THE GERMANTOWN HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Volume XIX Number1 Winter 2010
17 Years of Flea Markets
Seventeen years ago the Germantown Historical Society had a brilliant idea for raising much needed funds. It would hold a Community Flea Market in the Maryland Area Rail Commuter (MARC) parking lot on Saturdays when the lot was empty, pay for rental of the lot, advertising, insurance, port-a-john, and then rent out spaces for people wanting to sell stuff. This enterprise turned out to be a fantastic success, growing from just two dozen vendors on that first May Saturday in 1993 to more than 160 vendors on a Saturday in July of last year.
To increase visibility and combine forces with the library book sale and the farmers market the Flea Market was moved to the parking lot behind the library (then located at the intersection of Rt. 118 and Middlebrook Road) in July of 1996. Six years later at the end of 2002, realizing they had out-grown that space, they moved the Market back to the newly expanded MARC parking lot at Rt. 118 and Bowman Mill Road. As the Flea Market grew larger, finding they needed more volunteers and wanting to share the profits, the Germantown Historical Society enlisted the help of the nearby Boyds Historical Society in 2005, and in 2008, the aid of the Menare Foundation another non-profit located in Germantown. Today all three organizations share the profits and the hard work.
Weather always plays a part in the activity. Although scheduled for the first Saturday April through November, this is an open air market and, as a rule, is rained out at least one Saturday a season, sometimes more. One day in early April they had to call off the Market because of snow. Setting up in the wee hours of the mornings of April and November in the dark requires heavy coats, gloves and flashlights. In the summer months a rogue thunderstorm can send vendors racing to cover their goods with tarps and to seek shelter in their cars, only to pop out again like prairie dogs from their holes when the sun comes out.
Over the years these hardy volunteers have learned plenty about running a Flea Market from advertising to clean-up. They have had to deal with traffic problems, noncompliant vendors, frantic customers, lost children and trash. It seems that no matter how often you tell some people that they have to take all their empty boxes and broken toys with them, there are always some who leave things behind. Trucking garbage to the dump, sweeping up broken glass and scraping gum off the pavement were not things considered when first venturing on this project, but it is important to these organizations that they leave the parking lot sparking clean for the commuters who will use it come Monday.
Is it worth it? From the three organizations comes a resounding YES! Not only do the Flea Markets raise much needed funding for facility upkeep, educational programming, historic preservation and research, it is also a lot of fun. Greeting returning vendors and patrons, talking to newcomers and long-time residents about the history of the area, searching the booths for unusual objects, hearing from a customer, “look what I’ve found. I’ve always wanted one of these!” or listening to a local cheerleading squad enthusiastically sing out their cheers, its all part of the pleasure and appeal of a Flea Market. Participating in a community event and providing a community service is rewarding and satisfying, but even more so if it is enjoyable as well.
Germantown Community Flea Markets
The next Flea Market will be Saturday, April 3 at the MARC commuter parking lot, Rt. 118 and Bowman Mill Road, from 8am to 1pm. They will continue on the first Saturday of each month. If you would like to help out call 301-972-2707.
George Adzerodt Captured in Germantown on April 19, 1865
Germantown’s Connection to the Lincoln Assasination
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on the night of April 14, 1865. George Adzerodt, was one of the Lincoln Assassination conspirators hanged for their crimes on July 7, 1865. Adzerodt had been arrested in Germantown, Maryland, the town where he had spent many years as a boy.
This story begins in 1844 when George, age nine, arrives in Germantown with his family, immigrants from Prussia. They were related to the Richters with whom George's father bought a farm in Germantown and helped build a house on Schaeffer Road. Sometime in the 1850s the Adzerodts moved to Westmoreland County, Virginia where George's father operated a blacksmith shop until his untimely death around 1858. At this time George and his brother John opened a carriage painting business in Port Tobacco, Maryland.
After the Civil War broke out the carriage painting business was not doing well so John went up to Baltimore and got employment as a detective with the State Provost Marshal's office. George stayed on at Port Tobacco but his main business was not painting carriages, it was blockade running -- rowing goods, spies and agents across the Potomac River.
It was while engaged in this secretive business that he met John
Surratt, son of Mary Surratt, who took him to Washington where he met
John Wilkes Booth and other conspirators. According to his testimony at the trial George thought that the plan was to kidnap the President and hold him for ransom, the plot they had talked about many times before. The surrender of General Lee, however, had convinced Booth that more drastic measures were needed. Adzerodt's assignment was to kill Vice-president Johnson at his hotel room in the Willard Hotel in Washington at the same time as Booth shot Lincoln, and Lewis Paine killed Secretary of State William Seward.
Adzerodt's courage evaporated when the time came, however, and he spent the evening drinking and wandering around Washington. In the morning he managed to get through the blockade around Washington by buying the guards a drink. Then, catching a ride with William Gaither, he made his way to Gaithersburg arriving around dusk. After being let off by Gaither, Adzerodt stopped for a drink at Mullican's tavern (at the northeast corner of Rt. 355 and old Redland Rd.).
Adzerodt then proceeded on foot toward Germantown on the
Barnesville Road (now Clopper Road). It was very late when he crossed over the wooden bridge over Seneca Creek and saw a light in the Clopper Mill. He asked the miller, Robert Kinder, if he could stay the night, and Kinder, who knew George from his previous visits to the area, showed him hospitality.
In the morning George started on his way to his cousin's, Hartman Richter's house just two miles away. He was very hungry, though, and, it being Easter Sunday, he decided to stop at the Metz home which was on his way. The Metz farm was a popular place for socializing since there was a lovely eligible young lady in the family. The Leaman brothers, Somerset and James, were also visiting the Metz family. The assassination, of course, was the topic of conversation, and George must have let a few things slip to arouse the suspicion of the Leaman brothers who later testified against him. Also, a neighbor, Nathan Page, a Union spy, may have been at the Metz's that day. After enjoying Sunday dinner with the Metz's, George cut across the field to drop in on his cousin. Knowing nothing of George's part in the assassination conspiracy, the Richters welcomed him and gave him a job on the farm.
For the next three days George did odd jobs at the Richter farm. On April 19th he was sound asleep in an upstairs bedroom of the house when he was rudely awakened at 5 a.m. by soldiers, one of whom was pointing a revolver at his head. He was quickly arrested and taken to Washington.
The soldiers had been alerted by a tip from Nathan Page. George was a goner anyway, though, for just a few hours after he was arrested another group of soldiers arrived at the Richter home looking for him, this second posse had been sent by the Provost Marshal after receiving information from George's brother, John.
Hartman Richter, the Leaman brothers, as well as the old miller, were also arrested and imprisoned on a prison ship in Washington until the trial, after which they were released. George Adzerodt was hanged in the yard of the Arsenal in Washington along with Lewis Paine (who had not succeeded in killing Mr. Seward), David Herold and Mary Surratt.
The ruins of the Clopper Mill can be seen on the west side of Clopper Road just to the north of Seneca Creek. The home of Hartman Richter on Schaeffer Road burned down in 1982. The Metz house was torn down for development.
Exhibit at the Waters House –
“The Suburban Ideal”(through June 26) Domestic Architecture in Montgomery County, 1890-2010. Waters House, 12535 Milestone Manor Lane, Germantown. Wed. & Sat., 10 a.m. -- 4 p.m. and by appointment. (301) 515-2887. www.montgomeryhistory.org
Exhibit at the Beall-Dawson House –
“Tuned In: Montgomery County’s Place in Musical History (through April 3) A look at the importance of music in the lives of local residents in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Beall-Dawson House, 111 West Montgomery Ave., Rockville. Tuesdays through Sundays, 12:30-4:30 p.m.
March 19-21 – Lincoln Assassination Conference. Surratt Society, 9100 Brandywine Rd., Clinton, MD. www.surratt.org.
March 27 -- Gaithersburg Community Museum Open House, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
March 28 -- Maryland Day Celebration. St. Mary’s City. Free admission to living history exhibits. 10am-5pm, program at 1pm. http://stmaryscity.org.
April 24 – Oakley Cabin Opening Ceremony. African American Historic House Museum. 1pm. 3610 Brookeville Rd., Brookeville, MD.
April 24 -- Sandy Spring Museum History Lecture Series -- Dr. Marcus Rediker and Chestertown vocal artist, Karen Somerville. Presentation of The Slave Ship: A Human history, blending music and lecture for a compelling and memorable learning experience. 11 am. www.sandyspringmuseum.org