On Wednesday, Aug. 1, 1923, the Hampstead Volunteer Fire Company carnival was accused of running a gambling operation and was shut down by Carroll County Sheriff William Phillips.
Phillips appeared on the carnival grounds with Carroll County State's Attorney Theodore F. Brown, and arrested the person in charge of the carnival's amusements, Thomas Zepp, and hauled him off to jail.
Pandemonium broke loose in Hampstead as a result. This was especially true because of the significance the Hampstead fireman's carnival has played in the history of the town.
According to a history on the Hampstead Volunteer Fire Company's website, "The organization of a fire company was the direct result of action on April 15, 1899, at a meeting of citizens of the Town called for the purpose of considering the holding of a carnival.
"The object of holding a carnival was two-fold: first, to promote interest in the Town; and second to raise funds… (The) carnival was held on Saturday, May 27, 1899, from which the committee realized net proceeds of $67.30. It was estimated that three thousand people were in attendance.
"On January 2, 1900, the committee decided to invest the carnival proceeds in the purchase of a hook and ladder truck. On January 6th … a four-wheel hook and ladder was towed into Hampstead by a hay wagon returning from Baltimore. The truck, purchased from the Baltimore City Fire Department … The cost of this ladder wagon was $75.00."
Now that you know the importance of the Hampstead carnival, you can understand why, on Aug. 3, 1923, the now out-of-print Democratic Advocate carried a story with a headline, "Pastor Baines hissed by Angry Crowd."
According to the article, "Feeling is said to be running high in the little village of Hampstead. … After the arrest (of Zepp) a crowd of more than 200 persons followed the Rev. Clarkson Baines, said to be responsible for the arrest, hissing and booing him to the parsonage.
"The Rev. Baines is pastor of the Hampstead Methodist Episcopal Church and is said to oppose paddle-wheel games that make up part of the (carnival) entertainment."
According to two newspaper articles in the following months, the state was adamant in prosecuting the fire company and tried the case, not once but twice.
On Nov. 23, 1923, the Democratic Advocate reported, "The outcome of the State vs. Hampstead Fire Company, which was tried before a jury in the Circuit Court Wednesday, disagreed. The jury stood nine for acquittal and three for conviction."
And finally, on Feb. 22, 1924, the same newspaper reported, "Hampstead Fire Company Wins Case."
"The case of State of Maryland against Hampstead Fire Company, which was tried at the November term of Court and the jury disagreeing, was brought up for trial the second time Monday and resulted in a verdict for the Fire Company."
Sadly, I do not know what the odds were on that case. But it's a good bet that more than 3,000 will turn out for this year's Hampstead carnival, which is set for Aug. 13-18. (See listing in "10 Days," page 2). For more information go to http://www.hampsteadvfd.org/content/carnival/
When he is not playing the wheel of fortune at the Hampstead carnivaaal, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.