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Resources from Western Maryland

The state of Maryland has a long history, going back to 1634 as a colony and then admitted as the 7th state in 1788.   It is not a large state in land size, but based on its early and then later settlement, it has portions known as an eastern and western region.  Some of the western counties include Washington, Allegany and Garrett as well as Frederick County.

Especially in the first half of the 19th century, there was a great deal of development, along with a great deal of political unrest. The Western Maryland’s Historical Library, WHILBR, has placed online a nice collection of information relating to this area.  With it is resources and data relating to Maryland (a border state) during the American Civil War in the 1860s.

Starting with Allegany County, there is information on the Africa-American population over the decades. There is information on the centennial in 1889 of the creation of Allegany County, along with some wonderful amusement attraction to their big celebration. Several business and city directories from the late 1800s for Allegany County are included.  Since this area is known for its mineral resources and the jobs it provided that is also part of the database.

For Garrett County there is a map on the land grants given to soldiers from the American Revolutionary War to settle in western Maryland. For the town of Accident in Garrett there is a great collection of photos showing the schools, churches, industry and people.

It was the famous John brown who set out from Washington County, Maryland when he made his raid on Harper’s Ferry. The collection has copies of document relating to John Brown in Washington County.  The C&O Canal system was a major factor in the life of the citizens of Washington County.  A listing of the boats using the canal is in the database.  In Hagerstown, Washington County, the city was a manufacturing, distribution and transportation center. The 1893 city directory for Hagerstown and then an illustrated 1887 description of the town will be of assistance with any ancestors from this region. With this WHILBR collection is a great selection of photographs covering Washington County from the 1880s to the 1920s.

With Maryland truly being a border state during the Civil War with half its citizens pro-Confederate and half pro-Federal there is a great deal of information in the collection using databases, correspondences, battles, dairies, veterans and maps to cover about the war.

Those with relatives from this section of the country there is much to be learned of life in the 1800s by exploring the information on the site, including many newspaper articles.  For example from the Hagerstown Herald of Freedom and Torch Light newspaper dated May 4, 1853 was written about some of the salaries paid; to the Mayor of Hagerstown he earned $16 a year whereas the Mayor of the town of Cumberland was paid $150 a year.  The city clerk of Cumberland earned $225 a year and in Hagerstown the city clerk was paid $40 a year.  Quite a bit of differences just within one county.

To assist in a search for a certain place or surname, the site on the home page has a search box in the upper right corner which is easy to use.  Overall, a good site and worth checking out.

Photo above of the public square in Hagerstown, MD in 1905. Besides seeing a busy town for that year, a clear image of the Chas. E. Bowman Cigar Manufacturing Co. is provided.

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