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Dayhoff: Fourth of July in 1918, 1925 meant flu, carnival, parade, Alms House ceremonies

The daughter of Westminster businessman George W. Albaugh, Ella Troxel Albaugh Gillelan, and her husband Lawrence Gillelan, died of the flu 2-days apart in Jan. 1919 and are buried side-by-side in the Albaugh circle at the Westminster Cemetery. They left three orphan children.
The daughter of Westminster businessman George W. Albaugh, Ella Troxel Albaugh Gillelan, and her husband Lawrence Gillelan, died of the flu 2-days apart in Jan. 1919 and are buried side-by-side in the Albaugh circle at the Westminster Cemetery. They left three orphan children. (Kevin Dayhoff Photo)

“Fourth of July traditions in Carroll County have included patriotic celebrations and community activities with bands, parades, flags. ... A good example of a patriotic tribute occurred at a 1918 ceremony when George W. Albaugh donated a flag and flagpole to the county Alms House…” This, according to research for the Historical Society of Carroll County nearly 30 years ago by Judge Joe Getty.

Today, we know the Alms House as the Farm Museum. According to Getty’s research, “A very interesting service was held at the County Home on Sunday afternoon in the presence of a large number of people from Westminster and vicinity…

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“After singing ‘America’ by the audience, prayer was offered by one of the inmates of the home and the flag was accepted by Mr. B. F. Stansbury, of the Board of County Commissioners. As the Band played the Star Spangled Banner the flag was raised by Miss Mary B. Shellman and John H. Milton a veteran of the Civil War…

“Mr. H. P. Gorsuch gave a very patriotic talk and the Band closed the exercises with music. The pole, which stands 48 feet above the ground was donated by Mr. George W. Albaugh.”

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This image of Harry Peyton Gorsuch accompanied his obituary in the June 23, 1944 issue of this newspaper. Gorsuch was the founding president of The Times Printing Company and the editor since 1914.
This image of Harry Peyton Gorsuch accompanied his obituary in the June 23, 1944 issue of this newspaper. Gorsuch was the founding president of The Times Printing Company and the editor since 1914. (HIstorical Society of Carroll County)

According to an article by historian Jay Graybeal, “Harry Peyton Gorsuch, [was] one of the county’s best known and beloved citizens…” He was the editor of the Carroll County Times from August 1, 1914 up until his death June 18, 1944.

Meanwhile, Albaugh was a prominent Westminster businessman. For much of his life he was a business partner of Frank Babylon, my wife’s great-grandfather – in the firm of Albaugh and Babylon. From 1909 until approximately 1933 they co-owned the Longwell Mansion on Emerald Hill — what we know today as Westminster City Hall.

Of course this was during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, however, interestingly enough, there was no mention of the flu in any of the local newspaper articles covering the Fourth of July.

The 1918 version of the flu was relatively mild in the spring. Yet, according to a recent article on the deadly ‘second wave’ of 1918, in The Dallas Morning News, “The second wave would produce most of the deaths of the pandemic, which experts now estimate at 50 million to 100 million worldwide. In the United States, 675,000 people died from the virus… Those who thought the 1918 influenza was over after its appearance that spring would be in for a huge shock. In just one month, October 1918, almost 200,000 Americans died from the virus.”

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The flu hit home for Albaugh months later in January 1919 when his daughter Ella Troxel Albaugh Gillelan, and son-in-law Lawrence Gillelan, died of the flu two days apart, leaving Albaugh and his wife with the task of raising their three grandchildren – on Emerald Hill. Poignantly, the tombstone for Ella at the Westminster Cemetery reads, in part, “Gods finger touched her and she slept.”

The tombstone of Ella Troxel Albaugh Gillelan, the daughter of Westminster businessman George W. Albaugh, and her husband Lawrence Gillelan. Poignantly, the tombstone for Ella at the Westminster Cemetery reads, in part, “Gods finger touched her and she slept.” They died of the flu 2 days apart in January 1919 and are buried side-by-side in the Albaugh circle at the Westminster Cemetery. They left three orphan children.
The tombstone of Ella Troxel Albaugh Gillelan, the daughter of Westminster businessman George W. Albaugh, and her husband Lawrence Gillelan. Poignantly, the tombstone for Ella at the Westminster Cemetery reads, in part, “Gods finger touched her and she slept.” They died of the flu 2 days apart in January 1919 and are buried side-by-side in the Albaugh circle at the Westminster Cemetery. They left three orphan children. (Kevin Dayhoff photo collage)

On July 3, 1925, the American Sentinel newspaper reported the Fourth of July was celebrated that year with baseball, the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 carnival, a parade, a dance, and a community dinner.

The newspaper noted, “Saturday, July 4th will be observed by the citizens and business men of this city by a complete suspension of business. Public offices, banks, mercantile houses, barbershops, and newspaper offices will be closed and remain so until Monday morning July 6th.”

Research for the Historical Society by Graybeal, gives us an invaluable insight into the names of the businesses of the time. Graybeal wrote, “The (parade) line-up was as follows: Chief of Police John N. Weigle, Machine Gun, Co. H., 1st Inf. Md. National Guard … [and the] Westminster Fire Department…

“Richardson Brothers; Custin and Smith, American Restaurant, J. L. Mathias, Englar & Sponseller, Fisher Motor Co., Nusbaum & Jordan, Farmers’ Supply, Westminster Hardware Co., DeLaval Cream Separator and farming machinery…

“D. S. Gehr, hardware; Wehler & King, three Amoco Gas Trucks, Keefer’s Sanitary Grocery, Charles Eckenrode, T. W. Mather and Sons, Inc., Coppersmith’s taxi, Candy Kitchen, Baile Motor Co., New Windsor; Brown, Sandy Mount; Caple, D. R. Geiman, Star Theatre, Osborne, and Erskine & Rudy…

The Westminster Chamber of Commerce provided a “prize of $15 for best decorated auto and one of $25 for the best float… The parade judges were Dr. L. K. Woodward, J. L. Reifsnider, Jr., and George W. Hoff.”

“The firemen have provided an opportunity for those who care to dance to enjoy themselves to their hearts content… There will be many new features during the firemen’s festival. Chicken suppers, soft drinks, ice cream, cakes, candy… be offered for sale.”

Also of note in the 1925 newspaper article was a request for donations for the Westminster Fire Department (P.O. Box 357, 21158) that is just as important today as it was in 1925, “When in trouble you call the firemen… No better investment can be made with your money than helping to take care of the firemen. You may need them any moment.”

In full disclosure, Times correspondent Kevin Dayhoff and his wife Caroline Babylon, are members of the Westminster Fire Department. The 4th of July has been a favorite topic of discussion for many years and portions of the column have been previous published.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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