Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cumberland, Maryland - George lived here from 1890's until his death in 1904...found some cool things today!

Cumberland, MD

Today we started out the morning walking down the C & O Canal path to the Allegheny County Museum. It was very interesting to learn all about the transportation in this area - the canal boats, the National Road and the B & O Railroad.

George W. Ordner was listed as a "clerk" for the B&O Railroad in the Cumberland City directory in 1899, 1901 and 1902. I am not sure precisely what type of Clerk and what role he held. I have a few ideas, but I have to check them out at the National Archives in Washington DC. So later I will tell you what I find out!

We did manage to find a few of the original buildings where George lived with his wife, Christina (Dena) Miller in Cumberland. The first house where they lived was 242 1/2 N. Mechanic Street. While their actual building is no longer there, the house next door and several across the street still exist.

House next door to where George and his wife, Dena lived in 1896 - 1901.
They lived in a similar house on the upper floor.
The arched door on the left are the stairs to the upper rooms.

Their house was one block south from St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Their son, Charles W. Ordner, was married in this church on June 13, 1901 to a Miss Charlotte Banks, daughter of George Banks, head miller at the R.D. Johnson Milling company of Cumberland.

We also found Charlie's house where he lived in 1897 at 142 1/2 N. Mechanic St. just one block from where his parents were. The coolest thing we discovered today is that within 6 blocks were their houses, their church, the Potomac River, the B & O Train station, and the girl he was courting! Easy to walk it all, which we did, traveling the same sidewalks and seeing several of the same buildings they would have seen every day. It was like going back 100 years.

Charlie Ordner's house 142 1/2 N. Mechanic St, Cumberland MD.
Charlie lived in the upper rooms, and would have gone through the arched doorway, up the stairs to his rooms.

On our walk, we also took an historic stroll down Washington Street - the fashionable and wealthy block in town. (Which was 4 blocks south from Mechanic St.) Here we discovered the original site of Ft. Cumberland which was a main fort in the French and Indian war and where George Washington, our nations first president, (Remember, whom my grandfather was named after?) camped in 1755 as an aide-de-camp to General Braddock.

Then a few houses down Washington St, we discovered that one of the houses at 108 Washington (now the Board of Education building) was built in the 1860's by the Walsh family. So what? Well, George's first cousin, Marian Shane married the Honarable William Walsh who served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives in late 1870. The house was also the birthplace of the world-renown Bishop James E Walsh, who was held prisoner in Red China for 10 years. Knowing this and seeing the building, that perhaps George and his family celebrated holidays in, made me want to see the inside. avail, it was closed.

The Honorable William Walsh's house, built in 1860's.
108 Washington St, Cumberland, MD.

Further down the street (about 5 or so houses) one of the houses was a historically renovated house, the Gordon-Roberts house, which was built in 1867. This one was open so we decided to head in for a tour. Here we met the wonderful tour guide, Lindsay Lindsay (seriously that is her name! She married a man who had her first name as his last name! See Lindsay, I told you I would write about you...)

Lindsay took us all through the house and explained what life would have been like when the house was built and during Victorian times (late 1800s) when my Great-grandfather Charlie was courting my future great-grandmother Charlotte. (My mother is named after her.) In the parlor, Lindsay explained, was a courting sofa. Each of the couple would sit on the ends of the sofa and the parents would sit in between while the young man came to court their daughter. They could not sit together until they were engaged...In the parlor was also a table of checkers and a card game, Flinch, which was from 1901. I have one of these card games. In the love letters that Charlie wrote to Charlotte, he often mentioned playing cards. Perhaps they played this game!

Parlor room in the Gordon-Roberts house.
Today was a day filled literally walking the streets and seeing the same views that George and his son Charlie would have seen. Unbelievable!

After resting our tired feet, we decided to visit the small local winery in the canal shops about 100 yards from our hotel room. Charis Winery, whose owner is Chuck Parks, is a wonderful place right on the canal and right next to the Railroad depot. We tasted several of the red wines (exceptional! We really liked the Iron Horse and the Mountain Thunder wines...enough to buy several bottles!) So we sipped and visited and shared with Chuck what we were doing here in Cumberland, regaling him with several stories of my family. When we told him about what we saw today and that the Walsh house was built by a relative of ours...he laughed. Apparently he is an IT worker for the Board of Education and works every weekday in the building I wanted to see inside! So this week we are going to visit him at work and get a tour of the inside of the house!

Busy day - awesome experiences and great people! Tomorrow we are riding a steam engine train on the very tracks my grandfather's would have ridden from Cumberland to Mt. Savage...more adventures await! Until tomorrow...


  1. Thanks Laurie! I kept trying to leave a comment but was having trouble with Google. It was awesome having you all, The Allegany County Historical Society thanks you!!!!