CUMBERLAND — While this city is home to many families with deep roots, details of how their relatives settled in neighborhoods, particularly between about 1850-1920, aren’t easy to find, Ruth Davis-Rogers said.
As Cumberland’s historic preservation planner, she hopes to change that.
Davis-Rogers wants to identify and document areas of Cumberland where various ethnic groups were established.
“We had so many immigrants coming to this area,” she said and added more information is needed to uncover the evolution of the city’s neighborhoods.
“It’s very hard to connect the dots,” Davis-Rogers said. “It’s trying to piece together these puzzles.”
She asks that folks email her at email@example.com with information and records about their relatives from roughly 100 to 175 years ago.
Letters can also be mailed to Cumberland City Hall care of Ruth Davis-Rogers at 57 N. Liberty St., Cumberland, Maryland 21502.
“Are there oral histories in their families … diaries?” Davis-Rogers said and added sometimes bibles and letters provide information. “As our families age, these stories get lost.”
She’s working with local historians and researching old census, newspaper and obituary information, but added substantial community data was destroyed when Cumberland’s city hall burned in the early 1900s.
“We lost a lot of records,” Davis-Rogers said.
She hopes the community can help her learn where folks shopped, worked and went to school and church.
Davis-Rogers talked of Cumberland’s evolution from a colonial fort to an industrial center.
Various modes of transportation that traveled through Cumberland influenced local industries, buildings that were constructed, where the city expanded and who populated its streets, she said.
Immigrants moved to Cumberland to work on the transportation networks, including the railroad, C&O canal and National Road, Davis-Rogers said.
Cumberland was a melting pot of people from other parts of the world who influenced local architectural styles and development patterns, she said.
“This will be a long project,” Davis-Rogers said of collecting information. “We’re still in the early stages.”
Eve Hutcherson, 21, is a student at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
She recently worked as an intern on the project to gather historical information that relates to places of worship, employment, and neighborhoods.
“We are looking to gain public input and knowledge about these groups,” Hutcherson said.