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West Carroll roundup: New Windsor Heritage Museum keeps the past alive

Curator Doris Pierce is shown processing a purchase at the New Windsor Heritage Museum. The museum is open on Saturdays and staffed by volunteers.
Curator Doris Pierce is shown processing a purchase at the New Windsor Heritage Museum. The museum is open on Saturdays and staffed by volunteers. (Times file photo)

The New Windsor Heritage Museum has been keeping the legacy of New Windsor and Carroll County alive for more than 30 years.

The mission of the museum includes the "promotion and encouragement of historic research; the discovery and procurement, by donation, purchase, commission or otherwise, of historical relics that may pertain to the town; the preservation and publishing of documents, such as writings, blueprints, maps, journals, or records, etc., that shed light on the history and architecture of the town of New Windsor, and its environs."

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The museum's current location at 207 Main Street was originally a private residence. It was one of the original 28 lots Isaac Atlee laid out with specific details on what was to be built on the lots. Isaac Atlee designed New Windsor along the Old Monocacy wagon road in an effort to capitalize on the needs of those who traveled the road between Winchester, Virginia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Doris Pierce, the museum's curator said, "[It was] built in 1802 or 1804. It was a long structure, two stories high. Isaac Atlee, when he laid out the plats in the town stipulated that a dwelling had to be built on the lot within two years after purchase and it had to be 22 feet by 22 feet and two stories." Pierce added that, "Nearly all the houses in that block are basically log structures that have been covered over with wood siding."

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The museum houses artifacts and memorabilia in their current location since officially opening the building in the spring of 2007.

One of the latest pieces of historical memorabilia on display at the New Windsor Heritage Museum is certainly worth a trip on any given Saturday. Buckey Garver, a longtime resident of New Windsor recently donated his Maryland Minute Men uniform and Certificate of Appreciation awarded to him by the State of Maryland. Garver, 92, served in the Maryland Minute Men during World War II.

This intriguing piece of history sparked research into The Maryland Minute Men.

The group was formed in 1942 by then-Gov. Herbert O'Conor to provide local protection during the war. According to the transcript of his radio address of March 10. 1942, O'Conor "called for the creation of the Maryland Minute Men." The mission of this newly created state militia would be "to furnish immediately, local protection against parachute troops, saboteurs, or organized raiding parties. It is planned that the units be confined to their own communities so that there will be assurance, at all times that every residential section of Maryland will have protection." With little to spare from the U.S. military, volunteers were expected to provide their own arms and ammunition. "Hence, the volunteers, for the most part, will be expected to furnish their own weapons. For this reason, gunners (of whom there are 60,000 licensed in Maryland), members of Rod and Gun Clubs, of Trap Shooting and similar organizations, will be expected to constitute a part of this new military organization."

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The basic premise for establishing a state militia was the need to protect the state borders in a time of war.

O'Conor said in his address: "Now, however, a greater possible danger must be faced by our people. Situated as we are and exposed as our state is, we must be prepared for the worst."

It was believed local residents, "armed with weapons with which they are thoroughly familiar from long use, operating in a community in which they are accustomed to every road and trail and stream, and aroused to fighting pitch by the knowledge that they are serving to protect their own homes, their family and all that they hold dear in life, will prove a staunch defense against any enemy activity."

Bring the kids with you on a journey back in time by visiting the New Windsor Heritage Museum.

The New Windsor Heritage Museum, staffed by volunteers, is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information on the New Windsor Heritage Museum visit their website at: www.newwindsorheritage.org.

Information about the Maryland Minute Men and Gov. O'Conor's radio address, broadcast on radio station WFBR and the Maryland Coverage network on March 10, 1942, comes from the Archives of Maryland Online, Volume 409, Page 616, the State Papers and Addresses of Governor Herbert L. O'Conor. For information visit http://aomol.msa.maryland.gov/000001/000409/html/am409--616.html.

Gabrielle Schoeffield covers Taneytown, Union Bridge, New Windsor and surrounding areas. Reach her at gabrielle.copeland.schoeffield@gmail.com.



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