Wealth of hidden historical gems abounds in area


June 22, 2000|By Lorraine Gingerich | Lorraine Gingerich,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HIDDEN AMONG the big, beautiful new homes and recently built shopping centers and gas stations are the sometimes untold stories of history in western Howard County.

Did you know that Clarksville was once a prosperous little town in the late 1800s? That it boasted a post office, grocery, three carpenters, three doctors, and four blacksmiths and wheelwrights?

And that the popular Linden-Linthicum United Methodist Church on Route 108 united two older churches in Howard County? Two congregations rooted deep in the history of Howard County -- Linden Church, near Dayton, built in 1820; and Linthicum Chapel, built in 1806 -- united in 1959 to form Linden-Linthicum, now in the heart of booming Clarksville.

West Friendship was once a stop on the Frederick Turnpike, which was built in the 1790s.

As early settlers moved west, over the turnpike, West Friendship developed, and a general store and post office were built to accommodate the influx of people.

In 1920, the state paved the West Friendship-Sykesville Road, now Route 32. From that point on, cars began to replace the horse and buggy.

Today, farms and historic homes cover the land still inhabited by descendants of the earlier aristocratic families.

Lisbon was founded in the early 1800s as a farming village and supply depot, and served as a way station for stagecoach and wagon travelers journeying on the Old Frederick Turnpike. Caleb Pancoast, Lisbon's founder, built the first house in Lisbon about 1810. Eventually, Lisbon had a general store, a post office, and blacksmith and wheelwright shops.

In its heyday, Lisbon was a resort town, visited by city dwellers who wanted to escape the heat for the cool Howard County countryside.

Today, Lisbon is a lovely community with older homes and churches. Many structures from the 1900s have been restored in the Lisbon area. Three houses are only 13 feet wide and were built at least 130 years ago. East of Woodbine Road, nearly every house in Lisbon was built before or during the Civil War. Several homes are built of logs.

Visitors may enjoy browsing in the small stores east of the main intersection.

The 27-mile stone turnpike marker from Baltimore still stands just east of town.

On July 4, 1851, Howard County became the 21st of Maryland's 23 counties. This year, the county will celebrate its 150-year anniversary with the Howard County Sesquicentennial Celebration.

The kickoff event will be held at 7 p.m. July 5 at Centennial Park, which will be renamed Sesquicentennial Park for the remainder of the year. Events will be held throughout the year, culminating on July 4, 2001.

Howard County's rich and diverse heritage is reason for celebration, according to Sesquicentennial Committee Co-chairs Dessie Moxley and Ken Mays.

"All citizens, young and old, fourth generation or first, old town or new town, are invited, encouraged ... to celebrate during the yearlong celebration," they said.

According to Lee Wildemann, executive director of the Howard County Sesquicentennial Celebration Committee, the kickoff at "Sesqui"-Centennial Park promises to be fun for the entire family.

County Executive James N. Robey will arrive in a horse-drawn carriage, accompanied by re-enactors in period dress. Special guests former Sen. James Clark Jr. and community activist Leola Dorsey will make an appearance at Centennial Park South.

Games for the kids and entertainment for everyone, including moonlight canoe rides, are planned. The event is free and open to the public.

In western Howard, the celebration committee has several events planned throughout the year. Included are a tour of the Howard County Conservancy and a demonstration of antique farm machinery.

The Sesquicentennial Committee will also have a booth at the Howard County Fair.

However, the committee is looking for ways to highlight areas in western Howard County. Our area is rich in history and deserves its share of attention.

"We welcome your ideas," said Wildemann.

To submit an idea or for information: Lee Wildemann, 410-313-1693.

TV turn-off

In honor of TV Turnoff Week, Sen. Christopher J. McCabe came to Manor Woods Elementary School on May 3 to congratulate 142 pupils for being TV-free for one week. McCabe gave each participating pupil a certificate, and the PTA gave each pupil a commemorative pencil.

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