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, the enslaved cook and freedman Joseph Kelly. 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.

"Walnut Grove" the lower arrow, and upper arrow is "Richland".  Charles Carroll's "Doughoregan" is to the right,

When Revolutionary War Col. Gassaway Watkins (1752-1840) died, Gilbert, age 11 was at first inherited by daughter Margaret (Watkins) Warfield - mother of Edwin, a future governor who he would correspond with later in life.  She gave him to her brother Dr. William Washington Watkins who inherited "Richland" where his grandmother was a slave.  Gilbert wrote that William Watkins was an abusive master and escaped with 14 other slaves from the county during a Methodist camp meeting in August 1848 when he was about 19 years old.  Three years earlier up to 100 slaves had run away from another county. A link to a very informative 43 page article on Gilbert with pictures is below.
Richland 2017

Dr William Washington Watkins (1810-1880) of "Richland" was in the state legislature and in 1838 introduced a bill to create Howard County.  When it did become a county in 1851, Wm W Watkins was elected its first state Senator.  His obit claimed that "his hospitality was boundless, and his home was the favorite resort of the gentlemen of influence and standing throughout the county..."  Richland remains in the family.

"Hayland" 
In the map above between Walnut Grove and Richland was "Hayland" (once owned by Gassaway) "...particularly fertile section, and have produced 40 bushels of wheat per acre, and large crops of the other cereals raised in the County.   
Hayland produced in one year, in “the olden time,” 75 hogsheads of tobacco, and was marketed by Christmas of the year in which it was raised; it was thus specially marketed by “firing” to cure it, and instead of waiting for the moist season for stripping, these were made artificially[sic], by throwing water on heated stones placed under the tobacco; the ascending vapor made the leaf pliable enough to “give” in handling.”  
Hopkins, G M Atlas of Fifteen Miles Around Baltimore Including Howard Co, Maryland  1878   


Links for more info and pictures -

Gilbert's biography with pictures is detailed in this 43 page paper, and 22 pages in MHM -
Oliver Cromwell Gilbert: A Life. by Jody Fernald and Stephanie Gilbert.  University of New Hampshire Scholars’ Repository. 2014   HERE

“In Slavery and in Freedom: Oliver C. Gilbert and Edwin Warfield Sr” by Jody R. Fernald in Maryland Historical Magazine. Summer 2011 p141-163   HERE

Col. Gassaway Watkins post on genealogy, RevWar, and family cemetery at "Watkins Grove" HERE
 
©2017 Patricia Bixler Reber
Forgotten history of Ellicott City & Howard County MD

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