In 1976 Don Skarda published the first comprehensive history of Berwyn Heights. Writing about the 1896 incorporation of Berwyn Heights, he said that “the Town charter called for the election of 3 commissioners to serve for one year without pay to administer the affairs of the Town…. Yet for reasons unknown, there is no record that an election of commissioners was ever held or that any other provisions of the charter were ever carried out.” (History of a Small Town, p.21)

If Skarda were writing his history today he probably would have come to a different conclusion. The Internet daily expands our access to all sorts of historic documents and opens new windows on the past.  In this case, google books provided access to a source indicating that 3 commissioners were elected in May 1897 and were active for a time, putting into question the widely held belief that the first functioning government of the Town came into being with the election of 1924.

Quoted from  Journal of  the Proceedings of the Senate of the State of Maryland, p. 892.

“Office of the Secretary of the Senate
March 18th, 1898

The following acts of the General Assembly of Maryland, originating in the Senate, were sealed with the Great Seal, and presented on the 18th day of March, at 11.15 o’clock, A.M., to the Governor of Maryland for approval:

…An Act to declare valid the election of William DeMott, Edwin A. Alger and James C. Brelsford as commissioners of the town of Berwyn Heights, in Prince George’s county, on the first Monday in May, 1897, and to ratify and confirm the acts done by said Commissioners…”

The Act was introduced by William B. Clagett on February 8, 1898, and referred to a Special Committee of Messrs. Clagett, Gray and Bouie. (ibid, p. 220)

Sources:, History of a Small Town by Don Skarda
Kerstin Harper

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