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Brochures and programs from the past provide Aberdeen history [Column]

Aberdeen Proving GroundMaryland Historical Trust

What memories old brochures and programs bring back! Homes, organizations and school events are recalled.

Susan Osborn brought into the Aberdeen Room a brochure from Humming Bird Manor, recalling the beautiful James B. Baker house at 452 W. Bel Air Ave. An 1896 Baker family home later became a bed and breakfast home, and is now an assisted living home. Large older homes undergo changes as the needs of the community change.

A program from the 1948-1949 Hobby Show in the Aberdeen Recreation Center was another Osborn donation. Those hobby shows were wonderful events that involved the entire Harford County community. That building was built for the USO back in 1942 for the use of entertainment for service-men and women during World War II. Again, as times and needs change, uses of buildings change. It later housed a library, the ARC, a kindergarten and motor vehicle facility. When it was no longer needed, it was torn down to make way for Aberdeen's new municipal center in 2000.

Recalling the Bata Shoe Company in Belcamp is a program for an added ground-breaking on March 14, 1962. The welcome was given by Augusstin Dolezal, and the address was delivered by Maryland Gov. Millard Tawes. The Bata Shoe community was very valuable to the county. It provided jobs for many of Harford Countians, and its staff and workers added much to the cultural life in Harford. This program was found in the R. Lee Mitchell collection.

Another program from the R. Lee Mitchell collection is from the 1961 Aberdeen High School graduation. Names of Principal Walter Potter, Vice Principal Chester Butkiewicz, Senior Sponsor William Byers and chorus Director Dolores Little are remembered.

A program came from Barbara Baker, bringing back memories of the "Town of Old Baltimore" historical event on May 14, 1976 at Chilbury Point on Aberdeen Proving Ground. It was through the efforts of Jane Viele from the Harford chapter of the Maryland Historical Trust, and others, that this event celebrated one of Maryland's earliest settlements.

On that day, in the year of our national celebration of the 1776 Declaration of Independence, Rev. George Scriven gave the history of the site that later became part of Aberdeen Proving Ground. Another Baker donation is a brochure from an event in Susquehanna State Park in 1908 that tells the history of the voyage of Captain John Smith in 1608 to the waters of our part of Maryland.

Also from the R. Lee Mitchell collection is a program from the 100th anniversary of the Blenheim Lodge 102 on April 4, 1959. Back in 1859, William B. Baker was the grand master from the Blenheim Lodge of the State of Maryland.

Family records are another important feature of the Aberdeen Room. Families are invited to contribute genealogies and other records for the family files. Volunteer Jim Lindsey does research for local families, as well, and they are added to established files.

Included in the research are cementer records for Lester German, Aberdeen's 1890's baseball pitcher on the national scene. U.S. Census records from 1940 from Romona Holt Bennett and 1930 census records for Freddie Bennett are added to the Bennett files. Obituaries for Charles Spang and Oliver Ripken are added to the Spang and Ripken files. The Holloway family of Perryman was researched and added to the Holloway files.

Researchers at the museum are constantly adding more information about families and events, but invite interested families to bring collections into the Aberdeen Room that can be copied for our files. Call 410-273-6325 or come into the museum at 18 Howard St.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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