Frederick County — Leaders Now and Yesterday
I lived a childhood steeped in history. My dad was a history buff. I grew up on a farm on the Monocacy River in a house built in 1753 and named Pennterra Manor. My parents bought the farm about the time I was born. I’m one of seven children and we spent our childhood not only working on the farm, but helping with my father’s favorite pastime--restoring Pennterra. I often tell people, “Living at Pennterra was much like living in a museum”, and it’s true. In the 70’s Mom and Dad had Pennterra listed on Maryland’s historic register and Dad was President of Frederick County Historical Society. Since then, Pennterra has been featured twice in Frederick Magazine—kinda cool! Dad would often take all of us on historical excursions to see local monuments and walk through museums; those were some of my favorite memories growing up—in fact, I recall one of our outings was to the C&O Canal--that is the first time I learned about aqueducts and locks.
Our outing to discover the history of Frederick County—brought back memories of my childhood. I learned something new at each of our destinations.
Fingerprints on History
Starting with the Visitors Center, a renovated historic building and an amazing experience in itself, we were welcomed by John Fieseler the Executive Director, who did a great job at laying the groundwork for our outing. It was there I learned several things I did not know about this historic and well-traveled county. Many a foot travelled to or through Frederick, who had their fingerprint on our nation’s history. If you haven’t been to the visitor’s center, I highly recommend it.
First Stop: Berlin?
Our first stop, the historic town of Brunswick, (originally named Berlin), to visit the Brunswick Heritage Museum. It was there, we were introduced to George Lewis, a local historian and the man who was responsible for taking the lead in rebuilding the dilapidated and partially collapsed Catoctin Aqueduct (he and my Dad would get along great). This was a fascinating story and undertaking by Mr. Lewis and his team. Here is someone with a passion, knowledge and influence to move a group of people; raise $4 million dollars and rebuild and aqueduct (what one would think an impossible endeavor; in my eyes, you might as well of wanted to move a mountain)—just incredible! The restored Catoctin Aqueduct will be enjoyed by thousands of people for many, many years to come. This, my friends, is real leadership and a hard act to follow!
It was here at the museum that we had the honor of meeting the Mayor of Brunswick, Mayor Karin Tome, who welcomed us to the historic town and told of her leadership experience of being the voice of the people.
Our next stop was Gathland State Park, the former estate of George Alfred Townsend, a war correspondent. The park includes the War Correspondents Memorial Monument—a handsome stone structure. Here we had lunch and heard from local historian, Chris Haugh. Chris gave us the historical perspective of the region’s settlers, many of whom were African American teachers.
Onto the Monocacy Battlefield. Having grown up on the Monocacy, I was especially interested in this stop, as I had not had the opportunity before. I have to say I was quite overwhelmed at the extensive detail given of the battle strategy! Our presenter had a particular passion though; he was a descendant of the one of the men who bravely fought in the battle—great stuff! An interesting notation from our experience: Major General Lew Wallace who lead the Union forces that ultimately saved Washington DC, later became better known for authoring the novel, Ben Hur-A Tale of the Christ—more great stuff!
Lastly, a quick stop at the National Civil War Medicine Museum, with its captivating displays and endless stories of war heroes. Needless to say, Clara Barton, a heroic figure and very well-known leader, was one of the stories told. We learned of a civil war doctor by the name of Dr. Jonathan Letterman, who was responsible for originating the “triage” procedure used on the battlefield, and still in practice today in hospitals and doctor’s offices.
Yes, history is indeed fascinating. It makes me wonder what George Washington would think about cell phones and our pastimes these days. More importantly, where would we be today without these great, heroic leaders?
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Photos courtesy of David Rogers