Heritage Days celebrate history in Germantown, Boyds -- Gazette.Net


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Community history took center stage this weekend, with four sites in Germantown and Boyds taking part in Heritage Days, an annual celebration aimed at highlighting local history and sharing it with the public.

Heritage Montgomery, a nonprofit that works to promote education and tourism around Montgomery County heritage sites, hosted the event.

At Button Farm in Germantown, visitors could check out heritage breeds of farm animals and native garden plants, and learn about plantation life in the 1800s. Button Farm is a living history center, with hands-on historical demonstrations of life on the plantation and an underground railroad experience.

About 250 people visited the farm Saturday, said Tony Cohen, president of the Menare Foundation, which runs the farm. Visitors could go on self-guided tours of the farm, and take part in activity stations, “like a journey from slavery to free zone,” Cohen said.

Participants started with identifying farm tools and artifacts, performed farm chores, then were given a scenario, “and you decided whether you would stay in slavery or escape on the underground railroad based on the scenario,” Cohen said.

The MOOseum in Germantown opened its barn to teach about the history of dairy farming and milk production, and its role in the county’s history. It also had crafts and other activities for children.

The Germantown Historical Society gave walking tours Sunday of Germantown as a 1930s railroad village and opened the Historic Germantown Bank to show exhibits about Germantown history. Local musician “Banjo Man” Frank Cassel played Depression-era songs on the banjo. Susan Soderberg, president of the society, said about 40 people came to the five walking tours led through the historic area, which also includes several homes and the B&O Railroad Station.

Inside the bank, they screened the movie, “Life in a War Zone: Montgomery County during the Civil War,” created by Heritage Montgomery, and showed an exhibit about Walter Johnson, a pitcher for the Washington Senators who lived on a dairy farm in Germantown after retiring from baseball, according to Soderberg.

The Boyds Negro School was also on display. The one-room schoolhouse was the only public school for black children in the area from 1895 to 1936. A video, “Boyds Negro School: Historic Lives,” discussed the school’s story, and visitors could try their hand at calligraphy among other activities.

sscully@gazette.net