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WHILBR - Western Maryland

About this collection

A Pictorial History of Accident, Maryland, from the collection of Mary Miller Strauss.

The photographs in this collection were donated to the Ruth Enlow Library branch in Accident, Maryland, by the Strauss family after the death of Mrs. Strauss in 1992, and are shown here with the permission of her family. The text accompanying the photographs was provided by Mrs. Strauss. The photographers were not identified in the text, but some of the photographs had the source written on the back. While Mrs. Strauss and the staff of the Library have attempted to identify individuals and locations, any further assistance would be appreciated.

Mary Miller Strauss was born in Accident, Maryland and taught in the elementary schools of the Garrett County Public School system for 33 years. After her retirement in 1976, she continued as a resource teacher in many local county schools. She was well known throughout the state as a very knowledgeable local and Garrett County historian. She wrote Flowery Vale, a history of Accident, Maryland. This book brought alive her love for her birthplace and the people from the time of the first settlers, the James Drane Family, to the present. She also co-authored Lutherans on the Mountaintop with Dr. B.B. Maurer. She collected many photographs from a variety of sources to augment Flowery Vale, and some of these constitute the collection held by the Accident Library.

From the early 1950s, Mrs. Strauss had an active interest in the restoration of the Drane House, the earliest residence in Garrett County. She made possible the placing of the Drane House on the National Registry of Historical Homes. Her dreams and many years of hard work were rewarded when the actual restoration of the Drane House began in 1992. The house, owned by the Town of Accident, has been restored and is open for visits by appointment.

Accident, Garrett County, Maryland was one of the early settlements in the far west of Maryland. Mary Strauss explains the origin of the name:

    How did this spot get the name Accident? To this very day it remains a mystery. There are numerous stories advocating the name's origin, but the following is probably the most nearly correct story of the "accident". At least it checks with the land records.     In 1774 Lord Baltimore, Proprietor of the Maryland Colony, opened his lands "westward of Fort Cumberland" for settlement. Among the speculators who hastened to western Maryland with their surveyors to secure choice tracts of land were Brooke Beall and William Deakins, Jr., both of Prince George's County. William Deakins and his brother Francis had warrants for several tracts, and on April 14, 1774, they surveyed a fine tract of 682 acres between the branches of Bear Creek, including an old Indian camp ground on the trail to Braddock's Road. But when the survey was completed, Brooke Beall and his party appeared on the scene and Beall claimed that he had selected the same tract for his survey, calling attention to his axe marks on the trees to prove his claim. Deakins replied that it appeared that they had selected the same land "by accident". Since he and Beall were friends and land was abundant, he proposed that Beall take over the survey already made. To this Beall agreed, although his warrant called for 778 acres. John Hanson, Jr., Deputy County Surveyor, made out the survey to Beall, and they named the tract Accident. (Flowery Vale, p1.)

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