In December 1887, a 17-year-old girl attempting to visit her sister in Baltimore had an experience that she surely remembered for the rest of her life.
Gertie Cleary, a 17-year-old farmer’s daughter from Smithsburg (Washington County), had spent Christmas visiting her uncle in Mount Airy (Carroll County). From there, she traveled by train to Baltimore to celebrate New Year’s with her sister, Emma Gittings.
Gertie arrived at the Camden Station and waited a while, but her sister never came to retrieve her. Since Gertie had her sister’s address — 1449 Spring Street — she decided to make her way there. She hired someone to help her carry her heavy items and, after asking the general direction of Spring Street, she rode a car to the vicinity where she thought it was located. Gertie quickly realized she was on the wrong car and, after hopping on a few different ones, she “…became helplessly confused,” according to a news report in The Herald and Torch Light. “She thinks she must have ridden on every car line in the city.” Finally, with a little help, she was able to find Spring Street.
But Gertie’s adventure was just starting.
As she continued to look for her sister’s house on Spring Street, a woman invited Gertie into her home. According to the newspaper account, Gertie “reluctantly” entered the home because she was cold and there encountered two women. “They were profane and boisterous from liquor which they were drinking,” according to The Herald and Torch Light article.
One of the women sent for a messenger to get a male acquaintance, who she said would find Gertie’s sister, but the acquaintance never came. The women persuaded Gertie to stay at the home after she attempted to leave a couple times, but Gertie eventually left the residence, with the newspaper reporting “[t]he women became so profane after a while that [Gertie] insisted upon leaving.”
She walked down Spring Street as far as Pratt Street, where she met a man named Thomas James, who saw she was lost and took her in for the night. The next day the police were called, and it was determined that the address Gertie was searching for was incorrect; her sister lived at 1849 Spring Street, not 1449.
Gertie’s sister Emma didn’t know that Gertie was planning to visit, and she was in Smithsburg visiting relatives. After everything was cleared up, Gertie was able to stay at the James home until Emma was able to return to Baltimore on Saturday.
I’m guessing Gertie never visited her sister by herself again.
Source: The Herald and Torch Light, January 5, 1888
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