The Mount Savage Historical Society's new book "In Search of the Turkey Foot Road" is the work of the five key contributors featured below, and a host of helpful people throughout Maryland and Pennsylvania. Click here for an overview, sample images, and a chapter by chapter summary.
Co-Author Lannie Dietle served as the principal writer on the project, and provided the bulk of the historical analysis. In this 2010 video frame, he is searching for the route of the Turkey Foot Road on the west side of the Allegheny Mountain.
Mr. Dietle's ancestral roots are in the various southern townships in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. He was raised in Mercer County, having moved there from Southampton Township at age four. His interest in history began young, from discussions with his Grandmother Gladys Korns, and the chance purchase, at a rural auction, of two mid-1860s books about the Civil War. A 1974 graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, he is the Principal Designer at a firm in Sugar Land, Texas, and works primarily with oilfield seals.
Mr. Dietle’s two decades of Somerset County genealogical studies provided useful knowledge of the area, despite not having lived there since the late 1950s. Part of his interest in the Turkey Foot Road was driven by a desire to understand the local markets and routes that permitted his ancestor Michael Korn to accumulate locally significant wealth while living at an isolated farm in southern Southampton Township. As part of his extensive research on the Korns family for this website, Mr. Dietle encountered J. Roderick Korns’ 1951 book on pioneer trails, titled "West From Fort Bridger". Korns' book led to the realization that a pioneer trail such as the Turkey Foot Road was a worthy subject for a book length project.
Co-Author Michael McKenzie identified many of the core topics and early references that are in the Turkey Foot Road book. It was through his initiative that contact was established with nearly all of the local individuals who were interviewed. One of his key contributions has been the local knowledge that can only be gained by assimilation. He introduced Mr. Dietle to most of the local historical characters and Mount Savage area landmarks that the book references. He performed the boots-on-the-ground Mount Savage area research, and all of the courthouse and local library research. This 2010 video frame captures Mr. McKenzie during the search for the Turkey Foot Road on the east side of the Allegheny Mountain.
Mr. McKenzie is a diesel locomotive mechanic at CSX in Cumberland, Maryland, and lives in nearby Barrelville. He is intimately familiar with the local area, where he has lived his entire life, except for seven years of military service. His interest in history was sparked by his grandfather, Daniel Ricewick of Barrelville, who regaled him with stories and took him to see various local historical sites. Mr. McKenzie’s vast knowledge of the local mountains, forests, farms, and roads comes from hunting ginseng, Morell mushrooms, and wild game, and from mountain dirt biking expeditions as a young man.
Editor Nancy E. Thoerig is a native of Mount Savage, Maryland, where she has lived, except a few months in Vienna, Virginia and ten years in Cumberland, Maryland. Her first job was engineer’s assistant, editing maps and narratives for FEMA’s flood insurance program. Next, as staff writer and City Hall reporter for the “Cumberland News”, she especially enjoyed topics of local history. One of her most memorable assignments was a frontier encampment at Green Ridge State Forest. She has worked in public relations, marketing, taught college freshman English, and enjoyed 16 years as community director for a national non-profit. Now retired, she enjoys writing on timely topics, and editing for friends. In the photo above, Nancy is standing on a section of the route near Mount Savage that is known from tradition as a stagecoach route. While not plainly visible as an abandoned roadbed, the route was verified through artifact recovery.
Contact was first made with Ms. Thoerig to ask a question about her book "History of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Mount Savage, Maryland". This led to occasional e-mail exchanges regarding Arnold’s Settlement. Through this correspondence, she became aware of the book project. As a courtesy, she sent an e-mail concerning earlier Turkey Foot Road research by the late Alice Carney. This led to a telephone call, and an offer for her to review the draft. As a result of this exposure, she agreed to serve as editor. In this role, Ms. Thoerig provided critical and substantive input in both grammatical and historical matters. She contributed signficantly to the overall accuracy of the book by challenging conclusions and assumptions, and pushing and prodding and making suggestions where information was unclear or incomplete. She has painstakingly expunged countless dangling participles, errant hyphens, and grammatical inconsistencies, and suggested alternate language to improve readability. Click here for Nancy's thoughts on the project.
Salisbury Mayor Harry Ringler, Senior was the project's advisor on the section of the Turkey Foot Road between the environs of Pocahontas and Confluence, Pennsylvania. He has collected Turkey Foot Road traditions from older area residents all along the route, and is personally familiar with the Salisbury portion of the route from years of outdoor sporting activities. His knowledge of Somerset County comes from his lifelong interest in Pennsylvania Indians and other aspects of local history, and his years of land management supervision for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. This 2010 video frame captures Mr. Ringer telling a story about local history while helping the authors research the route on the west side of the Allegheny Mountain. Mr. Ringler is an active member of the Western Maryland Chapter of the Archeological Society of Maryland. His son Harry Ringler, Junior also made signifcant contributions to the book, which led to the authors' study of early Pennsylvania property surveys.
Barrelville resident Francis Bridges began looking for the Turkey Foot Road in the Mount Savage area several years before Mr. Dietle and Mr. McKenzie. He shared a wealth of traditions and memories with the authors, and was instrumental in identifying several portions of the Turkey Foot Road in the Arnold's Settlement area. One of these road sections was the historic "Mule Field" route that he knew from his mountain bike riding days. Another was the stagecoach route along a boundary of the Paul farm. He was also aware of the much later route west out of the town of Mount Savage long before the authors came to accept that route. Mr. Bridges is an active member of the Western Maryland Chapter of the Archeological Society of Maryland, and brought Mr. Ringler to the authors' attention. This 2010 video frame captures Mr. Bridges engaging in a history discussion on the east side of the Allegheny Mountain, during a field trip that was undertaken to support the Mount Savage Historical Society book. Click here for Mr. Bridges’ thoughts on the project.