H I S T O R I C A L
S O C I E T Y
C E C I L
C O U N T Y
Inkwell Vol. 3, No. 1
Spring/Summer edition 2011
Inside this issue
Before the 1830s, Mill Lane extended from the Cecilton-Bohemia Ferry Road (now Augustine Herman Highway or Route 213) to St. Stephen’s Church-Bohemia Ferry Road (now Glebe Road) following an east to west route. 1 It crossed Scotchman’s Creek (in some records referred to as St. Amelia’s Creek) south of Beaston’s Mill, probably by ford, but perhaps by bridge. Its name probably derived from the fact that it was the road used by farmers to take their wheat to the mill to be ground into flour and their corn into corn meal. Of the different names used for this road over the years, Mill Lane, with the possible exception of Big Road, probably was used longer than any other name. In 1979 when the Official Road Name Plat was adopted in preparation for the upcoming 911 System, the name Mill Lane became official. 2 In the 1830s, Samuel Freeman, the mill owner at that time, built an earthen dam across Scotchman’s Creek, thus creating Freeman’s Mill Pond. This
By Emily M. Manlove
History news & notes Gilpin Bridge receives award … keep current with our history blog. Page 2
Dam, floods shape Mill Lane’s history
Schaefer and Cecil Conowingo visit gave reporter a fish story. Page 3
Ragan family photos Bequest adds tintypes of Conowingo family to Historical Society collection. Page 2
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Save the date! Society plans annual dinner and meeting for Oct. 17th in Chesapeake City. Page 2
Mill Lane Mill Lane and the pond shown in an 1877 Cecil County atlas. pond permanently flooded part of the original Mill Lane. At that time the lane into Swan Harbor, a farm bordering the mill property to the east and owned by Philip Thomas, became a part of Mill Lane. 3 A new road was built across the top of the new, privately built, privately owned, dam to connect the former farm lane with the part of Mill Lane west of Scotchman’s Creek. Heirs of Freeman sold the mill property to W. Evans Frazer. 4 After he ceased to operate the mill, Mr. Frazer opened the mill grounds and pond to campers, mainly from Pennsylvania. It was at that time that some began referring to the pond as Frazer’s Lake. However, the new name was not widely used by people in the neighborhood. This probably was because the Continued on back page
H I S T O R Y
N E W S
N O T E S
Our annual dinner meeting is Oct. 17
Published by The Historical Society of Cecil County
The Historical Society of Cecil County’s Annual Dinner and Membership Meeting will take place Monday, Oct. 17 at the Chesapeake Inn banquet hall in Chesapeake City. Last year, more than 70 people turned out for the dinner and a talk by Dr. Ralph Eshelman, author of The War of 1812 on Chesapeake Bay. Once again, the evening will feature live music, great food and fellowship, and a speaker. For tickets, please call 410-398-1790.
Society Hours: • Monday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. • Tuesday 6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. (Tuesdays hours Sept.-May only) • Thursday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. • 1st & 4th Saturday of each month
Gilpin Bridge earns preservation award
from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
The Inkwell is published twice each year by The Historical Society of Cecil County as a benefit of membership. It serves as a medium for spreading historical information regarding persons, places and events in Cecil County history and for informing members of the Society’s activities. For non-commercial purposes the Society does not object to reproduction of the material contained in The Inkwell, provided credit is given. To submit material, please mail it to the address below or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Historical Society Board of Trustees Paula Newton — President Butch Cubbage — Vice President Michael C. Dixon — Public Outreach Deborah Storke — Treasurer Carol Donache — Society Librarian Barbara Mackenzie — Membership Milt Diggins — Editor emeritus Beth Moore — Member at Large Linda Griffith — Member at Large Rev. Bert Jicha — Member at Large David Healey — Inkwell Editor
Contact information: Email: email@example.com
Historical Society of Cecil County 135 E. Main Street Elkton, MD 21921 410-398-1790 www.cecilhistory.org
Historical Society of Cecil County
The Board of Trustees of the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) has named the rehabilitation of the Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge on Rt. 272 near Bay View the winner of a 2011 Maryland Preservation Award for Project Excellence. An unidentified Ragan family member donned a top hat and cane for this photograph.
Ragan family photos offer glimpse of past The Historical Society has recently received a sizable donation of photographs of the Ragan family of Conowingo, including a number of tintypes. The photographs are mostly unidentified, according to HSCC librarian Carol Donache. Both Donache and volunteers have worked to sort the photographs and make any identifications using information written on the photos.
The MHT Board selected the Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge project, "Because of the exceptional quality of the workmanship and commitment to historic preservation shown by the County and the project team during the rescue and revitalization of this highly visible and significant structure.” The Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge project repaired and rehabilitated a historic covered bridge constructed in 1860, which carried highway traffic until 1936. The project was completed in April 2010 at a cost of $1,469,000, which coincided with the 150th anniversary of the bridge.
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When Gov. Schaefer spoke to the fish By David Healey
Historically speaking, William Donald Schaefer was perhaps one of Maryland’s more unforgettable politicians. Schaefer died in April at age 89. For several decades, first as Baltimore mayor, then governor and comptroller, he left his stamp on Maryland politics. Though Schaefer was sometimes profane, bluff, and outspoken, he was always memorable. When I was a kid, I recall how we watched him on TV take a swim in the seal tank at the new National Aquarium in Baltimore, wearing an old-fashioned striped swimsuit. Now, there was an elected official who understood the value of a good publicity stunt. Schaefer made no secret of the fact that he didn’t think much of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, once famously describing it as an outhouse (but using a less polite term). He never really made it clear whether he lumped Cecil County in with the rest of the “outhouse” counties, but it does say something that his visits here were rather few and far between. Schaefer was a city boy at heart, and I think rural areas and the rural lifestyle were something he never really understood or appreciated. Back on May 23, 1989, I covered one of those visits as a newspaper reporter, and it was an experience that left me with a lasting impression of “Willie Don,” as he was sometimes nicknamed. Schaefer visited Conowingo Dam to tour the program where shad were caught in a trap below the dam, then trucked to spawning grounds upriver. Photographer Bill Hughes took black-and-white photos and brought them back to the office in Elkton to develop—digital imaging was still far in the future. The governor wore a suit and tie, which was a bit overdressed for touring a fish lift. No golf shirt or rolled-up sleeves for him. Up close, I noticed he had sort of spooky blue eyes, the sort that don’t register much emotion. They were eyes that would have suited a World War II fighter pilot or maybe a mafia don, and they probably served him well The Inkwell
Gov. William Donald Schaefer (from left), Philadelphia Electric Co. CEO Joseph H. Paquette Jr., U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, and Conowingo Power Company President Samuel M. Gawthrop Jr. (at podium) during a visit to the Conowing Dam to tour the fish lift there in 1989. Photo by Bill Hughes. when the going got tough during budget meetings. He eventually gave a mini-speech about the visit at an impromptu press conference. In hindsight, I realize he must not have taken the tour too seriously, because he started out the speech relating how one of the fish had been telling him how much he and the other shad enjoyed their trip across the dam. “I talked to one of the shad up there,” the governor told the crowd. “He said, ‘It was a really nice ride.’ He was a good fish.” It was all a bit wacky, and I was a little disappointed. This was supposed to be my big story about the governor’s visit to Conowingo! I had covered a lot of Elkton town meetings to get my big break! Now Schaefer was blowing it for me by going on about talking fish, for pity’s sake. But he was nice enough to the local reporter, giving me a few minutes one on one to ask him about his impressions of the fish lift. I can’t remember what I managed to ask, but I’m sure they were pithy and
biting questions along the lines of how he had enjoyed his visit. Schaefer was notoriously hard to quote, and I soon found out why. The man did not speak in complete sentences or even complete thoughts. As a journalist, you find that some public people are very used to working with reporters because they will speak slowly and coherently when they know you are busy writing down their words. They’re old pros at the media game. Schaefer didn’t seem at all concerned about being eloquent. Quoting Gov. Schaefer was like filling in the blanks for a Mad Lib, or using one of those refrigerator magnet sets where you piece together sentences, thoughts and poems out of random words. A close proximity to what I jotted in my reporter’s notebook would be this: “Fish … crossing dam … great day for Chesapeake Bay … Save the Bay … beautiful Susquehanna River … wonderful program.” I only ever saw him in person one other time, and that was several years later when he was state comptroller, but not necessarily out
of the limelight thanks to his sometimes outlandish remarks. I was doing research at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore and took a break to have lunch with an old railroad conductor at a deli near Fort Avenue. That was a popular stop for city politicos, and in came Schaefer. He was a regular, but his arrival still caused something of a stir. This was as close as Baltimore got to royalty or celebrity. I did not take the opportunity to remind him of the captivating story I had written about his visit to the Conowingo Dam many years before. It’s too soon to really judge Schaefer’s place in Maryland history, but for a newbie reporter—and those apparently talkative shad at Conowingo Dam—Gov. William Donald Schaefer always will be an unforgettable public official.
David Healey is editor of The Inkwell. His most recent book is Delmarva Legends and Lore. 3
Mill Lane and its history — Continued from Page 1 the pond had been known as Freeman’s Mill Pond since its inception; also, perhaps because people found it difficult to fathom calling a muddy mill pond a “lake.” As the years passed and peoples’ memories of Mr. Freeman and Mr. Frazer faded, the pond ended up just being called “the Mill Pond.” In his will, Mr. Frazer left the mill property to Union Hospital. 5 The hospital sold the property to Thomas J. Maloney and James Weinwroth. 6 The property remained vacant during that time. The next owner was Wilmington Manor Methodist Church. 7 The This section of Mill Lane was closed in 1999. church used it for a summer camp known as Camp Red Mill. Some of the local wags nicknamed it the Moulin Rouge after the famous Parisian nightspot with the same name. During the winter the property was vacant, and it was then that vandals burned the beautiful old mill, destroying not only the building, but also the huge waterwheel that turned the stones to grind the grain.8 Ownership of the mill property changed hands several times after Camp Red Mill ceased to operate. A house was built on the mill property south of Mill Lane. The property on the north side where the miller’s house, a spring house, and the mill itself once stood, has become overgrown with weeds, scrub brush and trees.
Historical Society of Cecil County 135 E. Main Street Elkton, MD 21921
As long as the mill was in operation, the mill owner maintained the dam. He kept trees from growing in the dam, and kept the water at a safe level by opening and closing the gates when necessary. But even with care, there were at least three times (19129, 1933, and 1972) when the dam washed out and had to be repaired. When the owners of the dam were no longer millers, the care of it ceased. The condition of the dam deteriorated to the point where it was not safe to cross, and in 1990 that part of Mill Lane was closed.10 Then in 1999, during Hurricane Floyd, the weakened dam was breached, cutting the road in two.11 It does seem ironic that Mill Lane once was severed by the building of a dam and that years later it was severed again by the deterioration of that same dam. Emily Manlove has lived at Swan Harbor farm her entire life and is the fourth generation of her family to live there. She was a longtime teacher in Elkton schools until her retirement.
Endnotes 1 Public Roads of Cecil County, Md. 1786-1844 Part 2 Page 37. 2 Minutes County Commissioners’ Meeting (Feb. 5, 1979) Book 32 Page 202. 3 Public Roads of Cecil County, Md. 1768-1844 Part 3 Pages 287-293. 4 Land Records of Cecil County, Md. 1768-1844 Part 3 Pages 287-293. 5 Will Records in the Office of Register of Wills for Cecil County File 1945-46. 6 Land Records of Cecil County R.R.C. No. 19, folio 21. 7 Land Records of Cecil County W.A.S. No. 79, folio 549. 8 Cecil Whig, April 21, 1971, Section B Page 8. 9 Letter from Laura E. Clark to Marion Clark March 18, 1912. 10 2005 Cecil County Biennial Bridge Inspection Report. State Highway Bridge Remedial Division. Page 5. 11 Cecil Whig, September 22, 1996 Section A Page 1.
Vol. 3, No. 1 Spring/Summer 2011
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