The Great War – Robin Frazier Versus Piney Run Lake

by Jack White on January 20, 2015

Piney Run Lake 2014

A few years ago Bob Allen and I wrote a story about Commissioner Robin Frazier’s contributions to the effort to turn Piney Run Lake into a water treatment plant. It’s time for another visit and a new ending. Will it be happy?


“The wild-eyed one walked up to me, and said, ‘Commissioner, I just want you to know we’re not planning to kill you, but we will destroy you politically. You will never hold office in this county again.’” – Julia Gouge

“We’re two votes; you’re one.” – Robin Frazier

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana


Water and Money

Piney Run is one of the county’s most popular recreational areas, and in 2001, it drew 100,000 visitors a year. Most saw it as a source of fun and beauty. Others saw it as a potential source of water. At the time, we had a serious water problem. Our main water source was, and still is, Liberty Reservoir, which is owned by the city of Baltimore. Most summers, there were water restrictions of some sort; odd-numbered houses could water one day, even houses the next, or worse, depending on the situation. [read more…]

Greetings friends, what with all this hullabaloo about former county commissioner Robin Frazier getting everyone in a bad mood, I thought I’d change the subject to underwear to cheer people up. Well, not just underwear. Fruitcake, too, which isn’t really my area of expertise.


You see, a couple weeks ago we packed Sykesville’s old schoolhouse, despite an annoying rain, and I thought I’d share a few pictures and videos and absurd insights about the aforementioned underwear, fruitcakes, politicians, and things of that nature.

So first here’s Warren Dorsey, the star of my book, and his sister, Rosie. They’re sort of a comedy team. Warren is the straight man. In this little bit, Rosie’s basically accusing Warren of being too, uh, kind of frugal, to stick to the traditional Dorsey family fruitcake recipe, which has been passed down for at least 80 years from Dorsey to Dorsey and Christmas to Christmas.

Now Warren definitely does not come lightly to his fruitcake frugality. I mean, come on, if you spent your first 17 years wearing underpants made of chickenfeed sacks, you’d probably grow up skimping on fruitcake ingredients, too. I’ve never eaten a fruitcake or worn a chickenfeed sack, and I’m too old to start now, but I imagine it might leave a permanent mark on your psyche, and maybe a rash, too. [read more…]


Sykesville Gets a TARDIS

by Jack White on May 18, 2014

What the heck is that strange little box on Main Street? Is it the Sykesville Snog box? Is it a TARDIS? Is the Doctor having a crêpe at the French Twist?


It’s a pretty lame excuse for a TARDIS by the way. [read more…]

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Now, if you scroll down, you’ll read my TARDIS post. Theoretically that should have come before this post, and maybe it did, and maybe you should scroll up. Either way that’s based on the premise that time is linear.

Time is actually wibbily wobbeley. However you spell that.

And who cares, because we’re in big trouble? Notice the picture. Can you read it?


I’m not going to tell you where that is. I want you to guess, and then I want you to stay away from there at all cost. I will tell you two things. One, it’s very much too close to Sykesville for comfort. And two, if you can’t read the words, they say “Bad Wolf.” And you know what that means. Correct?

And if not, for God’s sake, find someone who watches Doctor Who and panic. Because, here it is again, and there’s been a TARDIS spotted on Main Street. Something bad is going to happen.



The Amazing Adventures of Dusty and Goat

by Jack White on May 14, 2014

Clearly the biggest news in the Freedom area today is the continued freedom of an escaped goat who’s been spotted just about everywhere, but has somehow managed to elude capture. People have been trying to come up with a cute name for him, but I’m just going to call him Goat, because a cool guy like Goat shouldn’t have a cute name. Here’s Goat in someone’s backyard. Lisa Wheeler Grimes took the picture.


Now if you look closely at Goat, you’ll notice a couple things, first off, he’s pretty damned good looking. Second, he’s saying, “Lady, don’t mess with me. I’ve got horns.” And third he’s saying, “I don’t want no cute name.”

[read more…]


In Search of Warren’s Magic Rocks

by Jack White on May 13, 2014

It was Sunday morning, Mother’s Day, and I went out to find Warren’s rocks. Rocks are big and old, and the way Warren described them, they were so big that just because he used to swim among them naked 85 years ago, didn’t mean I couldn’t swim among them naked in 2014.

I had no intention of swimming among them naked. Or fully clothed.

I just wanted a picture. I just figured I could find them. I just figured they had to be there still. People destroy nature, they mess with the past, but they don’t go into the Patapsco River and haul away rocks the size of Pluto.


Warren had given me directions. He mentioned something about west of this and east of that and upstream from something or another. He might as well have recited a Shakespearean soliloquy to me, because when it comes to upstream and downstream and east and west and stuff like that, I have no idea what people are talking about. But nonetheless with my modern camera and its big long lens hanging around my neck, and wearing a pair of flimsy sneakers, and carrying my phone, which has a compass app, I went looking for Warren’s rocks. [read more…]


The Most Important Intersection in Sykesville

by Jack White on May 11, 2014

Can you tell me why this intersection is the most important intersection in the history of Sykesville?


Oh fine, I’ll tell you. It’s because in 1937, this brick building helped stop the fire that took down most of the first block of Main Street from crossing to the second block and burning down the whole town.

Here it is in 1907. It looks a lot better in color, doesn’t it?


I’ll bet the fire looked better in color, too.



If You’re Looking for the Shoemaker Center

by Jack White on May 11, 2014

It’s moved.



We’re Back with a Tortoise

by Jack White on May 11, 2014

Well, I’ve been away awhile, and it’s a little embarrassing, but you see I met this guy named Warren, and we’ve been writing a book together. Well mostly he talks, and I write. Plus Juliette’s in college now and that requires money, actually a lot of it, so there’s two jobs, and the book and regular life, and Sykesville Online has just sort of languished.

But that’s about to change. So to get back in the swing of things, I’m going to write a few posts and show you a few pictures, including this one, which I took today, and which I think sort of captures our progress as a website over the past few months.


Now, I hate to admit it, but I’m not really sure what this is, so please feel free to fill me in. I’m sure it’s either a tortoise or a turtle, and whichever it is, it’s definitely the biggest one I’ve ever seen out of captivity.


In fact, when Anna pointed it out and suggested I take a picture, after Barkley gave it a quick sniff and found it uninteresting, I asked her if maybe we’d be better off just running. But then she reminded me of the fact that the thing, whether tortoise or turtle, was by reputation and all appearances, notoriously slow. So I snapped a few shots, including its really long tail, which is too creepy to publish here, and then we got out of there. It did not pursue us.

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Good Year Blimp Flies Over Sykesville

by Jack White on May 18, 2013

Wow, here’s something you don’t see every day.

Good Year Blimp flies over Sykesville

I heard this weird noise in the sky, like a really slow loud helicopter. I nearly jumped out of my shoes when I looked up and saw this thing.

Here’s a shot Patti Meyer sent me.

Good Year Blimp

Betina Koontz sent me this one.

Another shot of the blimp

This one I took in our back yard.

Blimp from our yard

I haven’t been this excited since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.


Sykesville Has a New Mayor – Ian Shaw

by Jack White on May 8, 2013

Well folks, this is already old news, but I just thought I’d post it for the historic record. Here’s the score.

Ian Shaw 295, Mike Miller 118, Stacy Link 258, Leo Keenan 210, Debbie Ellis 206, Anna Carter 187, John Ellis 141, and Joe Moltz 136.

Best of luck to Mike Miller and Chris True, who will no longer be  part of town government. Welcome, Stacy, and welcome back, Debbie.

Here’s the story in the Carroll County Times.

And if you’re wondering what happened to all the election questions and a couple of the articles about the election, I hid them. Maybe they’ll reappear someday, but it’s not likely.


I’m not sure exactly what easy peasy means, but here’s what former town council head Jeannie Nichols thinks about who you should vote for.

Easy peasy, I am voting for Ian Shaw – enthusiastic, actually would like being mayor, likes working with people, and is respectful of other’s opinions.

Debby Ellis – truly brilliant, has been on the council before (we served together) knows the budget numbers, been to almost ever council meeting in the last four years and takes NOTES!

John Ellis – also been to almost every council meeting in the last four years, long time volunteer, tech savvy, enthusiastic.

Stacy Link – forward thinking, enthusiastic, smart, dedicated to the older part of town and has boundless energy.

We need to have a vision and look forward into the future. We have the potential in town to thrive in the future but this will not happen unless the council is not afraid to do what is right and not just what is politically correct at the moment.

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Oh, man, it’s time to vote for town council, and I’m kind of stumped. The problem is they all seem so nice. They all seem so qualified and dedicated and truly concerned about the town. They all volunteer their time and do good things.

What is wrong with these people?

Why isn’t anyone fighting? Why can’t we have a big war over big issues like basketball hoops or the post office or…something…anything? Jeez, this race is friendly to the point of boredom. Who knows, maybe we’ll even get to vote without someone sitting in the corner to make sure we don’t cheat.

But still, despite what might look like a lack of controversy and big issues and big differences between the candidates, you should vote. Let the winners feel like they won something. Let them have a sense of accomplishment and a bit of a mandate to do whatever it is they say they’re going to do. Being on Sykesville’s town council is not exactly a cushy job. It’s basically volunteer work.

I’d love to be on town council, if it wouldn’t require me attending meetings twice a month for almost no money, making decisions, and getting hated by people for things I might not even do.

So let’s look at some ways you can divide up your votes.

First you could go with sex.

[read more…]


While sipping and sometimes gulping too much wine at yesterday’s festival, I came across Wiley Purkey, painting by the fountain. Wiley and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but somehow or another we seem to get along just swell. Anyway, he asked if he could endorse some candidates, and I said, “Sure.” So here’s what Wiley has to say.

Wiley Purkey

While attending the Sykesville Art and Wine Festival Sunday, I was thinking about the election on Tuesday, May 7th. There I sat on a bench chosen by former Mayor Jonathan Herman, in a park he supported, in front of a fountain that he designed, looking at the Old Main Line Visitors Center that he supported, at the train station that he oversaw the renovation of, at the McElroy parking lot, his own restored home on Norwood Ave., and the Norwood Mansion that he restored, and I was struck by how important it is to have true leadership qualities in our Mayor.

Wiley Purkey at the 2013 Fine Art & Wine Festival

[read more…]


Candidate Videos

by Jack White on May 2, 2013

Well, apparently the Carroll County media center offered the candidates a chance to create a short video. Three of them took them up on the offer, so here they are in alphabetical order. [read more…]


Spring Morning at Cooper Park – 2013

by Jack White on April 21, 2013

Just held up the phone camera and snapped.

Cooper Park in Sykesville


Tributes to Corporal Lewis

by Jack White on April 15, 2013

Well, Barkley isn’t the only one who liked Corporal Lewis. I thought I’d share some of the nice things people said. Apparently he had some other skills, like breaking into trucks (to help people), feeding the dogs of random citizens, and hugging very sad postal workers.

Sykesville's Dave LewisHere you go, Dave. (I don’t think Dave’s on Facebook.)

Patti Meyer

Oh no!! He was the best one there. I’m so sad to hear this…

He helped me last year, when I locked my keys in my truck at the Convenience Store. I asked him to give me a ride home, but he said wait a second, I can get your truck open for you. He did, in record time!

HUGE loss for this town police department, whatever the circumstances. There will never be another that cared as much for the people and this town, and was always a professional. Wonderful story.

I’ve had many contacts with Dave since he became an officer for our town, and believe me, he will be deeply missed. He is the most kind, caring and compassionate person the town police department has ever had. Check out the museum in the PD, his doing. Look at the mannequin in the PD lobby, dressed in my father’s old uniform, his doing. When my Mother was living in town, and we had to call an ambulance for her, if Dave was working, he was there to make sure she was ok and to see if we needed his help with anything. My Mom would also call the PD in her later years, and he always responded and assisted her the best he could. Once, he even ran the rabbits out of her garden for her! What a loss for this town. Dave, I’ll miss seeing you. I hope I never have to call for town police assistance, because if you aren’t there, I don’t want anyone!!! Much love and good luck to you in whatever you move on to…. Patti & Marty

Connie McKay

Dave Lewis’ leaving is truly a great loss to Sykesville. As all have attested here, he cares about people (and animals). He used to visit us at the OML Visitor Center Post Office just to check on our well-being. His demeanor was that of interest and caring. He exuded security and always with a light-hearted sense of humor. He was on duty the day we handed in our letters of resignation to the town. He hugged each one of us and said that he didn’t want us to go. I wish we could have been there last week so that we could have hugged him and said, “Dave, we don’t want you to go.” [read more…]


“What I’ll miss most is doing the school crossings and getting all the high fives from the kids.”

Corporal Dave Lewis of the Sykesville Police

Well, just when things were looking up for Barkley, our arthritic dog, Dave Lewis resigned from the Sykesville police force. It happened about a week ago and Barkley is not happy.

Corporal Dave Lewis

When Barkley talks, he sounds just like Dug in the movie Up.

Barkley says, “This is awful, Jack. I loved Dave Lewis. He liked dogs. He even liked people. I am going to be depressed all month, Jack.”

So we’re upping Barkley’s Dogzac.

Now, if you’re unsure why Barkley is so fond of Corporal Lewis, maybe you missed our story about the suddenly missing picnic table at Warfield. One day it was there, next day it was in the lake, depriving Barkley of one of his favorite pastimes, lifting his leg and marking the bench in various places with his scent.

A couple days after it mysteriously vanished, it mysteriously returned. Then we received this note.

Best I can do. Beer cans are all cleaned up, the suspected bong (wrapping for one of the new trees, as it turns out) recovered and disposed of. And with a lot of assistance from the police department’s new AWD SUV cruiser and a tow cable, the pic-a-nic table is back up where you can pee on it without getting your feet wet. Or Jack can.

So Corporal Lewis had gone in and gotten the bench out.

Barkley restored

The Mullet Man

Dave and I first got acquainted during the famous mullet man incident. As you may recall, a semi-naked man in chicken feathers, leather pants, riding boots, and an orange mullet, terrorized the area around Kalorama and Harlan Lane recently with a bad haircut and a knife, drawing cops from all over, including the Sykesville police. When someone made a crack about Barney and Andy, Dave took offense and took it out on me.

[read more…]

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Barkley’s Faith in Humanity Restored

by Jack White on March 2, 2013

Barkley says, “Jack, Jack, it’s back.”

“Why I’ll be darned,” I say.

Barley prepares

He says, “Can I pee on it, Jack?”

I say, “Certainly, Barkley.”

He says, “Would you like to go first?”

I say, “No, that’s okay.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, you see, they might arrest me for that.”

“Okay,” says Barkley, “Would you mind not taking a picture?”

So I lower my camera and Barkley raises his leg.

When he’s finished, Barkley says, “How did this happen, Jack? How did the picnic table come back?”

“Well,” I say, “I believe a man named Corporal Dave Lewis of the Sykesville police had something to do with it. He sent you a letter.”

And then I read the letter to Barkley.

Best I can do. Beer cans are all cleaned up, the suspected bong (wrapping for one of the new trees, as it turns out) recovered and disposed of. And with a lot of assistance from the police department’s new AWD SUV cruiser and a tow cable, the pic-a-nic table is back up where you can pee on it without getting your feet wet. Or Jack can.
I can’t change A-hole’s behavior, but I hope this helps.
P.S., Dad was right, there was more than one of them. That joker is HEAVY !

Barkley says, “I was wrong, Jack. Humans don’t suck.”

“Only some,” I say. “The trick is not to be one of them.”

Barkley prepares to leap

Barkley’s not the strongest of dogs. He has some kind of disorder and when he doesn’t take steroids, he can hardly walk. The steroids aren’t good for him and are probably shortening his life, but as long as he takes them he’s pretty much okay.

And sometimes, like today, really happy, with his faith restored in humanity, he gets back the old strength in his legs and makes a mighty leap.

Barkley restored

He’s a noble old fella.



Beer Drinking Vandals Break Barkley’s Heart

by Jack White on February 28, 2013

The following post is rated PG due to cartoon violence, a talking dog, rude language, and a drug reference. Proceed with caution.

Barkley’s a simple fellow, being a dog and all, and mostly quiet, except for periodic outbursts of insane barking. He likes to go walking with me over at Warfield and peeing everywhere. He does the peeing, I just walk.

But today something terrible happened. You see right now, both of us notice something is amiss in the distance.

Where's the bench?

As we get closer, it becomes more clear.

Why is the bench still missing?

Finally Barkley can’t take it anymore. He says to me, “Jack, where’s the picnic bench?”

I say, “Well, it should be right here.”

Where's the stinking bench.

“But, Jack,” he says. “It’s not. How am I going to pee on the picnic bench if it’s not here to pee on?”

Which is a good question of the philosophical sort I often pose to myself late at night when having trouble getting to sleep.

Well, it doesn’t take a lot of detective work, at least for a moderately aware human, to unravel the mystery.

Beer in the water

There’s the beer in the water, you see. And there’s the other beer, and the crushed pack of Newports, and what appears to be a four-foot long discarded bong.

Another beer in the water

And of course, there’s this, which is what I would call incontrovertible evidence.

We found the picnic bench.

Barkley says, “Jack, the picnic table’s in the water.”

I say, “I see that, Barkley.”

Yep, it's in the water.

Barkley says, “How can that be?”

I say, “How can it not be?”

Barkley says, “Huh?”

Bench and bag in the water

I say, “Someone put it there, Barkley.”

Barkley says, “Who, Jack? Who would do such a terrible thing to a picnic bench?”

I say, “Assholes, Barkley. Probably more than one of ‘em.”

Barkley says, “Humans suck, Jack. No offense.”

“No offense taken, my friend.”

He’s been depressed ever since.

Depressed Barkley


Was the Cauthorn House Haunted?

by Jack White on February 26, 2013

Well, this Cauthorn story just keeps getting more interesting. I wish I had time to research and write it up. Now I’m hearing their house was haunted. Here’s a picture from Fay Dowling taken in Autumn of 1982. Pretty, like a painting.


Just let me collect some snippets here from our Facebook site and some of the comments on other posts and see what kind of picture emerges. I hope no one minds.

Lauri Newcomer Leverett
The smaller red building to the left of the barn is/was the ‘carriage house’ as the Cauthorns called it. It was a drive through barrack type building on one half where they would pull the carriages through then unhook the team (you can just make out the opening on the side nearest the barn) and the other half was enclosed, with a wooden floor.

It was similar to a tack room where they would keep harnesses,  etc. The spring house would be directly behind the middle of the barn from this angle, but sadly not visible.

Margaret B. Smith
What a great picture Faye! When I was small and we went there it was always an experience and we so had to on our p’s & q’s when we went in the house. I much rather have been outside with Helen and Alex and the horses. The girls used to stop occasionally for tea at our house on there way back from Westminster because it was such a trip! [read more…]


My Apologies to Mayor Miller and Wiley Purkey

by Jack White on February 25, 2013

Way back a few months ago, I wrote this article about Matt Candland.

What I didn’t know, because somehow our software screwed up, was that Mayor Mike Miller and Wiley Purkey, both of whom are mentioned in the article, left comments. I discovered the comments today mixed in with a bunch of spam comments about Viagra, which I’m pretty sure has nothing to do with Sykesville.

So here are their comments, and I thank them both.

Now, the mayor does mention that I made a $4 million mistake. I really don’t like making $4 million mistakes. So I’m going to blame Matt. Anyway, here you go.

Wiley Purkey 2012-08-17 05:16

I can’t believe that no one has commented on this brilliant article! Well researched, and well written. Matt will surely be missed, he was just about the only connection to the “Sykesville Vision” that was left. History will record the years from 1985 to 2006 as Sykesville’s “Golden Age”.

Mike Miller 2012-08-05 15:43

Excellent article, best read about Sykesville that I’ve seen in some time.

BUT that “free” intersection at 32 and Warfield was not free at all, like the article states. The Warfield Development Corporation has an outstanding 4 Million + dollar loan, backed by the Town, that is owed to the State and County and accruing interest each year. Where is that money coming from? Hmmmm…

Nevertheless, a GREAT thanks is deserved by all those who participated in bringing Sykesville back to life, including our excellent Town Manager, Matthew Candland.


Yeah, that’s a long title, but here’s what it all means. This is a comment from our friend, Marie Hood Jones, on the Cauthorn piece. Now, my question is, was the Warfield in question Wade Warfield’s wife, thus adding a bit more to my story about the rise and fall of Sykesville’s most influential citizen?

Here’s Marie.

I’m not sure which branch of the Warfield family this pertained to, but my grandmother, Adelle Guy Wilson, worked for a Warfield family as a girl. One of her jobs was to trim the wicks of the oil lamps thruout the big house they owned. My grandmother died in March of 2009, just shy of her 100th birthday.

She recounted to me, that the day my mother was born, Mrs Warfield was sure Adelle must be deathly ill because she did not come to work in the house. And when she was told that my Mom was born, she responded that the ‘teller’ must mean my grandmother’s mother.

In the days when women kept having children from early to late in their lives, their daughters often had children the same age, and in a time when personal stuff was fairly quiet and not pronounced to everyone, and women wore long full dresses and aprons, they could be in a family way and no one knew.

In retrospect, I imagine that they also secretly hoped that the baby would be born alive and live long enough to be celebrated. Your tomb-stone reading reminds us of the sadnesses that plagued families of the time.

All was well and Mrs Warfield gave her a lovely piece of china to commemorate the event. This would have been about 1927.

Ellen Warfield died in 1932. She and Wade certainly lived in a large house, but they lost the house and most of their possessions in 1927. Perhaps Adelle Guy Wilson trimmed the oil lamps in the home of Wade and Ellen Warfield before they lost it all.

I sure hope so.

Click here to read the story of Wade and Ellen Warfield. And when you get to the end of part one, make sure you click through to part 2.


More on the Cauthorn Sisters

by Jack White on January 21, 2013

It’s fascinating to watch the story of the Cauthorns take shape. Here’s a bit more from Lauri Newcomer.

I knew the Cauthorn ladies as well. I also know Fay [Dowling]. The Cauthorns farm was around the corner from my parents property, where I grew up. My father still lives there. My uncle farmed the Cauthorn’s property for years and my Dad was always available to help ‘the sisters’ out with errands, repairs, etc.

The springhouse Fay speaks of, did indeed have the most divine taste. Their carriage house, old bank barn and barracks were flashbacks in time. The house, which I was in as a guest multiple times as a child, was fascinating to me. It dated back to pre-Civil War. I remember the glass in the kitchen windows was the really old wavy glass. Some of the panes were signed by the glass makers.

I don’t remember Alex, but I remember his sisters, Miss Agnes, Miss Margaret and Miss Helen well. I remember sitting with them listening to their banter many times as a child.

Miss Helen rode her horse Rascal well into her later life. I’m not sure exactly how old she was but I expect somewhere in her seventies. Miss Margaret was the one who drove the family car. Miss Agnes was more of a home body and the quieter one of the sisters. To my knowledge they never married or had families.


Here’s a nice comment on the angel. This from Marie Hood Jones. Thanks, Marie.

Looks just like the angel that my grandma placed over her baby’s grave….that baby was Helen Marie Wilson….called Marie…..She was my mothers baby sister and I was named after her and called Marie……but just almost…… because a cousin was named Helen in respect just before me—I became Ellen Marie…….As a child, I loved to visit the angel…and had no idea how painful those sweet little trips to see her were for my grandparents…….I know now..and shed a tear for their sorrow…….

The angel of Sykesville


If you scroll down, you’ll see my little sad story about the Cauthorns. I thought it was fascinating that so many of them apparently were born and then died right away or died within a few years, and were all buried in a crooked row in Springfield Cemetery.

But there’s more to the story. I received a comment from Fay Dowling, who actually knew them, and here’s the nice story she told me about the Cauthorns who lived long lives.


Here’s Fay’s account of the Cauthorns.

I knew the Cauthorns, sort of. I vaguely remember Alex and his three sisters. My father farmed their land for many years, and we rode horses through their farm to reach trails down to Ellicott City and beyond.

The water that rose from a natural spring up into the spring house below the barn had the most delicious taste – or perhaps it tasted so good from working hard in the hay fields on hot summer days.

I remember the sisters, Helen and Margaret, and their grand, tall thoroughbreds, watching them set out as if to ride a hunt. Elegant ladies, or so they seemed, to one so young as I was.

Their farm was up on Arrington Road, between Sykesville and Marriottsville. I often daydreamed of what it was like inside their grand home. I never did see myself, unless it was when I was very, very young. Before I reached my teens, my father was no longer farming their land, and the ladies no longer rode. I never knew them to not be old, and mysterious, and always, elegant.

I know I’m probably a little weird in this way, but these sorts of stories fascinate me, as I slowly piece together Sykesville’s past, and I’m really grateful when someone leaves a compliment, or better yet, a comment, especially one as vivid and well-written as this one, that helps tell the stories better.

So thanks, Fay. I’m glad the Cauthorn story wasn’t all tragedy, and I’m glad to learn that they were elegant, mysterious old ladies on horses.

But then, I’ve got to ask. Did they never marry, never have children. Were they lonely, did they only have one another, and was it maybe, a sad story nonetheless?


The Coolest Thing in Sykesville

by Jack White on January 12, 2013

Okay, you can argue with me, but show me one thing in Sykesville cooler than the angel on a bright Spring day in January, looking down and gently dropping flowers on the dead.





Is she not, perhaps, the most beautiful thing in the world?


A short sad Sykesville Story – Meet the Cauthorns

by Jack White on January 12, 2013

While taking pictures of John Bennett, the Confederate boat captain buried in Springfield Cemetery, I came across the Cauthorns. Here is their short sad story.

cauthorn - stone

cauthorn - fanny

cauthorn - mary


cauthorn - rhoda

cauthorn - wilmer




They lived long, or they barely lived at all.

The end.


John W. Bennett and the Battle of Mobile Bay

by Jack White on January 12, 2013

Springfield Cemetery in Sykesville is loaded with cool graves and good stories and interesting links to most, but not all, of the town’s history – not to mention American history. This story, published by the Sykesville Gatehouse Museum in a recent edition of its ArtiFACTS newsletter, has something to do with this great picture from the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay.


It’s written by museum volunteer Fran Midkiff and tells the tale of one of the many Maryland men who fought on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War. His name is John W. Bennett and he settled nearby after the war and is buried in Springfield Cemetery not far from the grave of George Patterson, an owner of many slaves, and probably also a Southern sympathizer.

Here’s the grave. The tall structures in the background belong to the Pattersons.


Bennett commanded a ship during the battle. Here’s the story.

By Fran Midkiff
During the Civil War, Maryland (along with Virginia, West Virginia, and Delaware) was one of four “border states” with residents sympathetic to both the Union and Confederate positions. Southern and eastern Marylanders tended to side with the South, while northern and western Marylanders tended to side with the North. One Marylander who served in the Confederate Navy is of particular note because, after the end of the Civil War, he settled in the Sykesville area and was buried in the Springfield Presbyterian Church cemetery.

John W. Bennett (January 11, 1822, to June 29, 1902) was the son of an affluent Talbot County family. He married Sarah (Sally) Lloyd Lowndes, daughter of Charles Lowndes, a Commodore in the U.S. Navy, and his wife Sarah Scott Lloyd. Both the Lloyds and the Lowndes were wealthy and politically active.

Commodore Lowndes’ wife was his first cousin and the daughter of Edward Lloyd, governor of Maryland from 1809-1811, of Wye, Maryland. Lowndes’ nephew, Lloyd Lowndes, Jr., was governor of Maryland from 1896-1900.

Bennett was a member of the first graduating class in the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He was designated a Midshipman on February 10, 1840, passed Midshipman on July 11, 1846, and received his Masters on March 1, 1855. He became a Lieutenant on September 14, 1855.

When the Civil War broke out, Bennett was offered a commission in the U.S. Navy; however, he sided with the South and joined the Confederate Navy in 1861. Although he resigned, he was officially dismissed on April 19, 1861, a common practice the Union followed with those who chose to serve in the Confederate Navy or Army.

The Battle of Mobile Bay

Lieutenant Bennett was originally assigned to the Nashville, a man-of-war, commissioned by the Confederacy in the fall of 1861. Later, he was put in command of the Gaines, a wooden side-wheel gunboat [pictured below]. Hastily constructed in order to create a navy for the South, the Gaines was built with inferior materials in Mobile, Alabama, in 1861-62.


Bennett commanded the Gaines during the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864, and the ship was badly damaged in the battle. There is some belief that because the vessel was sinking due to shelling below the waterline and become grounded, the officers scuttled her to keep her out of Union hands. Most of the crew escaped to Mobile.

The Battle of Mobile Bay was a serious loss for the Confederacy because it led to the closing of Mobile Bay, an important Southern port for refueling and repairs. As a result, only the harbor at Wilmington, North Carolina, was left open for the Southern Navy. The city of Mobile, however, remained in the hands of the Confederacy.

After the War

After the war, Captain Bennett and his family settled in Carroll County. The 1870 Census indicated that they were living in District 5 with their two daughters, Ellen (1858-1942) and Harriett (1860-1938), and two sons, Charles (unknown) and Pennington (1869-1916). At the time of the 1880 Census, the Bennetts had added two more sons, Beverley (1871-1937) and Francis (1873-1946), and Bennett’s occupation was listed as “farmer.” Curiously, at the 1900 Census, Bennett’s occupation was listed as “sailor.”

Captain Bennett died on June 29, 1902, at the age of 80. His wife, Sarah died on March 14, 1905. They are buried with five of their six children in Springfield Cemetery, located at the Springfield Presbyterian Church on Spout Hill Road, Sykesville. Captain Bennett’s grave is marked with a large tombstone, inscribed “John William Bennett, Captain of the Confederate Navy.”

An anchor is carved on top of the tombstone.



While you’re here, have you read our story on Wade Warfield yet? It just might be our best ever. Click here to read it. Or else.


I’m not going to pretend I know exactly what’s going on here, but someone sent me a link to this website called Keep Carroll Open, and a link to the following video showing the commissioners fighting over funding the county schools.

Apparently Carroll County has been identified as the 22nd wealthiest county in the nation, based on median income, but yet, at least a couple of the commissioners are fighting to fund the county schools at the absolute minimum level. There’s also been discussion of closing schools.

Maybe we should all start paying attention. Here’s the video.