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Nicholas DiGregory

Photo Courtesy of Nicholas DiGregory

40 yrs

The teachers and students of Emmitsburg’s Mother Seton School gather for a picture after Bishop Gainer’s anniversary Mass. The school traces its history all the way back to Elizabeth Ann Seton’s original school in Emmitsburg.

On March 2, 1809, Elizabeth Ann Seton penned a letter to her life-long and possibly dearest friend, Julia Sitgreaves Scott. The letter described Seton’s intention to move from Baltimore to the Catoctin Valley, where she would start a school on lands provided by a generous Mount St. Mary’s seminarian.

“He is about purchasing a place at Emmitsburg, and has offered me the department of taking care of the children who may be presented or rather of being the mother of the family,” Seton wrote in the letter. “This pleases me for many reasons—in the first place I shall live in the mountains, in the next I shall see no more of the world than if I was out of it and have every object centered in my own family.”

The Catoctin Mountains and Valley always held a special place in Seton’s heart. Throughout her life, she referred to the area as the “Valley of Blessings.” The town of Emmitsburg, nestled quietly in the Catoctin Valley, provided Seton with the perfect place to begin the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph. Emmitsburg’s reasonable distance from major cities and quiet country lifestyle allowed Seton and her religious sisters to be free of distractions, which in turn enabled them to focus all of their time on the care and education of the poor.

It was in quiet Emmitsburg, in the heart of the Catoctin Valley, that Seton’s religious community flourished. The Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph inspired the formation of other communities across North America. The religious sisters of these communities have served and educated the poor, just as Mother Seton did, in hundreds of countries throughout the world.

Mother Seton’s humble mission of love and service to the poor, a mission that found its realization largely in Emmitsburg, sowed the seeds for her canonization. The title of saint, which in the Roman Catholic Church signifies a person of utmost virtue and spirituality, was bestowed upon Elizabeth Ann Seton on September 14, 1975, making her the first American-born individual to be graced with the title.

Now, for the fortieth anniversary of Seton’s canonization, the town of Emmitsburg is once again celebrating their very own saint.

The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is hosting a year-long celebration commemorating the fortieth year of Seton’s sainthood. Entitled “40 Years a Saint,” this celebration is embodied in a premier exhibition that displays memorabilia previously unavailable for public admiration. This exhibit, which has become the centerpiece of the shrine’s museum, is composed of treasured objects, letters, documents, and pictures that were significant during Seton’s canonization process.

Among the most treasured of these pieces on display at the National Shrine is Seton’s canonization banner. When a saint is proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church, a large image of the person is often painted and displayed prominently in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome. Seton’s canonization banner, which depicts her bathed in heavenly light and standing in the clouds above the earth, has not been seen by the public since the canonization celebration 40 years ago. It was removed from archival storage in Emmitsburg and restored specifically for the new exhibit at the shrine.

“That canvas was painted specifically for her canonization celebration in Rome, and it hung in Saint Peter’s Square, right above the entire celebration,” said Rob Judge, the executive director of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. “It was the centerpiece during the canonization, and it is now the centerpiece in our museum.”

Besides the banner, many noteworthy artifacts of Seton’s canonization are on display at the “40 Years a Saint” exhibit. Among these items are letters validating miraculous healings for those who prayed to Mother Seton, as well as the congressional proclamation which denoted September 14, 1975, as “National Saint Elizabeth Seton Day.”

In addition to the yearlong exhibit, the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton hosted a three-day anniversary festival, which led up to the fortieth anniversary of Seton’s canonization on Monday, September 14, 2015. All public events throughout the festival were held at the National Shrine and were free to attend.

The weekend festivities started at 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 12, with a commemorative concert by Dr. David Hildebrand, adjunct professor of musicology at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and presenter for the Colonial Music Institute. Hildebrand, a master of colonial-era music, performed instrumental pieces from Mother Seton’s time period on the harpsichord, fiddle, period guitar, and recorder. An a cappella quartet also performed alongside Hildebrand.

“The grounds where Mother Seton once walked were again serenaded with the music of her time,” said Becca Corbell, the worship and retreat coordinator for the National Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton. “Dr. David Hildebrand beautifully escorted us through the life and sounds of her era.”

Events the following day began at 1:30 p.m. with a commemorative Mass celebrated by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore. During the Mass, Lori shared his memories of Elizabeth Ann Seton’s canonization day. At that time, he was studying to become a priest at Mount St. Mary’s seminary; on the day of the canonization, he and his fellow seminarians helped the Sisters of Charity coordinate the celebrations in Emmitsburg.

“Looking back on it, I’m not sure that we were much help to the sisters,” joked Lori. “But I certainly remember how happy we were, how excited we were that a saint, who so loved Emmitsburg, and who so loved the grotto, and who knew our seminary, and who was the first saint born in the United States, we were so excited about all these things unfolding before us.”

During the commemorative Mass, Lori also praised Seton’s concern for, and care of, the poor, stressing that her example was one that should be followed by all men and women.

“It is safe to say that Mother Seton is not remembered as a mystic or a theologian, though, to repeat, she was a woman of deep contemplation, a poetic, gentle soul, who combined that gentility with resolute determination,” said Lori. “For her, her faith was not merely a matter of her head or her heart. It was something to be practiced with one’s hands.”

Following the conclusion of the commemorative Mass, a party was held outside of the shrine. Guests were offered refreshments and live music was provided by the Baltimore-based folk band, Charm City Junction. Fun-filled opportunities included games such as cornhole and hopscotch, nineteenth-century period photographs, and silhouette drawings. All the while, a living historian dressed as Elizabeth Ann Seton posed for photos and led tours through interactive exhibits.

The events of the three-day festival concluded on September 14, the anniversary of Mother Seton’s canonization. Since much of Seton’s life was spent as a teacher, students and teachers were invited to an anniversary Mass offered by Bishop Ronald Gainer of Harrisburg. More than half a dozen schools from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were present at the Mass, including the entirety of Emmitsburg’s Mother Seton School, which traces its history back to Seton’s original school.

“It’s amazing that our school has gone this far, and that we get to be a part of Mother Seton’s community now,” said Sydney McCarron, a seventh-grade student at Mother Seton School. “It’s great that we get to be here to witness everything she’s done.”

The events of the anniversary weekend were attended by hundreds of residents of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Among the most esteemed of guests were 150 Sisters of Charity from across the United States, Canada, and several other countries.

Although the three-day anniversary festival has ended, the National Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton will continue to host the “40 Years a Saint” exhibit through the summer of 2016. But even though the fortieth anniversary commemorations must end next year, one can be sure that the residents of the Catoctin Valley will continue to celebrate their beloved saint.

“[Seton] sent sisters out all over the country, who in turn have gone out across the world, and they’ve built hospitals and schools and orphanages—all of that came out of our community here,” said Judge. “And now, especially now that she’s canonized, she’s a saint of the universal church, which of course is international—Emmitsburg’s own, so to speak, has an international footprint. That’s a reflection on the community, and they rightly should have a lot of pride in that recognition.”

The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann is open for visitors from 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. every day at 339 S. Seton Avenue in Emmitsburg.

Exhibit Photo - 40 yrs a saint

Photo Courtesy of Scott Dugan

James Rada, Jr.

As an eighty-five-year-old man, it wouldn’t seem that Mark Strauss would be able to relate to modern teenagers. However, when he recently sat down before a group of students at Catoctin High School, Strauss didn’t tell them about his adulthood. He took them all the way back to 1941, when he was just a boy of eleven, living in Lvov, Poland.

“I was hunted to be killed, and almost my entire family and community were,” said Strauss.

He lived in a small three-room apartment with his parents and grandparents. When World War II started, his town came under control of the Soviet Union; however, in 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union and took control of Poland.

Strauss watched the German army roll into his town in their tanks and troop transports. The soldiers were all in high spirits, which shouldn’t be surprising since they were winning the war.

Yet, the next day, problems began. Strauss was walking on the street when he saw a mob of people attack a man and beat him to death.

“Two thousand people, mostly men, were killed in the next couple days,” recalled Strauss. “My uncle went for a walk on the street and never came back. Temples were torched, sometimes with people inside.”

These people were Jews, who made up about one-fifth of the town’s population. The Jewish community lived in fear as soldiers began going door to door, looking for Jewish citizens. Even if a Jewish family lied and said that they weren’t Jewish, there was always the possibility a neighbor would turn them in.

Jews were taken from their homes to be interrogated or simply shot on the street. Others were loaded into a truck and taken to a mass grave outside of the town, where they were shot.

“In one year’s time, almost all the Jews in my town had been murdered,” Strauss said. “My family—thirty to forty people—were killed, except for me and my parents.”

Strauss would hide himself from people to avoid the Nazis on the streets. His grandparents weren’t so lucky. He saw them being taken away, presumably to be killed, since he never saw them again.

Eventually Strauss’s luck ran out when a group of soldiers and local police broke into his family’s apartment. Strauss was there with his mother. His father was working at his job. The local policemen ransacked the apartment, looking for money.

“I was scared, because I knew I was going to die,” Strauss said.

Strauss and his mother probably would have been killed if one of the soldiers hadn’t found a picture of Strauss’s father in his Polish army uniform. The sight of the soldier in the picture changed the man’s mind about what he was doing, and he ordered his men to leave.

The remaining Jews in Lvov were eventually forced into a Jewish ghetto, an area of the city that was far too small a space, even for the few remaining Jews. Strauss and his parents had to share a room with twenty people. There was no greenery, no place to go to the bathroom, and little food and water.

A Catholic woman eventually wound up hiding Strauss in a 10 x 12 room for a year and a half.

“I was in jail, but a jail where you fear you could be executed every day and not just wait out your time,” said Strauss.

A jail it may have been, but it allowed him to survive, as the few remaining Jews in Lvov were killed or died from starvation. He still had little food, but at least he had a certain degree of safety. Strauss said he appreciated the family’s bravery in hiding him since he knew that they could have been killed for hiding him.

Strauss and the other Jews in Lvov were liberated by the Soviet Army in 1944. He moved to New York in 1947. He worked at MIT and became a painter and author. He also shares his story with groups like the students at Catoctin High School so that they can better understand what it was like during the Holocaust, and that something like that never happens again.

Holocaust articleHolocaust Survivor, Mark Strauss, speaks with students at Catoctin High School about his personal experience and what it was like at that time in history.



Photo by James Rada, Jr.



DSC_0793“People working together. It’s community, it really is.” These were the words of The Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show’s President, Rodman Myers, when he was asked what he liked best about the Community Show. The Community Show is an elaborate 3-day community fair that has saturated one weekend in September with community opportunity and involvement for the past 59 years. This year, it was held on the weekend of September 11 through 13, 2015 at Catoctin High School.

The Community Show’s Opening Ceremonies on Friday evening honored the 50th Anniversary of Sabillasville Elementary School. Dr. Theresa Alban, Superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools, spoke about the strong community that exists in northern Frederick County. Though her comments were brief, she spoke pointedly to our Catoctin community; especially our “extraordinary heroes” who were present in the flag ceremony representing our community’s first responders, service organizations, and our Veterans.

She said, “I’ve seen it first hand in the generous way that these organizations reach out to our schools to support them and our students who are most in need. But I’ve also seen it when a community member is in crisis. The way you rally around that person, that family, that school. It truly is my honor to be able, on September 11th, to remember the things that are important in our country that are embodied here in the people of Thurmont and Emmitsburg. So, I thank you so much for being who you are, for instilling those kinds of values in our students, and for maintaining these kinds of traditions year after year after year…”

Dr. Alban and Sabillasville Elementary School Principal, Kate Krietz announced Catoctin’s 2015-2016 FFA Ambassador, Stephanie Kennedy. Honorees for the 50th Anniversary representing Sabillasville Elementary School included Michele Firme, Paula Bowman, Nicky Lingg, Susan Valenti, and Jody Miller, not to forget the many alumni and current students of Sabillasville Elementary who were in the audience.

Rodman said, “This was one of the best programs we’ve had in a long time. Not to say that other programs haven’t been good, but this year’s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Alban, she had a great message and the community really came together.”

The Show is sponsored by the Thurmont Grange, Catoctin FFA Chapter, Catoctin Area FFA Alumni, Maryland Agricultural Fair Board, and the Maryland State Grange. A large volunteer force pulls together to make the Community Show happen. They are led by the Show’s President, Rodman Myers, and Vice President, Bob Valentine. While the purpose of the Community Show is to educate, to inspire, and to entertain, it’s community that makes all of those things happen. This is the community’s annual Show. Rodman said, “It’s amazing – the volunteerism it takes to put on a show like this.”

Local organizations benefit financially from the Show starting with the baked goods auction on Friday night immediately following the Opening Ceremony. People donate money from the sale of baked goods to many entities including Catoctin FFA students’ participation in the FFA Convention, the Burall Brothers Scholarship Fund, diabetes, the Boys and Girls Club of Frederick, the Thurmont Grange, and many more. The top sale of a single cake generated $1300.00 this year.

The Silver offering is a donation collected at the door of the Community show, and the proceeds from that collection and the Junior and Youth Department champion cakes were donated to the Thurmont and Emmitsburg Food Banks. Each food bank received $400.00. Carol Robertson, President of Catoctin Colorfest, Inc., purchased two hogs in the name of the Food Bank.

Refreshments were sold throughout the weekend by the Thurmont Lions Club, the CHS Basketball team, and the CHS Junior Class. A Roast Turkey & Country Ham Supper was served by the Thurmont Grange, and a Chicken Bar-B-Que was served by Catoctin FFA Alumni. These fundraisers did well. Rodman said, “We had to get more food, or we sold out of food.” Entertainment by “Catoctin” (The Catoctin Mountain Boys), and the Elvis Show was enjoyed by many. New this year included the Elvis Show, the Pedal Tractor pull for the kids, and face painting.

Exhibits were up in entries this year. The youth department was well represented. Lewis Auctioneers and the Ruby’s from Route 15 Auction Center were the auctioneers for the baked goods and livestock auctions.

In the livestock area, Bob Valentine managed the Show. He said to, “Thank the community for their support over the years.” This year’s livestock action resulted in the following average prices; swine $2.51/lb., sheep $3.362/lb., beef $2.38/lb., and goats $262/head. The gross sales totaled $36,996.

Look forward to the 60th Anniversary of the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show next September! Plans are underway with some great entertainment, community showing, and agricultural awareness. This year’s buyers will be listed in next year’s Community Show Booklet. If you would like to volunteer, please call Rodman Myers at 301-271-2104.

Photos by Deb Spalding and Grace Eyler


Sabillasville Elementary School’s 50th Anniversary: (top row) Laura Keilholtz, Dave Harman, Annette Harbaugh, Rodman Myers, Bernie Quesado, Dr. Theresa Alban, Bob Valentine, Daniel Myers, and Jody Miller; (front row) Michele Firme, Paula Bowman, Brenda Smith, Stephanie Kennedy, Nicky Lingg, Susan Valenti, and Kate Kreitz. These folks were joined by some of the school’s alumni and current students.


Pictured from left are Thad Bittner, Beef, Sheep and Swine Committee Member; Carol Robertson, President of Catoctin Colorfest; Rodman Myers, President of the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show; Harold Bollinger, Thurmont Food Bank Volunteer; Sue Keilholtz, Chair of the Youth Department; and Margaret Black, Chair of the Junior Department.


Pictured from left are Mary Price and Phyllis Kelly, Emmitsburg Food Bank Volunteers; Denise Valentine, Chairman of the Baked Goods Department; and Rodman Myers, President of the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show.


2015 Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show Champions and Reserve Champions

Fresh Fruits: Martha Hauver (White Hale Peaches); Reserve Champion—Robert Black (Plums); Fresh Vegetables: Brian Harbaugh (Onions); Reserve Champion—Roxanna Lambert (Scallop Squash); Home Products Display: Charlotte Dutton; Reserve Champion—Roxanna Lambert; Canned Fruit: Carolyn Hahn (Whole Red Cherries); Reserve Champion—Carolyn Hahn (Pears); Canned Vegetables: Ann Welty (Rhubarb); Reserve Champion—Carolyn Hahn (Whole Green Beans); Jellies & Preserves: Denise Shriver (Peach Jelly); Reserve Champion—Denise Shriver (Apricot Preserves); Pickles: JoAnne Fuss (Vegetable Relish); Reserve Champion—Deborah Howd (Other – Pickled Asparagus); Meat (Canned): Ann Welty (Spare Ribs); Reserve Champion—Pauline McAfee (Canned Tenderloin); Home Cured Meats: Robert McAfee (Ham); Reserve DSC_0819Champion—Catoctin FFA Alumni (Ham); Baked Products: Cake: Michelle Troast (German Chocolate Cake); Reserve Champion—Maxine Troxell (Hummingbird Cake); Honorable Mention Cake—Burall Brothers Scholarship—Maxine Troxell (Sponge Cake); Bread: Maxine Troxell (Onion Bread); Reserve Champion—Maxine Troxell (Fruit & Nut Bread–Spiced Pear); Pie: Deborah Howd (Pecan Pie); Reserve Champion—Deborah Howd (French Apple Pie); Sugar Free: Roxanna Lambert (Diabetic Bread); Catherine Miller (Peach Pie); Gluten Free Baked Product: Sharon Lewis (Gluten Free Fudge Cake); Reserve Champion—Sharon Lewis (Pecan Pie); Sewing: Patricia Lipscomb (Misc. Items – Tatted Items); Reserve Champion—Janet Jewell (Quilt – Handmade and Machine – wool applique by hand); Flowers & Plants: Roxanna Lambert (Side Table Arrangement); Reserve Champion—Roxanna Lambert (Hanging Flowering Potted Plant); Arts, Painting & Drawings: Charlotte Dutton (Other Painting – painted tile); Reserve Champion—Jackson Steinly (Charcoal Drawing); Crafts: Thomas Horvat (Woodburning); Jack Hymiller (Misc. Craft – Pumpkin Minions); Photography: Kenneth Trout (Color Photo – Sports); Reserve Champion—Gina McCracken (Color Picture – Animal/Pets); Corn: Brian D. Glass (Hybrid Corn); Reserve Champion—Brian Glass (Best Single Ear); Small Grain & Seeds: Rodman Myers (Shelled Corn); Reserve Champion—Preston Clark (Soybeans); Eggs: Audrey Downs (Brown Eggs); Reserve Champion—Audrey Downs (White Eggs); Nuts: Jen Sayler (Shellbarks); Reserve Champion—Edward Hahn (English Walnuts); Rabbit: Olivia Dutton Poultry (Breeding Rabbits and Offspring); Reserve Champion—Laura Dutton (Breeding Male); Dairy: Joseph Hubbard (Ayrshire Calf); Reserve Champion—Dylan Moser (Brown Swiss Calf); Dairy Goats: Olivia Dutton—(Milking Yearling); Reserve Champion—Rose Froelich (five-year-old Doe); Hay: Dalton Sayler (Mixed Hay); Reserve Champion—Dalton Sayler (Alfalfa Hay); Straw: Dalton Sayler (Barley Straw); Reserve Champion—Steve Strickhouser (Oat Straw); Junior Department: Caroline Clarke (Sewing); Reserve Champion—Hannah Hurley (Other Garden Item – Cabbage); Junior Department Baked Product: Hoyt Sayler (Peanut Butter Fudge); Reserve Champion—Madison Ott (Sour Cream Pound Cake); Youth Department: Stephanie Freniere (Recycled Material picture); Reserve Champion—Justin McAfee (Metal Craft – Boot Rack); Youth Department Baked Product: Justin McAfee (Apple Pie); Reserve Champion–Ray Martin, IV (Black Walnut Chiffon with Vanilla Glaze); Beef: Samantha Bentz; Reserve Champion–Brittnee Brown; Sheep: Ashley McAfee; Reserve Champion–Caroline Clark; Swine: Ashley Lescalleet; Reserve Champion—Wyatt Davis; Market Goat: Laura Dutton; Reserve Champion—Kendra Keeney; Decorated Animal Contest: Olivia Dutton (Goat); Reserve Champion—Laura Dutton (Goat); Pet Show: Debbie Harbaugh (Dog); Reserve Champion—Dan Kulczak (Dog).

The annual Mount Tabor Church Big Picnic and Baby Show was held on August 8, 2015, at Mt. Tabor Park in Rocky Ridge, Maryland. A total of thirty-five babies—twenty-one girls and fourteen boys—participated in the show, judged by Connie Fisher, Bev Long, and Ellen Staub. The youngest baby was nineteen-day-old Easton Shuff, son of Kelsey and Sean Shuff of Thurmont. Jeffrey Petko, eleven-month-old son of Jenny and Josh Petko, traveled the farthest distance from Pasadena, Maryland. There was one set of twins in this year’s Baby Show: Camryn and Cooper Beachy, four-month-old twin daughters of Jordyn and Chris Beachy from Woodsboro, Maryland. Babies placed in three categories: prettiest girl, cutest boy, and chubbiest baby, in five-age categories (one day to twenty-four months old).

In the one-day to three-month-old category, the prettiest girl was Tyler Smith, two-month-old daughter of Tiffany and Brandon Smith of Emmitsburg. The cutest boy was Easton Shuff, three-week-old son of Kelsey and Sean Shuff of Thurmont. The chubbiest baby was Claire Myers, two-month-old daughter of Heidi and Steve Myers of Emmitsburg. The prettiest girl in the four- to six-month-old category was Lennon Phebus, five-month-old daughter of Blaine and Shaylynn Phebus of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. The cutest boy was Isaac Hamilton, five-month-old son of Kris and Randy Hamilton of Thurmont. The chubbiest baby was Dixie Eckenrode, five-month-old daughter of Scott Eckenrode and Ashley Baumgardner from Keymar, Maryland.

In the seven- to twelve-month-old category, Aliannah Smith, nine-month-old daughter of Deanna Smith of Thurmont, was judged the prettiest girl. The cutest boy was Patrick Morgan, eleven-month-old son of Bill and Amy Morgan of Emmitsburg. Dillon Miller, twelve-month-old son of Stacey Shriner and Ben Miller from Fairfield in Pennsylvania, was named the chubbiest baby. In the thirteen- to eighteen-month-old category, Olive Beard of Thurmont, fifteen-month-old daughter of Shayna Beard, was judged the prettiest girl. The cutest boy was Blaine Elliott of Thurmont, fifteen-month-old son of Tyler and Brandon Elliott. The chubbiest baby was Bradyn Barton, fourteen-month-old son of Cody Barton from Woodsboro, Maryland.

In the nineteen- to twenty-four-month-old category, the prettiest girl was Paisley Walker, twenty-three-month-old daughter of Ray and Yvonne Walker of Thurmont. Cason Stone, twenty-three-month-old son of Donny and Holly Stone of Hagerstown, Maryland, was named the cutest boy. The chubbiest baby was Kaylee Trenchard, twenty-month-old daughter of Danielle and Ryan Trenchard of Thurmont.

Deb Spalding

Sab Kids“Quality education,” “a comfortable learning environment,” and “friendly atmosphere” are some of the descriptions former students have used to reference the education they received at Sabillasville Elementary School (SES). Current student, Lillian Coles of Foxville, who experienced her first day of kindergarten at SES on August 24, said, “It’s fun and I like to paint.” Although she had just arrived at school and hadn’t yet had the opportunity to paint, she was definitely having fun.

SES is a single-level school that sits amongst a beautiful mountain setting in Sabillasville. When construction on the school was completed in 1965, Frederick News-Post writer, Richard Shafer, reported, “Residents of Sabillasville won their fight with local officials to get funds approved for a new elementary school, and they are happy about it. The struggle to get plans and appropriation okayed has taken at least ten years, said one Sabillasville resident. Foxville residents are happy about the new school. Their children had attended the new Wolfsville school, but traveled by bus over a dangerous mountain road.

Rev. Claude Corl, St. John’s Reformed Church, thinks area residents will be satisfied with the eight-room school. The new school will enroll an estimated 200 students and will relieve crowded conditions at Thurmont.”

In the coming months, generations of students who have attended the school since its opening will share memories and reconnect in celebration of the school’s 50th anniversary. SES’s Principal, Kate Kreitz, said, “I’m very excited for this wonderful celebration, where we will pay tribute to fifty years of quality education of several generations of students from the Sabillasville-area community.”

Fourth grader Garret Worth’s dad, Jason, attended SES, and Garret’s grandmother, Faye Worth, is a volunteer there. Garret said, “I like having a fun teacher (he has Mrs. Mortensen this year), playing with all the kids and stuff.”

Mason Newcomer, in third grade this year, said, “I like the teachers, learning new things, and meeting all my friends.” His mother, Barb Messner, also attended the school and serves on the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO).

Another PTO volunteer, Angie Hahn, said that her husband, Gus, and his siblings attended SES. Their two children, Nathanael and Elizabeth, currently attend the school. Jen Mullenex is the current president of the PTO.

Tradition has always been important for staff and students at the school. Many students may recall a single sapling of pine that was given to each student on Arbor Day, others remember the hand-made Christmas ornaments that are still hung on some student’s Christmas Trees each year. Some of these, and other traditions (including the paddle that hung on the principal’s wall), have been removed as our world has changed politically and spiritually.

The school’s custodian, Jody Miller, holds the honor of assuming the position that his late father, Jack Miller, held for over thirty years. Jody’s brother, Rick, also worked in the position, and Jody has been at SES for fifteen of his twenty years with FCPS. Jody said, “There have been three Millers in the fifty-year history of the school. It’s my honor to continue the legacy that my father started.” Some may remember the maze Jack Miller made out of boxes during the school’s Fall Bazaar. Boy was that fun!

For a long time, SES had staff cooks in the kitchen. Locals Millie Eyler and Imogene Smith served savory meals for students every school day. Students who experienced their cooking still yearn for a favorite dish. Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) switched to centralized meal distribution years ago. Since then, the meals have been prepared in Frederick and trucked to schools throughout the county.

Despite the replacement of Millie’s and Imogene’s personal touch at lunch, the underlying family feel, overlaid with a relaxed kindness, can still be felt. Perhaps the feeling exists because of the school’s location in such a serene place. But for many, their memories of the place where they learned their arithmetic and ABCs are special. In recent years, the school has been on the chopping block to close for FCPS budget cuts. The general consensus of the community is that the school is much too valuable to close. If you stroll through SES on a normal school day, it is evident on the students’ faces that they are happy and comfortable in their classes. They are meeting and exceeding education benchmarks set by the Frederick County Board of Education. Their teachers are effective in nurturing a supportive, family-like learning atmosphere.

History of the Present Sabillasville Elementary School from 1924

by Joan Fry (article is part of her book, Part 2 Plus — The State Sanatorium At Sabillasville From 1908)

Sabillasville Elementary School was the culmination of years of work and hope for residents of the area. Actually, students from two former elementary schools in the area, Sabillasville and Foxville, were served by the new school. Foxville School, built in 1924, was closed in 1961. The 60 students enrolled there were transferred to Wolfsville Elementary School until a suitable facility could be provided for the Sabillasville-Foxville area. The former school building at Sabillasville, erected in 1927 with an addition in 1934, housed 140 students through the close of the 1964-1965 school year. Because of the limitations of the basic building, many services, which have come to be regarded as necessary and desirable, were unavailable to these students.

It was with great enthusiasm, therefore, that residents of the area greeted the announcement that a new school would be built. The school opened in 1965. This school is still serving area students currently despite multiple attempts from Frederick County Public Schools to close the school. Each time, support from residents and students has helped save the school from being closed.

sabillasville school in 1964The present (1965) Sabillasville Elementary School building is pictured. It combined the top two schools pictured left.


sabillasville school up to 1964



(right) Sabillasville School is pictured. It was built in 1927 with an addition in 1934, and served students through the close of the 1964 school year.


foxville school to 1964(left) The Foxville School is pictured. It was built in 1924 and closed in 1961.





sabillasville school to 1927The building pictured far left (now a house on Harbaugh Valley Road) served as Sabillasville School until the next school house was constructed in 1927.

The Purpose of the Community Show is to Educate, to Inspire, and to Entertain

The Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show will be held at Catoctin High School on September 11-13, 2015. Visit the Community Show’s website at to view the premium list for 2015 and the community show booklet.

On Friday evening, September 11, the 2015-2016 Catoctin FFA Chapter Ambassador will be announced. The baked goods auction will begin following the program, and the grand champion cake, pie, bread, gluten-free baked product, sugar free baked product, and the Junior and Youth Department baked product champions will be sold at 9:00 p.m.

Entry of exhibits will take place on Thursday evening, September 10, from 6:00-9:00 p.m., and on Friday, September 11, from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., in the new gymnasium and in the agriculture department area. There will be changes made in many of the classes, including photography, fresh vegetables, corn, and other departments. Judging will begin at 12:30 p.m. Commercial exhibits may be entered on Friday, September 11, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. The show will open to the public at 6:00 p.m., and the Friday night program will feature the 50th anniversary of Sabillasville Elementary School, with several individuals being honored.

On Saturday, September 12, the show opens at 9:00 a.m. Activities include a Market Goat, Beef, Sheep and Swine Fitting & Showing contest, from 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., at the Ag Center at the school. A Scales and Tales demonstration will take place immediately prior to the Pet Show in the front of the school. The Pet Show will be held at 10:30 a.m. outside the front of the school. The petting zoo, farm animals, and pony rides by the Mason Dixon Quarter Horse Club will also be held on Saturday and Sunday, located near the upper parking lot at the high school, featuring “Abel,” owned by Joe and Ruth Biser, who is a Brown Swiss animal that is twelve years old and weighs 2,600 pounds. Alpacas, owned by Lynn Cherish of Baggy Britches Farm, will be on display. Emus, owned by James Royer, will be on display, and a sow and litter of pigs owned by Phil Wivell will also be on display.

The Thurmont Grange will serve their turkey and country ham dinner in the school cafeteria from 3:00-7:00 p.m. on Saturday night. CATOCTIN The Band will perform in the auditorium, beginning at 6:00 p.m. At 7:00 p.m., the Taylor Brown “Elvis Show” will be performed. There will be no admission charge for this entertainment.

The 41st annual Catoctin FFA Alumni Beef, Sheep, Swine and Market Goat sale will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Ag Center area on Saturday night, with approximately fifty-five head of livestock being sold. Buyers are welcome to attend and purchase animals.

Activities begin on Sunday, September 13th at 9:00 a.m. with the Goat Show, followed by the Dairy Show and Decorated Animal Contest. The decorated animal contest will begin at noon.

At 12:00 noon, the Catoctin FFA Alumni Chicken Bar-B-Que will be held in the cafeteria. The 35th annual Robert Kaas horseshoe pitching contest will begin at 1:00 p.m.

The Log Sawing Contest will begin at 1:00 p.m. under the show tent in the Ag Center area. A peddle tractor contest for kids will be held on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m., also in the Ag Center area. The Thurmont Academy of Self Defense will have a program in the old gymnasium at 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. CATOCTIN The Band will perform in the auditorium from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. and the Taylor Brown “Elvis Show” will be held from 2:00-3:00 p.m.

The Catoctin FFA Alumni will be holding a raffle during the community show. Profit from the raffle will go toward the scholarship fund as each year the Alumni awards scholarships to graduating Catoctin FFA Chapter seniors and past FFA graduates seeking secondary education.

Exhibits must be removed on Sunday, September 13, 2015 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. If items are left at the school after this time, they may be picked up in the Ag Center area on Tuesday, September 15, 2015, as there is no school on Monday, September 14th.

The community show booklets can be found in local Thurmont, Emmitsburg and surrounding area businesses in late July or early August. New residents of the community are urged to enter and be a part of the Community Show, the largest in the State of Maryland. Some minor additions and deletions will be made in some of the departments. Departments include: Fresh Fruits, Fresh Vegetables, Home Products Display, Canned Fruits, Canned Vegetables, Jellies & Preserves, Pickles, Meats, Baked Products, Sewing & Needlework, Flowers and Plants, Arts, Paintings & Drawings, Crafts, Photography, Corn, Small Grains and Seeds, Eggs, Nuts, Poultry & Livestock, Dairy, Goats, Hay, Junior Department and Youth Department. There is no entry fee. Please visit our website for updated information at

The Community Show is sponsored by the Thurmont Grange, Catoctin FFA Chapter, Catoctin FFA Alumni, the Maryland State Grange and the Maryland State Agricultural Fair Board.


Randy Waesche

Fifty years ago three of Thurmont’s leading citizens figured in two of the most remarkable episodes in town politics. The men were Donald L. Lewis, Roy W. Lookingbill, and Calvin G. Wilhide.

Mayor Lewis

Mayor Lewis

Donald L. Lewis was one of Thurmont’s most-progressive mayors. Although only in office for just over five years, the effects of his tenure are still felt today. Of impressive stature and fitness, he came from a large and prominent Thurmont family. He was a staff sergeant in the Army Rangers during World War II and landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day. In 1956, he opened Lewis’ Confectionery on the square, a widely known general store that sold everything from fountain sodas to fishing rods. Forty years old when first elected mayor in 1959, he embarked on an activist course and worked with political leaders at all levels, and courted anyone with an eye to expand local business. Concerned that unregulated land use had allowed Thurmont to become blemished with such nuisances as dilapidated house trailers, he secured federal grant funding and developed Thurmont’s first planning and zoning ordinance, master plan, and subdivision regulations. He brought the state economic development commission to Thurmont where they touted the local spirit of cooperation and new local opportunities for progress. Surveys were undertaken to evaluate and improve town water and sewer service and establish policies for underground electric in new growth areas. He was in front of the Maryland Department of Forests and Parks advocating for local recreation areas. He opened discussions that eventually led to the Town’s ownership of what is now the 20-acre Thurmont Community Park. Lewis worked with local businessman Victor Leisner and broke ground for Greenfield Estates, a major subdivision on the town’s eastern edge then at Blue Ridge Avenue. The project promised to include the largest sewage and water development ever undertaken and was the first under the town’s new developer’s policy. He appointed the first planning and zoning commission, chaired by his brother Harry “Buck” Lewis, who owned a Sinclair auto service station diagonal from the confectionery. When plans stalled for a new north county high school, Lewis and some Emmitsburg officials headed to the Board of Education, kept the project moving, and within five years Catoctin High School opened. He worked with magistrate M.T. Mathwig to relocate local court from a rented Water Street building to the Town Office. Revision of a new town code was introduced. There seemed to be no end to the energy of mayor Donald Lewis.

Mayor Lookingbill

Roy W. Lookingbill owned and operated Lookingbill’s Barber Shop in the first block of East Main Street for 22 years. He had twice won a town commissioner seat and in 1963 ran for mayor against Lewis, but lost. Two years later in April 1965 Lewis was unexpectedly alone on the ballot for mayor and seemed to have an easy path to a fourth term. Although short on time and in uncharted legal territory, Lookingbill launched a write-in candidacy for mayor. To guard against spelling disqualifications, several thousand stickers were printed with his name and distributed across town. Voters were asked to become “sticker lickers for Lookingbill” and were instructed how to affix the stickers onto the ballot and mark an X alongside. A car with loudspeakers slowly drove the town’s streets loudly asking for votes for the mayor’s challenger. Hundreds of orange handbills from the Lookingbill campaign were spread through town that contained a list of allegations against the incumbent, and the town was rife with opinion about the upstart long shot bid. It would be weeks following the election before debate quieted about the accuracy of the handbill, but the vote was in. In an election where 627 votes were cast for mayor, Lookingbill had narrowly won by 19.

Calvin C. Wilhide

Calvin C. Wilhide

One of Thurmont’s more colorful personalities, Calvin G. Wilhide was the owner of Wilhide Chevrolet-Oldsmobile on Water Street, formerly owned by Fred Redding and started by Edwin Creeger over 40 years before. Wilhide also owned the Texas Lunch on West Main Street, operated an amusement machine business, owned and raced prize horses at Shenandoah Downs, and also had a trucking business and garage on Carroll Street Extended that included his Thurmont Star rural mail route. Known by many as Pud (pronounced like the first syllable of “pudding”), he had run for mayor in 1959 and 1961 but lost both times to Lewis. He won a town commissioner seat in 1964. On the town board he was especially critical of the town’s new zoning policies, which he declared were ruinous to business. He was again nominated to oppose Lewis in 1965 but surprised many when he declined, setting the stage for Lookingbill’s successful bid. With a year to go as commissioner, Wilhide settled in with the new mayor and board. Then came a situation that eclipsed April’s upset election in local lore.

Carroll E. Kinsey was a local developer. Among his real estate holdings was a brick building that is now the Thurmont Senior Citizens Center on East Main Street. It was in a town zoning district that allowed commercial uses. In the fall of 1965 Kinsey leased half the building to the Board of Education to hold 60 students from the overcrowded Thurmont Elementary School across the street. The other half he leased to a business called Shankle Body Works. Only thin sheets of drywall separated two grade-school classrooms from the noisy riveting, hammering, and welding operations of the truck trailer assembly plant. Amid the racket, classroom instruction was impossible. Thurmont zoning inspector Austin Bruchey stepped in and declared that the operations of the body shop were industrial rather than commercial, and therefore not allowed under the zoning policies. He ordered it shut down. To relieved parents and a grateful board of education, if ever there was a reason to have zoning policies, this was it. To Calvin Wilhide, the snuffed business proved if ever there was a reason not to have zoning policies, this was it. At the next town meeting on October 11, 1965, Wilhide sought to reverse the ruling. After a bitter and contentious meeting, the board refused to override their zoning inspector. Wilhide quit. Within days he reconsidered, and said he would return if allowed. At first, the board said no, but after being lobbied by some civic leaders, new mayor Lookingbill scheduled a meeting for October 21 to further discuss the matter. Controversy again swirled and for the second time that year, the town was consumed with opinion about the latest political drama.

On the evening of October 20 in his office at his car dealership with his son and Kinsey, Calvin Wilhide was stricken with a heart attack. He was dead at the age of 51.

A little over a year later on the first of December 1966, following a normal day at his barber shop, mayor Roy Lookingbill suffered a heart attack and died at his home. He was 57. Former mayor and commissioner C. Ray Weddle again took the helm, and during his long service to Thurmont was elected mayor ten times.

In 1970 Donald Lewis was elected to the Frederick County Board of Commissioners and was named vice president. He served two terms. Today he has been with us longer than any former Thurmont mayor or county commissioner, still sharp at 96.

James Rada, Jr.

Ranger - Jim RadaJeremy Murphy (pictured right) was born and raised in Emmitsburg, graduating from Catoctin High in 1998. He visited both Catoctin Mountain Park and Gettysburg National Military Park on field trips and summer trips, never realizing that he would grow up to become the chief law enforcement officer for the Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site.

Murphy, who has been with the National Park Service (NPS) for fourteen years, took over the duties of planning, direction, and execution of programs dealing with law enforcement and resource protection, emergency services, and safety for the park rangers.

“I’m happy to be here,” Murphy said. “My family lives in the immediate area, and my wife’s family is from Taneytown.

Previous to coming to Gettysburg, Murphy was chief ranger for the Visitor Protection and Resource Education Division at Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick. He also served in law-enforcement ranger positions at Catoctin Mountain Park, Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, and Delaware Water Gap NRA. Prior to law enforcement, he worked for the resource management division and the maintenance division at Catoctin Mountain Park.

“I actually went to school and studied wildlife management and then I shifted to forestry,” Murphy said.

When he graduated from Penn State, Murphy originally tried to get a job with the Pennsylvania Forestry Service, but was turned down because he didn’t live in Pennsylvania at the time.

He had worked as a trail crew member for the NPS, which was seasonal work. He tried to get a job with NPS on a permanent basis through the NPS intake program, but the organization wasn’t hiring biologists. He did find out that they were hiring law-enforcement rangers. He applied and was hired.

“I’ve never regretted it,” Murphy said. “I like that my days are never the same.”

He has kept his work sites near his hometown, which has worked out well. He was involved with the sesquicentennial events for the Civil War sites in the area and the bicentennial events at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. When he was working at Catoctin Mountain Park, he even met President Bush. He is currently the planning section chief for the planned Papal visit this month to Independence National Historical Park.

“Each park I’ve been at has moments for me that stand out,” Murphy said.

His favorite park, however, is the Delaware Water Gap Park.

“It was the first park I was at on a permanent basis, and it was a treasure trove of natural resources,” he said. “I could go out and spend all day just hiking the trails.”

Murphy met his wife, Erin, through a mutual friend while he was working at Harpers Ferry National Military Park. They live in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, with their three children—Wyatt, Ayla, and Tristan.

Grace Eyler

Crossbow_1On August 15, 2015, the U.S. Crossbow Club (USCC) celebrated its 2nd Annual Awards Banquet. Located on Tower Road in Thurmont, members from across Maryland, and as far away as Ohio, joined together to share stories of their crossbow hunting adventures, to display their mounted trophy animals, and to receive awards for their hunting and fishing accomplishments. Although these USCC members come from all walks of life, the one thing they all have in common is their passion for hunting, fishing, and their crossbows. Dennis R. Britton of Thurmont is the club’s founder and first president. He recalled purchasing his first crossbow at Jefferson Archery in 2008. At the time, Britton was sixty-five years old and could legally hunt with a crossbow, but after reading Maryland’s laws and regulations governing hunting with a crossbow, he found them to be biased, discriminating, and unfair when compared to other legal archery hunting equipment: (1) a crossbow hunter could only hunt on sporadic specified dates of the archery season whereas the traditional bowhunter could hunt every day of the archery season; (2) a crossbow hunter had to be at least sixty-five years old, while the traditional bowhunter had no age limits; and (3) a crossbow hunter had to be physically impaired whereas a traditional bowhunter did not. He recognized the laws and regulations prevented many younger and healthier hunters from having a choice of hunting weapons. A firm believer in equal rights and freedom of choice, Britton campaigned for a change that would benefit all sportsmen across Maryland, regardless of age or disability.

Britton started in Thurmont with a door-to-door petition to enlighten as many residents as he could about the uneven archery hunting laws. After collecting over 2,500 signatures, Britton then sent the petition to the Maryland Governor’s Office, The Department of Natural Resources, and key state senators. He thought 2,500 votes could convince Governor Martin O’Malley to reverse his way of thinking in an election year, and they did. Beginning with the 2010-2011 Maryland hunting season, crossbows became a legal archery hunting weapon for everyone, without limits or restrictions for the entire hunting season!

In September of 2010, Britton founded the Maryland Crossbow Federation to unite all Maryland crossbow hunters into a single voice, and to represent that voice in all legal crossbow matters.

Britton said, “Because of reputation and popularity, our membership has grown overwhelmingly and has spread into Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Ohio, as well as Germany, Canada, and South America. On February 4, 2015, the Maryland Crossbow Federation became legally known as the U.S. Crossbow Club.

Today, Britton and his wife, Lucy, warmly welcome archers to the club’s headquarters and new crossbow range. The site has twenty Ironman targets, with no two targets being placed at the same elevation or distance. It is the only archery range in the state of Maryland to have permanent-placed straight in-line targets at 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 yards, great for calibrating long distance scopes.

During the awards ceremony, Dennis reminded his fellow members that, “…Our mission as a club is to promote more crossbow hunting and shooting opportunities for everyone, without limits and restrictions, and to recognize each member for their outdoor sports accomplishments.”

The U.S. Crossbow Club (USCC) has the most extensive awards programs in the world.

Britton said, “We have awards for all Maryland and National big game species, in both fair chase and estate hunting conditions,” adding, “We are the first hunting organization to recognize our member’s fishing and crabbing talents, and also the first hunting organization to recognize our member’s harvesting of Maryland and National doe whitetail deer.”

The 2nd Annual All Awards Presentations ceremony began with the club’s Biggest Catch Award, where award recipients reminisced about their fishing stories.

Next, another unique award was presented: the Maryland-National Heaviest Whitetail Doe Award, which was created to (1) allow young whitetail bucks to mature; (2) create award opportunities to those that never see a mature whitetail buck; (3) help in managing our ever-growing whitetail deer herd; and (4) recruit and retain crossbow hunters.

Other awards included Hunter of the Year; Estate Hunter of the Year, for harvesting the most different species of big game animals; and the USCC Golden Arrow Award and Estate Golden Arrow Award, for harvesting the most big game animals of the same species.

After members received their awards, Lucy gathered everyone for a tasty barbecue lunch. Members dined and swapped stories of their outdoor adventures. As the afternoon progressed, members said their goodbyes, and are now looking forward to next year’s gathering.

For more information on the USCC, contact Dennis Britton at 301-271-7001 or at

You do not have to be a Maryland resident or even a U.S. citizen to enjoy the benefits of being a U.S. Crossbow Club member.

by Valerie Nusbaum

Happy September

I’ve heard and read that happiness is a choice we make. According to the experts, we can wake up in the morning and choose to be happy or we can choose not to be. Apparently, it’s up to us whether we see the glass as half full or half empty.

There are all kinds of happiness projects and experiments out there, so I decided to conduct one of my own, and as usual, I dragged Randy along for the ride.

A friend of mine is taking a photo of something that makes her happy and posting it on social media every day. Her project is called “100 Days of Happiness.”

Knowing that I’d lose interest quickly, I opted for something shorter and less labor intensive. Quick and easy makes me happy.

The rules for my happiness project were simple. For one week, Randy and I would each make note of three things that had made us feel happy during the previous day. I would record our thoughts, and at the end of the week, we’d see if there was a pattern or some rhyme or reason. The three items would not necessarily be the top three things that made us happy the day before, nor would they be in any particular order. They would simply be the three things we remembered most easily, and seriously, any time I can remember anything, it makes me happy.

Our project went something like this:

Day 1


(1) I didn’t have to cook dinner or think about it (Randy brought home a pizza); (2) I made it home safely (traffic was terrible on Rt. 15 that day); and (3) I spent a few minutes with my mom.


(1 and 2) He woke up, he came home from work (those are two separate thoughts. Randy didn’t wake up and then come home from work); and (3) The sunflowers were blooming.

Day 2


(1) Randy brought me a donut with a smiley face; (2) Randy caught a fish; and (3) I finished polishing the bedroom furniture.


(1) He went fishing; (2) He spent the day with me; and (3) Everyone was healthy enough to be home.

Day 3


(1) I spent the day with Randy; (2) Randy helped me with the groceries; and (3) I found a quarter in my grocery cart.


(1) He spent the day with me; (2) He ate coconut macaroons; and (3)He didn’t have to go to work.

Day 4


(1) I had the whole day at home—there was nowhere I needed to be; (2) I finished the treadmill two minutes sooner than planned; and (3) I watched American Ninja Warrior.


(1) The sun came up and he could enjoy it; (2) He has a job and is able to do it; and (3) People are willing to sacrifice for our freedom.

Day 5


(1) I survived a trip to Walmart; (2) I didn’t have to drive home in the rain; and (3) My old blue bathrobe.


(1) He spent the evening with me (I swear these are his answers. I didn’t make it up); (2) He got a new hose; and (3) He enjoyed planning a trip.

Day 6


(1) Rotisserie chicken…

And this is where my notes end, because I forgot to list two more things and didn’t have the energy to remind Randy to tell me his three items.

Day 7

We completely missed Day 7.

I noticed several things about our “happy” choices. I don’t like to cook, drive, buy groceries, go to Walmart, or get dressed. Randy would rather stay home than go to work. He seems to enjoy spending time with me, although a lot of our together time was spent eating and watching television. We both enjoy dessert. Randy is much more altruistic than I am, and we both like it when he goes fishing.

With regard to Day 3, Randy and I went to the ALDI grocery store, where shoppers are required to insert a quarter in order to retrieve a grocery cart. As stated, my cart already had a quarter inserted in the slot. With the intention of paying it forward, I left said quarter in the slot after I finished shopping and returned the cart to the kiosk. As Randy and I were driving out of the parking lot, I noticed a man returning his cart, and I saw him glance at my cart, spy the quarter and pocket it. I feel sure, however, that Karma took care of him somehow.

One more thing that really makes me happy this season is that Randy and I have decided—at least for now—to discontinue production of our potpourri products. Instead, Randy will be selling his wooden shelves and stools at Colorfest this year. I’m happy not to have the potpourri mess all over my basement and house. However, I think I’ve traded it for sawdust.

by Chris O’Connor

There’s More to Bonnie than Postage Stamps

Sabillasville resident Bonnie DeLauter is a self-described social butterfly who loves to talk.

Many know her as a hard-working employee of the United States Postal Service (USPS), who runs the post office in Cascade and who is a member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Sabillasville.

I know about her talkative side. She was the first person to befriend me over a decade ago when transferring my then-second grader to Sabillasville Elementary School. We met many times there to join our daughters at lunch. Early on, Bonnie’s gift of gab must have left me looking a bit bewildered while she attempted to fill me in on the lay of the land. Bonnie’s late husband, Steve, noticed the bemused expression on my face. He glanced at me and said, “Confusin’ ain’t it?” I chuckled, but Bonnie didn’t miss a beat and continued to educate me on what to expect in the days to come.

Bonnie and Steve met when she was just fourteen. They dated for close to a decade before marrying in 1982. She worked as a bus driver before taking the civil service exam some thirty years ago and was hired by the USPS, working at post offices ranging from rural post offices on the other side of Hagerstown to Libertytown.

Her only sister, Linda, passed away in 2001, but Bonnie treasures and appreciates the company of her Aunt Virginia in Thurmont, and her aunt and uncle, Dorothy and Richard Valentine of Emmitsburg.

Her husband, Steve, worked for a couple of years in the late 1970s for the Western Maryland/Chessie Railroad, until he turned his full attention to the family farm in Sabillasville, producing grains, hay, fruit, and raising cattle until his passing in 2004. Bonnie and her still young daughter, Karen, returned to her parents place, Donald Harbaugh and her late mom Betty Green Harbaugh’s Sabillasville farm. They resided with her dad, Donald, until building a house on the home place in April 2006.

Bonnie is active in a variety of organizations, including the Ladies Auxiliary of American Legion Cascade Post 239, of which she is obviously proud. The Legion sponsors many activities to raise money for Veterans who have served our country and philanthropic organizations such as the Patty Pollatos Fund, a non-profit that helps to financially benefit individuals and families in need while in the throes of devastating illnesses and injuries.

One upcoming fundraiser is a gun raffle on September 26. Bonnie helps out by selling tickets to the raffle and lending a hand the day before with food preparation. Raffle tickets are available to the public for $10.00, and can be obtained from Bonnie at the Cascade Post Office or the Legion Hall on McAfee Hill Road.

The Legion’s Mr. and Mrs. Cascade event is being held on October 10 (Colorfest weekend). The light-hearted occasion finds men and women dressed as the opposite sex, participating in a talent showcase. Bonnie’s description of past contests made the coronation sound like more fun than a barrel of monkeys. It is open to the public.

Local businesses donate products, time, and talents for the Spa Day on October 18, which is also a public event. One can enjoy a massage, makeup, manicure, and hair styling. A donation to the Legion is welcomed and ultimately benefits someone in need, especially those who have honored us with their service.

The wide-reaching significance of the Legion to Veterans and residents of the Cascade area is hard to quantify, but Bonnie conveys a perspective that hints at the reach of the Legion’s helping hand. Profits benefit Veterans of our Armed Forces, as well as children for a back-to-school get-together. At Christmas, members attempt to fulfill the wishes of children at Cascade Elementary, whose families might find purchasing a particular gift unaffordable.

Bonnie recounted many touching, heart-warming deeds accomplished by the Legion’s members, which I hope to recount in a future column.

Some years ago, I was a beneficiary of the Legion’s generosity after breaking my leg and receiving a loaner wheelchair from them, thanks to Bonnie’s intervention on my behalf.

She is also a member the Ladies Auxiliary of South Mountain Rod and Gun Club, located on Rt. 77 in Smithsburg, which opens its doors to non-members during holiday celebrations throughout the year.

One tradition Bonnie revisits is cruising to her childhood stomping grounds in Rocky Ridge, helping out wherever needed at the annual Rocky Ridge Carnival. It also affords her the opportunity to chat with friends she can’t see as frequently as she’d like.

Another of her local haunts is Blue Ridge Sportsmen’s Association in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, where she plays shuffleboard and enjoys a meal and the camaraderie of friends.

Travel is another of Bonnie’s favorite pursuits, though she bemoans the fact that it’s been more than a few years since she has been able to get away. She loves visiting friends in Florida, Oklahoma, and Ohio, while squeezing in one of her favorite spectator sports: bull riding. There’s been a Caribbean cruise or two, and horseback riding at John Flaugher’s place in Florida. John was a great friend to Bonnie’s husband, Steve, and is Karen’s godfather.

Bonnie’s benevolent nature, sense of humor, and easy laugh is testament to her favorite saying, “Life is what you make it.”

by Jim Houck, Jr.

U.S. Army

Private Alfred Woodrow Clark

102 Years Young

Born June 13, 1913, in Washington, D.C., to Henry and Edith Clark, was a boy they named Alfred Woodrow. Alfred’s family had a tradition of giving newborns of the family a nickname. His family was together nine days after he was born at their home in Takoma, Maryland, and his one aunt said, “Well, I am going to call him Boogie.” His mother confirmed it, and Alfred was stuck with that nickname from that point on.

Alfred had twelve brothers and sisters; he said several of them passed away when they were young. He stated that if they were born today, they probably could have been saved, but they just didn’t have the medical knowledge back then that they have today.

Alfred went to elementary school in Takoma Park and dropped out in the fourth grade, as many did back then. He took care of the huge family vegetable garden, along with his siblings and mother and father.

Alfred stated that at one time he was a heavy drinker. One day, he was in a beer joint; when he came out, this old man was right behind him and asked him which way he was going. Alfred asked the man which way he wanted to go. The old man told Alfred where he wanted to go, and Alfred said he would take him home. When he pulled up in front of the man’s house, the old man said, “Come on in and meet the folks.”

They sat Alfred down around this big round table, and this girl was sitting right across from him. They started talking; the rest of them got up and left. He sat there talking to her for just as long as he could, and then he asked her for a date. The girl told Alfred to come down next Sunday and they will go to a meeting. If Alfred had known it was church, he wouldn’t have gone. Alfred thought that if you broke a commandment, you were done for, and he didn’t know there was any way back. So, that Sunday, they went to the meeting, and the man preached on the five kings: the mineral kingdom, the vegetation kingdom, the animal kingdom, man’s kingdom, and God’s kingdom. Alfred explained that what the preacher said woke him up. Alfred said it was 1936, and he got saved. He married his wife a little over a year later on May 29, 1937. He started into construction work at a young age and, other than the two years he was in the army, made it his life-long career.

Alfred joined the U.S. Army on January 4, 1944, and landed overseas eight days after D-Day; he was all over Europe for the next eighteen months.

When Alfred came home from the army, he went back to work as a construction carpenter for a man named Clark (no relation to Alfred). Clark had come to Alfred’s home and asked him to come to work for him right away. Alfred bought a truck from the man for $200.00; not long after that he was asked to pick up supplies for the construction jobs and wasn’t receiving any pay for his time or the use of his truck. Clark had also wanted Alfred to work extra time after hauling his supplies and not pay him for it. He didn’t stay with that outfit very long; Alfred had just gotten out of the service and needed to be paid.

Alfred got a job as a superintendent carpenter with a construction outfit in Takoma Park for a couple of years before he and his boss had a falling out, and he left that job. That was when Alfred went to work for Poretsky Management and started making kitchen cabinets.

Alfred had his own way of doing heads on cabinets that would only take him two minutes. He remembers his boss telling him to do the cabinet heads, and when his boss came back after an hour and a half and saw Albert just standing there, his boss said, “I thought I told you to do those cabinet heads.” Albert told him that they were built. The boss told Albert that it takes everyone all day to do the heads, so he walked down and looked and said, “I’ll be darned, they are done.” Albert said the boss was very happy and paid him good wages; he stayed with him from 1949-1975. His back and hip were giving him trouble, and his doctor said that if he didn’t retire, his back would retire him. He was old enough to retire, and the doctor wrote a letter to the company explaining it to them. He retired after twenty-six years; the company gave him a big send-off with a check for $1,700 (a nice sum for that time; you could buy a new Chevy Impala) and a plaque with a golden hammer on it with the words “Boogie” Clark, Poretsky Management, 1949 -1975, The Maintenance Crew. He has the plaque on his wall in his room. Alfred said he did more work after he retired than he did before retirement. He sold firewood and said when someone bought a cord of wood from him they got a good cord. Alfred was living in Burkittsville, Maryland, and he and his wife had a daughter, Gwen, and a son, Jerry. Gwen and Vernon Troxell have four boys and are living in Thurmont and Jerry Clark and wife have two girls and are living in Burkittsville, where Jerry has a garage. Alfred has so many great and great-great grandchildren that he said he could not count nor even begin to name them. Alfred said that when you get up there in age, names just don’t stick with you. Alfred has a picture of a dove that had a nest on his back porch; he said the dove used to eat out of his hand, being the only one who could get close to her.

Alfred lost his wife in 2002, after sixty-nine years of marriage; she was just short of 91 years of age. Alfred said, “We got along well; she would say jump, and I would say how high.” Shortly thereafter, Alfred went to live with his daughter Gwen in Thurmont. Gwen pulled her arm out of socket while taking care of Albert and could no longer give him the care he needed, so he is now living at Village of Laurel Run Nursing Home at Fayetteville, Pennsylvania. Alfred said there is no place like home, but he likes it there and the staff is very nice, the food is good, his room is kept clean, and, most of all, he has all the assistance he needs.

I very much enjoyed my interview with Alfred and enjoyed the hospitality he showed me. I found him to be a most interesting man who became an army veteran at thirty-one years of age and already had a wife and children, but loved his country and proudly served. Alfred has had a full life, and I hope he continues to for many years to come.

God Bless the United States of America, God Bless the American Veteran, and God Bless You.

by James Rada, Jr.

Bessie Darling’s Murder Haunts Us Still

Bessie Darling House 07-09-1941 001 JAK (2)When the mail train from Baltimore stopped in Thurmont on Halloween, more than the mail was delivered. George F. Schultz, a sixty-two-year-old employee with Maryland Health Department, left the train. Schultz hired Clarence Lidie and his taxi to give him a ride to the Valley View Hotel, which was ten minutes away on the side of Catoctin Mountain.

As Schultz climbed into the car, Lidie noticed that he was carrying a .38-caliber revolver and remarked on it.

“Shultz laughed and remarked that ‘he didn’t know what he might run into,’” Edmund F. Wehrle wrote in a study about the history of Catoctin Mountain Park.

The Valley View Hotel was actually a summer boarding house, which had been run by Bessie Darling, a forty-eight-year-old divorcee, since 1917. It was a large house built in 1907 that sat on a steep tract of land near Deerfield.

Darling, a Baltimore resident, had purchased the property from Mary E. Lent after Darling’s divorce in 1917.

“She generally managed the hotel in the summer and returned to Baltimore in winter, where she used her considerable social contacts to drum up summer business for her hotel,” Wehrle wrote. “Her skill at cooking and baking, as well as the scenic site, helped build her a solid clientele.”

In the early twentieth century, people took the Western Maryland Railroad from Baltimore to Pen Mar Park to enjoy the cooler mountain temperatures and to get away from the stresses of the city. Such was the appeal of the Catoctin Mountain area as a summer retreat that visitors always needed a place to stay.

“These such boarding houses offered the women of the area a rare opportunity to operate businesses,” Wehrle wrote.

Schultz had known Darling since 1926. They had become so close that Schultz had even spent Christmas 1930 with Darling’s family. Newspaper accounts at the time said they were romantically linked, and he often spent weekends at the hotel while Darling was there.

Darling, who was fourteen years younger than Schultz, met a lot people, both men and women in her work. In the summer of 1933, Schultz had become convinced that Darling was seeing Charles Wolfe, a sixty-three-year-old man who had lost his wife a year earlier. He also lived in Foxville, much closer to the boarding house than Baltimore. (Wolfe later told the Hagerstown Daily Mail that he and Darling had been little more than acquaintances.)

The thought of Darling with another man made Schultz angry, and he was known for his displays of temper.

“One Thurmont resident remembered that Schultz frequently drank, and, on one occasion, assaulted Darling during an argument in front of the Lantz post office,” Wehrle wrote.

While Darling forgave him that time, she was not so forgiving in this instance. Schultz and Darling got into a loud argument apparently over Wolfe, which ended when Darling left the hotel. She went to a neighbor’s home to spend the night, and told the neighbor that Schultz was no longer welcome in her home, according to newspaper accounts.

Darling didn’t return to the hotel until Schultz left for Baltimore, and Darling didn’t return to Baltimore at the end of the tourist season. She decided that she would spend the winter in the hotel rather than having to deal with Schultz and his jealousy.

Around 7:00 a.m. on Halloween morning, Schultz came up to the rear entrance of the hotel as Maizie Williams, the eighteen-year-old maid, was coming out for firewood. Schultz demanded to see Darling. Williams said Darling was in her room and tried to close the door on the man.

Schultz forced his way inside. Williams hurried upstairs to Darling’s bedroom to warn Darling, with Schultz following. Williams entered the bedroom and locked the door behind her.

This didn’t stop Schultz for long. He forced the lock and opened the door. Then he entered the bedroom and shot Darling who fell to the floor dead.

Schultz then calmly told Williams to make him coffee. She did, and when he finally let her leave the house to get help for Darling, he told her, “When you come back, you’ll find two of us dead.”

Williams rushed out of the hotel to the nearest home with a phone. She called Frederick County Sheriff Charles Crum who drove to the hotel with a deputy around 9:30 a.m.

They entered through the basement door, because Schultz had locked all of the doors and windows. When they entered the Darling’s bedroom, they found her lying dead at the foot of the bed.

They also found Schultz nearly dead from a self-inflicted gunshot to his chest. Crum brought Dr. Morris Bireley up from Thurmont to treat Schultz, who was then taken to the hospital in Frederick.

Once Schultz recovered from the wound, he was tried for murder on March 13, 1934. The prosecution called twenty-six witnesses in their case of first-degree murder. Schultz claimed that Darling had also had a pistol, and his killing her had been an act of self-defense. The jury deliberated an hour and found him guilty of second-degree murder; Schultz was sentenced to eighteen years in the Maryland State Penitentiary in Baltimore.

Wehrle recounted the story of Charles Anders, who had been in the courtroom when Schultz was sentenced and, sixty-six years later, still remembered watching Schultz sob as the verdict was read.

The drama of the murder fed into the tabloid-style journalism of the day, and people followed the case with interest.

“Even today, the murder stirs an unusual amount of residual interest,” Wehrle wrote.

Most recently, the Thurmont Thespians performed an original musical based on the murder case.

Deb Spalding

Mel-PooleCatoctin Mountain Park Superintendent, Mel Poole, will retire on August 25, 2015, having completed an adventurous thirty-seven year career with the National Park Service (NPS). When summarizing his contributions, Poole let out a chuckle. Correction, it was more of a flat-out laugh. I soon understood why as he reviewed the many roles he’s filled during his career.

About Catoctin Mountain Park, where he’s spent the majority of the last seventeen years within the National Park Service system, he said, “For sure, the park is bigger, if not better,” as he explained that the park has grown from 5,772 acres to its current size of 5,890 acres.

He recalled that Catoctin Mountain Park was the first in the National Capital Region to look at deer management in order to aid in forest regeneration. Don’t forget that until the 1920s, the Catoctin forest was substantially cut over by various timber businesses to make charcoal for Catoctin Furnace. The mountain has been growing back, or regenerating, since then. Poole was part of a regional Environmental Assessment team that was formed in 1978 to determine what to do about the increasing deer population at Catoctin Park.

Poole noted that the park knows more about its natural resources than ever, but are still finding new species and monitoring populations of species. Park resources are faced with a huge range of issues: invasive species, threats to vegetation like the Gypsy Moth and hemlock, future potential threats like Emerald Ash Bore (EAB), all overlaid with fluctuating climate conditions like rainfall, severe storms, and changing air and water quality.

Brook trout have been an icon in Catoctin Mountain Park, drawing fly fisherman from near and far. In recent years, there has been a decline in the numbers of brook trout, not only across the State of Maryland, but across the country as well. Less than nine percent of historic brook trout habitat remains nationwide and sixty-two percent of the historic habitat has been lost in Maryland.

The depth of Poole’s knowledge of all of the varying parts he’s managed within the park, from studies of current plant and animal species, management and preventive maintenance of those species, and day to day challenges created by the use of the park by humans, is difficult to convey in this short space, but be assured that Poole’s knowledge is comprehensive.

He said, Catoctin Mountain Park “has one of the strongest resource protection ethics of all the parks in the region.” He shifted credit for this ethic to current coworkers and former employees of the park. He also shared credit with other state and local park systems and federal, state, and county agencies, indicating that the high standards would not be achieved without their support, cooperation, and contributions towards a shared vision.

Poole’s ethics, like that of his peers, mirror those of the National Park Service’s 1916 Organic Act that mandated the conservation and preservation of natural resources for future generations. He said, “Invasive species have the ability to come to us within twelve hours, thanks to air travel. Globally, it’s hard to keep outside influences from impacting the ecosystems that we’re trying to manage.”

Raised in the Tidewater area of Virginia, and with deep family roots in coastal North Carolina, Poole is one in a proud family of public servants. He said he knew he wanted to be a ranger from about age eight when he wrote his congressman and asked for a job. He claims he was a typical suburban kid who, in junior high, wandered into the woods in his neighborhood where he discovered life and wonder, which further fueled his interest in nature. He then climbed the ranks of Scouts as a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Explorer, spending his time completing tasks to earn outdoor conservation merit badges.

He was fortunate, at age fourteen, to attend the National Boy Scout Conservation Camp, where he spent time building trails with professors from Rutgers University who taught conservation. Poole said, “I ate it up! I absolutely loved it.”

From a tent mate who was from Pennsylvania, Poole learned about the varying wild life and terrain in Pennsylvania. He said he felt the camp mate, “might as well have been from Mars,” because he described a landscape so different from Poole’s coastal habitat. He also met people from Texas, New York, New Hampshire, and Georgia, and learned that there were even more parts of America. He said, “I was going to see them all.” He then worked in a Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program in Norfolk, Virginia, for three years and went on to college at Virginia Tech, where he earned a degree in horticulture by way of forestry and landscape architecture.

He accepted his first job within the NPS in 1978 as a gardener in the White House greenhouse. President Carter was in the White House at that time. Later, working with National Capital Parks-East, a management unit based in D.C., he gained experience with hard-core urban parks, but also worked on a portion of the Potomac River and historic sites, where he worked with vegetation management and cultural landscapes. It was here and along the Anacostia River that he worked oil spills, first as a Hazardous Materials Specialist for the park and then at the regional level. This work, along with firefighting and water fowl hunting management, made for exciting daily adventures.

In 1984, he qualified as an interagency firefighter. For six years, he fought fires each summer and fall in Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Montana, and California. Meanwhile, he progressed in grade and served as the Regional Fire Management Officer for six months, during which time he mobilized firefighter crews from the mid-Atlantic area to wherever forest fires were occurring across the continental United States. In 1989, he was detailed to Kodiak, Alaska, to help clean up the Exxon Valdez Oil spill. He said, “That was interesting, because I thought Denver’s mountains were big. It’s double that in Alaska.” His oil spill expertise would again be put to the test when he was assigned to the BP oil spill along the Gulf Coast in 2010.

Before accepting the Superintendent job at Catoctin Mountain Park, Poole was the Park Manager at President’s Park in Washington, D.C.—ground zero for First Amendment activity in Lafayette Park and lineups for White House public tours. He helped at seven Easter Egg Rolls, seven White House Christmas Tree Lightings, and two Presidential Inaugurations. Poole literally watched history being made every day during his time in Presidents Park.

A career highlight for Poole occurred in 1992 when then First Lady Barbara Bush requested that the National Park Service provide a White House tour for every fourth grader in Washington, D.C. Poole handed a script to rangers who greeted school children at the Northwest Gate where, every Wednesday from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., fourth graders entered the White House through the front door on the North Portico. These kids witnessed daily business and history of the nation as they moved through the White House on their tours. He said, “It was a great school year for them, and a great experience for all the NPS rangers!”

In 1994, a new visitor pavilion was built on the Ellipse at President’s Park to replace a kiosk where Poole and his park rangers worked. It was complete with new bathrooms for visitors and a first-aid room where rangers could treat minor visitor injuries. He said, “We saw that as a quantum leap forward.”

In April 1995, Poole helped to open the White House Visitor Center across the street at 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue. In addition to high quality exhibits on White House history and a retail store staffed by the White House Historical Association, the National Park Service provided public tour ticketing for visitors each morning until 9/11 ended that tour operation. It was a big milestone to open that facility because, even if you couldn’t take a tour of the White House, you could still have a White House experience. In June of that year, Poole went to Shenandoah National Park to temporarily serve as Public Information Officer on the incident team managing a double homicide investigation. This case was later featured on America’s Most Wanted.

Poole finished at President’s Park in 1997 and moved to Catoctin Mountain Park. He’s been at Catoctin since March 1997, leaving briefly in 2006 to serve as Superintendent at George Washington Memorial Parkway, and again in 2009 to serve as acting Superintendent at Gettysburg National Military Park.

His milestones at Catoctin include work on President Clinton’s Middle East Summit, President Obama’s G8 Summit, and Gulf Coast Summit. In 2008, the park conducted a two-day search operation that successfully recovered a lost eighty-one-year-old woman.

Upon retirement, he is planning some genealogy research, some doing nothing, and a visit to a lifesaving station on the Outer Banks in North Carolina, where three of his cousins were keepers, to volunteer.

Poole and his wife, Candy, will continue to reside in Thurmont. Their son, Joshua, is currently serving in the Marine Corps, stationed at New River Air Station in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Their daughter, Lauren, recently graduated from Penn State, and landed a job as page designer for a newspaper in North Carolina.