Elsie talks about her time and experience working at the Carroll County Farm Museum.
LINDSAY: Today is Ju– Tuesday, July 27, 2010. I’m Lindsay Inge and I’m interviewing Elsie Baust at the Carroll County Farm Museum. Good morning.
ELSIE BAUST: Good morning, Lin–Lindsay.
LINDSAY: And I wanted ask you about, um, your time at the Farm Museum. So how did your involvement begin here?
ELSIE BAUST: Well, uh, originally the– the Board of County Commissioners appointed a feasibility study committee. Uh, and I was on that. And then after they, uh, fulfilled their mission, uh, most of the people on that committee went on to become members of the Board of Governors.
So I was on that. And I was the, um, chairman of the, um, crafts committee. Uh, and so I did most of the arrangements for the first Fall Harvest Day.
And then, um, about that time, uh, a gentleman who was here– can’t remember his name at the moment– who had started being the curator, uh, decided that it was more than he could handle. And the, uh, chairman of the Board of Governors called me and asked me if I would consider doing that. And I said that I would, as, um, I had done so much as the chairman of the social committee– of the crafts committee. So that’s where it all began.
LINDSAY: So what did you do as the curator? What were your day-to-day tasks?
ELSIE BAUST: Well, I wasn’t– I told them not to call me a curator because I did not have the education or the background to be a curator. I asked them to call me a coordinator. Uh, I was a Carroll Countian. And I was a farm person, farm wife. And, uh, knew many of the farm people in Carroll County.
And I thought that my value to them would be more in the, uh, area of bringing people in from the county to volunteer and to help get the Farm Museum started. Uh, so uh, uh, the Scotts, who were the caretakers, and I were the only paid people here. So you can imagine that we did everything.
LINDSAY: Yeah. [LAUGHS]
ELSIE BAUST: We did everything.
LINDSAY: Yeah. It’s a lot of work.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, mainly, though, uh, I– I uh, lined up volunteers. Uh, I kept the records. Uh, I– I, uh, logged in, um, items that were brought in to be– that were donated for the Farm Museum.
Uh, I arranged for special events. And, uh, the Board of Governments, uh, had hopes that we would have a special event once a month. So you know, by the time you got finished one, you were already planning for another one.
ELSIE BAUST: So it began to be a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week–
ELSIE BAUST: –job. You– you just were thinking Farm Museum all the time. So, um, pretty much whatever needed to be done–
LINDSAY: Yeah. Sounds like everything.
ELSIE BAUST: either the Scotts or I everything.
ELSIE BAUST: Mhm.
LINDSAY: So when the, um, museum first started, was Carroll County still mostly rural back then?
ELSIE BAUST: Oh my, yes. It has always been.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, of course now, you ride around Carroll Counties and you see the farms that were growing hay and corn are growing houses.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, but, uh, yes. It was very much rural at that time.
LINDSAY: So a lot of people were interested then.
ELSIE BAUST: Yes. Yes. And the, uh, the Board of Governors, uh, were asked to ask in their communities– of course the members of the Governors were from all over the county.
ELSIE BAUST: And they were from all walks of life. They were farmers. They were businessmen. They were housewives. Um, maybe, um, teachers.
Uh, but they were asked to contact their neighbors and see what they had that– in the way of old farm tools that they might want to donate to the Farm Museum. So that helped accumulate the items that we had here. Uh, but then also, the members of the Board of Governors all served as volunteers. When there was something going on, they all were here. And in between times, while we were getting the Farm Museum started, they were the ones who were doing the work.
LINDSAY: Mhm. Um, in the book it said your husband and your daughter helped out a lot, too.
ELSIE BAUST: They did.
LINDSAY: Was that how most of the volunteers were? It was like a whole family?
ELSIE BAUST: Yes, it was. My daughter was only about eight years old at the time. And she dressed up in a little [INAUDIBLE] costume. And she was always my little sidekick.
And, uh, my husband liked being here. So, um, he eventually bought a horse, who we named Ginger. I had to stop and think what her name was.
And– and we put the horse here. It was a nice, gentle old horse, you know, way up in ages, very calm. And so, uh, he would come in on weekends and hook the horse up to the spring wagon or to a buggy, and take everybody for rides.
LINDSAY: Mhm. What was your, um, favorite event that you planned or– [INAUDIBLE].
ELSIE BAUST: I guess the Fall Harvest Day.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, because I, you know, we did so much on that first Fall Harvest Day. There were so many things going on. And it was so exciting. You know, we were just starting. This was the very first year.
It opened in 1966, August of ’66. And this then was in– I think that first Fall Harvest Day was maybe in September. Um, and we did not charge an admission. So we had no idea what to expect as far as attendance.
But, um, we had a wonderful PR man. And he did a lot in the way of advertising. And I think we had over fi– I have a number here– 5,800 people on that first day.
ELSIE BAUST: And the road was different then. And, you know, I just stood at the front porch and watched as all these cars kept coming in. And it was– it was sort of traumatic because we weren’t prepared for that many people.
We didn’t have parking lots. Uh, we didn’t have the people– very many people to help do the parking. And we didn’t have restrooms. Uh, so it was a pretty traumatic day. I remember that day quite well.
LINDSAY: Pretty overwhelming, it sounds like.
ELSIE BAUST: Yes, it was a little overwhelming. But it was– it was very satisfying too, to know that that many people were interested.
ELSIE BAUST: And the next year, when we started charging admission, they came back, too.
LINDSAY: Yeah, that’s good.
ELSIE BAUST: And they’ve come ever since.
LINDSAY: Mhm. So you grew up on a farm, too, you said?
ELSIE BAUST: I did, yes.
LINDSAY: What was that like?
ELSIE BAUST: [SIGHS] Well, I guess I didn’t know any better, because that was– it was– it was not an easy life. Uh, from the time I was, oh– I went to live with an aunt and uncle when I was seven years old. And they were farmers.
And my uncle was kind of a taskmaster. And, uh, he s– when they went to the– to the barn in the morning, I had to go to the barn, too. So from the time I was about eight years old, I went along to the barn, and helped to milk, and helped feed the cows.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, then, uh, we al– he always farmed. And then I fell in love with a farm boy when I was in high school, and married a farmer, and so we farmed. So–
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, I was very much the farm wife.
LINDSAY: Mhm. So, um, did you ha– did you know about the Farm Museum before it was the museum? Did you ever come when it was an almshouse?
ELSIE BAUST: Yes, I did, as a little girl. Uh, when I went to the Church of God on Center Street, uh, they would come out here, uh, and– and have services on a Sunday. And, uh, I would come and– and sing in the– with the people, just little children. So yes, I did know about it.
LINDSAY: Yeah. Most of the people I’ve talked to, like, that’s how they said got to know it, too, is coming with their church or some other
ELSIE BAUST: Yes.
LINDSAY: –community group.
ELSIE BAUST: Mhm.
LINDSAY: So would you say that Carroll County was more of a– not more of a community, I guess– but people had more contact together? It seems like today, people don’t really just get together like–
ELSIE BAUST: Well, you know, we didn’t have television.
ELSIE BAUST: Of– a lot of homes didn’t even have telephones in those early days. So you relied on your neighbors. Uh, I remember in 19– about 1946, living in a house, uh, up Uniontown Road without telephone. And my husband had gone to the farm to help his father with the work. And I kept hearing the dinner bell ring, or a bell ringing.
ELSIE BAUST: It– this was maybe 4:30, 5 o’clock in the morning. And, uh, discovered later that our neighbor, uh, on the farm, who, uh, did not have a telephone, um, was– had gotten chased down by the bull and was penned by the bull– pinned by the bull and needed help. So they rang the dinner bell to alert neighbors to come and help him.
LINDSAY: Oh my gosh.
ELSIE BAUST: So– so that, you know, that was how farmers and– and residents of the county kind of operated before the days of telephone. So– and you didn’t have televisions to take you away from farm– family affairs. And–
ELSIE BAUST: You know, even in those early days we didn’t have radios. I remember before the days of radio.
LINDSAY: So everybody kind of helped each other out that way.
ELSIE BAUST: Exactly, mhm.
LINDSAY: Um, so you were saying that you weren’t actually trained to be a curator. But you actually had to take on a lot of the work for that. Did you end up– when your time at the Farm Museum was over, what did you do after that? Did you do anything else within the community?
ELSIE BAUST: Well, I did– I did, but not in that line of work. Uh, I went to work for a southern states organization that was a contracting firm. We built– built– built buildings and–
ELSIE BAUST: –uh, put up grain bins and that type of thing.
ELSIE BAUST: So I– I didn’t do anything along those lines.
ELSIE BAUST: I think you really, to be a curator in the correct sense of the word, you have to have some educational background in antiques and– and those types of things.
ELSIE BAUST: I did not have any of that. I did not have a college education, only had a high school education. So–
LINDSAY: Did you go to high school at Westminster?
ELSIE BAUST: No. I went to New Windsor.
LINDSAY: Oh, OK. I went to Watersville. It’s a little newer, I think. Um, but it sounds like all the early volunteers had a lot of, you know, real experience that maybe someone who was trained as a curator today still– you guys would have an edge on them, sort of. Because you actually knew what everything was for.
ELSIE BAUST: Well, you know, um, one of the b– members of the Board of Governors was a forester.
ELSIE BAUST: So he knew about helping with the trees and– and– and such things, shrubbery and so forth. Uh, one of, uh– let me see. I guess he also helped to lay out the lake.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, so each one of the Board of Governors had something that they were special– specialties in. And so they helped us out. Some of them who were farmers helped to set up the displays in– in the barn as, uh, how it would’ve been typical for them to be.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, one fellow, uh, on the Board of Governors was a, um, shop teacher in the school. And he helped set up the blacksmith’s shop. So they all worked, and they all pitched in, even down to just mediocre things like painting, painting the inside of the house, painting the barn, um, repairing the barn. There was so much that needed to be done when we started.
ELSIE BAUST: But the other thing was, none of us knew anything about museums, particularly farm museums. We were– it was all new ground for us.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, so we were just really starting from scratch. I likened it at one time to, uh, going home from the hospital with your first baby.
ELSIE BAUST: And you might have a– a books, Dr. Spock book to tell you. But you’re there with this new little infant, and you wonder what in the world you’re going to do with it when it cries and, you know, gets a rash or something. So here we were with the Farm Museum, and none of us knew anything. So we had to kind of learn from experience.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, we would go– uh, a number of us made several trips to the Landis Valley Farm Museum in Pennsylvania in Lancaster County and kind of got some ideas from them. But then we– we just kind of had to make it on our own and–
ELSIE BAUST: –learn as we went along. Like, from the first Fall Harvest Day, we learned that we needed more restrooms. Uh, we needed more food, because everybody who comes here wants to eat. Uh, we needed more parking, and people to help with parking, and some way to control people a little bit.
ELSIE BAUST: So we learned from experience what we needed to do. And so we built on that then from– from year one and went up as we went along.
LINDSAY: Um, you were saying earlier how your vision for the farm house initially was that it would be sort of a typical representation of– of a farmhouse in Carroll County, and that it’s kind of changed now to be sort of what the higher-ups in Carroll County would have been.
ELSIE BAUST: Yes.
LINDSAY: How– how else have you seen the Farm Museum change?
ELSIE BAUST: Oh, well, there’s so many more buildings now.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, there was only the one barn. There’s a number of barns now. Uh, oh, it’s changed in so many ways, but it’s all been for good.
ELSIE BAUST: It’s all been wonderful. And the Wine Festival has been a tremendous addition to the Farm Museum.
ELSIE BAUST: That came after I left.
ELSIE BAUST: So I wasn’t part of that. But mhm.
LINDSAY: Um, just Carroll County in general– I mean, you’ve lived here your whole life. How– how has that changed, you know, for the– for the better or worse that you’ve seen.
ELSIE BAUST: [CHUCKLING]
LINDSAY: I guess in a lot of ways. But–
ELSIE BAUST: Yes, in a lot of ways. Uh, mostly, as far as I see it, from the standpoint of losing so much of the good farming land.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, the farm that I lived on when I was a little girl on Royer Road–
ELSIE BAUST: –was a wonderful farm. Now it’s all houses. Uh, my husband and I lived on a farm on Uniontown Road, which was beautiful farm land. Now it’s in houses.
Um, and– and there’s so many places around the County. You know, I’m amazed when I drive around and see all of the houses.
ELSIE BAUST: Um, as you’re going out New Windsor Road, and look up over the road towards Uniontown, house, after house, after house.
ELSIE BAUST: And Parr’s Ridge, uh, there was a– a, um, florist shop there at the time. And it was fields. And so– so mostly that’s– that’s the main change. But of course the highways.
ELSIE BAUST: There was no 140 at that time.
LINDSAY: Yeah. Um, so before you became the, um, coordinator, you were the director of the crafts, you were saying?
ELSIE BAUST: Yes, chairman of the crafts committee.
LINDSAY: Chairman of the crafts, OK.
ELSIE BAUST: Almost everybody on the Board of Governors turned out to be chairman of some committee.
LINDSAY: Yeah. So what did you do for that?
ELSIE BAUST: Well, my biggest job was lining up the crafts for Fall Harvest Day and contacting all those people. But then, uh, I needed to get people– uh, when we had school tours, we liked to have some craftspeople in. So we’d try to get somebody, maybe, to do chair painting, or weaving, or spinning, and always quilting.
ELSIE BAUST: The quilters were there from day one and are still here.
ELSIE BAUST: That’s been a mainstay.
ELSIE BAUST: So that– that, as far as the crafts, that was my job. And I can remember when we were getting ready for that first Fall Harvest Day, uh, George Greer was the pusher. He was a wonderful, wonderful person. Just– and so capable.
And– and so I’d tell him what I had lined up. And he’d say, well, we need a few more. So get a few more crafts of some kind. So if you look over the list of crafts that we had on Fall Harvest Day, you can see that we just did about everything.
Um, were the school tours always part of the museum from the beginning?
ELSIE BAUST: Yes. We started those, uh-huh, right away. And, uh, I don’t know how you’d do it now. But at that time, when I left here, we were taking them through the basement of this building.
LINDSAY: OK. Mhm.
ELSIE BAUST: And showing them a movie–
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, which a professor from Western Maryland College, uh, had made for us. And we’d show that movie as kind of introductory thing to the tour.
ELSIE BAUST: And then we would have a guide to take them around. So, uh, there again, somebody had to line up guides. Well, first of all, you have to recruit guides.
ELSIE BAUST: And then you had to train them. And then you had to keep them lined up.
ELSIE BAUST: So, you know, you had all of that to do.
ELSIE BAUST: But uh, oh my, yes. We had a lot of [INAUDIBLE] to do.
LINDSAY: Yeah, after talking to people who have been guides here, they would say that you have hundreds of kids and maybe three chaperones with them. And they kind of just let them loose, some of them.
ELSIE BAUST: Yes, mhm.
LINDSAY: And everything. But, um, I mean, one woman I was talking to said that a lot of the kids in the early days that came to visit were from Baltimore and Frederick County rather than Carroll County, and that they were just amazed by how much space there was.
ELSIE BAUST: Yes.
LINDSAY: So I mean, I guess even today that would be true, even for people growing up in Carroll County.
ELSIE BAUST: You know, it always amazed me that, uh, many of the Carroll Countians still have never been to the Farm Museum.
ELSIE BAUST: It’s like, um, going to Gettysburg to the– to the battlegrounds.
ELSIE BAUST: You know, it’s– it’s right here. And– and we don’t go to see it or take tours of it. But people come from California and all over the States to go through it. So I guess if it’s in your own backyard, it’s not as interesting as if it’s far away.
ELSIE BAUST: So– and the other thing, I guess, is many Carroll Countians are familiar with farming. And they think, oh, I don’t need to go there and see how farming used to be done. I know.
LINDSAY: Yeah. So do you know if there’s a lot of farm museums around here, or–
ELSIE BAUST: That– well, uh, I think, uh, let me see. Baltimore County, I think, may have it. They have a fire museum. I’m not sure they have a farm museum.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, there is one other county around that has one. But I’m not– I’m not sure. No, they aren’t that plentiful.
LINDSAY: Yeah. So, I mean, you would think people c– would come. It’s such a unique place to visit.
ELSIE BAUST: Well, yes. It is just such a nice place to be. You know, uh, I was here with a group, you heard me say, on Friday. And the temperature was 100 degrees [INAUDIBLE].
ELSIE BAUST: But, uh, we sat under the trees and had lunch. And it was delightful. There was a breeze came through. And it wasn’t hot at all.
And when I worked here, I– I used to say it was a wonderful place to be in the summertime, because there was always a breeze. It was always cool. So it’s such a wonderful place to come and just enjoy the outside, with– even if you don’t go through the house. Even if you’re not interested in all those tools that– and machinery that used to be used. It’s just a nice come to place– place to come and have a picnic.
LINDSAY: Yeah, it is beautiful, especially the gardens and everything.
ELSIE BAUST: Yes. Yes.
LINDSAY: Are around. Um, well, is there anything else about growing up in Carroll County that you would want to talk about?
ELSIE BAUST: Oh. Well, never having lived any place else, it’s hard for me to compare. But, uh, you know, I thought it was a great place to grow up.
ELSIE BAUST: And– and, uh, I thought living on the farm and raising my children on the farm was a great place to be.
ELSIE BAUST: It just– no. Children growing up on a farm had chores.
ELSIE BAUST: They don’t have to look for something to do, and go out, and get in trouble. So, uh, it’s kind of different. Uh, so I was happy to grow up in Carroll County.
LINDSAY: Mhm. Did your– did your children stay in Carroll County?
ELSIE BAUST: Uh my son– I have two children.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, my son lives in Carroll County. My daughter lives in Lutherville.
LINDSAY: Mhm. So they still stayed kind of nearby.
ELSIE BAUST: Yes, she’s very close.
LINDSAY: Mhm. Um, I’m not sure if I have any more specific questions. Is there anything else about the Farm Museum that–
ELSIE BAUST: No. You do know the history of what it was before– the almshouse.
ELSIE BAUST: About the closing of it.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, you know, my– I live at Carroll Lutheran Village. And my kids tease me about living at “the home,” in quotations.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, uh, as in old folks’ home. And– and that’s what this was originally, was the old folks’ home. So, uh, you know, as it uh, became unnecessary to have an old folks’ home because of some, um, government programs that had come into the, uh, then the County didn’t know what to do with it.
ELSIE BAUST: And that’s why they appointed the feasibility committee to study.
ELSIE BAUST: And– and, you know, as we studied it and– and looked over the, uh, property here, we decided that it was the best thing to do with it. Had we not decided on it being a farm museum, it may have become housing.
ELSIE BAUST: Uh, however, I think the, uh, the– the county commissioners had determined that it was to be open space.
ELSIE BAUST: And so having a farm museum made it open space. But we thought that it was a good educational–
ELSIE BAUST: –uh, uh, place for– to bring kids.
ELSIE BAUST: And, uh, a good place to– people at that time were looking for places to go. I guess they still are.
ELSIE BAUST: Maybe not so much since this economic– economic slump. Uh, but at that time, people were looking for someplace to go on the weekend.
ELSIE BAUST: And we thought we were providing a place for that.
ELSIE BAUST: So–
LINDSAY: Well, I–
ELSIE BAUST: I think we made a good decision to make it into a farm museum. And– and the, uh, staff that’s been here since then has done a wonderful job.
LINDSAY: Mhm. Yeah, I think people would take for granted that, you know, especially since so many people around here are from farming families, they kind of take it for granted that other people maybe would never even know anything about it if there weren’t a museum for it, and they couldn’t see some of these things.
ELSIE BAUST: All this is true. And– and, you know, there’s a couple generations out there now who don’t know how, uh, corn was planted years ago, or hay was made, or wheat was thrashed.
ELSIE BAUST: And– and– or what kind of tools were used.
ELSIE BAUST: So it’s a wonderful place to, uh, provide the educational tools.
LINDSAY: Yeah. I mean, I’ve grown up in Carroll County for 19 years. And it– when I came here when I was– as a kid, this was the first time I had seen some of the Army equipment that–
ELSIE BAUST: I’m sure.
LINDSAY: I’m sure, yeah, unless some other people would [INAUDIBLE].
ELSIE BAUST: And the spring house. What did spring house mean to you?
ELSIE BAUST: So yes.
LINDSAY: Mhm. Well, so, um, if there’s nothing else that you want to bring up, I would just have one more question, if that’s OK. Um, what advice would you have for someone who was just starting out in Carroll County?
ELSIE BAUST: Oh my. That’s a hard question.
LINDSAY: Or– yeah, that is kind of general. But like–
ELSIE BAUST: Perhaps to get involved in things in the county so you know what’s going on. You know, people move in, and then they criticize what the commissioners are doing.
ELSIE BAUST: Or they criticize the Farm Museum board.
ELSIE BAUST: If you get involved, you’re more likely to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.
ELSIE BAUST: So I think it’s important to get involved.
LINDSAY: Mhm. Yeah. And you certainly have been involved–
ELSIE BAUST: Yes.
LINDSAY: –in things. So thank you so much for talking to me.
ELSIE BAUST: It was nice meeting you.
LINDSAY: This was really good. Yeah, it was nice meeting you, too.
ELSIE BAUST: And thank you for having me.
LINDSAY: Thank you.