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masonicstructureA lot has changed over the past 200 years, but Freemasons of the Columbia Lodge of the Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons are still conducting their meetings as if it were 1815.

“The meetings are the same as they were 200, 300, 400 years ago,” Matthew Sanders, Worshipful Master of the Columbia Lodge, said. Worshipful Master is a position equivalent to an organization’s president.

Masons are the largest and oldest fraternal organization in the world. For many people, their only exposure to the Masons is through the National Treasure movies. However, while the Masons have rites they keep private, they are open to visitors for the most part.

“We don’t go out and see people to become members,” Sanders said. “People who want to become a member seek us out.”

The idea behind this is that being a Mason requires a certain degree of commitment and if someone is pushed to join, he might not be as committed as someone who wants to join.

The goal of masonry is to create a better person, and thereby, improve the world. According to the Masonic pamphlet, What’s A Mason?, “Masonry is deeply involved in helping people—it spends more than $2 million dollars every day in the United States, just to make life a little easier. And the great majority of that help goes to people who are not Masons.”

Much of it goes to charitable institutes and programs like Crippled Children’s Hospitals, Burns Institutes, and Childhood Language Disorder Clinics.

thColumbia Lodge No. 58

The Freemasons came to Maryland in 1750, not in Baltimore, which was the largest population center at the time, but in Leonardtown. They weren’t established in Frederick County until just before the Revolutionary War. Not much is known of the early lodges in the county. According to the Columbia Lodge’s history, the first Masonic Lodge in Frederick County met in the home of William Downey near New Market.

During the Revolutionary War, Frederick County had an Army Lodge that was comprised of Maryland troops and Frederick County Masons, even though it was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.

After the war, John Frederick Amelung and George Fearhake formed a lodge near Urbana.

Then in 1799, Hiram Lodge No. 28 of Fredericktown was chartered with 30 members.

All of these lodges are gone now. They either surrendered their charters or were folded into other lodges. Some of the smaller lodges combined to help form the Columbia Lodge No. 58, which was chartered on November 7, 1815.

“The Masons met in a home at the corner of Market and Second Street,” said Kenneth Wyvill, Grand Master of the Maryland Masons.

This combined lodge was large enough to meet the needs of Frederick County Masons for 66 years. However, in its first decade, the Columbia Lodge had no permanent home. It met in five different locations, usually a Mason’s home.

Gen. Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, who was the French hero of the American Revolution visited Frederick and attended a Masonic meeting on December 29, 1824, in the House of Henry Bantz on West Second Street. LaFayette presented his Masonic apron to Mason William Bear, who in turn donated it to the lodge.

The apron is still on display in the lodge museum.

The 1830s saw a period where Masons were persecuted in the country and the Columbia Lodge decided on June 7, 1830, ceased their meetings.

“There is no evidence of the existence of any Masonic Lodge during the years 1830 to 1842 in Frederick County,” according to the pamphlet, Ceremonies of Cornerstone Laying and Dedication, which was printed for the dedication of the new Masonic Lodge in 1999.

In 1842, a number of Masons in Frederick met in a schoolhouse on the north side of West Church Street where the Evangelical Reformed Church now stand to petition the Grand Lodge of Maryland to reinstate the Columbia Lodge’s charter.

The new charter was approved on November 6, 1842. Although a new charter was issued, the Columbia Lodge still retained its original lodge number (No. 58). This means that it was the 58th lodge ever chartered in Maryland and today it is the 10th oldest lodge in the state, according to Sanders.

Lynch Lodge

“As population centers grew and shifted, Masons would decide to form new lodges,” said Wyvill.

The first lodge to break away to form another lodge in a different area of Frederick County was the Acacia Lodge in 1871. It formed in Thurmont to serve northern Frederick County.

The Lynch Lodge chartered in 1873 was formed not because of a desire to have a lodge closer to home but because the Masons were in danger of violating one of the two taboo subjects that aren’t discussed in a lodge—politics and religion. These subjects tend to create hard feelings between people and the Masons are about brotherhood.

Although the Civil War had ended in 1865, hard feelings still existed between those who supported the Union and those who supported the Confederacy. The two lodges remained separate until 1994 when they merged back into the Columbia Lodge.

Currently, there are six Masonic Lodges in Frederick County. The others are in Brunswick, Thurmont, Emmitsburg, Point of Rocks and New Market.

Teachings

While there is much fellowshipping among the Masons, there is also instruction. Masons learn various speeches, passwords, and signs to move through different degrees.

Though generally believed to be a Christian group, Masons include many faiths. The one requirement is that Masons must believe in a higher being. Each lodge has a book of faith on its central altar. This can be a Bible, but it could also be the Torah, Quran, or more than one.

“The only person we won’t accept is an atheist,” Sanders said.

Masons are involved in many civic activities and participate in parades and building dedications. They can be identified in full regalia that includes tuxedos, top hats, and aprons.

The Columbia Lodge Today

The cornerstone for the current lodge hall on Blentlinger Road was laid in 1999. The three-floor brick building has a lodge room, social hall, museum, and other rooms. The walls are adorned with pictures and artifacts that tell the story of the Masons in Frederick County.

“Everything you see as you walk through here has meaning for us,” Sanders said.

The Masons of the Columbia Lodge will be celebrating their 200 years in Frederick with a party at Dutch’s Daughter.

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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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After the Civil War ended, a young 24-year-old veteran returned home and decided that he wanted to be a teacher. He found a job as the schoolmaster for the school in Grantsville, Md., which was then part of Allegany County, Md. Ross R. Sanner was a man who commanded men in battle, and he turned those leadership skills into educating a new generation of young citizens.

“The writer (editor of the Oakland Republican) had the privilege of being one of his primary pupils in 1868 and among the readers of The Republican are many who received their first instructions from this grand old pedagogue and who have ever since held him in grateful memory and high esteem,” Benjamin Sincell wrote in 1916.

Sanner was born in Lower Turkeyfoot Township in Somerset County, Pa., in 1842. He had answered the call for soldiers in 1861 and walked to Uniontown to enlist in the 85th Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry as a 19-year-old private. He fought gallantly in various campaigns with his unit and soon started earning promotions, ending the war as a captain.

He was wounded at Folly Island in Charleston, S.C., and spent two months recovering in a hospital. He returned to duty and was injured a second time during the Battle of Petersburg. Sanner was fighting alongside his cousin, Norman Ream, when Ream was injured.

“He was six feet, two inches tall, and Captain Sanner carried him a mile on his shoulder to safety, the Cumberland Press reported. “Later Captain Sanner was wounded in the same battle and the pair became separated.”

It was this wound that caused him to be honorably discharged from the army on September 22, 1864, and he began collecting an invalid pension.

 

Grantsville School2 - pre-1909 (3)

Grantsville School prior to 1909. Photo courtesy of Alice Early.

 

Upon his return home, he attended the Iron City Business College in Pittsburgh and Mount Union College in Mount Union, Ohio. In 1866, he became a teacher in Grantsville, and also a husband when he married Alice C. Fuller.

He would eventually move on to teach in schools in Frostburg; Cumberland; Confluence, Pa.; and at the Soldiers’ Orphans’ School in Uniontown, Pa.

He moved to North Dakota for a number of years to try his hand at wheat farming, but teaching was his passion and he returned to the area once again and became the superintendent of schools in Oakland.

The in 1915, his career came full circle and returned to Grantsville to once again become the principal. They took up residence at the Casselman Hotel and Sanner enjoyed teaching with fewer responsibilities.

“In times of peace as well as of war he has stood by the best principles of government, and his influence over the minds of his pupils and those coming within his sphere has always been exerted for good,” according to Portrait and Biographical Record of the Sixth Congressional District of Maryland in 1898.

Three years after his return to his teaching roots, “Grantsville’s Grand Old School Teacher” passed away in Confluence at 76 years old from cirrhosis of the liver. He was buried at the Confluence Baptist Cemetery.

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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.

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