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Carroll County Times
Carroll County Lifestyles

Kevin Dayhoff: When Westminster banned loose hogs and swine from its streets

It was on Oct. 1, 1860, 160 years ago, that the city of Westminster successfully addressed a serious problem. A new ordinance took effect that day prohibiting the running at large of hogs and swine. This ordinance was codified in Section No. 3 of Article 14.

On Oct. 9, 1860, the price per head for the impoundment of errant swine was reduced from $2 to $1. The daily fee for impoundment was reduced from $1.50 to 50 cents.

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On June 12, 1861, the minutes of the Westminster mayor and Common Council stated, “Moved and seconded that the Ordinance relating to Hogs running at large in the City of Westminster be enforced and that after the 1st of July 1861 all hogs or swine found in the streets will be taken up and disposed of as directed by Ordinance heretofore ... by the Board and that ... Joseph Shaw publish a Notice of the same to the Citizens of Westminster prior to 1st July 1861.”

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Looking west on Main Street in Westminster from in front of the old Westminster Fire Hall approximately 1925. On June 10, 1922, a herd of cattle took a stroll through Westminster on their way to the scales at the warehouse of the Farmers’ Fertilizer and Feed Company. At this time Main Street in Westminster was still a dirt road. From the collection of the Dayhoff-Babylon families. Submitted photo.

In 1866, an ordinance took effect that prohibited dogs from running at large in the city unless they were muzzled. The minutes of the meeting contain a warning: “Attention is hereby called to the Ordinance already existing relative to swine running at large, which will be rigidly enforced.”

If you think traffic is bad in Westminster these days, can you imagine what it was like on Saturday, June 10, 1922, when a herd of cattle took a stroll through Westminster on their way to the scales at the warehouse of the Farmers’ Fertilizer and Feed Company?

Actually, driving livestock through town was relatively commonplace in Westminster history in order to take farm animals to market. Common destinations were the train yards located where the Westminster Fire Department is currently located, butcher shops downtown or the William F. Myers packing house, which was capable of processing 10,000 pounds of meat per week in what was then Westminster’s heavy industry part of town in the area of Liberty and Green Streets.

Before June 15, 1861, when the Western Maryland Railroad connected Westminster to Baltimore, this area, west of the railroad tracks and adjacent the former Village of Bedford was not in the Westminster city limits and was for the most partswamp, farm, and orchard land.

The village of Bedford was laid out in 1812 and consolidated with Westminster in 1838. It now comprises most of the downtown main business section of Westminster.

The railroad made the Liberty and Green Street area of town very valuable. The farmland quickly became the first heavy industry annexation by Westminster – the J. T. Mathias Addition and E. Lynch Farm annexation. This area of town was the location of tannery shops, multi-story grain elevators, meatpacking plants and a creamery.

On Oct. 1, 1860, Westminster passed an ordinance that prohibited “the running” of large hogs and swine. Main Street in Westminster has faced many challenges over the years from speeding buggies and later automobiles, to roaming cattle, to mud and manure. In July of 1840 a Westminster town law was passed that it was unlawful to “fly kites” on Main Street. “Kite Flying on Main Street in Westminster in July 1840” An original illustrative collage by Kevin Dayhoff July 14, 2011.

The stone building on Liberty Street where O’Lordan’s is currently located was built in 1866 and home of the Wagner and Matthew’s Foundry and Machine Shops.

Later, in 1881, the B.F. Shriver Company purchased the property in its second expansion in Westminster. The Shriver cannery operation continued on this site into the early 20th century until the Shriver Company moved outside of town to larger quarters.

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The land and the buildings were then used by the Koontz Creamery and then to the Farmers and Supply Company, which built their sales building on this location.

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In 1922, cattle were destined to the Feed Company, which was a large building occupying ed what we now know as the Sentinel parking lot at the corner of Liberty and Main streets beside the railroad tracks. The large building was torn down around 1975 when Liberty Street was realigned with Railroad Avenue.

The Sentinel parking lot was named after the American Sentinel newspaper office, which was located on the site on Main Street between Liberty Street and the railroad. Former president and then-Bull Moose Party candidate Teddy Roosevelt made a whistle-stop appearance in Westminster on May 4, 1912.

Roosevelt delivered a campaign speech from the front of the newspaper office to a large crowd that gathered on Main Street and included Westminster Police Ofc. John Weigle, who served with Roosevelt and commanded a Gatling gun in support of his Rough Riders charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War.

Getting back to 1922: According to an article in the American Sentinel newspaper, the “large drove of fat steers belonging to J. Elmer Myers was being driven through the city ... one of them walked into the store of Mr. Samuel W. Bond, W. Main street and was made to back out by Mr. F. Z. Miller.

“Another one tried to get into [a] grocery and in doing so knocked over a fruit stand. The steers were large and fat, the morning very warm and when they reached the scales at the warehouse of the Farmers’ Fertilizer and Feed Company many of them were exhausted. Those that tried to get into stores were evidently seeking a shelter from the sun’s hot rays.”

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Or, maybe they just couldn’t resist shopping local on Main Street in Westminster. Portions of this discussion have been published before, most notably in an article I wrote on June 13, 2010.

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


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