Lineboro's Main Street is quiet, but rich in lore of busier days NORTH -- Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

February 17, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Contributing Writer

Where are Elmer, Herman, Bert, Tom and Charley,

The weak of will, the strong of arm, the clown, the boozer, the fighter?

All, all are sleeping on the hill.

One passed in a fever,

One was burned in a mine,

One was killed in a brawl,

One died in a jail,

One fell from a bridge toiling for children and wife --

All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.

Where are Ella, Kate, Mag, Lizzie and Edith,

The tender heart, the simple soul, the loud, the proud, the happy one?

All, all are sleeping on the hill.

Edgar Lee Masters

"Spoon River Anthology" Snaking across the floor of the Central Valley toward the little North Carroll village of Lineboro on Route 86, the visitor's attention is drawn to the red brick Lazarus United Church of Christ sitting on a faraway hill.

Like the fictional Spoon River, the church is surrounded by its own "hill" and cemetery containing the bones of the Wentz, Wertz, Warehime, Warner, Tracy and Kopp families, early settlers of the village whose descendants are still active in the business and social life there.

There are probably more people in the cemetery than living in the one-street-wide village that has never boasted a population of more than 200 even in the best of times.

The first burial took place there on Jan. 1, 1854, when the remains of Conrad Grove, 23, were laid to rest under a headstone that reads:

"Remember me as you pass by,

As you are now so once was I

As I'm now so you shall be,

Prepare for death and follow me."

Longtime resident John Waugh, whose wife, Wanda, is the town's unofficial historian, said with a laugh, "The Lineboro Fire Company has more members than Lineboro has people."

Lineboro, originally a land grant to Verick Wissler in 1745, is so named because it straddles the Maryland-Pennsylvania border.

Most of the early settlers came to the area from Pennsylvania. The first house to be erected, in 1820 by Conrad Kerlinger, still stands on Main Street.

Stately and imposing with great pillars, the house bears more than a passing resemblance to a southern plantation house -- fitting since it sits not far from the town's Mason-Dixon line marker.

. It is now occupied by Charlotte Warner, the great-great-granddaughter of Jacob Wolfgang, who bought it from Mr. Kerlinger in 1828.

Masters had Spoon River, Joyce his Dublin and Wanda Waugh has her Lineboro.

Soft-spoken, with an intense interest in old pictures, documents and records dealing with the town, the 47-year-old former Union Bridge resident spends her time chronicling as much of the town's history as she can lay her hands on.

"I got interested in the town when we moved here in 1970," she said recently from the parlor of her home, which used to be parsonage for the North Carroll Lutheran Church.

"The parsonage was for sale when my husband and I discovered it on a drive through the town. I was pregnant with my daughter at the time," she said, "and I just fell in love with it. I had to have it. So, we bought it."

It was her interest in finding out about the history of the parsonage that led her to a passion for finding out the history of not only her home but the town as well.

"I was warned," she said with a laugh, "by some of the town's oldsters who said, 'If you find any skeletons, you better let them stay where you find them.' "

She's found some skeletons -- the story of the town's eye doctor, a family man who led a respectable life until he fell in love with his secretary and she committed suicide after becoming pregnant.

"I just got a letter the other day from his granddaughter in California," she said, "asking about her grandfather. That's going to be a tough one to answer."

Lineboro is not incorporated, has no town hall or town government. The electric bill for the town's street lights is paid by the Volunteer Fire Department. Life revolves around farming, milling, woodworking and the Volunteer Fire Department.

Some residents drive to Baltimore or Towson to their jobs and don't seem to mind having traded inconvenience for the quiet of this neatly kept village, where houses along Main Street sit quietly behind lace-curtained windows and green shutters.

"People who like it quiet like to live here," said John Waugh, an advanced-engineering manager for Black & Decker in Towson.

There is no store since the Lineboro General Store, heir to the ancient Miller's store that had been operated for years by the Ralph Miller family, gave up the ghost in 1981.

Electricity didn't reach the town until 1923. Gov. Albert C. Ritchie opened the first paved road to the town in 1929.

The Hanover and Baltimore Railroad, built through the town in 1877, eventually became part of the Western Maryland Railway and at one time sent more than 15 freight trains a day chugging through the community. There was passenger service that brought outsiders to spend summers when the town flourished briefly as a summer resort.

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