The editorial map, page 4
tains. It was known as "The Middle Passage." This gives the county a position of special prominence in the history of American transportation.
In August 1871 "The Glades Star" the first newspaper in the county, published in Oakland by E. S. Zevley began the agitation with the slogan "Work for the New County." Among the reasons advanced were (1) Distance from the County Seat (Cumberland), (2) Desire for a larger representation in the Maryland legislature, and (3) The claim that of $28,000 collected in taxes only $18,400 were spent in the county. April 1st, 1872, Governor Whyte approved "An Act to provide for taking the vote of the people for or against a new county in certain election districts of Allegany County ... to be called the County of Garrett." On November 4th of that year (1872) the residents voted to favor with a majority of 892 votes. There was a strong rivalry between the communities with regards as to the County Seat . . . The main contestants being Oakland and Grantsville. Oakland won, chiefly for the reason that the flow of traffic over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which erected its first mountain-top station at Oakland had become greater than on the National Pike, the latter going through the village of Grantsville. On Dec. 4th, 1872, Governor Whyte issued a proclamation declaring the territory named in the enabling act "constituted a new county to be called Garrett County." The opponents of the selection of Oakland as the County Seat did not accept the result of the referendum in good grace. In 1875 efforts were made to divide the county and create another with Grantsville as the County Seat.
The Maryland Legislature, largely through the efforts of Richard T. Browning, did not approve. After a long period of disputes and delays the first court house was built in 1877 by Burton and Burke, contractors. This original court house and jail served as the Oakland High School after the present Court House and Jail were built (between 1905-1908). The High School made improvements and enlargements, occupying the original county buildings for over forty years. The site of the original court house and jail was purchased from John Steyer for three hundred dollars.
Along with Richard T. Browning who persevered in the creation of the new county were: Judge Patrick Hamill, D. E. Offutt, Col. James M. Schley, Ralph Thayer, William Hinebaugh, D. Harrison Friend, John M. Davis and William A. Brydon. The first officers were as follows: Clerk of the Court, William H. Tower; Register of Wills, William L. Rawlings; Sheriff, William Coddington; State's Attorney, Gilmore Semmes Hamill; County Commissioners, William Casteel, H. M. Frazee, A. Bonig; County Surveyor, Alex C. Mason; Orphans Court, William Harvey, D. Harrison Friend, and Joseph DeWitt. William R.
Felix G. Robinson
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland
22 x 15 cms
Western Maryland, 1750-1963