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.

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.