Rising Sun's Historical Preservation Commission recently hosted a living history presentation.
Local residents Dorothy Ryan and Sally McKee shared family history and tales of yesteryear. The event was well attended and well received. In addition to speaking, the ladies also took questions from those in attendance.
Dorothy Ryan has deep roots in Rising Sun
by Lisa Tome
Dorothy Ryan, 94, brought the expression "40 acres and a mule" to life.
Ryan was born in Indiana and her father was a teacher. Her parents married in 1916. Members of her family were settlers. In Montana, families could qualify to earn the deed to land if they stayed on it for five years you could get 40 acres for free. Some of that free land continues to be owned by her family.
Ryan showed some family dishes that are 100 years old.
She also told a story about the gold rush era. She said that those who were hired to launder for gold seekers found gold dust after washing the clothes of Miners.
She met her husband, Herbert Ryan, in 1943 and moved to Rising Sun in 1946. She has lived in the same house since 1949. She and her husband paid $3,000 for their home. Then they had to pay an additional $4,000 to make it habitable. Later, they added a garage to the house. The garage cost $7,000 at the time. That means they paid the same for the home as they did the garage. Her late husband was a Rising Sun postmaster. He earned 87 cents per hour to start. She worked at Rising Sun Elementary School.
Ryan also showed photos of her family. She pointed out how differently people dressed for occasions such as Easter, in the 1960s. Each member of the family was dressed in formal clothing in the photos.
One of Ryan's sons lives in an area of Rising Sun which was once in Pennsylvania. The home in which he lives is 279 years old. She also discussed a Friends (Quaker) settlement established as part of Pennsylvania in 1744. That settlement was in the area of what is now Tome Highway/Barnes Corner/Liberty Grove. In the 1760s, that area became part of Maryland.
Sally McKee has vast knowledge of West Nottingham Presbyterian
by Lisa Tome
Sally McKee's mother was born in jail.
That's because McKee's grandfather was a sheriff and the family lived at the jail.
McKee, 80, is an area native. Her father was a mail carrier. She worked at West Nottingham Academy and for years served as the caretaker and sexton for the West Nottingham Presbyterian Cemetery. McKee shared her vast knowledge about the cemetery and the church's history.
At one time, both the church and the cemetery were located on what is now Rising Sun's Pearl Street. But that street was part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at that time. What is now West Nottingham Presbyterian was once a church which divided in 1741 and became two churches. In 1796, the churches reunited and constructed a building which took four years to complete.
When it comes to the cemetery, the first grave was installed in 1802 or 1803. There are many unmarked graves and records are incomplete until the 1900s. There are seven ministers buried in the cemetery.
As of February of this year, 458 veterans were buried in West Nottingham. Four of the stones for the veterans are just memorials - two missing persons, one veteran who was cremated, and a Revolutionary War patriot are those with memorials. The only war which isn't represented with a veteran buried in that cemetery is the Spanish American War. There is a Confederate solider buried in that cemetery. Two other civilian graves are also memorial stones only. They are for a reverend and his wife who served as missionaries in China during the Boxer Rebellion. A former state governor, Austin Crothers, is also buried there.
McKee also discussed a time when people were buried in that cemetery free. "Babyland" and "Strangers Row" were for infants or indigent people. Some of those in Strangers Row are veterans.