Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Junkyard

To appreciate this place, you have to be able to get a sense of its size, considering it sits along an old country road outside of Taneytown. I the photo to the right (best seen at larger size by clicking on it), the cars actually stretch from before the old mill on the right to quite a ways beyond the bran all the way on the left. The areas in between the buildings are jam-packed with rusted old cars and it's impossible to see from the road just how far back the piles of old junkers goes. From the road, I could see dozens.

In among the truly awful are a few gems however, such as this classic old Hudson. Too bad the body is in two pieces! The contrast between the emblem and the completely rusted grill makes for an interesting picture.

It's rather amusing to see how many different types of cars are in this lot - everything from old classics to sports cars and everything in between. I did have to laugh when I noticed the sign along the road though. Would anyone really notice if someone dumped some more junk here?

But my favorite from this morning's trip is this one of the front side of the old mill. See if you see what I see in this picture.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Snallygaster Sightings

Every few years, someone reports a sighting of this creature, though the descriptions are often very different. Here's one of the earlier ones, written with tongue firmly in cheek:

Frederic, The News, July 25, 1934

Snallygaster Story Is Revived At Middletown

Baltimore, July 23

Excessive heat of the current summer, it is feared by many residents of Middletown, Md., is hatching snallygaster eggs with loud and startling reports.

A dispatch from Middletown states: "Residents of Pleasant Walk, in the northern section of Middletown Valley, have been much excited during the past week over the identity of a large, strange bird which was shot and killed by Edward Lewis.

"Some of the persons who saw the bird expressed the belief that it is the offspring of the dreaded snallygaster which appeared in this section in November , 1932, despite the fact that scientists claim it requires from twenty to twenty-five years for a snallygaster egg to hatch. Those who believe that the young monster is a small snallygaster claim that the unusual heat of the present summer caused one of the eggs to hatch prematurely.

"According to Mr. Lewis, he had been missing chickens from his flock for some time and kept a watch out for the bird, which was four and one-half feet tall and measured six feet from tip to tip of wing. Its bill was four inches long and the claws at least four inches in length. The bird had speckled feathers.

"Mr. Lewis also stated that even after the bird had been shot and badly wounded, it made an attempt to attack one of his children, and it was necessary to fire a second shot to save the child from the clutches of the monster."

The snallygaster which terrified the Middletown Valley in November 1932 met its end when, attracted by the fumes arising from a 2500-gallon illicit liquor vat in the Frog Hollow section of Washington County, it lost control of its wings and dropped into the mash.

Prohibition agents who raided the still a few days after the accident occurred reported finding the monster in cold death. The mash had eaten practically all the flesh from the beast, only the skeleton remaining.

It now appears, however, that the monster laid several eggs before its fall. And it is believed in some quarters that the exceptionally warm weather of the past two months has caused of these eggs to hatch about twenty years ahead of its time.

When last seen alive in November 1932, the senior snallygaster was wearing water-wings and riding a bicycle, giving vent to strange cries as it pedaled its way over mountain roads.

Strange or Not?

Why does the stone in the middle show virtually no sign of wear, compared to the ones on either side of it? All three are from the mid 1800's and the one in the middle is actually older than the other two.

It's actually not really a mystery as the one in the middle was carved by Boss Hammond from a very tightly-grained black stone that is similar to slate, and as a result, all of the stones he carved have stood up very well to the ravages of time. Sebastian "Boss" Hammond was a slave who purchased his freedom one gravestone at a time, the majority of his stones found in the area around New Windsor in Carroll County. He left no signature on his work, but administration records in Carroll County show the executors of several estates paying him between $11 and $21 for grave markers. This particular one is found in the private cemetery of the Cassell family out side of Westminster.

Tracking Old Stories

Here's an interesting old story from the 30's:

From The Democratic Advocate (Westminster), Nov. 23, 1934.

George Miller Held For Arson

Fires Barn of Norman Miller, Near Union Mills---Feared Half-Sister Would "Bewitch" Him--Denies He Confessed To Starting Blaze--Sentence Not Passed.

George Miller, 18 year old farm youth who signed a statement that he was driven to burning his cousin's barn by fear of his half-sister's threats to "bewitch" him, Tuesday was convicted of arson in the Carroll County Circuit Court. The jury found Miller guilty despite his repudiation of the confession, which he admitted signing. "I was scared," was his explanation of the confession when he took the stand.

The court deferred sentence of the youth and sent him back to jail.

Miller was arrested October 4 on a charge of burning the barn of Norman Miller, his cousin, near Union Mills. At that time, in the presence of State's Attorney Theodore F. Brown and Sheriff Ray Yohn, he admitted the crime, saying he set the barn afire because his half-sister, Mrs. Edgar Cronister, had ordered him to and said she would bewitch him if he did not obey. She already had bewitched some horses in the neighborhood, he said.

"Do you believe in witchcraft?" he was asked.

"When you have been taught that ever since you were a baby you can't help but believe it," was the answer in the signed confession.

The youth explained in the statement that Mrs. Cronister was angry with Norman Miller because her husband had been calling on their daughter. She predicted that either their home or their barn would burn as result of these visits, said Miller. Then she sent him to start the fire.

Mrs. Cronister, a short dark woman with piercing eyes, also was arrested and charged with "counseling arson." She took the stand in the trial of Miller and flatly denied any threats.

The confession was introduced as evidence by Sheriff Yohn. The boy not only told the prosecutor about his fear of his sister's supernatural power but also, when taken back to jail, he repeated it before a stenographer and signed the statement, the Sheriff said. The officer thought there was little doubt that Miller was "scared," as he had said, but witches, not officers, seemed to be the subject of his fear.

Miller being the State's chief witness against his half-sister, and having denied the truth of his statement about her threats, Brown moved the case against her to the "stet" docket and she was allowed to return home to her husband and four children.

What makes a story like this so interesting is the awareness that there is usually more to the story than meets the eye. In this case, though Miller later denied his original confession, a little background research does turn up some rather interesting additional items that flesh out more about the people involved.

Another article about this fire gave Mrs. Cronister's first name as Rosie, a bit of info that made tying in more of the family information much easier. As it turns out, Edgar Chronister (note the spelling) had a bit of trouble with the law from time to time. For example, in the fall of 1929, Edgar was arrested for "illegal possession of intoxicating liquor", after a local raid turned up several moonshiners int he area, including Edgar's father , John. Problems with moonshine may have led to other problems as well as the following story shows Edgar in trouble again:

New Oxford Item, 1/15/1931


Edgar Chronister, Mt. Pleasant township, was arrested Friday morning by Deputy Sheriff Lewis W. Wagaman on charges of assault and battery and on-support. Information was made by his wife, Rosie Chronister, Mt. Pleasant township.

Chronister was taken before Justice of the Peace S. J. Staub, Bonneauville, where he waived a hearing and was committed

to the Adams county jail in default of $700 bail.

Monday, March 26, 2007

An Odd Old News Article

Two Mormon elders named James and Maxwell, who have been proselytizing in Washington and Holmes counties, in Florida, were whipped by the residents and driven into a swamp, where it is believed they perished.

Reported May 15, 1890 Hagerstown | The Herald And Torch Light

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Anyone Missing Their Cauldron?

Monday, March 5, 2007 9:02 AM EST
By Danée Attebury

A human skull in a black cauldron as well as other unusual items that may have been part of a religious ritual were uncovered by police Thursday in Conowingo.

Several local residents discovered the site while walking through a wooded area near the 500 block of Belle Manor Road at about 2 p.m. They called Maryland State Police, said Detective Sgt. Steve Seipp.

The skull was inside one of two black cauldrons at the scene. Police also found two human thigh bones, a plastic skull, animal jaw bones, turtle shells, feathers, purple and red cloth, toy handcuffs, crosses and a small statue resembling a totem pole, Seipp said.

“This is the first time I’ve seen anything like this,” he said.


Update (07/01/2008): In related news, the author of this blog is not the same person who wrote the article above, despite what a bunch of posters on a beauty discussion board seem to think. The article was posted because it fits in with the topics covered on this blog. The author of this blog is also not the author of the Bashville blog - the template is a common one and can be used by anyone with a Blogger acount. And, finally, the author of this blog does not post on either the beauty bash board or on Makeup Alley. but is getting quite a chuckle watching the antics.