Posts Tagged Cumberland

Thank you Frostburg State University for uplifting & upholding “Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland”

Image may contain: 1 personEarlier this week, a couple miles up the old National Road from the Queen City I had opportunity to present on the Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland at Frostburg State University.

With promotional support of several local institutions, local media outlets, community historians and students and faculty from Allegany College of Maryland and Frostburg State University a hundred or so folks rallied up.

With thoughtful questions from both students and members of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Cumberland a wonderful evening of history unfolded.

A special thanks to:

Elizabeth Howe and John Clinton Frye of the Western Maryland Room; Washington County Free Library
Frostburg State University Professors; Kara Thomas and Amy Branam
Professor Brian Gilmore, thrown seat poet, 7th Street historian, universal Douglassonian
Maryland Commission on African American History & Culture; Chairman Professor Dale Green; Commissioner Reggie Turner – Washington County and Commissioner Prof. Lynn Bowman – Allegany County
WDVM – Hagerstown
Frostburg First, Maryland Main Street Community
Main Street Books
Metropolitan AME Church – Cumberland
Al Feldstein, “History Alf,” legendary Western Maryland historian
Cherie “Sojourner Truth” Snyder
Dan Spedden & Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau
Ron Lytle, African American Historical Association of Western Maryland
Growing up in Western Maryland (Facebook group)
Dr. Ed Papenfuse, Maryland State Archivist (retired)
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
Members of the Douglass Family and Bailey Tribe
16th & W Street Douglassonians


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Commissioner Lynn Bowman providing a walking tour of the former Brownsville community, today the heart of the campus of Frostburg State University.

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Photos taken during Q&A after departure of a dozen or more student to other demands on their time.

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“Lost History: Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland” [Frostburg State University – April 9, 2019 @ 6PM]

Frostburg State UniversityLost History: Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland

TUESDAY, April 9, 2019 – 6:00 PM

 ** Frostburg State University **
CCIT Building, Room 317

Dr. Frederick Douglass may have self-identified as an Eastern Shore man but on more than one occasion he spoke in the mountains of Western Maryland.

While in 1879 Douglass spoke in Frederick City (early April), Hagerstown (late April) and in Cumberland on September 22 for Emancipation Day festivities, in March 1882 Douglass made an independent visit to lecture in Frostburg, Maryland. Originally founded as Normal School No. 2, Frostburg State University was not initially funded and opened to its first class for nearly two decades.

Author and street historian John Muller will detail the visits of Dr. Douglass to Cumberland and Frostburg, as well as share insights into his relationship with Cumberland-based Governor Lloyd Lowndes.

Douglass often lectured at courthouses, as he did in Hagerstown, local city halls, as he did in Frederick City, and outdoor venues such as the fairgrounds in Cumberland. He also often lectured at well-known public halls, including opera houses, as he did in Frostburg.

Join local history enthusiasts and community leaders for a debut presentation detailing a previously unknown high-profile visit Dr. Douglass made to Cumberland, Maryland, arriving by train, escorted through town by a large procession and speaking at the old fairgrounds in company of local AME pastors, politicians and community leaders.

Following the presentation will be a Q&A.

Featured Presenter

John Muller is the author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C: The Lion of Anacostia (2012) and Mark Twain in Washington, D.C.: The Adventures of a Capital Correspondent (2013) and is currently at work on Lost History: Frederick (Bailey) Douglass in Baltimore City, 1825 – 1895. Muller has presented at the Library of Congress, American Library of Paris, Politics and Prose, Newseum and other venues. He has been featured on C-SPAN, WAMU, WYPR, WDVM and other local and national media outlets

In the past year Muller has presented a series of lost history lectures in Cambridge, Maryland at the Harriet Tubman Museum and Education Center, Hagerstown at the Washington County Central Library and Ebenezer AME Church, Denton at the Caroline County Public Library and in Baltimore City at the Enoch Pratt Central Library.

Invited Elected Officials, Community Leaders and Organizations

Invitations have been extended to Cumberland Mayor Raymond Morris and members of the Cumberland City Council, Frostburg Mayor W. Robert Flanigan and members of the Frostburg City Council, Allegany County Commissioners, members of the Maryland House of Delegates and Maryland Senate representing Western Maryland, the office of United States Representative David Trone, United States Senators Benjamin Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, Allegany County Historical Society, Allegany Museum, Allegany County Chamber of Commerce, Allegany County Public Library, Allegany County Chapter of the NAACP, Metropolitan AME Church of Cumberland, African-American Historical Association of Western Maryland, Frostburg State University Black Student Alliance, Maryland Commission on African-American History and Culture, Maryland Historical Society, Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, University of Maryland-College Park, W Street Douglassonians, members of the Douglass and Bailey Family and others.

Frostburg State University  

 The lecture is open to the public and being presented with the support and partnership of the Department of Sociology, Department of Geography and Department of African-American Studies. The lecture will be in the Catherine R. Gira Center for Communications and Information Technology Building, Room 317.

For directions visit

For more information on Frostburg State University visit or call 301-687-7589.


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“Hon. Fred. Douglass” in Frostburg, Maryland, March 1882 (advertisement & brief notes)

Frostburg Mining Journal _ March 18, 1882, p. 2 _ FD ad

Frostburg Mining Journal, 18 March 1882. (Library of Congress)

Dr. Douglass may have self-identified as an Eastern Shoreman but on more than one occasion he spoke in the mountains of Western Maryland.

While in 1879 Douglass spoke in Frederick City (early April), Hagerstown (late April) and in Cumberland on September 22 for Emancipation Day festivities, in March 1882 Douglass made an independent visit to lecture in Frostburg, Maryland.

As surely many know, what is today Frostburg State University, originally founded as Normal School No. 2, was not initially funded and opened until nearly two decades later.

Introductory conversations I’ve had with local historians have been circumspect of Governor Lowndes, which I will seek to confirm or refute. What is beyond speculation is the correspondence and associations between Lowndes and Douglass span more than two decades.

From preliminary research it appears there was a local municipal election in Frostburg at the time of Dr. Douglass’ visit but I can’t confirm that he took a position.

On the extant contemporaneous buildings of Frostburg, around the same time as the pending visit of Douglass to the area, the local city council in Frostburg received a petition by the local A.M.E. church for a street lamp on its corner. The appropriation was approved.

Douglass often lectured at courthouses, as he did in Hagerstown, local city halls, as he did in Frederick City, and outdoor venues such as the fairgrounds in Cumberland. He also often lectured at well known public halls, including opera houses, as he did in Frostburg.

Legendary Western Maryland historian Al Feldstein was kind enough to pass along a postcard of the Odd Fellows Opera House that reportedly burned down in the early 1900s.

I will be presenting at Frostburg State University on “The Lost History of Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland,” with an emphasis on the localities of Cumberland and Frostburg next month.

Hopefully the history will be received warmly and there will be an opportunity to present at the Appalachian Festival, when “Lost History: Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland,” develops into the book format it deserves.


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Dr. Frederick Douglass was a Marylander; addresses Emancipation Day in Cumberland, Maryland [September 22, 1879]

An an indigenous Eastern Shoreman Dr. Frederick (Bailey) Douglass could rightfully claim identity as a Baltimorean and thus kinship status as a Marylander through and through.

Lost to history have been several return visits Dr. Douglass made to the Shore as well as numerous lifelong relationships he maintained with Marylanders from members of the Lloyd family to abolitionist and educator Emily Edmonson of Montgomery County. Additionally, the speeches and activities of Dr. Douglass throughout the different regions and areas of his native state are widely forgotten in existing scholarship and bicentennial commemorations.

Untold by his own hand and biographers, in September 1879 Dr. Douglass visited the Cumberland Valley, drawing a reported 2,000 whites and blacks to the city of Cumberland from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Western Maryland.

Cumberland Fairgrounds - WCFL

Courtesy of Washington County Free Library, Western Maryland Room

Sharing the stage with former Congressman and Lincoln appointee Henry W. Hoffman, Dr. Douglass spoke to acknowledge September 22nd as Emancipation Day, whereas 17 years before President Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

In truth, Dr. Douglass ran with many men, such as Henry O. Wagoner and James W. C. Pennington, who traveled out of underground railroad stations in Western Maryland to freedom. Martin Delany, one of Douglass’ early associates, was indigenous to the Appalachia area.

In the 1880s Dr. Douglass frequently traveled to Harper’s Ferry to attend to his duties as a board member of Storer College.

Known to travel near and far within his home state and throughout the country and world, I’ve confirmed Dr. Douglass spoke in Hagerstown for the benefit of a local church in 1879, about six months before visiting Cumberland in September.

Point is: Dr. Douglass, an Eastern Shoreman by birth and Point Boy by initiation, touched all parts of his native state, including Allegheny and Washington counties in Western Maryland.

It is beyond time to uplift the history and give Dr. Douglass the full recognition he so rightfully deserves as a Marylander.


Frostburg Mining Journal _ 27 Sept 1879 _ p. 3 _ FD in Cumberland _ croppedANNIVERSARY OF EMANCIPATION.

Monday, 22d inst., emancipation day was celebrated in Cumberland with much rejoicing by the colored people, who poured into the city on every train. The procession formed at the Queen City Hotel about half past 12 and marched through the principal streets to the fair grounds where dinner was served and addresses delivered by Hons Frederick Douglass, of Washington, and Henry W. Hoffman, of Cumberland, and others.

Frostburg was fully represented.


Mining Journal,  “Anniversary of Emancipation.” 27 September, 1879, p. 3

Editor’s Note (1):

Special thanks to reference library and archivist Elizabeth Howe of the Western Maryland Room of the Washington County Free Library for the research support.

Editor’s Note (2):

I have been invited to present on “Frederick Douglass in Western Maryland” at the October 1, 2018 meeting of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture.

Due to a previous commitment I will be unable to present but have made arrangements for the information to be presented on behalf of W Street Douglassonians.

Public Meeting

Monday, October 1, 2018 at 11:00 AM (Washington County)

Hagerstown Community College

111400 Robinwood Drive

Career Programs Building Rooms 211 & 213

Hagerstown, MD 21742

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Marshal Frederick Douglass takes express train to Cumberland’s Queen City hotel; lectures for Emancipation celebration [Washington Post, Sept. 24, 1879 & Baltimore Sun, Sept. 23, 1879]

Queen_city_hotel _ Cumberland _ US Dept of Interior

Queen City Hotel
Cumberland, Maryland


He is Received by the Authorities and Delivers an Address

Special Dispatch to The Post.

Cumberland, MD., Sept. 23. – “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 in 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. Among the vast assemblage present were Hons. George A Pearre, associate judge of this circuit, composed of Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties; Lloyd Lowndes, Wm. Walsh, R.D. Johnson, Esq., a prominent Democrat, A. Hunter Boyd, Esq., the State’s attorney of Allegany county, and a number of prominent citizens, including several ladies. The meeting was called to order by Rev. B.H. Lee, the chairman, who introduced Marshal Douglass. He spoke for two hours in a very eloquent manner.

Celebration of Emancipation Day at Cumberland.

[Special Dispatch to the Baltimore Sun.]

Cumberland, MD., Sept. 22. – The colored citizens of Cumberland celebrated the anniversary of emancipation to-day. The attendance from abroad was not so large as expected there being only about 250 colored strangers in the city. Those at home turned out well and showed great interest, many houses being decorated. There was a procession at 12 o’clock, in which were the Laboring Sons, Star Club, Union League Club, and Frederick Douglass club. There were also three wagons containing tableaus representing war, emancipation, trades, professions, and industrial and mechanical pursuits. The display was creditable. At 12:30 the visitors took dinner at the fair grounds. United States Marshal Fred Douglass arrived at 2:10 P.M., and was met at the depot by a large crowd of both races, the desire to see him being general. At 2:30 o’clock exercises were had at the fair grounds consisting of prayer by Rev. T. W. Harris and addresses by United States Marshal Douglass and Hon. W. W. Hoffman. The attendance at the fair grounds was good, and Mr. Douglass’s speech was listened to with great attention.


The historic content and sources hereby therein this blog post originally posted in late December 2012 has been stolen two times without any attribution, citation or mention by institutions in Western Maryland area. A couple years ago I brought the first instance of thievery up to Honorable Alfred Feldstein of Allegany County. That first instance of blatant thievery was an entry on the Western Maryland’s Historic Library.

The second, which I recently stumbled upon, is by the Allegany Museum in downtown Cumberland.

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