Anna Motter

Anna Motter has lived in Taneytown, MD for 58 years. Anna moved to Carroll County with her husband who is from Taneytown, MD.


ANNA MOTTER: I’m Anna Motter.

INTERVIEWER: And where do you live?

ANNA MOTTER: I live in Taneytown, Maryland

INTERVIEWER: How long have you lived in Taneytown, Maryland?

ANNA MOTTER: I’ve lived there 58 years.

INTERVIEWER: Were you born in Carroll County?

ANNA MOTTER: No, I was born in Pennsylvania.

INTERVIEWER: Where in Pennsylvania were you born?

ANNA MOTTER: I was born in a small community called McClure in Snyder County. But my husband was a– or my father was a minister. And he moved 13 months after I was born to Oley, Pennsylvania, which is in Berks County, near Reading.

INTERVIEWER: Were you a– did you– what was the size of your family?

ANNA MOTTER: I have another brother.

INTERVIEWER: Um, did you both move to Carroll County?

ANNA MOTTER: No, no– just I.

INTERVIEWER: And when you moved to Carroll County, were you already married?

ANNA MOTTER: I got married and then moved, yes.

INTERVIEWER: And why– why did you move to Carroll County?

ANNA MOTTER: Because my husband was born and raised in Taneytown. And, uh–

INTERVIEWER: So he had family that was in Taneytown?


INTERVIEWER: How long had his family been in Taneytown?


INTERVIEWER: Forever? For generations?

ANNA MOTTER: Yes, for generations.

INTERVIEWER: When you came to Taneytown 58 years ago, can you describe how it was to live in Taneytown?

ANNA MOTTER: It was a very small community, approximately 1,500 people, if that. Everybody knew one another. If I didn’t know someone, I would ask my husband. And he got a little bit irritated with me several times, because I kept asking. But it was the only way for me to find out who they were.

And so I got to know the community quite well.

INTERVIEWER: And how’s that– how’s that changed over time since you moved here–

ANNA MOTTER: Well, all you have to do is go through the town and see the massive homes that have been built and the communities. We have grown to approximately 7,000 people now with the new Carroll Vista 55 and older community. I think they’ll eventually have around 350 homes out there and maybe more. But that has added a lot to our community.

INTERVIEWER: But back then when you first moved here, uh, were there smaller grocery stores in town?

ANNA MOTTER: Yes, there were. There were two I think that I can recall that, uh– and they were just the small grocery stores, the individual persons owning that grocery store. And, uh–

INTERVIEWER: How have any– any other things in Carroll County back–

ANNA MOTTER: We had a movie house.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, there was a movie house.

ANNA MOTTER: We had a movie house.

INTERVIEWER: was that located in Taneytown?

ANNA MOTTER: It was located where the Chinese restaurant is right now. And the– right on the corner of York and Frederick Street and, uh, East and West Baltimore. It was right there on the square. Um, there was a sewing factory above the movie, um, theater that was owned by a man named George Shriner, who was– um, who lived right in Taneytown and had the sewing factory.

INTERVIEWER 1: How long did movie house stay there?

ANNA MOTTER: It left in, um, I want to say maybe, uh, the late ’50s. I’m not quite sure of the data on that. But I know that we– visited that quite often.

INTERVIEWER: Now there are a number of churches in Taneytown that have been there for hundreds of years.

ANNA MOTTER: Yes, the Lutheran Church, the United Church of Christ, which originally was Reformed and then Evangelical and Reformed, and now the United Church of Christ. It, um– it probably– now, that Lutheran Church celebrated their 250th a number of years ago. We just celebrated ours last year.

INTERVIEWER: Now, what is your church? You said you were–

ANNA MOTTER: The United Church of Christ.

INTERVIEWER: you join that church when you first arrived in Taneytown?

ANNA MOTTER: I did. And as I say, it was even Evangelic and Reform. My husband always said that he’d moved me south and reformed me. Because I was born Lutheran. So.

INTERVIEWER: What is– and you participate actively in your church?

ANNA MOTTER: Absolutely. I was the choir director for 35 years.

INTERVIEWER: When did you start being choir director?

ANNA MOTTER: I was hired by a church in Littlestown in 1959. And that was the United Church of Christ also. And then in 1971, I came to Taneytown. Actually had both the choirs in Littlestown and Taneytown.

INTERVIEWER: Now that being choir director, did you– did you or do you participate in the historical aspect of the church?

ANNA MOTTER: I what the, uh, chairperson of the, uh, of the, uh, celebration in 2006.

INTERVIEWER: And what– what was the celebration about? What did you do with celebration?

ANNA MOTTER: We had, uh, something going on every month. We had what we called historical snippets of the church, beginning with its earliest history and then had, um, banners made for that particular period of time. And as we gave the historic snippet, the banners were brought forth and hung around the church.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell me some of the significant, um, contributions that your church made to the history of Taneytown?

ANNA MOTTER: Just a matter of being historic, first of all. Um, the first building was called the Old Yeller church, primarily because that’s how it was painted. And, uh, we have a plaque denoting that in our cemetery. Um, but over the years, it’s been a very active church within the community.

I can’t just name all of the things that we have done. But presently, we are housing what we call the Grace Learning Center, which houses about 20 children for learning purposes, preparing them for kindergarten.

INTERVIEWER: Is there anything else that you recall about your church that they participated in some event in the past?

ANNA MOTTER: We participated in the celebration of the, um, 250th anniversary of our town. We had floats. Each time we had any kind of history, we had floats. We’re just a church who is very open and, um, willing to help anyone. We’re part of the ecumenical movement in Taneytown, so.

INTERVIEWER: Let me talk about your education. Where did– where did you go to school?

ANNA MOTTER: I went to Gettysburg College.

INTERVIEWER: And before that?

ANNA MOTTER: Before that, I went to Oley High School, graduated there in ’45– 1945.

INTERVIEWER: And then you graduated from Gettysburg College–


INTERVIEWER: And what– what did– what did you do after that, after you graduated?

ANNA MOTTER: The I started to teach. I taught one year in Pennsylvania before I was married. And then, um, I taught two years in Carroll County. I taught music as– as an itinerant music teacher. I taught in five different schools– Sandymount, Mechanicsvillle, Uniontown, Winfield, and Charles Carroll.

And then I raised my children– I have three children– after that. And then when they were ready for school, I went back to teaching. I was called and said there was a position open in Taneytown and that’s where I went and stayed there until– that was in ’61, 1961. And then I stayed there until 1977.

INTERVIEWER: So your– your, um, teaching career spanned almost 30 years.


INTERVIEWER: Can you explain how– how did teaching, if it changed at all, changed over that period of time?

ANNA MOTTER: I’m not sure that teaching has changed. I think that discipline has changed, the discipline of the children. Um, I know I can recall that, uh, the teacher was highly respected in those days. We were the head of the classroom.

INTERVIEWER: The ’50s and the ’60s.

ANNA MOTTER: Yeah. And that has changed. That has changed. And that’s sad. That is sad. Because now children, as I look at them, have little respect for the teacher in many parts. Now, I’m not saying that for all children. But in many instances, they have actually no respect for themselves and– or other kids.

INTERVIEWER: You mentioned that schools you taught at the first couple years for music. What other schools did you teach after that?

ANNA MOTTER: After that I taught in Taneytown. That’s all. I did– after I retired, I did subbing in New Windsor and in Taneytown.

INTERVIEWER: What was the name of the schools that you taught that after the initial couple years?

ANNA MOTTER: Well, Taneytown High School is where I started. And it was a junior/senior high school at the time. And I taught seventh grade language arts. And then as we went along, we needed a reading teacher, so I became a reading teacher. And eventually, when I retired I was a reading specialist.

But Taneytown in 1969 moved to the– the, uh, classes moved to Key, Francis Scott Key, the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades moved over to Key. And then we became a middle school, the building in which I started, until the new Northwest Middle School was built in– I’m not sure when that was– 1976, maybe.

INTERVIEWER: What happened to the original building at Taneytown High School?

ANNA MOTTER: It was burned down. Not– it was burned down purposely.

INTERVIEWER: purposely. Do you know why they decided to move out of that building?

ANNA MOTTER: I was told that it was in dire need of repair and they didn’t have the financial backing to make it into something that could have benefited Taneytown. We were very upset about all of that. Taneytown wanted it desperately to remain.

INTERVIEWER: Is it historic building, old building?

ANNA MOTTER: Well, it– it all high schools– Westminster High school was built on the same plan. Not the new Westminster, but the old, which is not, I believe, East Middle School, that plan is the same as it was in Taneytown. There was one in New Windsor, the same. Union Bridge– we all had our individual high schools, each little town. And they were all built on the same plan. You could go into one and find your way around, just like you were–

INTERVIEWER: And you preferred it that way.

ANNA MOTTER: Well, yeah, I did. I felt the closeness of not just the kids, but the faculty. It was a closeness there that, um, I missed when I moved into the new building at Northwest. Um, we worked in groups, or grades– we called them pods– at that time. And we saw only those teachers who were in that particular grade. And so I missed seeing the other teachers. And it just was different.

INTERVIEWER: What did you think about when they won from a combination of a middle school/high school to just purely a middle school? Was that– was that improvement or not an improvement?

ANNA MOTTER: I suppose it was an improvement, because we had so many children moving into the communities and the classes at the high school were growing. And that is not a good thing to have when– I know that one time, I had as many as 60 kids in one classroom. That’s not teachable.

So in that respect, I think that, you know, that was an improvement in the having middle school. And–

INTERVIEWER: Were there other things that changed while time period you were teaching that you felt was not an improvement, or–

ANNA MOTTER: Well, all of the paperwork that had to be done, you know, to verify anything that you did, um, and just to satisfy not only the administration, but the parents. You had to, as I say, verify everything that you did. And I felt that that was just a little bit beyond necessary.

INTERVIEWER: When you first started teaching, these were all white schools at the time?


INTERVIEWER: When did that change?

ANNA MOTTER: When, um, Taneytown and moved to Key, then we had– we became a middle school in the old high school.

INTERVIEWER: In the late ’60s.

ANNA MOTTER: Yeah. In ’69. Then we had some children– and I asked my son about this and he said, yes, they came from New Windsor and Union Bridge to fill the, uh, the, uh, the schools. So we had a middle school.

And then we had a few black children come in. But, um, um, that really was my only experience until I started substituting over in New Windsor and then they had a few more black students there.

INTERVIEWER: In Taneytown in the ’50s and ’60s, were there segregated areas of the– of the town?

ANNA MOTTER: Yeah. Early on in education, the black children were, um, taught following the, uh, time that the white children were taught. And they went to the Catholic school and had a couple hours of study there. But most of the blacks in our community were all one family, interspersed. And they went to the Catholic Church.

And I recall they had to sit in the back pew. They were really segregated. And there was one girl that I recall, had a beautiful, beautiful soprano voice. And, um, they would not allow her to sing in the choir because she was black. And I thought that was– that was bad. Because I came from a community that I didn’t know any, you know– everybody was one.

INTERVIEWER: Was that a shock to you when you moved to Taneytown from Pennsylvania?

ANNA MOTTER: It was, absolutely. Absolutely a shock.

INTERVIEWER: Now, there were there certain areas in town that African-Americans lived versus white people lived?

ANNA MOTTER: Um, most of them lived– yeah. They lived together. Let’s just put it in– on one street.

INTERVIEWER: What street was that– if you remember?

ANNA MOTTER: I knew you would ask me that. It’s now at the corner of Westview Avenue. I can’t remember the other street that goes by there. I should, but I don’t.

INTERVIEWER: The– what is it about Taneytown that you like?

ANNA MOTTER: The, um, small town-ness of it. And that’s what’s really bothering me, because we’re losing that small town. We’re losing, uh, the shops downtown. We don’t have that anymore. And–

INTERVIEWER: Why do you think you’re losing that?

ANNA MOTTER: I– I don’t really know, except that the bigger stores are around. And the individuals just cannot, um, keep going with their little shops. Um, it’s not paying. It’s always money.

INTERVIEWER: Now when you first moved in Taneytown 58 years ago, where there more farms surrounding–

ANNA MOTTER: Oh, yes. Absolutely. The farmlands now have been developed into homes. We had, um, where Roberts Mill Road is, that was all farmland back there. And the gentleman sold off that land. And now that’s all built-up community. And, uh, the farmers just couldn’t make a go of it. We have a few farmers who are still surviving.

But, um, I think of Mr. Carroll Wilhite, who is, I think, around 95 years old. They still have their farm and it’s still in their family. Um, there’s a Raif Snider farm outside of Taneytown that’s still farmland. But there aren’t too many around anymore. The Ballinger farm that was on the north side of Taneytown is now Meadowbrook housing. They sold all that land to, uh, housing.

INTERVIEWER: How do you think that affects your enjoyment of living in Taneytown and others’ enjoyment of living in Taneytown?

ANNA MOTTER: You know, I’ve lived in my house for 56 years. And I just love my house. I don’t want to move out of it. And the streets are still the same– York Street, Frederick Street, East and West Baltimore. You know, that the central part of Taneytown is the same.

We’re going into a new phase now in a few months, I think, maybe half a year, maybe the beginning of the next year, where we’re going to have, uh, streetscape come in and, uh, just refurbish everything especially. Well, that– that will run from the square to Antrim, where Antrim is, and also out to the memorial park. And then part of Frederick Street and part of York Street will become– will be part of that streetscape.

INTERVIEWER: Are they going to attempt to try to divert some of the traffic off the main road, or they can’t do that?

ANNA MOTTER: Eventually they of course are looking for a bypass. And it’s been in the works for so many years that I’m sure I won’t live to see it. But, um, it needs to be done. Those huge trucks that go through town are just breaking up the road. And it’s– the traffic is very heavy through town– very heavy.

INTERVIEWER: And that’s obviously changed since you moved in 58 years ago.

ANNA MOTTER: Absolutely. I don’t think I said anything about the, uh, the businesses in Taneytown. But one of the, uh, main businesses, um, was Cambridge Rubber Company. And that came down from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Taneytown in 1937. And they had as many as 1,000 workers during the wartime.

They bussed them in for employment. And it– then the building burned in 1942 but was rebuilt. And you had a factory in Littlestown and, uh, had various little arms of the factory in some of the smaller communities around. But it was a large, large business in Taneytown.

They made, uh, rubber footwear and, uh, eventually canvas shoes. They supplied World War II with boots and raincoats. It– they had a tremendous business. And it closed in 1987 because of the, uh, competition from Japan and China.

INTERVIEWER: So you’ve seen a number of small businesses, family businesses go out of business.

ANNA MOTTER: And the– we’ve had several sewing factories that have gone out of business. And, uh, so– I– those are things that I didn’t like to see leave, but–

INTERVIEWER: But Taneytown has a number of events that they sponsor every year. Are you involved in any of those events?

ANNA MOTTER: I was. When we became a Main Street community in 2000, I, um– I was on the board of directors for quite a number of years. And, um, I was also chair of the Taneytown zoning and planning commission. That’s wrong. It was the appeals board that I chaired, not the zoning and planning.

But I chaired that for 15 years. So I was involved in the community and helping to prepare for events that took place.

INTERVIEWER: Some of those events were–

ANNA MOTTER: Well, I can’t– we had an ice cream social. That has stopped, but we had that annually for awhile. The other event that wasn’t sponsored necessarily by Taneytown but by the Caring And Sharing Ministries was the community chorus, which I directed for 20 years.

And that brought a lot of people to town for that.

INTERVIEWER: You had outside performances that were inside the church. How did that–

ANNA MOTTER: Inside my church, the United Church of Christ. That’s where we held it. And only one concert a year, and that was the first Sunday in December. And, uh–

INTERVIEWER: They help raise money for the town, or–

ANNA MOTTER: Not the town, but for the Caring And Sharing Ministries, for the people in town who needed help. And so if it was just a freewheel offering that was offered. And they gained a lot of, uh, help that way.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell us a little bit about that event every year around, uh, I’ll win that pumpkin event?

ANNA MOTTER: I don’t know too much about that, except that, uh, I know that– that our day care or our learning center does, uh, pumpkin people. And it’ll be on our lawn at church. And I know that the– the dentist, the orthodontist out at the end of town always has pumpkin people. And there are various organizations in town that have them around. And it’s sponsored by the Main Street community. And, uh–

INTERVIEWER: That draws a lot of people every year also, doesn’t it?

ANNA MOTTER: I think so. You know, I’ve gotten out of that– that part of it. When I no longer be– am a member of that board of directors. I just felt there were other people that should take over. But, um, I’ve been a member of the Heritage Committee, which was formed in 1987. And I’ve been a charter member of it. And I still am very active with that.

INTERVIEWER: Now, what’s the Heritage Committee?

ANNA MOTTER: It’s the historical committee in Taneytown.

INTERVIEWER: And Taneytown has a historical building, a historical society.


INTERVIEWER: Can you tell us a little bit about that?

ANNA MOTTER: Well, as I say, we organized in 1987, and for the purpose of maintaining the history of Taneytown and– and also helping people to realize that the history is important. It’s not just something that should be thrown away and forgotten. And so we do our own thing.

We– we have meetings six times a year and have speakers. Recently, however, we have brought in local people who tell us about the early businesses. We had someone tell us about the, um, Cambridge Rubber. We’ve had someone talk about the Carroll Record Office, which was our early newspaper that, uh, was printed weekly– kind of a gossip column, but it was, you know, the news of Taneytown.

And, uh, so we had someone talk about it. We had people talk about the churches and the history of the churches. So– and we find that the people in Carroll Vista are really very excited to hear about the history, because they’re older people. And they want to know about the town into which they had moved.

INTERVIEWER: Now, did you participate in doing what we’re doing here today is to record other persons?

ANNA MOTTER: We did that. We did not do it by video. We did it just by tape. And from it, we, uh, made a calendar– I should have brought a copy along, but I didn’t– um, to celebrate our, um, the anniversary, which was the– let’s see, I’m trying to think. Taneytown celebrated in 2000. In 2000, that’s what it was.

And so it was– it was their 250th anniversary of Taneytown. And we celebrated, um, by making this calendar. And we also had postcards, um, like the old postcards as souvenirs. And, um, so there were– there were a lot of things that we’ve done. We’ve had, um, a coverlet made with all of the pictures. And that was a one time thing that we did. We’ve had coasters, pewter coasters that, uh, depict the, um, town office.

INTERVIEWER: But the audio, the audio interviews that you took, where are those located?

ANNA MOTTER: Right now, they’re with me.


ANNA MOTTER: They will be eventually in the museum and kept there for historical purposes.

INTERVIEWER: You know how many you– about how many you did, or the Historical Society did?

ANNA MOTTER: Um, we did 12. And we have the, um, the tapes recorded. We also have it all typed out. One of the girls did the write-up on it.

And, um, so it’s available and will be put in the museum as soon as the– the museum is trying to do things, um, with certain areas of their– of their building. And so I talked to one of the ladies who’s running it, that, um, whether we could store that in the museum. And I think that’s where it should be.

INTERVIEWER: Where’s the museum located?

ANNA MOTTER: Um, right in the center of town it on West Baltimore– or East Baltimore Street, about, um, oh, gosh. It was the old savings bank. That’s– it’s was an old bank. And the town took over the building. It’s maybe a quarter of a block down from the corner of the, uh, of West Baltimore Street.

INTERVIEWER: And recently, there was an exhibit there that, uh, dealt with your family. That true?

ANNA MOTTER: Well, it was a Civil War exhibit. And I had a, um, um, my great-grandfather’s discharge papers were there. However, my great-grandfather was not native of Taneytown or Carroll County. He was from Pennsylvania, but– and served in the Civil War for– as a cavalryman and, uh, fought in 32 battles. And I have that memento from him. So I feel very proud of that.

INTERVIEWER: Well, thank you, Mrs. Motter, for your time today.

ANNA MOTTER: Well, I hope I’ve helped some. I– I appreciate your asking me to do this. And, uh, and I’m glad to be here.