Monday, November 28, 2016

Dismal 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 Baltimorian John Cornthwaite.  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 a college renamed a few years later as St. Mary's College.

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 after 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.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Tarpeian Rock


What's a tarpeian?  It was an outcropping or cliff of Capitoline Hill towards the Patapsco River in Ellicotts' Mills (now Ellicott City).  Above it was and is the home "Castle Angelo" and the county courthouse is further back on top.  It was named for the cliff off Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy.  The rock blocked the new B & O rail road route from Baltimore along the Patapsco River, so a cut of 60 feet was needed for the railroad track to pass. Etched into the remaining pillar of stone was: "completed April 1831 James Fresh."  A huge chunk of rock remained (the white bit in the image between the house and tracks) and with the Castle, became a tourist site until it was totally removed for a second track in 1859. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

John H. B. Latrobe's patented heating stove - Latrobe Stove - 1846

The Latrobe Stove was so popular that The Century Dictionary listed "latrobe" as a generic label for all similarly designed stoves. It "arranged for heating floors above by means of a hot-air flue fitted with a damper and register."  The Latrobe Stove was also called Baltimore Heater, Parlor stove or Fire-place Stove and initially made by the Latrobe Stove foundry.  JHB Latrobe was a multi-talented man - B&O railroad lawyer, inventor, helped found and led organizations such as the Maryland Historical Society, and more HERE .  He thought about the problem after hearing "a complaint made by his wife, that the stoves then used (the "Franklin" and others) occupied so much space. He said he could remedy this, and would make a stove to be placed in the fireplace."

Monday, October 3, 2016

How a codicil to Charles Carroll's will broke up a friendship and a family

John H. B. Latrobe (1803-1891), son of famed architect of the US Capitol, Benjamin Latrobe left West Point when his father died in 1820 to start a more lucrative career as a lawyer.  He studied law under Baltimore's Robert Goodlow Harper (1765-1825), and became friends with his son, Charles Carroll Harper, grandson of the very wealthy Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Carroll signed his will - which fairly divided his estate between his two daughters and his son's family - a few months after his only son died in 1825, as did his son-in-law Harper. Trouble came when Carroll's other son-in-law Caton requested Latrobe, a striving young lawyer, to write the codicil a year before Carroll died at 95, which favored the Caton/McTavish side of the family, and resulted in decades of litigation before it was settled.

Monday, September 26, 2016

John H. B. Latrobe's "Fairy Knowe"

Overlooking his brother Benjamin Latrobe Jr.'s magnificent Thomas Viaduct (more on the B & O Railroad stone bridge HERE), and seen by the RR passengers, John H. B. Latrobe had a country house "Fairy Knowe" designed by Robert Carey Long Jr. who also designed Patapsco Institute and Mt. Ida.  Latrobe, son of the architect of the US Capitol, owned and designed a cottage, "Maryland Row", at White Sulpher Springs and was the lawyer for the B & O Railroad.  Below is a floor plan of #1 and Latrobe's description of #2 designed with John Niernsee...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Charles Carroll of Carrollton's 90th & 91st birthdays

Born on September 19, 1737 Charles Carroll would live 95 years, dying in November of 1832.  To celebrate his birthday, his 44 relatives and friends feasted on "glorious saddles of venison" (a yearly "best buck" from Harewood estate), mutton, plum puddings, kickshaws, and "substantials" with champagne and punch. The area, now Howard County, was sometimes named after its largest town, Elkridge, once an active port.  The men on their fox hunters/horses were well known riders.  Gold and silver medals were given to his children and grandchildren the previous year on his 90th birthday.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Oella - the Maryland mill town and the Incas of Peru

The Union Manufacturing Company started buying land in 1808 for cotton mills, and in 1811 patented their holdings as Oella "in commemoration of the first woman who applied herself to the spinning of Cotton on the Continent of America."  Mama Oella (Ocllo and other spellings) and her husband/brother Manco Capac were the legendary founders of the Inca empire.  They were included in the then-popular epic poem by Joel Barlow on Columbus published in 1787 and expanded as The Columbiad in 1807.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Patterson Viaduct

Built in 1829 at Ilchester, the viaduct was destroyed in the flood of 1868.  A metal bridge was put on the remaining parts of the bridge, and now there is a walking bridge.  The current B&O bridge leads to a tunnel cut through the hill... which the original went around.  Interesting description of "rustic."  Named for wealthy business man William Patterson (1752-1835) a founder of the B & O; one of his many children, 'Betsy' married Napoleon's brother.

Monday, August 22, 2016

National Park Service centennial - Hampton Historic Site

Completed in 1790, "Hampton," just north of Baltimore, had close ties with two Howard County grand homes.  Two Dorsey sisters from "Belmont," near Elkridge, married Charles Ridgely the builder of Hampton, and his nephew & heir Gov. Charles Carnan Ridgely.  Gov. and Priscilla Dorsey Ridgely's daughter Prudence married Gov. George Howard and they lived at "Waverly" in Marriotsville.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Ellicotts' movable house - an 1800 mobile home

When they were building a road going west from Ellicott's Mills, the Ellicott brothers had a house built on wheels where the road workers cooked and slept.  It was "drawn from place to place" and was the "first movable building seen in Maryland."  Perhaps it was a small house or possibly a part of a Conestoga wagon or like a Gypsy caravan.  Moving wooden or even brick buildings was surprisingly common in the US, as noted lighthouse engineer Stevenson described in 1838...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

8113 Main St., to be torn down after 2016 Ellicott City flood, had connections to Elizabeth Ellicott Lea

Elizabeth Ellicott Lea (1793-1858), whose cookbook Domestic Cookery was first published in 1845, had ties to the shorter of the two adjoining buildings due to be torn down. The old building sets over the Tiber River (usually more of a stream) on hand-hewed wooden beams forming a truss system (like a bridge).  Incredible. For about 200 years these buildings have been held up by wood. [HO-586] The supporting wall between the frame (wood) buildings was destroyed during the flood, making it a hazard. Lea was born in the George Ellicott home, which has also suffered during past floods.

News flash!  Go to Preservation Maryland to see how the two buildings are being stabilized. HERE

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Ellicott City's flash flood of 2016

On Saturday night, July 30, over SIX inches of rain fell in TWO hours (most was during one hour) the resulting river of water was funneled between the hills encasing the historic town and onto Main Street forcing cars into buildings and down into the raging Patapsco River.  The surge of the river reached the bottom of the glass street lamps on the bridge! Note the mud.  Reports say the Patapsco River crested at 14 feet, and surged to over 27 feet. 36 hours later the jumble of cars, debris and mud have been removed from the bridge, but branches and debris shoved against the railing.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Rolling Roads to roll huge tobacco barrels

Before wheat and the flour mills flourished, tobacco was grown as a cash crop in Maryland, including the Howard district of Anne Arundel County [later Howard County].  Tobacco depleted the soil and was more labor intensive than wheat, but continued to be grown in some eastern parts of the state.  A few roads have retained their original name - Rolling Road, nearby Catonsville for example.  Farmers compressed the dried tobacco leaves to thoroughly fill the hogshead to specified weight (1000 or more pounds) then those in Howard district headed for Elkridge according to Tyson (bottom).

Monday, July 11, 2016

Whipps Garden Cemetery

This gem of a cemetery and garden was bought in 1855 for $73.25 and has been revived during the last 30 years by the Friends of the Whipps Cemetery, Maryland Master Gardeners, and other local groups – even an Eagle Scout project.  Numerous signs are scattered throughout with histories and names of plants, and every season showcases different flowers and colors.  For more history go to www.whippsgardencemetery.org

Monday, July 4, 2016

Biography of Benjamin Banneker

The Life of Benjamin Banneker: The First African-American Man of Science by Silvio A. Bedini, revised and expanded, 1999.  This is a fascinating and enjoyable read, heavily researched, on the life and many details of the times, of this noteworthy free African-American who owned his farm, made a working wooden clock just by looking at a watch, and was able to learn complicated mathematical equations and astronomy, which would be showcased in 6 years of Almanacs; and he helped for the first couple months of the survey of Washington City.  But with all his accomplishments, many myths have appeared in books and on the web, which the author corrects. 

Monday, June 27, 2016