Milford Museum Opens New Exhibit: Dry Spell: The Prohibition Experience in Delaware

The Milford Historical Society.
The Milford Historical Society.

 The rise of the temperance movement during the early twentieth-century popularized the belief that alcohol was the major cause of most personal and social problems.  Prohibition in the United States was designed to reduce drinking by eliminating the businesses that manufactured, distributed and sold alcoholic beverages.  Visit the Milford Museum to learn how Milford was involved with the prohibition movement, and to see how the brewing industry has changed today.  The exhibit opens at the Milford Museum on Tuesday January 20, 2015 and run through November.

The Milford Museum is open 10am – 3:30pm Tuesday through Saturday, and 1pm – 3:30pm on Sunday.

Located at 121 S. Walnut Street, Milford, DE, they are closed on Mondays and Holidays.

Admission is FREE.  Please call (302) 424-1080 for more information or to schedule a group tour,

Milton Museum opens new exhibit:  Dry Spell:  The Prohibition Experience in Milford.

Milton Museum opens new exhibit: Dry Spell: The Prohibition Experience in Milford.


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In the Composing Room at a Wilmington Newspaper, the Every Evening.

The composing room of the Journal Every Evening, a Wilmington Delaware newspaper, in September 1905.  Source:  personal collection.

The composing room of the Every Evening, a Wilmington Delaware newspaper, in September 1905. Source: personal collection.

Since Delmarva’s old newspapers are priceless sources for local and family history research, I have always had an interest in the history of these publications.  As a result, I was always on the lookout for photographs of the editors, newsrooms, print shops, and  related images.

Here are two of the composing room of the Every Evening, a Wilmington, Delaware newspaper, from September 1905.

Wilmington had lively competition in the newspaper business, readers having lots of choice, particularly in the afternoon, as there were a number of broadsheets.  Over time these papers merged, the last afternoon product coming off the presses when the Evening Journal ceased publication in April 1989.  Here is a link to a little more history on the Wilmington dailies.

The composing room of a Wilmington newspaper, the Journal Every Evening, in September 1905.  source:  personal collection.

The composing room of a Wilmington newspaper, the Every Evening, in September 1905. source: personal collection.

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Probate Records Available Online for Allegany, Baltimore City, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Garrett, Kent, Prince Georges, Queen Anne’s, Somerset & Wicomico

1850 will of Levin Woolford of Somerset County.  source:

1850 will of Levin Woolford of Somerset County. source:

Wills and other probate records, important evidentiary sources for anyone searching for clues related to family and local history, are available online for many counties in Maryland.  We shared a post about the Maryland probate records online from FamilySearch several years ago, but since these records continue growing, we are updating the post.

  • FamilySearch, a nonprofit family history organization, has the Maryland, Probate Estate and Guardian Ship Files, 1796-1940. The name index and images from the Register of Wills office in several counties is available online in this records group. Currently, the following jurisdictions are represented: Allegany (1779-1946), Baltimore City (1922-1941), Calvert (1882-1940), Caroline (1838-1940), Cecil (1851-1940), Garrett (1873-1946), Kent (1749-1940), Prince George’s (1796-1940), and Queen Anne’s (1833-1940), Somerset (1789-1946), Wicomico (1868-1940).
  • The Maryland Office of the Register of Wills maintains the online estate search index. A State of Maryland product, it provides public access to information from estate records maintained by the county Register of Wills. The data range varies from county to county and this product is only an index. In jurisdictions such as Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s the index appears to go back to the first entries. Since this is only an index, I use it to find a date of death or a date of the filing of the estate.   Online patrons may order copies of the documents for a fee.

FamilySearch, the free resource, provides genealogists and others with a vast array of records. But to access the actual documents, in most cases (including wills) you must register for a free account. Be sure to do that as it opens up valuable records as you dig into the past. also has a number of streaming shows to help you understand how to do genealogical research.   In one of the segments, there is a show on learning about the kinds of records that are generated by the probate process and the interesting details found in the wills. The next time you are undertaking a family history research project, check out these powerful collections.

vickers probate  benjamin 1835

Part of the probate file for Benjamin Vickers in 1835. Source: From the Kent County register of wills via

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Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware Examines Salem County NJ Interpretive Program

The grave of Sgt. Edward Richardson, USCT, Woodstown, NJ

The grave of Sgt. Edward Richardson, USCT, Woodstown, NJ

The Underground Railroad Coalition of Delaware is hosting a talk by Jim Turk about a fabulous Underground Railroad interpretive program in Salem County, NJ. The program takes places at the New Castle Public Library, 424 Delaware Street on Monday, January 26, 105 at 6:30 p.m.

The Salem County product, “7 Steps to Freedom.” interprets the Underground Railroad utilizing mobile technology.  It is a production of the Salem County Cultural & Heritage Commission in partnership with the Foundation for New Jersey Public Broadcasting.

The event is free and open to the public.


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Geology of the Lower Susquehanna River Examined in Archeological Society Talk

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Along the Susquehanna in winter. The Archeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake will examine the geology of the river in a talk at the organization’s January meeting.

Archeological Society of the Northern Chesapeake (ASNC) Program

Date: Wednesday, 14, January 2015

Time: Light refreshments at 6:30 pm, speaker program at 7:15

Location: Council Chamber, City Hall, 711 Pennington Ave., Havre de Grace,   MD. This is located east of the Police Station at the corner of Juniata St.

Program. “Geology of the Lower Susquehanna River”. Jeri Jones, Jones Geological Services.

Abstract/Preview: This Power Point presentation will cover the rock types, minerals and fossils found in the area of the lower Susquehanna River and upper Chesapeake Bay. Each rock has a story to tell; a fascinating tale of the geologic history of how our landscape was born and shaped. Jeri will describe and explain the two continental breakups, several continental collisions and, answer such questions as “Were there volcanoes in this area?” and “How old is the Susquehanna River?”  For anyone interested in the geological history of the Susquehanna River and upper Chesapeake Bay Jeri Jones is the man to talk to; he conducts classes at Penn State-York, is on the faculty of Messiah College in Grantham, PA and has authored four books and narrated a geologic education video series. Jeri will bring his latest book on CD, “Time Walk”, the geologic history of Lancaster, York and Adams Counties.

Public is invited. Free: no charge nor donation requested.

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Harford County Public Library Makes the Past More Accessible for Genealogists & Local History Researchers

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At the Harford County Public Library, a new state-of-the-art Image Data ScanPro 2000 makes it easy to ready the county, the Aegis.

I did some fieldwork in Bel Air last week, and that investigation took me to the Harford County Public Library (HCPL).   Over the decades, I have used this branch many times to access research materials, such as newspapers on microfilm and resources in the local history room.  These include a long run of the Aegis, the Baltimore Sun starting in 1959, and a number of helpful materials in the local history room.

This is a fine Harford County agency, which has always provided excellent service.  So I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that they had replaced a cranky, decades old analog microfilm reader with a state-of-the-art device.  The aging analog machine was in constant use by genealogist, local history researchers and curious types.

HCPL unveiled the new digital microfilm reader/scanner, sometime during the past year.  It doesn’t look anything like the old clunky ones most researchers have used somewhere.  It consists of a computer, image management software, a small desktop scanner, and a large horizontal monitor, which allows you to see the full-page.

It not only reads and prints the microfilm, but allows for extensive image manipulation and creation of PDFs and JPGS, which you may save to a flash drive.  You may also enhance the image digitally, an important addition as most of us are familiar with the eye strain created by trying to read film that is too light or too dark.

The new unit makes the data collection process much easier, and it is a user-friendly machine.  Without any instruction I was effortlessly using it and acquiring the evidence I needed for my study.  There are a number of models of the digitally units in the marketplace, and this one was easy to use so I could speed through the reading and image manipulation.

Since many titles were published in Harford County over the centuries, there are literally hundreds of rolls of microfilm.  Researchers are going to be using this tired 1950s era analog technology for a long time as archives and special collections institutions transition to the next generation products.  These state-of-the-art readers bridge the gap as our heritage materials become more widely available in special online repositories.

More broadly, there is good news on the horizon as the virtual research revolution continues.  The University of Maryland libraries are working to have newspapers made available online.  In the upcoming year, there are plans to have the Aegis (Bel Air), the Cecil Whig (Elkton), the Banner (Cambridge) and other rural Maryland newspapers made available on the Library of Congress website.  Already some Western Maryland and Baltimore serials are there.

But this work takes time and each county has many titles, the various serials all being important to the study of our past.  Meanwhile Harford County Public Library has taken an important step, helping patrons with family or local history bridge the gap as the research revolution advances.

Other helpful locations for working with Harford County newspapers include:

Historical Society of Harford County – The Society  has the largest collection of county newspapers available to researchers.  According to the Maryland Archives, weeklies were published in Aberdeen, Abingdon, Bel Air Darlington, Havre de Grace and Joppa and many of those titles are available at the Society, either on film or in bound volumes of broadsheets.  You should check with the Society for details on exact inventory and availability.

Aberdeen Room Archives & Museum – One of the major strengths is the newspaper collection. Bound volumes of the “Harford Democrat and Aberdeen Enterprise” (1919 to 1986) are available and patrons may take photographs of the pages.

Historical Society of Cecil County – The Havre de Grace Republican is available on microfilm from 1868 to 1946.

A page of the Aegis from the 1920s is readable on the screen.

A page of the Aegis from the 1920s is readable on the screen.

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Remembering a Bel Air Police Officer Who Died 94 Years Ago While Protecting the Community

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The Gettysburg Times, June 20, 1920, reports on the injured officer.

Occasionally while researching some criminal justice history matter I find a hint in old records about a long forgotten, undocumented fallen police officer.  When that happens, I pick up the evidentiary fragments and trace the trial back through time to make sure the officer’s ultimate sacrifice isn’t forgotten in the mist of time.

Over the decades I have found officers in Wilmington, Clayton, and Crisfield who fell in the line of duty, but were never listed on national, state, or local memorials or remembered in their community.  When the tragic occurrence is pointed out and the facts around the incident have been gathered, an officer or retiree from the department usually picks it up from there, making sure the hero is honored and the sacrifice is remembered by the agency and the community.

A few months ago while working on an investigation, I happened across some records about a Bel Air, MD police officer falling in the line of duty in 1920.  So today I picked up those fading traces, doing some fieldwork in Harford County.

Here is the narrative on this tragic occurrence:

bel air 093ar

Bel Air Town Minutes for 1920. Source: Town of Bel Air

A group of rowdies were making “life miserable for Bel Air’s quieter citizens by bombarding the town with torpedoes at all hours of the day and night” in the summer of 1920, according to the Aegis.  These wayward types had grown so daring as to toss firecrackers beneath the feet of ladies, causing them to stay clear of downtown streets.  All week-long these “hoodlums” had been making life difficult “for the nervous and scaring horses by exploding the torpedoes as an advanced celebration of the Fourth of July,” the Gettysburg Times remarked.

On Saturday night the racket in the business section was worse than ever so the town officer, Bailiff George Oliver Noonan, prepared to crackdown and bring a halt to the booming blasts of high-powered firecrackers.  But things reached a climax that weekend as he butted heads with the ruffians.

The disruptive gang had purchased“ a generous supply of torpedoes,” and were actively using them when the officer confronted the rowdies on June 26.  When he warned them to stop igniting firecrackers, someone lit the fuse on one and dashed it down at his feet.  So he “divested some of the boys of their fireworks,” placing the torpedoes in his pocket.   But at least one of the revelers wasn’t happy with that and so Bailiff Noonan arrested Billie Trundle.  Trundle resisted and in the scuffle, the officer was either “tripped or thrown heavily to the ground,” causing the torpedoes to explode with terrible force, the Midland Journal reported.

His clothing was torn to shreds and the officer was seriously burned and bruised.  He stumbled into Richardson’s pharmacy where Dr. Charles Richardson determined that his injuries were serious.  By Sunday he was failing, and a consulting physician, Dr. Charles Bagley, ordered immediate admission to the Church Home and Infirmary in Baltimore.  In the hospital he steadily grew worse, until Monday night when death occurred (June 28, 1920).

Mr. Noonan was 34 years of age and died “from injuries sustained while making an arrest.” newspapers reported.  He was survived by a widow, formerly Miss Lulua Carr.  Funeral services were held at his residence and interment was in the Quaker Cemetery at Broad Creek. He had been bailiff for several years and was regarded as an excellent and hardworking officer, the Gettysburg Times reported.

At a meeting of the Bel Air Town Council on June 30, 1920, the town took action to replace their loyal and dedicated officer, the minutes reading:  “Mr. Paul H. Carroll was appointed bailiff to succeed Oliver Noonan, deceased.”   At the next meeting, Mr. Carroll declined the position and Samuel S. James was appointed Bailiff.


George Oliver Noonan’s World War I Draft Registration card notes that his occupation was Bailiff for the Town of Bel Air.

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