For 72 years, Historical Society of Carroll County has honored the legacy of who we are

As we get together with friends and family to celebrate the history and traditions of our way of life during this holiday season, we might also take time to pause and take stock of three critical questions that strike to the heart of why we enjoy such a high quality of life in Carroll County.

Carroll County has changed a great deal over the last several decades.

With these changes comes an importance to remember what strikes to the essence of our county — where do we come from, why we are here, and where are we going?

In part, these answers have been preserved by the Historical Society of Carroll County.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, the Society held its 72nd annual meeting. This year, 120 folks from all over the county attended the event, held at the Gamber and Community Fire Company social hall.

The annual meeting is a proud tradition. One of the first meetings of the society is reported to have occurred on March 17, 1939, the year the Historical Society was founded.

The immediate reason 60 community leaders attended that first meeting in 1939 was to save the Shellman House at 206 E. Main St., Westminster, from being demolished.

Historian Jay Graybeal has written that, "The property was being sold to settle the estate of Mary B. Shellman and was threatened with demolition for the construction of a gas station.

"This Federal-style brick residence had been the home of three prominent local families, from 1807 until the mid 1930s, and there was strong sentiment for saving the structure throughout the county."

In summer 1939, the Shellman house was purchased for $3,000, and preserved through the society's efforts.

Over the years, the society has grown to a heritage campus of three prominent historic structures on East Main Street in Westminster, the Kimmey House (c.1800,) the Sherman-Fisher-Shellman House (1807) and Cockey's Tavern (c.1820.)

According to information from the society's website, "In 1966, the Commissioners of Carroll County purchased the historic Kimmey house … and donated the property to the Historical Society…"

At this year's annual meeting, one of the speakers noted the society has also amassed more than 10,000 documents and 5,000 photographs.

But the study of history is much more than physical buildings, documents, and dates. You can look up a date on the Internet but you can't Google the feeling of pride and heritage of who we are as Carroll countians.

The purpose of studying history is not to go back to yesteryear, but to bring the past to the present. Legacy is about living our lives with an eye to the future — while being aware of what are you leaving behind to those you live with and love.

As an aside, this holiday season let's also keep in our hearts those less fortunate during this season of giving, and those who open their doors to them. That too, is part of our heritage.

When he is not devouring turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at

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