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Joseph Flautt Frizell was walking along the track of the Emmitsburg Railroad one evening in May 1922 with some friends. They were goofing around as teenage boys are wont to do as they approached the station, which was located on South Seton Avenue.

The Emmitsburg Railroad had been incorporated on March 28, 1868. It connected Emmitsburg to Thurmont by rail, and from there to other communities via the Western Maryland Railway. Besides making it easier for townspeople to travel to places like Baltimore, it also provided a convenient way for students to arrive at St. Joseph’s College and Mount Saint Mary’s College. The railroad was more than seven miles long and opened for passenger service on November 22, 1875.

Frizell and his friends saw a baggage car approaching them. Then they noticed another local youth, Paul Humerick, on the front of the baggage car. He had apparently jumped aboard hoping to catch a free ride, probably to the station in downtown Emmitsburg, which marked the end of the line.

What Humerick hadn’t noticed was that the baggage car had detached itself from the rest of the train and coasting down the incline in the tracks. The boys on the ground called for Humerick to get off the car, but he ignored them, apparently not recognizing the danger.

“Quick as a flash young Frizell realized the danger and ran after the car, which was moving slowly, jumping it and at the same time pulling Master Humerick down to the earth,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.

The boys hit the ground, rolled, and climbed to their feet unharmed. Meanwhile, the baggage car continued just a short distance before it hit an embankment. They watched the baggage car “smash over the embankment into a tree. The large tree hit in just the place where Humerick was standing on the car and eyewitnesses say that had the young boy held his place he would have been badly mangled if not killed outright,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.

Frizell spent the week afterwards being praised by his friends as a hero. The newspaper said the praise was rightly deserved because “it was not only a brave deed but showed that his mind was working fast to take in the situation.

The incident was investigated and it was found that after the train had stopped at St. Joseph’s College Station without incident on its way to the end of the line at the Emmitsburg station. It was believed that while the conductor was helping passengers off the train at St. Joseph’s College, someone had uncoupled the cars.

The train had left the station heading for Emmitsburg but the baggage car had separated from the rest of the train on an incline.

The car suffered some damage in the accident, but it was expected to be repaired and put back in service. None of the baggage in the car was lost or damaged.

The Emmitsburg Railroad stopped its service in 1940 due to more attractive business options, such as car travel.

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Can you imagine a Catoctin County, Maryland? It would have included Frederick County north of Walkersville, Md., and Mechanicstown, Md., would have been the county seat.

It was a dream that some people in the northern Frederick County area pursued throughout 1871 and 1872. The Catoctin Clarion was only on its 10th issue when it carried a lengthy front-page article signed with the pen name Phocion. Phocion had been an Athenian politician, statesman, and strategos in Ancient Greece.

Creating a new county had been talked about within groups of people for a while, and it was time to garner support by taking the issue to a broader, general audience.

“Some sober sided citizens in our valley are quietly discussing the question among themselves, shall Frederick county be divided and the new county of Catoctin be erected into a separate organization?” the newspaper reported. Wicomico County had been formed in 1867 from portions of Somerset and Worcester counties, so the idea of another new Maryland county was not far-fetched. In fact, Garrett County would be formed from the western portion of Allegany County in 1872.

The main reason put forth for creating a new county was the distance and expense of traveling to Frederick, Md., to register deeds and attend court. Opponents argued that creating a new county would be costly for the citizens of the new county. New county buildings would have to be constructed and county positions filled. All of this financial burden would have to be absorbed by the smaller population in the new county.

“Our neighbors across the Monocacy in the Taneytown District have but a short distance to go to attend Carroll county Court. Why shall we on this side be deprived privileges which were granted to them? Shall the people on one side of the Monocacy be granted immunities which are to be withheld from citizens residing on the other side?” the Clarion reported.

Besides northern Frederick County, Phocion said that in Carroll County, Md., residents of Middleburg, Pipe Creek, and Sam’s Creek were also interested in becoming part of Catoctin County.

“If a majority of the citizens residing in Frederick, Carroll and Washington counties (within the limits of the proposed new county), favor a division, I see no reason why it should not be accomplished,” the newspaper reported.

In deciding on what the boundaries of the new county would be, three conditions needed to be met in Maryland. 1) The majority of citizens in the areas that would make up the new county would have to vote to create the county. 2) The population of white inhabitants in the proposed county could not be less than 10,000. 3) The population in the counties losing land could not be less than 10,000 white residents.

Interest reached the point where a public meeting was held on January 6, 1872, at the Mechanicstown Academy “for the purpose of taking the preliminary steps for the formation of a New County out of portions of Frederick, Carroll and Washington counties,” the Clarion reported.

Dr. William White was appointed the chairman of the committee with Joseph A. Gernand and Isaiah E. Hahn, vice presidents, and Capt. Martin Rouzer and Joseph W. Davidson, secretaries.

By January 1872, the Clarion was declaring, “We are as near united up this way on the New County Question as people generally are on any mooted project—New County, Railroad, iron and coal mines, or any other issue of public importance.”

Despite this interest in a new county, by February the idea had vanished inexplicably from the newspapers. It wasn’t until 10 years later that a few articles made allusions as to what had happened. An 1882 article noted, “It was to this town principally that all looked for the men who would do the hard fighting and stand the brunt of the battle, for to her would come the reward, the court house of the new county. The cause of the sudden cessation of all interest is too well known to require notices and only comment necessary is, that an interest in the general good was not, by far, to account for the death of the ‘New County’ movement. Frederick city, in her finesse in that matter, gave herself a record for shrewdness that few players ever achieve.”

A letter to the editor the following year said that the men leading the New County Movement had been “bought off, so to speak, by the promises of office, elective at the hand of one party, appointive at the hands of the other, and thus the very backbone taken out of the movement.” The letter also noted that the taxes in Frederick County were now higher than they had been when a new county had been talked about and that they wouldn’t have been any higher than that in the new county. “And advantages would have been nearer and communication more direct,” the letter writer noted.

Catoctin County, Virginia

map_compareNearly 150 years later, Virginians started talking about forming a Catoctin County that would be created from western Loudoun County. The proposed county would include Loudoun County west of the Catoctin Mountain watershed. Purcellville, Va., would become the seat of the new Catoctin County.

The movement began in 2005 with a letter to the Washington Post and has waxed and waned since then.

The idea took root because residents in the western end of Loudon County wanted to fight the rapid development encroaching in the area. Interest faded but was then reignited when an extension of the D.C. Metro silver line was proposed, resulting in higher taxes for county residents.

The group supporting the new county has even created a website. It points out that the people of western Loudoun County are feeling disenfranchised with their county representation.

“Our representatives on the Board have been forbidden from placing items on the agenda concerning the vital zoning of our land and the Chairman of our County, elected by county-wide vote, has been stripped of his powers. The current Vice Chairman, a representative from one small area of the County, now holds the Chairman’s rightful powers. Our homes, our livelihoods and the very quality of the lives we lead in Western Loudoun are all on the line and we have no say in our own future if our destiny is tied to the suburbanized east.”

Another problem, according to the website, is that a Virginia Supreme Court ruling has reversed growth controls in the western end of the county, supposedly because of a technicality.

While there is still no Catoctin County, the idea continues to live.

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Emmitsburg, Md., has a long history of both fires and fire protection. The Great Emmitsburg Fire of 1863 is considered the most-serious fire in the town’s history. By the time the flames sputtered out, 28 houses and nine businesses had been damaged or destroyed. Three of the four corners of the town square were black with fire and three of the towns four blocks were fire damaged. Other reports put the number of damaged buildings at 50 and half of the town destroyed. In actuality, probably about a quarter of the town burned, based on a population of slightly less than 1,000.

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Firefighting efforts improved in 1884 when water from the town’s newly built reservoir was piped under the street to fire hydrants. This provided a more-dependable supply of water to the engines. When the reservoir was dug and the water lines put in, The Emmitsburg Chronicle reported, “When it is considered that the reservoir is located 224 feet above the level of the square, any person can estimate the advantages that must accrue to the village when the improvement is completed. With proper hose at hand, it will scarce be possible for any great fire to occur here, and this security lessening the risks, must diminish the rates of insurance, and we trust that in due time the water power will be availed of for manufacturing purposes.”

Unfortunately, this did not prove to be true because Emmitsburg had its second great fire the following year.

Fire broke out in St. Joseph’s College just before noon on March 20, 1885, and quickly spread. Fighting fires in the large college buildings was too much for the firefighters with Vigilant Hose Company who were doing “grand work, but their efforts were, of course, unequal to the requirements,” according to The Frederick Daily News. Someone telegraphed for the help of fire companies from Frederick and Hagerstown. At the time, St. Joseph’s College was valued at $1 million and the total damage calculated at about $60,000.

What could be considered Emmitsburg’s third most-serious fire happened in December 1909 just days before Christmas. Shortly before noon, the roof of the Rowe property caught fire, which at the time was occupied by the Home Bakery, Harry Hopp, and Mr. Peters.

“The alarm was sounded but by the time a stream of water could be made to play on the burning roof the adjoining properties, the Reformed Church parsonage and the house occupied by Mrs. Virginia Gillelan were ablaze,” The Gettysburg Times reported.

Vigilant Hose Company combated the fire, but “A high wind aided the flames and for a time it was thought that nothing could be done to save the Rowe property although every effort was being made in that direction.”

Lulu Patterson then discovered that the Motter building occupied by Motter and Ruth Gillelan’s store was on fire. This split the efforts of the fire company as they now battled two fires. If that wasn’t enough, it was then discovered that the homes of H. W. Eyster and George T. Eyster were also on fire.

The firefighters didn’t give up, though.

“Inside of an hour the flames had been overcome and Emmitsburg, at least part of it, was saved,” The Gettysburg Times reported.

In all, 10 buildings were lost or damaged in the blaze.

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This is the final post in a series about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md.

 

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Union General George Meade

 

Change of Command

Union Col. James Hardie arrived at the Robert McGill farm in Arcadia, Md., in the early hours of June 28, 1863.

He was under orders not to dress in uniform or tell anyone where he was going. He had been “given the necessary passes and money to buy his way to his destination if he encountered delay or opposition. If met by [Confederate Gen. JEB] Stuart and the Confederate cavalry, he was to destroy his papers, endeavor to escape, and deliver his orders verbally,” John Schildt wrote in Roads to Gettysburg.

Hardie presented Gen. George Meade with sealed orders from the War Department. Meade now commanded the Army of the Potomac. He protested his appointment, but he could do nothing about it. Gen. Joseph Hooker was no longer in command.

The formal change of command took place around noon and Hooker left shortly thereafter.

Charles Coffin, a reporter on the scene, wrote, “Gen. Hooker bade farewell to the principal officers of the army on the afternoon of the 28th. They were drawn up in a line. He shook hands with each officer, laboring in vain to stifle his emotion. The tears rolled down his cheeks. The officers were deeply affected.”

Here are the other posts in the Frederick Civil War series:

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This is the sixth in a series of posts about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md.
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Catoctin Aqueduct on the C&O Canal

Boating the border of warring nations

While the Mason-Dixon Line being the dividing line between the North and the South, an argument could be made that the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was the dividing line between the Union and Confederacy. Running alongside the Potomac River as it does, Virginia was directly south of the canal and Maryland was to the north. Whenever you read about an army crossing the Potomac River, it also had to cross the canal.

The unlucky location meant that the canal was vulnerable to destruction by both the Union and Confederate armies

“In some instances, battles were fought so close to the canal that the company’s property was hurriedly made into hospitals and morgues,” Elizabeth Kytle wrote in Home on the Canal.

The Confederate Army attempted multiple times to destroy the canal during the war or at least damage it so it wouldn’t hold water, thereby stranding the canal boats and keeping the coal from reaching Washington. The Monocacy Aqueduct was a target of their destruction, but it was a failed target.

“The C&O Canal was a pipeline to Washington for coal and the Confederate Army wanted to destroy it to cripple the Union Army,” said Chris Haugh with the Tourism Council of Frederick County.

When the Confederate Army crossed the canal in September 1862 on its way to Frederick, Confederate Gen. Daniel Hill stayed behind to destroy the canal.

He quickly learned that there wasn’t enough black powder or tools to destroy the aqueduct so he tried to blow up Lock 27. His men managed to drill small holes for the black powder, but the blast did little damage.

Confederate Gen. John Walker tried his luck a week later.  His men drove off the Union pickets at the aqueduct and tried to drill holes in each of the seven aqueduct arches for the black powder. “After several hours, Walker’s chief engineer reported little progress, complaining that the drills were extremely dull while the masonry was of ‘extraordinary solidity and massiveness,’” Harland Unrau, a National Park Service historian, wrote in The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal During the Civil War: 1861-1865.

Demolishing the canal would have taken them days, not hours. So the plan was abandoned. They would damage other areas of the canal during the war, but not the 438-foot -long Monocacy Aqueduct.

Because of the problems with raiders disrupting trade on the canal, President Abraham Lincoln had also authorized Representative Francis Thomas, a former president of the canal company in 1839-41, to organize four citizen regiments to protection canal property and boaters on the canal and along boat sides of the Potomac River. The companies would be called the Potomac Home Brigade.

Other posts in this series

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This is the fifth in a series of posts about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md.

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The Occupation of Mt. Airy

Although Maryland remained in the Union, Mount Airy was strongly and openly pro-Confederate.  It was not unusual for that area of the Frederick County.

Chris Haugh with the Tourism Council of Frederick County explained that southern and eastern areas of the county had been settled predominantly by English and Scotch families from Southern Maryland who had no major problem with slavery. The northern and western areas of the county were settled heavily by German families who favored family farms.

Mount Airy’s leanings concerned the Union Army because the town was also a stop on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

“The railroad was important to the Union not just for troop transport but for communications,” Haugh said. “The railroad men were the eyes and ears for President Lincoln to know what was happening along the line.”

New Jersey Infantry commanded by Captain Jacob Janeway were stationed in Mount Airy to protect the railroad and National Road from Confederate sympathizers who might want to commit acts of sabotage.

The infantrymen used the Pine Grove Chapel as a barracks and the mess tent was set up in an area that is now the church cemetery. The land would become a cemetery while the soldiers were there.

“A sick and delirious soldier who wandered into Ridgeville and died was the first person given a Christian burial in the land at the back of the church,” according to the Town of Mount Airy web site.

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This is the fourth in a series of posts about the Civil War in Frederick County, Md.

 

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Confederate General JEB Stuart

 

JEB Stuart’s Hunt for Horses

About a month after the battle of Antietam, Confederate Gen. JEB Stuart crossed back into Maryland with 1,800 soldiers. Their mission from Gen. Robert E. Lee was to capture equipment and horses that the Confederate Army needed. They were also to disrupt communication lines and destroy the C&O Canal or B&O Railroad when possible.

They moved through Washington County, Md., and Franklin County, Pa., taking what they needed and destroying what they couldn’t carry.

Rather than retracing their route through Washington County back into Virginia, Stuart was forced to take a southeastern route from Chambersburg, Pa. Rain had swollen the Potomac River making it impossible to cross at the time so they headed toward Frederick County.

Union Gen. Alfred Pleasonton was on Stuart’s trail. However, some bad intelligence caused Pleasonton a delay that allowed Stuart to get around him and head towards Emmitsburg.

In Emmitsburg, Stuart’s men fought a cavalry battle with members of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry who were on their way to Gettysburg.

“It was one of two cavalry battles fought in the streets of Emmitsburg during the war,” said John Miller, historian for South Mountain State Park and the Emmitsburg Area Historical Society’s expert on the Civil War.

Emmitsburg’s citizens welcomed Stuart’s men and gave them fresh bread, buttermilk, and meat. However, the fighting in Emmitsburg had given Union supporters time to warn other nearby towns forcing Stuart to cut short his visit. Fearing a strong Union response, Stuart headed south as quickly as he could.

Sarah Six’s family lived in Mechanictown. Word spread through the region that Confederate soldiers were taking horses and cattle when they found them. If they paid, they paid in Confederate scrip. Sarah’s father, William Six, was so worried about losing his stock that he took his two horses north to Wrightsville, Pa.

In the end, the hunt for horses didn’t yield much for the Confederacy.

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