HSP HISTORY Blog
Interesting Frederick, Maryland tidbits and musings .
So I panicked the other night, while in the produce section of a grocery store. I was given a short list of items in the morning, and forgot one of five simple things I was supposed to come home with after work. I immediately went to the “life-line” and security blanket, my I-Phone, and placed a call to my wife. I knew I’d get a bit of playful razzing, but my short-term memory loss here could not cause a dinner mishap, or heaven forbid, a forced return to the market.
Unfortunately, the phone just rang several times and went to voicemail. I tried again to no avail. I then called the archaic, and seldom used/answered, home phone line. Instant success came as my stepson Jack had actually answered. Unfortunately, my wife had taken the other boys to a baseball practice, and inadvertently left her phone on the kitchen counter in her haste. I desperately hoped Jack could provide guidance, but this was a pipe dream as I caught him at a time of video game induced coma, something called League of Legends. He could barely remember who I was, let alone grocery items of survival for the household. As I hung up, I caught myself aimlessly staring at a bountiful stack of organic broccoli in front of me, and thought to myself, I’m “screwed.”
Oh the power and wizardry of smart phones, one of the most amazing inventions in my lifetime. Where would we be without them? How could we function at all? And this, coming from a guy who thought cordless household phones were God’s gift to mankind in the early 1990’s. Actually, I take that back, I was quite impressed with earlier technological advancement in telephony with the advent of call waiting and, best of all, the coiled phone cord extension of 30+ feet. This simple upgrade guaranteed a perpetual “cocoon of privacy,” a vast difference from the traditional norm of being tethered within a five foot radius of the hard-mounted wall phone of my childhood. You could actually travel to a spot "two rooms away." This was especially helpful in the early forays of talking to girls while under the surveillance of parents, and worse yet, being under siege from two younger brothers whose intent was humiliation through catcalling and mimicry. The only downside of the 30+ phone cord extension was the accidental “clotheslining” of a hapless elderly relative with cataract issues…but that's another story for another time.
Speaking of other times, and phones, I found out recently that Frederick, Maryland once hosted the original inventor of the telephone as a tourist for a weekend. Alexander Graham Bell and wife Mabel took in our ample historic sites and recreated in the beautiful surrounding countryside, all while staying in one of the many downtown Frederick hotels of the period—the City Hotel.
The brief weekend stay occurred just over 101 years ago, in late April 1915. Simultaneously, a “World War” was occurring over in Europe at the time, and America was contemplating a potential jump into the fray.
It had been 29 years since Mr. Bell, a native of Scotland, had made his own impact on both national, and international levels. He was at the forefront of the revolutionary change in communications, thanks to a landmark demonstration in which he would “place a call” on March 10, 1876 to assistant Thomas Watson in Boston. Bell first successfully transmitted speech, saying "Mr. Watson, come here! I want to see you!" using a liquid transmitter. This was the first successful demonstration of what we would come to know (and love) as the telephone. Five months later (10 August 1876), Alexander Graham Bell made the world's first long distance telephone call, about 6 miles between Brantford and Paris, Ontario, Canada.
Mr. and Mrs Bell departed Frederick in their automobile on Sunday evening (April 25). Although not mentioned, I assume that another structure of interest to them must have been the Maryland School for the Deaf. And this would not be simply for the sake of history as countless visitors have been impressed with the important past roles played by the Frederick's historic Hessian Barracks. No, I would think the Bells would have admired the school itself, with its grand façade and canopied turrets. But the important work being here was what would have been most important to the tourist couple. You see, Alexander Graham Bell had started his working career in deaf education, and his inventive spirit was more rooted in helping those who couldn’t hear, than assisting those who could (as he did with the telephone). This came honestly as Bell’s mother was deaf, along with his beloved wife Mabel, who had been deaf since infancy and a bout with Scarlet Fever.
Over the next forty years, Frederick continued to retain its hometown, rural charm, although a new wave of residents had come from around the country due to events tied to a Second World War in the 1940’s. Many of these people were bright scientists and pioneering inventors like Mr. Bell. They had come to study and experiment within the field of biological warfare at Fort Detrick. Life-long residents ingratiated the new-comers, and could sense that a major change was coming to the sleepy little town of “clustered spires, green walled by the hills of Maryland.”
Another first for Frederick took place on June 6, 1954. This event didn’t bring the same fanfare associated with Alexander Graham Bell’s 1915 visit, or the excitement voiced in 1876 with the invention of the telephone—but no one can deny that this day would certainly “relate” on more levels than anyone could have possibly known at the outset.
The C&P Telephone Company sponsored a special event at the junction of US routes 40, 240 and 340, where they had freshly installed Frederick’s first telephone booth. The location was specifically chosen to assist motorists in being able to stop their travels and “phone home” in style. To inaugurate this new service and christen the dial, company manager Walter Lanius would hail down one lucky motorist and give them the opportunity to call anyone, anywhere in the US on the phone company’s dime. A man was stopped at the light here and flagged down by Mr. Lanius, however he became suspicious, thinking the event was a rouse. He stepped on the gas and sped off, disappointing the throng of spectators and media gathered for this event.
Mr. Lanius went back to finding his contestant. The second recipient of his offer was a finely dressed woman en-route to Mercersburg, PA (from Washington, DC) to pick up her children from a private school for the summer break. After listening to the offer, she immediately accepted being delighted to be asked. The lucky lady revealed that she was Carol Grosvenor Myers, wife of a prominent Washington physician. Her pedigree doesn’t stop there as her father was Gilbert H. Grosvenor, longtime president of the National Geographic Society and editor of its prestigious magazine. As if this wasn’t enough, her mother was Elsie May Bell Grosvenor, a daughter of Alexander Graham Bell!
The stunned crowd would watch Mrs. Myers, the legendary inventor’s granddaughter, place her call to an aunt living in Miami, Florida. The recipient of the first phone call from Frederick’s first pay phone (and phone booth) would be Mrs. David Fairchild, aka Marian Bell—youngest daughter of Alexander Graham Bell.
After that story, I'm sure you would be willing to believe the forgotten item on my grocery list. That would be bell peppers, needed for making Italian sausage sandwiches.
In last week’s blog, we covered a few novel firsts for Frederick—incandescent street lights and the first traffic stoplight, located at the Square Corner. While putting that piece together, I couldn’t help but think of Frederick’s many other firsts, but more so, I thought of famous inventors, and whether they visited town this fair city or not? While some indeed did, I found that we have special relationships to others which I will explore over the next few weeks. For starters, I looked only a few blocks away (from the Square Corner) to our famed and beloved “95-year-old, girl next door—Barbara Fritchie.
I can hear an echo from the past say: “Drive if you must this old Model T, but spare your family’s horse,” he said. Could this have been uttered in jest by Henry Ford, the legendary industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company? I highly doubt it, but there is certainly a connection between the automobile mastermind and our Frederick Civil War heroine. Mr. Ford was born in the same year (1863)John Greenleaf Whittier wrote the "Ballad of Barbara Frietchie." Just over seventy years later, in the mid 1930's, he would send employees to Frederick to take detailed notes and measurements of the famed Barbara Fritchie House located on West Patrick Street adjacent Carroll Creek.
The Dearborn Inn, located in Dearborn, Michigan, was built in 1931 by Henry Ford to serve passengers arriving and departing from the automobile pioneer’s aptly named Ford Airport. Sitting directly across the street from the aviation hub, Ford’s 179-room Dearborn Inn was the country’s first “airport hotel.” In 1937 the Colonial-themed Inn's accommodations were expanded to include guest cottages— replicas of homes of noted Americans. Designed by architect Charles Hart of the Treadway Inns Company of New York City, meticulous records were gathered at actual historic locations. Five dwellings would be arranged in a village-like setting behind the main hotel. Today, the faux hamlet still contains these buildings, revolutionary statesmen Patrick Henry, writers Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman, Oliver Wolcott, and alas, former Frederick resident and star of John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem –Barbara Fritchie.
The Dearborn Inn and adjacent guest replica homes still exist in their suburban Detroit setting, reflections of Henry Ford's admiration for American history. His ideal expanded to include the reconstruction and acquisition of several other important “heritage” buildings to form nearby Greenfield Village, part of the larger Henry Ford Museum— touted as the largest indoor-outdoor collection of our nation’s history.
Today, the Dearborn Inn, with its “colonial village,” is listed on both state and national historic home registers, while being managed by the Marriott Corporation. Located in close proximity to the Henry Ford Museum, the Inn not only offers a more traditional hotel experience, but for $200+/night, one can still stay in the Barbara Fritchie house.
Hotel guests and other visitors to this unique Michigan attraction have the chance to learn the romantic tale of Ms. Fritchie and her dramatic defiance of September 1862. The hotel’s brochure offers a short biography and picture of Dame Fritchie, while guests have the opportunity for further exploration through reading the 30-stanza poem written by legendary New England poet, and abolitionist, John Greenleaf Whittier. This is quite helpful because to most of Dearborn’s tourists, particularly younger generations, Barbara Fritchie is certainly not a known quantity. But then again, how many of us can rattle off the many-splendored accomplishments of Oliver Wolcott?—You know, the 19th governor of Connecticut, and Signer of the Declaration of independence? If nothing else, he had a son named Frederick, and was a signer of the Articles of Confederation, a connection to another local hero named John Hanson.
“Up From the Meadows rich with cars.”
Since Mr. Ford embraced Frederick in Dearborn, it’s safe to say that we paid homage back to our country’s most famous automobile inventor. This came in the form of the Barbara Fritchie Tourist Cabins, once located at 230 West Patrick Street.
Formerly known as The Tourists Park, a rustic campground established by the Maryland State Roads Commission to aid vehicular-based travelers, ground was broken in 1933 for a more sophisticated (relatively speaking) gas station and cabin compound—the creation of George S. Crawford of McKeesport, PA. Crawford’s brother-in-law, Charles A. Faust, actually managed the enclave of 26 bungalows which featured accommodations ranging from “DeLuxe, Twin, and Singles.” These were “Steam Heated” and boasted “Private Showers.” And if that’s not enough to entice the weary tourist, the site came with 24-hour service, and nightly lodging that costs from $1.50-$5.00. The Fritchie Cabin operation would last for half a century. It was sold at auction in 1987, “making way” for the mental health facility known as the Way Station, Inc.
May and June of 1888 was an enlightening time in Frederick City, both literally and figuratively. Crews of workman were busily planting poles and stringing wire for a system of incandescent lights throughout the city. These were being placed at 60 designated spots which included most major and secondary street and alley intersections. Lights were also installed at prime public use locations such as City Hall, the Frederick jail, the baseball grounds (Frederick Fairgrounds), the Black Horse Tavern and the Pennsylvania Rail Road Station.
Gas lighting had been installed in town nearly forty years prior around 1850. The Gas Works were located to the east of town, on East Church Street extended. This stretch of roadway leading in and out of town would fittingly take the moniker of Gas House Pike. In 1887, the municipality turned to the new innovation of modern electric lighting, the contract for this project was awarded to the New York Electric Construction Company out of New York City. At a cost of $17,000, a municipal light plant was built, having a capacity to illuminate 76 lamps.
This was just the start. Within two years, the Frederick Electric Light and Power Company came into being. $30,000 was the price tag for a plant would boast a 2,500 lamp capacity. Now homes, stores, and factories in town could be provided with light, heat and power.
By the end of the decade (and century) electricity would give birth to a new mode of transportation that would revolutionize Frederick. This was the trolley system which would eventually link Frederick to Middletown and Hagerstown to the west, and in time, Thurmont to the north. This was a boon for passenger transport, the movement of farm goods to market, and commercial delivery. Braddock Heights, a concoction of the new electric rail line, would arise as a result.
As the trolley made its debut in Frederick, so did the first automobiles. The streets of town now became extremely more dangerous, and at an exponential rate. Trolleys ran in the middle of principal roadways such as Market and Patrick streets. To each side was the right of way for motor cars, and the age-old transportation modes involving natural horsepower—vehicles such as carriages and wagons pulled by horses. It didn’t take long to employ the need for some sort of traffic control at the major intersections. And the busiest of all was the town’s central square at the junction of Market and Patrick streets, better known by the name Square Corner.
As travel modes had improved and traffic grew, Frederick lost the opportunities once connected to having the Square Corner serve as an occasional social center of activity and events as was the case with small towns sprinkled throughout the county. It, however, remained as a busy pedestrian crossing point. A police officer would be positioned here to help keep law and order over traffic of the bipedal and vehicular kind.
In 1924, a newfangled invention would be added to the Square Corner, one the likes had never been seen before. This was a multi-colored light, which had a much greater purpose than the simplistic overhead light which had been installed in this locale some 36 years earlier. This was not a spotlight, it was an enforcer. Frederick, Maryland, meet your first traffic light!
As another 36 years came and went, so did the trolley. Market Street would become one-way northbound, however Patrick Street would remain a two-way travel thoroughfare. This embodiment of the National Pike through Frederick City still served as the main route east and west through Maryland, and was as busy as ever in this era predating superhighways. At a time before Interstate70, not to mention US15 as a viable "north-south" bypass of downtown, the traffic light(s) at this location would lay witness to thousands of residents passing through Frederick’s central apex. This would hold true for an equal number of "out of town" visitors either heading to the legendary Francis Scott Key Hotel, one block to the west, or simply traveling through. Among these were key tourists of note, even United States presidents. We know with certainty the list included Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower. John F. Kennedy can be put on the list as well, as he was driven through Frederick’s Square Corner as a US senator while on the presidential campaign trail. He spent a whirlwind three hours in town on May 13, 1960.
In August of 2009, I had a work conference to attend in Denver, Colorado. I was working for the Tourism Council of Frederick County at the time, and one of my job tasks was to oversee a national scenic byway—this took the form of the Catoctin Mountain National Byway, aka US15. Today, this stretch of roadway through Frederick County is known as Maryland’s portion of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway.
Denver was the scene for the 2009 National Scenic Byways Conference, a biannual event that hosted tourism and transportation planning professionals from designated national scenic byways from around country: A1A in Florida, the Santa Fe Trail, Route 66, Skyline Drive, Merritt parkway, etc. having never been to Colorado before, and was excited with the planned itinerary for the week, and even took the opportunity to head out a few days early to do some extra sightseeing.
Upon landing at Denver International Airport, I grabbed my rental car and headed immediately to Golden, Colorado. This tourist town was very welcoming, as most everything revolved around its top export—Coors beer. I happily succumbed to the Coors Brewery Tour, and then made my way onto the Lariat Loop route, a Colorado byway, which took me to my next destination atop Lookout Mountain.
Once used by the Ute Indian tribe as a “lookout,” the attraction afforded me with incredible vistas of Great Plains as well as Golden below and Denver some 12 miles to the east. This foothill outlier of the legendary Rockies seemed about the same height as my hometown Catoctin Mountain back home with and its highest elevation of nearly 2000 feet above sea level. However, I was quickly reminded that the Denver vicinity already has the leg up on us as it’s not called the “Mile High City” for nothing.” The additional 5,280 feet combined with a like 2,000 giving it a total elevation of 7,377 feet above sea level.
The summit of Lookout Mountain is most famous for an unnatural feature—the gravesite of William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody (February 26, 1846 – January 10, 1917), listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Cody experienced the Old West to its fullest extent. His skill as a buffalo hunter gained him the nickname "Buffalo Bill." He later became one of the greatest showmen in American history as his legendary Wild West shows traveled the world leaving a lasting vision of the American West.
The Museum illustrates the life, times, and legend of William F. Cody. It includes exhibits about Buffalo Bill's life and the Wild West shows, Indian artifacts and firearms. See Sitting Bull's bow and arrows, Buffalo Bill's show outfits, Frederick Remington's "Portrait of a Ranch Hand," and many other objects from the Old West in the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave.
Buffalo Bill died in early 1917 and would be placed in a deep shaft carved out of the mountain summit. There were definite security concerns involving the deceased frontiersman because many friends from Cody, Wyoming vehemently claimed he should be buried there in the town he helped found. Thousands were on hand for his funeral in June.
Louisa Cody, who had married Buffalo Bill back before he became famous, was buried next to her husband four years later. That year, 1921, the Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum was begun by Johnny Baker. Baker was a close friend and more so, the unofficial foster son to Buffalo Bill. Although his parents never allowed Cody to officially adopt him, he nevertheless travelled, worked and studied with Buffalo Bill from the age of 7 years, after the death of Cody's natural son, Kit Carson, in 1876 at the age of 5. Under Cody's tutelage, young Johnny Baker became the sharpshooter star of "Buffalo Bill's Wild West" show in the United States and Europe, and later served as manager and worldwide booking agent for the show until Cody's passing.
Just as millions of people saw Buffalo Bill in his Wild West shows during his lifetime, millions of persons have visited Buffalo Bill’s grave in the years since 1917. Today it is one of the top visitor attractions in Denver and Colorado. And I would follow suit on the late afternoon of August 22, 2009. The Museum chronicles the life, times, and legend of William F. Cody and includes exhibits about Buffalo Bill's life and the Wild West shows, Indian artifacts and firearms. In the collection, I also saw Sitting Bull's bow and arrows, Buffalo Bill's show outfits, Frederick Remington's "Portrait of a Ranch Hand," and many other objects from the Old West period of our history.
However, among the many things I learned that day, there were actually two that stood above the rest. William F. Cody’s middle name was none other than Frederick! This was quite a happenstance, but I would find a deeper connection to home. In one of the galleries, I found a three-ring binder with an adjacent sign that read: Did Buffalo Bill Visit Your Town? This immediately captivated my attention, as I began to search for the Maryland section.
Alas, I found that Buffalo Bill did visit Frederick, Maryland—October 2, 1916. Along with nearly 20 visits to Baltimore, a few to Cumberland, and one to Hagerstown (September 13, 1907), I felt an instant bond and was so glad I took the time to search this binder. I wrote down the date and stuck in my wallet, vowing to look for anything in the local papers at the Maryland Room (C. Burr Artz Library) when I returned back home after the conference.
I found advance notice of Buffalo Bill’s visit in mid-September. In those days, entertainment opportunities like today’s concerts and sporting events did not usually have the several-month waiting period we know today. Advance teams contacted newspaper offices, affixed broadside advertisement posters and “barked” in the streets in the days leading up to the “big event.” This was the case with Cody’s visit in the fall of 1916.
It’s not only amazing to try to imagine the spectacle of seeing Cody and the show itself which often starred cowboys, Indians, Mexican peoples, but this was the magical and raw spirit of the far-off western frontier being brought to your sleepy hometown. And Frederick, unlike its own wild-west period of the 1740’s, was a tamed city of just under 11,000 inhabitants (ca 1916). The trains brought the performers and their animals into town.
The B&O train station was positioned at the intersection of South Market and All Saints streets. The Pennsylvania Railroad Station was near the intersection of East Patrick and East streets. From these locations, circus parades would form as the onlookers lining Frederick’s principal streets were given a glimpse of what was to come. Usually these went up Market to the fountain at 7th Street, back down and along Patrick or Church streets to exhibition grounds along either street. Best of all, boys of all ages had their chance this time around to gaze at Buffalo Bill, the larger than life American hero and his several co-stars as they winded their way up Market Street and over to East Patrick Street. This particular show was not held at the Frederick Fairgrounds, but nearby at a place called Schildknecht Grounds thought to be on the east side of the intersection of East 7th Street and East Street.
Interestingly, this would be Buffalo Bill’s last ride and show in Maryland. He died just three short months later at the age of 70.
Now in doing some additional research, I found an earlier visit to our fair town by William F. Cody. He performed here in 1894. The show was entitled "The Great Wild West" and was held at the Frederick Fairgrounds. An article pertaining to the latter 1916 visit claimed that Buffalo Bill was well-acquainted with our town, having used it earlier as a wintering quarters for his traveling show. I haven’t been able to “round up” any information to prove this statement, but am hoping somebody will “rustle up” something, someday.
A few years back, I found that Buffalo Bill’s good friend Gordon Lillie had performed at the Great Frederick Fair a couple of times. Lillie went by his stage name of Pawnee Bill and brought to town his Pawnee Bill’s Historic Wild West Show. Mr. Lillie’s wife May starred in the show as the “Champion Girl Horseback Shot of the West.” His first show was here in 1888, but more would follow in subsequent years and by 1896 the show had grown to be named Pawnee Bill's Historic Wild West & Mexican Hippodrome.
Buffalo Bill’s unofficial foster son Johnny Baker put on a shooting display here in Frederick in 18XX. As I noted earlier, Baker would go on to become a big star on his own and would eventually found the Buffalo Bill Museum, high atop Lookout Mountain.
Annie Oakley, the “peerless rifle and wing shooter,” and former staple of many of Buffalo Bill’s shows, came to Frederick as well. The renowned international star visited here with The Young Buffalo Wild Best, Vernon C. Seaver’s Hippodrome and Col. Cummin’s Far East . This “circus” spectacular occurred in Freed’s Field (near the Fairgrounds) on August 22, 1913.
Oakley was reported to have first visited Frederick nearly twenty years earlier while under the employ of Buffalo Bill. She would go on to reach legendary pop culture status for later generations as her life became the subject of stage and screen projects after her death in 1926.
Annie Oakley would make a posthumous return to town, just over two decades from her last. She would grace the silver screen (noted as being the only “silvertone” one in town at the time) of the Frederick Theater, located on N. Market Street (today the site of Starbuck’s Coffee House). The film, aptly named Annie Oakley, starred actress Barbara Stanwyck in the title role. Interestingly, Stanwyck (1907-1990) had started as a “Ziegfeld (Follies) Girl” and had a short, but notable, career as a stage actress in the late 1920s. She would go on to make 85 films in 38 years in Hollywood, before turning to television. Originally born Ruby Catherine Stevens, Stanwyck was urged to take on a stage name. She supposedly received inspiration while viewing a thirty year-old paper program or poster featuring a British actress named Jane Stanwyck who was then starring in playwright Clyde Fitch’s stage production of Barbara Frietchie, based on Frederick’s Civil War heroine. Ruby borrowed the Stanwyck from the star of the play, and Barbara from the “star” of our town.
It was nearly 40 years ago, but I remember those events like it was only yesterday. Ah, yes—the two times I ever got in trouble in school. Both were elementary school infractions, once in second grade, the other in third. In each situation, I was caught laughing at a classmate’s funny comment, told to me while our teacher was in the midst of instructing. I straightened up and flew right after that.
The first incident was certainly understandable, as another student was flopping all over kids in our reading group. This incident sent me and a cohort to the office for an inquisition from our principal who asked us the age-old question: ”What was so funny?” We made it through unscathed, and best of all, without further implications such as a call home. The takeaway was more the “principle” of being sent to the principal, which was a scary situation–one I didn’t want to experience again.
A year later, in math class, I found myself distracted and daydreaming from my teacher’s lesson. Not that this was an isolated event, as the subject of Math would always be an Achilles heel, never quite resonating with me—save for the fact that I am married to a high school math teacher. The day’s instruction centered on subtraction, but specifically on borrowing when taking larger numbers from lesser numbers. Today, this is known better as “regrouping.” Our teacher may have been gifted in Math, but apparently not in English as she could not pronounce the word “borrow” correctly. She repeatedly kept saying “borry,” as in “Since the 5 below is greater than the 2 above, you have to borry from the first (tens) column, which will make this a 12.”
All was going fine until my friend Johann turned to me and whispered: “Chris, can I borry a pencil so I can write this down?” I tried my best to hold in the laughter, but a chuckle snuck out of me, and Johann as well. As these life situations usually play out, the room at that moment had gone immediately silent, thus amplifying our laughter, and hence, our impending punishment. Mrs. G. stopped teaching and proceeded slowly to the back of the class towards us, pointing at us defiantly with her ruler. She used this “ancient” tool of measurement as a pointer, in the same vein an orchestra conductor uses a baton.
Instead of sending us to the office, she chose her own brand of vigilante justice for our unkind interruption and disrespect. We were directed to kneel on the cold, hard concrete floor. The surface was polished which made it even more difficult to keep balanced in Sears brand “Toughskin” denim jeans, which were the pantaloons of choice in 1977. We had to serve out our sentence for nearly 20 minutes until the end of class. Let me tell you, I was rehabilitated, and vowed never to disrespect another teacher again. I also never complained about having to kneel in (Catholic) Church from that time forward, appreciating the modern convenience of padded kneelers.
The reason I share these school memories of "pride and punishment" is to introduce a local news story from October, 1894 which caught my eye. It’s quite shocking, yet entertaining at the same time in a strange way. Like so many things in the study of history, you have to look at certain events, actions and reactions in context with the times in which they occur. With no further adieu, I present this clipping from the Frederick Daily News, October 4, 1894 edition:
The "hunted" in this story was a 12 year old named Clayton Warner. The "Hunter," Professor Adam Roser, was born in 1851 in Adams County, Pennsylvania. Soon after, his family made its way to Frederick County and New Midway. He would receive his own early schooling here before embarking on a teaching career around the year 1876. Ironically, I found a reference to Roser in the December 13, 1903 edition of the Frederick Daily News in a weekly section called Local Logic: expressions of people picked up by diligent reporters. The following, written ten months prior to the “dinnertime debacle,” is a quote from Mr. Roser:
One week earlier (December 7, 1893), Roser had taken charge of the North Market Street public school. He had previously been employed at the Libertytown School. His new school building was no picnic as it was described as having a dilapidated interior and was not much more than a barn. Conditions were so bad that Arbor Day exercises for 1895 would be canceled because the staff were so embarrassed by the conditions of the school. A new school structure would be built on this location in 1896, and would become the home of the Boys' High School. (This would also one day serve as an early home for Frederick Community College as well. Today, it is readying for a new usage as mixed income workforce housing.)
Now before you jump all over Professor Roser for his unprofessionalism and obvious lapse in good judgment by “crossing the line,” I want you to think for a moment of the dealings between Mr. (Arnold) Hand and difficult student Jeff Spicoli, resident surfer/burnout/dude, in the 1982 cinema classic “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Mr. Hand practiced incredible patience with Spicoli when he tried to usurp “his" (Mr. Hand’s) time. Could there be an ounce of justification for Mr. Roser losing it back in 1894?
I went in search of Clayton Warner and found that he made headlines in early March, 1903. Apparently Warner and a pal decided to burglarize some merchants in the early morning hours of Sunday, March 1, 1903, nine years after Roser accosted Warner at the dinner table. Clayton Warner would be duly arrested, and it appears his parents refused to post bail.
As for Adam Roser, he had a storied, but apparently regretful, career in teaching. The educator remained a longtime resident of Woodsboro and the vicinity, and taught in the public schools of the county for nearly fifty years, retiring in 1926. He died in 1934 at the age of 82.