Monday, August 14, 2017

Cotton mills of Ellicott's Mills in 1849

 In 1849 there were 4 large-scale mills along the Patapsco River by Ellicott City which made cotton material: Union in Oella (pictured), the Granite, the Patapsco, and the Thistle. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Ellicott mills in 1805

"1805 8th Month, 3d. This evening I visited Ellicott's Mills, in company with J. T. and his wife. The overseer of these mills informed me they could grind and pack 300 barrels of flour per day. A barrel being 196lbs. or 14st. the annual returns, at 3s. per stone, would be nearly 200,0001. The stones were 7 feet in diameter."

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, strike, Vinegar Hill, gondola cars - Randolph Brandt Latimer remembers

Randolph B. Latimer (1821-1903) began working at age 15 in the B & O Railroad engineering department, then started a store Randolph & Latimer and flour commission. His father ran a stage line between Baltimore and Washington city.

Monday, July 24, 2017

First passenger car with Cooper's steam engine

The first ride of a carload of dignitaries behind the Cooper steam engine was on August 28, 1830 from Baltimore to Ellicott mills on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  The open car, fashioned after a canal boat, was a "perfect jam" and whisked along the curves at 15 miles an hour - 18 when full speed!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Colonel Gassaway Watkins and "Walnut Grove" family cemetery

Gassaway Watkins (1752-1840) fought in the Revolutionary War, and later as a Colonel in the War of 1812. He lived at "Richland" until his father-in-law Capt John Dorsey died and with wife Ruth (Dorsey) Watkins moved to the nearby Dorsey lands and built their home "Walnut Grove". He and his third wife are buried on a hill by their home (right side of photo), which has just been marvelously cleared, sodded and the site of a recent commemoration. Links with more info at end of post.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Winans friction wheel for the new railroads

Ross Winans (1796-1877) was born in NJ and moved to Md in the late 1820s as the B&O railroad was starting. He invented the friction wheel with ‘outside bearing’ in 1828, sold his locomotives also to the Russian Czar during his highly successful business 1843-1863, was arrested as a southern sympathizer, designed cigar boats 1859 (submarines) with son Thomas and although invented by Charles S. Dickinson in 1860 in Boston, the 'Winans Steam Gun' was worked on in his shop.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Baltimore or Winans Steam Gun - Civil War

At the start of the Civil War, a bullet proof "steam gun" was patented by Charles Dickinson and worked on in Ross Winans foundry in Baltimore.  Dickinson was on his way to sell it to the Confederacy, when it was captured in Ellicott City by Col. Jones and the 6th Mass. It was kept at Relay to guard the Thomas Viaduct. The muzzle of the gun/cannon protruded from the slit of the cone (see below) and it was dragged by a team of horses.  A large replica can be seen at Elkridge.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Reip Bake Oven and Roaster, 1825 patent

A Reip metal wall oven still exists in a privately owned historic home in Howard County.  Elizabeth Ellicott Lea, daughter George Ellicott, had the Baltimore oven in her Sandy Spring home. Henry Reip obtained a patent for a 'Bake Oven and Roaster' in 1825, which he and his sons manufactured and sold for about forty years.  The oval oven, left, now at Hampton NHS (the birthplace of the wife of Gov. George Howard of Waverly) was made by the eldest son, Alfred Reip.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Rebecca Garrett 'freed', then retaken 20 years later

Rebecca Garrett's mother was freed by Sarah (Cord) Anderson in her 1805 will.  Later, Rebecca spent about 20 years living free in Baltimore with her freedman husband William Garrett and ten children.  Thomas Anderson and son Isaac reclaimed Rebecca and some of her children in 1849.  She was freed by a Baltimore County court, but on appeal, was returned to the Andersons.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Daily summer commute from Ellicott City to Baltimore in 1889-90

Summer homes outside of Baltimore gave respite from the "inferno in Summer" but the ride on the B & O railroad train was "regarded as heroic" leaving them "hot, dusty and worn-out" revived by the mint juleps on the front porch.  H. L. Mencken (1880-1856) spent two summers at "Vineyard" on the hill by the Patapsco Institute.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Menchen at "Vineyard" in Ellicott City from 1889 to 1890

The Baltimore writer H. L. Mencken (1880-1954) spent a couple of summers as a child in a Civil War era home on the hill across from the Patapsco Institute.  His father and uncle commuted to Baltimore during the week, as Mencken explored the grounds. He wrote his remembrances in his book Happy Days: 1880-1892

Monday, May 29, 2017

Decatur Dorsey - slave to Medal of Honor recipient

Decatur Dorsey (1836-1891) was an enslaved African American in Howard County when he signed up in 1864. He would become a Sergeant in the 39th US Colored Troops and earned the Medal of Honor.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Videos of working 18th century mills

Union Mills just north of Westminster, Md. was built in 1797 on Oliver Evans plans, which incorporated details from the Ellicotts mill workings.  Evans had visited Ellicotts mills several times, and a brother of the founders wrote a lengthy section with sketches in Evan's book.  The Shriver family owned and operated the mill for almost 200 years until the 1950s.  George Washington also had a Oliver Evans style mill at Mount Vernon, which has been reconstructed and working.   

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Conestoga wagon deliveries to Lea flour mills in Delaware

Before the first railroads in the 1830s, huge Conestoga wagons hauled by 6 horse teams brought wheat from Pennsylvania to the Lea mills along the Brandywine River by Wilmington Del.  A convoy of 20-30 "inland ships" would approach a mill, with the others waiting in line, blocking roads, as the first unloaded.  The physical activity of unloading and the loud noise from "rumbling wheels, clattering [horse] hoofs...shoutings and clamorings of the Dutch drivers" contrasted with the railroad and barges that replaced the Conestogas.

Elizabeth Ellicott Lea (daughter of George Ellicott) married Thomas Lea and lived in Brandywine (Wilmington) after their 1812 marriage and returned to Maryland in 1823.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Oliver Evans 'peculiar accidents' causing flour mill fires

Mills were dangerous places and could catch fire for many reasons.  Oliver Evans and Thomas Ellicott's The Young Mill-wright and Miller's Guide, (1795) described six causes.  Thomas was the brother of the Ellicotts who erected innovative mills and founded Ellicott's mills, now Ellicott City.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Baltimore the "greatest flour market" with trains and wagons

Thousands of barrels of flour passed through Baltimore by large Conestoga wagons and railroad cars then onto ships to American and foreign ports.  The following excerpt is from an 1848 children's history book.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lime kilns at Marriottsville

Two kilns remain in the woods to the west of Marriottsville Road between the B&O railroad and the bridge over the Patapsco. The front wall of the one on the left had collapsed, but the 20 foot tall kiln to the right (west) is fairly intact and part of Patapsco Park.  The limestone was quarried nearby. During the colonial and federal period, lime was used with sand to make mortar and plaster, whitewash, and as a fertilizer.

Monday, April 17, 2017

George Ellicott Jr. home becomes part of St. Mary's College

The Ilchester Hotel/Home/Tavern that Ellicott built in the early 1830s was sold in 1866 to the Redeptorists for $15,000.  The walls had weakened by the coal trains and had to have pipes to stabilize the old stone structure.  The main 'upper house' was built in 1868, and a large wooden addition was built beside and behind the 4 story granite building.  The first chapel with long windows was attached to the granite hotel and used into at least 1895.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Ellicott quarry granite for Baltimore Cathedral

Gray granite from 'Ellicott and Company' quarry was taken by large wagons with "nine yolk of oxen" on the Frederick road to Baltimore to build the first Cathedral in the new nation.  Designed by famed architect Benjamin Latrobe (the US Capitol), started in 1806-1812, War of 1812, 1817-1821.  Now the Cathedral is called the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and a co-cathedral was completed in 1959.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Quarries near Ellicott City

The Catholic Cathedral and many homes and business in early Ellicott's mills were built with Ellicott City granite from nearby quarries along the Patapsco River.  The following excerpts describe the slight difference of the rock found on either side of the river and the quarries in 1811, 1834, 1898 and 1910.