(7/20) Emmitsburg town officials voted Monday night not
to organize any celebration of the town’s founding date next year.
The date is in dispute between the town’s historical
society and older residents who celebrated the town’s bicentennial in 1957.
Instead, town officials said civic organizations should
organize some type of celebration, and then come to the town to request
financial aid when something has been put together.
‘‘I required this to go on the agenda to see if we
could get support from the town if a founding celebration" is to take place
next year," Commissioner Clifford Sweeney said. ‘‘I don’t think history should
be voted on."
In addition, town officials agreed to vote on removing
the founding date from the town seal at the Aug. 7 town meeting, leaving only
the incorporation date. The town seal now includes the town’s incorporation
date of 1825 and a founding date of 1757.
Commissioner Bill O’Neil presented other board members
with an ordinance he had drafted to that effect.
Members and supporters of the Emmitsburg Historical
Society again argued that all historical facts point to a true founding date of
1785, while some older town residents again argued that people should be
allowed to decide, and re-write history at their will, and that tradition
should trump facts.
Catoctin High School teacher Talia Bookman pointed out
why such a view is false.
‘‘We’re lucky we don’t have holes drilled in our heads
anymore when we have headaches," she said.
Town resident Catherine Forrence pointed out that the
Maryland Municipal League lists incorporation dates so far as town governments
‘‘I think that’s the only date we need to worry about,"
Historical society president Mike Hillman said the
history of the town is not the founding date being claimed by some older
residents who want a party next year.
‘‘If you want to say generally, how about just the last
55 years," he said.
produced a 1951 newspaper article listing the founding date as 1785, and two
history books corroborating 1785 as the true founding date of the town.
‘‘Let’s stop our bickering, lets get together," Sweeney
said. ‘‘So I think we all just need to get on with other things."
Commissioner Chris Staiger agreed. He asked civic
associations to step up to the plate and work together to plan a celebration
for the town next year, leaving mention of the founding date, and celebrating
another aspect of the town’s colorful history.
Hillman said last week that he had thought of a way to
compromise, by having a variety of historically-themed parties every year
leading up to the 225-year anniversary founder’s day celebration in 2010.
The Lions club has already
stated their interest in helping with the organization of such a party.
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