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Eagle Archive: County has taken care of its own since days of alms house

On Dec. 29, 1910, Westminster community leader Mary B. Shellman "supervised an annual holiday entertainment for inmates of the Carroll County Almshouse," according to a Baltimore Sun article published Dec. 30, 1910.

"Shellman began organizing the entertainments eighteen years ago as a way to spread holiday cheer to the less fortunate," according to the article. "This year's entertainment consisted of performances by the Westminster Orchestra. … Santa Claus stopped by to distribute gifts. The inmates presented the steward and his wife with a carriage foot warmer."

Over a hundred years ago, many of our less fortunate folks in the county were cared for at the alms house, which has been the location of our well-known and successful Carroll County Farm Museum since 1965.

After Carroll County was formed in 1837, Maryland mandated that the county develop an alms house. It wasn't until 1852 that the facility was up and running, after the county overcame a series of economic setbacks.

In 1995, local historian Jay Graybeal wrote in an article for the Historical Society of Carroll County, "Local residents assisted their less fortunate neighbors at the alms house by providing a special Christmas program and gifts for the forty-two 'inmates.' The event was chronicled by Mary B. Shellman and published in the (now-defunct) Westminster Democratic Advocate newspaper of January 11, 1896."

"Through the efforts of a few ladies, aided by generous contributions from a number of the citizens and merchants of Westminster, Christmas brought more than its usual share of joy and brightness to the inmates of our County Alms House," according to the newspaper account.

In 1912, the same, out-of-print Democratic Advocate reported that at Western Maryland College, now McDaniel, "Miss Dorothy Elderdice gave a very enjoyable New Year's party at her home on College Hill, last Monday evening. The young people discussed the chief follies of which they had been guilty during the past year, and wrote out resolutions for each other to follow for 1912."

As times have changed, Carroll County has held on to its educational, religious, social and philanthropic foundations that make our community a great place to live. Another county tradition is the celebration of the holidays through community events. It's great to get together with friends, neighbors and business associates and keep alive the personal friendships that glue our community together.

May the New Year descend upon our families and community with peace and love, patience and grace, health and prosperity, new friends and renewed friendships.

Let's look forward to the new beginnings, new hopes and new adventures of 2013.

When he is not counting his blessings, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

On Dec. 29, 1910, Westminster community leader Mary B. Shellman "supervised an annual holiday entertainment for inmates of the Carroll County Almshouse," according to a Baltimore Sun article published Dec. 30, 1910.

"Shellman began organizing the entertainments eighteen years ago as a way to spread holiday cheer to the less fortunate," according to the article. "This year's entertainment consisted of performances by the Westminster Orchestra. … Santa Claus stopped by to distribute gifts. The inmates presented the steward and his wife with a carriage foot warmer."

Over a hundred years ago, many of our less fortunate folks in the county were cared for at the alms house, which has been the location of our well-known and successful Carroll County Farm Museum since 1965.

After Carroll County was formed in 1837, Maryland mandated that the county develop an alms house. It wasn't until 1852 that the facility was up and running, after the county overcame a series of economic setbacks.

In 1995, local historian Jay Graybeal wrote in an article for the Historical Society of Carroll County, "Local residents assisted their less fortunate neighbors at the alms house by providing a special Christmas program and gifts for the forty-two 'inmates.' The event was chronicled by Mary B. Shellman and published in the (now-defunct) Westminster Democratic Advocate newspaper of January 11, 1896."

"Through the efforts of a few ladies, aided by generous contributions from a number of the citizens and merchants of Westminster, Christmas brought more than its usual share of joy and brightness to the inmates of our County Alms House," according to the newspaper account.

In 1912, the same, out-of-print Democratic Advocate reported that at Western Maryland College, now McDaniel, "Miss Dorothy Elderdice gave a very enjoyable New Year's party at her home on College Hill, last Monday evening. The young people discussed the chief follies of which they had been guilty during the past year, and wrote out resolutions for each other to follow for 1912."

As times have changed, fortunately Carroll County has held on to its educational, religious, social and philanthropic foundations that make our community a great place to live.

Another Carroll County tradition is the celebration of the holidays through community events. It's great to get together with friends, neighbors and business associates and keep alive the personal friendships that glue our community together.

It is this Christmas spirit and tradition that's part of the reason why Carroll County is a special place to live and raise a family.

As the dawn of a New Year approaches, may we seize the opportunity to begin anew with an understanding heart and a sense of humor.

May the New Year descend upon our families and community with peace and love, patience and grace, health and prosperity, new friends and renewed friendships.

Let's look forward to the new beginnings, new hopes and new adventures of 2013.

When he is not counting his blessings, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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