Posts Tagged ‘local history’

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From the unsolved to the unusual. From the historical to the hysterical. From the famous to the friendly. This is life in the Maryland mountains.

Did you know that a Russian prince once worked as a priest in Cumberland?

Have you heard the story about the German POW camp near Flintstone during WWII?

Do you know about the mining wars that were fought to try and unionize the coal mines in the Georges Creek region?

Do you know the story behind Cumberland’s only lynching?

Have you heard the story about the baseball game played between the Cumberland Colts and the New York Yankees?

These are the stories of Allegany and Garrett counties in Maryland found in old newspapers, history books, journals, and other places. It’s the stories of people who tamed the mountains, established cities, raised families and lived their lives. Journey back in time and look beyond the photos that so well document the region’s history. This collection of 40 stories spans 220 years of life in Western Maryland.

Originally published in the Cumberland Times-News and Allegany Magazine, some of these stories have been expanded as new information has been uncovered and new photos accompany some of the stories.

Visit the Looking Back Amazon.com page.

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leonids-1833The old Adams County jail wasn’t the most secure of prisons. Early in the morning of November 12, 1833, a convicted murderer was so scared that he broke out of the prison, according to the History of Adams County published in 1886. Though the man was free from prison, he still wore shackles. He ran to the nearest blacksmith shop and filed them off. Then, “as he forgot to come back and give himself up to be hanged, it may be inferred he is still fleeing from the ‘stars’ that do not pursue,” according to the History of Adams County.

Few people probably even noticed the killer’s escape that evening. Their eyes were turned to the heavens watching the reason the man had become scared enough to break out.

“The whole heavens appeared to be illuminated by countless meteors, of different sizes, which darted frequently horizontally, leaving long trains, but generally fell silently to the ground, resembling, as some term it, large flakes of snow, or as if it were ‘snowing stars,’ the Gettysburg Compiler reported.

Many people reported beginning to see the falling stars around dusk the day before but the peak of activity seems to have been in the hours before dawn on the 12th. The Gettysburg Compiler called it “one of the most splendid and awful spectacles the mind can conceive of, was witnessed in the heavens.”

The murderer wasn’t the only one fearing the stars that morning. The Carlisle Volunteer noted that the sight of thousands of fiery trails in the sky started people predicting all sorts of dire consequences. “One remarked it was occasioned by the removal of Deposites from the U.S. Bank!—another, that there would be a division of the Union!!—and a third, that it was a sure sign of the rapid approach of cold weather!!!” the newspaper reported.

It wasn’t a prediction of the Apocolypse, though. The meteor shower was the Leonid Meteor Shower. It is caused in part by the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which had yet to be discovered in 1833. The comet passes the Earth every 33 years and around mid-November of the year that it passes, the Earth moves through the stream of particles and debris that the comet leaves behind.

The 1833 meteor shower was one of the more spectacular ones seen throughout America east of the Rocky Mountains. Many newspapers reported on the event.

The Gettysburg Compiler described it this way: “To form some idea of the phenomenon, the reader may imagine a constant succession of the fire balls, resembling sky rockets, radiating in all directions from a point in the heavens near the zenith, and following the arch of the sky towards the horizon. They proceeded to various distances from the radiating point, leaving after them a vivid streak of light, and usually exploding before they disappeared. The balls were of various sizes and degrees of splendor. The flashes of light, though less intense than lightning, were so bright as to awaken many people in their beds, and many were alarmed, and astonished every person who beheld it.”

The variation in intensity comes from slight variations in the path and size of the dust cloud. The deeper the earth enters it the more spectacular the meteor shower. Other big years for the meteor shower were in 1866 and 1965. No meteors were seen in 1899, which started speculation that the meteor had changed its path. However it returned again in 1932.

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Mae Carbaugh lived the quiet life of a hermit. She rarely left her home along Route 550 close to the Western Maryland Railway tracks near Thurmont. Yet, in the months before she died in 1974, her life was national news.

Carbaugh wasn’t a native of Frederick County. She was born on a farm in Delaware in 1896. Deciding that the farming life wasn’t for her, Carbaugh left home at age 16. She wound up working as a hotel restaurant waitress in Emmitsburg until the hotel closed.

She married Charles Carbaugh and the couple had a daughter. Charles was an alcoholic and didn’t work much so when he died in 1953, he left his wife with nothing. Mae found work as a housekeeper for an elderly bachelor, though.

“When the old bachelor died, she continued, she had no place to live. So she bought a bus for $100 15 years ago, parked it on public land and has lived there ever since,” the Baltimore Sun wrote about her in 1970.

“I’ve been wanting a house all these years. But the houses in Thurmont rent for about $50 a month and I don’t have that kind of money,” she told the Frederick Post.

While the old bus was Carbaugh’s home, many people considered it an eyesore. Some of them tried to get her evicted, but Frederick Wilhide, the property owner, told them that as long as Carbaugh wasn’t causing any problems, she could stay.

Although Carbaugh didn’t cause problems, she was the focus of some problems. Vandals had caused a lot of damage to the bus over time. The windows were covered with wood or sheet metal because rocks had broken the windows.

“Although most townspeople don’t associate with the old woman, neighborhood kids do pay visits. They start small fires near her camp site, toss rocks at her gray and blue bus and sneak up in the dead of night and hoot and howl like enraged witches.

“’On Halloween night it’s really bad,’ she says, her voice quivering, ‘All these kids come up and throw rocks at me and my cats. I don’t know why they want to hurt us,’” the Hagerstown Mail reported.

To make her bus livable, Carbaugh added a small wood stove inside with a stove pipe that could be seen protruding from the roof of the bus.

“It’s a hard time firing the stove for 24 hours to keep from freezing,” Carbaugh said.

There was also a bed and piles upon piles of used clothing that sometimes grew moldy.

However, the bus had no indoor plumbing. “She kept a pot inside and when it got full, she buried its contents in the woods, using a shovel she kept there for that purpose,” the Baltimore Sun reported.

The Sun reporter who met with the 74-year-old Carbaugh described her as having a wrinkled face “almost obscured by a knit cap pulled down on a swarthy forehead.” When the reporter from the Mail interviewed her, he noted that she wore a torn red dress and one black shoe and one brown one.

She got by picking up soda bottles off the side of the road and taking them into a nearby gas station for the deposit. People passing by in cars would also stop and give her food and clothing.

Her daughter, Mary, had lived away from her parents from the age of five and never visited her mother in Thurmont.

She said of her mother in the Frederick Post, “Some people don’t like to be around lots of people. Everybody has their own individual mind. I couldn’t live that way. I like to be around people. I don’t like to be alone. There are lots of possibilities why she was the way she was. She wasn’t crazy. She was peculiar. She lost both her parents when she was 16, you know. We don’t know what that may have done to her.”

Following the publication of the Baltimore Sun story in 1970, a Baltimore businessman gave Carbaugh a green trailer.

“The businessman suggested she move into a modern trailer camp but Mrs. Carbaugh would have none of it. She refused to move from the spot near the stream where she gets her drinking water in a bucket. And she refused to take the hint that she change her ways,” the Hagerstown Mail reported.

Around Thurmont, Carbaugh was known as “The Cat Lady” because she kept two or three cats as pets.

When Carbaugh died on October 23, 1974, the Frederick Post called her trailer a landmark. After all, it had been in the same location for 20 years.

It was a landmark that quickly disappeared, though. “The piles of wood and debris were gone, the worn trailer was empty, locked and lonely, the green wooden doghouse overturned and deserted. On the leaf-covered ground, some spilled navy beans, tired scraps of foil and bits of cloth — materials for next spring’s birds nests — were all that told of a once strange and independent existence,” the newspaper reported shortly after her death.

The Baltimore Sun said of her, “To some she was the last of a hardy breed . . .an eccentric who lived her own life as she saw fit, who wanted to be alone and to be left alone.”

Her funeral services were held at the Creager Funeral Home and Carbaugh was interred at Blue Ridge Cemetery on October 26, 1974.



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Rockview_Penitentiary_Pa__1940Philip Hartman knew he needed to pay for his crime and that he would have to pay the ultimate price.

“Fight the case? No, I am guilty of the charges. I made my mistake. I am sorry,” the 24-year-old Hartman told reporters after he was arrested for murder and bank robbery.

After robbing the Abbottstown State Bank on October 14, 1924, Hartman had shot Private Francis Haley of the Pennsylvania State Police shortly thereafter. Haley had died almost instantly on the highway where he had fallen from his motorcycle, becoming the 11th state trooper to die in the line of duty. Following an intensive two-day manhunt, Hartman surrendered to police in Reading and was returned to the Adams County Jail to await his trial.

Hartman spoke to reporters, “In broken phrases, like a man repenting a wrong deed, struggling in vain with a cigarette that refused to remain lighted,” the Gettysburg Times reported. He was unshaven, agitated and weary looking.

The following day state police escorted him as he retraced his route from the time of the bank robbery until he boarded a train to Harrisburg.

At the Abbottstown State Bank, Hartman was taken into the bank and the cashier, H. F. Stambaugh, was asked if Hartman was the bank robber. When Stambaugh reminded the police that the robber had worn a mask, Hartman said, “I’m the man.”

Hartman’s parents still lived in Annville, but his mother had had a stroke two weeks earlier and was still ill.  She hadn’t been told of her son’s arrest or trial. However, his father and wife did visit Hartman while he was in jail.

Hartman’s preliminary hearing was held at the end of October and only Stambaugh and George Johnson, the golf pro at the Graeffenburg Inn where Haley was killed, were called as witnesses to testify.

Hartman had no lawyer to represent him and did not want one. The judge told him that murder defendants needed a lawyer so the court appointed George J. Benner for him. The trial was held in January 1925 and went as quickly as the preliminary hearing. Hartman was found guilty of first-degree murder on January 31.

Following his conviction, Hartman was returned to the Adams County Jail to await his execution. Benner appealed for a new trial, but the appeal was denied.

“Several months’ incarceration in the Adams County jail, with freedom of the corridor granted him by Sheriff Shealer, instilled in Hartman desire to escape and he planned with and inveigled Roy Diamond, Annville, boyhood companion of his, to assist him,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

Diamond had tried to smuggle steel hacksaws to Hartman that he would have used to saw through the bars that covered the cells and windows. Diamond was caught, though, and was soon residing in the same prison as his friend.

As the date for the execution approached, Governor  Gifford Pinchot granted Hartman a 30-day respite. This came about due to the efforts of Clyde G. Gleason, a professor of psychology at Gettysburg College, who was seeking a way to stop the execution.

Gleason’s last-ditch effort failed. On the morning of November 28, Sheriff Shealer read Hartman his death warrant at the county prison. Hartman and an armed guard then left the prison for Bellefonte and Rockview Penitentiary. On the morning of November 30, 1925, Edgar L. Hildebrand, a Gettysburg College student who had been helping Gleason, and a prison guard escorted Hartman to the electric chair.

Hartman’s step did not falter as he walked. “The smile remained while attendants were adjusting the apparatus before the current was applied. Not a word was uttered by Hartman as he was placed in the chair,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

He was declared dead at 7:09 a.m. He was the 155th person in Pennsylvania to die in the electric chair, which had replaced hanging as a form of execution in 1915.


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Private Francis Haley

“Today, a bank-bandit and murderer, believed to be one and the same man, sulks in the shadows of whatever he may find to shield him; a criminal hunted like a beast, while more than 100 Troopers seek to avenge the death of one of their comrades,” the Gettysburg Times reported on October 16, 1924.

Two days earlier, Pennsylvania State Trooper Francis Haley had been murdered when he tried to stop a car that he suspected might have been involved in a bank robbery. He had died on Lincoln Highway just inside the Adams County near Michaux State Forest.

Haley was the 11th state trooper to be killed in the line of duty and Pennsylvania State Police had turned out in force to hunt down the killer.

The killer’s car had been found the day after Haley had been killed. The car was found about 5 miles from Fayetteville, burned and abandoned. Though the license plate had been removed, it was still identifiable as the car that Haley had tried to stop and the state police had been searching for as dozens of troopers had combed South Mountain for clues.

Police were also searching for a potential suspect named Gerald Chapman. He had escaped from a federal prison in Atlanta, Ga., and was wanted for murdering a policeman during a robbery attempt in New Britain, Conn.

Meanwhile, the police in Baltimore, Md., had detained a suspect for questioning. He said that his car had broken down near Monterey Pass and he had to take the train to Baltimore.

The Gettysburg Times called it the largest manhunt in Pennsylvania history to that point. The Pennsylvania State Police were utilizing just about all of their resources to find the killer.

Amid this turmoil, Haley was buried in the Pottsville Cemetery. It was a reminder to the state police that all of the previous murderers of state troopers had been caught and Haley’s killer was still at large.

However, locating the car was a break in the case. The owner of the vehicle was identified as Philip Hartman of Rochester, N.Y. Hartman had also been a former resident of Adams County, working as a farm hand and lineman. The search shifted to locating Hartman. By that evening, the Reading Police reported that Hartman had surrendered to them and confessed to the murder.

He told the police that he had been forced to abandon his car in the mountains when it became stuck in mud. He had tried to hide it by burning it and then set off on foot to Mount Holly Springs. He traveled through the night to reach the town where he caught the train to Harrisburg. He then took a train to Reading.

Hartman talked freely while he was in the prison at Reading. He was born in Gettysburg and had later moved to Annville when he had gotten married and then became a father. Earlier in the year, he had traveled to Ohio in search of work. The job lasted only two weeks before he was laid off.

This was the last straw for Hartman and he decided to turn to crime. He stole a car in Columbus, Ohio, and made his way back to Adams County robbing gas stations along the way. Eventually, he found himself in Abbottstown where he decided to rob the bank there.

“My intention was not to kill the state trooper. I noticed him following me in the vicinity of Graeffenburg Inn. I aimed for his shoulder and as I did, he turned. The murder was not deliberate. I just wanted to put him out of the running, so I could make a getaway. After shooting the policeman, I abandoned the car and struck over the mountains,” Hartman told reporters.

When he arrived in Reading, he phoned his wife who told him that police had already questioned her and they were searching for him. He had planned to hide out in Reading until things blew over. He would then return home and lead a honest life, but his wife had urged him to turn himself in. Things wouldn’t blow over with him having killed a state trooper. Hartman reluctantly agreed and turned himself in.

He would have to throw himself on the mercy of the court.

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The Graeffenburg Inn on the border between Franklin and Adams counties in Pennsylvania and near where state trooper Francis Haley was shot and killed in 1924.

The Graeffenburg Inn on the border between Franklin and Adams counties in Pennsylvania and near where state trooper Francis Haley was shot and killed in 1924.

This is the first in a series of articles I wrote for the Gettysburg Times about the murder of Pennsylvania State Trooper Francis Haley and the hunt for his killer.

With just five months with the Pennsylvania State Police and only two days at the substation in Chambersburg, Private Francis Haley could still feel a sense of newness and wonder with the job. It was a feeling he would lose all too soon.

Around 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 14, 1924, the report came in to be on the lookout for a lone man in a touring car with New York plates who was wanted as a suspect in the robbery of the Abbottstown State Bank. Upon fleeing the scene, the bank robber had last been seen heading in the direction of Gettysburg along Lincoln Highway.

Around 2 p.m. that day, H. F. Stambaugh, the cashier at the Abbottstown State Bank had found himself alone in the bank enjoying a lull in the busy day. A man had entered the bank wearing a grayish suit and slouch hat, but what alarmed Stambaugh was that he had a red bandanna pulled up over his nose and a pistol.

The robber demanded all of the money in the cash drawer, which amounted to $1,000 (around $13,500 today). He then told Stambaugh to get in the vault. As the cashier walked into the bank vault, he heard something that made him turn around. He saw that the robber had run off.

Stambaugh ran to the bank door. He didn’t see anyone on the town square, but he did see a touring car head off down Lincoln Highway driven by a lone man.

The cashier had quickly reported the robbery and the alert had been sent out shortly thereafter.

Private Haley mounted his motorcycle and headed out from the Chambersburg substation alongside Sgt. Merrifield. They headed east along Lincoln Highway watching the cars around them. As they passed through Fayetteville, Merrifield turned off to patrol along a different road.

Haley knew that the odds of finding the robber so far away from Abbottstown were slim. He had certainly had many opportunities to turn off the highway before reaching Chambersburg. Still, Haley was new enough on the job that the general acceleration of events still thrilled him.

He was driving by the Graeffenburg Inn near the border between Adams and Franklin counties around 3:30 p.m. when he noticed a touring car approaching him from the east. Then he noticed that the car had New York license plates.

The car passed him, but Haley turned his motorcycle around and hurried to catch up to the car. He drew abreast of the car and waved for the driver to stop.

“Pull up to the side of the road and stop,” Haley ordered the driver.

Instead, the driver drew a .32 automatic and shot Haley at point blank range. Haley hadn’t sensed any danger and hadn’t even had time to attempt to draw his pistol. The driver’s bullet passed through Haley’s right hand and then into his right breast where it also hit his heart before lodging in a rib.

“The momentum of the motorcycle carried the trooper along for a distance of about 25 feet. He then fell off onto the highway, face downward,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

People sitting on the porch of the Graeffenburg Inn had seen the entire shooting. They rushed to Haley’s aid as the car sped off towards Fayetteville.

As the witnesses tried to stop the blood flow, Haley said, “Get that man! I’m shot!”

And then he died; the 11th Pennsylvania State Trooper to be murdered in the line of duty. All of the previous murderers had been captured and the Pennsylvania State Police would make sure that Haley’s killer was also caught. His death set off the largest manhunt in Pennsylvania history to that point.

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Baseball has always been a popular pastime in Frederick County. The county has had professional, semi-professional, and amateur teams, often engaged in fierce competition for the title of league champion.

In the 1920s, Thurmont had an amateur baseball team that played in an eight-team county league, along with teams from Mt. Airy, Emmitsburg, Point of Rocks, New Market, Woodsboro, Middletown, and Brunswick.

Woodsboro emerged at the top of the heap at the end of the 1922 season. And when the 1923 season started, it was expected that they would again reign victorious. They met with a problem, though. It was Thurmont’s baseball team.

Near the end of July 1923, Woodsboro and Thurmont met at the Woodsboro baseball field for their first game against each other during the season. It was one of the largest crowds ever to turn out for a baseball game in Woodsboro. Not only were the two towns close enough in distance for a large crowd to turn out for the game, but it was a game between the two top teams in the league. Woodsboro was the defending champion and Thurmont was—at this eighth game of the season—still undefeated.

It was expected to be the clash of the titans. Instead, it was a continuation of the juggernaut that was the Thurmont baseball team of 1923. Thurmont “swept the Woodsboro lads entirely off their feet,” reported the Catoctin Clarion.

Though Woodsboro led at the end of the first inning, 2 to 1, it was the last time they led and also the last time they would score until the eighth inning. The final score was Thurmont, 23 and Woodsboro, 3.

“‘Sammy’ Freeze, pitching for Thurmont, had his opponents entirely at his mercy, allowing but four scattered hits, while Fox, pitching for Woodsboro, was touched for twenty-five hits, many of them being for extra bases,” reported the Catoctin Clarion.

On the hitting side, shortstop Ed Creeger led the way with six hits out of his seven times at bat.

“Time after time were the locals robbed of what looked like sure hits. So there was only one thing left for them to do and that was slug ‘em out over the heads of the outfield— and ‘Sammy’ wouldn’t let ‘em do that—so they were sort o’ between the devil and the deep sea,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.

The game lasted 2 hours and 25 minutes, though it was delayed for a few minutes by a bumblebee. It flew into the left armpit of Woodsboro’s catcher, Lynn Smith, and decided that it was a fine place to stay, much to Smith’s consternation.

Smith was also involved in another unusual incident during the game. “With the bat resting on his shoulder, he stepped forward to evade a high ball close to his head. The ball hit the bat back of his head and dropped about three feet in front of the plate. Ecken threw him out at first,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.

Coach “Eddie” Hooper was a very happy man at the end of the game, as Thurmont remained undefeated. In the eight games played so far in that season, Thurmont had scored 127 runs, as opposed to the 27 scored by its opponents.

“But what happened to Woodsboro? Were they over-trained? Was it nervousness or was it their off day?” the Catoctin Clarion asked.

Not that the reporter worried much about it. At the end of the day, Thurmont was still undefeated.

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