Patricia’s Picks June 2020

Letter, Jack Bentley to His Mother, October 28, 1918

Letter, 1997.0005.0379

If you love history, then you will enjoy reading about a local Sandy Spring hero—Jack Bentley.  His letters (and there are many) tell of his travels and experiences during WWI.  If you want to read primary documents, then the letters from Jack Bentley to his mother will keep your interest, to say the least.  Within the pages of his various letters, you capture a glimpse into the life of a WWI soldier.

Letter, Jack Bentley to His Mother, September 18, 1918

Letter, 1997.0005.0396

This letter is a fascinating first-hand account written by Jack Bentley to his mother describing German planes opening fire on his unit, dated September 18, 1918.  This primary document is one of many in the Bentley collection.


John Caleb Bentley Copybook, 1865

Copybook, 1997.0005.0028

Fifteen-year-old John Caleb Bentley’s copybook will astonish you with not only the detailed complexities of his equations but also the eloquence of his penmanship.  As a bonus, John has a habit of doodling in the margins, which gives you a little insight into what a teenager in 1865 thinks about while in school.



Diary:  Ellen Stabler, 1860

Diary, 2001.0019.0002

Ellen Stabler was born in 1834 and lived until 1924.  The diary entry I chose was written in 1860 when Ellen was 26 years old.  Ellen writes of the daily comings and goings of her family and friends in Sandy Spring’s tight-knit Quaker community.  It’s hard to imagine how Ellen could get anything done with her full social schedule.

On this page, she writes that her mother and father went to Dr. Howards and Lucy is dining at Phil’s.  She went to Uncle Samuels’ and the next day they went sleigh riding then returned home from Cherry Groove just in time for a meeting.  After the meeting, Debbie dined at the home in Auburn.  The next day Lucy, William, Louis, Debbie, and Ellen went to the cottage in the afternoon and brought Debbie to Phil’s after supper to meet her father.  At which point, Joe dined at the Millers’ and brought Fred home with him to supper and went to Phil’s after supper!  All of this in 1860 – no cars!

Sara’s Picks June 2020

Journals, Tales of the Dismal Campers, 1887-1896

Journal, 1982.0007.0003
This journal details the experiences of a group of young Sandy Spring women who attended a summer vacation, where they occupied a building for a week, called Camp Dismal. There are several volumes spanning a few years that chronicle the journey of these ladies. There are quirky tales, notes, songs, and more included in their writings.

Sketchbook: Sarah T. Wood, 1889-1894

Sketchbook, 198.0006.0003

This little sketchbook contains small pencil drawings down around the Sandy Spring area. As an artist myself, I know how personal, yet interesting artist sketchbooks can be. They show little outlines or written ideas, in unfinished yet often still beautiful ways.





Seal impression: Orphans’ Court of Prince George’s County

Seal impression, 2001.0013.0021

This item is a seal impression from the Orphans’ Court of Prince George’s County. Though not as vibrant to view as the actual seal would be, the impression shows the amount of detail and intricacy included in this seal. It looks a bit like a coin. This seal was designed and manufactured by Edward Stabler of Sandy Spring, which makes it an interesting work of art as well.

Birthday book: Mary Ellicott Gilpin, ca1852-1946

Birthday book, 1983.0107.0007

This piece is a book to help keep track of birthdays. I really like this because it shows the pre-digital era before we could access birthdays with a couple of quick clicks. I personally write the birthdays of my family and close friends in my day planner as a way to remember them each year, so this book reminds me of that practice. Also, it’s fun to page through and see if there are any “birthday buddies” on your birthday.

Derek’s Picks June 2020

Scrapbook: Mary Bentley Thomas, 1845-1923

Scrapbook, 2008.0028.0001

In 1915, the Suffrage Caravan traveled through Maryland.  On their way through Montgomery County, they paid a visit to an aging Mary Bentley Thomas at her Belmont farm.  This page from her scrapbook details the visit.  Mary Bentley Thomas obviously had a sense of humor based on the newspaper clipping of Francis Snowden’s reasoning why women should have the right to vote.

Club Minutes: The Neighbors 

Club Minutes, 2009.0018.0001

Sandy Spring has a long history of Social Clubs and the Sandy Spring Museum is fortunate to be the repository for many of the Social Club’s minutes.  As a member, and Archival Secretary, of a Sandy Spring Social Club (The Neighbors),  I understand the tremendous value the Club Minutes provide historians who wish to research the Sandy Spring Community.  In 1986, The Neighbors (founded 1897) celebrated their  1000th Meeting at the Cedars.  The following pages, documented in a booklet, detail a history of the Club and its members, along with humorous snippets from its many meetings, along with a tribute to long-time member Dr. Jacob Bird.

Club Minutes: The Mutual Improvement Association 

Club Minutes, 2004.0018.0015

The Mutual Improvement Association is considered by many to be the longest-serving Women’s Social Club in the United States (founded 1857). In 2007, “Association”  celebrated its 150th Anniversary at a meeting held at the Cedars. The following minutes paint a vivid portrait of their sweet tooth’s! Then, read the attached poems, pages 17-23, especially Katherine Farquhar’s!


Enterprise Farmers Club Centennial Meeting, January 1966

Club Minutes, 2005.0016.0008 (1966)

The Enterprise Farmers Club (called the “Junior Club”), has been meeting since December 1865.  Along with the Sandy Spring Farmers Club (founded in 1844 and called the “Senior Club”), they comprise some of the oldest farmers’ clubs in the country.  The club membership regularly met to discuss agricultural issues, solutions and to inspect and critique the monthly host’s farming operation (livestock, crops, equipment).  If you want to understand the rural and agricultural history of the Sandy Spring Community, look no further than the Enterprise Farmers Club Minutes.  They celebrated their Centennial Meeting in January of 1966 and the Minutes give a fine overview of the Club’s history.  After reading this, I guarantee you’ll want to read more!

Lydia’s Picks June 2020

Sandy Spring Store Ledger, Account of Whitson Canby, April 15 – July 30, 1819

Store Ledger, 2013.0008.0001
As a kid, I absolutely loved the arrival of the new telephone book and spent hours browsing all the names, imagining the stories and connections among them. Maybe that is why I am so drawn to the incredible collection of Store Ledgers in our archives and all the stories they can tell. On April 15, 1819, Whitson Canby purchased just over 16 yards of fabric from Sandy Spring Store; a large amount indeed. What was happening in the Canby household at the time that warranted so much fabric? A wedding? Furnishings for a new home addition? Simply the time of year for sewing?  On the same day, he settled part of his account with $18.62 worth of earthenware from his pottery works which is equivalent to approximately $378 today.  Was this exchange of goods a long-standing arrangement or one-time occurrence? Were both parties in agreement or was there negotiation? How much of the economy of the early Sandy Spring neighborhood was based on barter systems like this? All these questions and this is just one page!

Travel Diary: Deborah Stabler, Summer, 1823

Travel Diary, 2000.0032.0003

At the age of 60yrs, Deborah Stabler undertook an arduous, several-week overland journey to Clearfield, Pennsylvania in the summer of 1823. She kept a diary that not only recorded the various Quaker Meetings they visited along the way but also vividly detailed the journey and landscapes they passed through. At the bottom of this specific page, she talks about fording a river and you can sense long-standing anxiety about doing so. I find this interesting because Deborah’s fear of river fording is as alien to me as my anxieties related to flying would have been to her. That said, her coping mechanism is all too familiar!


Letter from Sarah Miller Hallowell to Annie, July 23, 1857

Letter, 2000.0038.0006

In this letter, Sarah Miller Hallowell describes her honeymoon first in Lake George, New York, and then in Niagara Falls, Canada. Having grown up in Canada just 110 km (68 miles) from Niagara Falls, I was tickled to read about all the familiar sights and sounds as would anyone who has visited this area. From the letter, you can sense that Sarah is delighted to be a new bride, having an absolutely wonderful time, and shows off a very sweet sense of humor. When reading the letter, I couldn’t help but hope for a happy marriage for her in her coming years.

Letter: Richard (“Little Dick”) to Elza, undated

Letter, 1994.0005.0140

We believe this adorable note signed by “Little Dick” was written by Richard Bentley around 1864 to his sister Elza while they were separated during a scarlet fever outbreak.  With just a few scratches of a pencil, Little Dick breaks down over 150 years distance between the 5-year experience then and now when he delights in telling Elza that he “rode free (three) times ebry (every) day on the bicycle”!