Local History


Stay up-to-date with our latest news and learn more about local history!

January 4, 2024

Washington County Historical Society has safeguarded local history for more than a century

Article Author: Abigail Koontz (This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail December 10, 2023) “Washington County should have a historical society,” Harvey S. Bomberger declared on July 28, 1911. Bomberger, 51, was a merchant from Boonsboro. He stood in the reading room of the Washington County Free Library at 21 Summit Ave., addressing 21 individuals interested in forming an official organization. William R. Hamilton, who became the first secretary of the Washington County Historical Society, sat in, recording minutes in a black and red leather leldger. The record book Hamilton held now resides at the Washington County Historical Society. It contains the earliest meeting minutes of the society, taken from 1911 to 1917. These minutes represent the passion and perseverance of a small group that dreamed of preserving Washington County’s history. On Aug. 31, 1911, the WCHS was officially incorporated by the state of Maryland, gaining rights to purchase and own property, receive donations, adopt a constitution and govern finances and membership. The 29 charter members signed the certificate of incorporation, including three women — notably Mary Lemist Titcomb, head librarian of the Free Library and creator of one of the first Bookmobiles in the United States. In 1912, Bomberger was […]
November 16, 2023

Blast from the past: Fragment of Revolution-era cannon discovered near iron furnace site

Article Author: Heidi Schlag (This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail October 30, 2023) A cannon fragment dating from the Revolutionary War was recently discovered hiding in plain sight not far from where it was originally forged nearly 250 years ago. It was found by Andy Stout, a trained archeologist who began his new position as the executive director of the Washington County Historical Society several months ago. Discovered on a junk pile off Mt. Aetna Road in Hagerstown, the cannon was a cast-off that was never completed by the Mt. Aetna Furnace that operated in the area from the 1760s to 1830s. “This cannon never saw any battle. It didn’t survive the forging process, which is why it was discarded as scrap,” Stout explained. “There must have been a flaw in the cannon when it was forged, and it wasn’t finished, or it didn’t come out of the forging process appropriately,” he said. “We have about three-quarters of it. The end of it — the muzzle — is missing.” Owned in the 1760s by Barnabus Hughes and his sons, Samuel and Daniel, Mt. Aetna Furnace was one of four furnaces built by that family in Washington County, and Franklin […]
August 23, 2018

A Servant’s Life in the News!

Have you been out to see our new exhibit yet? Check out the great coverage from WDVM and then come out to see it for yourself! A Servant’s Life Exhibit – WDVM
August 2, 2018

A Servant’s Life – Exhibit Update

It has recently come to our attention that some of our local community members have raised concerns about the content of our upcoming exhibit, ‘A Servant’s Life,’ and we wanted to reach out to ensure that those concerns are addressed prior to the opening of the exhibit. In a recent teaser article for the exhibit, some details of the duties were listed to give readers an idea of the activities and displays they will encounter during a tour. As is often the case with the monthly column, we run into a word limit, and attempt to make the content of the article and its prose as approachable as possible, so that even those with a limited understanding of the topic find it engaging. It is for this reason that we chose to exclude in-depth detail on the specific servants that worked in the household during the 1800s and 1900s. We know from records that the families living in the Miller House from 1825 to 1966 used exclusively African American staff for service purposes, and that the Price family owned slaves, as well as employing free black people during the 20 years they lived in the home. The home’s history of […]