Carroll Yesteryears: Numerous books can help in quest for the history of Carroll County

Pictured here are a few of the many books on Carroll County history available at the Carroll County Public Library and other locations, bookstores, etc.
Pictured here are a few of the many books on Carroll County history available at the Carroll County Public Library and other locations, bookstores, etc. (Courtesy photo)

For many years, the Carroll County Times has supported local history by carrying this column, “Carroll’s Yesteryears.” Since 1990, Joe Getty, Jay Graybeal, and I have written articles covering everything from cigars to the Civil War except for a hiatus from 2002 until 2006.

If you love history, don’t let your knowledge be solely dependent on this column because there are plenty of books available that cover it in greater detail and are widely available. Let’s take a look at what might appeal to you that can be found on the Carroll County Public Library’s shelves.


Joe Getty’s “Carroll’s Heritage” and Christopher Weeks’ “The Building of Westminster in Maryland” take in-depth looks at both history and architecture using plenty of illustrations. While Joe was Director of the Historical Society of Carroll County, that organization published “Carroll Record Histories of Northwestern Carroll County Communities.”

Frank Batavick recently wrote a history of New Windsor — “Time’s Crossroads,” and Diana Mills Scott republished her popular “Forgotten Corner: A History of Oakland Mill.” Manchester and Hampstead histories appear in books written by Harvey Schlichter and Bob Porterfield.

Many people have heard the legends surrounding Legh Master, owner of an iron furnace on the outskirts of Westminster in the 1700s. Supposedly he threw one of his slaves into the furnace and his ghost rides around the countryside at night draped in a white sheet. George Donald Riley, Jr.’s “The Ghost of Legh Furnace” focuses on historically accurate aspects of Master’s questionable reputation. Jack White’s recent book, “In Carrie’s Footprints” chronicles the life of Warren Dorsey, member of an African-American family from Sykesville, and offers a look at the struggles of local blacks in a segregated county during the 20th century. Many of you may have heard Jack and Warren Dorsey speak to various groups throughout the county.

A book near and dear to my heart is Frederic Shriver Klein’s “Just South of Gettysburg” that contains fascinating details from personal recollections of Westminster citizens living during the Civil War. If other military history is up your alley, you might enjoy Jay Graybeal’s “Carroll County and the Great War for Civilization 1917-1919.” Jay teamed up with Gary Jestes on a Vietnam book entitled “Tours of Duty.”

You might be surprised to know how much has been written about very specific topics. Joan Prall’s look at county schools in “Schoolbells and Slates,” or Theodore Woodward’s “Carroll County Physicians of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.” Bob Porterfield, a photographer, compiled “Photographers & Photographs of Carroll County 1840-1940” which includes some wonderful shots of people and places you have probably never seen. If sports are important to you, Dan Hartzler presents vast amounts of information in “Carroll County, Maryland Baseball.”

Local cemeteries, one of my favorite topics, have been recorded in two books – one on Holy Trinity, an Episcopal burial ground tucked behind a shopping center in Eldersburg, and one on Westminster Cemetery. Both books detail the lives of people buried there, some since the end of the 18th century.

If history in one “Yesteryears” column whets your appetite, satisfy your hunger by visiting your local library.