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Jim Crow - The Railroad Lost Money, 1904

Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


The following is excerpted from a newspaper article entitled, “The Railroad Lost Money” appearing in the August 6, 1904 edition of the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. It describes a picnic and reunion traveled to and attended by numerous “colored people” that was held in Frostburg, Maryland on July 26, 1904 by the Knights of Pythias of Cumberland and Frostburg There were also a large number of Afro-Americans” from Keyser, West Virginia and Meyersdale, Pennsylvania. The newspaper reports:

“It proved to be one of the most enjoyable and successful affairs ever held in this locality. Order and sobriety were marked features. So plainly was this manifested that it caused expressions of commendations from the best people of the town…..The colored people refused to patronize the Jim Crow railroad on the occasion of the K. of P. Reunion and the company is a few hundred dollars short as a result. The trolley line did a land office business, however.”

The article also discusses an alleged robbery and assault upon a white saloon keeper near the picnic site by a “Negro.” At the time of the article the newspaper notes that strong circumstantial evidence seemed to be leaning toward some local “white thugs” and even the white community was not convinced of Negro involvement. The discussion concludes with the statement, “Thus we see the evil designs of white men frustrated.”

The Railroad Lost Money
Are several hundreds of dollars out on account Jimcrow law

Knights of Pythias of Western Maryland Hold Annual Picnic
—A White Man Assaulted And Robbed.—Crime Laid At The Door Of Colored People — Will Be Proven That They Had Nothing To Do With It — Newspaper Taken To Task. Will Write Up The Cumberland Business Men Next Week

Frostburg, Md., August 2—No use to make excuses, they do not mend matters. The last two weeks has been busy ones for your correspondent. And we have had no to devote to writing, aside from stopping a few moments to pay our respects to the Cumberland Daily Times in answer to some outrageous charges made against our people.
On Tuesday, the 26th, ultimo the Knights of Pythias of Cumberland and Frostburg held their annual reunion and picnic at this place. There was quite a number of Afro-American men from Cumberland. Keyser, Piedmont. W. Va. and Meyersdale, Pa. It proved to be one of the most enjoyable and successful affairs ever held in this locality. Order and sobriety were marked features. So plainly was this manifested that it caused expression of commendation from the best people of the town.

On the same evening one William Offman, a white saloon keeper, whose place is near the park where the picnic was held, was, while on his way home, at eleven o'clock assaulted, shot through the hips and robbed of $175. On Wednesday morning when the crime was made known its commission was laid at the door of the Negro. We are happy to say. however, that this opinion did not gain a very firm hold in the minds of the best people, and at this writing it is an almost settled fact that was done by white thugs who live in the town, and a strong; chain of circumstantial evidence is being forged around the guilty parties.

This again we see the evil designs of white men frustrated. The Evening Times of the 27th ultimo, said that it was the opinion of the people of Frostburg that four Negroes had committed the crime, that the Negroes had warned the white people to stay away from the picnic grounds as they were angry about the jimcrow laws and would likely attempt to take revenge. It was this statement that forced us to strike back, which effort, we are gratified to know, has met with approval and commendation of the best white people in the town, and many of them have personally congratulated us on our effort to defend the race against these unjust and damaging insinuations. We are ready for that contemptible Negro-hating sheet and its next move will be met in a manner that will be surprising to the entire community as facts are rapidly accumulating which are likely to bring the guilty parties to justice. We shall not rest day or night until this lie is effectually nailed and the guilty ones brought to book.

Rev. Chas. H. Young, P. E. of the Hagerstown district is now on this circuit. He preached at Piedmont, on Sunday morning and at Oakland in the evening. He will lecture here on Wednesday evening. August 3rd. The Elder looks as young and wiry as ever and is going to push his district right up to the top notch by the time conference meets at Cumberland next spring.

The colored people refused to patronize the jimcrow railroad on the occasion of the K. of P. reunion and the company is a few hundred dollars short as a result. The trolly line did a land office business, however.

Mr and Mrs. E B Dales were called to Connellsville, Pa., on Wednesday of last week to attend the funeral of Mrs. Gales’ mother. She was 87 years old and was the widow of the late Rev. Geo W. Jackson of the Washington conference M. E. Church. Your correspondent, according to promise, will go to Cumberland in a few days to more fully examine into the various enterprises of the colored people and let the world know that the Afro-Americans of Alleghany county are not asleep.


Baltimore Afro-American

The newspaper article from the Baltimore Afro-American, August 6, 1904. I would like to thank Gene Miller for bringing it to my attention.

I can only assume that the railroad in question was the Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad. The C&P was a short-line railroad incorporated in 1850 that had two daily trains connecting Cumberland, Frostburg and Georges Creek down to Piedmont, West Virginia. This service ended in 1942.

The trolley car company was no doubt the Cumberland and Westernport Electric Railway. Formed in 1902 and in operation until 1927, this company ran a line from Cumberland to Frostburg down through Georges Creek to Westernport, Maryland – just across the river from Piedmont, West Virginia.


Collection Location:
Allegany County, Maryland

African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.

Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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