Monday, October 15, 2012

A Little Museum Packs A Big Wallop

Recently back east visiting Mom in the little Western Maryland town of Frostburg, and we thought we'd make time to go visit the Frostburg Museum. Glad we did! A visit to a local museum can really shed light on the lives of the ancestors, and possibly render even more direct information from the files.

Here's a link to the Frostburg Museum:
And here's a link to their genealogy page:
Here's the text about the holdings that might be pertinent to family history researchers:

Without following the usual procedures of those tracing family roots, the Museum has a great deal of information about families who have lived in the Frostburg area. Voting registration prior to World War I; tax assessments from 1910; a tailor's measurements from the first part of the century... items not found on the Internet.
Card files, vertical files (mostly newspaper clippings), and correspondence with family members are cross-indexed, and City maps of various vintage help to locate the houses where people lived.

This lovely small town museum is housed in an old historic school building once the home of Hill Street School. Mom attended Hill Street School because it was the closest elementary school situated just at the other end of her block. Here's waht the museum's web site says about the building:

Built in 1899, the Hill Street School was the last school in the area of a design that was fairly common at that time. Originally six rooms, a two-room and auditorium addition dates from ca. 1914. Several areas of the basement were at one time used for cafeteria, kindergarten, and meeting rooms. When it was no longer needed as a school, the building reverted to the County Commissioners, who gave it to the City; the Museum Association now holds title to it.

Looking towards Mom's childhood home,
just beyond the house with the striped awning.
Hill Street School,
now the Frostburg Museum
(Photo courtesy Frostburg Museum)

I can attest to what the museum has, and if your ancestors come from the area, it's a must do on your itinerary. Inside you'll find shelves with numerous genealogies of local families including the Trimbles and Porters, and those are ours. A long time ago Mom gave them a copy of her Whetstone family file but we forgot to check and see if they still have it. The old city maps are invaluable. And you might even find ancestors in the sales books of a grocery store! On our next visit Mom and I want to go play in these records and see what we find!

Interpretive display of a coal mine.
So many of the area's residents worked in coal mines that
this display must be popular!

Besides direct information about the genealogy of ancestors, there are so many artifacts and objects that frame the time and place in which the ancestors lived! Room after room full of the memorabilia of daily lives in small town Western Maryland are found here as well as specific objects that give history to named families. 
Ralph, our docent, asked me if the family still had the big barber chair that was in my GGF's barber shop behind the old house at 89 West Main Street. No, sad to say we don't. It was sold off years ago by I don't know who. I remember that you could probably talk one of the cousins into giving you a good spin ride in it;) It would have been great if the old barber chair had been donated. Too bad.

Mom had fun in the classroom on the second floor and found her 1936 high school class photo, and Dad's too. Aunt Betty looked for hers and found it while I found Aunt Dot's and Uncle Harolds... they were in the same class! High school sweethearts:) It was shocking to see how very small the desks were then: did we ever fit into one? Guess so.

Mom and Brother, left, look for classmates in
her high school class photo, while our docent, Ralph looks on.
Aunt Betty in her class photo.

Small museums like the Frostburg Museum must dot the county! There's one we want to visit just west of here in Garret County. That's next on our list. Imagine all the history waiting to be discovered by family historians in these local gems.

Aunt Betty donated a trunk that came over with her GGM form Wales! It's quite the story and I think that I'll save it until next time. There's a beautiful crazy quilt that goes with it too... and I have photos.

Yeah, this post is going to come in parts:)

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