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Hampstead councilman applies for historical marker for Calvin Coolidge visit

Hampstead councilman applies for historical marker for Calvin Coolidge visit
Hampstead Councilman David Unglesbee has submitted an application to the state Department of Planning’s Historical Trust to commemorate U.S. President Calvin Coolidge stopping at the Hampstead Train Station, pictured in 2015. (Jill Murphy / Carroll County Times)

Hampstead Councilman David Unglesbee has submitted an application to the state Department of Planning’s Historical Trust to commemorate U.S. President Calvin Coolidge stopping at the Hampstead Train Station — a relic of the town’s rich railroad past.

If approved, the marker will be placed on the corner of Main Street and Gill Avenue and “will forever commemorate this event of a president visiting Hampstead.”

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The Director of the Maryland Historical Trust will evaluate Unglesbee’s proposal to determine if it warrants a marker.

The event, person or place outlined in the application must be associated with events that significantly contributed to “the broad patterns of history,” “the lives of persons significant in our past,” embody distinctive characteristics of the time, or yield information important in “prehistory or history,” according to the application packet.

The 30th U.S. president’s “visit” in 1928 was more like a pass through, said Cathy Baty, curator of collections at the Carroll County Historical Society. Baty has researched details about every president that visited Carroll County. Eight sitting or former presidents have visited the county, she said.

“Coolidge passed through the Town of Hampstead on the train on his way to Gettysburg for what was then called ‘Decoration Day’ but we call it ‘Memorial Day,’” Baty said.

Unglesbee’s proposed historical marker text mentions the story of a Hampstead boy. Unglesbee’s proposed text says that the boy, whose father was the Hampstead Train Station master, could not join the crowds of people that lined the tracks to watch the president ride through.

After continuing on to Gettysburg, Unglesbee’s proposal details, Coolidge learned that the boy had missed his visit and sent back a pair of flags adorning his presidential engine, 206. Unglesbee said he got the information from a 2008 article in the Carroll County Times.

The article cited a presentation by Baty, who was still the curator of collections then, about presidents’ visits or stops in the county. The article details that Baty spoke about the story about Coolidge and the Hampstead boy.

Baty now says the article misinterpreted her. Her understanding, she told the Times, is that the engineer of Coolidge’s train — not the president — sent the flag to the boy, Maurice Blocker, upon the father’s request.

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