How do you find a family member who lived a century or more ago?
You can begin by reading tombstones.
When Bob Farver's search for family ancestors began, he searched through "Carroll County Cemeteries," three softcover volumes published by the Carroll County Genealogical Society.
He found names, recorded from gravestones, that matched his own. He was on a trail of discovery that would lead him to the knowledge that he is a seventh-generation Carroll countian.
Finding the names was a first clue. Because Carroll County was carved from Frederick and Baltimore counties, he went to Annapolis to search old Baltimore County records.
By chance, he discovered the will of Adam Farver, who owned 100 acres of Baker's Discovery. The acreage probably was part of Burntwoods Hundred. The Hundred indicated a geographical area able to raise an army of 100 men; it was later replaced by election districts. Burntwoods Hundred has disappeared; today it's the area where Route 27 intersects Marston Road. Adam Farver moved there and began to farm the land in 1768. He purchased the acreage in 1771, according to the old records.
"I got the shakes when I realized I was holding his will, which was older than the Constitution," said the present Mr. Farver. He's been able to trace his descendance from Adam and his relationship to 14 Carroll families.
Because the "Cemeteries" volumes had been instrumental in his search, about four years ago he joined Mimi Ashcraft and other members of the Carroll County Cemetery Inscription Project. Mrs. Ashcraft has directed the project for more than 10 years for the Carroll County Genealogical Society. Their goal is to publish, in "Cemeteries," the facts inscribed upon every gravestone in Carroll County.
On Sunday, Mr. Farver and Mrs. Ashcraft were in Manchester, recording the final rows of gravestones in the Lutheran cemetery annex off Locust Street. Earlier, they'd stopped to describe their project at the Manchester Historical Society's monthly open house.
The project takes one part of the county at a time. So far, the researchers have covered the southeast, east-central and southwest areas. The society soon will publish its fourth "Cemeteries" volume, for northeast Carroll. Seven volumes are planned for the county
"If anyone knows of old tombstones or family cemeteries in northeast Carroll County, please call us," says Mrs. Ashcraft.
The group has been to church cemeteries in Hampstead, Manchester and Lineboro, even the tiny Zimmerman Mennonite cemetery on Grave Run Road. But there's always the possibility of finding a little-known patch of gravesites.
Sometimes graves are within an unplowed patch of cornfield, overgrown with trees. Sometimes tombstones are turned over and used for paving, but their inscriptions stay remarkably intact. Sometimes small cemeteries are lost in the woods. Every stone yields valuable facts for those in search of their family histories.
The Genealogical Society published a quarterly newsletter, "The Carrolltonian." It's a link for those searching out family names.
Within the old Manchester cemetery, "God's Acre" tombstones are inscribed in German. When the Carrolltonian published the German stones verbatim, a letter of thanks arrived from San Diego, Calif. German stones also can be found at Emmanuel Lutheran cemetery on Bachman Valley Road.
"German stones not only held husband and wife, but when [they] married, children and what sex they were, years of married life and sometimes what country, Germany or Switzerland, they were from," said Mrs. Ashcraft.
"What we keep in memory is ours forever," Mr. Farver repeats from one gravestone, noting that what the Inscription Project records will restore those memories for generations to come.
If you know of a local cemetery, don't hesitate to contact Ms. Ashcraft at 848-4285.
In the hands of the Hampstead Lions, aluminum cans turn into money to keep Lions Club park, off Hillcrest Avenue, ready for Little League games, Bible schools and family reunions.
"We're collecting aluminum cans year-round to recycle," said Dan Bowles, Lions president. "The money from that we put into our park. It's 25 acres, and we want to keep it in the best shape possible. So it costs us a few dollars."
The Lions have collection barrels at many locations in Hampstead. There's a yellow trash container in the empty lot between McDonald's and Ace Hardware, a barrel at Bauerlein Meats, and another barrel at the park. Cans recycled with weekly trash pickups do not benefit their program.
"We've had the park since the mid-'50s," said Mr. Bowles. "and we're tickled to death to provide it for the community. It does take a lot of our time and money. Any help from the community, we sure do appreciate it."
North Carroll communities welcome new residents every month. Newcomers quickly join the Scouts, their school organizations, churches-- but not often their local fire companies.
"A lot of people who move up from the city don't realize the fire company is all volunteers," said Helen Miller, of the Manchester Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary. "We need new members badly."
Fire company volunteers often can trace participation through generations. Mrs. Miller's father and grandfather fought fires with the Manchester company. Her son is active now and collects antique firetrucks, too.
She says it's time for new memberships to take root.
"We invite any fireman's wife, or any lady of the community to attend our meetings," said Mrs. Miller.
The auxiliary meets on the second Monday each month. The next meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11 in the Manchester Activities Building off Locust Street.
Information: Helen Miller, 374-2466.