Harford's history: More than just farming

The other Friday the husband and I had dinner with his parents at our house.

We were talking about Baltimore history since it was the big Sailabration event celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

Now, I forget how the conversation veered off in this direction, but at some point I was explaining to my father-in-law that one of my editors (won't be naming names here) tries to find a Harford connection to every big U.S. history event.

While he is often successful, sometimes to my genuine surprise, this wasn't the case with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking.

In fact, the tragedy wasn't even the big news of the day in The Aegis and only warranted a small, beautifully written blurb of two whole paragraphs.

This prompted my father-in-law to ask if Harford County has ever had roles in very large historical events and I responded by spouting off about a dozen, if not more.

Duh, War of 1812. Civil War, obviously. In fact someone from Harford has fought in every war the United States has been involved in ever.

Seeing he was getting bored of my defensive rambling, I ended with, "John Wilkes Booth lived in Bel Air!"

That got his attention.

Oddly enough, this isn't the first, nor will it probably be the last time I've been in this position.

To my in-laws credit, they're originally from New York, raised their kids in Baltimore County and moved to Pennsylvania a few years ago, so their brains aren't chock full of Harford County knowledge (not saying mine is).

Having grown up in Bel Air and moving to Towson for college and then working and living in Baltimore for the past several years, I get the same reaction when I tell people I'm from Harford County: "Oh, you're from the country."

Yeah, not exactly.

People have actually been surprised when I say I've never lived on a farm, worked on a farm or have any experience with farming. At all. The shock doubles when I say I lived within 10 minutes from a mall and no, I did not get there on my horse (which doesn't exist).

Harford has become so synonymous with agriculture and the farming community that those who have never been here don't know anything other than that.

The county is very proud of its rural roots, as it should be. And yes, there are a lot of farms here. This, however, shouldn't overshadow the fact that there's a lot more.

Harford, believe it or not, has a great art scene. I've been trying to convince "outsiders" of this for years and it might finally be getting through, judging from the different events I've attended.

History, like I've been saying, is all around.

Maritime history in Havre de Grace, the infamous Mr. Booth, Harford's role in the Underground Railroad, horse racing right here in Bel Air and Aberdeen's most famous son, Cal Ripken Jr.

My favorite part of Harford, however, is that there are farms, suburbs, forest and water all within a few miles of each other.

Unfortunately, these were things that I didn't exactly appreciate growing up.

As a kid, as I'm sure others feel in their adolescence, I thought Bel Air was boring and there was nothing to do and all I wanted was to explore the bigger world out there.

Now that I've been out there for many years, I can say confidently that this is actually a cool place to grow up.

So, I'm sorry, Harford for calling you boring. You're pretty groovy and I will continue to defend your honor.

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