Jacob Tome descendant helps Port Deposit
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 A sign in Port Deposit has been replaced by Dunbar in memory of her mother and grandmother.