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This article contains a portion of a collaborative project about the Zentz Farm written by Viola (Zentz) Noffsinger, Joan Fry, and Jane Jacobs

  It is the intent of the authors that this project be available for reference in the future at the Thurmont Regional Library and/or Thurmont Historical Society.

Mr. Albert Luther Zentz lived his entire life on the Zentz Farm located at the corner of Carroll Street and Apple’s Church Road in Thurmont. He was born there on March 3, 1914, the third son of W.L.H. ‘Herb’ Zentz (1869-1949) and Florence Daisy (Smith) Zentz (1872-1966). His parents had purchased the Carroll Street farm property in 1897 and moved there from the family homestead of Albert’s grandfather, Abraham S. Zentz (1828-1898) in a little village affectionately called Zentztown just a few miles north of town towards Emmitsburg.

The original dwelling on the property was a small one built of logs, but Herb built on and enlarged it into a comfortable, impressive two-story farm dwelling. In 1922, a big wrap-around porch was added to the front and side of the house. A lot of family time was spent on that porch. When Beulah Zentz’s flowers, planted in bins made of recycled tanks, bloomed every spring, it became a “landmark.” The large farmhouse would eventually be home to three generations of Zentzes who lived and worked together there for many years.

Herb added property from time-to-time and increased his holdings to cultivate “prime property” that was soon taken into the Town of Thurmont’s limits. He was an innovative and prosperous businessman and a great role model for Albert. He was also a very successful horse breeder and raised large draft horses which were highly prized animals in the days before tractors were commonplace. He is credited with raising at least 12 of them.

He built the bank barn along with multiple outbuildings on his land which still stand today.

Albert took over the family farm in 1934 at age 20, and in February 1936, he married “his great love,” Beulah (Spangler) Zentz. Together, they worked tirelessly to continue the successful farming operation, and build several other small enterprises. Albert and Beulah’s children were Doris, Viola, Mary Ellen, and Wendell. They learned about good work habits, the importance of caring for their property and one another, being good neighbors that look out for each other, and practicing their faith.

Albert and Beulah were industrious visionaries and entrepreneurs who continued the practice of buying parcels of surrounding property when it became available. They would make improvements to some of the lots before reselling, or just resell them if there was an immediate opportunity to accomplish the goal Albert had set to discourage the young people from leaving the area in pursuit of jobs. This foresight and diligence brought new businesses, housing, and jobs to the Thurmont community. The couple provided the land for the Thurmont Shoe Company, Claire Frock Company, Moore Business Forms, NVR Building Company and Homes, and Albert Court Condominiums.

They also supported their community with generous donations of time and money to local organizations. They provided jobs to young people and welcomed school classes to visit the farm to observe a working farm from the 1940s through the 1990s. They operated Sunrise Cafeteria Restaurant that was located in a building they built on the land that sits between the railroad tracks and today’s RR Donnelly.

Albert was happy with his life as a farmer. He was 89 years old, and had been happily married to Beulah for 67 years, when he died in 2003. Beulah lived on in her home for 82 years until late 2018 when she moved to an assisted-living facility in Frederick. She was “Thurmont’s oldest citizen” when she passed away on June 23, 2019, at the age of 103. The Zentz Farm was sold in December 2020.

There are eight buildings, some with unusual added features, on the Zentz Farm property. Most have hand-hewn logs showing, many with bark still attached. Four of them are multi-functional under one roof; several of them have lofts with nice stairways. One building has a homemade ‘skylight’ in the roof that brings light into an area with no windows; another, a small, heart-shaped porthole for light and ventilation.

If you look closely, you will also see that most buildings have a ‘strip of large nails’ close to the doorways just waiting for all the everyday accessories that need to be hung up like ropes, harnesses, chains, belts, hangers, aprons, coats, tools, etc. Following are some descriptions of farms and the Zentz Farm in particular.

Barn

A barn is an agricultural building used to house livestock, cattle, and horses, as well as equipment and fodder, and often grain. In addition, barns were used for equipment storage, as a covered workplace, and for activities such as threshing. On the Zentz Farm, there were two special resident horses, Maude and Jerrybell. Herb bred horses.

There were two barns. The upper barn had two haylofts. There was a hay fork on a runner on the top arch for unloading hay, a winnowing machine, and granary bins. Hobos, sometimes called tramps, often slept in the lofts. They would ride the trains, stop off at the railroad station, then do odd jobs or just ask for food.

Lower Barn/Stable, Corn Crib, Wagon Shed

On the Zentz Farm, the lower barn had calf pens and stanchions for eight animals. There was a pen for the bull and room for two horses. The middle area was a feeding entry for hay, grain, pumpkins, and other produce. A corn crib is a type of granary used to dry and store corn. Corn cribs were made with slats to provide ventilation for drying the corn. The corn crib on the Zentz Farm was located next to the barn where a wagon could be filled with corn and easily moved to stanchions for feeding the animals and where the corn could also be kept out of the weather. The wagon shed housed wagons and other farm implements.

Milk House

A milk house is a building for the cooling, handling, or bottling of milk. On the Zentz Farm, cows were milked by hand. The raw milk was carried from the barn to the milk house where it was strained and put into a 5-gallon milk can. The can was then placed in a tank of water to be cooled. This was an early means of refrigeration before electricity. On the Zentz Farm, they made regular milk, skim milk, butter, and buttermilk to use and sell. Any unused milk was fed to the hogs.

Spring House

A spring house is a small building, usually of a single room, constructed over a spring. While the original purpose of a springhouse was to keep the spring water clean by excluding fallen leaves, animals, etc., the Zentz’ was part of the summer kitchen building and was constructed of stone. It was used for refrigeration before the advent of ice delivery and, later, electric refrigeration. The water of the spring maintained a constant cool temperature inside the spring house throughout the year. Food that would otherwise spoil could be kept there, safe from animal depredations as well. Some spring houses had goldfish in their spring, a delight for young children to visit. The Zentz family acquired an icebox in the 1950s.

Hog Pen

The family hog pen was a small-scale system of pig farming found on family farms of the early 1900s. Family hog pens housed just a few hogs. Before refrigeration, some family farms depended on pigs as a primary source of meat and shortening (lard) for year-round food. On the Zentz Farm, the hog pen consisted of four areas. One area for the new mother sow with a “creep” for piglets to be moved away so the mother sow wouldn’t lie on them. These piglets could journey to the roadway beside the Zentz Farm where many visitors came. There could be 9-16 piglets in a litter. Pigs used for butchering could range from 200 to 600 pounds. There was a loft above the pig’s area for their dry feed and other necessary items like onions, ropes, chains, and special boards.

Summer Kitchen and Loft

In the early 1900s, it was common to have a small building that was detached from the house called a “summer kitchen.” Its main purpose was to keep the house cool during the hot summer months. They were used for cooking, bathing, and laundry. In a summer kitchen, there was usually a large cookstove with an oven and a large table for workspace and eating. Other uses of the summer kitchen were for canning and preserving garden produce as well as cleaning, repairing, and making curtains, weaving, and other hobbies. Summer kitchens often had a fireplace where water was heated for the weekly wash and could also be used at butchering time. The Zentz Farm summer kitchen was quite large. It was made of whitewashed stone.

As air conditioning and outdoor grills became popular and affordable, the need for the summer kitchen was lost.

Bath House

The bath house on the Zentz Farm was a small room attached to the summer kitchen. It was used for taking showers and washing clothes. There was no shower head but rather a piece of hose that carried only cold water that was a welcome relief after chores on hot summer days. 

Chicken Coop

A chicken coop or hen house is a small house where, typically, female chickens or other fowl are kept safe and secure. There are nest boxes found inside the hen houses for egg-laying, and perches on which the birds can sleep. Viola reports gathering eggs and finding her hand on a small possum in the nest. The Zentzes would raise 200 or more peeps at a time until they were the right size for frying or being taken to market.

A chicken coop usually has an indoor area where the chickens can sleep and nest, as well as a fenced-in outdoor area where chickens will feed and spend the majority of the day. This area is typically made from chicken wire. The coop should be cleaned every two weeks, and the straw shifted every day, similar to a litter box. At night, the coop should be locked with all the birds inside so that they are protected from predators. Both the inside and outdoor floors of a chicken coop are often strewn with a loose material such as straw or wood chips to deal with chicken droppings and to provide ventilation.

Little Chicken House

In this chicken house, there were brooders for peeps who stayed until butchering size or time to make room for more peeps. Cleaning the chicken houses was another job suited for the kids. Coops had to be cleaned regularly for the health of the peeps and chickens and for good egg production. Watering and feeding had to be done daily. 

Big Chicken House and Grinding Shed

The big chicken house on the Zentz Farm was used for housing mature chickens. It had a sleeping loft and a grinding shed which housed a large machine with belts with teeth to grind corn and grain for the farm animals.

Blacksmith Shop

The blacksmith shop was a very important area for making and storing tools. Horseshoes were made to fit the draft horses’ hooves by heating the iron until it could be bent to the right size. This was done on an anvil that was close to the hearth so the iron could be rushed to the heat or cooled in a bucket of cold water. There were many washers, wrenches, nails, hammers, and other tools in the blacksmith shop.

Smokehouse

A smokehouse was used to preserve meat by smoking it. A fire was kept going with special wood; apple, hickory, etc. The smoke permeated the meat until the proper taste and preservation were achieved. This process took many days. Hams and bacon were expertly done in the smokehouse for bragging rights when tasted by the farmer’s family and friends.

Wood Shed

The Zentz Farm property had a mountain wood lot which produced an abundant supply of trees to be cut and used for heating, fencing, and building. After trees were cut, they were dragged to the farm and sawed either for fence posts, firewood, or lumber. Firewood was carried and stacked close to the kitchen and summer kitchen by the children. This was a never-ending job in cold weather when wood was used for heating and cooking.

Butchering

Butchering usually took place near Thanksgiving with helpful neighbors (about 30). Four to six hogs were killed early in the morning, scalded, scraped, cut into the appropriate pieces, and cooled on long tables. Sausage was stuffed, pudding and scrapple were cooked, and lard was rendered. In the meantime, a butchering dinner was being provided in the farmhouse. Everyone who helped ate at the table—usually in three shifts.

Grape Arbor

The grape arbor was a necessity for grapes to make jelly, preserves, pies, and maybe even wine. The Zentz Farm had a blue grapevine (Concord) and a white grapevine.

Silo

The silo on the Zentz Farm connected to the barn and was usually filled with ensilage (fermented corn). The silo was later used to store leaves for bedding for the animals. The ensilage was blown into the top of the silo and doors were closed to keep it in. In order to get it out, you had to climb a ladder and crawl in through the door to throw it out. 

Outhouse

An outhouse is a small enclosed structure having one or two holes in a seat built over a pit that serves as an outdoor toilet. The outhouse on the Zentz Farm was visited by all family members several times a day until the town of Thurmont brought the sewer system under the railroad tracks and down along the street to the Zentz’ property. Usually, two or three outhouses would show up on the square of Thurmont on Halloween night.

The Zentz Family Activities

Some activities for the Zentz Family included participating in church groups, 4-H, and FFA, swimming in a creek two miles away, and sledding down the barn hill in winter.

Mr. Zentz often took children on hayrides and caroling rides at Christmas. Other activities were mowing the lawn, working in the garden, and walking to school. There was no television and only one radio.

Photos by James Rada, Jr.

Viola (Zentz) Noffsinger is shown in the hog pens of her former family farm in Thurmont.

The back of the Zentz Farmhouse.

The outhouse, which was used before the farm got indoor plumbing.

The old gate post that held three farm gates still stands across Apple’s Church Road from the farm.

The lower barn on the Zentz Farm included a corn crib, wagon shed, and stables.

The family of John and Betty Brown donated a wood and glass display case from Brown’s Jewelry & Gifts, which closed recently, to the Thurmont Historical Society. John passed away in July of this year and Betty died in 2009. According to Stacey Brown-Hobbs, her mother, Betty, displayed her favorite items in the case near the front of the store.

On Saturday, August 31, 2019, beginning at 10:00 a.m., Brown’s Jewelry & Gift Store at 9 Water Street in Thurmont will be celebrating the memory of John and Betty Brown with a Customer Appreciation Day. Light refreshments will be available, as well as a special discount for that day only. The Brown’s Jewelry Store family and staff are forever grateful for the prayers and support the community has given throughout the years.

Pictured from left are Joey Miller, Barb Barbe, Stacey Brown-Hobbs, Eric Hobbs, Emily Hobbs, ShaLeigh Saylor, and Michael Hobbs.

Katie, Club Reporter

Members of the Rocky Ridge 4-H Club clean the flower beds, plant flowers, and mulch at the Thurmont Historical Society.

The Rocky Ridge 4-H Club has been busy. In May, many of our members participated in shows and events in the local area, including Wills Fair, Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, and Jefferson County Spring Classic. Our members always enjoy these events and represent our club well!

Our Community Service project for May was cleaning the flower beds, planting flowers, and mulching at the Thurmont Senior Center and the Thurmont Historical Society. We split our group into two teams and quickly tackled the project. The results will be enjoyed throughout the summer, as the flowers grow and bloom. After finishing the job, we enjoyed pizza at the Thurmont Grange Hall and held our monthly meeting.

Swine, Sheep and Goat weigh-ins for the Great Frederick Fair are right around the corner. We’re all working hard on our projects. Our club will enjoy its annual Club Field Day on Sunday, June 30. At Field Day, members will bring projects that we’ve been working on, to include: cooking, sewing, crafts, photography, and all animal projects. The entries will be judged just like at the Fair and prizes will be awarded. We will enjoy lunch together and play lots of games. It’s a fun day that members look forward to.

James Rada, Jr.

The rainy evening did little to keep people away from the bi-annual Thurmont Art & Wine Stroll in November.

“I thought because of the weather things would be slow, but it’s been non-stop people,” said Michele Maze with 7 Dragonflies Studios.

People like Kevin and Bridget Leahy had to leave and come back later when there was a space at Maze’s table to paint their ornament. She was set up in an area of Hobbs Hardware where people could come in and paint their own free holiday ornament to take with them.

Main Street Manager Vickie Grinder also thought the rain would keep the crowds away, but she said they ran out of the wine glasses they give out for the event an hour after the stroll started.

The Art & Wine Stroll has been held twice a year for the past four years. “Every stroll grows with more artists and attendees,” Grinder said.

This stroll’s participating businesses were: Park Lane Center of Life Pilates and Holistic Health Center, Timeless Trends Boutique, Thurmont Bar and Grill, Hobbs Hardware, Gateway Flowers, Meet Me in 5B, Thurmont Historical Society, Brown’s Jewelry & Gifts, Main Street Center, J&B Real Estate, Kountry Kitchen, and ESP Dance Studio.

The Thurmont Historical Society was showing the artwork of Cherry Love Ford, a Washington artist who had been living in Thurmont when she died in 1948. Steve Hoke’s grandparents had bought Ford’s house and discovered a set of paintings, overlooked under some paper in the attic.

“She has become quite renowned and getting a bit of coverage,” Hoke said. “Her art has taken off in the art world.” He said that the paintings could easily sell for $15,000.

Hoke and the historical society are working with a church in Arlington to try and locate a mural that Ford reportedly painted in the church.

The local businesses were filled with local artists, musicians, and wineries. They included: Wineries—Links Bridge Vineyard, Detour Winery, Catoctin Breeze Vineyard; Artisans—Gnarly Artly, 7 Dragonflies Studios, Laura Day, Alexandra Farrington, Nancy Houston, Yemi, Charlotte Dutton, Jan Flynn, Cherry Love Ford, Libby Cain, Nicole Lutrell, Rebecca Pearl, Christine Lehman, Barbara Creighton, Dorothea Barrick, Barbara Brittain, Patricia Fisher, Helen Flourim, Marcia Johnson, Susan Orsini, Michele Proce, Mollie Stock, Cynthia Wyant, ESP Dancers; Musicians—Open Easy, Harold Staley, Sherry Kemp, Lyla Zelenka.

Cara McMannis is an artist who came from Emmitsburg to wander the downtown businesses and see the artwork.

“It’s my first time,” McMannis said. “What better way for a community to show its support of the artists.”

Steve Hoke stands next to the art of Cherry Love Ford, which was discovered in his grandparent’s home.

Open Easy performs at the Thurmont Bar and Grill during the Art & Wine Stroll.

Michele Maze, owner of 7 Dragonflies Studio, helps visitors paint their own Christmas ornament during the Art & Wine Stroll.

James Rada, Jr.

The Thurmont Historical Society needed $60,000 to repair the Creeger House, which houses the historical society.

Ethel Creeger donated the house to the historical society in 1989. The original portion of the house is a log cabin built in the 1920s. Col. John Rouzer, a state senator and Civil War soldier, called the building home. It is not only a historical structure, but it contains artifacts, documents, and genealogy of local interest.

The house currently needs lots of refurbishing. The exterior bricks are deteriorating and, in some cases, turning to sand. The brick cladding on the log cabin is also threatening to pull away in some places. The roof has holes in it, through which sunlight can be seen.

The society hoped to get half of the needed money from a Maryland Historical Trust matching grant. The needed $30,000 was raised, including a $15,000 donation from the Town of Thurmont.

When the Maryland Historical Trust awarded nearly $2.7 million in grants for fifty projects in the state in July, the Creeger House was not among them.

“We were discouraged, disappointed, and I’ll say it, angry,” said Historical Society President Donna Voellinger.

In Frederick County, the following grants were awarded: Catoctin Furnace Historical Society won a $90,000 development grant for the Museum of the Ironworker; Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area won a $100,000 management grant; Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area won a $45,000 marketing grant; The Historical Society of Frederick County History won a $10,095 grant for an activities exhibit room.

The historical society hasn’t given up on the Creeger House. They can’t. The repairs need to be done.

“We still have to do the repairs,” Voellinger said. “We have no choice. We’ll get it done. We raised the original amount in less than four months, so we can do it.” She explained that the historical society has a full board, including some new members who bring new ideas and new energy to the society. That energy has helped develop a set of programs to help raise the remaining $30,000 needed for the Creeger House repairs.

These programs include: a yard sale; a silent auction at the Community Show; and a beer garden during Colorfest weekend.

“Donations are still trickling in, but we’re getting a lot of things ready to raise funds,” Voellinger said

Deb Spalding

As a youngster, Thurmont Historical Society Board Member, Robert Eyler, remembers seeing the Creeger House on his visits from his home in Frederick to his great-grandparents Joseph and Anna Mary Eyler’s house in Thurmont. “As a kid, it was the coolest looking haunted house,” recalled Robert.

Robert was enamored with haunted houses then, and still is. He participates in paranormal investigations. He said his interests have “come full circle” since he orchestrated an investigation of the Creeger House by the Gettysburg Ghost Gals last spring, and serves on the Society’s Board of Directors. He first became familiar with the Thurmont Historical Society when he utilized the Society’s volumes of history to research his family heritage. Robert’s fifth great-grandfather, Frederick, settled Eyler Valley. His son, Benjamin, helped build Eyler’s Valley Chapel for the Eyler family and their friends, because they had no place to worship there.

One day last fall, Robert and Board President, Donna Voellinger, were observing the progress of the brick sidewalk being installed at the front of the Creeger House. Oddly, they noticed dust emanating from the bricks on the front of the house. This seemed to be caused by the vibrations of a jackhammer being used on a patio.

The front of the Creeger House is a facade of bricks, encasing the original log cabin. The bricks are old and soft. To explain the current decay of the bricks, Robert said, “Bricks then weren’t made to withstand the road salt, jarring from equipment, and constant traffic.” Donna added, “At one point, the whole house was covered with Ivy and Wisteria, possibly adding to the decay.”

The Thurmont Historical Society Board of Directors have received a $60,000 quote for repairing the brick.

The Creeger House, located at 11 North Church Street in Thurmont, was originally owned and occupied by Daniel Rouzer and his family in the early 1800s. It is named after Edwin Creeger, who purchased the house in 1926. Edwin was the local Chevrolet dealer. His only son, Edward, was a naval aviator who lost his life in World War II. He was the first war casualty from Thurmont and is memorialized in the naming of the American Legion Post. After Mr. Creeger’s death in 1969, his wife, Ethel, left furniture, clothing, and books behind and never returned to the house. It was vacant for twenty years. In 1990, at the suggestion of Sterling Kelbaugh, Terry Best, and Buzz Mackley, she donated the house to the Thurmont Historical Society. Ethel died in the summer of 1995 and never saw the renovations and restorations that have been made to her old home.

Inside the house, the stories of triumphs and tragedies of the families who lived in the Creeger House, and other families of Thurmont, are housed and shared. Carol Newmann, with the help of Liz Stitely, currently manages the Society’s research library. This library has grown from a foundation of information and collections provided by the late Ann Cissel. It now includes many donations of genealogy and history provided by Thurmont resident and non-resident contributions.

“We have a good collection of books and papers. Most are local. Some are from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Carroll County, and Frederick County,” Newmann said. She can lead you to resources for tracing your family’s lineage, or show you historical photos and documents. You can visit the Creeger House on Sundays, between noon and 4:00 p.m., or call 301-271-1860 to make an appointment.

Donna Voellinger takes pride in managing the relics or “physical objects” that are part of the Society’s collection. See a wooden check that was written and cashed (see photo on page 12); stand in Edward Creeger’s bedroom and view his World War II uniform; see a Seatmore Ice Cream and Soda Table Set where people sat to enjoy ice cream at Wisotzkey Brothers Ice and Ice Cream on the square in Thurmont (see photo on page 12).

Carol and John Ford are the unsung heroes at the Society, quietly giving time and talent to various projects that need to be done. New volunteers are always welcome.

With determination and purpose, the current Board of Directors of the Thurmont Historical Society are tackling the next project in the life of the Creeger House. Monetary help is needed to “Save the Creeger House.” An estimated $30,000 will be raised and matched with grant funds. To help, send a donation.

Online donations can be made with PayPal by visiting www.thurmonthistoricalsociety.org, by mailing to Thurmont Historical Society, 11 N. Church Street, Thurmont, MD 21788, or by dropping by the Creeger House on Sundays between noon and 4:00 p.m. Call 301-271-1860 for inquiries.

Pictured is a wooden check that was written and cashed, part of the Historical Society’s collection.

Displayed at the Creeger House is a Seatmore Ice Cream and Soda Table set, where people sat to enjoy ice cream at Wisotzkey Brothers Ice and Ice Cream on the square in Thurmont

There’s a good chance that the Creeger House, home of the Thurmont Historical Society, is haunted, and the Gettysburg Ghost Gals have the evidence to support their assertion.

The Thurmont Historical Society hosted the Gettysburg Ghost Gals, an all-female paranormal investigation team, on October 28, 2016. Investigators Brigid Goode and Jenny Thomas have more than twenty years combined experience in paranormal studies and have been featured in a number of magazines and on television shows.

The team brought their state-of-the-art equipment, healthy skepticism, and keen investigative skills into the Creeger House on the night of October 28.

The odd happenings began even before everyone arrived. Thurmont Historical Society Board Member Robert Eyler (who is considered a member of the Gettysburg Ghost Gals) and Goode went into the attic, where it was believed Bertie the housekeeper had lived when she was alive. They set up motion detectors, thermal detectors, and other equipment. They then stepped into the bedroom and started talking about something when the door slammed behind them. They tried to duplicate the door closing to see if it could be explained.

“That door does not swing and close on its own,” stated Goode.

Later, when the Gettysburg Ghost Gals reviewed the evening’s footage from the attic, they saw a circular thermal signature moving across the doorway of Bertie’s room. Goode pointed out that there were no warm spots in the attic, especially ones that moved. She is convinced that the slamming door and thermal signature are something that defied explanation. Goode points out that although she is a paranormal investigator, she is skeptical and believes 90 percent of odd happenings can be explained.

“We’re not pushovers,” said Goode. “We’re very tough on judging paranormal evidence.”

Goode also said there was a “very heavy feeling” in the bedroom where Mrs. Rouzer had died in childbirth.

Audio recordings picked up the voices of a man and woman. Goode said that the woman’s voice was angry and cursed a few times. However, several names associated with the history of the house could also be heard.

The Thurmont Historical Society also held a contest for two winners who were able to bring a guest to the Creeger House that evening and participate in the investigation. The two winners were Denise Mayer and Roxy Brandenburg.

Near the end of the evening, they were allowed to use the investigative equipment and wander the house to see if they could find any paranormal activity on their own.

Goode said that she would love to make investigating the Creeger House an annual event, not only because the findings are interesting, but because it helps raise the awareness of the Creeger House and its history.

haunted-story-jim

thermal-heat-signature-movi

GGG Images

James Rada, Jr.
At a recent meeting of the board of Thurmont Historical Society, members watched as a sticker went flying off their meeting table and across the room, although there was no breeze in the room.

“If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I wouldn’t have believed it,” said board member Robert Eyler.

It’s not the first time something odd like that has happened in the Creeger House. People have felt unseen touches and heard unusual noises for years. At least two people have died on the property, including a servant whose dress caught fire in the kitchen and she burned to death in the back yard.

Now you can find out for yourself if the Creeger House is haunted. The Thurmont Historical Society will be hosting the Gettysburg Ghost Gals, an all-female paranormal investigation team on October 28, 2016. The group has more than twenty years combined experience in paranormal studies and has been featured in a number of magazines and on television shows.

On October 28, they will bring their state-of-the-art equipment, healthy skepticism, and keen investigative skills into the Creeger House, where they will search for signs of paranormal activity from 8:00 p.m. to midnight.

The Thurmont Historical Society will also be holding a contest to see if you can be a part of the investigation. Simply call 240-288-8418 and leave your name and phone number. Two winners will be chosen at random from the list of names to be guests of the Thurmont Historical Society. Each winner can also bring along a guest. However, you must be at least eighteen years old to participate in this investigation.

So, what do you think: Is the Creeger House haunted? Well, now you know who to call…and it ain’t the Ghostbusters!

James Rada, Jr.
2016-07-12_JAK_1496Early Tuesday morning, July 12, 2016, a line of tour buses pulled into Thurmont’s Community Park. About 250 rock musicians and roadies spilled out of the buses, stretched, and got ready to work.

They separated into groups and spread out throughout the community, not to sing and play instruments, but to help beautify the area.

They were part of the Vans Warped Tour, a traveling rock revue, featuring dozens of bands. Not only have members of the tour helped beautify communities, but they have also helped out in the wake of big disasters such as New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.

This year, the group is helping out along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, the historic and scenic byway between Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Charlottesville, Virginia. Working with Shuan Butcher, director of communications for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, the group identified places where they could be of some help.

“It’s a great activity, and they came ready to do some hard work,” said Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird.

By 7:00 a.m., groups had divided up to help out in the park, the Catoctin Furnace, the Thurmont Historical Society, Cunningham Falls State Park, Owens Creek Campground, the Emmitsburg watershed, the Appalachian Trail, and Catoctin Mountain Park.

Donna Voellinger, president of the Thurmont Historical Society, said that eighteen people came to assist historical society volunteers with outdoor work to the grounds.

“They didn’t need a lot of direction,” Voellinger said. “They just needed a task.”

She added that both the Warped Tour volunteers and the Historical Society volunteers seemed to have a lot of fun while they worked.

A group of artists painted a mural on the basketball court wall in Community Park.

“It’s a great piece of art,” Kinnaird said. “It adds a lot to the basketball courts and the park.”

The groups met back at the park for lunch around noon and headed out of town after that. A few of them stayed later to finish the mural, but even those stragglers were gone by 6:00 p.m. They left behind not only a more-beautiful area, but a piece of art that will remind residents of their generosity for years to come.

The day of service for the Warped Tour volunteers came between concert days in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Mansfield, Massachusetts.

Photos Courtesy of Thurmontimages.com
2016-07-12_JAK_1482
Mayor John Kinnaird (fourth from right) stands with a group of talented artists of the Vans Warped Tour in front of the awesome mural they painted on the wall by the basketball courts in Thurmont Community Park.

Many thanks to the volunteers who organized and hosted the Friends of the Thurmont Regional Library book sale that was held last month at the Community Show. Joanie Freeze, chairperson for the annual sale, was pleased to report that close to $3,000 was raised and will go to help pay for the storage shed that will be located near the library. The Friends also hosted a Thank You Picnic on the library deck to thank everyone who helped sort, transport, and work at the sale, particularly Boy Scout Troop 270, who have helped set the sale up for the past fifteen years.

FCPL is pleased to introduce a new wireless printing service at the Thurmont Regional Library, as well as at the C. Burr Artz and Urbana branches. Patrons can print wirelessly from their laptop or mobile devices from anywhere, not just in the branches. Cost is twenty cents per page (black and white printing only). Print virtually any document or web page from your internet connected PC to one of our library printers by visiting the Printeron website, sending an email to one of two email addresses, or via the Printeron mobile app. More information can be found at FCPL.org, or visit the branch.

On Monday, October 26, from 6:00-8:00 p.m., join The Thurmont Historical Society and the Thurmont Regional Library, who are hosting guest lecturer Art Callaham, sharing the Fort Ritchie Story. Mr. Callaham worked on base for twenty-one years. Learn how 800 acres in Maryland and a mountain top in Pennsylvania evolved through ice production, the Maryland National Guard, an intelligence training center, and a tuberculosis hospital, to a critical communications link in the nation’s defense, becoming the operational support facility for a “super-secret” underground facility that could have housed the president of the United States. This public lecture is free.

Every Tuesday morning in October, from 10:30-11:30 a.m., drop in for Introduction to Hula Dancing for Adults. Moves can be done standing or sitting down. This is a great activity for active, older adults.

Drop in on Thursday, October 15, from 2:00-2:45 p.m. for some Science in STEM fun with the CHS Science National Honor Society. Learn a little bit about STEM while you have fun. Space is limited, so register today. Program is for ages 5 and up.

Alice in Wonderland turns 150 years old this year. We’ll be hosting some fun festivities to help celebrate this momentous occasion on Friday, October 16, from 10:30-11:45 a.m. Register online at fcpl.org or call 301-600-7212.

Come in on Monday, October 26, at 10:30 a.m., and explore basic art materials with your child (ages 18-35 months). Help your child develop fine motor skills, self expression, and have creative fun using art processes! Be prepared to get messy. Register online at fcpl.org or call 301-600-7212.

B.A.T.S. at the Library: Since March, the library has been excited to be part of the University of Maryland’s Bat Acoustic Traveling Study (B.A.T.S.) research to determine bat activity and species in urban, suburban, and rural areas. During this family program, PhD and undergraduate students will share information about all the good things bats do in our community, and demonstrate how the bat detector box (with a microphone twenty feet up in the air) records high-frequency bat calls. Live acoustic demonstrations and audience participation (weather permitting). All ages are welcome. Program will be held on Thursday, October 22, from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

On Friday, October 31, from 2:00-3:30 p.m., our annual UN-Scary costume party returns. Your little ‘punkins’ are sure to enjoy our Fall-o-Ween games, crafts, and costume parade. Dress up or come as you are. Best for ages 3-8 years.

Whovians unite! Join us in time and space for an evening of games, trivia, prizes, food, and fun. Come dressed as your favorite Doctor Who character. This grand Dr. Who event is for tweens in grades 6-12, and will be held Thursday, October 29, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

James Rada, Jr.

20150714_103003 (2)The Cozy Country Inn and Restaurant may be gone, and the ground on which it sat smoothed over for the next business to occupy; however, it is not gone. One of the original cabins in which travelers stayed the night in the early twentieth century now sits on cinder blocks at the rear of the Thurmont Historical Society property.

The plan is to restore the cabin to its period appearance. That will take some work since the cabin was apparently being used as storage.

“Mel Poole is searching for metal bunk beds that we will put inside, along with a wash stand and a bowl,” said Thurmont Historical Society President Donna Voellinger.

The Cozy Country Inn and Restaurant began life as a gas station and tourist camp. Then Wilbur Freeze built small, 10 feet by 10 feet cabins that could sleep four.

“The cabins were used even after the hotel was opened,” Voellinger said.

Jerry Freeze donated the cabin to the historical society after the Cozy shut down earlier this year.

“We stepped in when the town didn’t want it, because Jerry really wanted it to stay in Thurmont,” Voellinger said.

However, accepting the cabin and getting it to the historical society’s property are two different things. The historical society started to raise funds to pay to have it moved, but they were still a long way off from their goal when it came time to move the cabin.

“Then along came Kirby,” Voellinger said, referring to Kirby Delauter. “He said, ‘Donna, I’ll move it.’”

Delauter’s business, W.F. Delauter & Son, was in the process of demolishing the old restaurant and buildings on Frederick Road. Delauter & Son used a large forklift to lift the cabin up and carry it slowly through Thurmont to the historical society at the end of May.

“They were so gentle in moving it that it didn’t even dislodge the bird’s nest on the corner,” Voellinger said.

The most damage was caused by a thief who stole a hand-painted sign by Wilbur Freeze that noted the cabin’s construction year. The thief cut the sign free of the cabin shortly before it was to be moved, and the police have so far not found the culprit.

Local artist Irene Matthews painted a reproduction that is nearly identical to the original.

“Now all we need to do is let it weather a bit,” Voellinger said.

Jerry Freeze also donated a number of pictures of the Cozy Country Inn and Restaurant. They will be combined with an oral history that Freeze will make to create an exhibit that can be set up near the cabin when it is restored.

Voellinger said the next step will be to have the cabin lowered off the cinder blocks to the stone bed beneath it. Then the scraping, repainting, and restoration can begin to keep the Cozy alive in Thurmont.

 

Thurmont Grange Presents Community Citizen Award

Donna Voellinger, dedicated volunteer at the Thurmont Historical Society, was awarded the Thurmont Grange’s Community Citizen Award during a Grange dinner held on November 24, 2014, at the Grange Hall in Thurmont.  In addition to her commitment to the Thurmont Historical Society, Donna is a compassionate and dedicated individual who would help anyone in need, and does so in a variety of roles within her reach. The adage, “If you want something done, you ask a busy person to do it,” seems to fit Donna perfectly. She most often anticipates the needs of others in their time of illness, shut-in, hospital, doctor visits, or bereavement, offering assistance before being asked.  She is always ready to help at her church, especially with the food committee, by serving meals and making potato salad.

As a long-time member of the Thurmont Historical Society, Donna has most recently been serving as president.  Through her efforts and enthusiasm, the Thurmont Historical Society remains strong, and she continues to seek ways to expand its mission to preserve the rich history of Thurmont.  She is also involved with the Frederick Historic Sites Consortium, the Gale House, the Heartly House, Thurmont’s Halloween in the Park, Thurmont Main Street, the Frederick County Historical Society, and some local and state-wide political campaigns.

In earlier years when her children were in Thurmont schools, Donna was very much involved in Little League sports, SHOP, and Safe and Sane.  It was evident that many students and their parents felt comfortable working with “Mrs. V” in accomplishing whatever task was at hand.

It was noted humorously by several at the dinner that Donna has earned a reliable reputation for using her big snow blower to clean her neighbors’ driveways.  Deb Spalding with The Catoctin Banner said, “Donna and her husband were my CYA girls’ basketball coach in middle school. She had an early influence on several of us who earned state semi-final championships in high school basketball for three years.  Donna always smiles when she remembers the first practice, where stand-out Tammy Joy showed her abilities. Donna has had an impact in many areas and in many people’s lives.”

For more information about the Thurmont Grange, please call Rodman Myers at 301-271-2104.

TM Grange Community Citizen of the Year

Donna Voellinger (center) is presented the Thurmont Grange’s Community Citizen Award on November 24, 2014, by Helen Deluca (left) and Rodman Myers (right).

Photo by Deb Spalding

 

EBPA Awards Portier its Extraordinary Service Award

James Rada, Jr.

The Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association (EBPA) awarded Dr. Bonita Krempel-Portier its annual Extraordinary Community Service Award on Friday, December 5, 2014, during the EBPA annual dinner.

“I can’t think of anyone else who has served this community more so quietly,” said Mayor Donald Briggs.

The audience of approximately fifty people gathered in Joann’s Ballroom in the Carriage House Inn in Emmitsburg.

Following dinner and entertainment provided by Knight Time Impressions and the Fairfield High School Show Choir, the audience watched a video of local residents talking about Dr. Portier. They spoke of her kindness and quality care and how she was a role model to those around her of how to serve others.

“People through service bind a community,” Briggs noted.

Portier runs the Emmitsburg Osteopathic Primary Care Center (EOPCC) on West Main Street in Emmitsburg. The center has 5,700 patients visit a year, and one out of four of the patients seen at the Care Center have no health insurance. Portier also does all of her work at the Care Center for free.         

The EOPCC website notes that, “In 2008, EOPCC donated $29,000 in services for the uninsured alone. This does not include donated medications. Nor does this include services at severely reduced re-imbursements such as medical assistance programs.”

Portier, who was awarded the 2006-2007 Maryland Osteopathic Physician of the Year by the Maryland Association of Osteopathic Physicians, is a 1991 graduate of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her residency at Franklin Square Hospital Center in Baltimore in 1995.

The EOPCC began in Thurmont in 1999, and expanded to a Gettysburg office two years later. The current and permanent site for the EOPCC opened at the end of 2005, where it continues to provide quality health care to patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

EBPA awards Dr. Bonita Krempel-Portier with its Extraordinary Community Service Award during its annual dinner on December 5, 2014.

Portier

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

St. Mark’s Welcomes New Pastor

Spastor miket. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Sabillasville welcomed its new pastor, Rev. Mike Simane, on November 1, 2014. Rev. Simane holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In addition to serving at St. Marks, Rev. Simane also works as a chaplain at Hospice of Washington County.

Pastor Mike, as he likes to be called, lives in Smithsburg, Maryland, with his wife of twenty-five years and two daughters. Pastor Mike enjoys reading and spending time working in the yard.

“There is a peace that comes when you’re mowing the lawn or tending the garden,” said Pastor Mike. Although, he jokes, “It’s not too peaceful shoveling snow.”

Please welcome our new pastor at St. Mark’s. Worship service is at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday mornings. For more information, please visit www.stmarkssabillasville.org.

Officers Elected at Rocky Ridge Progressive 4-H Club Banquet

An election of officers was held at the November 2, 2014, Rocky Ridge Progressive 4-H Club Banquet.

The new officers for 2015 are: President—Ashley McAfee; Vice President—Margo Sweeney; Secretary—Lauren Schur; Treasurer—Ashley Ridenour; Reporters—Caroline Clark, Laura Dutton, Logan Long, and Karianna Strickhouser; Recreation Leaders—Nikita Miller and Jason Baust; County Council Representative—Olivia Dutton.

The Maryland Cooperative Extension Service’s programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, handicap, religion, age or national origin.

John Nickerson

Emmy Award winning producer, Chris Haugh, premiered his highly anticipated film documentary, Almost Blue Mountain City: The History of Thurmont, on Sunday, October 26, 2014, at The Springfield Manor Winery & Distillery near Lewistown. The showing was a great success, and everyone left knowing a lot more about the founding of the original Mechanicstown—now Thurmont—as well as how Thurmont got its name and what the lives of the people who worked and raised families in the area was like over the years. The event was sponsored and organized by Donna Voellinger and the Thurmont Historical Society, with representatives in attendance from the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Main Street Thurmont, the Frederick County Department of Tourism, and more.

It was a beautiful, sunny fall day on the edge of the Catoctin Mountains at historic Springfield Manor, former home of James Johnson, one of the original owners of the Catoctin Furnace. He lived in the house from 1793 to when he died in 1809. The manor provided the perfect setting to learn the history of Thurmont in the film documentary, which was comprised of well-researched documents dating back to the early 1700s, as well as video interviews taken over the past fifteen years from long-time Thurmont residents such as George Wireman, Sterling Kelbaugh, Albert Zentz, and many more. Their reminiscing provided interesting, humorous, and poignant insights into the events that have shaped today’s Thurmont. A recurring theme was the overall sense of community and scenic beauty that have characterized Thurmont since it was founded. Interviewee Margaret (Bruchey) Krone spoke of her arrival in Thurmont that, “We felt that we’d moved into Heaven.”

Fine local wine and excellent fare—served by the Carriage House Inn—were provided during intermission. Chris gave an excellent talk on the making of the program and was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation and the first-ever awarded “Frederick County Oscar.” It was well deserved! At the conclusion, Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird, said, “This is a proud moment for the town of Thurmont and it’s an excellent film. I recommend everyone see it at the first chance possible.”

The documentary is a valuable and priceless film that collects and preserves our local area’s history, trials, tribulations, and ups and downs for future generations. The Almost Blue Mountain City DVD will be available for purchase for $25.00 at the Creeger House during the Christmas in Thurmont celebration on Saturday, December 6, 2014, and for the Museums by Candlelight Tour the following Saturday, December 13. Stop by between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on either day.

Director Chris Haugh and Event Coordinator and Thurmont Historical Society President Donna Voellinger are all smiles at the World Premier showing of Chris Haugh’s film, Almost Blue Mountain City.