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Event brings history alive

September 19, 2004|by Alicia Notarianni

alician@herald-mail.com

SHARPSBURG - John and Judith Clark came from Savannah, Ga., and stayed at an area bed and breakfast Friday for the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam.

Their children gave the trip to the couple to celebrate John Clark's retirement from his work as a banker. He has a particular interest in the Civil War.

"His great-grandfather served in all the major battles of the Civil War, including the one here at Antietam," Judith Clark said. "He fought at Burnside's Bridge."

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Following a tour of the battlefield and participating in festivities there, Judith Clark headed off to Sharpsburg History Days - sponsored by the Sharpsburg Historical Society - for a walking tour of historic homes, churches and gardens in Sharpsburg. Judith Clark said she was pleased to see close up and hear stories in detail about places and people from the area.

This is exactly the kind of thing Denise Troxell said the Sharpsburg Historical Society was hoping to offer through Sharpsburg History Days.

Initiated in response to this year's cancellation of the Sharpsburg Heritage Festival, which usually occurs over the Battle of Antietam anniversary weekend, Troxell said Sharpsburg History Days was arranged "to offer good, fun, educational activities related to our history."

Toward that end, the historical society worked in partnership with Forest Glen Commonwealth, a nonprofit Kensington, Md.-based historical preservation, education and interpretation group to offer lectures, exhibits, walking tours, food and music on Friday and Saturday.

Exhibits at Sharpsburg Town Hall included historical documents, such as a property deed dated 1768 and signed by Joseph Chapline, the founder of Sharpsburg.

Members of the historical society pitched in over the summer to purchase the document, which was found on eBay, an Internet shopping site.

Other displays included information about the Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum at Antietam Station and local historical photographs and prints.

Lectures and tours included topics such as "Coins, Currency and Ransoms of the Civil War," "Vernacular Architecture of Mid-Maryland" and "The Truth Behind Antietam's Hospital Sites."

Matthew Baker of Hagers-town took his 16-month-old son, Joseph, along on a walking tour of Sharpsburg. Baker's mother, Melinda Baker of Sharpsburg, opened her home of about four years for the tour.

"I even learned a lot about my mom's house that I didn't know," Matthew Baker said.

Brad Toole, membership committee and home history committee chairman for the Sharpsburg Historical Society, said he estimated that about 100 people participated in the events throughout the day.

Troxell said considering the inclement weather and the fact that Sharpsburg History Days was a first-time event, she was pleased with the steady stream of people.

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