Frederick Douglass in Cumberland

Black History Month:
Did you know that Frederick Douglass delivered a lecture in Cumberland?
On September 23 1879, Marshal Douglass arrived to lecture for the Emancipation celebration. Here is the story from the Washington Post, Sept. 24, 1879:
“Emancipation Day” was yesterday celebrated in this city in a very enthusiastic manner by the colored people, who flocked to the city in large numbers from the neighboring towns of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland. It was a gala day for the colored race. About 2,000 visitors were in town, and the streets presented an animated appearance. The weather was cloudy but no rain fell, and everything went off pleasantly. About noon a procession was formed, which passed through the principal streets and wended its way to the Fair grounds, which are located in a commanding position to the east of the city. Several Masonic and other secret societies appeared in line. Marshal Douglass arrived on the express train from Washington at 2:10 P.M. He was met at the Queen City hotel by an immense crowd of people, and escorted through the principal streets in a barouche, in which were seated Mayor William J. Read, Hon. Henry W. Hoffman, and Rev. B. H. Lee, the pastor of the A.M.E. Church if this city, who was also the president of the meeting. The procession arrived at the Fair grounds at 3 o’clock, escorted by a band of music.”

Marshall Frederick Douglass

The porch of the Queen City Hotel

The Way We Worked Opening a great success

“The Way We Worked” opened at the Allegany Museum yesterday, with an attendance estimated at 75 people.

The exhibit will run through March 24, 2017 and explores the strength and spirit of American workers on both the national as well as local level.

Depicted here are front row left to right, Victor Rezendes, Allegany Museum; Maryland Delegate Mike McKay; Theresa Worden, Maryland Humanities Museum on Main Street Program; Albert Feldstein, Maryland Humanities Board of Directors; Carl Belt Jr., President of the Belt Group; and Gary Bartik, Allegany Museum. Back row left to right are Larry Wolfe, President of Teamsters Local 453; Eugene Frazier, Cumberland City Councilman; Thomas Clayton, Town of Luke Councilman; and Jake Shade, Allegany County Commissioner.

In the second pic, Alice Cooney plays with the B&O train bell  at the exhibition. She is with her father, Sean  Cooney.

Visitors from five Maryland Counties help install The Way We Worked

Maryland Humanities and people from four Maryland museums visited Allegany Museum last Thursday and Friday to learn about installing and maintaining the Smithsonian travelling exhibition, The Way We Worked.
The travelling exhibition, accompanied by Allegany Museum’s dioramas, will be on display from February 5 until March 24.
Allegany Museum’s dioramas explore how working life has changed for the better in Allegany county over the last 150 years, focusing on the railroads, the Celanese Corp, and the local unions.
Please join us at 3 pm on Saturday February 4 for the Grand Opening. You are very welcome to wear an insignia, uniform, cap, or other items from a place you or a family member have worked in Allegany County, and you will have a chance to record your work story.
There is also a Children’s Sensory and Discovery Room on the theme of work.
The opening and the exhibition are free.
Allegany Museum, 3 Pershing St Cumberland MD

Residents share photos and memories for the Way We Worked


As part of The Way We Worked exhibitions that begin on February 4, the Western Maryland Regional Library has been collecting photos at “Scanner Nights”. These are now presented on the Western Maryland’s Historical Library ( website.

As well, these and other photos and artifacts will be on display at the Way We Worked exhibitions at six locations in Allegany County.

At the Grand Opening of The Way We Worked, 3:00 pm February 4 at Allegany Museum, 3 Pershing St Cumberland, you will have the opportunity to share your stories of working life in Western Maryland.

Wear a badge, cap, or other work item, and record your story for display at the exhibition, and as a permanent record on the Allegany Museum website.

The Museum’s Grand Ballroom will display the travelling Smithsonian exhibition, as well as stories of local railroads, manufacturing, and unions. All exhibitions are free.

Just a few of the gems that have been contributed to the Whilbr collection: photos of horses standing near William Stantons’ sugar house 1910; miners and horse at the Stanton George’s Creek Coal Company near Clarysville, 1917-1926; Lewis Hachman’s thrashing team at Bittinger barn, and J. E. Midgarden, J. E. Keatley, and L. F. White, Jr of the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory, standing in front of an A-3 Polaris prior to its static testing, 1972.

The exhibition will remain open during usual Museum hours until March 24.

J. E. Midgarden, J. E. Keatley, and L. F. White, Jr of the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory, standing in front of an A-3 Polaris prior to its static testing, 1972.

For more information, contact Allegany Museum, 301-777-7200;

Lewis Hachman’s thrashing team at Bittinger Barn 1910

Miners and horse at the Stanton George’s Creek Coal Company near Clarysville, 1917-1926

William Stantons’ sugar house 1910

License to permit William Stanton to produce maple sugar.

Workers in Allegany County will feature in the Way We Worked

Dig out your old work uniforms, caps, badges, and the like, and come along to the Grand Opening of The Way We Worked 3:00 pm, Saturday February 4, at the Allegany Museum. Wear items of dress related to a place you or a family member have worked in Allegany County.

Visitors to the opening will have the opportunity to have their favorite story about work recorded at the end of the opening ceremony. The stories recorded will become part of the Way We Worked display at Allegany Museum, and will be placed on the Museum website.

During the Opening Event, visitors will be able to see the central Smithsonian exhibition which traces the changes that have affected the American workforce and work environments over the past 150 years.
Allegany Museum will tell the story of the improvement in working conditions in Allegany County from 1877 to 2017. A series of dioramas will show the development of railroad work from the B&O in 1877 to todays’ CSX, illustrate the workers’ struggle for their rights at the Celanese Corporation, and tell the history of local labor organizations.
Local companies and labor unions have provided documents, artifacts, and access to staff to support these displays, and local students have created audio visual histories.

The Western Maryland Heritage Association is presenting exhibitions about ‘the way we worked’ at six locations in Allegany County in conjunction with Maryland Humanities and the Smithsonian. The other venues in the Western Maryland Heritage Association event include exhibitions about migrant labor at the Luke Paper Mill at the Williams Museum in Westernport, the lives of coal miners at Frostburg Museum, farm work at Mountain City Traditional Arts, the history of Cumberland glass at the C. Gilchrist Gallery and Museum, the working lives of canal boatmen, mule drivers, boatyard workers, and lock tenders at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Visitor Center, and servant life of the late 19th and early 20th century at the Gordon-Roberts House.
Refreshments will be served at the opening event.
All exhibitions are free, and open during each venue’s usual opening hours. Please contact each venue for more details, or call Allegany Museum 301-777-7200, or email

Violence, then celebration at the Celanese Corp

In 1935, the National Labor Relations Act (also known as the Wagner Act) was passed. The Act guaranteed employees the right to “self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing…”
The passing of the Wagner Act did not mean that employers would accept unionization in their workplaces, however.
Workers at the Celanese Plant in Cumberland continued to strike for the right to organize. This sometimes resulted in violence, as the item below from the Cumberland Evening News of November 1936 records.
By December 1936, however, the Celanese Corp agreed to the employees’ proposals (see ‘Happy Days are Here Again’, below).