WESTMINSTER — Enjoying a variety of baked goods and ice cream, more than 25 volunteers meandered through the Historical Society of Carroll County's gardens Sunday afternoon during the Mary Shellman Birthday Ice Cream Social. The ninth annual gathering simultaneously celebrated the organization's volunteers and the birthday of Shellman, a noted Carroll County volunteer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
According to the HSCC website, Shellman lived a life devoted to her community "advocating change, progress and preservation of Carroll County's history."
Among her many achievements, Shellman brought the telephone system to Carroll County by managing the first phone office and switchboard. She also worked tirelessly to assure that young men of Carroll County who were orphaned or abandoned were well cared for and mentored through the Alms House. She was honored by Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, with a Red Cross pin for her volunteer leadership following the aftermath of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood that killed 2,209 people in 1904.
Shellman also served as treasurer of the local Boy Scout organization, despite the fact that women were not allowed to serve in any capacity in the Scouts. She was a local and national leader in the effort to honor veterans and was the driving force behind Carroll County's very first Memorial Day parade in 1868, the longest continuously running such parade in the country.
When she died in October 1938, Shellman's legacy was honored when her familial home became the first location of the Historical Society of Carroll County. According to Historical Society of Carroll County curator Cathy Baty, Shellman's birthday was celebrated in the 1970s and '80s with a formal tea.
Nine years ago, the group decided to host a more casual event, the ice cream social, while also celebrating its volunteers.
"It's a great way for them to get together and get to know each other," Baty said.
HSCC Programs Committee Chairwoman Marilyn Maguire Phillips said the social used to be held on Shellman's actual birthday, July 1, but the group moved it to a Sunday so more people could attend. Volunteer Trish Buckingham spent eight hours baking several varieties of cookies, fruit bars and brownies for the group. Mike Reiner, owner of The Cow, provided ice cream with his mobile catering unit.
HSCC Executive Director Gainor Davis said volunteers help keep the organization going.
"They are our ambassadors for local history and the mission of the Historical Society," Davis said. "We have over 100 volunteers who donated 10,400 hours of their time this year. They make a big difference."
Eleanor Darcy, a volunteer from Westminster, has been a Historical Society helper for approximately 15 years, but this was her first time at the social.
"I've always been interested in history, and I help organize the Box Lunch Talks. I think it's important to teach people about things they might not know," Darcy said, adding, "This event is a great way to share information and make connections."
Volunteer Martha Hyson, of Hampstead, said the event was "a good thing."
"It's wonderful to be together. And praise the Lord for the people who are volunteers," Hyson said.
Volunteer Miriam Beck, of Berrett, agreed.
"I've worked with the Historical Society all my life," Beck said. "I love what it has done for Carroll County. It's always nice to get together with the volunteers you've worked with throughout the years."
Volunteer Ann Horvath, of Sykesville, said the social was one of her favorite events.
"I enjoy the ice cream, being outside and seeing people we've known for years," Horvath said.
Her husband, George Horvath, a former HSCC volunteer, agreed.
"I enjoy the material they have," George Horvath said. "I've used it to help people research their families."
Mimi Ashcraft, a volunteer from Westminster, said she enjoyed the camaraderie at the social.
"It's wonderful to catch up with the other volunteers and members from across Carroll County," Ashcraft said.
Diana Scott, of Sykesville, said she has volunteered intermittently since 1974.
"I love history, and they're such a friendly group," Scott said, adding, "I enjoy getting someone to recognize what the town of Westminster and its history has to offer."
Volunteer Dolores Rajca, of Westminster, said she also enjoyed the camaraderie at the social.
"I don't normally get to see the other volunteers," Rajca said. "It's fun to interact with them."
Andy Atwater, of Westminster, said he joined the group about six months ago. He said the social was a good for him to meet his fellow volunteers.
"I maintain some of the buildings — anything from fixing gutters to replacing light bulbs," Atwater explained. "I come in and do small maintenance things within the Historical Society specs. I want to give a little bit back."
James Lightner, chairman of the HSCC board of trustees, said the event is something he looks forward to every year.
"It's a nice way to say thank you to the volunteers," Lightner said.
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