Electrical fires spark blackout as 1912 arrives in Catonsville

An article in the Jan. 6, 1912 edition of The Argus reported on the ominous start for the new year.

The greater part of Catonsville was in total darkness Sunday night on account of the grounding of the electric current supplying the lights, caused by the heavy foggy atmosphere. The current set fire to a number of the electric light poles and to avoid further damage and any possible danger to the traveling public, the current was turned off at Avalon on the Baltimore County Water and Electric Company, from whence the current is supplied.


A noisy welcome was given the New Year at Catonsville. The bell in the tower of Salem Lutheran Church was rung and just as the old year died, the sound of pistols and cannon crackers filled the town. Watch services were held at the Catonsville M.E. Church.


The members of the Catonsville Volunteer Hose Company celebrated the advent of the New Year by keeping "open house" at their headquarters on Bloomsbury avenue. During the day, many visitors were entertained and at night, addresses were made by County Commissioner Charles L. Mattfeldt, president of the company, and Mr. Henry B. Whiteley.


As a community becomes older, there usually arrives a time when it begins to take an interest in its past history, and to wonder how things have come to be as they are.

But when this mental stage has been reached, it is oftentimes too late to trust to the memories of the living for what happened in the olden time. There may be many people who can remember events that occurred fifty years ago, a few who can go back seventy-five years, none a hundred years. Most people know even their own family history for only three or four generations. What happened before that is probably merely a vague tradition, itself oftentimes erroneous.

And so it is with the village of Catonsville! There are many persons among the older inhabitants who remember distinctly events which occurred here in the period of the Civil War, a few perhaps who recollect occurrences in the thirties and forties; but who is there to tell us of conditions in Catonsville during the Revolutionary War, or the Colonial period?

75 Years Ago

An article in the Jan. 1, 1937 edition of The Catonsville Herald and Baltimore Countian recognized the new holiday tradition of displaying colored lights on lawns and houses.

The rapidly growing custom of displaying outdoor Christmas lighting effects during the holiday season is evident in all parts of Baltimore County. Beautifully lighted evergreen trees on the lawns of Baltimore county homes are more numerous this Christmas than ever before. Many county residents are displaying lovely lighting effects these evenings.

Among the more outstanding outdoor displays in this section is that of Major L. A. Thompson on No. 9 Newburg Avenue, Catonsville. Major Thompson has two large evergreen trees brilliantly lighted each evening. In addition, his display is enhanced by strings of colored lights outlining the house, doorways and windows. Electrically lighted wreaths in the windows of Major Thompson's home complete a particularly outstanding effect.


Hundreds of visitors have already obtained a big thrill in viewing the Christmas garden display at the Catonsville fire engine house and many hundreds more, including children from a wide surrounding territory, will have a look at the display before the holidays end.

The firemen's Christmas display is a marvel of ingenuity and variety. It is larger than last year and contains some new and unique features, including mountain scenery, a waterfall and lake. Opened to the public on Christmas Eve, the display has brought congratulatory expressions from all who have seen it.


Mr. and Mrs. Albert J. Mellor, Sr., of Oella celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on Saturday, Dec. 26, with more than one hundred friends and relatives visiting them during the day. All children and grand-children were present including four sons, four daughters and sixteen grandchildren. A buffet supper was served to those present. Mr. and Mrs. Mellor were the recipients of many gifts.


A throng of children of Catonsville and vicinity, 2,000 in all, jammed the Alpha Theatre to capacity on Monday morning, when two showings of "California Mail," a rip-roaring Western starring Dick Foran, were given as a Christmas treat to the kiddies by the Sterling Club of Catonsville. The Christmas party at the Alpha is an annual Sterling Club affair.

Santa Claus, assisted by the Catonsville police force, was kept busy for three hours greeting the kiddies and keeping them in line for admission to the theatre, which was entirely free of charge to all children holding tickets. The tickets had been distributed in all the schools of this vicinity.

50 Years Ago

An article in the Jan. 4, 1962 edition of the Herald Argus and Baltimore Countian reported burglars stole an impressive assortment of furs from a store in the Westview Shopping Center.

Thieves gained entrance to a vault in a department store at Westview on Dec. 28 and escaped with eight mink stoles, two mink jackets and two mink capes valued at $6, 695. Heavy mesh screen was pried loose to let the thief down into the fur vault.


Midshipman Donald Clay MacLaughlin, Jr., son of Dr. and Mrs. D. C. MacLaughlin of 303 North Rolling road, spent his Christmas leave with his family. A graduate of Catonsville High School, Donald is in his third year at the United States Naval Academy.

Captain Asbury Coward, director of athletics at the Academy, recently announced the election of Donald as captain of the 1962 soccer team. He plays half-back on the soccer team and also plays midfield on the Navy lacrosse team.


A special "Parent Night" will be held in the Johnnycake Junior High School next Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 8 P.M. to acquaint the parents of all ninth graders with the registration and scheduling for senior high school.

The meeting will consist of two parts, a general meeting held in the cafeteria and group meetings held in each ninth grade core teacher's classroom. During the general meeting, Robert J. Krabbe, guidance counselor, will explain the Baltimore county testing program; Samuel F. Clopper, principal of Milford Mill Senior High School and Taylor F. Johnston, principal of Woodlawn Senior High School, will speak about the senior high school program. Samuel G. Brown, principal of Johnnycake Junior High School, will preside the meeting.

Following the general meeting, the parents will adjourn to the classrooms where each core teacher will explain the senior high school program in detail.


The annual School of Missions will be held in Halethorpe Methodist Church on the following Sunday evenings: January 7, 14, 21 and 28. The study topic will be "Latin America." Miss Florence Hooper, well known Baltimore Conference missionary, will speak about the present-day situation in several parts of Latin America.

Material courtesy of the archives of Catonsville Historical Society.

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