This series of lectures, named after one of Havre de Grace's most prominent historians, tries to bring new tales, ideas and perspectives to discussions about our area's rich history
2011 Lecture Series
Lecture Historians Roundtable
The final Shank Lecture of the 2011 series was held on June 9th. We were pleased to have four local historians speak about a series of topics relating to Havre de Grace history. The panel was comprised of Ellsworth Shank, for whom this lecture series is named; Gary Wasielewski, former President of the Lock House Museum; Mike Dixon one of Cecil County' most prominent historians and community researchers; and County Executive David Craig a regular lecture series speaker, researcher, and author.
Several questions were posed to the roundtable participants. Here is an example of one of those questions and some of the interesting answers the roundtable provided.
Who do you think is the most over looked figure in Havre de Grace?
Ellsworth named William B. Marye, author of "Early Inhabitants of the site of Havre de Grace" which he views as the most accurate and detailed account of Havre de Grace. This source is located at the Maryland Historical Society.
Gary named John Donahoo, who was the builder of various lighthouses, was a HdG town commissioner, school commissioner, helped the town rebuild and grow and was also an applicant for the position of light keeper (which he did not get). Gary also mentioned a second figure - a man who is referred to as "Wilson" who was killed in 1812 when he was struck in the head by a Congreve Rocket.
David told the audience about a local man named Herb Cummins who was a "normal guy" who left behind several very interesting diaries from the 1930's & 1940's which are a part of the Historical Society of Harford County.
Mike spoke more generally of the value of newspapers and the stories they tell - not only the people mentioned in the paper but those writing and printing the papers.
After nearly 2.5 hour of interesting discussion and debate the lecture came to a close. It was a wonderful way to conclude the Shank Lecture Series for this year.
Lecture - Erika Quesenbery
"Forging and Testing the Greatest Generation in Harford and Cecil Counties" was presented by Erika Quesenbery, a prominent Cecil County historian. Ms. Quesenbery went over the early history of Havre de Grace and the history of Bainbridge, the U.S. Naval Training Center which began operation in 1942.
Bainbridge served as a mustering-out facility as well as the home for the Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS), the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), the Naval Reserve Manpower Center and various specialized training schools. Bainbridge was closed in 1976, and in 1999 the Federal Government turned Bainbridge over to the State of Maryland.
Lecture - Mr. Wayne Kirklin
Lightships of the Atlantic and the Chesapeake Bay, presented by Wayne Kirklin, Associate Historian, Overfalls Museum Foundation, Lewes, Del.
Mr. Kirklin outlined the history of the of fleet of ships that served as navigation beacons for US shipping over a span of 150 years. Some 160 Lightships were in operation between 1820 and 1965 - 16 of them in the Chesapeake Bay. These ships, which bore the name of the geographic area they manned, usually remained on station for two years before they were relieved for repairs and maintenance. Each ship had a crew of approximately seven men, who worked two weeks on and one week off.
Mr. Kirklin related several interesting tales about specific Lightships. The Diamond Shoal was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1918 - the only Lightship sunk by enemy action. The Nantucket that was rammed and sunk in 1934 by the British Liner Olympia - a sister ship of the Titanic. While most of the old Lightships have been scuttled over the years, 18 remain in existence today and some have been restored and function as everything from museums to B&Bs. One such vessel, The Overfalls, has been fully-restored and serves as a museum in Lewes, Del.
FEBRUARY 10, 2011
The Mason-Dixon Line:The Stories behind a Geographic Boundary
Guest Lecturer: Mike Dixon
Born as a result of a bitter territorial dispute over royal land grants, the Mason-Dixon Line was surveyed between 1763 and 1767 to settle the boundaries for Pennsylvania and Maryland. After 1820, when the Missouri Compromise created political conditions which made the line important to the history of slavery, it became associated with the division between the free and slave states.
Today the line is still seen by many as a symbolic dividing line for regional attitudes and customs. This program explored the story of the line, which runs through our land and our history, along with the perceptions that have developed about the boundary.
JANUARY 13, 2011
VANDIVER AND TYDINGS: TWO LIONS OF HAVRE DE GRACE HISTORY
GUEST LECTURER - BOB MAGEE
This was the first lecture of the Ellsworth B. Shank Historical Lecture Series for 2011. Mr. Magee provided an insight into the lives of two very famous and influential Havre de Grace men. Their lives spanned 115 years from 1845-1961.
Mr. Magee pointed out that both men shared a number of similarities. Both were born and raised in Havre de Grace; attended and graduated from Havre de Grace public schools; entered into politics at an early age; were members of the Maryland Legislature; became powerful in the state and nation; were eligible bachelors until their 40s; married wealthy women; made friends and political enemies; were eventually rejected by the electorate; and were buried in Angel Hill Cemetery in Havre de Grace.
Born in 1845, Murray Vandiver rose through the political ranks and served as Mayor of Havre de Grace and in the House of Delegates. He was a power player in the State of Maryland where he served in the capacity as Chairman of the State Democratic Central Committee and also served as Treasurer of the State of Maryland from 1900-1916. Vandiver died several months after he lost the 1916 election. You can find more information regarding Murray Vandiver at the Maryland State Archives.
Millard Tydings was born in 1890 and served in the United States Senate from 1927-1951. He was a conservative Democratic Senator who became a political adversary of President Roosevelt as a result of his disagreements with some of the New Deal policies and Roosevelt's attempt to "pack" the Supreme Court. Tydings eventually lost the 1950 election to Republican Butler amidst the controversy of a fabricated photo published in the newspapers depicting Tydings and Communist leader Earl Bowker allegedly talking with each other. Tydings had been the Chair of the Senate Committee investigating Senator McCarthy in 1949-1950. Senator Tydings died in Havre de Grace in 1961.
You can learn more about Millard Tydings by reading his biography - For Hell and a Brown Mule: The Biography of Senator Millard E.Tydings written by his niece, Caroline H. Keith. Many of the official papers on Millard Tydings can be found in the Maryland State Archives or at the University of Maryland. Tydings also wrote three books: The Machine Gunners of the Blue and Grey Division (1920; Before and After Prohibition(1930); and Counter- Attack: A Battle Plan to Defeat the Depression (1933)
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