Dan Tabler Rememembers Centreville in an Earlier Time at Queen Ann’s County Free Library

The program took place on the porch of the Queen Anne's County Free Library in Centreville.

The program took place on the porch of the Queen Anne’s County Free Library in Centreville.

Centreville, MD, July 14, 2014 – On a comfortable mid-summer evening in this Eastern Shore town the porch of the Queen Anne’s County Library was filled with people intently listening to Dan Tabler, 89, talk about Centreville’s past.

He began writing on a clunky manual typewriter for the local weekly, the Record Observer, at the age of 15 as the school correspondent. World War II interrupted the reporter’s first stint on the community beat, but the military assigned the talented writer to public affairs. When he returned in 1945, the journalist who had attended the Citadel, the military college, went back to his old job and was soon made the paper’s editor.

A middle-aged man in the audience stood up about this time, saying he got his start as a cub reporter under Dan. Struggling to learn how to crank out a story, the rookie marveled at the veteran “newspaperman’s” ability to speedily get the story, type the copy, and beat the deadline.

With more than 60 years in the newspaper business, including work as the managing editor, he continues producing a popular local column for the paper. I’ve done it all, serving as reporter, editor, photographer, advertising salesman, delivery man and helping out on the press sometimes,” he said.

When someone asked if it was weekly, he replied with a smile, “Yes, sometimes very weakly.” That caused him to share another long ago memory. The paper came out on Wednesday, and we’d have to shut the street down as people arrived to watch the press operate and get a paper, hot off the press. Dan retired from covering the news beat full-time in 1986.

Two trains a day chugged into Centreville at that time, the morning and evening runs. In the 1930s when the whistle of the approaching locomotive punctuated the calm of the county seat, youngsters jumped on their bikes, rushing to the station and roundtable, he recalled. There they watched the goings on, waiting for the engineer to ease the big locomotive onto the turntable. Once the crew positioned it, they allowed the kids to push the engine around so it could steam back up the line to the main road, he recalled.

The town operated the electric system, he noted. Diesel generators at the plant supplied power for the small network. But when the ballpark came alive with a visiting team, the floodlights came on at dusk, and if the cannery was operating at seasonal capacity, the little generating station struggled to supply the load. So the engineer plunged the streets into darkness, turning off street lights all over town during the game, someone noted. You couldn’t have an important activity, an Eastern Shore ballgame or canning, interrupted.

Dan stayed active in civic affairs, serving in many capacities. Today he is the oldest member of the Goodwill Volunteer Fire Company, having served the department for 65 years. Hurricane Hazel ripped through the Eastern Shore in October 1945. Dan remembered being called out to assist with traffic and downed trees as electric lights flickered off while the wind ripped through the county. As lights flashed off and sparks from falling wires illuminated the night, he recalled standing out in the middle of Liberty Street. Listening to trees falling all around, he wondered, “What in the heck am I doing out here.” The wind also carried an empty freight car from Suddlersville to Millington.

There were plenty of other small town stories. Accounts of World War II, the National Guard, the Chesterfield Cemetery, friends, teachers, schoolmates, former residents, and much more filled the excellent evening.

As the slowly setting sun brought a beautiful Maryland day to a close, Dan pointed to pictures, shared stories and had the audience provide narratives of their own, while capably handling an array of audience questions and discussions. But the hour was growing late and it was past time to close the library, so this gathering that had everyone thinking about days gone by had to come to an end.

It was a fine program. Thanks you Dan Tabler for sharing these memories and Queen Anne’s County Free Library for putting on this packed program. One more is scheduled for Aug. 6, 2014, and we have it on our calendar.

 

The night was started to settling in by the town the program was over so we strolled around the pleasant downtown afterwards.  The Queen Anne's County Courthouse

The night was started to settling in by the town the program was over so we strolled around the pleasant downtown afterwards. The Queen Anne’s County Courthouse

Dan Tabler talking to the group about earlier times in Centreville.

Dan Tabler talking to the group about earlier times in Centreville.

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Hard-Working Lawman Started In Caroline County When the Sheriff and One Deputy Kept the Peace

Denton, MD., June 18, 2008 — Louis Andrew, 81, of Denton ended a 32-year career as sheriff of Caroline County when he retired in 1994.  Born on a farm at American Corner, the 10-year old started hanging out with a bad crowd after his family moved to the county seat during the Great Depression.  There were drunks and all sorts of lawbreakers, but his father, William, didn’t mind that the youngster was mixing with this bunch.

In fact, his dad was the one who brought him into town to live in the jailhouse with wayward types when he was elected to Caroline’s top law enforcement post in 1938.  While growing up with these jailbirds, he befriended many of the regulars. As his dad and one deputy (an uncle), along with the cook (his mother), ran the joint, little Louis wandered the building and grounds playing.  After that, except for a four year period in the 1940s, when his father was not allowed by law to succeed himself, the post was entirely a family affair.

When Sheriff Andrew passed away in 1961, his son was appointed to fill the unexpired term.

When Sheriff Andrew passed away in 1961, his son was appointed to fill the unexpired term.

When his dad died of a heart attack in 1961, the 33-year-old continued the tradition of serving as the top cop in the county.  “I moved my wife Joyce, and two children, Ricky and Charles, into the living quarters of the jail.  Joyce, who wasn’t paid for her work for years, cooked three meals a day for the prisoners, and took care of the place while we were out.  There was one deputy to assist me.  The two of us provided security for the circuit court, served warrants, answered calls, and guarded the jail.  I was making $2,400 a year and had to buy my own car, badge, and gun.”

One jailhouse regular holds a special place in the Sheriff’s memory.  “When my family first moved into the jail, one of the prisoners would take me down to the Choptank River, where he taught me about crabbing and the ways of the river.  When I moved in 23-years later this same gentleman, now an old man, was still one of our regulars.  He would take my son, Ricky, down to the waters-edge and talk to him about the things he’d shown me as a child.  Sometimes I’d hear him proudly saying to Ricky, “I used to show the sheriff these things, when he was a little boy.”

The sheriff has many interesting recollections.  “Once I had to have a prisoner in court, but something urgent came up. I got the man out of the cell and said take yourself down to court for the hearing and don’t go anywhere else.  If the judge gives you time, don’t come back without the indictment, but come right back here when you get the papers.  It was getting late in the day when I noticed this man hadn’t returned, so when I checked I found out he was still at the court.  The clerk hadn’t given him his papers and he was going to follow my orders.”

“When I retired in 1994, the governor appointed my son to finish my term, making the third consecutive Andrews to hold the post.”  The legacy of crime fighting for the Andrews family of Caroline County, which began in 1921 when his grandfather held the job, continued  with Charles served as the first director of the Detention Center.

A modern photo of the Caroline County Detention Center.

A modern photo of the Caroline County Detention Center.

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LaMonte Cooke Got His Start in the Old Days as a Rookie Kent County Deputy.

Deputy LaMonte Cooke of the Kent County Sheriff's Office on Patrol

Deputy LaMonte Cooke of the Kent County Sheriff’s Office on Patrol

When 25-year-old LaMonte Cooke, a Philadelphian, joined the Kent County Sheriff’s Office in 1975, the entire seven-man force was white. “The day I interviewed for the deputy’s job with Sheriff Bartus Vickers, he had four questions for me. He wanted to know if I voted, what my party affiliation was, how well I got along with whites, and I forget the last one. I must have answered them correctly for he told me to report to work the next day.”

“That next morning, my first day in law enforcement, the sheriff allowed me to borrow one of his revolvers since in those days you bought your own weapon. That was my first gun. For orientation, one of the deputies took me out on the road and showed me around the county. Here I was, a man who’d never given a thought about this type of work, policing Kent County.”

Once he began patrolling as a deputy, he regularly turned heads from people surprised to see an African-American in a Kent County Sheriff’s uniform. The city-guy was much more comfortable with the ways of the Philadelphia, than the cornfields and waterways of a county with 16,000 people.

While he learned on-the-job in Maryland’s smallest county, members of the force and community gradually became accustomed to seeing him on-the-job. “Responding to a call once in an outlying area, I rang the doorbell of a house. When the lady answered and saw me in uniform, with a patrol car sitting behind me, she was so surprised that she telephoned the sheriff to confirm that I was one of his officers before she’d talk to me.”

One particular night, while out handling a complaint, teenagers smashed watermelons around Cooke’s usual parking spot, a place for watching the traffic flow up and down the main road through the county, Route 213. When his fellow officers heard about it, “they wrote up those kids for every infraction they could find,” he says. “After that, this sort of stuff stopped, and I knew I had been accepted professionally.

Deputy Cooke in front of the old Kent County Jail.

Deputy Cooke in front of the old Kent County Jail.

Over the next twelve-years he rose through the ranks. As a college educated officer, he was a naturally suited for the increasing administrative duties of running a department since minimum requirements were being put in place for jails and police agencies. He first worked to bring an outdated old building, constructed in the 1880s, into compliance and became the first local facility in the state to reach full compliance. As a result of his handling of several challenging management assignments, Sheriff Blizzard promoted him to Chief Deputy.

Cooke recalls a little mayhem that occurred at Washington College. It was during an annual student liberating tradition, a fling for International Workers Day. “On May Day some students celebrated by streaking or making nude dashes across the campus and town. One year [1978], I got a call about undressed people running across the highway, and when I pulled up I saw several of them. Most dashed off, but I caught one, a student nicknamed Miami, whom I put in the patrol car. But 200 students quickly surrounded the vehicle chanting ‘free Miami.’ They wouldn’t let me move so there I sat with yelling people all around me. I radioed for backup and it wasn’t too long before I saw all these bodies diving out-of-the-way. Coming through the crowd was Chief Deputy Blizzard just swinging his nightstick and the mob was just jumping out-of-the-way. Once he opened a path, he yelled hit it. I did but they followed us to the jail. It was sort of tense with all these students surrounding the building so we called for help from the State Police. Finally the dean from the college came down to get the students to disperse.”

“In 1987 Queen Anne’s County was closing its old, outdated jail and opening a modern Detention Center. I applied for the position of warden to run that agency. There were several highly qualified candidates with lots of corrections experience. But I went ahead and applied for the job since the pay was a lot more than I was making as Chief Deputy in Kent. I got the appointment so my first task was to build the institution, which opened in 1988 with room for 80-inmates. About two years later a modular addition added 24 more beds, which increased the county’s detention center to 104 beds.”

“In 2008 the county commissioners approved  a new modular addition to accommodate a growing female inmate population and a more secure male dormitory unit.  Completed in 2009, it increased the total inmate capacity to the facility to 148 beds.  I was also working with a committee of several counties considering a regional corrections facility. “

Reflecting on nearly forty-years of wearing a badge, this professionally recognized trailblazer, who has been involved in modernizing law enforcement and corrections in two counties, says: “From the time when I started in Kent County things have changed so much. When you went into the jail in those days, you pretty well knew everybody. Now, we such transient populations and we are face with more mental health issues, an increasingly diverse population, gangs and more hardened criminals.”

During his tenure, Cooke served on a number of boards and commissions including: twice elected as president of the Maryland Correctional Administrators Association, a vice chairman on the Md. Police and Correctional Training Commission, a commissioner on the Md. State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy, acting county administrator for Queen Anne’s County, board of directors for Peoples Bank of Kent County and working with other criminal justice agencies on legislative matters in Annapolis.

Warden LaMonte Cooke, of the Queen Anne’s County Detention Center, got his start in the old days when just a handful of deputies, a couple of patrol cars, and a century old jails built for wrongdoers of another era made up the Sheriff’s Departments in the Eastern Shore county. In 2008, three African-Americans served in  the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, which had twenty-two sworn officers.

Deputy LaMonte Cooke, a state corrections official, Sheriff Bartus Vickers, and Delegate Mary Roe Walkup stand in front of the Kent County Jail as the agency receives a commendation for improving operations

Deputy Lamonte Cooke, Tom Rosazza, head of the Maryland Commission of Correctional Standards, Sheriff Allan Blizzard, and Delegate Mary Roe Walkup stand in front of the Kent County Jail as the agency receives a commendation for improving operations

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Rev White of Bethel A.M.E. Urges Families to Document History

CONOWINGO, Maryland, May 20, 2014 — The concluding program observing the 150th anniversary of emancipation in Maryland paid tribute to the memory of those who sought or fought for freedom from slavery.  On this Saturday in mid-spring, spiritual and cultural leaders on the shore of the Susquehanna River in Cecil County, honored ancestors, planted a tree, and poured libations, while acclaiming the lifework of those who struggled to free themselves and the country from slavery.

Spirituals and freedom songs set the atmosphere, as the Rev. Brenda White of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church offered reflections for “Gather at the Banks.

“Rev. White’s words, containing a call for action, were inspiring.  “Not much is written and we are at a point where even those who were around in World War II are transitioning from us,” she said while urging people to record their own history and document their experiences for future generations.  “So it becomes our calling at family reunions and holiday gatherings to capture the voices of those that were before us.  We’ve got digitizing now.  Get their voices, so that their great, great, great-grandchildren will know about the times.  Ask them for their photographs.  They got them somewhere and begin to put the stories and the history together.  Get the oral history and write it down,” she urged.

Rev. White, thank you for the stirring words and for being an advocate for making sure the stories of earlier times are carried forward in time.  It is so important that we trace and record the past as time moves rapidly on.

This program was sponsored by Hosanna School Museum in Darlington and Harford Community College.  Click here to read more about the series and this event.

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1912: Will the Society Admit Women to Full Membership?

Mike Dixon:

A post shared by the Delaware Historical Society. Be sure to follow their blog, “This Morning is History,” to keep up with the latest newest from DHS.

Originally posted on This Morning is History:

In 1912, President Joseph Brown Turner raised the question of admitting women to full membership in the Society. The minutes do not record any discussion or rationale, only that the question was referred to the committee on bylaws for any necessary changes to that document.

Women had been associate members since 1895. They made an annual contribution of $1 and could attend meetings, but could not vote, hold office, or receive free copies of Society publications. In 1910, the Society had 25 associate members.

Alas, the Society did not move quickly on this issue. No changes were made in 1912…or in 1913. The matter came up again in 1914, framed this time in terms of eliminating “all distinction between women and men as members of the Society, and to admit women to active membership on the same basis as men.” The necessary changes to the bylaws were made immediately, and…

View original 74 more words

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The Archaeologial Festival at Iron Hill Explores History of Area

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A racket game is underway at the John Dickinson Mansion Booth.

We enjoyed a pleasant spring afternoon at the Iron Hill Museum’s annual archaeological Festival. The Old African-American School and the grounds were lively as an array of exhibits, demonstrations and activities filled the area.  When we arrived just after 12:00 p.m. the parking attendant remarked that there was only one spot remaining on the lot.

At the festival people were busy explaining the history of the area, and Bob Fullmer, a Revolutionary War reenactor, was one of them. Today he took on the role of a colonial brewer, and as he stoked the fire warming a boiling cooper kettle of water, the beer maker dressed in colonial attire explained the process. For moving the mash to another cooper container, he used a huge wooden ladle. On his work table there was another large pot, which helped strain the product before it was drained off to be put into kegs. Young and old alike had plenty of questions for Bob as expertly helped them understand what making beer was like centuries ago.

Elsewhere we ran into Willis Phelps, Jr., portraying Private Elbert of the United States Colored Troops. This afternoon Private James Elbert was talking about the burdens for Delaware’s African American soldiers during the Civil War. The 24-year old farmer from Polktown enlisted with C Company of the 8th United States Colored Troops in September 1863. After leaving his home just outside Delaware City, he trained at Camp William Penn and fought in many battles during the conflict.

In an engaging hour-long presentation, the audience felt as if they had been transported back through time to the Civil War as the soldier, following orders from his sergeant-major, unexpectedly arrived at Iron Hill. Along the way, the private shared stories about the fears, the courage, and the extraordinary achievement of the state’s African-American Soldiers.  This popular program was supported by the Delaware Humanities Forum.

Two colonial ladies staffed the John Dickinson Plantation booth, a very popular spot. They had plenty of active games for children so throughout the afternoon youngsters played with hoops, throwing rods, racquets, and shuttlecocks, and more.

Late in the day, James Knott, a graduate of the “Hockessin Colored School No. 107-C” talked about attending the school. It was built about 1920 and closed in 1959. After that, as the day passed quickly, it was about time for the closing act, a popular musical group. The Dog and Pony Show, interacted with the audience, especially the children, while sharing enjoyable songs to wrap up a fun-filled Sunday in May.

There were plenty of other activities too, but the event had drawn to a close.  Thank you Iron Hill Museum for an excellent afternoon and for sharing the stories of the area.  We’ll make sure this is on our calendar next year.

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The Iron Hill Museum

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Bob Fullmer brews beer

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Bob Fullmer brews beer

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Archaeological Festival at Iron Hill May 4, 2014

The Iron Hill Museum

The Iron Hill Museum

Press Release from the Iron Hill Museum

The Delaware Academy of Science and Iron Hill Museum cordially invite one and all to come to our annual Archaeology Festival, to be held on Sunday May 4th at noon at the Iron Hill Museum in Newark, Delaware.

We will once again have an array of exhibits and demonstrations explaining the history of the area, including Iron Hill itself as well as the people who have lived here over the past few thousand years, from the pre-contact tribes and Lenne Lenape, to the first European settlers, American Revolution, and all the way into the 20th century with Iron Hill School 112C built by Pierre S. DuPont.

Activities and demonstrations this year include:


-An active archaeological dig on site, where visitors can help professional archaeologists sift through soil to look for artifacts,
-A blacksmith, showing how colonial settlers would have made their tools and other metal implements,
-A brewer, demonstrating the techniques that were used to make beer, a staple of the American diet, during the colonial era,
-A living history demonstration,
-An archery range, where visitors can test their skill with a bow and arrow,
-A scavenger hunt for kids to prove themselves worthy of the title “Junior Archaeologist,”
-Pit cooking demonstrations,
-Heritage sheep and fiber arts demonstrations,
-Local Native American groups,
-Local government and community group representatives,
-Face painting,
-Vendors,
-And more!

The festival is from noon until 4:30, rain or shine, and tickets are $4 per person. All Scouts in uniform (boys and girls) and children under 4 get in free. The Museum will be open for visitors, and entry is included with the cost of admission to the festival. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to volunteer, please call the Museum at (302)368-5703. We hope to see you there!

http://www.ironhill-museum.org/

 

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