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.

Walnut Grove the lower arrow, and upper arrow is Richland.  Charles Carroll's Doughoregan is to the right,
Cynthia Snowden, Oliver's mother was the cook at the large hearth in the basement of the home.

When Rev War Col. Gassaway Watkins (1752-1840) died, Gilbert at first was inherited by daughter Margaret (Watkins) Warfield - mother of Edwin, a future governor, then to her brother Dr. William Watkins who inherited "Richland." Gilbert wrote William Watkins was an abusive master and Kelly escaped with 14 other slaves during a Methodist camp meeting in Aug. 1848.  Three years earlier up to 100 slaves had run away from another county.
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, WWWatkins was elected its first state Senator.  "His hospitality was boundless, and his home was the favorite resort of the gentlemen of influence and standing throughout the county...[and by] the young as well."  Richland remains in the family.

Gilbert's biography is detailed in this 43 page paper -
Oliver Cromwell Gilbert: A Life. By Jody Fernald and Stephanie Gilbert.  University of New Hampshire Scholars’ Repository. 2014   HERE

More info and pictures of the homes -
HO-18 Walnut Grove HERE
HO-907 Richland Farm HERE
HO-282 Hayland HERE

Hopkins, G M Atlas of Fifteen Miles Around Baltimore Including Howard Co, Maryland  1878  
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.”  
©2017 Patricia Bixler Reber
Forgotten history of Ellicott City & Howard County MD

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