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Life in Emmitsburg in the mid 1800's

Mr. John F. Storm Remembers his Old Swimming Hole

[Originally published in March 27th 1908 in the Emmitsburg Chronicle]

"Some very kind friend sent me two copies of your paper of the 7th and 14th issues, February last, in which is an article "Chronicles of Emmitsburg, Interesting Facts about Early Times," by Mrs. Ester Barry. These reminiscences were read with much pleasure, and the idea occurred to me that by not being a subscriber to your paper, I was losing much interesting news of the place and people where I was born. Enclosed please find a year’s subscription for which kindly mail the Chronicle to the address of the writer.

On the 6th day of August 1845, I was born in Emmitsburg, Md., and from that date to this, I have felt exceedingly proud of that distinction. Not withstanding the fact that I have been removed from that section permanently, since the year 1857, I have made it my business to keep in touch with the Marylanders in general, and those of Emmitsburg in particular. My efforts along these lines have not been as extensive as I would have liked them to have been, owing to business cares, and I believe that the best source of information will be through the columns of your paper.

In 1904 I had the pleasure of spending two or three days in Emmitsburg, and would like to have spent more time, business necessities compelled me to cut my visit short. I found during that visit, that the dear old town had not changed much. I recognized nearly all of the old landmarks, but missed the favorite haunt of the boys, namely, the Old Town Pump. It is too bad that villages generally, in modernizing themselves, do not preserve the old town pumps. Thank Heaven, when I went to Tom’s Creek, I found that the old swimming hole was still there; thanks to Dame Nature for preserving this much of our early childhood’s pleasures.

The hills were there, just as I left them, the fields however, were much improved. I noted that many improvements had been made, hut not enough to disappoint one in returning to his birthplace and finding so many changes that he could not recognize it. Emmitsburg is a typical village, once seen never to be forgotten. It was my pleasure to visit St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s, and all portions of the burg.

I found many reminders of my early days, and met many people that I knew in boyhood days. I was exceedingly glad of this. I made it my business to call upon Mr. Edw. Taney, and others; he in particular, was a special friend of my father, and I have in my possession today, a cane made by Mr. Taney that was presented to my father by him in 1858; that came, this fall, will have been in my possession fifty years. I shall celebrate the 50th anniversary of the possession of this cane in our family, in a suitable manner.

Mrs. Barry and I had the pleasure of meeting, and I was much surprised that she, after more than ninety years, should look and act as one scarcely half that age; she certainly is a remarkable woman. Lewis Motter was another old timer that I had the pleasure of meeting; at that time, hale and hearty. I was much surprised with his activity and alertness, so much so that said to him "Mr. Motter, when I get ready to die, I am going to return to Emmitsburg to live."

My father, James A. Storm, and my mother, Margaret Baumgardner, daughter of Samuel Baumgardner, were Lisa born in Emmitsburg. My father is dead; my mother still living, in her 86th year, and she, as well as I, is much interested in Emmitsburg and their welfare.

I would be much pleased to go into many things that I believe would be pleasing to Emmitsburg, but time will not permit; in fact, I have already infringed upon your good nature, and apologize for doing so by saying that he temptation was irresistible. Those here, who know me say that I am so imbued with the Maryland spirit that it makes no difference whether the individual be white or black, there is a soft pot in my heart for him provided he is me of the old school. Illustrative of; his, I wish to say that two or three rears ago, I was in Canada, and there vas an old Negro man playing a fiddle, and his tin plate was on a little stand, which to deposit whatever you chose to give. I said to my wife, who was with me, "There is a typical Maryland Negro," and she laughed and said ‘Nonsense." I approached the old fellow and said. "Uncle, where are you from? " The old fellow straightened himself up, evidently with much pride, and said "I’se from Maryland, Sah," and in turning to my wife, she had to acknowledge my ability to recognize a Maryland Negro. On asking where he vas from he said Hagerstown, and as a part of my family came from Hagerstown, it was not long until the old man and myself had much to talk about.

I might continue this "ad libitum," but really I must close. Wishing you and Emmitsburg generally, prosperity, health, happiness and long life I am with kindest regards.

Yours respectfully,
John. F. Stomr

Read other stories in this series of first hand accounts of
life in Emmitsburg in the 1800's

 Have your own memories of Emmitsburg, or old letters that talk about life in the area?  If so, send them to us at history@emmitsburg.net