Daniels, a city in ruin, is kept alive by its church

NEIGHBORS

November 22, 1993|By JEAN LESLIE

Twenty years ago, Daniels was a thriving mill town at land's end on Daniels Road in Ellicott City. There were homes, stores, a school, a band and a church -- all stemming from the C.R. Daniels mill, where 600 to 700 of the town's adults worked.

During the Civil War, when the canvas tents created in the mill were in great demand, the town was booming and prosperous.

Hurricane Agnes changed everything in 1972, flooding and destroying the town, forcing closure of the mill and relocation of the town's people. Now all that is left is Gary Memorial United Methodist Church and the Daniels Band.

As you drive down Old Frederick Road, you'll see a brown sign inviting you to "Worship in the Park" a clue to the outside world that the church is still there.

To find the church on Daniels Road, you'll drive through Patapsco Park, down the winding road until the woods open out onto the river and there on the hill to your right is the church.

The ruin of what was Daniels is fenced off by the state and is being used by a logging and mulching company. But look past the fence and trucks, and you can see eerie ghosts of buildings that front the river.

The church is a beautiful granite structure, built by the mill owners for the workers. Its existence is especially imposing in this place of ruin, woods and water. The church remains very much alive.

For six years, Pastor Luther Starnes has been leading a congregation of 120 members while he also works as Citizens Services Coordinator for Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

Many in his congregation are people who were born and raised in Daniels, and have maintained their church loyalties. The congregation holds a Fourth of July picnic, and every year in October it holds a town reunion.

Services are held every Sunday at 11 a.m., and the Christmas Eve service is "standing room only."

*

Recent research has found that in the United States, 10 percent of the population will suffer mental illness. My own family has known this trauma, so my deep sympathies lie with those who are struggling with these diseases.

But there are resources. The 50 or so members of AMI, or Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Howard County, are working to ease some of the pain both for the ill and for people who love them.

AMI offers a multitude of important services.

* One example is the support meeting held for family members of the mentally ill, held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month by psychiatric nurse Bonnie Dank.

The next support meeting will be held on Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Howard County Hospital's Health Education Center.

* In addition, a monthly workshop helps to educate people in issues shared by the mentally ill. November's meeting covered "Basics of Mental Illness," and on Dec. 1, they will discuss "Common Legal Concerns for Families with Mental Illness, Including Commitment."

Workshops are held at Hickory Ridge Building on Hickory Ridge Road in Columbia.

* "On Our Own" is a support group of about 50 people who are coming out from under the thumb of mental illness by moving toward independence.

Unfortunately, they have no meeting place and they are searching for a room where they can hold their monthly meeting. If you know of a place, please call Barbara Peterson at 964-5147.

* An important project is AMI's monthly dinner for the chronically mentally ill of Howard County on the third Sunday of every month at 4 p.m. These dinners, attended by 35 to 70 mentally ill people and friends, are a successful social link for those suffering from mental diseases.

While local churches and community groups have generously provided meals and financial support, the dinner is a large commitment, and you are invited to join in the effort.

If you would like to help, or know of someone who would benefit from attending these dinners, call Jacqueline Yacher at (410) 730-1992. AMI will help with transportation if necessary. For information on joining AMI of Howard County, call Claudia Friend at (410) 730-5977.

*

This holiday season, "Thomas the Tank Engine" from PBS's "Shining Time Station," will bring friends Annie and Clarabel to Ellicott City's B&O Railroad Station Museum, as part of a unique holiday exhibit.

Museum director Ed Williams will display B&O's traditional Christmas Train Garden with nine classic trains, mechanical animation and a 40-foot model railroad.

He has added attractions such as the "G" scale Thomas the Tank Engine and personalized telegrams from Santa Claus to little ones via the station's telegraph machine.

In addition, living historians will present Christmas in 1863, when artist Thomas Nast created Santa Claus as we know him. That was also the year when President Abraham Lincoln declared Dec. 25 as Christmas Day.

The historians also will share an egg nog recipe then hailed as the best nog on the East Coast.

The exhibit opens Friday and runs until Jan. 31. The museum is open Friday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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