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Gateway to the Mountains

George Wireman

Chapter 12: Mechanicstown Election District

The Mechanicstown or Election District No. 15, was created by the Act ,of May 27, 1852, out of parts of Creagerstown, Emmitsburg, and Hauver's districts. The Commissioners designated in the act to lay it off were Frederick White, John Eyler and Michael M. Ege. lts boundaries were set up as follows:

Beginning at the summit of the Catoctin Mountains near the furnace, and running thence to a point near the blacksmith shop of Michael Zimmerman; thence from the said shop along the public road to Thomas Metcalf's land; thence with a straight line to John R. Boller's house, including the said house and the village of Grace-ham; thence along the public road leading from Mechanicstown to the Emmitsburg cross-road; thence along the Emmitsburg road to a point where the branch known as Beaver Dam crosses said road; thence in a straight line to a point North of John A. Martin's house; thence in a northern direction to William Boller's farm; thence with the Emmitsburg road leading to Wolf's tavern, to the cross-road from Mechanicstown to Sabillasville; thence with a straight line to Harman's farm; thence with the south side of the road to the newly-cut road near Gat's farm, and thence with a straight line to the place of beginning.

It is interesting to note from the Census returns of 1880 that the population of Mechanicstown was 730 and Graceham boasted 151 citizens. The entire population of District 15 was 2,738. Today Thurmont is considered the fastest growing community in Frederick County and has a population of 3,100.

Mechanicstown Bands

Mechanicstown in the early days was interested in music and boasted a brass band, which traveled extensively, and was always in demand. From the Frederick Examiner, dated August 29, 1855, we learn that the Mechanicstown Brass Band, also known as the American Brass Band, passed through Frederick on its way to the American Mass Meeting in Loudoun County, Virginia. Members of the band stopped in front of the Frederick newspapers' office building and played some of the choicest National airs and received a very warm reception. The band was under the direction of Professor, T. S. Wireman, a distant relative of the author.

First house built in Thurmont
First house built in Thurmont

The July 3, 1873 issue of the Examiner discloses the fact that at this time Mechanicstown supported a Cornet Band, directed by John W. Sefton, T. C. Stocksdale and A. P. Beatty. Other members of the band included John F. D. Miller, E. J. Root, E flats; H. H. Radcliff, tenor; N. Albaugh, alto; J. T. Weller, N. Gaugh, basso; A. E. Webb, baritone; M. E. Leatherman, clarinet; C. E. Cassell, piccalo; W. H. Damuth, trombone; J. E. Martin and George Crouse, drums.

The instructor and leader of the Mechanicstown Cornet Band was George Ed Smith of Frederick. in listing the members of the band, the Examiner stated that these "members are subject to change, should the instructor see fit."

Thurmont High School Band around 1933

Thurmont High School Band around 1933

In the 1880's, both Graceham and Catoctin Furnace had bands and the Graceham Band continued to be active through 1895 and perhaps even longer.

By 1893 Mechanicstown had a 16-piece boys band and they were very much in demand during the summer months, playing for picnics and parades.

The regular band composed of senior citizens of the community was very active during the 1890's and rendered weekly concerts. My father, George W. Wireman, Sr., was a member of this band and I recall of him telling of the excitement and thrills on the day the Mechanicstown Band paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D. C. The band was hired to play for the parade which was sponsored by the Grand Army of the Republic, during their National Encampment held in the Nation's Capital. It was through the efforts of the G.A.R. that Memorial Day, observed in the majority of the states on May 30th, was established. It was the Willman Post No. 12 G.A.R. of Mechanicstown that started the Memorial Day observance in the community, the first one being on May 31, 1880.

In 1894, Coxey's Army, one of the most famous of the armies of unemployed, marched on Washington. A group of one hundred men started from Massillon, Ohio, led by Carl Browne, who proposed the march to Jacob S. Coxey. Although the records are not complete, it is an established fact that the local Mechanicstown Band, joined the marchers when they reached this area, and provided them with music and entertainment before they moved on to Washington.

Chapter Index | Chapter 13: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church

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