OAKLAND, Md. — A kickoff to Garrett County’s sesquicentennial celebration took place last week at the Garrett County Courthouse.
The 150th anniversary commemorates the incorporation of Garrett County on Dec. 4, 1872. It was formed from neighboring Allegany County and was the last county to be created in the state of Maryland.
The event was held as part of the Board of Garrett County Commissioners public meeting Dec. 6.
The program included a proclamation by the commissioners and special guest speakers Robert Boal of the Garrett County Historical Society and Albert Feldstein, a local historian.
“This is going to take obviously a year to celebrate, so everyone that has had a hand in everything that is going on thus far and moving forward, we appreciate it,” Commissioner Paul Edwards said before reading the proclamation to kick off the year of celebration.
“I am honored to speak on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the county I love and have stayed in for 61 years,” Boal said.
He noted that as far as the creation of Garrett County goes, very little was done before the Civil War.
“There were rumblings of discontent up here in the mountains that we didn’t have enough representation. We were sort of the weak sister, but no movement ever occurred,” Boal said. “With the end of the Civil War, that changed.”
He stated that the region began to boom with the arrival of the B&O Railroad in the 1850s, with agriculture, timber and coal.
“Garrett County felt our wealth and our resources were being taken out of here and we should have more control over all of this,” Boal said.
He mentioned several key players and developers who started the movement.
“It caught on slowly because this was a very remote area,” Boal said. “The awakening in GC started about 1870, and some very powerful locals picked up on it. These men lit the spark that brought the fire.”
He noted that the group started having community barbecues where they met, shared a meal and talked about what this area should be. It turned into a movement that was very strong.
In April 1872, the General Assembly passed a bill to allow for an election, which took place on Nov. 4, 1872. Dec. 4, 1872, was the date set for the county to become the newest in the state.
Feldstein stated that the reasons listed on the petition for creation of a new county included the substantial distance from far Western Maryland to the existing county seat in Cumberland, greater representation in the state’s General Assembly, greater opportunities for local tax revenue and more appropriate expenditures of public funds.
Two possible names were proposed for the county: Garrett and Glade.
He noted that the new county was established by the Maryland State Legislature on April 1, 1872, but it was a requirement that it be left up to the voters.
The vote on Nov. 4 resulted in 1,297 in favor of a new county and 405 opposed.
“Congratulations to Garrett County, and we should all look this good after 150 years,” Feldstein said.
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