Monday, March 27, 2017

Ann Tonge and Tonge Row

Tonge or Tongue Row was built in the 1840s, with one duplex completed each year by a widow, Ann Tonge.  The three lovely stone buildings have appeared in movies, such as the TV film Les Miserables in 2000.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lilly (Tyson) Manly Elliott turned the Patapsco Female Institute into a 60 room home, then hotel

Lily or Lilly Tyson (1852-1924) was a descendant of two prominent Quaker milling and merchant families – the Tysons of Jericho Mills north of Baltimore and the Ellicott founders of Ellicott City. Martha Ellicott Tyson, her grandmother, helped found Swathmore College, wrote a biography of  
Benjamin Banneker and was the daughter of George Ellicott. Lilly bought the old hilltop girls school in 1891.

Monday, March 13, 2017

"Wilde Lake" - Laura Littman's Columbia sites photos: Old Oakland Farm, People's Tree and Wilde Lake

Once part of the vast lands of Charles Sterrett Ridgely's Oakland mansion HERE , the stone home "Old Oakland" was the farm complex for the estate. It is extremely close to the stone slave house, blacksmith building and other outbuildings HERE .  It must be the inspiration for the Laura Littman mystery "Wilde Lake"

Monday, March 6, 2017

Edith Clarke - first female electrical engineer


Edith Clarke (1883-1959), a gifted mathematician, was raised in the John R. Clark home “Arlington”.  She attended numerous colleges including Vassar (1908) and MIT (1919) and had a variety of jobs with the longest at General Electric 1919-1945. Her abilities were finally recognized and she was advanced to an engineer – a job previously closed to women. She invented the Clarke calculator, patented in 1921. After retiring, she taught for ten years at the University of Texas in Austin, then returned to Maryland.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Benjamin Banneker's almanac and the Ellicotts

George Ellicott, his brother Elias Ellicott and their cousin Major Andrew Ellicott each helped to get Banneker's first almanac published in 1792. The previous post HERE on the biography of Benjamin Banneker has other details of his life and accomplishments.  George taught interested neighbors astronomy using his celestial globe and telescope, and gave some of his books and tools to his friend Benjamin.  Andrew, a famous surveyor who did at least thirteen years of almanacs, passed on Benjamin's well-written letter, and it is preserved in the Historical Society of Pa.  Elias who had moved to Baltimore was also a Quaker, joined the newly formed Md Abolition Society and wrote numerous letters about the almanac. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Oliver Cromwell Gilbert : a run-a-way slave's success story and 2 Walnut Groves

Oliver Cromwell Kelly was born in 1832 on "Walnut Grove" (owned by Gassaway Watkins), to Cynthia Snowden, a cook. Later he escaped from nearby "Richland" plantation in Clarksville, Howard County. Gilbert wrote an account of his flight to Philadelphia and his name change, then to several other cities as far north as Walnut Grove Quaker School in Lee, New Hampshire before returning to Philadelphia where he died in 1912.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Margaret Jane Blake bought her freedom, her life in a book

"Margy" Blake (1811-1880) was the daughter of Charlotte and Perry Blake - he was a free African-American and a Marine during the War of 1812.  She was born a slave of Jesse and Sarah Levering and looked after one of their daughters, Sarah Levering. Blake bought her freedom in the 1850s, and was the subject of a book by Levering in 1897. Although Jesse Levering had a successful business in Baltimore, he died suddenly of cholera when Sarah was 7 years old, and his widow moved her young family to Ellicott City, and Margaret was sent to work for other families.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Sarah Jane Dorsey freed in 1850, given land in 1869

Sarah Jane Powells (or Powell) Dorsey was born in Lisbon MD in 1828 (or 1832) and was freed in the 1850s by Thomas and Sarah Hood.  "Sarah Hood desires to manifest her regard for Sarah Jane Dorsey, colored, late their slave for her unwavering fidelity and general moral worth as a servant” and Hood purchased over an acre of land in 1869 where the Dorsey family would live for over a century at the home on Rt. 97, Cooksville, MD.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Patapsco Hotel as railroad station

Interestingly, this hotel had a side balcony at track level and used as the passenger station for the new train.  Then the train crossed Main Street/turnpike on the Oliver Viaduct to get to the freight station.  The train service began on May 24, 1830, arriving at 9AM, 1 and 6PM for 75 cents. Its many owners have used the building as hotel, apartments and even an ice plant.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The B & O 'riots' of 1829 - the first railroad strike

In August 1829 workers building one section of the new railroad line (the most difficult), wouldn't work then "severely wounded" Thomas Ellicott the 'contractor' of that section and broke up his home.  The site where the fighting began was dubbed "Vinegar Hill" after a battle during the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Tom Thumb steam engine vs a horse

Did Peter Cooper's steam locomotive "Tom Thumb" race a horse drawn train car, as told by John Latrobe years later?  He said Cooper's new steam engine was winning until "the band which drove the pulley, which drove the blower, slipped from the drum."  The daughter of one of the B&O directors, was on that "trial trip" and often related how Mr. Jenifer's horse on the turnpike won due to the "slipping of a belt on the engine." She also remembered how their "clothes and umbrellas were ruined by sparks thrown from the smokestack."  So, maybe it did happen...or not.

Monday, January 9, 2017

B & O horse-powered train ... treadmill 1830

During the first years of railroads, the train cars were propelled by sail HERE, horse, and then, steam engines.  Initially horses were on the track pulling the train like a wagon, but for a short trial, horses were riding along, walking on "an endless apron or belt" connected to the wheels.  Another sketch shows passengers riding beside the horse.  The B&O horse car did not last long, especially an early trip with the "cowed editors" of various newspapers.  How were they cowed?  The train hit a cow, the car rolled down the embankment and "after countless bad jokes being perpetrated on the cowed editors, passed out of existence, and probably out of mind." 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Sailing on the B & O railroad in 1830

The sail in a basket rail-car was created by Evan Thomas (1781-1863), who with his brother Philip, promoted the building of a railroad from Baltimore.  He traveled to Europe and studied a new railroad in UK.  Upon Evan's return, John Eager Howard hosted a dinner at Belvidere in 1825 (or 1826) to discuss the possibility of a railroad.  In Feb, 1827, 25 merchants and influential men met at the home of George Brown to form the B&O.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas egg-nogging in 1866 Ellicott City


A British barrister, Henry Lantham (c1828-1871) kept a journal during his three month trip around the US in 1866. He spent Christmas Eve in Ellicott Mills, where egg-nogging was common when visiting, and guns were fired every 10 minutes "giving one the idea that the war had not ended yet at Ellicott's Mills." Egg nog was made cold and served cold, made from egg yolks, brandy, cream, milk mixed then topped with whipped egg whites.  Sugar-plums were given.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Humor: Ellicott - - a la cote

In a story from a NY ladies magazine in 1837, a visiting Frenchman forgot the name Ellicott's mills, but remembered that it sounded like the English word for jacket (cote/coat); so in broken English he asked a sailor what his jacket was called. Unfortunately he was at the Ellicott wharf in Baltimore, not the mills - which is why he could not see the mills with the whur, whur, whur of the wheel to grind the floo (flour).  The Frenchman was more than thirteen miles away from the mills.  The arrow shows the location of the early Ellicott wharf at the end of Light Street (north-south) and Pratt Street (west-east) Baltimore.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dismal Mill then George Ellicott Jr.'s Ilchester Mill

Down stream on the Patapsco River from Ellicotts mill was a corn mill (which occasionally could grind flour) eerily called Dismal Mill, built in 1761.  By 1831 George Ellicott Jr. (1798-1869) had erected the 3 story stone 'Dismal Mill Factory' or Ilchester Mill at that site and constructed a 3 story home.  Ellicott sold his home in 1866 to the Redemptorists who started St. Mary's College. click to enlarge.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Ellicott City's Ligon and Chatham Streets ... and Gov. Ligon

Thomas Watkins Ligon (1810-1881) was Governor of Maryland from 1854-1858 as a Democrat when the Whigs/Know Nothing Party (honestly their name) had control.  Ligon married two daughters of landowner Charles Worthington Dorsey and Mary Tolly (Worthington) Dorsey - m1 1840 Sally Ann Dorsey (1817-1847) and m2 1854 Mary Tolly Dorsey (1825-1899).  Histories of "Chatham" and "White Hall" differ in books.  Chatham and Ligon streets lead south from Frederick Road (the old Baltimore-Frederick turnpike) to the Dorsey/Ligon property between St John's Church and Miller Library. They are buried in St. John's cemetery.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Priscilla Ridgely (White) Morison's daughter Rebecca (Morison) Henry awarded French Legion of Honor

Priscilla White (1850-1942) was the 4th Priscilla.  Her father Charles Ridgely White's mother Priscilla Hill Dorsey (Ridgely) White was born at the great estate "Hampton" to Gov. Charles Carnan Ridgely and Priscilla Hill (Dorsey) Ridgely who was born at "Belmont" (now a Howard County run historic home) to Caleb Dorsey, Jr. and Priscilla (Hill) Dorsey.  She was a life long Howard County resident, spending the winters in Baltimore; and organized reading classes in Howard County, worked for better roads, raised funds for charities and was active in the St. Johns Church of Ellicott City, where they are buried.  One of her daughters, Rebecca, earned the French Legion of Honor medal for her work in Paris during World War I.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Charles Carroll's Doughoregan in 1874, with interior photos


The Manor in 1874 was described in Appletons’ Journal as being a typical Maryland 5 part home - center being only 30 feet deep, two wings with thin connecting passageways to a kitchen at one end and a Catholic chapel on the other at 300 feet.  Built on an "artificial knoll" it's story and a half was raised to 2 stories and a flat roof by Charles Carroll of Carrollton's grandson.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Babe Ruth married in St. Paul's Catholic Church

Located on the hill behind the 1830 B&O Railroad station in Ellicott City, the Catholic church was built in 1838.  George Herman Ruth (1895-1937) was raised in Baltimore and played his rookie year of baseball there, then was traded to Boston.  He married Mary Ellen "Helen" Woodford (1896-1929) in the Ellicott City church with only two witnesses on October 14, 1914.  They adopted a baby, Dorothy (1921-1989) purported to be Ruth's daughter with a girlfriend, they separated after he met his future wife, Helen died in a house fire in January 1829, and Ruth remarried in April.