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Family treasures continue to pour in at Aberdeen Room

LibrariesU.S. Coast GuardAberdeen Proving Ground

Family records and memorabilia that have been saved in desk drawers, attics and basements have filled the files and exhibit area of the Aberdeen Room Archives and Museum over the past 25 years.

Recently, Wiley Mitchell, son of R. Lee and Annabel Mitchell, brought some 27 scrapbooks compiled by his mother. This large collection includes detailed items covering the late years of the 1930s to the mid-1970s.

The clippings and photos include not only Aberdeen, but national and international events over the 40-some years, and will take time to fully review and document.

First of all, the R. Lee Mitchell family is well-remembered in Harford County. Lee Mitchell served as a commissioner of Aberdeen and president of the \board of commissioners of Aberdeen from 1956 to 1958. Both he and Annabel were popular and civic minded Harford Countians. Lee's father, Ryland Mitchell, lived and worked in Aberdeen, and is remembered as cashier of the First National Bank of Aberdeen for many years.

The first scrapbook, that includes a few late 1930s events, is marked 1940. One clipping headlines, "Federal Officials Expect to House 1000 Families in Harford for Civilians and 6800 Troops." It read, "600 acres are acquired as addition to APG. In 1940, the Civil Service Employees of APG issued invitations to a dance held at the Administration Building. A program from December 5, 1936 Dedication of New Auditorium in Aberdeen is included in this book.

A Dec. 5, 1940 clipping (newspaper not in clipping) stated, "101 acres of land added to APG provided for in a condemnation filed in U.S. District Court in the name of Secretary of War by Federal Attorney Bernard Flynn in the vicinity of Swann Creek to serve to protect the approach to APG on the creek side." Other clippings told of some "70 first and second lieutenants in Ordnance Reserve to serve in the Twenty-ninth Division 4,200 state troops are mobilized."

A December 1940 clipping reads that "388 buildings are constructed at APG, to be completed in June of 1941." Even "Blondie" cartoons by Chic Young are pasted in C. Milton Wright was honored for 25 years with the Board of Education. Wilhelm II, former Kaiser, died.

Another clipping stated that the U.S. Government was attempting to construct a temporary frame Recreation Hall in 1941-42, and Aberdeen strenuously objected. (That building was the former U.S.O., and served for many years on Parke Street before being demolished to make way for the present municipal building).

The last scrapbook is marked 1974-1975, with a first clipping of "The Endangered Maryland Darter." Governor Mandel assured that the Aberdeen Proving Ground would continue to be "A Major Base."

Another 1974 clipping was headlined "U.S. Coast Guard Makes First Step to Turn Over the 145 year old Concord Lighthouse to Havre de Grace."

A clipping of Nov. 4, 1974 read, "William James Recommended as State's Next Treasurer." In 1974 it was the last season for Harford's Orphan's Court.

The new Aberdeen Public Library was dedicated in 1974. Another article showed a photo of corn shocks on the fields of Willard Richardson, "What Has Come of Shocks?" as well as "Dolezal Retires from Bata" and "Harold Smith Takes On New Duties as Loan Director of Entire Northern Region."

Many of the articles in the remaining 25 Mitchell scrapbooks will be reviewed, and family related items will be included in the R. Lee Mitchell family file.

Another item for family files comes from Ed Illick, whose son, Ralph, is director of Marathon County Library. The clipping is headed "Library Could Get Tanked." The article from the "Wausau Daily Herald" on March 2, 2012, shows a large fish tank proposed for the library as background for Director Illick's photo.

We are saddened by the latest addition to Museum Volunteer Catherine Adams' family file. Her son, Carroll Eugene Adams, passed away in August, and we have just added the beautiful program from his funeral services in Houston, Texas.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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