HSP HISTORY Blog
Interesting Frederick, Maryland tidbits and musings .
“Being at the wrong place at the wrong time,” an expression we hear quite often when a hapless victim encounters a tragic event that many times leads to serious injury or, worse yet, death. My full-time job is that of a historian for a cemetery, so you can imagine I think of the fore-mentioned saying a lot. One of the best examples I’ve come across involves a prominent Frederick businessman in the mid-1800s named Henry Goldenberg. Five years after his move from Frederick in the year 1884, Mr. Goldenberg would meet a fateful end in one of the country’s worst-ever disasters. It happened in a bustling town in western Pennsylvania.
Born in 1833, Henry Goldenberg was born and raised in Neheim, a town of Prussian Westphalia, located ten miles northwest of current-day Arnsberg, Germany. His parents, Jacob Goldenberg and wife Rachel (Rose) Goldenberg, left a country in turmoil and came to America in 1852 with their eight children. They would settle in Baltimore’s 7th Ward, northeast of the inner harbor in the vicinity of Johns Hopkins University and Medical Center.
Early advertisements appear in the Baltimore newspapers touting the millinery expertise of a Mrs. H. Goldenberg in the Ward 7 sector of Charm City. Henry’s brother, Daniel Joseph (Goldenberg), is mentioned in connection here, and would be linked to Henry's business endeavors for decades to come. Four years later (1857), the following advertisement appeared in the Frederick Examiner newspaper touting Mrs. Goldenberg’s talents.
Henry Goldenberg would soon be living in Frederick with his wife, the former Mary Eva Nardhaus, also a native of Prussia. Henry moved to town permanently in 1859 and opened his shop on the east side of North Market Street between the old Market House building (today’s site of Brewer’s Alley Restaurant) and Second Street. This was formerly the site of Michael Engelbrecht’s tailoring shop. The location is today under Market Alley which runs along the north of Brewer’s Alley Restaurant. This time period would mark an important era in Frederick’s Jewish history as the Goldenbergs and other Jewish families from Baltimore (like David Lowenstein and Jacob Rosenstock) would settle here and open clothing and other businesses.
Looking north on North Market Street midway between Church and 2nd streets. This photo dates to February, 1862 and a military display by Union troops in honor of George Washington's birthday. On the right side of the street is pictured the Market House to the immediate north of Andrew Boyd's awning shown here. The Goldenberg's store/home was two doors to the north.
Mr. Goldenberg is mentioned in the writings of the brother of the above-mentioned Michael Engelbrecht. This was Frederick’s loquacious diarist, Jacob Engelbrecht (1898-1878). In that same year of 1859, he wrote:
“Mr. Henry Goldenberg voted today at the Market house polls for the first time. He was naturalized on the 11th day of October 1859 in the Court of Common Pleas of Baltimore City. William Lee, Marshall, Thomas Creamer, Sheriff, William J. Hamill, Clerk.”
Engelbrecht took a liking to Henry as they were both in the clothing business (Engelbrecht was a tailor by trade) and both had deep German roots. As if it wasn’t a challenge enough to open a new business in a new town, the Goldenbergs had to navigate through the American Civil War and Frederick’s major role played within it. Henry Goldenberg showed fellow residents his patriotic colors by participating as a member of the Brengle Home Guards in April 1861. The local militia group soon found themselves performing important roles of protecting Maryland’s governor (Thomas Hollyday Hicks) and state legislators convened here throughout the summer of 1861 and meeting at Kemp Hall (SE corner of N. Market and E. Church streets) instead of the State House in Annapolis.
Henry Goldenberg’s military service would not extend to the US Army, although he registered for the draft. He continued to serve the community through his mercantile endeavor. Goldenberg evolved into a spectacular marketing guru, with his plentiful ads filling the pages of early Frederick newspapers of the era.
From at least 1859 until Dec 1861, there had been a Goldenberg & Company located "2 doors N of Market House.” In 1861 Henry bought the stock of goods from the store room of another brother named Julius Goldenberg. Julius was described in the deed as trading under the name of Goldenberg & Company in dry goods, fancy and millinery goods. Julius had become indebted to Henry on 3 due bills given to Henry for wages owed him as clerk in the store – in August 1859 for $225, August 1860 for $270 and June 1861 for $220. So for that $715 owed, and another $500 cash, Julius sold Henry the stock and good will of the establishment.
A new location for the family business would come about as the Goldenberg millinery and fancy goods store would locate across the street from its original location. The move wasn't far as the new setting was exactly across Market Street from the Market House (which would be soon razed and the new City Hall and Opera House would be built on its site.) The Goldenberg endeavor would have an address of 73 and 75 N. Market Street. The property was rented to him by Margaret Engelbrecht, widow of John Engelbrecht, another sibling of the diarist Jacob. Of additional interest, Goldenberg was reported to have had one of the first open storefronts of any business in town.
Since no other property records, outside of these store locations, link to the Goldenberg family, I’m assuming they lived in the same sites as the business locations. My research assistant, Marilyn Veek, only found one real deed associated with the Goldenberg family. This was a one square-foot piece that Henry bought in 1877 from William Kline, along with a 1-inch right of way, which was behind what is now Asiana Restaurant and not next to the store he actually rented for his business. What was this all about?
Henry Goldenberg further vested himself in civic functions and social organizations of town. Of key interest was his involvement in Frederick’s Masonic Lodge and would serve in various leadership roles. Things seemed to be going good, and in 1879, Henry joined forces with fore-mentioned brother Daniel Joseph Goldenberg of Baltimore in a business partnership.
Something went seriously wrong in the first few years of the 1880s for the Goldenbergs. In 1882, advertisements announce the dissolution of the partnership between Henry and his brother, Daniel. I haven’t figured out all the details but D. J. Goldenberg encountered a major setback when a fire destroyed his location on Lexington Street in Baltimore.
This seems to have had an impact on the Frederick (MD) Goldenbergs as a newspaper ad in the local paper in 1883 seems to paint a rather gloomy outlook for the discount Millinery business-owners.
In 1883, Henry signed a deed of trust with his brother-in-law Philip Stern to sell all of his stock in trade and fixtures in the store room occupied by him on N. Market and all his other property, to pay off his creditors, as well as taxes due and salaries due to his employees. This implies that the store still existed until 1883. (Note: A newspaper article in 1885 mentions that Philip Stern for several years conducted a notion and ladies store on Market St, but now intends to quit business and remove from Frederick, so maybe Philip took over the store.)
In early 1884, the Goldenbergs time in Frederick was up. They choose to head west and put into motion an opportunity in Pennsylvania and a boom town located some 70 miles east of Pittsburgh. With two sisters living in Altoona, the Goldenbergs chose to reside in Johnstown in Cambria County.
Johnstown, Pennsylvania was settled in 1770 by Swiss German settlers at the intersection of the Conemaugh River which split into the Little Conemaugh River to the east east and Stoneycreek River flowing south. A century later, the small village grew into a bustling town thanks to the success of the Cambria Iron Works.
Henry Goldenberg took up residence at 54 Lincoln Street. By help of an 1886 Sanborn Insurance map, I have a strong hunch that the Goldenberg Millinery store was located across Stoneycreek River from their residence in the first block of Morris Street in the southwest portion of town.
Although firmly transplanted in his new home in Johnstown, Henry and other family members never lost their love for Frederick.
The first big blow to the family came in August 1885 with the death of Henry’s wife, Mary Eva. Her body would be sent back to Baltimore for burial at Hebrew Friendship Cemetery.
The family pulled together and moved forward without Mrs. Goldenberg. Everything was going swimmingly, probably not the best term to use, until 4:07pm on May 31st, 1889. One day earlier, on the afternoon of May 30th, 1889, it began raining in the Conemaugh Valley, but luckily Johnstown had just managed a quiet Memorial Day ceremony and parade earlier in the day.
Twenty-four hours later, water filled the streets of a town that was certainly no stranger to annual flooding. However, this time things were a vastly different. As rumors had swirled that a dam holding an artificial lake in the mountains to the northeast might give way, the ill-fated prophecy would come true on this dark day.
The South Fork Dam collapsed 14 miles upstream from Johnstown due to the heavy rains. In the process, an estimated 20 million tons of water began spilling into the winding gorge that surrounded the Little Conemaugh River as it led to Johnstown. Historians claim that the force barreling toward Johnstown had a volumetric flow rate that temporarily equaled the average flow rate of the Mississippi River. A massive tragedy would strike the town and its unknowing residents downstream in ten minutes time.
What had been a thriving steel town with homes, churches, saloons, a library, a railroad station, electric street lights, a roller rink, and two opera houses was buried under mud and debris. Out of a population of approximately 30,000 at the time, at least 2,209 people are known to have perished in the disaster.
One of the most graphic descriptions of the carnage experienced in Johnstown can be found on the National Park Service’s memorial:
“But at 4:07pm on the chilly, wet afternoon of May 31, the inhabitants heard a low rumble that grew to a “roar like thunder.” Some knew immediately what had happened: after a night of heavy rains, the South Fork Dam had finally broken, sending 20 million tons of water crashing down the narrow valley. Most never saw anything until the 36-foot wall of water, already boiling with huge chunks of debris, rolled over them at 40 miles per hour, consuming everything in its path. Those who did see it said it “snapped off trees like pipestems,” “crushed houses like eggshells,” and “threw around locomotives like so much chaff.” A violent wind preceded it, blowing down small buildings. Making the wave even more terrifying was the black pall of smoke and steam that hung over it—“the death mist” remembered by survivors.
Thousands of people desperately tried to escape the wave, but they were slowed as in a nightmare by the 2 to 7 feet of water already covering parts of town. One observer from a hill above the town said the streets “grew black with people running for their lives.” Some remembered reaching the hills and pulling themselves out of the flood path seconds before it overtook them. Those caught by the wave found themselves swept up in a torrent of oily, yellow-brown water, surrounded by tons of grinding debris, which crushed some, provided rafts for others. Many became helplessly entangled in miles of barbed wire from a destroyed wire works. People inside when the wave struck raced upstairs seconds ahead of the rising water, which reached the third story in many buildings. Some never had a chance, as homes were immediately crushed or ripped from foundations and added to the churning rubble, ending up hundreds of yards away. Everywhere people were hanging from rafters or clinging to rooftops and railcars being swept downstream, frantically trying to keep their balance as their rafts pitched in the flood.
It was over in 10 minutes, but for some the worst was still to come. Thousands of people, huddled in attics or on the roofs of buildings that had withstood the initial wave, were still threatened by the 20-foot current tearing at the buildings and jamming tons of debris against them. In the growing darkness, they watched the other buildings being pulled down, not knowing if theirs would last the night. But the most harrowing experience for hundreds came at the old stone railroad bridge below the junction of the rivers. There, thousands of tons of debris scraped from the valley, along with a good part of Johnstown, piled up against the arches. The 45-acre mass held buildings, machinery, hundreds of freight cars, 50 miles of track, bridge sections, boilers, telephone poles, trees, animals, and 500-600 humans. The oil-soaked jam was immovable, held against the bridge by the powerful current and bound tight by the barbed wire.
Those who were able began scrambling over the heap toward shore. But many were trapped in the wreckage, some still hopelessly hung up in the barbed wire, unable to move. Then the oil caught fire. As rescuers worked in the dark to free people, the flames spread over the whole mass, burning with “all the fury of hell.”
One of the unfortunate victims was none other than Frederick’s former resident, Henry Goldenberg. A book entitled The Story of Johnstown was written in 1889 by J.J. McLaurin. The author received information about Frederick’s former resident.
The news reached Baltimore and Henry’s brother D. J. Goldenberg before it hit Frederick shortly thereafter.
Mr. D. J. Goldenberg, of 727 West Lexington street, has received a peculiar dispatch about his nine relatives at Johnstown. It reads: "At Rockwood with corpse; will be delayed at Cumberland." This is signed "Jennie Goldenberg." His anxiety is very great as to the identity of the only one who succumbed to the elements. His relatives are: Henry Goldenberg, a brother, formerly of Frederick, Md.; the latter's four daughters, (the youngest aged 16) and two sons. Mrs. Phillip Stern, of Frederick, Md., a sister, together with a sister-in-law, Mrs. Jos. Goldenberg of Philadelphia, were on a visit to Mr. H. Goldenberg and are therefore in the flooded district.
Mr. D. J. Goldenberg, of this city, received a telegram yesterday, dated Rockwood, Pa., from his niece, Miss Jennie Goldenberg stating that she was on her way to Baltimore with the body of her father, Henry Goldenberg, who is Mr. Goldenberg's brother, and who was killed in the Johnstown disaster. He was a native of Germany and had been in America for about thirty-five years. For thirty years he had been a resident of Frederick, moving to Johnstown about four years ago. He had four daughters and two sons, and it is not known how many of them are alive.
The Baltimore Sun (June 3, 1889)
Here is how the news of Henry Goldenberg’s death appeared to his old friends, neighbors and customers in Frederick.
The American Red Cross, led by Clara Barton and with 50 volunteers, undertook a major disaster relief effort. Support for victims came from all over the United States and 18 foreign countries. The Great Johnstown Flood of 1889 accounted for $17 million of damage (about $484 million in today’s dollars). After the flood, survivors suffered a series of legal defeats in their attempts to recover damages from the dam's owners. Public indignation at that failure prompted the development in American law changing a fault-based regime to one of strict liability.
Interestingly, Frederick, itself suffered damage from the same weather system that led to the catastrophe that had transpired in western Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile the Potomac, at the Point of Rocks, had overflowed into the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and the two became one. It broke open the canal in a great many places, and lifting the barges up, shot them down stream at a rapid rate. Trunks of trees and small houses were torn from their places and swept onward....
A dozen lives lost, a hundred poor families homeless, and over $2,000,000 worth of property destroyed, is the brief but terrible record of the havoc caused by the floods in Maryland. Every river and mountain stream in the western half of the State has overflowed its banks, inundating villages and manufactories and laying waste thousands of acres of farm lands.
The losses by wrecked bridges, washed-out roadbeds and landslides along the western division of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, from Baltimore to Johnstown, reach half a million dollars of more. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, that political bone of contention and burden to Maryland, which has cost the State many millions, is a total wreck.
The Potomac River, by the side of which the canal runs, from Williamsport, Md., to Georgetown, D. C., has swept away the locks, towpaths, bridges, and, in fact, everything connected with the canal. The probability is that the canal will not be restored, but that the canal bed will be sold to one of the railroads that have been trying to secure it for several years. The concern has never paid, and annually has increased its enormous debt to the State.
At the mountain town of Frederick, Md., the Monocacy River, Carroll Creek and other streams combined in the work of destruction.
Friday night was one of terror to the people of that section. The Monocacy River rose rapidly from the time the rain ceased until last night, when the waters began to fall. The back-water of the river extended to the eastern limit of the city, flooding everything in its path and riding over the fields with a fierce current that meant destruction to crops, fences and everything in its path. At the Pennsylvania Railroad bridge the river rose thirty feet above low-water mark. It submerged the floor of the bridge and at one time threatened it with destruction, but the breaking away of 300 feet of embankment on the north side of the bridge saved the structure. With the 300 feet of embankment went 300 feet of track. The heavy steel rails were twisted by the waters as if they had been wrenched in the jaws of a mammoth vise. The river at this point and for many miles along its course overflowed its banks to the width of a thousand feet, submerging the corn and wheat fields on either side and carrying everything before it. Just below the railroad bridge a large wooden turnpike bridge was snapped in two and carried down the tide. In this way a half-dozen turnpike bridges at various points along the river were carried away. The loss to the counties through the destruction of these bridges will foot up many thousand dollars.
Mrs. Charles McFadden and Miss Maggie Moore, of Taneytown, were drowned in their carriage while attempting to cross a swollen stream. The horse and vehicle were swept down the stream, and when found were lodged against a tree. Miss Moore was lying half-way out of the carriage, as though she had died in trying to extricate herself. Mrs. McFadden's body was found near the carriage. At Knoxville considerable damage was done, and at Point of Rocks people were compelled to seek the roofs of their houses and other places of safety. A family living on an island in the middle of the river, opposite the Point, fired off a gun as a signal of distress. They were with difficulty rescued. In Frederick county, Md., the losses aggregate $300,000.
Monocacy Bridge: Probably one of the oldest landmarks in Frederick county bridges has gone down in the flood. The covered bridge on the Frederick and Liberty turnpike, supposed to have been the first one built here, bearing the date 1834. It stood the storms of over half a century, has never been rebuilt, but many repairs have been put upon it. This morning it went down with the raging current, making a total of six bridges gone along the Monocacy. One part of it is lying at Mr. Kefauver's and another at Mr. Hoke's.
Utica Mills Covered Bridge was also a victim of the storm that created the disastrous Johnstown Flood. It washed away a 250 foot, two span covered bridge over the Monocacy River on Devilbiss Road in Frederick County. One span of the bridge was saved, dismantled and two years later reconstructed as a 101' covered bridge on Utica Road, just off Frederick Road in Utica, Maryland over Fishing Creek. The original bridge is usually referred to as Devilbiss Road Covered Bridge. Most documentation shows the original bridge as constructed c1850, but many believe it was actually built in 1843. Although the bridge was moved from its location over the Monocacy, it still consists of original timber from the Devilbiss Bridge, so it retained its build date as 1843 and was renamed Utica Mills Covered Bridge. (Photo by Roger Lancaster on Flickr)
Henry Goldenberg's son Daniel was living in Baltimore during the tragedy in Johnstown. Ironically, he almost became a drowning victim himself by evidence of this newspaper article in July, 1889.
In the fall of 1889, D.J. Goldenberg, Henry's brother and former business partner, ran the following ad in the Frederick paper touting the fact that his late brother's daughters would help serve Frederick customers at a special sale at his Baltimore store location.
As for Johnstown, the citizenry, with aid from people, towns and companies from all over the country, rebuilt the town bigger and better than ever before. Another major flood occurred in 1936. Despite a pledge by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to make the city flood free, and subsequent work to do so, another major flood occurred in 1977. The 1977 flood—in what was to have been a "flood free" city—may have contributed to Johnstown's subsequent population decline and inability to attract new residents and businesses. To learn more, I've included this link to a seventh grader's video presentation which does a fine job in telling the complete story of the disaster. This came courtesy of the National Park Service.(Click Here for video)
As the decade of the 1990’s came to a close, cable television provided more opportunities for the United Way message to be delivered to the viewing public. This added to spots run on commercial television, and included high visibility through public service announcement requirements. United Way commercials were a known commodity, and served as an attractive alternative for cable networks and local insertion commercial operators. Meanwhile, the unique partnership between the United Way and the NFL celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1998. United Way was sharing their message with 110 million viewers during football season. Up to this time, over 950 different commercial spots had aired since 1973.
The growth of the Internet contributed to globalization during the decade, which allowed faster communication among people around the world. Personal computers were a Godsend and allowed the United Way to further attract donations and disseminate information out to potential donors.
In fact, the opportunity was now afforded to allow users to make donations via the computer. Meanwhile, an expert in the computing field would make a very generous donation to the organization in 1999. Bill and Melinda Gates gave $10.5 million to support vital United Way programs and services in an effort to strengthen the United Way system. In time this would become known as United Way Worldwide.
It was a time of reinvention and change for the United Way on both the national and local levels, as it entered into the new millennium. In 2000, many local chapters embarked on implementing a national brand management strategy designed to differentiate the United Way brand, and the larger system model. The strategy helped to reposition United Way as more than a "fundraiser," but instead, one of the country's leading "community impact" organization.
The goal sought after was the emergence of a community-based worldwide movement. To do so, United Way organizations across the planet would bring together financial resources, volunteers, human service agencies and community partners to make the greatest impact. This was a fledgling idea at the time, but today the United Way system constitutes approximately 1,800 community-based United Way organizations. Each is independent like United Way of Frederick County, and separately incorporated and governed by a local volunteer board of directors. These organizations address the most critical issues and mobilize resources beyond pledged funds through annual campaigns and other fund-raising efforts.
Through a “united” nationwide effort, United Way and its partners, the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, successfully petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to designate "211" for health and human services information and referral. Originally created by United Way of Atlanta, 211 is an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable telephone number that makes a critical connection between individuals and families in need and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies.
As far as the United Way of Frederick County was concerned, the seventh decade of the united giving model would fast re-affirm the great need for the organization here, while challenging local leaders to re-evaluate whether we are prepared for the worst, or doing our best for the community with monies annually raised.
At the helm of the local organization in 1999 was Dr. Ann L. Boyd, a biology teacher at Hood College. Dr. Boyd also held the distinction of being the third female to serve in the position of United Way's president. She would also be the last to hold the title, male or female, as a title change was on the horizon.
Dr. Boyd was assisted by campaign chairman Peter Plamondon, Jr. of Roy Rogers Industries. Plamondon would take the reins the following year as Chairman of the Board (2000), the position formerly referred to as president. He was assisted by campaign chairman Charles C. Clark, executive director of Buckingham’s Choice Retirement Community. Frederick County’s population was 190,000 in 2000, and ironically, 190 local companies, corporations and organizations were involved that year in helping 24 partner agencies through a campaign goal set at $2 million. ($1,468,850 was raised).
In March 2001, Michael Singer was hired to fill the executive director position which had been vacated by Susie Loveland a year before. Former Executive Director Nancy Crum (1989-1996) had been coaxed out of retirement to serve as interim director while the Board searched for a suitable replacement. Singer, formerly the vice president of development for the United Way of Greater Chattanooga (Tennessee), brought 11 years of non-profit experience to the position. Job duties were tweaked a bit and a new title came about as Singer would become the president and chief executive officer of the UWFC.
A new marketing theme was rolled out with help from local advertising firm Ann Burnside, Love and Associates. Residents were asked to consider their United Way participation as a multivitamin for the community—one that supplies the nutrients for the survival of several local non-profit organizations.
The Calm Before the Storm
The 2001 campaign kicked off on Friday, September 7th with a goal of $1.6 million. Just four short days later, the world, as we knew it, changed forever with the deadliest attack ever experienced on United States soil. Terrorists hijacked jet airliners and flew them into New York’s World Trade Center, and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Thus began “The War on Terror.”
The United Way of Frederick County responded by taking part in a new fund called The September 11th Fund, coordinated by the United Way of New York City. This was a national effort to raise money for people affected by the disaster in all parts of the United States. UWFC Chairman Charles G. Clark wrote a local letter to the editor that explained the fund, and reaffirmed the United Way’s role in helping to help provide emergency services through funding member agencies. In this case, two were at the forefront of the recovery efforts—the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
Nationwide, a renewed sense of charity was awakened by this horrific event and the warfare to follow, harkening back to the World War eras. Cooperative efforts eventually sparked federated giving in Frederick back in 1938 with the introduction of the Community Chest. As America moved forward from September 11th, 2001, additional tragic events would occur three and four years later in the form of natural forces. These included a series of devastating hurricanes in Florida in late summer/fall of 2004, and 2005 brought the legendary Hurricanes Wilma and Katrina.
Frederick was spared, but thanks to advancements in media technology including the internet, UWFC leadership members, campaign volunteers and donors had a front row seat to watch events play out at real time. Many received the wake-up call of “What if this had happened here in our community?” Well aware of this fact were UWFC chairmen serving during the early 2000s. These men were executives in the financial world: CPA Daniel W. Chaney of RSM McGladrey (2002), CPA Robert L. Tuggle of Willard Automotive Group(2003) and Senior VP Frederick S. Genau of Farmers & Mechanics Bank (2004).
The United Way throughout Florida led the response and recovery efforts by identifying the most serious needs in devastated communities. The Florida 2-1-1 Network responded to thousands of telephone calls directing victims to services such as disaster preparedness, shelters, food and water assistance, response activities, post disaster assistance, and recovery information. Local 2-1-1 operators also matched volunteers with opportunities to give help in affected communities.
In 2005, the United Way of America updated its Standards of Excellence. First adopted in 1973 and last updated in 1988, the Standards—which provide a comprehensive description of benchmark standards and best practices—reflect the organization’s strategic shift from its traditional role as fundraiser to the new mission focus of identifying and addressing the long-term needs of communities. In his “end of year report,” 2004 UWFC Campaign Chair Theodore M. "Ted" Luck (Frederick County Public Schools) said:
“Disasters don’t just happen to other people in faraway places. We have “everyday disasters” right here at home that affect your friends, your neighbors—maybe even your family. Through the 2004 UWFC Campaign, together we were able to raise $1,531,050 to ensure that basic, local services will be there for all of us—whenever we need them.” Luck's words of wisdom rang true throughout his presidential year of 2005.
Over 46,000 residents, from children to seniors, were provided critical resources through United Way’s support of local organizations capable of providing emergency assistance programs such as crisis hotlines, disaster relief, counseling and shelter from abuse and homelessness.
A Re-Focus on Mission
In 2005-2006, time, energy and resources were invested to impact the Frederick community by continuing to focus on four distinct areas through its 22 partner agencies:
1.)Support programs that assist children and families
2.)Provide emergency services
3.)Offer health education
4.)Serve those with disabilities
In the 2005 campaign, the UWFC raised $1.5 million under Board Chairman Ted Luck and Campaign Chair Eric Struntz (VP Bank of America). One year later, the annual appeal would raise $1.7 million under Struntz’ leadership.
Michael Singer departed the organization and in May 2007. Board Chairman Eric Struntz took on an even greater role to help the organization during a time of transition. Reflecting back on this period, Struntz said:
“The agency went through a fair amount of executive turnover during one phase of my board tenure. In particular, the year that I was board president we were without a CEO for 9 months or so, and I informally doubled as the “interim” CEO. I thought I knew a fair amount about the agency’s operations, but I had no idea all of the “in’s and out’s” until I experienced it firsthand. Fortunately the staff was fantastic, and they were the ones that fully kept things afloat.”
A gentleman named Bill Kantz would become the new president and chief executive officer at United Way of Frederick County. Kantz recently moved back to the continental United States from the U.S. Virgin Islands armed with 12 years of United Way experience. He previously served as the CEO for United Way organizations stateside as well in Waterloo, Iowa, Danville, Va., and Washington, D.C.
In a newspaper article introducing the new United Way administrator to the Frederick community, Kantz spoke of the challenges many traditional charitable organizations were facing at the time. He noted competition for donations had increased because the number of nonprofit organizations seeking them has grown tremendously.
“United Way organizations have to appeal to a wider scope of donors,” Kantz said. “The average donor is older than 40, but donors need to reflect community demographics. So do volunteers. Volunteers at many well-known organizations usually are older white males, he said, but it is important that traditional charities be relevant to a diverse group. People need to not just view United Way as a fundraising organization, but see how it is a great way to invest in their community.”
The 70th anniversary of the UWFC was upcoming in spring 2008. An unwelcome guest was a severe global financial crisis. The economic growth of the 2000s had considerable social, environmental and mass extinction consequences including a heightened demand for diminishing energy resources. The period from 2007-2008 is considered by many economists to have been the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Board leadership through this tough time was appropriate in the form of chairpersons Frederick L. Ridgeway, Jr. (an investor with Smith-Barney) and Jayne Bongard (VP with M&T Bank).
Under President Bill Kantz, and a re-invigorated Board of Directors, the revamped mission of the UWFC had never echoed louder: “To unite local resources in an effort to provide the most effective response to community issues in Frederick County.” Meanwhile, the organization’s Vision statement was “To build a community where everyone has the aspirations, resources and opportunities to reach their potential.”
The major ideological change featured a shift from simply allocating funds for member agencies to looking at community impact and identifying specific areas of need and monetary distribution to those that could best address these needs. This controversial move certainly wasn’t without pain as some agencies, who had grown dependent on the United Way of Frederick County, lost their major funding streams.
The Community Impact funding model had been initiated through United Way of America in the mid-2000s. Although the preliminary planning started under Mike Singer, Bill Kantz had the opportunity to introduce this concept to Frederick County.
Described as “a high paced, energetic guy with a get things done personality,” Kantz had witnessed the power of focused charitable resource allocation during his time working for United Way in the Caribbean. The caring power of communities was being harnessed and mobilized to do greater good. United Way organizations now had the power to bring communities together in an effort to focus on the most important health and social service needs by building partnerships and leveraging resources to make a measurable difference. Focus areas were being identified at the local level and varied from place to place.
With United Way Worldwide in place, a movement was now in motion to make a measurable impact on the global community as well. United Way Worldwide continues to invest in the programs and services that strengthen the ability of local United Way organizations to identify and build a coalition around a set of community priorities and measure success based on community impact.
Bill Kantz had an major task to deliver upon. It would be achieved, but sadly, the UWFC president and CEO would not live to see his vision come to fruition. Kantz died suddenly on the morning of February 19th, 2008. Shortly after coming into the office for a regular workday. He collapsed and was taken to nearby Frederick Memorial Hospital and died shortly thereafter. He was only 49 years-old. His premature death shocked grief-stricken colleagues. Board Chairman Fred Ridgeway was interviewed by the Frederick News-Post later in the day, saying: “He brought a lot of energy to us. He was getting a lot of things done for us.”
Former Chairperson and interim president Eric J. Struntz was quite active in helping the organization make this phenomenal change. He reflected:
"The work to transition from an allocations/designations model to a “community impact” model began under Mike Singer, and each subsequent CEO helped further the cause of bringing the agency to where it is today. In many ways the overall premise remains the same – United Way raises money on behalf of non-profit agencies in Frederick County, and pools those dollars together to help make a bigger impact than would have happened otherwise. However, as donors now have more and more options of who and how to give, the competition for those “dollars” is greater, and accountability for the impact the funds are having is of even higher importance. In my view, the shift to a Community Impact model was essential to the survivability of UWFC."
At this juncture, a former Frederick County delegate to the Maryland General Assembly, Rick Weldon, would step in as UWFC CEO/President. He picked up the community impact torch and moved forward in the direction that his predecessor had mapped out. Looking back, he would add:
“I’d be dishonest if I suggested the transition from a “council of community partners” to the community impact model was easy, though. It was challenging to “sell” nonprofit CEO’s, who had grown accustomed to a dependable annual allocation of resources, to the idea of targeted grants in the areas chosen by UWFC as community priorities. To their credit, all of them have adapted their expectations, and our visionary UFWC leaders have proven the value of the community impact model to help us address our most pressing problems in the areas of income, education and health.”
Eric Struntz added: “Notwithstanding the above change, continuing to have key relationships with a core group of agencies/partners remained critically important. When UWFC first started to move towards this newer operating model, there was a fair amount of trepidation amongst the agencies that UWFC had traditionally partnered with. The transition involved a significant amount of communication amongst all stakeholders, and I’d like to think that each of the CEOs at the time did a great job of helping to educate the community on the changes that were being made. And it’s important to note, most of the agencies that UWFC partners with today are decades long partners who we have worked with for many, many years.
Sudden Community Impact
One of the finest innovative ideas of the period involved a new partnership between the United Way of Frederick County and one of its greatest workplace campaign partners—Frederick County Public Schools. Entitled “Stuff the Bus,” this activity involved volunteers and participating donors actually filling a school bus with much-needed school supplies. The inaugural event occurred September 11th, 2009. Related educational-oriented initiatives to aid school children in succeeding in school soon followed. These included a collaborative effort with Frederick Community College involving a poverty simulation, and a community-wide backpack drive.
Construction Law Attorney David C. Weaver and M&T Bank VP Keith Grunow would follow Eric Struntz and Jayne Bongard as board chairpersons. All four individuals would play a role in having to hire yet another CEO/President after Rick Weldon left the organization after being offered an opportunity with the Mayor’s Office of the City of Frederick. In early 2010, the Board offered the position to a native from Utah named Josh Pedersen.
Pedersen was an appealing candidate for the job because of a proven track record in the “community impact” arena. Once in place here in Frederick, he told an FNP reporter: “The United Way is no longer a fundraising organization. It has become a community change organization. We are not just looking at production outputs, but we’re looking at the long term impact on our community.”
Pedersen had great prior experience in the non-profit world and had experience with United Way organization to boot. The Frederick Chapter now focused on helping people in three major areas in its work: education, health care and financial stability. Josh Pedersen would nurture the community impact model over the next 6 years before his departure in March 2016 to take a position at the nonprofit 2-1-1 Maryland Inc.
The midpoint of Pedersen’s tenure marked the 75th anniversary of the organization in April, 2013. By this time, a Community Impact Grants and community Needs Grants programs had been instituted. Several programs were started to address the root causes of academic achievement, financial stability and healthy lives. These included: Born Learning, FamilyWize, Prescription Discount, One Million Mentors, Student United Way, and United Way Summer Serve.
Pedersen found that “one of the coolest things” about working in the Frederick County community was “people’s commitment to solve problems and willingness to make a difference."
“It’s not about one donor or one nonprofit or one person,” he said. “It’s all of us united, coming together to solve a problem.”
A huge accomplishment for the organization during Petersen’s tenure as CEO was the effort to help working families become more financially stable. Board member Eric Struntz said,
“While the organization provides assistance for immediate needs, United Way has also aimed to 'not just put a Band-Aid on the problem,' but also help families reach economic independence. There’s a balance required between helping to meet immediate financial needs, and helping to fix the underlying problems so that those needs don’t happen to begin with. While both are important, “helping families become financially stable and independent” in my view is most critical. As a donor, I would rather give money to fix problems than provide “band aid” solutions, so focusing efforts on the underlying causes of social issues is incredibly important."
Pedersen, his board, sponsors and volunteers were very successful in building partnerships with different nonprofits, while maintaining existing relationships. This was an important part of the organization’s work during his tenure. United Way of Frederick County recognized that issues are better tackled with the power of multiple groups. This was so important as the community continued to grow.
In 2012, the UWFC annual report showed that $126,711 was invested in the area of Education, in which 1,936 persons were served. This ranged from funding put toward youth mentoring and afterschool opportunities to family coaching and Stuff the Bus.
In respect to the second pillar of Income, UWFC provided an investment of $73,895 to promote financial stability and independence. This served 1,108 people receiving help through programs such as Information and Referral Services, Neighborhood Revitalization, Homebuyers Education, Financial Literacy and Income Volunteer Training.
The third main focus are is Health, and partners ranging from Gale Recovery, Families Plus, Mission of Mercy, Frederick County Hepatitis Clinic and Villa Maria received a total investment of $69,300 in which 1,245 persons were served.
Josh Petersen and his Board of Directors also learned a valuable lesson relating to a decrease in workplace giving by leading companies. This was not going to be sufficient to meet fundraising needs. A crippling commercial recession in the rear view mirror, Frederick based companies and businesses are more transient than ever before. Eric Struntz reflects:
“We already started to see pullback of some of the larger companies in the area. CitiMortgage, Chase, Bechtel and a number of others had all significantly reduced their presence in Frederick County. The county became much more “commuter-based” as well, which made reaching those folks even more of a challenge. And with those changes, it became tougher to target individual donors for gifts. So work began to increase foundation giving, corporate sponsorship, large individual gifts, etc. as a way to help offset workplace turnover. While employee giving still remains an important component of the overall fundraising effort, the recognition of a need to diversify funding sources was very important”.
Jeffrey K. Fraley (1st Vice-Chair-M&T Bank) led the local chapter as Chairman of the Board from mid 2012-mid 2013. He was followed by Jim Racheff (CEO-Data Management Services, Inc.), who would serve two consecutive terms. Under Racheff, The United Way of Frederick County experienced another major milestone. This was the 75th anniversary of "united giving" here in Frederick County. This monumental achievement came on the heels of another as Forbes Magazine ranked United Way as one of the most efficient charities in the nation, calling the non-profit and "all-star charity."
United Way of Frederick County had certainly lived up to this all-star billing. Since the inaugural campaign drive of May, 1938, UWFC had raised more than 44,000,000 over its 75-year history. Best of all, all $44,000,000 was invested in programs and services here in Frederick County.
Out of that goal came the Prosperity Center which opened in 2014. This collaborative effort with the Frederick Housing Authority and the Frederick County Financial Literacy Coalition moved the offices of the United Way of Frederick County from their longtime home in the Federated Charities Building on S. Market Street to the 600 block of N. Market Street, within the Bernard W. Brown Community Center.
The joint initiative was designed to help provide resources for the “working poor” of Frederick County, estimated at 16,000. Here, residents can find services such as getting their tax returns done free of charge, credit counseling, asset building tools and budget coaching.
Who is this Alice?
Evolution of staff throughout the years has been important as well. Traditionally staffing requirements focused on fundraising, finance, and administration. Today, those roles remain critical, but have also expanded to include focus on both community impact and community engagement.
On August 1st, 2016, Ken Oldham took over as CEO and President of United Way of Frederick County. Boasting an extensive background in non-profit management, strategic planning, and community outreach, he came to Frederick after serving for over a decade as President of the National Philharmonic at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland.
In addition, Oldham has several years of experience in helping to develop non-profit organizations. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and a current member of Western Maryland’s Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In recognition of his professional excellence, he received the prestigious Alumni Achievement Award and the Montgomery County Executive’s Emerging Leader Award. Ken earned his Bachelor of Science from Frostburg State University, where he serves as Vice President of the FSU Foundation and Chair of the Governance Committee.
A native of Scotland, Malcolm Furgol is the UWFC's Director of Community Impact. He is responsible for the development and execution of strategies related to the long-term community impact goals of the organization, focusing on education, financial stability, and health. He has been part of the organization since December 2013 and is also in charge of planning and implementing our signature United Way activities
Furgol served as Membership & Information Manager at The Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington and as Board Chair for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of DC (YNPNdc).
The Annual Leadership Breakfast in fall continues to put the campaign drives in motion, and springtime brings recognition to leading community volunteers and organizations supporting the United Way through the Bravo! Awards event.
Roger Stenersen (Director of Hood College's Educational Leadership program)served two terms as UWFC's Board Chairman (mid 2014-mid 2016) and was followed by James Sears (President of Maryland Operations-First Energy Corporation) and Danny Vasquez (GM-Plamondon Hospitality Partners).
At this important milestone, it’s so important to see what the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce thinks about the organization—one it formed back in 1938. As a catalyst for enhancing the economic vibrancy of the Frederick community, the Chamber has provided the UWFC team with tools to be better professionals through a large spectrum of training opportunities. Fine workers and keen Board members usually can have skills sharpened at the Chamber, not to mention the leadership programs offered. Additionally, the Chamber links UWFC with similar organizations so networking and problem-solving even between peers can become more commonplace.
Rick Weldon, a Delaware native, first came to Frederick in 1985 and has been involved with the United Way of Frederick County as a donor, volunteer and served as President and CEO from 2008-2009. Today, Weldon serves as Vice-President of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and shares a unique perspective on the UWFC’s impact back on the Chamber, itself—the organization responsible for its establishment here in Frederick back in 1938:Rick Weldon, a Delaware native, first came to Frederick in 1985 and has been involved with the United Way of Frederick County as a donor, volunteer and served as President and CEO from 2008-2009. Today, Weldon serves as Vice-President of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and shares a unique perspective on the UWFC’s impact back on the Chamber, itself—the organization responsible for its establishment here in Frederick back in 1938:
From its earliest days, UWFC has played an important and lasting role as a part of the Chamber of Commerce. We’ve always had a strong presence of UWFC board members and volunteers also serving on Chamber boards and committees, and they share their concerns and accomplishments with their colleagues in the private sector. The Chamber provides space and support for the Frederick Nonprofit Alliance, a group comprised of CEO’s from many of our leading nonprofit organizations. They share best practices, experiences and resources, all under the umbrella of the Frederick County Chamber. It’s something we’re very proud of!
United Way of Frederick County is a powerful representation of the generosity of the people of Frederick County. The ability to focus resources on our most pressing challenges and in support of our most vulnerable populations has always been UWFC’s strength. That was the basis for the original Community Chest investment fund, and continues today as the underlying mission of UWFC. When called, our community always seems to answer!
Happy 80th United Way of Frederick County!
"The first forty years of life give us the text:
the next thirty supply the commentary."
These were the words of 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. United Way of Frederick County celebrated its 40th milestone in 1978. It was a decided time where the past growth and daily life of the organization over four decades could now be reflected upon, and measured for true meaning. The time and efforts of hundreds, if not thousands, of board members, volunteers and donors had provided a manual and road map—one to be used to help chart out direction for the next 40 years.
In 1979, local dentist Robert Broadrup served as Board President of United Way of Frederick County to close out the decade of the 1970s. Fittingly, most Americans would begin to have teeth clinched, beginning in November of 1979, in response to the Iran hostage crisis. This was a diplomatic standoff between Iran and the United States in which 52 American diplomats and citizens would be held hostage for 444 days from November 4th, 1979, to January 20th, 1981. These hostages were taken by a radical group of Iranian students who stormed the US embassy in Tehran.
The US hostage crisis stands as the longest of its kind in recorded history, and had serious consequences on the presidency of Jimmy Carter, and his eventual defeat for a second term to Republican challenger, Ronald Reagan. A galvanized US, full of national pride, was another result as the country came together in their support of fellow citizens. Yellow ribbons became a popular icon of the time, primarily symbolizing the resolve of the American people to win the hostages' safe release. Campaigns were led to "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" around public trees as well as encouraging people to wear tied ribbons on lapels.
When President Reagan took office, major changes and cuts were made to federal spending, especially in relation to government-funded social programs and needs. In a televised address in late September 1981, the president called for “new, imaginative” partnerships between local governments and voluntary organizations to help meet the nation’s human care needs. This message was greeted by great enthusiasm by staff and volunteer leaders of Frederick County's United Way.
During the president’s five-minute message, Reagan emphasized voluntary organizations such as the United Way to be “the core” of our social welfare system. He asked “all individuals of every income level” and “all corporations of every size” to give more generously than ever to that fall’s United Way campaign. Reagan said: ”People who give to help others want to know the greatest part of their charitable gift actually goes to those who need help. That’s true of the United Way.” The president described himself as a “fellow volunteer,” following in the presidential tradition of delivering a special United Way message to the nation, something that began in 1927 with Calvin Coolidge’s national radio broadcast.
Against this backdrop, UWFC Executive Director Jean Laws worked hard to keep attention on member non-profits and the work they continued to do for the local community. These included: the American Red Cross, Arthritis Foundation, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, FSK Boy Scouts of America, Counseling Services, Epilepsy Chapter, Federated Charities, Frederick Community Center, Frederick County Association for Retarded Citizens, Girl Scouts, Goodwill Industries, Mental Health Association, Learning Tree, Inc., Salvation Army, Seton Center and the YMCA. Nine more organizations would be added over the next few years: Community Living, Catholic Charities, Battered Spouses of Frederick County, Group Homes, Inc., Frederick Telecom Association, Gale House Inc., Jericho II (group home for boys), Frederick County Hotline, and Information and Referral Services.
The campaign of 1978 raised $328,500, $4,500 over the initial goal. Mrs. Laws and Dr. Broadrup were aided by the first-ever female chairperson in the 1979 campaign. This was Kathryn “Kitty” Reed of the Frederick Citizens Savings & Loan. Ms. Reed was fresh off serving two terms as president of the Frederick Chamber of Commerce. The tandem brought in $381,143 in 1979.
Kitty Reed would take over from Broadrup as Board president the following year, representing the first woman to do so in the organization’s history. She elaborated on the "football" kickoff theme from 1978 by bringing in a true kicker from the local, semi-professional football team known as the Frederick Falcons. A tally of $424,604 would be brought in for 1980's annual campaign, and $440,528 would follow in 1981. Two other folks served in leadership roles at the start of the decade—Jack F. Mason (Manager of Frederick Gas Company) and James F. Reilly (Underwriting Superintendent for State Farm Insurance).
In August 1982, Jean Laws made the difficult decision to retire after 10 years at the helm. Her husband had been offered a job allowing the couple to return to Salisbury, and family and friends there. During her tenure, member agencies grew from 10 to 25. The budget grew from just over $200,000 to the near-half a million, the amount budgeted for the 1983 Appeal being $490,000. Laws’ last campaign (the previous fall) attained $445,000, the largest amount the organization had ever experienced, even though there had been an ambitious goal of $480,000. In Mrs. Laws’ defense, a current economic recession and a multitude of cutbacks by the federal government were prime factors for the UWFC falling short of their mark—the financial climate was the most difficult since the Great Depression era of the 1930’s.
To Jean Laws’ credit, the previous four United Way campaigns surpassed projected goals, thus providing agencies with 100% funding—a fine legacy to go with her departure. In an interview appearing in the August 12th, 1982 Frederick News-Post, Mrs. Laws said: “I have found Frederick Countians are not only to me very friendly people, but that they will come through with donations every time.”
In the article, Jean Laws was praised by former United Way presidents Lawrence A. “Tommy” Dorsey, Jr. along with Jack Mason, Robert L. Snyder, and Pat Dean (former director of the American Red Cross). Mr. Dorsey said of Laws:
“She works so well with volunteers, and as hard as the volunteers. She knows how to direct, she is a director if there ever was one. She is very much interested in the Frederick County community…has the faculty for remembering the small, important details about people…a lot of charisma.”
Jean Laws went on to say:
”It’s the hundreds of volunteers who work together to make it all possible and worthwhile. The volunteers who give so much of themselves to help others are just wonderful people. Working together has been, and always will be, the basis of success. In working well with each other in complete harmony, the United Way idea will succeed,” Mrs. Laws explained. “Of course it's the little things that have made it a rewarding job. The bottom line is people helping people. United Way has helped a lot of people and that’s the important key. If you can do that, in the bad times as well as the good, then you know you have done a good job. This has been one of the best experiences in my life—the United Way and Frederick—specifically the people of Frederick.”
Dorothy Jean Laws left Frederick, but would continue using her talents as she served for many years as a consultant to United Way groups on the Eastern Shore. Now the 1983 campaign had to "kick-off" without its seasoned leader, and amidst the continued recession complete with a time of high unemployment. However, these were conditions that the United Way and its forerunners (UGF and Community Chest) were originally built to withstand.
The Reagan Years
The 1980s decade was one of roller-coaster like, socioeconomic change due to advances in technology and a worldwide move away from planned economies and towards laissez-faire capitalism. Many economists at the very least agree that the changing global economic trends of the 1980s can be somewhat attributed to the "Reagan Boom", which, in the 1980s was a record setting era that eventually produced more jobs and more economic expansion than any other time in U.S. history. As economic liberalization increased in the developed world, several multi-national manufacturing corporations relocated to countries such as Thailand, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, and China.
The final decade of the Cold War opened with the US-Soviet confrontation continuing largely without any interruption. Superpower tensions escalated rapidly as President Reagan adopted a much more aggressive stance on the Soviet Union. The world came very close to nuclear war for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, but the second half of the decade would see a dramatic easing of superpower tensions and ultimately the total collapse of Soviet communism. The fall of the USSR made conservative economic policy more popular both home and abroad.
The United Way model was working here in Frederick County, and had been for well over four decades. This was an interesting case study based on Frederick’s economic situation from a historic perspective. Frederick was, and had always been, a conservative, agricultural community. It was one devoid of large industry like Baltimore to the east, and Hagerstown to the west. The major United Way success stories around the country occurred in places of high business and industrial activity. Campaigns that could tap into companies with large employee pools were generally more successful than not. For years, Frederick’s biggest employers were businesses including the Union Knitting Mills, the Ox-Fibre Brush Company, M. J. Grove Lime Company and the Everedy Company. Banks were a constant, as were schools, but white-collar jobs would not expand here until the growth of emtities such as Fort Detrick and Frederick Memorial Hospital.
Earl Robbins would find himself in the role of president in late summer of 1982. He was assisted by banker Richard C. Marshall III (1st VP Maryland National Bank). The third piece of the top leadership team involved a replacement to fill the big shoes left by Jean Laws with just weeks before the ensuing campaign drive. Joyce Cramer, the new, executive director hire, was a hometown girl who had plenty of experience with the non-profit group, having spent the previous 11 years with Central Maryland United Way. The Frederick High School and Hood College alumnus had helped manage campaigns in many neighboring Maryland counties and Baltimore City.
A newspaper article from September 1983 reported: “this year the organization is taking a more determined direction on fundraising methods to make the county’s campaign the most successful one ever.” One of the plans the United Way developed in an effort to bring the community campaign into line with the agencies’ actual needs is “campaign potential,” an idea developed by Cramer. The plan includes a study comparing the Frederick County community to others across the nation, similar in size and nature, to estimate how far this area would need to increase to meet the national campaign average.
When the proverbial smoke cleared in early 1984, it was determined that the 1983 campaign raised $552,254. The new leadership team of Robbins, Marshall and Cramer had done it, of course with the help of determined volunteers and countless others. At a banquet in February, 1984, Robbins commented: “The practice of neighbor helping neighbor has been rekindled in Frederick County. The enthusiasm and success generated in the 1983 campaign has been heartwarming. God bless all the givers in Frederick County.”
A year later, the goal was increased by 45% to $800,000. The rationale rested in the belief that the campaign should raise the true total needed for budgets by the 26 partner agencies under the United Way umbrella. The campaign fell short of its intended goal by raising only $700,000. However, this was still nearly $150,000 in additional funds raised than the previous year.
Our United Way Celebrity
The 1985 campaign included another increase of the desired drive goal to $962,000 for the purpose of covering 22 local agencies. The official kick-off of the campaign included a varied entertainment bill at the Weinberg Center for the Arts. WFMD’s Tommy Grunwell served as emcee on a night that included country music performed by Don Barnes and Debbie Williams, organ selections by Richard Kline, and the showing of two films produced by the United Way.
Several hundred people turned out to honor a very special guest, Julie Bartee, a Brunswick resident who was the national spokesperson for the United Way. Miss Bartee was also a senior at Maryland School for the Deaf. She had originally played a role in the United Way’s documentary film “You Don’t Do It, It Won’t Get Done,” produced in 1971. At the time, Julie was two years-old and living with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. The film showed how Julie’s parents, Robert and Gina Bartee, received help in diagnosing their daughter’s deafness through the Bill Wilkerson Hearing and Speech Center, an agency funded by the United Way. Country music legend Loretta Lynn helped tell the story.
After receiving help, the Bartee family was urged to move to Frederick County to be near the Maryland School for the Deaf. Earlier in the year (1985), Loretta Lynn was called on to take part in a new film entitled “Memories,” in which Julie Bartee’s story was revisited 14 years later, sharing Julie’s academic success, and athletic prowess as an-award-winning track and field competitor who set several national records. Future United Way president, and current MSD Superintendent, Dr. David M. Denton introduced Miss Bartee as “a special person who strived to do her best.” Julie would give a speech in sign language retorting, “United Way was there when I needed their support.” She would continue to travel the country as an ambassador for the United Way during her year as spokesperson. The "hometown girl's" rise to prominence would have a very positive effect on elevating the message of the local organization.
The following February of 1986, the entire Bartee family was lauded by the United Way of Frederick with the Volunteer of the Year award. Tommy Grunwell was also given special recognition for his generous help with the fund drive which netted $816,817. The goal would be raised to top the million-dollar mark a year later.
By the mid-80s, developing countries across the world faced economic and social difficulties as they suffered from multiple debt crises requiring many (of these countries) to apply for financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Ethiopia witnessed widespread famine in the mid-1980s due to corrupt rulers, resulting in the country's dependence on foreign aid to provide food to its population, along with worldwide efforts to address and raise money such as the Live Aid Concert in 1985. Pop music had done some “out of the box” fundraising of its own, inspiring new ideas and avenues for addressing needs.
From a global health perspective, The AIDS epidemic had become recognized as a killer of millions. Over the next three decades it would be responsible for taking the lives of nearly 40 million people.
In the 1980s, some of the momentum of education reform moved from the left to the right, with the release of “A Nation at Risk,” Ronald Reagan's efforts to reduce or eliminate the United States Department of Education. In the latter half of the decade, E. D. Hirsch put forth an influential attack on one or more versions of progressive education, advocating an emphasis on "cultural literacy"—the facts, phrases, and texts that Hirsch asserted every American had once known and that now only some knew, but was still essential for decoding basic texts and maintaining communication.
After high tension for most of a decade, 1988 marked much improved relations between the US and Soviet Union. A decade that began with US residents getting to watch a miraculous ice hockey victory over the Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics, now was coming to a close with images of the infamous Berlin Wall being toppled.
Digital technological advances ushered in the era of compact discs and digital video discs (dvds), changing entertainment delivery and quality for the better. Cable television was providing expansive offerings in entertainment, sports and news options. The global Internet had taken shape in academic settings such as college campuses by the second half of the 1980s, as well as many other computer networks of both academic and commercial use. By 1989, the Internet and the networks linked to it were a global system—quickly leading to the World Wide Web created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
The latter half of the decade saw additional gifted community leaders guiding United Way of Frederick County and the annual appeals. State Farm's Deputy Regional VP Charles L. Snyder served as president in 1985 and was followed by Robert E. Clark, president of John Hanson Savings (1986). James D. Latimer, eastern division manager for Potomac Edison, headed the UWFC in 1987 and David M. Denton, Superintendent of the Maryland School for the Deaf, took charge in 1988. Under Denton's presidency, two more partner agencies joined the United Way—The American Cancer Society, and DILA (Deaf Independent Living Association).
Going for Gold
1988 marked a very special year for the United Way of Frederick County as it was a landmark anniversary in which the organization would celebrate its 50th. Going back to 1938 and the Community Chest, special brochures and posters had been produced by volunteers for each annual campaign. This commemorative year was no different as Charlene Hennessy of IronGate Graphics designed the theme and poster for 1988 entitled "Going for Gold." The poster depicted the spirit of the Olympic Games with marathon runners moving ahead with the strength and determination to make the finish line.
A lofty goal of $1,800,00 was set for this hallmark year. This was considerably larger than the previous year's (1987) projected intake of $1,177,476 (of which only $952, 850 was collected). A special kickoff breakfast was held on September 16th at the FSK Holiday Inn Frederick. Immediately following breakfast, a celebratory motorcade had been arranged which took participants northward from the hotel (located just off MD85/Buckeystown Pike) to Downtown Frederick via Market Street. The grand marshal for the event was Frances Randall, part owner of the Frederick News-Post and niece of the Frederick Community Chest's inaugural 2nd VP, William T. Delaplaine. Mrs. Randall had served as a longtime guiding light for the Girl Scouts of Frederick, a charter partner-agency with the organization dating to 1938.
The motorcade ended at the Big Brothers/Big Sisters office on N. Market Street, located within the Odd Fellows Home. Along the route, representatives from all 20 agencies of the UWFC waved banners, flew balloons and cheered on the vehicles with a chant of "Go for Gold!"
The 1988 anniversary campaign brought in $1,238,00. This was only 69% of the desired goal, however, it was a $286,000 improvement on 1987's sum and the first time in Frederick history that the annual appeal would break the "million-dollar mark."
After the excitement of the anniversary year waned, another major transition would beset the United Way's Frederick Chapter. Executive Director Joyce Cramer retired in June, 1989. Over her seven-year tenure, the number of volunteers had jumped from 200-500. Annual contributions followed suit going from $350,000 to over $1,200,000. The departure of Mrs. Cramer opened the door for a new executive director in the person of Nancy Crum. Crum formerly held the position of assistant director of the UWFC, and was a natural choice to serve as acting executive director in Cramer’s absence. She would soon become executive director and hold the post for five years.
A group of doctors in education helped lead the United Way of Frederick County from the mid 1980’s into the 1990’s. These included the fore mentioned Dr. David Denton (Maryland School for the Deaf) and Dr. John George (Frederick County Public School teacher and elementary history curriculum head) and Dr. Michael Cohen (former principal of Lewistown Elementary). The educational and communicative talents of these gentlemen would certainly be put to the test at the start of the next decade as unforeseen trouble was brewing.
The National Scandal
Michael Cohen was serving as United Way of Frederick County president in February, 1992 amidst a grim economy. To add insult to injury, this was also the same period that a national media story surfaced involving impropriety and financial mismanagement within the national United Way organization. The scandal was focused on William Aramony, CEO of the national United Way for over 20 years. The story was broke by investigative columnist Jack Anderson. Aramony would retire in 1992 amid allegations of fraud and financial mismanagement, of which he was subsequently convicted. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $300,000.
While many United Way chapters throughout the country scrambled to combat “guilt by association,” United Way of Frederick County was able to stand confident and “educate” the community about its own track record, fiduciary practices and the integrity of its leadership and general membership of volunteers from throughout the county. UWFC members wanted the masses and, most importantly, campaign contributors to understand that their local campaign donations stayed local, and had been properly appropriated to local agency partners.
Board President Michael Cohen, a native of Brooklyn, NY had come to Frederick in 1976 and worked as a supervisor of elementary schools. He had also formerly served as director of the Frederick March of Dimes and as a Board member of the ARC of Frederick County. He addressed the many concerns raised with a heartfelt and poignant commentary in the Frederick News-Post dated February 26th, 1992. The letter was signed by the 31 members of the UWFC Board and staff, showing their professional affiliations and unity to the continued cause at hand.
Countering Grungy Times
Culturally, the 1990’s are characterized by the rise of multiculturalism and alternative media, which continued into the 2000’s. The term “grunge” became popular during this time, first used to describe the murky-guitar bands that emerged from Seattle and the northwest part of the country such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Bands weren’t the only things “grungy,” during this time. The United Way brand had taken a major hit, and was now perceived by many as dirty and unkempt. The scandal wasn’t through playing out in the national media. Just days after the 1993 campaign kicked off here locally in October of 1993, more national news came out about the misuse of funds by William Aramony and other national UW staffers. The scandal would subside as the new governance structure implemented at United Way of America became a model for the nonprofit sector.
Following the presidency of Dr. Michael Cohen, Richard Roschli (Potomac Edison's eastern division manager) was charged with leading the organization into brighter times. Now more than ever, a strong public relations effort, as well as positive marketing, was needed at the local level to dispel rumor and misconceptions. Susan Shreve, a staffer at the US Treasury Department was hired to handle a newly created position as UWFC’s Marketing and Communications Director. Another proactive move occurred as the next four years leading up to the 60th anniversary of the organization seemed to feature professional leadership individuals that were "ultra-responsible" with handling money and garnering community support.
The fore-mentioned Ramona Corun Remsberg was a native of Jefferson (MD) and former president of Frederick County National Bank. She spent 55 years at FCNB and holds the distinction of being the first female in Frederick history to hold a chief position at a local financial institution.
Mrs. Remsberg would serve two terms as UWFC campaign chair in 1992 & 1993 and Board president 1994 & 1995. She is fondly remembered today as one of the most dynamic leaders ever to grace the organization. Many recall that Ramona Remsberg positively influenced volunteers and donors alike to give more of themselves and their donation for the good of the community. She would be followed as Board president by R. Michael Menzies of 1st Bank of Frederick.
September 14, 1995 marked the kickoff of the 1995 campaign. The stage was set for United Way of Frederick County’s first ever “Day of Caring” event. This featured 210 volunteers from 30 businesses, adorned in United Way t-shirts and participating in 40 community service projects around the county. The event gave volunteers a first-hand view of the everyday work done by partner agencies. They also got to see their hard-earned contributions at work.
For additional coverage during this fragile time, insurance expert Joseph D. Baker would chair the campaign in 1996 and serve as president in 1997 and 1998. You could say that Baker also had fiscal knowledge in his blood as his namesake grandfather helped organize three different Frederick banks over his lifetime. As was stated at the onset, the elder Joseph D. Baker knew a bit about philanthropy as well.
Executive Director Nancy Crum had left the UWFC in 1996. Her replacement was Charles Riddle who came from Sagamon County, Illinois where he was involved with the local United Way of that place for 22 years. Riddle stayed in Frederick for only 10 months before tendering his resignation in April 1997. Current UWFC Board Vice-President Susie Loveland was quickly appointed as acting executive director. Loveland was co-campaign chair the previous year, and had served as organization president of the Berkeley County United Way from 1986-1990 before coming to Frederick to take up employment as Public Relations Director for Frederick Community College.
In 1998, President Baker, along with his campaign chair, Dr. Ann Boyd, a biology professor at Hood College, kicked off the 60th year of "federated and united giving" in the area. Although not as grand as the 50th commemoration a decade previously, Acting Executive Director Susie Loveland worked diligently on a fine campaign to celebrate the United Way of Frederick County's "Diamond Jubilee."
The United Way had weathered a major storm on both the national and local levels. It was time for celebration, and a renewed commitment to the mission at hand as the world was readying to move into the new millennium. The mission of the 60-year-old organization was still as it always had been--to maximize community support to meet the human service needs of Frederick County.
By the end of the 1950s, war-ravaged Europe had been re-constructed and began experiencing a tremendous economic boom. The United States and its allies had rebuilt their former foes into democracies based on the model of capitalism. Here at home, sluggish economic growth during the 1950s, would soon give way to another major boom in the 1960’s.
World War II had brought about a huge leveling of social classes in which the remnants of the old feudal gentry disappeared, even here in Frederick. New residents from around the country, and world, had come to the area. This was primarily due to the growing importance of Camp Detrick, renamed Fort Detrick in 1956, and designated as a permanent installation for the US Army. Biological warfare experimentation continued to be researched here after World War II and throughout the Korean War to follow (1950-1953). Other projects underway involved scientists and support staff studying infectious diseases, cancer and genetic engineering. Some worked on developing better medical equipment and improving the environment. Detrick would also become the permanent site of the East Coast Relay Station in 1959, one of the key locations in America’s Defense Communications System, made all the more valuable during the Cold War period.
Other newcomers to Frederick County settled here as a result of the advent of commuting. The interstate highway system came about under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Its importance stemmed originally from defense purposes, but it would soon revolutionize the nation by opening undeveloped areas throughout the country into new “suburbias.” High-speed superhighways allowed easy access to jobs centered in Baltimore, Washington, DC and Hagerstown. The expressway to the nation’s capital cut driving time in half, trimming a trip of roughly 80 minutes into one taking 40 minutes. On the local level, these roadways opened up new living opportunities throughout Frederick County. The automobile was the key lynchpin, allowing a degree of transportation freedom never experienced before. The economy of a nation benefited from the fruits of automobile makers.
The 1950s decade ended with J. Harold Hooper at the helm of the Chest, and a campaign goal of $110,000 for the United Fund Appeal (between the Community Chest and American Red Cross). At this time, another local non-profit called Counseling Services, Inc. was admitted for membership.
Meanwhile, a push was being made on the national, state and local level towards providing civil rights for all—underscoring racial equality for African-Americans. The post-war time of high economic growth and general prosperity became one in which African-Americans united and organized, and finally secured a triumph as the Civil Rights Movement ended Jim Crow segregation in the South. Frederick was the northernmost bastion of noted race inequality as it lingered directly below the famed Mason-Dixon Line. Here, schools, civic and social clubs, and restaurants would soon experienc desegregation. Further laws were passed that made discrimination illegal, and provided federal oversight to guarantee voting rights.
Despite the prosperity of the postwar era, a significant minority of Americans continued to live in poverty by the end of the 1950s. In 1947, 34% of all families earned less than $3,000/year, compared with 22.1% in 1960. Nevertheless, between one-fifth and one-fourth of the population could not survive on the income they earned. The older generation of Americans did not benefit as much from the postwar economic boom, especially since many had never recovered financially from the loss of their savings during the Great Depression.
It was generally a given that the average 35-year-old in 1959 owned a better house and car than the average 65-year-old, who typically had nothing but a small Social Security pension for an income. Many blue-collar workers continued to live in poverty, with 30% of those employed in industry in 1958 receiving under $3,000/year. In addition, individuals who earned more than $10,000/year paid a lower proportion of their income in taxes than those who earned less than $2,000/year.
Blasting Off into the New Decade
The continuing generosity of the community was needed, and by now, expected. The average goal of the United Fund Appeals through the decade (1960-1969) was $155,222 with average contributions and pledges totaling $146,025. The campaign, however, did not run itself. It was the solicitation for funds led by community leaders and tireless workers who unselfishly gave of their time, talent and energies.
Among the guiding citizens of Frederick County's Community Chest during the 1960s era, we find the names of:
Carl V. Weakley (Manager-C&P Telephone)
Nicholas A. Fanos (President, Frederick Iron & Steel)
Charles V. Main (Frederick City Police Chief)
Raymond C. Brehaut (President, Frederick Natural Gas Co.)
Jacob R. Ramsburg (Co-founder Frederick Underwriters & local/state politician)
George A. Zeigler (MJ Grove Lime Co.)
John R. Cheatham (Owner/Manager, Key Chevrolet)
Dwight Collmus (Alex Brown & Sons)
Francis W. Bush, Sr. (Dir. Of Safety/PR, MJ Grove Lime Co.)
Paul J. Green (Manager, Farmers Supply Company)
John C. Houston (Frederick Electronics Corporation)
Charles M. Trubac (Vice-President, State Farm Insurance)
James L. Rimler (CPA/Frederick County Auditor 1956-1963)
James W. Freeman (President, Frederick Natural Gas Company)
"In an impassioned speech to both houses of Congress on May 25th, 1961, US President John F. Kennedy announced his ambitious aim of sending an American to walk on the moon before the end of the decade. Calling for a massive injection of extra funds into the space program, the President said:
"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth."
The President went on to say that an estimated $9 billion would be needed over five years for research and development of the technology that would be required to make lunar exploration a reality, but that he did not envision the need for new taxes to raise the funds.
In truth, Kennedy’s announcement was motivated by a number of political factors. He had been blamed for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba by anti-Castro exiles in April, and had also seen the Soviet Union beat the US into space when Yuri Gagarin made his orbit of the Earth that same month. There was also a genuine fear of allowing the Soviets to get too far ahead in the Space Race in terms of what it might mean for their strategic power. “We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share,” said the President.
Frederick County got caught up in "space exploration fever" as well, trickling down to the Community Chest Appeal of 1961. "Appeal rockets" now took the place of the formerly used "appeal thermometers." The "Rocket" on its launching pad was designed by Larry Hauver, an 11th grader at Thurmont High School. Seven of these were placed at various locations around the county: Downtown Frederick, the Frederick Shopping Center at 7th Street, Fort Detrick, Walkersville, Thurmont and Middletown.
Executive Director Willard H. Markey was soon replaced by Sgt. Harry A. Harper. Ironically, or by design, the air & space motif was kept intact as Sgt.Harper was a former Air Force recruiter in Frederick who retired from the military in 1961. Harper would serve the Frederick Community Chest over the next four years until 1966. Of particular note during Mr. Harper’s tenure was the October 1963 Kickoff Meeting for the United Fund’s 1963 fall campaign. Mr. Harper described the rally held in West Frederick Junior High School as “one of the most enthusiastic rallies ever to be held in the area”. The principle feature of the event was a collection of short reports given by the 11 member agencies of the United Appeal.
The overall worldwide economic trend in the 1960s had been one of prosperity, expansion of the middle class, and the proliferation of new domestic technology. Rapid social and technological changes brought about a growing corporatization of America and the decline of smaller businesses, which often suffered from high post-war inflation and mounting operating costs.
Local employers were urged to utilize the payroll deduction method of securing pledges by their employees for contributions. Encouragement came from the nation’s capital as telegrams were received from Frederick native and US Congressman Edward McCurdy “Mac” Mathias, Jr., and another from US Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy, brother of the president of the United States. Both messages were addressed to the Chest's General Campaign Chairman, John W. Morgan. Kennedy’s telegram read:
“Congratulations to you and all your volunteers joining with you in your “kick-off” of the 1963 campaign. Your joint efforts are in the finest American tradition of people helping people. I am congratulating you and wishing you well (signed) Robert F. Kennedy.”
Robert F. Kennedy’s brother would be assassinated just a month later in Dallas, Texas. The Kennedy family had captured the imagination of the country, especially young people. In response to civil disobedience campaigns from groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), President John F. Kennedy, pushed for social reforms. His death was a shock to the nation. The reforms of former President Kennedy were finally passed under Lyndon B. Johnson including civil rights for African Americans, and healthcare for the elderly and the poor.
The confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union dominated geopolitics during the 1960s, with the struggle expanding into developing nations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia as the Soviet Union moved from being a regional to a truly global superpower and began vying for influence in the developing world. After President Kennedy's assassination, direct tensions between the US and Soviet Union cooled. However, the heavy-handed American role in the Vietnam War outraged student protestors around the globe. With escalation of this war throughout the second half of the decade and into the next, the Red Cross took on an air of greater importance for charity at home.
New member agencies to the Community Chest over the previous few years were Travelers Aid, (1963), Kids Incorporated (1963), Epilepsy Chapter (1965), and Fort Detrick Youth Activities (1965). In 1966, new resident Roger Cann was appointed to succeed Harry A. Harper, who had left the area after being lured away to become executive director of the United Health Foundation in Peoria, Ill. Cann, a Boston native had come to Frederick by way of Salisbury, Maryland. During Harper’s four years at the helm, Frederick’s United Appeal rose from a nine-agency drive raising $120,000 (and not meeting its goal year after year) to a 13-agency drive which raised $161,000 in Harper’s last year (1965) exceeding its goal for the second straight year. Cann had great familiarity with the United Appeal and Community Chest because he had served as District Scout Executive for the Francis Scott Key Boy Scouts since 1958.
Sadly, Roger Cann’s tenure would be cut short by his sudden death in early January of 1968. The Community Chest Board found their new leader in retired Army colonel Richard Clendenin, who resigned his position as Public Relations Officer for Fort Detrick to serve as Executive Director of the annual United Fund campaign. Clendenin was part of the Army’s Chemical Corps and at one time served on the Pentagon’s general staff. He had been assigned to Fort Detrick, where he stayed until his retirement from the Army in 1963. His talent as an amateur actor and director endeared him to the local community as a regular with the Fredericktowne Players theatrical group.
The Fall campaign of 1967 marked the 30th such drive in the organization's existence. That first-ever Chest campaign of May, 1938 achieved a collection of $15,503.55.
At the Community Chest's "Annual Appeal Recognition Dinner" held in February 1968, Chest President Paul J. Green remembered the late Roger W. Cann "for his devotion to his work and community." He also thanked his campaign chair John C. Houston on raising $160,916 thus achieving 93% of the appeal goal of $172,127. Last, but certainly not least, two special ladies, Mrs. Marie Linthicum (Community Chest Secretary) and Miss Mayetta Hershberger, (volunteer extraordinaire) were praised by Green for their "splendid cooperation and devoted support" during his term in office.
The Community Chest of Frederick County closed out the decade with presidents Francis W. Bush Sr. in 1968 and James L. Rimler in 1969. The 1968 campaign raised $171,391 out of a goal of $190,000. To end the decade, the Chest "shot for the stars" with a campaign goal of $200,000. Although the goal was not achieved, the Community Chest of Frederick County would raise $183,840 for its partner agencies.
Historians have increasingly portrayed the 1970s as a "pivot of change" in world history focusing especially on the economic upheavals, following the end of the postwar economic boom.
Social progressive values that began in the 1960s, such as increasing political awareness and economic liberty of women, continued to grow. Most industrialized countries experienced an economic recession due to an oil crisis caused by embargoes. The crisis was felt by consumers and featured such travesties as skyrocketing mortgage rates and long lines at gas pumps.
Novelist Tom Wolfe coined the term “the ‘Me’ decade" in an article published for the New Yorker Magazine. The term described a general new attitude of Americans towards atomized individualism and away from communitarianism, in clear contrast with the 1960s. It was a time that saw people embrace entertainment and consumer culture like never before. These factors seemingly would stack the deck against federated giving.
In 1970, a name change came to the organization originally founded in 1938 as the Frederick Community Chest. The new moniker given was the United Givers Fund of Frederick County, Inc. In addition to a new name, Goodwill Industries became the group’s 14th member agency at this time.
In late December, 1970, Col. Clendenin would announce his resignation in order to enjoy retirement and devote more time to his acting hobby. A surprise move was on the horizon in the form of Clendenin’s replacement—one that seems so fitting with the rise of the second phase of the feminism/women’s movement. This period was ripe with activity aimed to gain greater equality for women by giving more than just voting rights, as it included domestic issues (such as clothing and a break with traditional household roles) and employment.
At a meeting of the Frederick County United Givers Fund (UGF) Board of Directors in late November 1971, an announcement was made that the Board had unanimously elected Mrs. Marie Linthicum as executive director. The Mount Airy native (and mother of two) had served as office secretary since taking over from Helen Croghan in 1965. Linthicum’s previous work experience included secretarial duties held with the Social Security Administration in Baltimore and the Board of Education of Montgomery County. Interestingly, a newspaper account announcing her appointment states: "in addition to being active in scouting and serving as an assistant den mother, Marie Linthicum was a former “Miss Mount Airy.”
Suburbanization caused the gradual movement of working-class people and jobs out of the inner cities as shopping centers displaced the traditional downtown stores. In time, this would have disastrous effects on urban areas. In the meantime, the suburban housing market was booming. This was happening here in Frederick.
City residents and newcomers moved into the suburbs of Frederick. Developments such as Clover Hill, Frederick Town Village, Eastgate, and townhouse communities such as Amber Meadows and Waverly Gardens offered safehavens away from the declining downtown area.
Downtown businesses were following suit, or receiving newfound competition from the many restaurants and stores that would open within two major shopping malls, built during the decade. Surrounding corridors including The Golden Mile (US40) and Evergreen Point (MD85) would become commercial meccas.
UGF, We hardly Knew You
The United Givers Fund of Frederick County of the early 1970s would be led by the likes of Charles M. Trubac, Vice-President of State Farm Insurance (1970); James W. Freeman, President, Frederick Gas Company (1971); F. Lawrence Silbernagel, Regional VP of Maryland National Bank (1972); Charles A. Simms, General Accounting Supervisor for Eastalco Aluminum Company (1973); and J. Paul Langley, Asst. General Manager of Capitol Milk Producers (1974).
In 1972, Marie Linthicum was replaced by another female executive–Dorothy Jean Laws. Mrs. Laws was no stranger to the organization, having served as Executive Secretary for the United Giving Fund of Wicomico County since 1962. She was exactly what Frederick County needed, and would prove invaluable as yet another outsider who brought fresh ideas and perspective to the community.
Laws' previous experience with United Giving campaigns was paramount. This would be an era where a stronger relationship would be built between the local chapter and the parent organization, United Way of America, which had recently moved its headquarters from New York City to nearby Alexandria, VA in 1971.
One of the top achievements of Frederick’s newly named UGF organization in the early 1970s was heightened visibility outside the traditional campaign model. This came with successful sponsoring of unique community benefit events. The entity would begin hosting annual golf tournaments, a "Show & Tell" exhibit at the newly constructed Frederick Towne Mall, and variety talent shows.
Entitled "Curtain Call '72," the UGF's first variety show was held at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School's auditorium on October 5th, 6th and 7th, 1972. The Fredericktowne Players were of key importance in making this opportunity a reality, as was former UGF Executive Director Richard Clendenin who aided the production in several ways. A second show was held in 1973 with help from the Frederick Jaycees.
The 1970s would also be a period in which cooperative marketing and advertising would be introduced in earnest. Here locally, cartoon-style advertisements began appearing in the Frederick News-Post with more sophisticated advertising would follow. In 1973, the national United Way took an unlikely partner in increasing public awareness of social service issues facing the country. This was the National Football League (NFL).
In addition to public service announcements featuring volunteer players, coaches and owners, NFL players began supporting their local United Ways through personal appearances, special programs, and participation on United Way governing boards. In 1974, United Way and the NFL undertook the largest public-service campaign in the nation’s history. The televised commercial spots called “Great Moments” were a major key in bringing greater awareness. United Ways would raise $1.68 billion, a 10.1% increase over the previous year. The campaign worked, and continues to this day.
In Frederick County, Executive Director Laws helped in raising $233,489 with leadership from President J. Paul Langley and Campaign Chair Robert G. Hooper (Branch Mgr. Baker, Watts & Co.). Hooper was a legacy member of the organization, as his father, J. Harold Hooper, had served as Frederick Community Chest president in 1959. Bob Hooper would take the reins of the UGF the following year as president in a year which a 12th agency member was added—Friends for Neighborhood Progress.
In April 1975, it was announced that the United Givers Fund of Frederick County name was going to be changed to the United Way of Frederick County. According to President Hooper, the name change was necessitated by a developing trend toward the abandonment of the United Giving Fund label in favor of the United Way designation. He said that many persons coming here from other parts of the country were confused by the UGF name. This was also a testament to the nationwide exposure that heightened advertising was providing.
A Flood of Leadership
Another community leader who gave of his time and talent to lead the organization through the mid 1970s was John E. “Jack” Tritt. Tritt was purchasing agent for Frederick County Schools. As president during the nation’s Bicentennial Celebration year (1976), he was also in the lead during a special time in Frederick's history as Frederick had been named an All-America City by the National Municipal League. This award came thanks in part to activism shown by civic participation and problem solving by the United Way and its predecessors (UGF/Community Chest) and a group called Operation Town Action, a group focused on rebuilding the struggling downtown. The latter was led by residents Don Linton and Peggy Pilgrim and Curtis Bowen.
Jack Tritt was aided by a true legal team of campaign chairs: Lawrence A. “Tommy” Dorsey, Jr., a local attorney whose father was sitting president of the Frederick County Commissioners; and G. Edward Dwyer, another practicing lawyer who later would earn distinction as a chief judge of the 6th Judicial Circuit (serving from 1991-2016).
In mid-September, a photo appearing in the Frederick News showed Campaign Chair Dorsey receiving a ceremonial citation from the Frederick County Commissioners, presented by his father, declaring the upcoming month of October as “United Way Month.” A goal of $272,000 had been set.
Unfortunately, the spotlight wouldn’t stay on the organization long as tragedy would strike weeks later on October 5th, 1976. A devastating flood did nearly $25 million dollars in damage to downtown Frederick, and several other sites around Frederick County as the effects were felt of an abnormal storm producing abundant rains.
It was a trying campaign as can be imagined. Frederick, and the local United Way chapter, received a wake-up call with the flooding. It had never experienced catastrophes such as hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes like other towns and cities. This was a major disaster, and the community came together to help, rebuild and plan for the future.
The Great Frederick Flood of ‘76 was a major point of change in local history. The United Way contributed to the relief efforts. Help was especially exemplified through one of its partner agencies—the Red Cross of Frederick County. In 1976, the organization would receive $22,709 in funds from the United Way of Frederick County.
Perhaps fate, but more so, the experience of the previous year, led to over $265,000 in campaign collection to hit a 97% success rate with the campaign. The following year would achieve 100%. It had taken Executive Director Jean Laws five years, but she had got the campaign to meet its quota, the first time in 11 years since it was achieved in 1965 under President Dwight Collmus and Campaign Chair Charlie Main.
At a recognition dinner in February 1977, incoming UWFC President Tommy Dorsey had the distinct pleasure of presenting Patricia G. Sykes the award for Outstanding United Way Volunteer of the year. Ms. Sykes, a Texas native, directed the United Way’s publicity campaign, which featured numerous, well-written articles on the organization’s 12 partner agencies, and volunteer chairmen. Sykes was the first woman to ever receive the award, and received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd assembled at the VFW Country Club. President Dorsey called Ms. Sykes “the epitome of caring.”
In April, 1977, the UWFC welcomed another partner to the fold—Frederick County Association of Retarded Citizens. Big Brothers and Big Sisters had recently come on board as well, bringing the total of member agencies to 14. The desired set goal of $284,000 was attained during the ’77 campaign. Dorsey confidently handed the presidential gavel to G. Edward Dwyer the following year—not to mention the fact that Dwyer was also given a desired campaign increase for the organization’s 40th anniversary year. Two more non-profits would join as partner agencies—Mental Health Association and the Learning Tree, Inc.
The 40th annual campaign kickoff event held on September 9th, 1978 was just that. The commemorative event featured interesting football-related novelty events such as having five local, high school kickers on hand to actually “kick-off” the event. Local radio “on-air” personality Tommy Grunwell hosted the event at the Baker Park Bandshell. All in all, it was a great way to connect the local chapter to the national advertising campaigns involving the partnership with the NFL.
Meanwhile, Judge Ed Dwyer, as he is best known today, together with his campaign chair, Willard W. Lindquist along with the United Way of Frederick County's campaign team, bested their 1978 goal of $324,000 by “scoring” a definite touchdown with an extra point in a 101% effort garnering a final tally of $328,500.
The United Way family now included: the American Red Cross, Arthritis Foundation, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, Boy Scouts of America, Counseling Services of Frederick, Epilepsy Chapter, Girl Scouts of America, Federated Charities of Frederick County, Frederick Community Center, Frederick County Association of the Retarded (later known as ARC), Goodwill Industries, Learning Tree, Inc., Salvation Army, Seton Center, Mental Health Association and the YMCA.
Forty years of history were now officially in the books going back to the day of incorporation as the Community Chest, April 11th, 1938. As the organization was under its third moniker, the United Way of Frederick County, Inc. had shown that it was still growing as a perennial winner for Frederick and Frederick County. As a sign of the times, one could say that they were caught up in "Saturday Night Fever" doing much more than simply "Stayin' Alive." This of course is a nod to super-group the Bee Gees who dominated the charts during the anniversary year.
A fortunate occurrence in local history occurred in the year 1938. It was the beginning of “united giving” in Frederick with the formation of the Community Chest. This fund-raising organization was created to collect money from local businesses and workers to be distributed toward important charity and philanthropic projects in the community. The initial impetus of the program came as a remedy to assist in funding the operating budgets and capital needs of several partner agencies.
“Timing is everything” as they say. Ironically, or by divine design, this was the same year that Frederick lost its great and iconic benefactor—Joseph D. Baker. Given the moniker of “Frederick’s First Citizen,” Mr. Baker died October 6th, 1938 at the age of 84. His legacy includes generous donations that would create the Buckingham School for Boys; the Record Street Home for the Aged; the Baker Annex at Frederick City Hospital for the county’s African-American population; the Frederick YMCA; a new home for Calvary Methodist Church and a spacious municipal park that bears Mr. Baker’s name. Upon his death, friend James H. Gambrill, Jr. remarked, “The influence of his life will remain as a continued benediction upon the city of Frederick.”
Also stepping up in times of need were local businesses such as the Frederick News, Ox-Fibre Brush Company and the Union Knitting Mills. Nothing illustrates this latter point better than the thrilling events of July 1864 during the American Civil War when Frederick’s leading banks provided necessary funds to pay the infamous $200,000 ransom levied by Confederate General Jubal A. Early. The city was spared.
The timing of Frederick’s Community Chest creation was impeccable. Over the next several decades, this organization would incur multiple name changes and eventually come known as United Way of Frederick County. All the while, the citizenry’s passionate spirit of giving has remained the same for 80 years. Earlier Frederick residents and business persons have passed the torch to later generations, as well as newcomers to the area, dedicated to the cause of assisting the unfortunate and impoverished in our community.
For eight decades, a variety of non-profit groups and agencies have received invaluable support from Frederick’s “united giving” organization thanks to both big and small business entities, local institutions and private citizens. Donations have come in the form of manpower hours, cash pledges, matching grants and supplies totaling in the tens of millions. Today, United Way of Frederick County brings the community together to provide resources that aid people in need, or at risk, in order to help solve problems. This is the same intention that started the organization here in 1938.
Although we look to 1938 as the year of founding, United Way of Frederick County was first conceptualized nearly a century ago, thanks to the mobilization of the country’s population and economy during World War I. The support efforts on the home front required soldiers, food, ammunition and money—key necessities to win the international conflict. Frederick County residents certainly did their part, and Allied efforts secured victory in November, 1918. All the while, valuable lessons regarding the importance of preparedness and teamwork were gleaned from this terrible chapter in our country’s history.
As soldiers returned home from Europe and elsewhere, the United States found itself as one of the world’s top military and economic powers. National leaders saw the need for better organization and improved amenities at home. Soon began infrastructure changes to the armed forces, roadways and transportation systems, and government agencies. It was a time of social and political reform, and economic prosperity that would usher in “the Roaring Twenties.”
At the local level, community leaders, residents and veterans alike could reflect upon the power of their collective actions in the recent war effort. Many began to feel a renewed vigor, and entertained the notion of waging war on a new foe—the ills and social problems here at home. These could be addressed by a “united” effort of care and fund-raising among neighbors, in an attempt to further improve Frederick County.
The Community Chest organization dates back to Cleveland, Ohio and the year 1913. It had the purpose of conducting organized, fundraising campaigns with local businesses and employees—the proceeds distributed to important local projects. The drive to establish a group like this in Frederick would take several years as not everyone favored the idea. Consternation and cynicism were expressed by more than a few of Frederick’s established fundraising enclaves such as fraternal organizations, church councils and civic groups. Some felt that a new “charitable union” would undo individual successes, and feared fund management by someone other than themselves.
The matter of a united fundraising entity would be tabled until 1932, at which time the Frederick Lions Club re-introduced the idea for a Community Chest program. John W. Wolfe, chairman of the Lions’ Welfare Committee, was named to head a group to study the "Community Chest" concept and report his findings to the club. A year later, the local chapter of the Salvation Army would endorse a community chest for Frederick at its June meeting in 1933. Again, no formal movement would be taken.
Florence Garner, leading member of the Federated Charities organization was among the Salvation Army’s advisory board in support of the plan. Founded in 1911, Federated Charities was headquartered at 22 S. Market Street in the old home bequeathed by Margaret Janet Williams, daughter of a former Frederick banker, John H. Williams. This umbrella group oversaw a Free Kindergarten for the community and the operation of the Charity Organization Society which provided assistance to families that could not be helped by other agencies. Services included a Prenatal Care Clinic, visiting nurse and drug prescriptions and the distribution of medical equipment, food, heating oil and used clothing to families that qualified.
Florence Garner was the General Secretary of Federated Charities and carried a great deal of clout in the community, especially in addressing medical and social needs. She had originally come to Frederick from Ohio in 1912 to fill the organization’s position as visiting nurse. Ms. Garner helped lay the initial groundwork for Federated Charities and rose to lead the organization, staying for 38 years until her retirement in 1950. Having Ms. Garner as an advocate (for a Frederick Community Chest) certainly spoke volumes.
Enter the Chamber
The country was quite a bit different than it had been a decade earlier. Residents had seen the legendary stock market crash of 1929, launching the era known as the Great Depression. Its effects would be felt for over 12 years as many people lost money in the form of savings and inheritances. Others found themselves without jobs, with new ones hard to find.
In 1930, more than 14,400 people lived in Frederick City, the county population was 54,440. There were plenty of businesses and employers in town, but Frederick sorely lacked jobs in large industry. Regardless, Frederick had an organized Board of Trade, originally chartered in 1912. The newly christened Frederick County Chamber of Commerce was the first chartered “Chamber” in the United States. In the 1920’s, the local Chamber adopted the slogan,
"If Frederick is worth living in, it is worth working for!"
Meanwhile, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was moved to institute his “New Deal” plan (1933-1938) as a means to provide employment through federal programs such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) among others. If there was ever a time for much needed charity, this was it.
A few years would pass until January 1938. The time to consolidate Frederick’s varied charity drives was long overdue. The Frederick County Chamber of Commerce announced a goal to secure a community chest for Frederick, once and for all. Chamber members and local businesses had oft been targeted to assist in leading, and making contributions to, local charity campaigns. Oftentimes this would make many individuals and businesses feel overwhelmed by multiple requests to participate in competing fund drives. Worse yet, they found it increasingly hard to say no.
The Community Chest offered a great solution for pooling resources and time, not to mention cross-marketing the many needs of the community to the populous. Plans were discussed for a single, annual drive to replace independent, money-raising campaigns. Competition would soon be eliminated as various charities would share proportionately under the Community Chest model.
A community meeting was scheduled for mid-February to consider whether the time was right for a community chest for Frederick. This would be held at the Francis Scott Key Hotel in downtown Frederick on the night of Wednesday, February 16th, 1938.
The following day, the Frederick News featured the headline "Community Chest Idea Gains Impetus." Thirty-three Frederick citizens and representatives of charitable causes apparently "threshed" out the question of whether it could be carried out. Hearty sentiment was shown, and without dissent, the group voted that a committee of 19 persons draw up plans for such a chest and submit them at a public meeting to be held for the purpose within three weeks. The actual minutes from this meeting are preserved within the archives of Heritage Frederick (formerly the Historical Society of Frederick). They appear below:
On March 22nd, a public meeting to consider the draft of a constitution and by-laws for the proposed Community Chest would be held at the Francis Scott Key Hotel. Here the assigned committee had opportunity to show their work. Overwhelming support was demonstrated again, and another meeting was scheduled for March 25th, one in which a board of directors would be elected and officers named.
The strength and ties of the Frederick County Chamber made the “united giving” model a reality on April 11th, 1938. This was the day that the Articles of Incorporation were officially signed by 24 individuals, and filed with the State of Maryland.
The organization’s Second Vice President was William T. Delaplaine (Jr.), son of the founder of the Frederick News. Delaplaine made sure that the idea of the community chest got plenty of traction in his family's newspaper. Interestingly, his father, William T. Delaplaine (Sr.), had died as a result of contracting pneumonia attributed to tireless efforts associated with a charitable food drive performed by the newspaper during the harsh winter of 1895.
The Frederick Community Chest’s secretary was John W. Wolfe, the man charged by the Frederick Lions Club to study the community chest’s feasibility a few years earlier. The first treasurer was William D. Zimmerman (Cashier of Frederick County National Bank).
Also holding spots on the Board were two sons of great philanthropists from the area’s past: Holmes D. Baker (son of “Frederick’s First Citizen” Joseph D. Baker) and James H. Gambrill, Jr. (son of James H. Gambrill, successful agriculturalist and miller). The latter operated the Mountain City Mill for decades, today known more commonly as the Delaplaine Center for the Arts. Gambrill Park was named for James, Jr. in honor of his tireless fight for public recreation facilities and nature conservation.
Rounding out the first Board of Directors of the Frederick Community Chest were William B. Bennett (Bennett’s clothing store), Dorothy Filler McBride (President of the Maryland State Board of Examiners of Nurses) and Dr. Ignatius Bjorlee (President of the Maryland School for the Deaf from 1918-1955).
Other leading citizens to lend their support and energies included Parsons Newman (fine antiques expert), Benjamin B. Rosenstock (canning company owner), Charles McCurdy Mathias, Sr. (lawyer/politician), Russell Ames Hendrickson (owner of a ladies clothing store) and William Bartgis Storm (Citizens Bank/president of the United Fire Company).
A “Federated” New Home
By late June, 1938 the Community Chest would have a home base of operations. This would be the former domicile of Frederick banker John H. Williams. The house more recently had been inhabited by Federated Charities and was located at 22 S. Market Street. Greeting visitors was the aptly named iron, dog statue on the front portico—“Charity.” This four-legged icon had been on the site since the start of the Civil War.
A second Frederick Community Chest drive would occur in May, 1939, and was headed by Robert L. Smith, District Manager for the Potomac Edison Power Company. The goal of the campaign was upped to $16,550. Results were displayed each day on a large novelty thermometer, located on the front of the Federated Charities building (22 S. Market Street).
By the end of the drive period, funds were $2,500 under the goal. The family of Joseph D. Baker, Sr. stepped up with a $1,000 donation which sparked others to fulfill the goal amount. When it was all said and done, 2,359 different contributors had taken part in the campaign.
As the importance of these fundraising drives became better known to the residents of Frederick, success rates grew proportionately. The fifth Chest Drive appeal took place in May of 1942 and raised in excess of $2,000 over the desired goal. This was particularly encouraging due to a local and national climate characterized by participation in World War II causing the offshoot effects of apprehensive workers, a rising cost of living, war rationing and other unfavorable conditions. Against this backdrop, a new member was admitted to the Community Chest membership in late 1942 in the form of the Girls Scouts of Frederick.
The next few years (1943-1945) would be especially trying. While war was raging on foreign soil, men and women here did their part to support the fighting troops. Many men traveled to Baltimore and Hagerstown to work in ship yards and aircraft plants. Local businesses such as the Union Knitting Mills, Ox Fibre Brush Company and the Everedy Company also played roles in the war effort.
Women packaged bandages in their homes for the Red Cross, an organization of paramount importance at this time—so much so, that the directors of the Community Chest decided to postpone their annual spring-based drive in deference to the Red Cross’ drive. When they proceeded the following fall, a partnership had been made with the National War Fund to conduct a joint campaign. This effort exceeded its quota as nearly $59,000 was garnered. The joint campaign would become the norm for the next two years. The respective campaign chairs in 1944 and 1945 were former veterans of World War I, not to mention the fact that they were from leading Frederick families: James H. Gambrill III, and R. Ames Hendrickson.
After massive devastation of their own countries and loss of life, Italy surrendered in 1943, and Germany and Japan in 1945. On the other hand, the US emerged far richer and with fewer casualties comparatively. The Frederick community, and nation, learned once again the important lesson of teamwork, dedication and sacrifice in dire times of need.
Twelve million returning veterans were in need of work and in many cases could not find it. Inflation became a rather serious problem, averaging over 10% a year until 1950. Raw materials shortages dogged manufacturing industry. In addition, labor strikes rocked the nation, in some cases exacerbated by racial tensions due to African-Americans having taken jobs during the war and now being faced with irate returning veterans who demanded that they step aside. Munitions factories shut down and temporary workers returned home.
Following the Republican takeover of Congress in the 1946 elections, President Harry Truman was compelled to reduce taxes and curb government interference in the economy. With this done, the stage was set for the economic boom that, with only a few minor hiccups, would last for the next 23 years. After the initial hurdles of the 1945-48 period were overcome, Americans found themselves flush with cash from wartime work due to a slowdown in buying for several years. The result was a mass consumer spending spree, with a huge demand for new homes, cars, and housewares. Increasing numbers of people enjoyed high wages, larger houses, better schools, more cars and home comforts like vacuum cleaners, washing machines—which were all made for labor-saving and to make housework easier.
Here in Frederick, many found employment at Frederick’s Camp Detrick, a US Army installation specializing in medical and biological warfare research. Others took employment located throughout the county and region as government jobs were becoming more plentiful. GI Bills assisted veterans in completing education and securing loans for such things as automobiles and houses. This became a contributing factor for an increasing population characterized as “the Baby Boom,” in turn, bringing a greater demand for improved educational facilities, medical amenities and of course, social services.
As many families began migrating to the rapidly expanding suburbs, optimism was the hallmark of the new age—an age of grand expectations. The Roosevelt administration of the previous decade generated a set of political ideas—known to later generations as New Deal liberalism. This remained a source of inspiration for years to come. Community Chest campaigns over the next few years had cash collections that nearly doubled those before the war.
Before decade’s end, more successful drives were enjoyed and another non-profit member was accepted for membership. This was the Esther E. Grinage Kindergarten, the first such pre-school opportunity for African-American children in modern times in Frederick. Much of Frederick was still segregated at this time. This was exemplified here in Frederick with public schools, hospital entrances, parks, restaurants and movie theaters. The gesture of support by the Frederick Community Chest spoke volumes during a difficult time of racial inequality visibly present at the local, state and national level. The 1949 campaign drive was also noteworthy and historic in the fact that it marked the first time Frederick’s local Black population became involved in earnest with the organization that would one day become known as the United Way.
As the Community Chest entered the decade of "the Fabulous Fifties," Harry Truman would be followed as president of the United States by the Republican war hero, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was a moderate who did not attempt to reverse Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" programs such as regulation of business and support for labor unions. President Eisenhower actually expanded Social Security and built the interstate highway system.
This was also a time of confrontation and fear as the capitalist United States and its allies politically opposed the Soviet Union and other communist countries—the Cold War had begun. Community Chest drives would continue throughout 1951-1959 with an annual average collection of $52,000. Each year now brought a new Frederick Community Chest president to the forefront. Names would include Glenn T. Swisher (Comptroller-Potomac Edison Co.), Paul McAuliffe (Manager-Francis Scott Key Hotel), Niemann Brunk (Owner-Frederick Produce Co.), Byron Winebrenner (Comptroller-Frederick Produce) and Charles S. V. Sanner (Insurance Agent).
As locals would first see the emergence of a singer named Elvis Presley and a re-designed Chevrolet automobile, the Community Chest’s Board of Directors under president (and local attorney)Parsons Newman decided to re-tool their own organization on a county-wide basis. They also instituted the “United Fund Campaign” for the entirety of Frederick County. Local Farmers &Mechanics Bank President Benjamin L. Shuff was appointed campaign chairman, and put together the first countywide campaign. Another historic element of this campaign was the first-ever use of a payroll deduction plan for employee donors.
On September 25th, 1957, a well-attended dinner meeting of the Frederick County division of the Community Chest was held at the Francis Scott Key Hotel. Among those in the attendance were 50 area captains and election district chairpersons of the campaign from rural areas around the county. The keynote speaker was past Chest president, and campaign chair, Charles S. V. Sanner. He was a one-time special assistant to the Fort Detrick commandant, along with being a realtor and insurance agent. Sanner gave an overview of the Frederick Community Chest’s first 20 years in Frederick from formation to the recent countywide drive. He also spoke about the member agencies that the campaign helps each year. “Respect for the privacy of the individual recipients of our aids,” Sanner said, “has prevented many of our county services from being generally known to the public. These are not old-fashioned charities but vital public services and character building organizations.”
Fall foliage signals the fact that we are just weeks away from holiday travel season. Some will have a short trip to visit friends or relatives. Others will go far distances to get back to a hometown many states away.
In either case, these excursions can be considered pilgrimages, a fitting term whose root (pilgrim)is synonymous with “Turkey Day.” Merriam-Webster defines pilgrims as: people who journey to a sacred place for religious reasons. Of equal importance, countless "shopping pilgrims" put even greater emphasis on traveling to malls, box stores and outlets on “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving. I think it’s ironic that this same day is a little-known holiday celebrating people that didn’t have to travel at all for the apocryphal first Thanksgiving, as they were already here in America, long before the Europeans and a host of others. American Indian Heritage Day was established here in Maryland in 2008. Of course, maybe this should have been celebrated a little earlier since these folks have been here far longer than the "travelers/founders" of Plymouth, Jamestown and St. Mary's City here in Maryland.
Travel allows us to venture to “far-off” places from home for recreation, self-improvement, experiential learning and enjoyment. The expression “far-off” is relative of course. Long before the airplane, automobile, bicycle, train, carriage, sailing ship and even the horse, humans had only one true option to get from point A to point B—legs. We have a nice historical record of how transportation means have continued to improve over the centuries, affording us humans the opportunity for not only movement, but rapid movement considering the alternative of walking.
Seeing new places for the first time usually leaves us awestruck, before or after we reach for our camera. After a few minutes, have you ever thought to yourself, “How did I get here?” reflecting, of course, on the effort (and good fortune) it took to get from your home to a specific legendary location. Imagine what it was like for those early colonial settlers to our area.
Maryland historians and genealogists have taken note of the year 1732, fall to be exact, marking the arrival of sixteen future “Maryland” families in the port of Philadelphia. Although welcomed with open arms into William Penn’s commonwealth, family leaders and or children of such made their way west of Philadelphia and the aptly named Germantown into the Lancaster area.
Over two centuries later, this locale is marveled by future tourists as Pennsylvania Dutch Country. If the site of an Amish family riding in a horse and buggy on a rural road doesn’t make you appreciate history and culture of the German pioneering spirit, then perhaps you should make a "pilgrimage" to the 48-acre theme park Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA (opened in 1963).
I fondly recall my first and only visit with my grandmother back in July 1978. It was the hottest day of that summer and I shudder to think of the hapless staff dressed in lederhosen and wooden shoes. I also remember an elderly ride operator kindly asking for a sip of my grandmother’s Coke to quench his thirst—and she relented! This was a carefree era before the fear of saliva pathogens and fascination with Purel. I chalk it up to Zeitgeist, the general beliefs, ideas, and spirit of a time and place. But I digress.
After establishing a farmstead, some immigrants and offspring decided to move further southwest into Maryland after generous inducements by the provincial government and land speculators such as Daniel Dulany of Annapolis. These people were obviously target marketed for already possessing the bravery to leave the familiarity of their ancient homelands, relatives and ways of life. They also were living proof of success garnered by making the difficult trip across the Atlantic.
How could life get any tougher? Well it could, and thank goodness these immigrants employed conservative and frugal lifestyles, strong work ethics, family values and self-sufficiency to their advantage within a wild, and rugged environment. Religion was at the center of lives for these early Dutch people who had escaped earlier oppressions in search of new freedoms. Through teamwork and perseverance, “namesake” families crafted areas like the Monocacy and Middletown valleys into “gardens of the lord,” using the native environment to provide the sustenance needed to live.
Hauver’s District takes its name from early German Peter Hauver, born in Philadelphia in 1754, two years after his father, Christian, came to America. The Hauver (originally Haber) family winded their way to Maryland, making their home in what we know today as the Foxville area. Peter’s mother’s maiden name of Harman also continues to grace a vicinity of the mountain (Harman’s Gap and Harman’s Falls-see my earlier blog). Interestingly, Peter’s sister, Nancy Matilda Hauver, married David Wolfe from Lancaster, and his family name would be lent to another mountain village on the western slope of Catoctin (Wolfsville).
Young Peter Hauver apparently decided to take up a huge parcel of land, moving away from his father’s home. Author T.J.C. Williams explained this incident in his 1910 masterpiece “History of Frederick County”:
“He (Peter Hauver)cut the timber, cleared part of the land, on which he built a substantial dwelling, a barn and all the necessary outbuildings, and spent his life in the home which he had won from the forest.”
Not to mention the fact that a firm and trusted boundary line would only come into being in the mid 1760’s. Probably the first settlers, who came after Mason and Dixon's brand new “Line” was drawn, were the three Harbaugh brothers. They were of Swiss extraction and had originally settled in York County, Pennsylvania with their father Yost (Harbaugh). The Harbaugh sons (George, Ludwig and Jacob) brought their families to the northwestern corner of the county in the 1760. They chose a picturesque rolling valley between South Mountain to the northwest and Wertenbaker Hill to the southeast.
At Ludwig Harbaugh’s death in 1809, a man named Capt. Peter Zollinger, Jr. (1756-1842) bought part of his farm in the this majestic valley location. Zollinger was a Revolutionary War veteran and native of Paradise Township, York County, Pennsylvania. He hired a surveyor named Andrew Smith to lay out a small village on November 4, 1813. This locale was first referred to as Zollinger Town, but eventually took the first name from Capt. Zollinger’s wife—Sabilla Barbara Machold (1754-1832). Thus was born Sabillasville.
This interesting name, Sabilla, was a variation on Sybilla, which comes from ancient Greece and means “Prophetess/oracle.”
In Greek and Roman legend, the sybyls were ten female prophets who practiced at holy sites in the ancient world, much the same way as the Old Testament prophets in later Christian theology. Of the most famous oracles in Greek history are the Grey sisters. Among them, the three sisters shared one eye and one tooth, which they took turns using. By stealing their eye while they were passing it amongst themselves, the mythic hero Perseus forced them to tell the whereabouts of the three objects needed to kill Medusa by ransoming their shared eye for the information. You remember Medusa, don’t you? She had “snake hair,” and if you looked at her, you would be turned to stone.” From all accounts Sabilla Zollinger had both eyes and a full set of teeth, however, her neighbor Jacob Harbaugh would lose an eye in an altercation.
The town was laid out along "The Great Road to Waynesboro". The street was made 60 feet wide and the lots each contained one third of an acre of land. There were several houses built in the village before it was laid out. They were probably used for the families who worked on the Harbaugh-Zollinger farm. The first houses built in the village were two-story houses, about 10 feet square. They were lined inside and out with boards, and filled between with sawdust. The houses built afterwards were larger and made of logs. They all had large fireplaces with large chimneys on the outside of the house, built of stone.
Sabilla Zollinger and husband Peter can be found in the graveyard of St. John’s United Church of Christ, located in the heart of bustling Sabillasville. This church is also adorned with a plaque honoring the three original Harbaugh brothers coming to the area.
I consider myself very blessed to have had the experience to visit Sabillasville and marvel at the beautiful Harbaugh’s Valley while contemplating the hardships and triumphs of those early German immigrants, leading the way for future generations of descendants. The Zollinger's had a son named George who felt he should venture further into the interior of the country. He would travel to Cooper County, Missouri in 1844. It would have been a long trek back home to Sabillasville for Thanksgiving dinner with the family. Although considerably shorter, I wonder if Ravens football head coach, John Harbaugh, or brother Jim (University of Michigan),will ever made Thanksgiving pilgrimages to Harbaugh's Valley? They are, in fact, direct descendants of the namesake founders, themselves.
Author's Note: This is part 2 of a multi-part history covering the early history of the Great Frederick Fair. Part 2 can be found in the September 2016 archives to the right.
On January 12th, 1853, a small advertisement in the Frederick Examiner newspaper announced an upcoming meeting, which respectfully invited “all who feel an interest in the advancement of Agriculture” to attend. This ad was placed by members of the Farmer’s Club, organized in 1849. In another part of the same paper, the Examiner’s editor pointed out the meeting as being “well worth the attention of farmers, millers, and all others interested in the development of the productive resources of our county. Its object is to revive and reorganize the Society, and it is to be hoped that a becoming interest and enterprise will be manifested in the important undertaking. “
This meeting took place on January 22nd, 1853 at the Frederick Academy building, where a large and highly respectable assemblage convened and organized an association under the title of the Agricultural Club of Frederick County. High spirit and enthusiasm abounded and a Constitution and By-Laws were adopted along with an election of officers featuring Col. Lewis Kemp as President. The particular goal of the meeting was to make arrangements for holding a local Agricultural Fair for the following fall season.
The First Exhibition of the Frederick County Agricultural Society was held October 16-18th, 1853 and attended by thousands of eager visitors, far exceeding the numbers imagined by the organizers. The home for the newly revived cattle show, fair and exhibition was the Frederick Barracks Grounds on Cannon Hill.
The barracks had been built in 1777 by order of the Maryland legislature, so that a military post would be established for foreign prisoners. English officers and Hessian mercenary soldiers would be incarcerated here during the Revolutionary War, and British prisoners again would be kept during the War of 1812. The new location for the Society’s Exhibition was praised for its proximity to transportation lines. Turnpike tolls on the roads into town were suspended for exhibitors and no freight charges were exacted for show goods carried on the B&O railroad. Of major note was the elevated position of the event, overlooking the city basin with commanding views of the surrounding Catoctin Mountain and Monocacy Valley.
The following description comes from the Frederick Examiner newspaper:
The grounds were securely enclosed and nearly surrounded by a line of stables, stalls, pens and mews, for the protection and show of stock. The old Barracks were used for offices and exhibiting rooms for household goods and domestic manufactures, and a spacious shed erected for the arrangement of vegetables, fruits, grains, meats, seeds, etc. Chicken coops and machinery and agricultural implements comprised the middle area and the lower division contained a plowing lot and a horse ring, about 200 yards in circumference with a judges stand in the center, from which towered a lofty flag bearing the national banner. Upon the stand Capt Burke’s brass band was stationed and from time to time played the choicest pieces, adding considerably to the gaiety and enjoyment of the scene. The horse ring was constantly encircled by a dense mass of spectators, fine ladies vying with noisy men and boys for good points of view; yet we believe all were gratified, and can safely say equally surprised.
Hood College benefactor Margaret Scholl Hood would record in her diary:
“There was lots of people there. The grounds crowded; everyone says there was never so great a crowd in Frederick since Lafayette came to town.”
One year later, the second Annual Exhibition of the Frederick County Agricultural Society took place. The B&O Railroad showed great endorsement of the event by offering fair excursionists free round trip tickets from all stations between Baltimore and Piedmont. The same exuberance of the 1853 event was again demonstrated in year two as it was estimated that 15,000 people attended the second day alone. The “beefed up” cattle show featured a new wrinkle with an equestrian competition conducted by ladies. Another highly touted aspect was the public unveiling and display of a recently completed color lithograph entitled “View of Frederick City, Maryland” by E. Sachse & Co. and published by John Schofield. The 1854 exhibition concluded with an address from Dr. James Higgins, State Agricultural Chemist.
In 1858, the Sixth Annual Exhibition included a Grand Tournament of Jousting. This event would be witnessed by an estimated 10,000 spectators. The 30 participants, or knights, were properly attired and rode in procession through the city en route to the Barracks Grounds. The victors received premiums and the honor of selecting the Queen of Love and Beauty, and three Maids of Honor. After several hours, Henry Dunlop “Knight of Otterburn” was declared champion and promptly chose Miss Marian Buckey, Queen of Love and Beauty.
In 1859, the Frederick County Agricultural Society was given a respite from presenting it’s own event as Frederick received the distinct honor of hosting the 20th Annual Exhibition of the Maryland State Agricultural Society from October 25-27, 1859. As the town and county busily made preparations throughout September into October to welcome farmers and visitors from around the state and beyond, a nearby “farmer” known by the name of Isaac Smith was making final plans of his own for an event that would make and shape our Nation’s history.
Farmer Smith was actually John Brown, and he was readying his band of followers for a deadly raid on the Union military arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Brown had been staging for this event at the Kennedy farm, just over the Washington County line in Pleasant Valley. When Brown put his ill-fated insurrection plan into effect on the night of October 16th, word reached Frederick by rail the next morning and the nation was alerted of the events from here. Members of Frederick’s fire companies/militia units which had made such a nice display of arms at the 1858 Agricultural Exhibition, now had to put their military training to practical use as they were hurried to Harpers Ferry, among the first responders on the scene. They would assist Col. Robert E. Lee, Capt. J.E.B. Stuart and the US Marines in the successful capture of Brown and his surviving men.
Amidst the local and national excitement this event would have on the local citizenry, the Maryland State Fair commenced at the Frederick Barracks Grounds on October 25th and dictated an excellent exhibition with banner attendance. Hotels were filled, and county residents extended their hospitality, and their business goods and inventories, to throngs of tourists. Of particular interest during this event were the simultaneous benefit events being held by the Ladies auxiliaries attached to fire companies of Frederick. A newspaper account from October 26th reported that the United’s had “on exhibition the hat and a pistol belonging to “old” Brown, a Sharp’s Rifle and a Litchfield Spear, captured by the Guards at Harper’s Ferry.” Meanwhile the Junior Defenders performed military drills for audiences with the accompaniment of The American Band.
The Seventh Exhibition of the Frederick County Agricultural Society was held in October 1860. Unfortunately, the return of the Frederick County Exhibition was clearly overshadowed by the excitement and anticipation tied to the hotly contested US Presidential election between Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, John Breckinridge and John C. Bell. To its credit, the Society smartly presented two special event features on site that made the Exhibition an “uplifting” success.
“The bad luck that has heretofore attended all attempts at aerostation in this city, was broken through by Mr. John A. Light, who, on the afternoon of October 6th, under the auspices of the Agricultural Society, made a daring and brilliant ascension from the Show Grounds of the Society, in his Montgolfier Balloon...He shot up like an arrow to the height of five or six hundred feet and was gently wafted over the city, until he finally descended in Love Lane, near the intersection of Fourth St. His progress was witnessed by admiring thousands, whom he saluted in passing by waving his hat. “
The Frederick Examiner newspaper October 13, 1860
The second event of note was a Grand Military Parade and Review to commemorate the Battle of Yorktown. The city militia units were joined by county companies such as the Linganore Mounted Guard, Liberty Riflemen, Carrollton Manor Mounted Guard and three others from beyond the county.
The highlight of the parade was the inclusion of the “United Brothers of the War of 1812,” led by Major Gen. Anthony Kimmel, a New Market resident and veteran of the Battle of North Point. The military pomp and circumstance displayed at the recent fairs were certainly an omen of things to come.
Within weeks, residents would see Abraham Lincoln elected as their new president. Southern states would immediately start seceding from the Union in the months to follow. The official first shots of war occurred on April 12th, 1861 in Charleston, South Carolina as Fort Sumter was fired upon. Virginia would join the Confederacy less than a week later and on April 19th, an angry mob in Baltimore attacked federal troops from Massachusetts who were trying to make their way through town.
Frederick would become the state capital during the spring and summer 1861. In August, the Potomac Home Brigade was formed as local Union men enlisted for military duty. Others fled south to join the confederacy, such as former Junior Defender Bradley Tyler Johnson, who would take an active part in forming the 1st Maryland Infantry, CSA. The Frederick County Agricultural Exhibition’s home of the Barracks Grounds was permanently commandeered for its intended purposes and would be converted into a Union Military Hospital.
After a successful run of 8 years, Frederick County would not host another agricultural fair until 1868.
In spring of 1867, the Frederick County Agricultural Society was reformed with the selling of 139 life membership tickets. After tasking a special committee with finding a new permanent home for the Agricultural Exhibition, the Society purchased 21 acres of land from its own Treasurer, Gen. Edward Shriver, former leader of the militia that quelled the John Brown raid. A neighbor, and later Society president, William H. Falconer would also sell land for the “new cause.” Bought for $4,500, these properties were located about a half mile east of Frederick on the north side of the Baltimore Turnpike. Almost immediately, substantial buildings were erected and a race course track was laid out. The Frederick Agricultural Grounds now came into being.
The Ninth Annual Fair of the Frederick County Agricultural Society was held October 12-15th, 1868. The return of livestock was accentuated with a tremendous entry of cattle, sheep and poultry specimens. Fittingly, the guests of honor were national Civil War heroes in the form of President Ulysses S. Grant and Gen. William T. Sherman, among other members of the President’s Cabinet. The president’s visit on the 14th drew a larger than normal audience as was expected, but this added to the greatest attended fair that the county had ever seen.
“I have great pleasure in visiting for the first time the city of Frederick of which I have heard so much during the period of the late rebellion, and which, too, stood up manfully for the maintenance of the whole Union. I expected to visit this city some years ago but found myself unable to do so but now have found so many friends, and have been gratified with what I have seen of your Fair and enjoyed of your hospitality, I hope at some future time to visit you again.”
Ulysses S. Grant
October 14th, 1868
President Grant and his party dined at the Fairgrounds and watched the newest feature to the Frederick event…harness racing, a horse competition in which the animals race at a specific gait (a trot or a pace)while pulling a two-wheeled cart called a sulky. Among the many trials of speed held during this fair, was a $500 premium that went to the horse “Patchen” from Philadelphia who made the mile in 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Owen Bowie, the Governor of Maryland was also on hand for the 1868 event. An avid horseman and breeder of thoroughbreds, Bowie would be responsible for bringing Pimlico Race Track to the state thanks in part to a successful gambling wager made by himself and associates.
President Grant would keep his promise, and returned to Frederick and the next fair in October of 1869. In addition to members of his cabinet, a host of former governors and the mayor of Washington DC, the president was accompanied by the United States Marine Band. From Frederick’s B&O Station on Market Street, the band headed a procession of carriages that carried the distinguished visitors to the fairgrounds. President Grant would visit the fair for two days .
This week marks the 154th edition of the Great Frederick Fair, the largest and greatest county fair in the State of Maryland. The Frederick Fair has quite a storied history, but one I found lacking when it came to its first century of existence.
Back in 2012, I took on the task of exploring this "historical black hole" in connection with the 150th anniversary commemoration (of the fair). Most Frederick histories simply repeat the same information written in John Thomas Scharf's 1883 History of Western Maryland of the first exhibition and cattle show taking place on May 23 and 24, 1822, at George Creager's Tavern near the Monocacy Bridge, two miles east of Frederick.
I immediately went to the newspaper microfilm readers in the Maryland Room of C. Burr Artz Library, and started searching the Frederick Town Herald editions of spring 1822. I found that the tavern was actually called the Monocacy Bridge Hotel and was owned by Levi Hughes. Mr. Creager apparently rented from Hughes and eventually ran into financial hardships resulting in being sued for funds owed his landlord.
I was able to piece together the agricultural event's colorful history of the 1800's, and was honored to have the Fair Board exhibit my research findings(complete with appropriate visuals) in the form of a large interpretive mural display in the east entrance to the Null Building at the fairgrounds. It's a tapestry of sorts, actually printed on fabric and pulled taut by a metal frame.
In the Beginning
In 1818, Maryland created its own state Agricultural Society and hoped to keep pace with the growing trends and “innovations” in farming coming out of Europe and at home in places such as Virginia and the Carolinas. The New England states were holding successful livestock exhibitions in places like Albany, New York and Brighton, Massachusetts.
Beginning in 1819, Marylanders were given the opportunity to read about these early agricultural fairs, new farming utensils, improvements in breeding stock and agricultural science advancements with the creation of The American Farmer magazine, a weekly publication of John S. Skinner of Baltimore. Interestingly, Skinner is also well known for his role as a prisoner of war exchange officer during the War of 1812. He partnered with Frederick native Francis Scott Key in the successful negotiation and release of Dr. William Beanes in Baltimore Harbor during the bombardment of Fort McHenry, September 1814.
The Maryland Agricultural Society had formed in 1818 and presented its very first Cattle Show and Fair in June 1821 at the Maryland Tavern, four miles west of Baltimore on the Frederick Turnpike. It was a smashing success. Frederick County’s tradition of high quality thoroughbred rearing was exemplified by a sweep of the top equine categories by Frederick residents. Thomas Sheppard’s “Columbia” was considered best horse in show for coach purposes; Nimrod Owings’ stallion “Arrow” won the premium for saddle and farming horse; and Joshua Gist had the best brood mare.
The county’s fine showing at the state level helped prompt local action in the formation of the Frederick County Agricultural Society in November 1821. A group of highly distinguished planters and farm owners put together the organization’s bylaws and elected William Elie Williams as their president. Williams was the builder and operator of the large stone grist mill on his plantation farmstead at "Ceresville," so named for the Roman goddess of agriculture and grain, Ceres. However, the new society’s was better known for being the son of celebrated Revolutionary War Brigadier Gen. Otho Holland Williams (namesake of Williamsport, MD). The vice presidents of the Society included: Col. Henry Kemp, Col. John McPherson, Col. John Thomas, Mr. James Johnson, Col. G.M. Eichelberger, Mr. W.P. Farquhar, Mr. Jesse Slingluff, Mr. Joshua Delaplane and Mr. William Morsell. The Treasurer was Thomas Shaw and Secretary was Henry Willis.
In the fall of 1823, a second event would be held here at the Hughes-owned tavern location by the Monocacy. The show, however, was not officially sanctioned by all in the local Agricultural Club as it was more of a horse racing festival put on in conjunction with the Frederick County Jockey Club. A multitude of factors contributed to this “no show” as the state Agricultural Society held its Maryland Cattle Show and Fair in Easton, on the Eastern Shore, in November. This was coupled with death of William E. Williams, at the age of 35, that same November after an illness of several months.
A second official Cattle Show and Fair was considered for late October 1824 but plans were most likely cancelled when the Maryland Cattle Show was postponed to late November in order to accommodate a visit from the “Nation’s Guest,” the Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette made a year-long tour of America, receiving a hero's welcome at every place he visited as one of the last of the great leaders of the American Revolution.
Lafayette had been given membership to the Maryland Agricultural Society and would personally hand out premiums at the rescheduled state event. Meanwhile, a local commission was making arrangements to receive Lafayette here in Frederick County in late December.
A Time for Pause
After getting off to such a fast and confusing start, the Frederick County Agricultural Society is said to have “languished” and was in need of resuscitation in order “to vie with sister counties in the means necessary to accomplish the designs of such an institution,” stated the Frederick Town Herald. With the premature death of William E. Williams and the cancellation of the 1824 Cattle Show, the opportunity arose for the Frederick County Society to regroup and reorganize in December 1824. John Dill’s Tavern in Frederick became the site of important meetings to accomplish this task. Col. John McPherson was elected President and resolutions were made “to hold a Cattle Show and Fair in the following May or June (1825), at which time it was anticipated to award premiums for the best articles of domestic manufacture, such as cloth, cassimeres, cassinets, flannels, blankets, coverlets, counterpanes, carpeting, sheeting, paper, etc along with implements of agriculture.”
A subcommittee was formed to examine the constitution, and amendments would come in the form of pulling a vice president from each of the existing 11 districts of the county along with a board of 12 managers. Another important amendment stated:
“That premiums be offered, to encourage domestic fabrics and the cultivation of fruits and that a committee be appointed by the society to receive and examine specimens of fruit grown in the county and to make report of the specimens exhibited, to the next meeting of the committee.”
The newly titled Cattle Show, Fair and Exhibition and Sale of Domestic Manufactures would be held on May 26 & 27th, 1825 at the Monocacy Bridge Hotel location, now operated by Mrs. Dorcas Cookerly, the late Mr. Levi Hughes’ daughter. The event was heralded in the local newspaper:
“the exhibition having greatly exceeded their anticipations, and excited a more general and lively interest in the prosperity of the Agricultural Society. “
One piece of blue broad cloth, 12 and 3/4yards, manufactured by Alexander H. Brown earned a premium of $5.00 by the Committee on Domestic Manufactures. A hearth rug presented by Miss Mary Ann Morgan won a premium of $3.00 from the Committee on Discretionary Premiums. A highlight of the show included a series of plowing matches between local farmers.
(c) 1900 view of the original "Jug Bridge" looking west toward Frederick from the east side of the Monocacy River. Note the building fronting the right side of road (on upper right of picture) as site of the Monocacy Bridge Hotel. This structure and the vicinity below (extending to the river) was the likely site of Frederick's earliest agricultural exhibitions. The lower white buildings constitute another residence and the Toll House.
The Cattle Show, Fair and Exhibition would be held a final time at the Monocacy Jug Bridge vicinity in 1826, as a resolution by the Society dictated the 1827 event to be held in New Windsor on the land of Major James Atlee. Either by design or not, the 4th annual Cattle Show, Fair, and Exhibition would be held near Liberty Town on May 30 and 31st, 1827.
Of notable interest were two particular premiums handed out at this event. One of these went to Frederick’s James Raymond, Esq. for the best Essay, written on the subject of “the comparative economy of free and slave labour.” Mr. Raymond received, as his prize, a set of table spoons inscribed “Free Labour.”
The other competition of note was a first place premium for the best stallion calculated to improve the breed of quick draught horses which went to Nimrod Owings, for his beautiful young bay horse “Enterprise,” sired by his horse “Arrow,” premium winner at the First Maryland Cattle Show.
Owings originally hailed from his family's estate of Fountain Rock, located west of today's Walkersville off Biggs Ford Road. He was infamously known for his love of hunting, gambling, and practical jokes. He owned 52 hounds, one for each card in a deck and is credited for providing much of the "wild game" foodstuffs for the grand banquet and ball held in Frederick for Lafayette on December 30th, 1824. His eventual residence and plantation estate (a few years later) would be Waverly, today's site of Waverly Gardens Apartments and the Manor Apartments on Willowdale Drive. Owings former manor house is the clubhouse/office headquarters of the latter.
After a run of four (or five) events in a six-year span, the Frederick County Cattle Show, Fair and Exhibition was discontinued and would not return for another 25 years.
Biking has sure received its share of local press coverage in recent weeks. The shared-use bike path tunnel under US15 (at Rosemont Ave.) is now a completed reality. The 6th annual Tour de Frederick took riders all over the county this past weekend amidst scorching temperatures. And there was another successful running of the National Clustered Spires High Wheel Race, billed as the only race of its kind in the United States. Frederick certainly deserves its reputation as a "bike friendly destination."
One-hundred twenty years ago, the scene here was quite similar as “flyers” from all over the country descended upon Frederick. Now the term “flyers” may be a little confusing to use today as this has its chief connotation connected with airline travel—unless of course, you are a fan of professional hockey living in Philadelphia. Over a century ago, however, the most common image of flyers had nothing to do with leaving the ground. Actually it was a term reserved for those individuals powering unique, framed machines, boasting two tires cranked by pedals. In the mid-19th century, this creation was first given the name of “bicycle” by European newspapers.
Different styles of tandem-wheeled transportation came to be known, and improved upon, until the late 1880’s. These included earlier prototypes with odd names such as “The Dandy Horse,” the velocipede, the boneshaker and the penny-farthing. The latter featured a tubular steel frame attached to wire-spoked wheels with solid rubber tires. Although this design was more commonly known as an “ordinary bike,” it also took the moniker of “high-wheeler” because the front tire being much taller than the rear tire. Due to the difficulty in mastering these contraptions, an alternative was introduced in the late 1880’s and given the catchy name: “safety bicycle.” Marketing genius at its finest!
The “safeties” offered two wheels of identical – or nearly identical – size, and a chain-driven rear wheel. The most popular form of the safety bicycle frame became known as a diamond frame because it consisted of two triangles,. This started a bonafide frenzy the world over as the 1890’s would be known as the Golden Age of Cycling.
There were upwards of 312 factories engaged in the production of the safety bicycle. Here in Frederick, one of the key supplier/agents of these “flying machines” was an unlikely retailer—the local newspaper. The Daily News, which had been started by William T. Delaplaine in 1881, was publishing frequent advertisements for “the Rambler” bicycle manufactured by the Gormully & Jeffery Mfg. Co. of Chicago. Frederick residents were bitten by the bicycle bug. Enthusiast groups quickly formed and century rides were held. The Frederick Club’s headquarters was once located at 6 West Patrick Street.
One could also find other "safety" features related to the cycling experience. Schools, many owned and operated by the bicycle manufacturers themselves, offered riding lessons for beginners. Women were urged to purchase "safety skirts" for safer cycling. NOTE: Perhaps somebody missed an opportunity by not reintroducing this garment during the "Safety Dance" (Men Without Hats) rage of 1983. Last but not least, there was a model designed by the Columbia Bicycle Company and introduced at the 1896 New York Bike Show that featured a 40 lb Colt automatic gun attached to a turntable on the front handlebar.
An article in the February edition of The Engineer magazine outlined this urban-assault bike saying that "the gun, which can be moved vertically or horizontally in any direction, is a single-barrel weapon with a ‘pistol’ handle attached to a breech casing, containing the mechanism for feeding, firing and ejecting the cartridges. These are contained in belts stored in a boxes containing 250 or 500 cartridges each. Single shots may be fired, or the gun may automatically fire all the cartridges on the belt at one pull of the trigger, firing 100 shots in 16 seconds." The article added that the recoil from the gun would not cause a problem with routine riding.
Bicycling was “flying high” in the summer of 1896, likely fueled by the return of the first Summer Olympics (held during the modern era), in Athens the previous April. Newspapers wrote stories and showed photographs of the events. Cycling was a sanctioned offering and six featured events were contested at the Neo Phaliron Velodrome. Nineteen cyclists, all men, from five nations competed.
The U.S. team didn’t participate in the cycling event. Actually the vintage Team USA didn't participate in most of the events. They only had only fourteen competitors and were involved in just three sports at the 1896 Summer Olympics. Eleven athletes took part in track and field related events, while two brothers and another engaged in pistol/rifle shooting events.
The third event was swimming, with one US entrant. Of the 14 Americans at the Athens Games, all but two won medals. Charles Waldstein, a shooter, and Gardner Williams, a swimmer, were the unfortunate not able to obtain the sought after "metal hardware necklace."
The latter gentleman, Williams, was certainly no Michael Phelps! Penniless at the start of Olympic competition, he is rumored to have spent all of his money on training and travel. Thomas Curtis, another member of the 1896 US Olympic team, described Williams’s problems in the Athens swimming events by giving this account of the swimmer in action:
“Williams jumped into the Bay of Piraeus where the swimming events were held, to start the 100m freestyle, and found the 55 degree water very cold, proclaiming, ‘Jesus Christ! I’m freezing.’ He then scrambled out of the water.”
And that sadly explains a lack of medal on his part. Gardner Williams does, however, hold the unique distinction of being the first US athlete to participate in an Olympic event. (Note that for a future Jeopardy watching or cocktail reception ice-breaker!) As the Olympics aided the popularity of cycling, it did the same for competitive swimming, and municipal swimming pool construction.
Some of the possible men destined for Athens, sat out that first Olympics here at home. However, some of these outstanding athletes would give Fredericktonians the opportunity to witness high-level sport competition, right here in their own backyard. This would occur over a very special Fourth of July weekend (for Frederick), in the year 1897. Two US cycling sensations would exhibit their "flying" skills for the masses.
Frederick's First Big Bicycle Race
On Saturday, July 3rd, well over 1,000 spectators came out to Frederick’s Athletic Field (later to be named McCurdy Field) to see the opening day of the seventh annual Meet of the Maryland Division, League of American Wheelmen. Here they saw several racing contests ranging from individual rider competitions to tandem and club/team heats.
Frederick’s bicycling fans were also treated to two exhibitions by a pair of America’s leading professionals. The first was a mile-long run by John Lawson, a Swedish-American rider hailing from Wisconsin and known more commonly as "The Terrible Swede.” A half-mile exhibition was perfected by a fellow pro-bicyclist, E. P. Thompson of Philadelphia, also possessor of a nifty nickname—“the Turkey.”
Another featured event during this 4th of July weekend celebration of cycling was a "coasting contest" which started atop Cemetery Hill (outside the front gate of Mount Olivet Cemetery). Without the assistance of peddling, riders could not use their brawn, but rather simply “took flight” down the hill in a northerly direction (on South Market Street) with hopes of their bicycles taking them greater distances than other competitors.
That Saturday afternoon, cyclists found themselves feted and treated to entertainment at Poplar Terrace, the estate of Col. Louis Victor Baughman. This property, located just west of town, today found off the family’s namesake lane (Baughman's Lane), boasted a casino as well. Additional races, tandem and of the single wheel variety took place on Col. Baughman’s horse track. He personally awarded nice silver trophies to the victors.
On Saturday night, the boys greatly enjoyed a dance at Braddock Heights and according to news reports, “kept the town lively until a late hour with the noise of the cannon crackers and the sounds of their jovial hilarity.”
Sunday the 4th was observed with reverence, and many of the cyclists attended local church services. Throughout the afternoon, riders took the opportunity of taking training rides throughout the county’s turnpikes, visiting places of historical interest.
Monday held a schedule of additional contests. A road race took place in the early morning, possessing a route from Frederick to Woodsboro, with a return back. The Clifton team (Clifton Park, Baltimore) won this event with a record time of 1 hour and 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Late that afternoon, more events took place at Athletic Park, including a second exhibition by the original Philadelphia Flyer, E.P. “Turkey” Thompson. The grandstand was packed again to capacity with several hundred additional fans aligning the track route. Races included 1/3 mile and two mile division championships and professional handicaps. The night concluded with a grand fireworks show, stated to be “the most beautiful ever seen here.”
Although firmly grounded, Frederick and her citizens were certainly “flying high” after a great holiday weekend of cycling. I think the same can be said here this week in 2016.
Philadelphia Athletics Coach Charles Albert "Chief" Bender giving instruction to two rookies (Bert Kuczynski and Billy Woods) during spring training camp held in Frederick, Maryland (March 1944). Bender was a pitcher who played in 5 World Series, winning 3 of them. He was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1953.
Since my last article, I have had the good fortune of attending two professional baseball games—one minor league game here in Frederick, and a major league matchup in Philadelphia. Both contests were losing efforts by the home teams, but provided me with opportunities to enjoy baseball with my sons (and in the stands) as opposed to watching them on the little league diamond, something my wife and I did from March-early July.
Both games brought back great memories from the past, not to mention historical ties to Frederick, and more so, Frederick’s McCurdy Field. The most recent event took place the other night as we saw the Frederick Keys matched up with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. I quickly found myself in an embarrassing situation as I couldn’t tell my boys anything about the Pelicans, and nothing relevant about the hometown Keys. All I could muster was the fact that the Pelicans organization used to be the Durham Bulls (see Wikipedia sites for Durham Bulls and Bull Durham—a 1988 Kevin Costner movie), but moved to Myrtle Beach in the late 1990’s. My boys were instantly confused and became more so when I began to recount stories of my Cable 10 days producing/directing and running camera for live cablecasts of Frederick Keys games in the 1990’s.
We had covered the minor league Class A affiliate of the Orioles since their inaugural season in 1989, including their first game as the Frederick Keys against the aforementioned Durham Bulls. Many assume that Harry Grove Stadium has been their only home, but that first season was played at McCurdy Field. The McCurdy facility was originally built in 1924 for $15,000 and originally dubbed Frederick County Athletic Field. The catchy name was eventually changed in honor of Dr. Ira J. McCurdy, who spearheaded fundraising efforts for the field.
I grew up a Phillies fan as both my parents were born and raised in northern Delaware. I have dual allegiance to the Orioles and have brainwashed my son Eddie to do the same. For his 10th birthday, I took him up I-95 to see the Phillies play the Florida Marlins at Citizens Bank Stadium. We did likewise last year on his 9th birthday. Each of these times, I fondly remembered back to my first Phillies game at his age, culminating a few years later (when I was 13) with winning the 1980 World Series. The Phillies returned three years later, only to lose the series to the Orioles and Cal Ripken in his rookie season. I had to wait another 28 years for the Phillies to win another World Series in 2008—and Eddie was right there on my lap celebrating, at age 2.
Unfortunately for both of us, the Phillies are in a rebuilding mode after having a great run from 2007-2010. Who knows when they will return to greatness, part of the allure (and frustration) of sports and sport history. And speaking of history, more brainwashing was performed on my part as I suckered Eddie into watching all 10 episodes of Ken Burn’s Baseball documentary with me last year. He was genuinely engaged with the program, gaining an instant respect for the origins of the game and players/teams of the past. I was excited to tell him about former New York Yankee star Charlie "King Kong" Keller who grew up in Middletown, and lived in retirement on a horse farm in the Indian Springs area north of Frederick City. This experience even precipitated a field trip down to Rockville one day to visit the gravesite of the legendary Walter Johnson, and a lunch at Gettysburg Eddie’s restaurant which honors G-burg hometown hero Eddie Plank who played for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901-1917.
While at the “birthday” game, Eddie asked me if the Phillies were originally the Philadelphia Athletics. A very astute question to which I simply replied “No,” as the Athletics (A’s) organization moved to Kansas City in 1955, and eventually to Oakland in 1968. Before getting back to the modern game at hand (which the Phillies lost 9-3), I piqued Eddie’s interest by saying: “You know, the Philadelphia Athletics played in Frederick back in the 1940’s.” He gave me quite a look of whimsical disbelief, and I told him we’d talk about it on the car ride home.
During World War II, organized sports continued to press on as a positive source of entertainment for the folks back home. However, the war would have an impact, as many players enlisted voluntarily or were drafted into military service. Other players took jobs in defense industries to do their part. In some cases, older and retired players got a new lease on life as teams rushed to fill rosters with men who had experience at the major league level. In some sports such as professional football, there exist examples such as the 1943 Steagles, in which the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles had merged together to make one competitive team from two rosters that had been severely impacted by the war.
One of the consequences facing baseball came from the director of Defense Transportation who asked baseball to curtail its spring training use of the nation’s railway system given the demands of war-related shipments. In response, baseball commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis (in January 1943) ordered all clubs to find spring training locations north of the Potomac and Ohio Rivers.
For the Philadelphia Athletics and legendary Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack, the restriction of big league clubs to the north was not that big of a deal, as they spent spring training 1943 in Wilmington, Delaware. The selection was likely influenced by the Athletics’ half interest in the Wilmington club of the Interstate League, along with established training facilities and opportunities to recruit new talent.
A year later, a conundrum had developed. The cross-town Phillies would be purchased by the Carpenter family, who had negotiated to obtain the whole of the Wilmington team. The Phillies would naturally conduct their 1944-45 spring training camps in Wilmington, using the same facilities the Athletics had utilized during the 1943 pre-season.
The Athletics now began a search for a new spring training home “above the Potomac” for the 1944 season. Manager Connie Mack looked at some fields in Atlantic City, but knew the New York Yankees were interested in utilizing that locale.
Pro player, manager, and team owner, Connie Mack was the longest-serving manager in Major League Baseball history and holds records for wins (3,731), losses (3,948), and games managed (7,755), with his victory total being almost 1,000 more than any other manager. His father Private Michael McGillicuddy had served in the 51st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War. This outfit was stationed at Monocacy Junction and guarding the B&O Railroad on July 6 & 7, 1863, in the days following the Battle of Gettysburg.
Connie’s son Earle headed west. Where to you may ask? Naturally, to Frederick, Maryland, at the urging of the Frederick Chamber of Commerce who had been marketing their baseball facility as an adequate site for major league spring training. Earle Mack inspected McCurdy Field on December 1, 1943, and was successfully swayed by Frederick officials who accompanied him during the tour. The very next day the team announced plans to come to Frederick for spring training camp in three months’ time.
Connie Mack made a visit to Frederick in mid December and in late February announced that the A’s would open camp on March 10th, but the deadline for players to report wouldn’t be until March 12th. The team would stay in downtown’s Francis Scott Key Hotel. Earle Mack released a partial schedule of Athletics’ pre-season games, which included contests against the Curtis Bay Coast Guard team, Baltimore and Toronto of the International League, and three match-ups against the Yankees.
Mr. Mack, welcome to our world of March baseball! The weather was cold at times, and rainy the others. A muddy field and frigid temperatures forced many indoor practices. The Macks persevered however to get their team ready for the 1944 campaign. Regardless of weather, Frederick leaders and citizens were going to make sure that the major league team knew just how much they appreciated their choice of venue for training camp. With 1944 marking Connie Mack’s 50th year as a major league manager, a special testimonial dinner was held on March 17th to honor Connie Mack. It was attended by 250 members of the local Lions, Kiwanis, and Rotary clubs. Offering a self-deprecating assessment of his skills as a manager, Mack claimed the dinner was to honor the fact that he had more tail-enders than any other manager. In comments to the assemblage, Mack observed that the New York Yankees of the Ruth-Gehrig period were the greatest modern team. He identified John McGraw as the greatest manager ever, and Christy Mathewson as the greatest pitcher.
A week later, the Philadelphia Athletics first spring training game took place at McCurdy Field on March 25, 1944 and pitted the A’s against the Curtis Bay Coast Guard. The A’s took the game 8-3.
The next exhibition game took place a day later when the Athletics bested the visiting Baltimore Orioles 3-1. This game was noteworthy for a very important reason. One of the players on the A’s squad was a 16-year-old, diminutive, unheralded infielder by the name of Jacob Nelson Fox. On this day, Fox got a single—his first hit at the major league level. “Nellie” Fox would go on to have an illustrious 19-year career, played mostly at the 2nd base position, in which he would lead the American League in hits four times in a career that would lead to the Hall of Fame in 1997.
Against minor league opposition, the A’s went on to beat the hometown Frederick Hustlers 4-0 (April 1) and the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League by a score of 5-1 at McCurdy Field on April 4, 1944. Competition against big league teams began on April 6th, 1944 when the New York Yankees journeyed to Frederick. Because of wartime travel restrictions, this was the only trip the Yankees could make to McCurdy Field. Frederick was caught up in baseball fever. Businesses and county government offices closed early in order to allow employees to attend the gig game. Meanwhile the public school system saw a spike in absenteeism on this day. In a game that featured snow squalls and freezing temperatures, 1,500 fans packed McCurdy to see the illustrious “Bronx Bombers” get crushed by the A’s by a score of 9-1. The game was even called when substantial snow began falling in the bottom of the 8th inning.
The Athletics then made their only trip away from the Frederick spring training camp, traveling to Atlantic City to play a few against the Yankees on their “home” turf. The spring training concluded with a return match against the Orioles on April 9th, 1944 (Orioles 4, A’s 3) and a final tune-up victory on April 12th with the Curtis Bay Coast Guard team (A’s 9, Curtis Bay 3).
At a Frederick Chamber-of-Commerce banquet held on April 7th to honor the Philadelphia Athletics, and the opponent Yankees before their departure for the regular season. Connie Mack thanked his hosts and announced that “the Athletics will train in Frederick next year if we are not permitted to go to Florida.” The Governor of Maryland, Herbert R. O’Connor, attended the banquet and told attendees that he would declare a legal holiday in the state if the Athletics won the American League pennant.
The Philadelphia Athletics opened the 1944 season with a game against the Senators on April 19th at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. The A’s took the game 3-2, in 12 innings. Unfortunately the A’s finished the season in 6th place (out of 8 teams), 17 games out of first place.
With the war still going on in early 1945, the spring training location rule remained in effect. Connie Mack and his ball club did return to Frederick as promised. As the months went by, the promise of an end to World War II became a reality. Peace and normalcy would return to major league baseball. However, this would end the magical era of Frederick, Maryland hosting a major league team as the Philadelphia Athletics opted to train in sunny West Palm Beach, Florida in spring of 1946.