THOMAS H. HUMBERTSON, the "grand old man" of Frostburg, Allegany county, had the distinction of rounding out nearly a century of active, useful existence in his native environment. Born June 19, 1819, at Klondike Mines, near where the village of Woodland now is, (In the vicinity of Frostburg), he died February 24, 1919., at his home on Mechanic street, Frostburg, the oldest vice president of a National Bank in Maryland and perhaps the oldest in the United States, member of one church for over eighty years, and in many other respects one of the most remarkable citizens of whom the town has ever boasted. He was a man whose life and character always commanded the esteem of his fellow men.
Thomas and Jane Galford Humbertson, grandparents of Thomas H. Humbertson, were natives of Southern Maryland, and among the earliest pioneers in the western part of the State, occupying the log cabin in which their son William Humbertson and grandson Thomas H. Humbertson were born, in what was then known as Frederick (now Allegany) county. After living here for some time they were forced to leave this section because of the dangers of the Indian raids, and returned to the Eastern Shore, remaining until 1761, when they again ventured out into the forest, this time establishing their permanent home here. They lived to a good old age in spite of the hardships of their earlier years, and Thomas H. Humbertson remembered them distinctly, as well as the incidents of their pioneer experiences as they related them to his parents.
William Humbertson, father of Thomas H. Humbertson, was the eldest son of Thomas and Jane (Galford) Humbertson, and was born in the old log cabin already mentioned in 1754. At that time there was only one log cabin standing on the present site of Cumberland. Life was primitive in the extreme. The Humbertson home had no door, a bearskin serving to protect the opening; the bare earth formed its floor; their meal consisted largely of corn, pounded to the required fineness by hand, on a large rock; meat, which was provided by the wild game then abundant in the vicinity, was cooked over a pole fire. All their own clothing was made at home, The nearest market, where the few thing required which could not be produced at home, were to the had, in exchange for hides and pelts, was Fredericktown, Maryland, over one hundred miles distant, across mountains and unbridged streams. Everything had to be carried on horseback, as there were no roads passable for wagons, had the settlers possessed any such conveniences for transportation.
William Humbertson married Sarah Lowes, and each attained the age of eighty years, full of vitality through all their busy days; neither ever had a dose of medicine prescribed for their use nor needed it. They were the parents of ten children, five sons and five daughters: Thomas H., Jane, Jacob, Rebecca, Monnah, William, George, Sarah, Solomon and Rachel.
Thomas H. Humbertson, the youngest son in this large family, acquired his education in the old-fashioned subscription schools in vogue during his boyhood. He did farm work until nineteen years old, when he began his apprenticeship to the carpenter's trade, following that calling as well as farming until his removal to Frostburg, after which he continued to be engaged at carpentry for ten years. He helped to build the first log cabins provided for the workers at the iron and coal mines at Lonaconing in 1838. Mr. Humbertson was a pioneer in the firebrick business in Allegany county, when he gave up work at his trade, forming a partnership with the late M. L. Gorsuch of Westminister, Maryland, to enter that line of manufacture. The association lasted for thirty-one years and the business was very prosperous, their establishment, known as the Savage Mountain Firebrick Works, long holding precedence as the leading industry of the city and its vicinity. He was never lacking in enterprise and public spirit, was one of the organizers of the Citizens' National Bank in 1893, and served as vice president and director from that time until his death, being at that time one of the oldest active bank officials in the world. He attended the directors' meetings until a short time before his demise. He occupied his home on Mechanic street from 1874, and had lived to see Frostburg develop from a small, scattering settlement along the old National Pike to a live modern city, in whose advancement he had his full share. He lived in a remarkable age, and none of its wonders were lost on him. At the time of his birth there were no steamships, railroads, electric railways, electric lights, telephones, telegraphs, automobiles, airships or any other of the thousand everyday conveniences of modern life. The armies of the world were fighting with flintlock guns and cannon no larger than a man's arm, and Napoleon was in exile on the island of St. Helena.
Originally a Whig in politics, he cast his first Presidential vote for William Henry Harrison, and never missed voting at a Presidential election to the close of his life,Though he became independent of party restrictions in his later years. For eighty-one years he was a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Frostburg, being one of the oldest members of the denomination in Maryland, had held all the church offices, and served sixty-five years as a class leader. He continued to take an interest in current events to the last, and during the winter of 1918-1919 he entertained soldiers passing through Frostburg at his home. When ninety-five years old he took a pick and helped to dig a foundation in Frostburg.
Mr. Humbertson attributed his remarkably long life to the good care which he took of his health because he was not robust in boyhood. Later, in 1853, his life was despaired of when he lapsed into a comatose condition due to congestion of the liver. During the last forty years of his life he used no tobacco, and even during his younger days he never used any intoxicants except apple brandy. He always rose early, at five in the morning until recent years, believing an hour in the morning to be worth five in the afternoon. Mr. Humbertson's funeral services were held in the First M.E. Church, and he is buried in the Allegany cemetery.
OLDEST METHODIST, THEY SAY
Thomas Humbertson, of Lonaconing, Is Just 91
[Special Dispatch to the Baltimore Sun]
Frostburg, Md., April 24 - Thomas Hunbertson, who just celebrated his ninety-first birthday here, is said to be the oldest Methodist class leader in the world.
Mr. Humbertson was born in a log house still standing at Lord, this county, on land now owned by the Consolidation Coal Company. In this community he has spent his whole life, and he is probably the oldest native resident of Allegany county. Many years ago he was superintendent of the Savage Mountain Brick Company. He is alert and watches with keen interest the happenings of current history. He has many relatives in this section.
The Baltimore Sun, 25 Apr 1910
(Courtesy of Theresa Burba)
ACTIVE IN BANK AT 98
Thomas Humbertson Celebrates Birthday At Frostburg.
Frostburg, Md., June 20.-Thomas Humbertson, probably the oldest active bank official in the United States, celebrated yesterday his ninety-eight birthday. He is vice-president and a director of the Citizens' National Bank. He was born near Woodland, this county, in 1819.
Mr. Humbertson has been a member of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Frostburg for 78 years and a class leader in the church for 73 years, only recently relinquishing this work. He is still active in the affairs of the Citizens' National Bank and goes to the institution daily when the weather permits. He always attends the meetings of the board of directors. He was twice married, and is a widower, living with his niece, Mrs. Martha Roberts and her daughter, Miss Orna Roberts.
Cumberland Evening Times, June 20, 1917
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