Cecil Whig first edition

ELKTON — Each week, we take a look back in time to examine what was on the minds of Cecil County readers. Rotating through the Whig’s 177-year history, we hope to not only provide direct text from our archives, but also context as to why the issue was important at the time.

Join us as we thumb through the pages of our history.

125 years ago (June 30, 1894)

We’re suckers for tall tales from the early days and loved this bit from 125 years ago of a phantom ship gliding through the clouds near Chesapeake City.

Ghost ship

Captain Hill of the schooner Annie E. Reynolds of Chesapeake City, reports witnessing a strange sight on Saturday night, together with his wife and the crew, while his vessel was lying at anchor in the Elk river, near Back creek. The captain says that at half past nine o’clock there appeared in the sky, boating north-northeast from the Reynolds, a schooner, with fore and main masts standing. Tho rigging of the vessel’s foremast appeared stranded, and there was no rigging on the mainmast. Her headgear was gone and her jibs hung overboard, with the exception of a little piece of the outer jib, which appeared to be the only whole canvas on the vessel. The keel of the vessel, Captain Hill says, could be seen from the stem to about the main mast. The spectacle appeared for fifteen minutes to the amazed observers. During this time the mainmast of the phantom ship suddenly broke off, apparently fifteen feet above deck, and the stern gradually sank into the clouds, the bow rearing up until the picture disappeared. The hull of the vessel seemed to be pure white.

As Cecil County prepares to celebrate the Fourth of July at a number of events, we thought it was interesting to take a look back at what our ancestors may have been taking part in.

The Glorious Fourth

The Fourth of July promises to be a typical day of celebration, crowned with patriotism, throughout Cecil county. Almost everywhere preparations are being actively made for the occasion, and there seems to be a spirit on the part of everyone to engage in the loyal celebration of the Day of Liberty.


A grand celebration will be held at Holly Hall, Elkton, commencing at 9 o’clock. State Senator Charles C. Crothers will deliver the address of the day, and Hon. John S. Wirt will read the Declaration of Independence. Athletic sports by some of the best amateur athletes in the neighborhood, including Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland, will include running, jumping, vaulting, catching greasy pig, Climbing greasy pole, boat and tub racing, etc. A fine dancing pavilion is being erected for the occasion, and one of the best orchestras engaged. Those who enjoy dancing can be assured of a fine platform and line music. Brass and string bands will furnish the music during the day and night. Grand display of fireworks in the evening under competent pyrotechnists.

Refreshments of all kinds on the grounds and no intoxicating liquors allowed. A pleasant day assured to all, and the best of order guaranteed.

Hacks will run from the train depot to the grounds.

Executive committee— Jas. F. Powers, Chairman; Thomas J. .Murray, Treasurer; Daniel Feebly, Secretary.

North East

The North East Cornet Band has made all the preparations for their Fourth of July festival and celebration. All the secret organizations have been invited to parade with them, and the following have accepted: K. of P., O.U.A.M., Red Men, G.A.R, and Sons of Veterans. The parade will start from tho grounds promptly at two o’clock, headed by the Principio Cornet Band. Several other bands have been invited, but no word has been received from them. When the parade returns to the grounds a special program will be observed. Rev. Wm. T. Hammond will preside. The Declaration of Independence will be read by J.W. Falls, Esq., and speeches delivered by Dr. T.A. Worrall and Rev. W.G. Koons. The M. E. Church choir will be present. A number of games and sports have been arranged. After dark the fireworks will be put off, which are very fine and will exceed the K. of P.’s display last year. Neal’s merry-go round will be on hand, also shooting gallery, ball throwing, etc. The grounds are the same as occupied by the K. of P’s. festival last year, having one entrance on Mill lane and the other on Bridge street. Turn out and help the hand boys.

Gilpins’ Rocks

One of the interesting celebrations will be the first annual picnic and patriotic celebration of American Mechanics at the beautiful and romantic Gilpins’ Falls, the Niagara of Cecil, under the auspices of Bay View O.U.A.M. A grand parade of sister councils and others, will form at Bay View at 10 a. m. and march to the historic spot, headed by the Principio Cornet Band. Addresses will be made by Hon. Theo. K. Stubbs of Oxford; Henry R. Torbert, Esq., Editor Cecil Whig; James T. Graham, Esq., Clerk Circuit Court, Wm. J. Smith, Esq., of Elkton Council Jr. O. U. A. M. and others.

Speaking will begin at 2p. m. Various amusements during the day, lawn tennis, bicycle race, tub race, sack race, potato race, etc.

Refreshments of all kinds will be served in abundance. Also horse feed. Let everybody come and make this a Gala day at old Gilpin’s.

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