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. 2, No. 1
Spring/Summer edition 2010
Inside this issue!
firstname.lastname@example.org Colonial Charlestown Cecil College students explore the history of historic tavern and restoration efforts there. Page 3
Gilpin Bridge update Extensive renovation work on covered bridge nears completion with dedication ceremony planned for August. Page 2
History news & events Society plans annual dinner meeting and moves toward digitizing its collection of local newspapers. Page 2
Bohemia Manor High graduate recognized. Page 2
Baseball, of course, is one of the oldest and most popular organized sports in Cecil County. This baseball exhibit, organized by volunteers, was something of a departure from other exhibits and events previously undertaken by the Society in that it focused on the sports heritage of the county. The volunteers who deserve special recognition for their efforts in creating this exhibit include: Karen Adams, Steve Adams, Jackie Hubbert, Laurie Hubbert, and Jenna Adams.
Society hits a home run If it had been a ball game, it would be one for the record books. The exhibit “Cecil’s Field of Dreams” got off to an amazing start at the Historical Society of Cecil County in April. About 150 baseball fans of all ages munched on peanuts and popcorn, or else enjoyed hotdogs and cold soda pop as they traded baseball stories. Members of the Elkton Eclipse vintage baseball team — they wear old-fashioned uniforms and everybody gets a nickname like “Pockets” — strolled among the crowd. “It was truly a festive event,” noted Society President Paula Newton. The exhibit itself features everything from vintage bats, gloves and uniforms to baseball cards and other memorabilia. One antique poster that stood out advertised a 1905 fundraiser game between the lawyers of Elkton and the sheriff’s deputies.
Admission to that historic game was 10 cents. (Most of us would pay a lot more to see that one today!) There’s a marriage license for Willie Mays, the baseball legend who tied the knot in what used to be the marriage capital of the East Coast. And check out the display on Harry “The Horse” Anderson, one of the few Cecil natives who played in the major leagues.
Past exhibits have commemorated the county’s rural heritage, the home front during World War II and also the Civil War contributions of county residents. If you were out playing baseball and missed the opening, don’t despair. The exhibit remains up and you can see it at the historical society on Mondays and Thursdays, Tuesdays evenings, and on the second and fourth Saturday of the month.
H I S T O R Y
N E W S
N O T E S related to ownership of the contents. The Society is working with UMI, an organization that creates digital records of these orphaned local newspapers. There would be no cost to the Society and UMI is offering a lifetime subscription to its databases. While the details have yet to be worked out, this appears to be a good arrangement that would help make these newspaper records more accessible to researchers near and far.
Published by The Historical Society of Cecil County
Society Hours: • Monday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Gilpin covered bridge dedication event set
• Tuesday 6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. • Thursday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. • 1st & 4th Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
The Inkwell is published three times 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 to The Inkwell, please mail it to the address below or e-mail email@example.com.
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 Joan Mihich — Member at Large Rev. Bert Jicha — Member at Large Karen Lofthouse — Corresponding Secretary David Healey — Inkwell Editor
Contact information: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Historical Society of Cecil County 135 E. Main Street Elkton, MD 21921 410-398-1790 www.cecilhistory.org
Historical Society of Cecil County
Board member Beth Moore presents the scholarship award to Anthony Ohannessian.
Scholarship awarded to Bo Manor graduate Anthony Ohannessian, a graduating senior at Bohemia Manor High School, was the recipient of the $500 Kermit DeBoard Scholarship awarded by the Historical Society of Cecil County during the school’s Senior Awards night June 3. He plans to attend the University of Delaware this fall.
Annual dinner meeting planned Due to the success and popularity of last year’s annual dinner meeting at the Chesapeake Inn, the Society plans to return there at 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 18th. Last year’s speaker was Mindie Burgoyne, author of “Haunted Eastern Shore.” Tentative plans are for this fall’s speaker to be none other than Harriet Tubman — there is a living historian who portrays this conductor of the Underground Railroad on the Delmarva Peninsula. As with last year’s event, there will be live music and a few raffle prizes that will likely include items from the Society’s store, gift certificates and other items. The Society would welcome any donations for prizes; please call 410-398-1790.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the restored Gilpin Falls Covered Bridge is set for Aug. 4, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. This covered bridge, located along Rt. 272 just north of Cecil College, is one of the few such bridges remaining in Maryland. Extensive restoration work was recently undertaken to preserve this important piece of local history for future generations. The Society will be helping to provide refreshments at the ribbon cutting.
Volunteers keep C&D Canal Museum open Thanks to the efforts of local residents, the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Museum in south Chesapeake City is once again open on Saturdays through the summer and fall. Back in 2001, the museum on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers compound in Chesapeake City was closed on weekends due to security concerns. The smaller staff on weekends simply couldn’t keep an eye on the museum while trying to also monitor shipping traffic in the canal. That’s where the volunteers stepped in. On Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the museum is open to the public. While the museum is also open during weekdays, it’s on busy warm weather weekends that most visitors come to town. Sounds like a day trip for local history buffs.
Newspapers going digital for research Newspapers offer a rich and detailed look at Cecil County going back several decades — even centuries. The Society is fortunate to be in possession of several newspapers that went out of print so long ago that they are considered to be “orphaned,” meaning there are no copyright issues
The museum features interactive displays and exhibits on the canal’s history and present use.
Photos by Joshua Krauss
The Red Lyon Tavern Charlestown’s link to its colonial past By Christian Bowe
For people unacquainted with Charlestown, and even for a few who are, it would be hard to believe that the sleepy little town was once the second-largest port on the upper Chesapeake Bay, being eclipsed only by Baltimore in size and importance. With a port comes trade, with trade comes sailors, and where sailors go there are sure to be taverns to quench their thirst. Charlestown was home to no less than 13 such establishments. Amongst these was the Red Lion Tavern which, despite being even more quant than the town it resides in today, is Cecil County’s greatest artifact of its colonial past. As I walk through the rooms of the Red Lion Tavern, owner Audrey Edwards gives me the grand tour, reciting almost by rote the history behind the tavern and with it Charlestown’s own story. Summer 2010"
In 1742 Charles Calvert, 5th Lord Baltimore of the Province of Maryland and the man whom the town was named after, and the Maryland Assembly decreed an act establishing a port on the upper Chesapeake to facilitate further trade in northern Maryland. Zebulon Hollingsworth, one of the town’s founders, purchased Lot 82 within the new town’s limits and began construction in 1742 on the building that would become the Red Lion and by 1745 was complete and open to business. On a sill on the kitchen wall stand artifacts from the tavern’s restoration. Amongst these are several pewter mugs with the curious attribute of not having any bottoms. When I asked about the lack of bottoms, Mrs. Edwards response was both surprising and not a little funny. “During the colonial period the mugs were made from metal but their bottoms were glass, so when a patron was low on alcohol the bartender would see when they threw back their last mouthful that they were in need of a refill,” she said. “But as time went
on the mugs were buried under the tavern and the glass simply decayed, leaving no bottom.” For years, the Red Lion remained as a tavern with patrons continuing to frequent the premises, and things might have continued indefinitely but for one incident that changed Charlestown’s fortunes forever. In 1786 the upper Chesapeake was struck by a massive storm that blocked Charlestown’s harbor and opened Havre de Grace, located further south, to seaborne trade. This shift in fortune led Charlestown from glory to obscurity and with no trade to bring in colonists the Red Lion Tavern changed focus to become a store and school house with a shoe cobbler taking up residence on its second floor. By 1950 no one was living in the structure and until 1995 the building was in a state of decay. Pictures in the entryway by the kitchen attest to the !
Continues on page 4
Red Lyon Tavern remains a reminder of Charlestown’s colonial past Continued from page 3 damage suffered by the house prior to being purchased by the Edwardses, with walls literally coming apart and floor boards in the kitchen rotted away, exposing the dirt below. Although the change in fortune saddens me in a way, as I continue the tour I know that the tavern’s history continued on regardless. As emphasis on such a point, I pick up another artifact in the kitchen, a cobbler’s shoe-horn. The man who used this artifact had lived and worked above me on the second floor 200 years before. As I toured this second floor, tripping over the too-small stairs on the way up, the first room before me is almost too small to stand in. Identified as the slave’s quarters, these quarters acted as the slave’s living space and originally were connected only to the kitchen below but were renovated when Edwards and her husband, Ron, acquired the house. Such a piece of information came as no surprise to me since Maryland has always been a southern state and as such was slave-holding during the colonial period. As we walk into the next room there are obvious signs of recent construction and renovation, such as a saw table standing ubiquitously in the middle of the room. Even with the recent expansion, though, it is so small that I almost didn’t even believe Mrs. Edwards when she told me the room acted as the building’s inn. “Oh yes, people had to sleep on the floor,” she says nonchalantly. Thanking the Holiday Inn is my only response to this. The walls of this second-story room are what catch my eye, though. They looked as though they were a rusty black. Mrs. Edwards explains that the
Historical Society of Cecil County 135 E. Main Street Elkton, MD 21921
walls were originally painted red for years, and during this time played host at least twice to General George Washington on his travels through the county. Upon his death the walls were painted black in recognition of both his achievements and the tavern’s honor at having hosted him. As we walk down stairs, the walls catch my eye, seeming to change in design. Mr. Edwards responded to this question, saying that the tavern was not built outright but in stages. The first section was the original tavern itself, built with log walls, but the second and third sections having the modern post-and-beam design when added in 1750. The design clash both surprises and impresses me. I remember Mrs. Edwards mentioned that she and her husband had purchased the property in 1995, and I am inclined to ask why they are still renovating the house after 15 years. She answers that it is really only 13 years because they had done nothing with the house for the first two years they owned it. Their chosen method of attack for the tavern was to go slowly and methodically for fear that if done quickly, they would both cause more damage than intended and make mistakes in construction. The current state of the house in comparison to the pictures I had seen earlier of its damage when first purchased is a testament that Mrs. Edwards and her husband are clearly doing something right. As I leave I can’t help but be impressed by the Red Lion Tavern in its elegance, history, the resolve of its owners, and its quaint but proud reincarnation as a historical landmark for the county and town it calls home. Editor’s note: Christian Bowe is a student at Cecil College who wrote this article for EGL 113, Introduction to Journalism. Joshua Krauss is a student in the college’s photojournalism program who photographed the tavern for this team project.
Vol. 2, No. 1 Spring/Summer 2010
U.S. Postage Non-Profit Org. PAID Elkton, MD 21921 Permit 263
The Inkwell Histoircal Society of Cecil County Spring/Summer 2010