Almost everyday coming to (or leaving) work, I’m usually reminded of the September 11th tragedy that beset our country back in 2001. In my case, I would have to say it isn’t due to the fact that my employer is a cemetery, as I pass countless gravestones and markers on my commute through Mount Olivet and it’s eight miles of memorial drives and roadways. No, the reason for my “memory jog” can be blamed on a beautiful monument made of African Jet-Black granite and sitting on a corner lot at the entrance circle to our mausoleum chapel complex.
Under this 7300-pound memorial is the gravesite of Frederick County’s only victim of the New York portion of the infamous September 11th terrorism act that toppled both behemoth towers of the World Trade Center. I would like to add here that our county had two additional casualties on that fateful day: Chief Warrant Officer William Ruth, age 57, and Lt. Cmdr. Ronald J. Vauk, age 37. Both of these individuals were Mount Airy residents and died in Washington, DC as employees of the U.S. Pentagon.
Here in Mount Olivet, just 50 yards out my office window, is a monument to the everlasting memory of Alan Patrick Linton, Jr., a Frederick native, born April 22nd, 1975. Alan attended local public schools and was a graduate of Frederick High School. He grew up on the same grounds formerly farmed by his ancestors living along, and within the vicinity, of Ballenger’s Creek, just southwest of downtown Frederick City and near Adamstown.
Alan was a classmate of my co-worker, Sales Manager Rick Reeder here at the cemetery. Rick recently found, and lent me, his 1993 yearbook allowing me another source in which to understand and illustrate Alan in his high school days. He was a bright student and admirable member of the football and wrestling teams. He graduated from FHS in spring 1993 and next headed to Pittsburgh's Carnegie-Mellon University earning a dual degree in business and economics.
As our nation solemnly remembers the 20th anniversary of that frightening day in September, 2001, the magnitude will certainly be weighing heavier on the minds of those who were directly affected by the devastation and loss incurred. Here at home, it should be obvious that it will be a day to reflect and endure (just like the previous 18 anniversaries) for Alan’s parents, A. Patrick, Sr. and Sharon Lynn Linton, along with Alan's siblings... Laura and Scott.
Alan Patrick Linton Jr. was only 26 years old, in the prime of his life, and working in the heart of Manhattan’s Financial District as an assistant manager and fixed-income analyst for Sandler O'Neill & Partners. His condominium home was across the Hudson River in Jersey City. I’m wondering if his office window offered a view of his New Jersey domicile, as I know his legendary workplace commanded views of all the City’s iconic surrounding landmarks such as Wall Street, the Battery, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building and the legendary five boroughs.
This was one of the chief perks of employment in a high-rise building like the south tower of the World Trade Center. I recall my own visit a few years earlier in which I ventured to the “Top of the World Observatory” to take in the 360-degree view of New York City. This was on the 110th floor of Tower Number 2.
However, that blessing became a curse on that beautiful September morn as hijacked airliners were purposefully flown into each of the twin towers as the deadliest single terrorism act the world had ever witnessed. Our former Carrollton Manor resident was working on the building's 104th floor when United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into floors 75-85 of the South Tower at 9:03am. Everyone aboard the plane, and hundreds in the building, died instantly as a result.
Alan was trapped above the carnage, and those of us who witnessed this tragedy unfold before our very eyes on live television further saw the collapse of this architectural masterpiece just 56 minutes after the initial impact of the plane. The North tower would collapse at 10:28am.
I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Linton last week. I knew they would be interviewed by the local paper and other outlets as has become an annual tradition, so I wanted to ask a few different questions. What truly intrigued me was an explanation for the beautiful monument and burial in Mount Olivet.
Pat Linton said that he and his wife are very religious, as was son, Alan. As members of Frederick Church of the Brethren, Alan attended church regularly from childhood up to his death as he often came home to Frederick most weekends. Pat said that he’d come home Friday nights and leave Sunday nights, many times at the urging of his parents after dinner. He was a true homebody.
Sharon Linton spent the first seven years hoping her son was still alive somewhere, perhaps suffering from memory loss or like malady. The family received a few of Alan’s belongings that he had on him on that September day twenty years ago. One such was his Maryland driver’s license found several blocks away from the South Tower. Federal investigators also delivered to the family some of their beloved son’s mortal remains including a part of the forearm. These were buried in the Linton plot during a small, private graveside service at Mount Olivet in fall of 2005.
Even though reality of situation (regarding his ultimate survival) eventually sunk in, the Lintons relied on their Christian faith and believed their son was in a safe place, “somewhere better” as Pat, a former bank executive, would quietly exclaim. He went on to say that this led to the choice of a cross and flowers design to be etched upon the grave monument. To further the theme, two flower vases project from the gravestone’s face and are changed seasonally by the family.
Speaking of family, the Lintons have a relatively large one, and with Alan’s passing they gave serious consideration to their own burial plans. They would purchase a large corner lot for themselves positioned in Area TJ/Lot 2. This is located along the entry drive directly in front of the original chapel mausoleum building which first erected in 1997. They couldn’t tell me why they had chosen this particular granite stone hailing from southern Africa for the family monument into the future, but were extremely happy and proud of their choice. They plan to join their son in this noble location when their respective times come.
Pat told me that Mount Olivet was a natural choice, as it represented “home.” He went on to say: “My wife’s parents, Howard and Edith Moss, are buried in Mount Olivet. Alan’s other set of grandparents, my parents Jack Thomas Linton and wife Betty Mae (Thomas) Linton) are also here, along with my son’s great-grandparents (Russell Herbert “Brownie” Linton and Edith Marie Brandenburg).”
I found the Moss’ on Area SS/Lot81, only about 100 yards from Alan’s grave. The Linton relatives were roughly 200 yards away in Mount Olivet’s Area GG/Lot 254. Interestingly, many local genealogists and family historians may recall that Jack and Betty Linton maintained a room in their home dedicated to the extensive obituary collection started by Jacob M. Holdcraft, who spent decades documenting the cemeteries and graveyards of Frederick culminating in the book entitled Names in Stone. The Lintons maintained the collection from 1972-June, 2010.
About the same distance away to the north lies the final resting place of Alan’s paternal grandmother’s parents, his great-grandparents Russell Cephas Thomas and wife Bertha Mae Zimmerman. This is in Area T/Lot 119. Russell was the son of John Franklin Thomas, buried elsewhere in The Manor Cemetery (aka Church Hill Cemetery) near the family’s ancestral home at Adamstown. This is located on Ballenger Creek Pike across the street from St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.
In his 1921 work The History of Carrollton Manor, author William Jarboe Grove wrote of the family:
“The Thomas family forms so large a part of the early history of Carrollton Manor, that I am compelled, on account of space, to give only a brief account of this large family, who, by their industry and thrift, have prospered and left a splendid name and record for prosperity. These pioneers were among the very first settlers of Carrollton Manor. About 1750 three brothers emigrated here from Germany; John, Peter and Valentine. John was born in 1731 and settled on the old homestead near Adamstown. His descendants still hold the land.
John had four children among whom was Henry Thomas of J. born October 18, 1765 on the old homestead. His whole life was spent in clearing timber and cultivating the land. Mr. Thomas married November 22, 1790 Ann Margaret Ramsburg. They had five children. Their son George Thomas of H., was born May 3, 1798 and lived on the old homestead during his early life, and by his industry and frugality acquired several other farms. He was a self-made man and took up at home the study of mathematics, and was recognized as an expert surveyor, all of which he taught himself through perseverance and practice.
In 1968, the German Thomas Cemetery, originally located on a farm about a mile away, was removed to Manor Cemetery (aka Church Hill Cemetery). Many date from the late 1700s. They are arranged in a row beside the guardrail on the right edge of the cemetery. Across Ballenger Creek Pike is St. Matthew's Church Cemetery.
George Thomas married three times. With third wife Julia Ann Hargett, he had the above-mentioned John Franklin Thomas in 1843, our subject Alan Linton, Jr.’s great-great grandfather.
The old Thomas homestead of three generations starting with Alan's great-grandfather, John Franklin Thomas, still stands on Ballenger Pike. This was originally constructed by early German immigrant Christian Kemp around 1750. It eventually wound up in the Thomas family in 1910 and was passed down to son Russell C. Thomas and then to daughter Betty (Thomas) Linton and son-in-law Jack Linton. it is still owned within the family today, now by Alan’s sister, Laura.
Alan’s childhood home is immediately to the north. Across the street are former Thomas family farmlands that were developed into the community aptly named “Linton at Ballenger.” The main drive in is named Alan Linton Boulevard. There is also a Jack Linton Drive and a Betty Linton Trail.
Pat and Sharon Linton recounted that Alan said he hoped to someday earn enough money to give to philanthropic purposes which eventually became the impetus for the Linton family’s generous contribution to the Religious Coalition. Their gift in Alan’s memory helped establish the Exodus Program and the Coalition naming its emergency shelter in his honor. This is located on DeGrange Street on the west side of downtown Frederick.
The Linton family has visited the memorial at New York’s “Ground Zero” where they made rubbings of Alan's name. They still hold special birthday dinners on his birthday. "He's always with us." remarked Pat Linton at the end of our conversation.
Please keep this special family and the memory of an equally special young man in your thoughts as we experience this landmark 20-year anniversary. Alan Patrick Linton, Jr.’s grave monument will always serve as a tangible reminder of a horrific event in our history, but one in which we can learn invaluable lessons when it comes to the resolve and resiliency of a family to continue moving forward despite the hardest of losses. Alan's grave also symbolizes the resolve and resiliency of the United States of America and its people in continuing to move forward as well.
We Shall Never Forget
Let the world always remember,
That fateful day in September,
And the ones who answered duty's call,
Should be remembered by us all.
Who left the comfort of their home,
To face perils as yet unknown,
An embodiment of goodness on a day,
When men's hearts had gone astray.
Sons and daughters like me and you,
Who never questioned what they had to do,
Who by example, were a source of hope,
And strength to others who could not cope.
Heroes that would not turn their back,
With determination that would not crack,
Who bound together in their ranks,
And asking not a word of thanks.
Men who bravely gave their lives,
Whose orphaned kids and widowed wives,
Can proudly look back on their dad,
Who gave this country all they had.
Actions taken without regret,
Heroisms we shall never forget,
The ones who paid the ultimate price,
Let's never forget their sacrifice.
And never forget the ones no longer here,
Who fought for the freedoms we all hold dear,
And may their memory never wane,
Lest their sacrifices be in vain.
-Alan W. Jankowski
Special thanks to Laura (Linton) Anspach for the many family ancestor photos found on her Linton family tree on Ancestry.com.