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Historical group ready to move on
 after date change

Ingrid Mezo
The Gazette

(8/16) A three-year battle to remove Emmitsburg’s questionable founding date from town documents finally ended this month and the local historical society which fought for the change is ready to move on.

The Emmitsburg Town Council voted unanimously on Aug. 7 to pass a resolution to remove the town’s founding date from the town flag and all town letterhead and other official documents, leaving just the official incorporation date.

‘‘Unfortunately, every time the ‘founding date’ discussion came about, it divided instead of united the community,” Commissioner Chris Staiger wrote in an e-mail to The Gazette on Tuesday. ‘‘Previous Councils had attempted to address the subject but the outcome still remained confused. Flags were ordered and then they were destroyed. Minutes were approved and then they were changed.”

Staiger wrote that he felt it was necessary for council to make a clear policy statement that the only ‘founding date’ officially recognized by the would be the unambiguous Incorporation Date of 1825.”

Mayor James Hoover, who no longer votes with town commissioners, agreed with the board’s decision.

‘‘I think it’s the right thing,” Hoover said Monday. ‘‘It’s the same decision that passed in 2003, and then was reversed at the very next meeting.”

Mike Hillman, president of the Emmitsburg Historical Society, which led the fight for the change, said he was relieved at the decision.

‘‘I’m glad it’s done, but I’m sad at the initial response that the truth brought about, because the truth was 100 times more exciting, interesting and fascinating than the lie that had been presented for the last 50 years,” he said. ‘‘I’m glad it’s done because now we can get on rediscovering all that had been lost. History needs to be based upon facts, not folklore.”

The battle began when Hoover asked Hillman to look into the founding date issue, just to historically certify the town had the correct information. After doing some research, Hillman discovered that the information displayed on the town’s seal was wrong.

Now that the Historical Society’s mission has been accomplished, Hillman said they can concentrate on other things.

‘‘We’re going to shift our focus back to interviewing all the World War II veterans, sadly many of which have died. We were unable to capture their stories because we were focused on addressing this issue,” Hillman said.

He said the group also plans to research the history of the Shield family, focusing on the history of the Shield farm that was recently given to the town of Emmitsburg.

The society also wants to get together with the Emmitsburg Lions Club and plan a celebration of the Tom’s Creek Hundred Revolutionary War Patriots as part of next year’s Emmitsburg Community Day.

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