Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Braddock Stone

Housing for the Braddock Stone
at the Frostburg Museum,
Frostburg, Maryland


Didactic panel

The Bradock Stone, now ensconced in its new pavilion in front of the Frostburg Museum and recently dedicated on September 13, 2012 just preceding the town's bicentennial, is not only a historical object but a family object. Oh yes, we too join the long line of people of the town who claim a history moment attached to this large rather strange item!

If you can't easily read what it says in the rather poor photos I took on my most recent trip, here's what's carved into the Braddock Rock, text below. As you might be able to tell, it's been infilled with paint so as to make the reading easier.

Front: "11 miles to Ft. Cumberland, 29 MS to Capt Smyths Inn and Bridge Big, Crossing The Best Road to Redstone, Old Fort, 64 M"

Back: "Our Country's Rights We Will Defend"

It's a strange and fascinating object. Reads like an early road advertisement for Captain Smyth's Inn. Because of where it was placed long ago, it was thought that the stone marked the actual path General Braddock took in 1755 trying to oust the French from Fort Duquesne at present day Pittsburgh. However there is nothing substantive to substantiate that theory, except the proximity of where it was found in relationship to Braddock's presumed road.

The DAR, ever patriotic, looked to enshrine the stone in a pavilion similar to the one you see in the pictures above. I think I remember that their efforts took place about 100 years ago or more. They lost interest, it is said, when the inscription seemed to indicate that the stone wasn't likely to have been marking Braddock's route at all.

Local legend says that the stone was split and then was going to be used as steps to an outhouse... or... that a local stonemason grabbed it but when discovered was persuaded by the authorities to make the repair you see so evident in the photos.

Our family's connection with the stone is on the Whetstone side, that's Mom's mother's parents. They had a farm, or actually a parcel of a few acres, and the stone resided just outside of the fence defining the back yard. It was already split but not repaired when Mom played there in the 1920s. She still remembers the very sweet wild strawberries that grew at the base of the stone.

Mom likes to say that her cousin George broke the stone. George was an awful tease and one of his favorite targets was Mom, a dangerous number of years his junior. Devilish George was the most likely candidate to have been making mischief enough to break that stone. If anyone did it, it was probably George! Or so Mom liked to say;)

Mom and her cousins.
(Hey Mom, is that George on the right..
although any of these three look like they'd enjoy making
trouble for the sweet little girl in the hair bow!)

Mom's Whetstone Grandparents:
Joseph Hampton Whetstone (1858 - 1939) and
Catherine Elizabeth House Whetstone (1865 - 1947).
Mom sports a hair bow!

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