Archaelogy exhibit opens downtown

June 24, 2011
  • Thompson A. Brown was an organizer and long-time attorney for the Washington and Berkeley Bridge Co., which operated the bridge across the Potomac River at Williamsport.
Submitted photo

Editor's note: This is the ninth in a 12-part series about Washington County Historical Society's founders.

The Washington County Historical Society, in cooperation with the Hagerstown- Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, is hosting an archaeological exhibit from the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory. The exhibit opened June 15 at the Visitors Center in downtown Hagerstown.

This exhibit features items extracted from three digs in Washington County — a plantation near Cearfoss, Fort Frederick, and a 2,000-year-old American Indian site near Mt. Aetna.

A new exhibit of artifacts and dioramas from Camp Ritchie, the Buena Vista Ice Co. and the Battle of Monterey Pass is open at the Miller House. Both exhibits are part of the society's centennial year celebration

As we recall the society's founders, this week we focus on E. Clayton Wyand and Thompson A. Brown.

E. Clayton Wyand

Professor Ezra Clayton Wyand from the Keedysville area did his post graduate work at Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C., in American archaeology and history. Wyand began his education in Washington County public schools, but at age 18 he was he was rendered deaf by an attack of spinal meningitis.

He enrolled in the Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick, Md. He returned to teach there after receiving his master's degree from Gallaudet, although he had been offered positions from many other communities throughout the United States serving the needs of the deaf. He worked with the Maryland General Assembly in amending the Compulsory School Attendance Law to require teachers to inquire of their students about any deaf children and refer their names to the school.

His love of history turned to genealogy as he set out to compile a volume titled "A Brief History of the Andrew Putman, Christian Wyandt and Adam Snyder Families of Washington County, Maryland," published in 1905. He returned each summer to stay at the family home at Eakles Mill, near Keedysville. He also took up the avocation of painting,

In later life, he entered the ministry of the United Brethren Church and operated the post office and an express business from Eakles Mill.

Thompson A. Brown

Thompson A. Brown, who grew up near Mapleville (halfway between Boonsboro and the Village of Beaver Creek on Md. 66), was an attorney and one of the incorporators of the Washington County Historical Society. He served in the Maryland House of Delegates and as clerk to the Washington County Board of Election Supervisors.

For 30 years, Brown was treasurer of the Hagerstown Fair Association. He had attended the fair as child and gave significant assistance to maintaining this enterprise for the community as an adult. He was also an organizer and long-time attorney for the Washington and Berkeley Bridge Co., which operated the bridge across the Potomac River at Williamsport.

Brown was one of the designated speakers during a citizen demonstration on behalf of the bridge project. Between 500 and 600 Williamsport area supporters of the bridge made their way to Hagerstown on May 27,1908, stopping their march of fife and drum, flags and cheers, in front of the courthouse.

Selected speakers then went in to speak to the Board of County Commissioners seeking financial support. The group had already received $50,000 of stock subscriptions from businesses and individuals in both Washington County and Berkeley County, W.Va. The Commissioners did commit $10,000 at a subsequent meeting. The bridge was dedicated on Aug. 10, 1909.

Linda C. Irvin-Craig is executive director of the Washington County Historical Society. She can be reached at 301-797-8782, or

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