For Resisting Invading Pennsylvania Liquor Agents, Sheriff Given Gold Badge Containing Diamonds

Newspaper article on the gift of solid gold badge to Sheriff Thomas J. Mogle.  source:  Cecil Democrat, Sept. 2, 1970

Newspaper article on the gift of solid gold badge to Sheriff Thomas J. Mogle. source: Cecil Democrat, Sept. 2, 1970

Despite the ups and downs of the “Pennsylvania Liquor Border War,” Sheriff Thomas J. Mogle stood his ground, corralling Keystone State Law Enforcement Officials who dared cross the Mason Dixon Line while also resisting calls from Annapolis to cease the skirmishes.  With the bitterness increasing and the disruptions in Maryland trade growing, the Sheriff sternly warned trespassing officials to highball it out of the county.  “If we are further provoked, I will as sheriff and office holder of this Constitution, form a posse and patrol the entire border of Pennsylvania and Cecil Line County Line,” the county’s top cop warned.

The firm stand of the unique Cecil County Lawman was greatly appreciated by liquor retailers near the State Line, so they didn’t forget the Sheriff when the intense primary campaign of 1970 heated up. In September,  Mogle visited the Conowingo area, knocking on doors and stopping by businesses.  One of his calls took him to the Midway Inn and there he was given a gold sheriff’s badge containing 40 diamonds.

Presented by William Webb the owner of the establishment, the businessman said it was for “representing people in the Conowingo area,” the Cecil Democrat reported. A crowd of well-wishers watched as the gold-badge was placed in Mogle’s hand.  The people “appreciated the county’s officials stand on the “Pennsylvania Liquor War,” the weekly newspaper reported.  As for the Sheriff, he said it had made his 15 years of hard work in the police field worthwhile.

The Sheriff lost the primary election that year.

He stood by you. Now he needs your support . . . A campaign advertisement for Sheriff Thomas J. Mogle.  source:  Cecil Democrat, Sept. 2, 1970

He stood by you. Now he needs your support . . . A campaign advertisement for Sheriff Thomas J. Mogle. source: Cecil Democrat, Sept. 2, 1970

Citizens Kept Informed About Lincoln Assassination, In the Age of Instant Communications

The Cecil Whig, April 22, 1865, contained complete coverage of the assassination of President Lincoln.  The Civil War era papers are available at the Historical Society of Cecil County.

The Cecil Whig, April 22, 1865, contained complete coverage of the assassination of President Lincoln. The Civil War era papers are available at the Historical Society of Cecil County.

On April 15, 1865, residents of Cecil County awoke to alarming news about the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.  On that Saturday, as the darkness of Friday night faded and people prepared to celebrate Easter, residents started to go about their early spring business.  However, as they peacefully slept, the telegraph wires across the nation crackled with disturbing messages for military commanders, police authorities, and newspaper editors.

Hours earlier, late on Good Friday Evening, Lawrence A. Gobright, the Associated Press (AP) reporter, sat alone in the AP telegraph room in Washington, D.C.  It was a slow evening.  The City was celebrating, the rebels were defeated, the Presidential Party was attending a play at Ford’s Theatre, and all the dispatches for the morning papers had been sent.

Just after 10:00 p.m., theatergoers from Ford’s Theater suddenly burst through the door, blurting out that the president had been shot.  Gobright sent out a brief flash, according to Today in Media History.  The telegraph bulletin that went to stations all along the network read:  “WASHINGTON, APRIL 14, 1865, TO THE ASSSOCIATED PRESS, THE PRESIDENT WAS SHOT IN A THEATRE TONIGHT AND PERHAPS MORTALLY WOUNDED.”

The keys clattered with urgent orders for the authorities as the manhunt went on.  About 1:30 a.m. on April 15 Secretary of War Edwin Stanton updated the wires with an official bulletin containing the essential facts for the nation:  “War Department, Washington, April 15, 1:30 a.m.  Maj. Gen Dis.  This evening about 9;30 p.m. at Ford’s Theatre, the President while sitting in his private box with Mrs. Lincoln, Mr. Harris, and Major Rathburn was shot by an assassin who suddenly entered the box and appeared behind the president. . . . The pistol ball entered the back of the President’s head and penetrated nearly through the head.  The wound is mortal.  The president has been insensible ever since it was inflicted and is now dying.”

Throughout the long night the death watch went on as the mortally wounded President struggled to live, but his breathing ceased at 7:22 p.m.  The horrible news about the assassination reached Elkton about 6 ½ o’clock Saturday morning, the Cecil Democrat reported.

Most telegraph stations, especially in the smaller towns, signed off the line in the early evening.  At the end of the shift, the operator sent the customary transmission, “Good Night.”  That alerted overnight offices in larger places that the shift was over at many points along the line.

Thus the terrible news wasn’t picked up in Elkton until the telegrapher returned for business the next morning.  But as he began his shift the receiving machine was clicking continuously with those alarming messages and word rapidly spread around town.

The entire community was shocked by the announcement and it was hard for many to realize that such a horrid deed had taken place, the Democrat added.  Across the county there were scenes of disbelief that Saturday when news of the murder of the President became more widely circulated.

Cecil County’s newspaper were weekly during that age, so the publications headlined the story with all the details the following week.  However, between the wires and special editions of the dailies, the county was kept updated about the horrifying news as the search went on for the killer.

In New Leeds, six miles north of Elkton, Judge James McCauley wrote in his diary:  “April 14 Good Friday –  Am at work digging garden – planted some kidney potatoes – Abraham Lincoln President of the U.S. was assassinated in the theater at Washington.”  He apparently went back and penned that line after he heard the news Saturday morning.

On April 19, Judge McCauley penned a note:  “This is the day of the funeral of President Lincoln, which observed in all the cities and towns and is beyond question the most generally observed of any funeral celebrated . . . It is the anniversary of the Baltimore riot of 1861.”

The age of instant communications had arrived in small towns along the northeast corridor decades earlier as the telegraph network stretched between Washington, D.C., and Boston, MA.  These wires carried the first news flash about a President’s assassination within a short time of the occurrence of the tragedy.

The Diary of Judge James McCauley.  source:  Historical Society of Cecil County.

The Diary of Judge James McCauley. source: Historical Society of Cecil County.

The Cecil Democrat carried complete coverage of the assassination of President Lincoln.  This Civil War era newspaper is available at the Historical Society of Cecil County.

The Cecil Democrat carried complete coverage of the assassination of President Lincoln. This Civil War era newspaper is available at the Historical Society of Cecil County.

Border War Flares Up Over Cheap Maryland Booze

All's quiet on the western front the sheriff reports during the border with the Pennsylvania Liquor Board.  source:  Cecil Whig, Dec. 31, 1969

All’s quiet on the western front the sheriff reports during the border war with the Pennsylvania Liquor Board. source: Cecil Whig, Dec. 31, 1969

Bitter border disputes have sometime erupted between Maryland and Pennsylvania.  The first kicked-off in the late 1600s when the precise boundary between the two colonies was unclear.  That led to a long period of conflict and a series of bloody incidents referred to as Cresap’s War.  Once the Mason Dixon Line settled that matter, those incidents faded into the past.  However, this wasn’t the last time conflict erupted on the border.  A late 20th century flare up could be called the “liquor war” and here is the story about those incidents.

Cecil County liquor stores near the Mason Dixon Line get plenty of customers from Pennsylvania, as shoppers from the Keystone State sprinted across the border to load up with cheaper booze.  Those quick runs, driven by cut-rate prices and lower taxes, caused a border war to flare anew in the 1960s as the Commonwealth’s Liquor Control Board (LCB) agents made forays in Maryland to spy on Pennsylvanians buying cases of whiskey here.  The LCB was determined to put a stop to the loss of revenue to the state store system, but Cecil County Sheriffs were just as equally determined to put a stop to the espionage.

Things got particularly heated in December 1969 as interstate trade flourished.  The invading agents, hiding off at a safe distance, were staking out Maryland retailers, watching through binoculars the comings and goings of cars.  When they spotted Pennsylvania cars loading up cases of whiskey, they radioed across the border, advising men on the other side to seize the car.

None too happy with this spying, local retailers complained to Sheriff Thomas Mogle.  The county’s top lawman was sympathetic, and issued a stern warning to the invading inspectors to “get out of Cecil County.”  The next time they returned, one of the Pennsylvania enforcement officers was put behind bars, the sheriff slapping a charge of disorderly conduct on the man.  Shortly after that in another incident, Deputies arrested four Keystone state lawmen staking out a Conowingo tavern.  Sheriff’s Capt. Virgil Greer explained to the Baltimore Sun that “they were harassing the public by sitting there and taking down license numbers.”

Nonetheless, disruptions in trade continued so the Sheriff sternly warned the trespassing officials to highball it out of the county.  The “businessmen were getting very nervous about it.  Some of them were grouping in patrols and riding in patrols in search of the   agents,” he told the Sun.  When the fourth encounter occurred in less than a month, the sheriff was ready to form a posse to protect the county’s border.  “If we are further provoked, I will as sheriff and office holder of this Constitution, form a posse and patrol the entire border of Pennsylvania and Cecil Line County Line.”

While awaiting a hearing at the jail, one agent was asked by the Whig if he planned to come back to the county again.  He replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  Asked why they chose to come in unmarked cars, another said:  “I can say nothing.”

At one point it seemed an agreement had been hammered out so things could cool off.  The LCB officers agreed to notify the sheriff with details about the stakeout, providing the date and time of the surveillance, the location to be observed, and the make and model of their vehicle.  But that agreement broke down as the LCB said the sheriff tipped off the liquor stores.

Once seven agents were arrested in a two week period, Attorney General Francis Burch tried to bring some peace to border wars.  After meeting with Mogle, he announced a cease fire, but it was an uneasy peace.  Mogle told the Cecil Whig, he was going to stick to his guns.  “it is obvious that this fellow, Mogle, is doing what he wants to,” a Pennsylvania spokesperson remarked.

With the arrests continuing into 1970 the Attorney General said he would not prosecute LCB agents, but the arrests continued in spite of the warning.  Finally Burch sent a stern letter warning that if the sheriff persisted he would have no choice but to take over the cases himself and they would be dismissed.  “We’ve been had,” the sheriff concluded.  After the Attorney General said he would not permit Maryland officials to prosecute any more cases, the trouble quietly subsided for a number of years.

But the border games flared up whenever the LCB launched an intensive campaign to monitor and arrest people transporting liquor across the line.  In the late 1970s, Cecil County was strictly enforcing a registration law, which required 30-days notice from the LCB.  One investigator complained his nets were coming up empty.  “I haven’t gotten any since registration began said Richard Feeney an LCB enforcement officer.  He used to nab two bootleggers a day in Cecil County, he told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In 1979, John F. DeWitt was sheriff as Keystone State officials stealthily prowled around Cecil County looking for Commonwealth residents heading back with trunks full of inexpensive Maryland booze.  The Pennsylvania agents were charged again, and that case made its way through the courts, DeWitt explained the merchants thought they were being staked out for a hold-up.  A former Sheriff, Edgar U. Startt, who was by this time a whiskey salesman, recalled warning a Pennsylvania agent if snuck in Maryland and was seen on the highway he would be charged with moving violations.

The Commonwealth’s attorney argued that Cecil County’s annual distilled spirit sales of $16.10 gallons a person was over fives that time of Baltimore.  “It could be explained only by bootlegging activities,” he told the judge.

Store owners were posting lookouts of their own, equipped with CB radios to keep track of the agents.  Sometimes tractor trailers were parked to prevent agents from viewing the premises.  At other places no trespassing signs were posted in the woods and almost overnight no parking signs appeared on the shoulders of the public roadways in the area of liquor stores.

When Rodney Kennedy was sheriff in 2000 Pennsylvania was so worried about its residents buying booze elsewhere that Capt. Leonard McDonald of the enforcement bureau told the Philadelphia Inquirer that they had “conducted about 60 liquor-smuggling stakeouts along the border and had made about 14 arrests.”  Cecil County was being made to suffer simply because Pennsylvania booze was too high, local outlets said.  “Cecil County is the most strict county of any with deal with, Sgt. Stephen Valencic added.  “We had to go through a lot to get in there.  But we need to keep track of the borders.”

Perhaps by 2008 the Commonwealth was growing weary of all of this.  State Rep. Robert C. Donatucci, chairman of the House Liquor Control Committee, said the smuggling law was very tough to enforce.  “It requires staking out liquor stores across the border, then stopping the lawbreakers once they crossed in Pennsylvania, and in Cecil County we have to let the police know 30 days in advance.”  Only 11 people were cited in all of 2007 for illegally importing alcohol even though the law had been on the books since the 1930s.  “Enforcement is labor intensive,” he complained.

The border wars haven’t flared up lately, perhaps because Pennsylvanians have been distracted by a debate about modernizing or privatizing the state controlled distribution system.  One of the proposals as the internal political wrangling goes on is to eliminate the distribution monopoly and let competition and the marketplace deal with the price advantage that exists for consumers in the “Free State.”

The governor will disavow any knowledge of your action, if you are captured by the Cecil County Sheriff's Office.  source:  Cecil Whig, Dec. 3, 1969

The governor will disavow any knowledge of your action, if you are captured by the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office. source: Cecil Whig, Dec. 3, 1969

An Orphanage on a Chesapeake City Hilltop Once Took Care of Dependent Children

The St. Basil's Orphanage in Chesapeake City.

The St. Basil’s Orphanage in Chesapeake City.

On an overcast Friday afternoon in mid-October as rain was spreading into Cecil County, I paused on the top of “Sister’s Hill” in North Chesapeake City, contemplating the history of an orphanage that for much of the 20th century took care of dependent children.  Here is what I have been able to dig up thus far, but I plan to look more deeply into the history of the institution as there isn’t much readily available written material.

———–

The Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great (O.S.B.M), a Ukrainian Greek Catholic order, established a convent in the United States in 1911 after the Rev. Bishop Soter Ortynsky, O.S.B.M., the Bishop of the Diocese, requested the sisters.  The European nuns arrived in Philadelphia to carry on their mission, the work of teaching and caring for dependent children.

Soon after this, the sisters established an orphanage on a hilltop on a farm on the northern edge of Chesapeake City.  Ukrainians of the Delaware Valley,” an Arcadia Book by Alexander Lushnycky, has a photo of the original group of children at Chesapeake City, snapped during the summer of 1914.  In the early days, according to Lushnycky, only preschool children lived there and in the summer boys from the Philadelphia home spent the farming season in Cecil County, working and learning the trade.

The St. Basil Orphanage, alongside the C & D Canal, was caring for children between one and six years old and there were six youngsters on the farm, in 1933 according to the Census Bureau.  The Philadelphia home had seventy children, between the age of four and sixteen, according to the same source.

Today the property is vacant, the last of the aging sisters having closed up the institution.  I remember two elderly nuns still living there in the late 1970s.

More photos on the Facebook page for Delmarva History

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.741761699228508.1073741907.559457044125642&type=1

General Jones and the Suffragettes Occupy Cecil County

Suffragist Elizabeth Freeman of the New York Suffrage Association on her way to join the March 3, 1913 suffrage march in Washington. D. C.  Source:  Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2005012536/

Suffragist Elizabeth Freeman of the New York Suffrage Association on her way to join the March 3, 1913 suffrage march in Washington. D. C. Source: Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2005012536/

After a more than 60 year struggle to give women the right to vote, things were coming to a head during the second decade of the 20th century.   The suffragists had won battles in a number of states, and were slowly converting indecisive politicians.  But to keep pressure on the holdouts, the more radical activists descended on Washington, D.C. for a massive march, picketing, and clever publicity stunts.

The “Woman Suffrage Procession” called for the rally on March 3, 1913, the day before the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson.  It was “a protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded” the program stated, and there were up to 8,000 supporters stepping off on Pennsylvania Avenue, while hundreds of thousands watched the spectacle.

As the day neared for the important national push, the suffragists advanced on the city on the Potomac from every direction.  Across the northern Chesapeake, attractively decorated with their fine hats and yellow roses, they came from the cities of the northeast.

General Rosalie G. Jones, an Oyster Bay socialite, and her army pushed past the Mason Dixon Line on February 20, 1913, having started in New York.  In the band of merry hikers was Jerry, “the Democratic donkey,” a little grey burro, driven by Jennie Geist of New York.  He pulled a little two-wheeled cart as  the “Army of the Hudson” advanced on the capital.   Jerry “was in the picture as prominent as the general,” the Baltimore Sun informed readers.

Taylor W. McKenney of Elkton met the advance guard at the border with a big automobile to offer a lift.  The genuine hikers declined, but the “war correspondents” climbed on board, so he carried them to Elkton.  While the army trudged on to the inspiring strains of “the suffragette is at thy door, Maryland, My Maryland,” the next citizen they met was Union veteran and Judge of the Orphans Court, Thomas S. Miller.  He was in his buggy and cheered as they passed.

At the town limits, a number of people, some of whom were sympathetic to “equal suffrage and some of whom were not” met the suffragists.  In the crowd was Mary A. Jamar, president of the Cecil County Equal Suffrage League, Ella C. Levis secretary, Mrs. R. C. Levis, president of the Woman’s Club, and Dr. H. Arthur Mitchell, the mayor, the Sun reported.

But some notables weren’t there.  William. T. Warburton, Republican floor leader of the House of Delegates, who defeated the suffrage bill at the last session of the legislature, was one.  Briefed on this matter General Jones,  “as tired as she was,” paid an “official visit to his home.”   Mr. Warburton was away, and is being “accused of cowardice,” the Sun said.  “The general will try again before leaving in the morning.  All that she wishes is a little argument with Mr. Warburton, but he is a shy man tonight,” the reporter added.   Emerson Crothers, a Democrat, was “also not in evidence.”

Until Newark the marchers had been preceded by a “little yellow wagon,” from which Elizabeth Freeman, the English militant, made speeches for the cause.  Fortunately for Warburton, Freeman, stayed behind with the gospel wagon in Newark, a reporter remarked.  “She was trying to convert the Delaware college cadets.”

Lots of folks lined the street and by the time the hikers reached the Howard House a large, curious crowd was waiting outside.  The General seized the opportunity, speaking from the automobile on behalf of votes for women.

During the evening in the county seat a public meeting was held at the Mechanics Hall, and an amusing incident occurred there.  Having invited questions, one boy took issue with Corporal Klatschken’s strong argument for extending the franchise.  He didn’t think women should vote.  Asked if he thought women ought to be educated, he replied “yes, in a way.”  Asked if he went to school he said yes, while also replying affirmatively to the query about whether girls attended the school.  “Who’s the head of your class, a boy or girl?” inquired the corporal.  A girl came the reluctant answer.  “Are there any other questions?  This young man’s argument has fallen.  A girl’s at the head of the class,” the speaker concluded.

The Red Men’s Lodge was holding its 17th anniversary banquet at the Felton House that evening.  Thus some of the army made an impromptu call, explaining to the group the principles of the equal suffrage cause.

After an overnight stay at the Howard Hotel, they briefly occupied North East.  The town newspaper wondered that if this “little band of women walkers” could create so much excitement, interest, and enthusiasms, what would happen in political circles when that number of women was multiplied by several million, once they got the vote?  That was the question on the minds of politicians, too.

At Hotel Cecil, the party of about 40 tarried an hour for rest and lunch.  Speeches made from the porch by Martha Klatschen and Elizabeth Freeman were frequently interrupted by applause.  Half of North East turned out to see the band and business was at a standstill, the Cecil Star observed.

Continuing on the pilgrimage, the suffrage banner still proudly flying as the target grew ever closer, they trooped through Charlestown.  There “Bayard Black mounted his gramophone on the front porch.  As General Jones appeared Mr. Black started the record,” Maryland My Maryland.”  At Principio Furnace, there was waving of yellow banners and the men left their work, coming out to the roadside to greet the ladies.

At Perryville they were met by the Bayside Brass Band and a large delegation of citizens from Havre de Grace escorted the hikers across the bridge, where they were “greeted by half the town.”  Completely “tired out and foot sore,” they “were ready to give their endorsement to the general verdict that the worst piece of public road in the United States was between Perryville and Elkton,” the Havre de grace paper reported

They were growing closer to their objective, a show of strength and solidarity with the first massive national civil rights parade in the nation’s capital

Continued – In Harford County

Suffragists picketing in front of the White House.  source:  Library of Congress http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/aug28.html

Suffragists picketing in front of the White House. source: Library of Congress http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/aug28.html

General Jones marching through Newark, NJ.  The general is marching behind the automobile.  source:  Library of Congress.

General Jones marching through Newark, NJ. The general is marching behind the automobile. source: Library of Congress.

In Historic Election in Rising Sun, Women Vote for the First Time in Cecil County

A ballot box from Carroll County, MD. used in 1900.  source:  Maryland State Archives.
A ballot box from Carroll County, MD. used in 1900. source: Maryland State Archives.

 In an era when women across the nation crusaded to gain voting rights, Rising Sun led the way locally in 1916, allowing ladies to cast ballots in a county election for the first time in Cecil’s history, the Midland Journal reported.

The question that faced taxpayers heading to the polls was whether the town board could refinance a $16,000 debt with the issuance of 20-year bonds.  These instruments would replace short-term loans, which paid for the waterworks installed two years earlier, sidewalks already laid, and apparatus for fire protection already purchased.

Short term notes carried this public debt, so the issuance would not increase the tax rate, the town commissioners assured residents.  In fact, lower interest rates would give the municipality a way to minimize cash outlays, giving the budget a bonus savings of $140 a year, if the voters approved.

This was a “good practical business proposition, and one which those who have the interest of our town at heart” should endorse the town newspaper, the Midland Journal,  editorialized.  This savings was “an item of no small consideration.”

The Legislature’s authorized all municipal taxpayers of legal age to vote on the question, which was decided favorably.  Seventy-four voters approved, while two opposed the matter.  The town’s newspaper editor said he didn’t know if the increased franchise affected the results, but the near unanimous count suggests that practically all the citizens favored the action.

This happened as Maryland and national women’s suffrage associations waged campaigns for the franchise.  It was unsuccessful in Maryland, the lawmakers failing to amend the state constitution or to approve the 19th amendment.  But on August 26, 1920, the position of Maryland politicians was irrelevant, after a sufficient number of states ratified the  amendment, giving all women the right to vote.

As ladies across the country struggled with the national campaign, Rising Sun had held a historic vote, allowing women to go to the polls four years before the ratification of the 19th amendment created a more universal franchise.  The presidential election of 1920, where Warren G. Harding, Republican, and James M. Cox, Democrat, were the nominees, was the first time most female voters in Cecil County and the nation exercised the power of the ballot box.  It was old news by that time in the northern Cecil County town.

A financial statement of the Commissioners of Rising Sun, MD., 1908

A financial statement of the Commissioners of Rising Sun, MD., 1908

rising sun 991as

The Rising Sun Town Hall

 

Remembering a Rising Sun Sailor Lost on the USS Battleship Maine

Cecil Whig Story and sketch of John A. Kay.  source:  Cecil Whig, February 18, 1898

Cecil Whig Story and sketch of John A. Kay. source: Cecil Whig, February 18, 1898

The Battleship Maine steamed from Key West, Florida to Havana on January 24, 1898, arriving in the Cuban harbor the next day.  Orders took her there as the United States wanted to show the flag and protect interest since a struggle for independence from Spain was rippling across the country, resulting in the spread of urban violence.

One of the crew members, John A. Kay, was from Cecil County.  The 24-year-old Rising Sun man had joined the Navy as an assistant machinist on the Maine in August 1895.  His enlistment was scheduled to expire in August, when it was anticipated that he would return home.  He was the son of Alexander B. Kay.

In Havana, one evening, a sudden explosion ripped through the calm of the tropical darkness on February 15, 1898, sending panicked residents streaming toward the waterfront to see what had happened.  There they saw the big U.S.  warship sinking quickly. the blast rocking the anchored vessel while ripping apart a portion of the thick, steel hull.   About 268 of the 347 crew members perished, ten of them from Maryland.

When the early train chugged into Rising Sun the next morning, Rising Sun residents received the first word about the ill-fated battleship in the headlines of the city papers.  On the same train was a letter from young Kay to his parents, the Cecil Star reported.

Residents anxiously waited for the arrival of subsequent editions, hoping for better news from Cuba.  But it never came for in  about a week Navy Secretary John Davis Long telegraphed the family, reporting that “the body . . .  . . . was recovered and identified.  It was interred at Havana with the other unfortunate victims.”

When the Brookview Cemetery Company met in May, they voted to donate a double lot for the erection of “an imposing monument in memory of the victim of Spanish treachery.”  The Kay Monument Association, headed by Hanson H. Haines, the President of the Rising Sun National Bank, was also formed to raise funds for the dead sailor.

HIs father, A. B. Kay, wrote to express his gratitude.  “If the people of Cecil County erect a monument in the memory of my dear son who lost his life for the country they shall have my heartfelt gratitude.  . . . I admire the situation of your beautiful cemetery and it will grow more beautiful  in my sight should such a monument be erected there.”

The mission was accomplished, and on Independence Day 1900 a crowd of several hundred people gathered on the town square in Rising Sun for the dedication.  Headed by the Nottingham PA Cornet Band, the musicians escorted the townspeople marching out to the hilltop burial ground.  Family members, the Daughters of Liberty, Garfield G.A.R. Post, and the Harmony Lodge marched behind the musicians, on the sweltering Maryland day.

It was an inspiring ceremony with music and speeches, newspapers reported.   Mr. Haines presented the monument to the family in a speech, remembering the young man who lost his life serving the nation.  The Rev. David E. Shaw, of the West Nottingham Presbyterians Church accepted the monument for the family, while one of his sisters unveiled the memorial.

The monument was quarried and finished by the Pennsylvania Marble and Granite Company of West Grove, PA.  “A handsome bound book inscribed with the names of the donors was placed in the chapel,” the Midland Journal reported.

Today the white marble monument standing 16-1/2 feet high continues to remind visitors to the Brookview Cemetery of this loss so long ago.  It is inscribed with:  “In memory of John A. Kay, machinist, who was lost with the United States Battleship Maine in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898.  Erected by the citizens of Cecil and nearby counties as a tribute to his heroism.”

Click here for additional images from Brookview Cemetery

Crew members on the Battleship Maine in 1896.  Source:  Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/det.4a14368/?co=det

Crew members on the Battleship Maine in 1896. Source: Library of Congress
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/det.4a14368/?co=det

 

The John A. Kay Memorial at Brookview Cemetery in Rising Sun

The John A. Kay Memorial at Brookview Cemetery in Rising Sun