Ja­cob Tome de­scen­dant helps Port De­posit

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JANE BELLMYER jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

PORT DE­POSIT — The great­great-great-great-niece of Ja­cob Tome is help­ing the town he helped grow pre­serve his legacy.

Sheri Dun­bar and her si­b­lings re­placed a worn in­ter­pre­tive sign in the cen­ter of Port De­posit and will sup­ply a bench at the Tome Gas House Vis­i­tor Cen­ter. Dun­bar vis­ited the town in 2016 and saw the sign, which was erected un­der a small ar­bor near the post of­fice.

“It was dam­aged and had been that way for quite some time,” said Dun­bar, who lives in Nashville, Tenn.

The sign was dis­col­ored, faded and scuffed.

Con­tact­ing Vicky Rinker­man, Port De­posit town ad­min­is­tra­tor, Dun­bar of­fered to re­place the sign.

“It didn’t seem like that much money so I could (also) do some­thing else,” she said, adding she sug­gested a bench as well.

“But there was no room for a bench there,” Dun­bar said.

Rinker­man sug­gested the bench could be in­stalled at the vis­i­tor cen­ter, which also car­ries the Tome name.

While the sign cost $220 the bench project is slightly higher, cost­ing ap­prox­i­mately $1,000 de­pend­ing on which bench is cho­sen and the in­stal­la­tion method, ac­cord­ing to Ted Sooki­asian, fi­nance man­ager.

Born in Hanover, Pa., in 1810, Ja­cob Tome was a banker, politi­cian and phi­lan­thropist; and also the rich­est man in the United States upon his death from pneu­mo­nia in 1898.

Dun­bar said her ma­ter­nal grand­mother was the great­great niece of Ja­cob Tome.

“So I’m like third gen­er­a­tion re­moved,” she said.

The new sign is iden­ti­cal to the old one, but made of more durable ma­te­rial. Rinker­man was able to find the orig­i­nal art work. The sign was to be in­stalled this week.

“We’ll put a plaque on the sign and the bench,” Dun­bar said.

Those plaques will tell vis­i­tors that both are in mem­ory of her mother, Dorothy Masteller Burke, and her grand­mother, Ella Woodrow Tome Masteller.

Dun­bar said her mother was born in Port De­posit and her grand­mother at­tended the Ja­cob Tome In­sti­tute, the school es­tab­lished by Ja­cob Tome for the chil­dren of Port De­posit.

“I have my grand­mother’s ring from the school,” Dun­bar said.

She’s only been to Port De­posit a few times over the past seven years, but she said she is fas­ci­nated by this piece of her fam­ily’s his­tory.

“It’s such a cute lit­tle town,” she said, not­ing she hopes to re­turn and learn more about the fam­ily legacy.


Ja­cob Tome, Ce­cil County’s first mil­lion­aire, is the great-great­great-great un­cle of Sheri Dun­bar and her si­b­lings. A sign in Port De­posit has been re­placed by Dun­bar in mem­ory of her mother and grand­mother.

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