Life Dreams Unrealized

Eugene “Gene” Garlitz and his wife, Margaret Ann “Maggie” (Seckman) Garlitz always considered Westernport, MD to be their home. 1894 proved to be an eventful year for the young family. Their daughter, Ida Mae, became a big sister to their newborn son Floyd Garlitz in August. The violent coal miner’s strike in the George’s Creek Valley that same year may have precipitated their move to Braddock, PA. Gene found new employment in a steel mill, where he eventually attained the rank of foreman. Tragedy struck three years later, when, on November 10, 1897, Maggie died from typhoid. Gene, with his eight year-old daughter Ida Mae and his four year-old son Floyd, brought Maggie back home to Westernport where she was buried in the Philos Cemetery.

In 1901, Gene Garlitz remarried. He and his new wife had three children of their own, and in 1910 the family was living in Clairton, PA. Gene’s daughter Ida Mae married Barton native John Bell Ross on June 15, 1907. The young couple’s first child, George Edward Ross, was born on September 2, 1908. Ida Mae was devastated when typhoid struck once again. Her husband John died on October 8, 1908, leaving Ida with one month-old George and the memory of losing her own mother to the same dreaded disease. 19 year-old widow Ida Mae, little George, and her brother, 15 year-old Floyd, were living in Westernport with their uncle and aunt, Calvin and Lula “Lue” (Seckman) Fazenbaker.

Floyd Garlitz worked for several years at a brickyard near Piedmont, WV before finding employment, in December of 1915, at the Maryland Coal Company’s New Detmold Mine near Lonaconing. Floyd was boarding with Martin Eichhorn in Detmold, and was looking forward to his upcoming marriage planned for February of 1916. At noon on Wednesday, January 12, 1916, after working at his new job for only three weeks, Floyd was in the process of timbering a room when he was crushed to death by a fall of roof rock. A substantial amount of debris had fallen on young Garlitz, and it took quite some time for his fellow miners to extricate him. His body was taken to the Eichhorn Funeral Home to await the arrival of his father for further arrangements. The funeral was held at the home of Floyd’s uncle, Calvin Fazenbaker, in Westernport. Burial was in Philos Cemetery, the same place where his mother Maggie was laid to rest nineteen years earlier. Floyd Garlitz was survived by his father, step-mother, and half siblings in Clairton, PA, his sister in Piedmont, his aunt and uncle in Westernport, and a grandmother, Mrs. Joseph Winebrenner, in Carlos. The Garlitz family was repeatedly subjected to the undeserved wrath of fate, just as they appeared to be on the verge of achieving their life dreams.

Authored By: Bucky Schriver

How can you help?

The Coal Miner Memorial Statue Fund is accepting contributions for the placement of an educational memorial near the crossroads of the state Route 36 and the national Road in Frostburg. A bronze statue will honor our Georges Creek Valley miners and name those who perished while mining. Tax-deductible donantions can be mailed to the Foundation for Frostburg CMMSF, P.O. Box 765, Frostburg, MD 21532.

Please email: Polla Horn or Bucky Schriver to share your thoughts and stories.

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