“You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town”
And so starts one of our nation’s most beloved and beholden Christmas songs, albeit a connection to commercial Christmas in nature. The tune’s overarching appeal is due to its incentive-laden, and mesmerizing, threat to children everywhere this special time of year. For that very reason, aside from the catchy hook, it has been a holiday favorite to parents as well as children since being first sung by Eddie Cantor on a radio show in November, 1934.
Santa Claus continues to come to towns across the nation and world, and Frederick, Maryland is no different. I’m sure that there are several inhabitants of Mount Olivet who helped forge “Christmas Magic” for youngsters in our past. However, one is a bonafide certainty—Charles Edward Winpigler.
Local news articles from the 1950’s and 60’s talk of Mr. Winpigler’s, pardon, Mr. Santa Claus’ appearances at local civic club Christmas parties and merchant hostings. One of Ed’s earliest experiences came in late November, 1950 when the Frederick Chamber of Commerce brought Santa to town for a parade to kick-off the Christmas shopping season. The date was Friday, November 24, the day after Thanksgiving and Santa made the trip from the North Pole to North Market Street. He continued to proceed south on downtown Frederick’s main thoroughfare, before turning west on West All Saints Street and culminating at Court Square. Thousands of residents were in attendance and lined the street. “Santa’s sleigh” paused briefly at each block to hand out candy and collect Christmas “wish lists” from mesmerized boys and girls. Thus followed a great tradition for Frederick, the roots of today’s annual Kris Kringle Procession.
Playing jolly “Ole Saint Nick” was a part well-tailored for a man rich in experience of “making his list, checking it twice and finding out who's naughty and nice.” This based on the fact that Ed Winpigler had 13 children (seven daughters and six sons) and 28 grandchildren. He would even boast 9 great-grandchildren at the time of his death. So what’s a few hundred more from the youth population of Frederick?
An article from the January 19, 1961 edition the Frederick News recounted Mr. Santa Claus’ recent assignment with the Frederick Memorial Hospital’s Ladies Auxiliary:
“…all ladies on the first and second floors of the hospital were given corsages left over from the Snow Ball. All floors were decorated at Christmas and Edward Winpigler as Santa Claus made rounds of every room giving appropriate gifts to each patient. The toys for the children were donated by Sears Roebuck and Co.”
Through his charitable service as Mr. Santa Claus, it’s safe to say that Ed Winpigler made an impression on kids—from one to ninety-two.
C. Edward Winpigler would pass away 19 years later while at that same Frederick Memorial Hospital. However, he had held on to share and inspire holiday joy for family and friends for one last Christmas. He died one week later on New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 1979.
If you have remembrances of Ed Winpigler, “Mr. Santa Claus,” or other “Santas” (interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery) please share with us in our comments section. We also can add additional photos to the story.
Seventy-five years ago, citizens of Frederick listened intently to radios as the following words were spoken by their defiant president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt as he addressed Congress and the nation on Monday, December 8, 1941:
“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Within an hour of this speech, Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan and officially brought the U.S. into World War II. Everyday life would be changed forever. And for many young men of the time, life would be cut drastically short on the seas and islands of the Pacific, battlefields of Europe and deserts of Africa among others.
As we commemorate this, the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, we reflect on those service men and women who put their lives on the line, specifically those connected to the Hawaiian Islands bombings. Over 200 soldiers, sailors and pilots from Frederick lost their lives in World War II. A monument to their memory lies within Mount Olivet Cemetery, originally dedicated on May 30, 1948.
The double-columned monument, made of Indiana limestone, features a central obelisk containing the names of 219 individuals from all parts of Frederick County. Atop this pilaster is a sculpted eternal flame of gold, below which read: “The flame of love shall burn into our hearts the memory of our noble dead.” The remains of 30 veterans, who died in the line of duty, are buried in a semi-circular design around the monument, marked by flat, military issue stone markers. One of these slabs of marble rests over the body of Ray Jacob Stambaugh.
Jacob Stambaugh was serving at the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii Territory on the morning of December 7, 1941. Commencing at 7:48am (Hawaiian time), the base was attacked by 353 Imperial Japanese fighter planes and bombers launched from nearby aircraft carriers. Luckily, Jacob Stambaugh (fireman/1C) survived the assault without injury. He was stationed aboard the USS Tucker (DD-374), a Mahan-class destroyer assigned to the US Battle Fleet in San Diego, California that routinely operated along the West Coast and in the Hawaiian Islands.
Stambaugh's ship had come to Pearl Harbor following a good will tour to New Zealand and was berthed at the East Loch of Pearl Harbor while undergoing overhaul. The ship did not receive much damage, as it was in the position however to shoot down four enemy planes that morning.
Born March 17, 1921, Jacob Stambaugh was a native of Jimtown, near Thurmont. He was a former student and standout baseball player who attended the Buckingham School that once operated south of Buckeystown (today part of Claggett Center). He joined the Navy in 1939.
For the months following the Pearl Harbor disaster, Jacob Stambaugh saw duty in other parts of the Pacific. The USS Tucker escorted convoys between the West Coast and Hawaii. She then did escort work to American Samoa, the Fiji Islands, New Caledonia, and Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides. This latter island, today known as Vanuato, is where Stambaugh would lose his life.
Newspaper accounts of the time reported that Stambaugh’s death was connected to the Battle of Midway which occurred in June of 1942. This wasn’t so. He was actually reported missing in action in early September, 1942. An article in the Frederick News and dated October 3, 1942 confirmed Stambaugh’s death at the age of 21 years of age. He would be the first World War II Naval casualty from Frederick County.
I consulted our Mount Olivet records and found a notation in the file that Stambaugh was aboard the USS Tucker at the time of his death on August 4, 1942, saying he died during the Battle of Midway. I questioned this and went online in search of the USS Tucker. I soon found the following account that documented an event that occurred on August 3, 1942 off the South Pacific island of New Hebrides:
“The Tucker entered the harbor at Espiritu Santo's western entrance, leading the cargo ship SS Nira Luckenbach, unaware they had entered a minefield laid earlier by US Navy minelayers. After striking at least one mine, the destroyer was almost torn in two at the No. 1 stack, killing all three of the crew in the forward fireroom. The rest of the crew survived but Tucker did not. The destroyer slowly settled in the water and sank. An investigation revealed that the USS Tucker had not been given information about the existence of the minefield.”
Jacob Stambaugh was one of the three men killed that fateful night. He was originally buried in the Espiritu Santo American Military Cemetery located on the US naval base located on the island. Six and-a-half years after his death, Ray Jacob Stambaugh would be repatriated and returned home to Frederick County (summer of 1948), just one week after the momentous dedication of Mount Olivet’s World War II monument. He goes down in the history books as the first WWII Naval casualty from Frederick County, and a lasting local connection to that “infamous day” in early December, 1941.
Check out a touching YouTube video featuring vintage film made of a WWII military grave detail at Espiritu Santo Military Cemetery where Ray Jacob Stambaugh was first interred https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnksOA4sSeM
One of Mount Olivet Cemetery’s most beloved inhabitants celebrates a milestone birthday on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016. This spunky, nonagenarian put our town (and county) on the map —“The bravest of all in Frederick town, She took up the flag the men hauled down.”
Her amazing tale of patriotism would certainly have a major impact on future tourism, commerce and historic preservation efforts. Frederick wouldn’t be the same without this lady, and she wouldn’t have been the same without Frederick. We can thank this lady and a poet from Amesbury, Massachusetts for immortalizing our magical setting complete with “green-walled hills and clustered spires.”
Of course, I’m referring to Barbara Fritchie, a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania who moved with her German immigrant Hauer family to Frederick as a young girl on the eve of the American Revolution. The majority of Fritchie’s storied life would be spent in a burgeoning town, at the time located on Maryland’s western frontier.
Barbara Fritchie witnessed the early history of our nation. She experienced our country gaining independence from Great Britain, and a successful effort to keep it after the British destroyed the White House and Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812. She supposedly even knew the local attorney (Francis Scott Key) who wrote a song that would one day become our national anthem. Fritchie saw transportation enhancements reach Frederick in the form of the National Road, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The industrial revolution brought important technological advancements, some utilized by her family in their glove-making business once located on West Patrick Street. Frederick grew in greater prominence as a crossroads of transportation, commerce and history. What a wonderful life, or so she thought up until spring 1861 and the firing upon Fort Sumter.
The fading chapter of Fritchie’s life saw a threat to her beloved Union under President Abraham Lincoln. The Confederate Army with generals Lee, Jackson, Longstreet and others made Frederick the first major northern town that the Army of Northern Virginia would come to, hoping to find support and recruits sympathetic to their cause. The Rebels found neither, as Frederick was best personified by Barbara Fritchie’s fierce and stubborn loyalty to the United States of America. This steadfast attitude probably led to the $200,000 ransom of town levied two years later, but that’s a story for another day!
Whether Barbara Fritchie actually waved a flag at Stonewall Jackson and his troops, as John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem would have us believe, has been hotly debated for well over 150 years now. It likely didn’t happen, but those who actually knew Barbara would expect her to have done something exactly of the sort. She was brave, loyal and true—adding to the fact that she had lived longer than most people in her day, seeing and experiencing earlier warfare and change over her 96 years. What she didn’t experience, however, was the playing out of the Civil War and restoration of the Union in 1865. Fritchie had died on December 18, 1862, just a few short months after her alleged flag-waving foray.
Dame Fritchie was quietly laid to rest beside her husband John in the old German Reformed Church Cemetery located along present day Bentz and W. Second streets (the site of today’s Memorial Park). It was a solemn ceremony attended by family and friends.
In 1912, 50 years after her death, it was decided that Barbara be moved to Mount Olivet, the “funerary showplace of Frederick.” This is where Francis Scott Key had been reinterred in 1866 after his original 1843 burial in Baltimore’s St. Paul’s Church Graveyard. In 1898, Key would be reburied, within Mount Olivet, a third (and final) time beneath a grand monument, adjacent the cemetery’s front entrance. Could Frederick do this for one of the Civil War’s greatest civilian hero? Of course, this is Frederick!
Many residents of town, dignitaries, bands and a movie crew were on hand for the commemorative exercises planned for May 30, 1913 as Barbara and husband John were buried along the cemetery’s western border. The chosen area was approved by Fritchie descendants and given the moniker of the Fritchie Triangle, a unique piece of land with special lanes built on all sides to allow tourists and onlookers to visit and pay respects to the lady whose name would grace candy, wallpaper, a restaurant, films and stage plays, a local car dealership and cabin establishment, soda and pork products.
During the re-interment process and immediately after, fund drives included letter-writing campaigns, bake sales, movie/vaudeville nights at the City Opera House. Conducted by the Barbara Fritchie Memorial Association, these efforts procured enough money to build a fitting monument, but not to the scope once imagined. An early rendering for a Fritchie memorial was depicted on a postcard, and captured both literally and figuratively Dame Fritchie’s “larger than life” persona. Unfortunately, it was too large and downright massive—the design resembled a smaller version of the Washington Monument with a proposed location at the intersection of Market and 7th streets (where the fountain resides.)
This 7th and Market "behemoth scenario" was successfully thwarted by opponents led by the Baltimore Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. This organization had vehemently questioned the validity of the Fritchie flag-waving episode for decades. The Fritchie Association regrouped and decided to go with a monument location at the Fritchie gravesite in Mount Olivet.
Over a year later, on September 8, 1914, a more modest monument was erected to memorialize one of the most beloved female characters in American history up to that point. Artist James E. Kelly (1833-1855) sculpted a profile view of Barbara in the form of a large medallion and this was affixed to the large granite shaft. It was reminiscent of the design he utilized 15 years earlier in the completion of the Horatio G. Wright Monument at Arlington cemetery.
The monument also included a tablet featuring Whittier’s 1863 ballad for all to read. Lastly, a flag pole was placed behind the monument so all visitors, past, present and into the future, could eyewitness for themselves one of the couplets of the poem:
“Over Barbara Frietchie’s grave, flag of freedom and Union, wave!”
Happy Birthday Barbara, you would never know of your international fame, but Frederick, her
residents, clustered spires and Mount Olivet have truly benefitted from it.
Come sing Happy Birthday to Barbara and eat some cake too! The Ausherman Family Foundation will open the Barbara Fritchie House and Museum from 12-4pm on Saturday, December 3rd (Free). it will be open again from 10-4:00 on Saturday, December 10 for the annual Museums by Candlelight event. The Museum is located at 154 W. Patrick Street in Downtown Frederick. Visit www.barbarafritchie.org to learn more and see the new 20 minute documentary video or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlALx5_QcqM
Oh Thanksgiving, now in the rear view mirror for this year. This holiday certainly represents so many different things to different people: gathering with family and friends, giving thanks, hunting, eating indulgence, football, fishing and, of course, shopping with those captivated with “Black Friday.” For one couple interred here in Mount Olivet, Thanksgiving represented even something more than the reasons given above. And it’s a safe bet that trout was served alongside turkey as well.
A century ago, Frank L. Bentz (Sr.) and Ida May Hagan were married on Thanksgiving Day, 1916. This surely made for terrific wedding anniversary dinners for the next 38 years—leading up to Mr. Bentz’ death in 1955. Both left an impact on the Frederick and Washington county communities, especially on children.
Frank Lawrence Bentz Sr. was born in Frederick on March 1, 1879. In 1911, he removed to nearby Hagerstown and opened a show store with partner John Dunn. After 20 years in business, Bentz retired from the Bentz & Dunn footwear firm in 1932. He would embark on a new career that fast became the love of his life, outside of wife Ida May, of course. This was conservation and fishing.
Bentz worked as the popular and highly respected chief clerk of the Maryland Conservation Commission and later became the public relations director for the Maryland Game and Inland Fish Commission. In the latter capacity, he supervised much of the stocking of streams and conservation policies of the commission. At the time of his death, Frank Bentz was said “to have done more than any other Marylander to provide the finest sport for those followers of Izaak Walton.”
After his retirement from his commission post on March 1, 1949 (his sixtieth birthday), Bentz gave much of his time to the Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock, an organization of trout fishing enthusiasts, devoted to teaching youngsters about fishing, conservation of natural resources and, most importantly, good sportsmanship. Bentz was a charter member of the club founded in 1940, along with fishing legend Joe Brooks, Jr. (known as the father of modern fly-fishing”) and J. Hammond Brown (outdoors columnist/editor for the Baltimore Sun and Frederick News-Post).
Among his many accomplishments, Mr. Bentz was the first Boy Scout master in Washington County, an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, founder of the Izaak Walton League, one of the first 40 members of the National Guard’s Company A (Frederick), founder of the Conococheague Sportsmen Club and a member of the First Hose Fire Company (Hagerstown).
Frank L. Bentz died on June 24, 1955. His legacy lives on in Thurmont, where a body of water, filled with trout, bears his name. This small pond off Maryland Route 77 (east of Catoctin Mountain Park), was created in 1908 when Big Hunting Creek was dammed to power electric generators for Thurmont. In 1955, it was dedicated to the man responsible for the original restoration of the pond, and given the name of the Frank Bentz Memorial Lake. also referred to as Frank Bentz Pond.
As for Mrs. Bentz, she was also a native of Frederick, born December 29, 1882. She was a former secretary at Frederick’s Lowenstein and Wertheimer and served as corresponding secretary to the Barbara Fritchie memorial association. She prepared the sketch of the monument and the draft of the plaque which were used for the Barbara Fritchie Monument at the relocated grave dedicated in 1914 here at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
She was active in the Red Cross and helped organize a Hagerstown public school lunch program designed to feed children whose families could not afford to do so. It is believed that this was the first program of its kind in the country. Ida May Hagan Bentz passed on May 29, 1971 at the age of 89.
I find it ironic that a few weeks back, a visitor to the cemetery inquired about gravestones having fish on them. The Bentz’ stone doesn’t, but perhaps it should.
NOTE: The Bentz's are buried in Area L (Lot 224). If you have any photos of Mr. or Mrs. Bentz to add to this story, please send to: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the early 1850’s, well before the outbreak of the American Civil War, Frederick City consisted of many downtown-located burying grounds. Most of these adjoined churches and dated back to the founding of Frederick Town in the 1740's.
As the town's population grew, so did the churches and their congregations. The graveyards were rapidly reaching their capacity for burials. A committee was formed and comprised of prominent member-representatives of each church to discuss a resolution to the problem of burial space. It was decided that a new cemetery would have to be developed to cater to the needs of an ever-growing Frederick and her religious institutions.
This was at the height of the "rural," or "garden," cemetery movement, a new school of thought which began in the large cities of the northeast. Herein, the philosophy toward cemetery design was re-examined. Prior to this time, small urban churchyards were the norm, but the "garden" cemetery movement promoted larger, park-like spaces on the outskirts of town. These cemeteries were planned as public spaces from their inception, and provided a place for all citizens to enjoy refined outdoor recreation amidst art and sculpture. Elaborate gardens were planted and family outings to the cemetery became popular social activities.
What's in a Name?
The name Mount Olivet was chosen, perhaps a curious choice for a non-denominational burying ground. The famed Mount of Olives, or Mount Olivet, is a mountain ridge east of, and adjacent to, Jerusalem's Old City. It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. The southern part of the Mount was the Silwan necropolis, attributed to the ancient Judean kingdom.
The Mount has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years and holds approximately 150,000 graves. Several key events in the life of Jesus, as related in the Gospels, took place on the Mount of Olives, and in the Acts of Apostles it is described as the place from which Jesus ascended to heaven.
The Charter of Mount Olivet Cemetery was recorded among the Land Records of Frederick County on October 4th, 1852. Thirty-two acres were purchased through stock sales, and a rural architect from Baltimore named James Belden was hired to design and lay-out Frederick's new burying ground. The cemetery was dedicated on May 23, 1854 amidst great fanfare. The cemetery's first interment occurred on May 28, 1854. This was Mrs. Ann J. Crawford, around 67 years of age, a house maid working for the family of James Whitehill, a prominent Frederick businessman and one of the founders of the cemetery.
Victorian Style, "the Language of Flowers"and Symbolism
Mount Olivet’s grounds are made up of hundreds of individual lots, each belonging to individual families. Though little more than cleared farmland in the beginning, early depictions show that many hedges were installed to delineate these property lines and young trees were planted to break the heat of the summer sun. Today these saplings are towering giants that pay homage to all who have passed beneath them.
The families continued developing their lots and pictures from the turn of the century show the refinement that had occurred. Walls, fountains and ornate iron fences had been added to grace the gardens.
The Victorian Period (1837-1901) defines the period of Queen Victoria's reign over Great Britain. This measured era of both European and American history brought a fascination with the natural world and a keen interest in plants. It became quite fashionable to decorate one's home with exotic, often tropical, plants. This would carry over to cemeteries as well. Palm trees and other rare species (to Maryland) would become part of the Mount Olivet landscape here, necessitating the cemetery's first greenhouse, built to "winter" these tender plants in addition to growing flowers.
Many plants and flowers were symbolic to those of the Victorian Age, either through their ‘language of flowers’ or religious beliefs. Lilies, symbolizing resurrection, weeping willows for sorrow and palm fronds and laurel to indicate triumph of the soul are frequently seen on grave markers. Bouquet could be used to send a private message telling of one’s love, or hate. You could also see these plants growing nearby within the cemetery, and in other cases, actually carved in stone on monuments.
Perhaps no other area of study offers better insight into the Victorian-era fascination with symbolism than that of the nineteenth century cemetery. Even the word "cemetery" has symbolic overtones as it was adapted by the early Christians from the Greek word koimerterion meaning "place of sleep." All cemeteries built during the Victorian period are full of symbolic references from the cemetery's design to the motifs and the design on the monuments. Crosses, obelisks, urns, columns, anchors, angels, cherubs adorn the older sections of the property and send some sort of message about the personality or importance of the inhabitants buried beneath.
The connection of stone and religion is strong. Stone conveys images of firmness and timelessness. It is quite natural that both Western and Eastern religions have embraced the use of stone as a media for their grave memorials. The messages conveyed on stone will in theory be eternal and mark an individual's life on earth.
Today, in excess of 40,000 graves are occupied, rivaling the living population of our state capital of Annapolis. Eight miles of paved roadway criss-cross the spacious cemetery grounds, allowing for recreational usage by walkers, runners and cyclists acting in a reverent and respectable manner. In addition, the cemetery proudly welcomes history and art lovers, family genealogists, photographers and "tombstone tourists" of all ages.