Ramsay left his mark in Savage

Cumberland Times-News Thursday, March 4, 1999


This n That

One of Mount Savage's most unforgettable people was Andrew Ramsay. Mount Savage was in a top economic position in Allegany County because, of his controlling influence in the field of enameled brick manufacturing. Ramsay was born Sept. 23, 1870, in Scotland. He was the son of John and Marian (Stewart) Ramsay, and the grandson of Andrew Ramsay, who was a prominent coal operator at Coatbridge, Scotland. Ramsay's father, John, was a mine superintendent and he was accidentally killed in the coal mines in Ayrshire, Scotland. At the time of his father's death the boy was only 15 years old and it became necessary for him to give up his studies at Saint Bees, England and go to work.

Ramsay served as apprentice in the trade of brickmaking and then mastered the pottery and enamel business. He worked in England for two years and then returned to Lanarkshire to manage three brick and pottery plants.

In 1895 he came to America and organized a company at Trenton, N.J. According to Thomas and Williams in their "History of Allegany County." Ramsay located at Mount Savage in the fall of 1895, where before long he organized the Mount Savage Enameled Brick Company.

Ramsay was general manager of the plant until 1899, when he took over the entire operation and changed the name to the Andrew Ramsey Company. On Dec. 25, 1896 he married Jesse Somerville, of Scotland daughter of William and Jesse (Muirhead) Somerville. They had three children, John, Jesse Somerville and William Somerville.

The family home in Mount Savage is a handsome stone structure 2-1/2 stories in height, patterned after the old Craig Castle in Scotland. We know it today as "The Castle —Bed and Breakfast."

Ramsay was always public spirited. A Presbyterian by religion, a Republican on political issues and an enthusiastic Mason, belonging to Fort Cumberland Lodge 211, AF&AM. In 1912, Maryland Gov. Phillips Lee Goldsborough appointed Ramsay as a member of the State Roads Commission. Ramsay accompanied the governor to Oakland, later traveling by automobile from Grantsville on the National Pike to Baltimore. (It was being planned to have the work of reconstruction of this important highway through Maryland completed by 1914).

Ramsay never forgot his native Scotland and he was the speaker at a birthday celebration of Robert Bums that was held in Lonaconing. The celebration was held in Evans Opera House, under the auspices of the Lonaconing Presbyterian Church. Between 300-400 people enjoyed the elegant supper that had been prepared by the ladies of the Sewing Society of the church.

The program was made up of Scotch songs, instrumental music and speeches, accompanied by deafening applause. Ramsay gave such a glowing . address that the newspaper carried it in its entirety. At the end of address, Ramsay reminded the audience, "Scotland has produced Scotch humor and Scotch whiskey and my good friend, Delegate John Macfarlane tells me he has use for both. Hoot mon! Though for Scotch whiskey he has less use than he has for Scotch humor. He curses the stuff in good, stiff unco words that are not always to be found in Webster's Unabridged. Hoot mon, once more! And when he begins to roll it out with a burr on his tongue, as if his mouth were full of mush, I am scared to death. Encore. Hoot mon!" (John Macfarlane also came from Scotland. At the time of this speech, in addition to owning and operating Macfarlane Plumbing Contracting Company in Cumberland, he was a delegate to the Maryland General Assembly).

Sounds like it was a great celebration full of Scottish humor!