Collecting town history is his passion


MARTIN ZIMMERMAN knows a thing or two about Taneytown.

The 79-year-old farmer and maintenance man at the Taneytown library has lived just outside town his entire life. He went to local schools and attended Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church on Sundays.

And he has collected thousands of pieces of Taneytown memorabilia and bits of history -- enough to fill an attic and three sheds on his property. Zimmerman will share his favorite pieces of the past and give an informal history of the town Saturday at the Taneytown library's birthday celebration.

Zimmerman has been collecting items for years. He goes to sales and auctions -- up to three a week and sometimes that many on a Saturday -- in search of anything that connects to the town. What he's discovered and purchased along the way reflects multiple generations and tells the stories of local churches, schools and businesses.

"I've always enjoyed history, and like having the actual item that is the history -- and not just read about what happened in a book," he says.

He's collected Conestoga wagon parts, some dating back to the 1700s.

"I might not even know what the item is when I buy it, but I'll dig around and find out after I have it -- everything has a use," he says.

He has unearthed remnants of the former Grangers' Picnic, which evolved into the annual Carroll County 4-H Fair. He's found advertising pieces from old hardware stores that show the progression of the business from owner to owner and business ledgers that reveal the cost of everyday items.

He owns three shares of stock, valued at $20 each, in a turnpike that was planned from Taneytown to Emmitsburg. He discovered a postcard sent from the Rev. L. B. Hafer to his sister, letting her know he had accepted the charge to become pastor at the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, where he served from 1913 to the 1920s.

And Zimmerman owns the flagpole that stood in front of the old Taneytown High School, which was razed in the 1980s.

He's not sure how he was bitten by this collecting bug that has led him to fill hundreds of square feet of his house, and build the three sheds to house the treasures, sometimes over the objection of his wife, Treva Zimmerman.

"I've always liked old things, because they're substantial," he says.

That includes his house, a stone structure built in 1811 with stones quarried from the property.

"And collecting is relaxing, interesting and a lot of fun. And it keeps me out of trouble," he says.

You'll be able to trace the history of Taneytown through parts of Zimmerman's collection from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Taneytown Library. Information: 410-751-1980.

Basket bingo

Basket bingo is holding its own in popularity as a fund-raiser throughout the county.

If you enjoy playing bingo in hopes of winning a basket, come to the Union Bridge fire hall Feb. 26, when caller Dave Wareheim will entertain the crowd.

Doors open at 5 p.m., the kitchen opens at 5: 30 p.m. with fried chicken platters and homemade baked goods to sell, and bingo begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.

This is the third basket bingo sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Union Bridge Fire Company, and hundreds of people come from neighboring counties in Maryland and Pennsylvania to participate.

Organizer Jan Davis, an active auxiliary member for 15 years, says they usually hold the event in February to fill an after-the-holidays lull. And, for this bingo, the baskets will be filled with anything from cakes to vegetables and fruits.

"We're very pleased with the way the bingos have been doing," Davis says, noting that they raise thousands of dollars for the fire company. "I think it's wonderful, because we do help the firemen a lot."

Information: 410-775-7678 or 410-638-6532.

Catch a sunset

If you're traveling through Uniontown around sunset, take a detour down Jasontown Road and watch the sun sink into the horizon. It's breathtaking.

Judy Reilly's Northwest Neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 2/18/99

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