said.

Young people who are interested in becoming a Mason may join as members DeMolay for young men or JOBS Daughters for young ladies. Women join the Order of the Eastern Star. Ernie Gelwicks added, “The Knights Templar is another branch which many Master Masons also join, as is the Scottish Rite Shriners, which are responsible for Shriners Hospital fame and support this worthy cause.” For more information in our area’s Masonic membership, please call John Hagemann at 301-271-2711 or Ernie Gelwicks at 301-447-2923.

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Members of Acacia Lodge #155 in Thurmont are shown dedicating the cornerstone of the Thurmont Regional Library.


Thurmont Acacia Lodge No. 155 members and Maryland’s Grand Master, Kenneth Wyvill (third from right), are pictured with a scholarship recipient, Lydia Spalding, in June.

The Praying Mantis: Friend or Foe?

Christine Schoene Maccabee

Have you ever seen a butterfly’s wings, mysteriously minus its body, on the ground beneath your favorite flowers? Did you ever wonder how and why they got there? The answer to this mystery is a very unexpected one—at least it was for me. It is more than likely the work of a praying mantis (or “preying” mantis as I call them), that seem to prefer the soft buttery bodies of our precious swallowtails and monarchs, not to mention invaluable bees.

The first time I saw a butterfly in the clutches of a mantis, I was shocked. Within seconds he/she ate the entire body from top to bottom, allowing the wings to float gently to the ground. From that moment on, I realized that I could not tolerate mantis in my flower gardens, which I had begun as habitat for bees and butterflies. I also witnessed a mantis nonchalantly eating a honey bee one day; not a pleasant sight either, as honey bees are becoming more rare lately. 

I know there are a lot of mantis lovers out there. Years ago, I lost a potential boyfriend because of our difference in opinion about them, though he did not give me a chance to plead my case (his loss). So, before I make any enemies in my readership, here are a few facts that you may not know.

There are three types of mantis in our country. One is a native, and the others were brought here—mostly accidentally—from Europe and China (the Chinese one is found mostly in Maryland and Delaware). There is actually an overpopulation of mantis in our country due to this problem. Also, according to the artist-naturalist John Quinn, who has written nine books on nature and science, a rumor was started back in the 1940s that one could be fined $50.00 if caught squashing a mantis. Mr. Quinn suggests that how this  myth got started and continued on for so long “is a mystery even to folklorists.” So feel free to reduce your mantis population, as you will not be fined, and they have few predators. Smaller birds tend to avoid trying to eat them due to the painful pinching of their strong forelegs. I rest my case…

Like most well-meaning people, I thought the mantis was an important insect to have in my gardens to control garden pests. Thus, when I moved out here twenty-six years ago, I went out of my way to save mantis egg cases before the field was mowed in the fall; I positioned those egg cases in various parts of the vegetable garden and berry bushes. Sadly, I discovered the next year that the mantis is all too frequently foe rather than friend. That summer, I found about fifty pairs of wings under the butterfly bush and other flowers. Also, rather than eating the bean beetles on my pole beans where I would transport any mantis I found, they would fly back over to the butterfly bush and begin stalking butterflies again. At that point I knew I had to take drastic action. I knew the war was on!

Let me say that I would never advocate killing praying mantis, but I thought I would share some information with you that you may find useful in your pursuit of “mantis management.” Most people are not open to ridding their gardens of the “fascinating” mantis, but why invite butterflies and bees into your beautiful gardens if it is only a death trap? For me, a choice had be made, and so I made mine.

I have a “largish” plastic container with a lid and a handle, so when I see a mantis I simply knock it into the container. Sometimes I might have several in there before the day is through. If I happen to have garden gloves, I will also grab one by hand. Then, I either throw them into the chickens to eat (a great source of protein for chickens) or take them down the road that night or the next day and drop them off in a wooded area. I also have no qualms about putting their egg cases under foot in the fall and winter as a means of control. So, there are many ways to control them, though there will always be more than enough of them—native and non-native—living out in the wild areas…just not in my butterfly gardens!

The human gardener, out of necessity, will usually intervene in order to have the desired results. We are as much a part of nature as all the other creatures on this earth. Sometimes it can feel like an eat or be eaten life we live, kill or be killed. If it isn’t a rabbit destroying your kale and cabbage (remember the story of Peter Rabbit?) or the beetles ruining your squash and green beans, then it is the mantis eating your bees and butterflies. The ways of nature, though fascinating, are as confounding as they are frustrating. We could therefore spend all of our time controlling, and spend no time simply appreciating.

So, I do what I can, and then let the rest go. I will try every day to sit on my deck and enjoy the indigo bunting in my old cherry tree, be thrilled when I see my first yellow or black swallowtail, and rejoice when I spot an endangered blue butterfly.  However, I will be quick as anything to grab my mantis catcher container if I see a “preying” mantis laying in wait on the branch of my butterfly bush or silently stalking anything that moves among the lilies and sweet peas.

Then I can go back to enjoying the beauty and mystery all around me, knowing that I have done my little part in the scheme of things, and relax in the reality of my inability to control everything.          Enjoy creation!

“Memories Afield”

by Bob Warden

In a few short weeks, we will all be sleeping off Thanksgiving dinner or watching football games with family and friends…and getting ready for opening day of deer firearms season! By getting ready, I don’t just mean getting our guns and gear together, I mean swapping stories from our many years of opening days.

Even though I hunt opening day of archery, I have always highly anticipated the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Maryland, and the Monday after Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania. I guess it’s a tradition we had as I was growing up. I grew up in the Baltimore suburbs, but my hunting adventures with my Dad (starting at age fifteen—wow, forty-one years ago) were always on a farm just outside of Emmitsburg. My first rabbit, first pheasant, and first deer, all came from that farm.

I also have memories at age fifteen of working at Clyde’s Sport Shop in Lansdowne, Maryland. On the Friday before the opener, crowds of people would get last minute supplies, ammo, licenses, etc. I heard stories of the previous year’s hunts, and as a kid, I tried to figure out which were the made up ones and which were the true ones. I still have trouble with that.

COLUMN-photo---Mineral-Bob-As we get older and have kids and grandkids, many of you know that our memories switch from “us” to “them.” I can still remember the first deer my son, Chris, shot on land not far from the Frederick watershed. It was a spike deer. Sitting in that tree stand and seeing him shoot, and the deer falling thirty yards away, is forever embedded in my memory bank, as I’m sure it is for him as well (even though it’s been many years)!

Some of you may remember that on opening day, if you got your deer early, you went down to the checking station to see the other deer being checked in. You know the questions: How many points? What did it weigh? What did you shoot it with? I sometimes wish we still had checking stations, as I’m sure many old timers do, too. It was like a reunion seeing friends with their deer, and seeing people you haven’t seen since the previous season.

Anyway, before I really put you to sleep like that Thanksgiving turkey (believe me I could, I have lots of stories and memories), let me leave you with some closing words and thoughts.

2COLUMN-photo---Mineral-BobAs you can tell, to me, memories afield are just as important as bagging our quarry. I hope you have many memories, and I hope  hearing a few of mine has helped you relive and revisit some of your special hunting or hunting-related memories. Maybe it brings a smile to your face, or maybe a tear to your eye like it does for me, because my Dad, my Uncle Frank, my Grandfather Warden, and all who instilled the hunting spirit in me are gone, but they have left the legacy to me to pass on.

So, to all you older hunters like me, and to all you young hunters, I wish you all good luck in the up-coming deer season!

But most of all: Hunt Safe, Hunt Ethically, and Make Memories!