Brawls, Disputes, 'Generally Funny People' From Another Time

January 12, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

The latest publication from the Historical Society of Carroll County comes straight from news printed a century ago.

"The Carroll Record Histories of the Northwestern Carroll County Communities" reprints articles from a Taneytown weekly paper that was published for several years before the turn of the century.

Joseph M. Getty, who directed the project for the society, researched local records and oral traditions for about six months as he edited the book.

Much information comes from local columns written 100 years ago for the newspaper by longtime residents of Northwestern Carroll communities, including Uniontown, Harney and Keysville. "The information was never broadly disseminated in the community," said Mr. Getty, who is a freshman member of the House of Delegates from Manchester. "We published it so people could have access."

The core of the book is a reprint of articles, most written by local columnists from 1894 to 1897, in the Carroll Record News of Taneytown. Many are published just as they ran. Mr. Getty included any corrections, which might have run weeks after the original articles, and noted his additions.

Preston Englar, founder and editor of Carroll Record News, developed what he called a local history column, with accounts of social outings, community happenings and a who-was-who, to attract subscribers.

Several community correspondents, often the local physician or another prominent resident, gathered the information and wrote articles for the column.

"The style and content of each article varies depending on the writer's personality," Mr. Getty said. "Some columns were thorough and comprehensive. Others were a series of stories."

When a doctor wrote, "the academic training came through in a (( thorough, comprehensive view," said Mr. Getty. A businessman might take a different view.

Frank Devilbiss, a New Windsor storekeeper, frequently recalled stories from his childhood or repeated tales overheard in his shop.

"Mr. Devilbiss wrote a series like he was sitting around the potbelly stove and gathering stories about barroom brawls, election disputes and generally funny people," Mr. Getty said.

The writers often reported the local crime story and were not above inserting a little satire.

One account of petty theft details an employee who "frequently reveled in the luxury of Bacchus and shared the beverage with his pals." The revelry continued for weeks until his boss tapped into the surplus barrels of rye only to find them "as empty as an average member of the Legislature."

Similar anecdotes, punctuated with a dry wit, reflect the life of the times, said Jay Graybeal, director of the society. History should be both "informative and fun for the reader," he said. He promises readers a taste of both in the book.

Illustrations, from the association's files and on loan from historic committees and family albums, fill the pages of the book. The photographs give a clearer idea of the details and help readers develop mental images of a 19th century Carroll County, Mr. Getty said.

"Photos add to the text and make a world of difference in the way we visualize what we are reading," he said. "Without them, we can't always overcome visualizing a town meeting, for example, as as a 20th century event."

The society solicited donations from its members to underwrite the $30,000 that it cost to publish 1,000 copies of the book, which are selling for $25 each. Mr. Getty does not expect the record to be a runaway best seller.

"We don't want to sell out in a few years," Mr. Getty said. "We will keep several volumes for researchers, who come from across the country to the historical society."

Several copies will be maintained at the society's headquarters at 210 E. Main St., Westminster.

"Publishing the Carroll Record histories is part of our mission to serve as steward of the cultural resources depicting the history of Carroll County," Jacob M. Yingling, president of the society, wrote in a foreword to the book.

Mr. Yingling will dedicate the new publication formally during the 158th celebration of the founding of Carroll County at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the society's Main Street location. The program will include readings from the book and recognition of the advisory committee.

Information: 848-6494.

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