Tag Archive | Montgomery County history

The 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Montgomery County Police Department

1922 Montgomery County Police Force

Here posing in front of Reed Brothers Dodge on July 4, 1922 is the first known photograph of the entire MCPD. Pictured left to right: Earl Burdine, Lawrence Clagett, Guy Jones, Chief Charles Cooley, Leroy Rodgers, and Oscar Gaither. Photo taken by Lewis Reed on July 4, 1922.

July 4th marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Montgomery County Police Department. Cattle rustling, bootlegging and stealing poultry were among the most common crimes when Montgomery County hired its first police chief and five officers in July 1922. So widespread was the theft of chickens and turkeys that some residents employed a homespun form of crime prevention by cutting off a specific claw on their birds to identify them. “Officers knew who all the chicken thieves were,” said one historical account of the era put together by the police department, “and upon getting a report of missing Rhode Island Reds, or some other breed, would head straight for the thieves’ hideaway to try to catch them ‘red handed’ before the birds got to the frying pan.”

Posing in front of Reed Brothers Dodge on July 4, 1922 Chief Charles Cooley, center, and his men of the first mounted unit of the Montgomery County Police Force, were on their first day of duty. For several years, since there was no police station, the officers would meet for “roll call” on the steps of the Red Brick Courthouse in Rockville at 2:00 p.m. every day to let each other know they were alive and well. Chief Cooley was given the privilege of a Model T Ford. The chief was paid $1,800 a year (the chief now gets $112,564) while the officers got $1,500. Each of the officers was issued a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a .38 Smith & Wesson handgun, a black jack, law book and was allotted $300.00 a year for the upkeep of their motorcycle. Jones patrolled Silver Spring, Rodgers the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area and Burdine, Clagett and Gaither the Upper County areas.

The county’s population in the early 1920s was just 35,000 (it’s now more than 800,000). Much of the county was farmland, which accounted for the thefts of livestock. It also was the Prohibition era, when bootlegging and moonshine still factored routinely on an officer’s shift.

The officers worked 14 hours at night, 10 hours in the day, with two days off every two weeks. But they were on call at all times. Since there was no mobile radio contact (the first one-way radio system was installed in cars in the early 1930s), the officers tended to hang around the courthouse or a local firehouse that had a phone.

One of the officers came up with the idea of placing a flashing red beacon light on a pole atop the Rockville courthouse. When flashing, it would alert police that they had a call or were wanted at the office. In 1927, similar lights were used at district stations in Silver Spring and Bethesda.

As part of the 100th anniversary celebration, there will be a Commemorative Ceremony at the Red Brick Court House on July 7, 2022 from 10am-12pm that will mirror the swearing in that took place 100 years ago. The Chief will reveal the contents of the time capsule that was buried 25 years ago, as well as reveal the contents of what will be placed in the new time capsule. This event is free of charge to attend. For more info and other scheduled events, click here: https://www.mcpd100.org/live-events

Congratulations MCPD and thank you for your many years of service!

Exploring Community Life in 20th Century MoCo

Montgomery County, 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis ReedThe newest—and final—addition to Lewis Reed’s online exhibit, “Montgomery County, 1910-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed” has just been published.

The landscape of turn-of-the-century Montgomery County was partially shaped by the industry and commerce that formed the center of community life outside the home. This community infrastructure included urban businesses like stores, hotels, as well as rural occupations like mills, and farms. The initiative of people working toward common goals helped establish strong cultural bonds and led to the growth and development of the community. Featured in this newly launched section are vintage photographs of many landmark businesses, historic sites, and services from early 20th century Montgomery County. This exhibit was co-developed by Blog Author, Jeanne Gartner and Montgomery History Librarian & Archivist, Sarah Hedlund.
 
To view the exhibit, follow this link:
 

Montgomery County Police Department 99th Anniversary

1922 Montgomery County Police Force

This is the first known photograph of the entire MCPD. Pictured left to right: Earl Burdine, Lawrence Clagett, Guy Jones, Chief Charles Cooley, Leroy Rodgers, and Oscar Gaither. Photo taken by Lewis Reed on July 4, 1922.

July 4th marks the 245th anniversary of the birth of our nation and the 99th anniversary of the beginning of the Montgomery County Police Department. Cattle rustling, bootlegging and stealing poultry were among the most common crimes when Montgomery County hired its first police chief and five officers in July 1922. So widespread was the theft of chickens and turkeys that some residents employed a homespun form of crime prevention by cutting off a specific claw on their birds to identify them. “Officers knew who all the chicken thieves were,” said one historical account of the era put together by the police department, “and upon getting a report of missing Rhode Island Reds, or some other breed, would head straight for the thieves’ hideaway to try to catch them ‘red handed’ before the birds got to the frying pan.”

Posing in front of Reed Brothers Dodge on July 4, 1922 Chief Charles Cooley, center, and his men of the first mounted unit of the Montgomery County Police Force, were on their first day of duty. For several years, since there was no police station, the officers would meet for “roll call” on the steps of the Red Brick Courthouse in Rockville at 2:00 p.m. every day to let each other know they were alive and well. Chief Cooley was given the privilege of a Model T Ford. The chief was paid $1,800 a year (the chief now gets $112,564) while the officers got $1,500. Each of the officers was issued a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a .38 Smith & Wesson handgun, a black jack, law book and was allotted $300.00 a year for the upkeep of their motorcycle. Jones patrolled Silver Spring, Rodgers the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area and Burdine, Clagett and Gaither the Upper County areas.

The county’s population in the early 1920s was just 35,000 (it’s now more than 800,000). Much of the county was farmland, which accounted for the thefts of livestock. It also was the Prohibition era, when bootlegging and moonshine still factored routinely on an officer’s shift.

The officers worked 14 hours at night, 10 hours in the day, with two days off every two weeks. But they were on call at all times. Since there was no mobile radio contact (the first one-way radio system was installed in cars in the early 1930s), the officers tended to hang around the courthouse or a local firehouse that had a phone.

One of the officers came up with the idea of placing a flashing red beacon light on a pole atop the Rockville courthouse. When flashing, it would alert police that they had a call or were wanted at the office. In 1927, similar lights were used at district stations in Silver Spring and Bethesda.

Congratulations MCPD and thank you for your many years of service!

Lewis Reed Photos in Film Premiere: The Three (Known) Lynchings of Montgomery County, Maryland

These are screenshots of three of Lewis Reed’s photographs that appeared in the premiere screening of “The Three (Known) Lynchings of Montgomery County, Maryland” held Sunday, November 15, 2020 at a virtual event sponsored by the Montgomery County Lynching Memorial Project. (click any image to view photo gallery)

Jay Malin, filmmaker and photographer:

I haven’t seen anything else that gives as good an idea of what Darnestown or Rockville or an ordinary road in the county looked like in the day of the horse and buggy…. As a photographer, I know we most often fail to photograph the aspects of daily life that would really be of interest to future generations. So to have a photo of a horse and buggy on a county road or of the almshouse, which is probably the last thing most people would have thought to photograph, is really great.

I know if my grandfather was here today, I am certain he would be truly humbled and pleased that his photography is being used to help educate future generations.

Lewis Reed’s photos have also been featured in historical television programming, including on the national television show American Pickers, Science Channel Impossible Engineering, Maryland Public Television, and the American Experience History Series on PBS.

Montgomery County Lynching Memorial Project
Jay Mallin Photos

Dirt Roads of Rural Montgomery County

In the early 19th century, most roads were dreadful. Rural roads were often hard and bumpy; in warm months, they were dry and dusty, while in the spring they were wet and muddy. In winter, they could be covered with ice or snow. Most roads were so narrow that if two buggies met, one might be forced into a ditch along the side of the road. In those days there were few bridges, so drivers simply drove their wagons through rivers and streams.

The popularity of the car coincided with the improvement of public roads around Rockville. Rockville Pike’s reputation as “one of the worst pieces of main highway in the state” helped initiate Maryland’s Good Roads Movement. Responding to citizen demands, the newly created State Roads Commission incorporated the Pike into the state highway system. By 1929, when Montgomery County residents owned 13,000 cars, the Pike and Montgomery Avenue had been paved, but less traveled Veirs Mill Road remained a narrow dirt road for decades. By the end of 1935, the highway was paved as a macadam road.

Veirs Mill Road

History: Veirs Mill Road is named for a grist and sawmill on Rock Creek built by Samuel Clark Veirs in 1838 and operated by his family until 1924. This mill drew business from Rockville and Mitchell’s Crossroads, which later became Wheaton, along its namesake road. Below, two images of Viers Mill Road, c. 1911, showing deep ruts in the surface. Wagon wheels and tires of the time were very thin, and would sink straight into ruts, sometimes getting stuck.

Veirs Mill Road 1911

Veirs Mill Road looking east prior to paving. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1911

From the “Washington Times:
Stalled in the mud… “Although he put on the entire 20-horsepower of his machine and called in assistance of several neighbors, it was not until shovels and crowbars had been procured to move his car… he was able to resume his journey. This experience not only caused more than an hour’s delay in reaching the city but the wear and tear on himself, those who rendered assistance, and incidentally, the machine. Thus, at least two months of the life of a $3,000 auto was spent in simply traversing a short stretch of roadway.

Veirs Mill Road 1911

Veirs Mill Road looking east prior to paving. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1911

Montgomery County had 790 miles of unimproved dirt roads in 1899 and only 45 miles of stone, gravel, or macadam roads. The only good roads in the County were the turnpikes in the northeast; they accounted for all but 8 miles of the improved highways. The Union Turnpike Company operated from the District line at Silver Spring to Brookeville, from Olney to Ashton,and from Sandy Spring to Glenmont. The Washington, Colesville, and Ashton Turnpike Company maintained Colesville Road from Ashton to Silver Spring.

Darnestown Road

Lewis Reed grew up in Darnestown, so many of his streetscapes depict that specific region of Montgomery County.

History: The Darnestown area, which was located at the intersection of Darnestown and Seneca Roads, was settled in the 1750s. Darnestown Road (or Route 28) was an old Indian trail and is recognized as one of the oldest roads in Montgomery County, Maryland. During the 1870s through 1900, Darnestown was a thriving business hub due to its trade linked to the canal. Darnestown became an important place for commerce in the area. Seneca Road led to a sandstone mill and the C&O canal at Seneca Village. From Darnestown one could travel either by stagecoach along Darnestown Road or board a packet boat on the canal at Seneca.

After the Civil War, Darnestown experienced an economic downturn due to the increased popularity of the railroad, which bypassed the area. The mill business decreased and some farmers tried their hand at tobacco farming. This proved to be unprofitable for most and many people left the area. It wasn’t until World War II that Darnestown began to grow and prosper again.

Route 28, Darnestown Road 1907

Route 28, Darnestown Road 1907 – Martin Thompson House, owned by Lewis Reed’s maternal grandfather.

Route 28, in Darnestown is depicted in this photo before paving. What is now Route 28 is one of the earliest roads in the county, and was one of the main ways farmers in Poolesville, Darnestown, Dickerson, and Barnesville reached the courthouse in Rockville.

Darnestown dirt roads

Darnestown. Photo by Lewis Reed

Darnestown Rt 28

Darnestown, Rt 28. Photo by Lewis Reed

At the time the photo above was taken, the Griffith family owned the house and lot in the foreground. The frame and log house may have been built as early as the 1850s; by 1863 it was used as a house and store by Samuel Fisher. Fisher eventually sold the property to Ulysses Griffith and James Windsor, who also used it as a store. Griffith and Windsor continued as partners for ten years, until Windsor built his own store and house at the southwest corner of Seneca and Darnestown roads.

Darnestown along Rt 28

Darnestown along Rt 28. Photo by Lewis Reed

Darnestown dirt road

Darnestown. Photo by Lewis Reed

Darnestown dirt road

Darnestown dirt road. Photo by Lewis Reed

Seneca Road

History: The first segment of MD 112 was a 1-mile concrete road south from MD 28 in Darnestown that was built in 1923.The highway was extended southwest to the hamlet of Seneca just east of Seneca Creek in 1929 and 1930. MD 112’s western terminus was originally a short distance west of MD 190; the highway was truncated at MD 190 between 1975 and 1977.

Seneca Road

Seneca Road. Note the horse and buggy traveling up the road in the distance. A motorcycle (perhaps Lewis Reed’s) sits on the side of the road near the dead tree. Photo by Lewis Reed

Norbeck Road (Rt, 28)

Route 28 has existed since before the Civil War, and it remained a mud path for years into the automobile age.

Norbeck Road Rockville

Norbeck Road, near Rockville. In the far distance are two pedestrians; in the nearer distance a one- or two-person buggy is traveling away from the camera. Photo by Lewis Reed

Horse and Buggy Hunting Hill Rockville

Horse and Buggy on Hunting Hill Rockville. Photo by Lewis Reed

Hunting Hill and Quince Orchard, the first of eight small communities along Route 28 west of Rockville, have been transformed largely because of a single building on a historic estate. In 1942, Otis Beall Kent purchased the estate of Frederick A. Tschisfely, a Washington wholesale druggist, and consolidated four farms to make a 1,000-acre farm. He built seven lakes, maintained his own fire department and dreamed of such things as a hydroelectric plant on the property.

Dirt road and bicycle

Dirt road and bicycle. Photo by Lewis Reed

Cedar Lane Bethesda

Cedar Lane Bethesda. Photo by Lewis Reed

Roads to the Future

Rockville Pike’s reputation as “one of the worst pieces of main highway in the state” eventually helped initiate Maryland’s Good Roads Movement, alongside a nationwide initiative to improve America’s roads. Responding to citizen demands, the newly created State Roads Commission incorporated the Rockville Pike into the state highway system.

In 1956, President Eisenhower passed legislation to implement (arguably) the greatest public-works project in U.S. history: the Interstate Highway System. With this, every major city in America would be connected via highway construction, and mobility within the U.S. would ideally become limitless: a giant leap from the dirt roads and muddy paths that existed at the beginning of the century.

Rural Montgomery County road

Ironically, Montgomery County would eventually enact legislation to protect some of its rural roads from the type of traffic-conscious expansion that could spoil the natural beauty of the landscape on either side of the drive, as shown in this early 20th century photograph. Photo by Lewis Reed

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