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Allegany County
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The Box in the Basement

Box in the basementIn 2002, as the staff prepared for the renovation of the building, a wooden box was found in the basement of the Allegany County Public Library in Cumberland, Maryland. No one had seen it before, and how the box found its way into the Library is a mystery. The library is located in the historic district of Cumberland, in a building that was constructed in 1849 as the Allegany County Academy, the first public school in the County. The building became the Library in 1934. It is across the street from the Allegany County Courthouse, on Washington Street.

This re-discovered wooden box contained a metal box. In that inner box were cuttings, newspapers, posters, letters, postcards, advertisements, ribbons and other items, most dealing with the organizing for and reporting of the 1889 Allegany County Centennial Celebration. The box was marked with the name of Theodore Luman, the Vice Chairman of the General Management Committee of the Allegany County Centennial Celebration. He was also Clerk of the Circuit Court of Allegany County.

The 1889 Allegany County Centennial Celebration


In August, 1789 the residents of this end of what was then known as Washington County, conceived the idea of forming a new county to be known as Allegany from the western portion of Washington County. In 1889, the 100th anniversary of that occasion, the eight editors of the county decided to meet and consider the advisability of celebrating the event. They prepared and sent out an address setting forth the facts of the formation of the county, and asked that delegates be sent by all towns, societies, associations, &c., to a convention to be held as soon as practicable. Nearly every town, district, society and association expressed the desire of holding a celebration. The month of September was named as the time to celebrate the event.

Balloon AscensionThis will be a grand affair-one which will not only be a pleasant reunion of friends of former years and of relatives, but one which will result in some benefit to the county generally, and bring the name and resources of Allegany more prominently before the country at large. Our city will be gay with rich bunting streamers, flags and other decorations. Every one is anticipating a good time and Cumberland will do its best to make it a joyful and pleasant occasion for all visitors. Come and help us celebrate our 100th birthday!
... (From A Grand Celebration, unidentified newspaper cutting, September 1889)

The event was a three day affair with Day 1 involving a parade of school children from around the county, Day 2 involving a parade of tradesmen and a balloon /parachute jump and Day 3 a grand military and civic parade, lead by President Benjamin Harrison, another balloon ascension and parachute jump and fireworks. The plans for the events and the newspaper reports were all stored in Theo. Luman's box.

Most of the items in this collection are from the box. Although a list of photographs was found among the papers, the photographs themselves were not found. Those photographs included on this web page are from the Herman and Stacia Miller Collection and are used with permission of the Mayor and City Council of Cumberland, Maryland. Additional photographs are from the collection of Al Feldstein, and are used with permission.

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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