Competition for visitors and the dollars they can bring to the local economy is fierce, so anything that can be done to attract a few more people to town without having to spend much money is a good thing. Hampstead Councilman David Unglesbee recently made a pair of proposals with that in mind.
Unglesbee proposed at Hampstead’s March 12 Mayor and Town Council meeting to restore the cemetery where the town’s founding family is believed to be buried. He said it would help residents take pride in their community and Councilman Wayne Thomas noted that historical attractions are important for education. They can also bring in tourists. “We compete for visitors just like other towns … we’d like more people to come to town,” Thomas told us. “Anything you can … [do] to encourage people to come to the town is a boon for your town.”
Edward Richards was an English Quaker whose family founded the town and his brother-in-law Christopher Vaughn laid it out, Carroll County Historical Society documents detail. The cemetery sits on town-owned land. In 2004, the town and Richards’ descendants undertook a restoration project for the small grave along what was called Rattlesnake Ridge — the original name of the Richards family farm. Unglesbee wants to go further in an effort to attract people to learn about Hampstead history and has enlisted the help of the University of Maryland Extension’s Master Gardeners.
Courtney Coddington, coordinator of the Master Gardener program of the University of Maryland Extension Carroll County, told us their mission is to “develop gardens and develop environmental plans that are educational, too … so you’re going to walk away with something learned in addition to your enjoyable garden experience.” Unglesbee said the Master Gardeners, together with volunteers, can “transform this site into a plot of native grasses, bushes, trees, and also some historical plants that aren’t even out anymore that they’ve kept the seeds from.” Hampstead already pays to cut the grass on the approximately 1.5-acre lot, Unglesbee said, but he hopes in the future the town can pay for water connection to maintain the cemetery garden. He also hopes to continue garnering donations of plant seeds, flower bulbs, topsoil and more.
But that wasn’t his only proposal. He 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. 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.”
The Maryland Historical Trust will evaluate Unglesbee’s proposal to determine if it warrants a marker. That might be a difficult sell. Cathy Baty, curator of collections at the Carroll County Historical Society, who has researched details about every president that visited Carroll County, told us the president merely “passed through the Town of Hampstead on the train on his way to Gettysburg.” Unglesbee’s proposed historical marker text mentions the story of a Hampstead boy, whose father was the Hampstead Train Station master, who could not join the crowd that lined the tracks to watch the president, and that when Coolidge learned the boy had missed his visit, sent back a pair of flags adorning his presidential engine. Unglesbee said he got the information from a 2008 Times article that cited a presentation by Baty, who said last week the article misinterpreted her. Her understanding is that the engineer of Coolidge’s train — not the president — sent the flag.
If Hampstead gets the marker, great, but even if not, the founders’ cemetery makeover is a good idea. While “boon” might be a stretch, it couldn’t hurt in attracting visitors and it would surely teach those who’d like to learn more about the town’s history.