“Carroll’s Grand Jury in 1887”
Carroll County Times article for 17 May 1998
By Jay A. Graybeal
The process of presenting cases to a grand jury has a long history in the county. Usually the jury did its duty and upon dismissal the members went their separate ways. The May 1887 jury members ended their service with a party as described in the May 26, 1887 issue of the Westminster Democratic Advocate newspaper:
After the presentation of a substantial purse to the bailiff, and the reading of a “rich, rare and racy” commentary on the several members of the late jury by the historian, on motion of Juror Oursler, from the Fourth district, which was unanimously endorsed, each member and the bailiff was directed to prepare and submit for publication a brief biography of his life.
After adjournment, Bailiff Lippy and Juror Zile, with cigars and ice cream, entertained the jury at the City Hotel.
Evidently the May term, 1887, Grand Jury, have had a good time.
The editor regrets to state that for want of space this week, an abbreviation of the sketches was an absolute necessity. They have all been preserved, however, and at no very distant day will be published in full.
We submit the biographies in the order of districts:
Augustus Mehring, born Aug. 3, 1840, in Carroll county; occupation, farmer; religion, Lutheran; politics, Republican; postoffice, Taneytown.
Joshua S. Brothers; born near Carrollton, Md.; occupation, farmer; age, 38; politics, Democrat; postoffice address, Carrollton.
Elisha Ogg; born in Carroll county; age, 52; religion, Protestant, but not a church member; politics, Republican; postoffice address, Smallwood.
Azariah Oursler; born in Carroll county, Md.; occupation, farmer and justice of the peace; age, 68; religion, Methodist; politics, Democrat; postoffice Carrollton. Grand juror four times.
Wm. P. Gorsuch, Jr.; born near Sykesville; occupation, farmer; age, 33; religion, Catholic; politics, staunch Democrat; residence, Sykesville.
J. Thos. Harris; born in Eldersburg; occupation, farmer; age, 27; politics, Republican; residence, “Windsor Forest;” postoffice, Freedom.
Wm. T. Polk, born on the homestead farm, “Glenwood,” near Sykesville; occupation, farmer and dairyman; age, 34; politics, staunch Democrat; postoffice address, Sykesville.
Absalom H. Bowersox; born in Carroll county; occupation, farmer and dairyman; age, 56; religion, Lutheran; politics, Republican; postoffice address, Westminster.
A. H. Huber (Foreman); born in Waynesboro, Pa.; occupation, druggist; age 49; not a member of any church; politics, Republican; postoffice address, Westminster.
David Robertson; born near Warfieldsburg; occupation, farmer; age, 46; a member of no church; politics, Republican; postoffice address, Warfieldsburg.
Thomas Turtle; born near Westminster; occupation, farmer and huckster; age, 49; religion, a member of the M. E. church; politics, Republican; postoffice address, Westminster.
Solomon Shepherd; born near Union Bridge; present occupation, farmer; age 67; religion, a Friend; in politics a Republican Prohibitionist.
|The biographical sketches contain a wealth of information about the individual members. The article also provides a clear indication of the type of juror selected to hear cases in the late nineteenth century. Most were farmers, although other occupations were represented, and there was an even number of Democrats and Republicans.|
|Photo caption:||After completing their duties in May 1887, the Grand Jury retired to the nearby City Hotel, which formerly stood on the corner of Court and E. Main St. in Westminster, for cigars and ice cream. Historical Society of Carroll County collection.|