Throughout the summer, I have been watching the slow transformation of a once-grand estate from our community’s past into a new housing development. Such is often the case of progress and necessity in our highly sought-after town and county. This parcel sits along a distinct stretch of “suburban” Frederick City roadway, positioned west of one of the trickiest thoroughfares in town to pronounce, but certainly not to drive. I’m talking about Baughmans Lane.
Go ahead, give it your best shot!— “Bawman’s Lane,” “Bogman’s Lane,” “Bowman’s Lane,” “Bowkman’s Lane.” Well, the family in question is of Germanic origin, and I found that the name derives from Bachmann. It was softened and anglicized, resulting in the “ch” being replaced by “ugh.” The proper pronunciation in this particular case is “Bachman’s Lane,” or I would gladly accept “Bawkman’s Lane.” Not to sound like a hypocrite, but I will tell you that my last name (Haugh) is pronounced “Haw” and is of Scottish and Irish origin. Many locals are familiar with the German variety of my surname, associating it with many earlier Dutch residents hailing from the Ladiesburg vicinity near the Monocacy River border with Carroll County, a stone's throw from Keymar, birthplace of our cemetery’s best known graveholder. Of course, Ladiesburg is the home of Haugh’s Church Road, pronounced “Hawk’s Church Road.”
This popular transportation connector (northwest of historic downtown) was a Godsend at the time my family's arrival to Frederick and our new home in the Indian Springs area in 1974. Baughmans Lane joined West Patrick Street (US Route 40) and Shookstown Road, as well as Rosemont Avenue. At that time, there were no other roads to intersect Baughmans Lane, save for Rock Creek Drive. Key Parkway, Waterford Drive, Rock Creek Drive, or Jacob Brunner Drive all came later.
Outside of a couple houses at the site of the fore-mentioned intersection of Baughmans and Shookstown Road, you couldn’t find much along this stretch of pavement until you got to the ends. Anchored on Rosemont Avenue was the Campbell family-owned gas station and a small, car dealer/garage on opposite corner. At the bustling other end (of Baughmans Lane), there was the Holiday Inn Hotel and the aptly named Holiday Cinemas (aka $1.99) movie theater next door. The stalwart was the former State Police Barrack B that once proudly stood on the locale of today's Wawa convenience store. No one ever connected with the original Tasker's Chance land patent of the mid 1700s could ever imagine the emergence and scope of a housing development that would one day take the same name some 250 years later.
One more trivial, side note, the shopping center behind the old police barrack was new here as well in the spring of 1973. Named Frederick County Square, this suburban, retail oasis was made possible by the purchase of a piece of the Conley farm for the purpose, helping to create the legendary "Golden Mile" which also boasted the Frederick Towne Mall and Frederick Shoppers World opening at this same time. The Conley farm would also give birth to the Taskers Chance community decades later.
A convenient, side entrance off Baughmans Lane gave my parents access to Frederick County Square and their grocery store of choice, Giant Foods in its first Frederick location. Also here was our favorite "go-to" pizza place (Vince’s Pizza), the K-Mart, a Burger King and an indoor mall which boasted a few specialty stores, a restaurant, and best of all, a “state-of-the-art” movie theater where I first saw the original Star Wars movie when initially released. Yes, these memories are all lumped together and somehow are conjured up when I think about Baughmans Lane in my warped memory bank.
So where does the name of Baughman (for the lane) come from? Well, that’s a simple answer that cannot be debated—the Baughman family, prominent one-time residents of a fine, 19th century estate named “Poplar Terrace,” later named the Belle Aire Farm by Baughman descendants by the name of Conley. The long farm lane that led to the home (from the Old National Pike (US 40)) originally served for that very purpose—as it was actually Baughman’s Lane.
The former mansion was lost to a fire in the 1980s, but several existing farm-related structures including a tenant house, mill house and others are on the exact site of current construction that will transform the remaining 32-acre lot into a major housing development. The Belle Air Farm Planned Neighborhood projects 220 homes (townhouses and single-family units) to be built between Baughmans Lane and Bel Aire Lane to the west. Most recently, the property was still owned by the Conley family.
I find it ironic that the Baughmans lived here along Rock Creek, and there was a mill here going back to Colonial times. This ties-in nicely to the Baughman family name. According to a website entitled bachmannbaughmanhistory.com, author J. Ross Baughman writes:
“In German, “Baughman” means "Man of the Brook" or "One Who Dwells by the Stream." Some have guessed that the original namesake of this name built his house by a stream and became known for that, perhaps making his living there too, running a ferry service, toll bridge or water wheel mill.”
I will briefly introduce both the Baughmans and Conleys here in this week’s “Story in Stone.” I have long been acquainted with Gen. Louis Victor Baughman (1845-1906) and his father, John W. Baughman (1815-1872), as notable Frederick characters of our county’s past. Both were former editors of the Frederick Citizen newspaper. Sadly, I can’t claim either gentleman being buried here at Mount Olivet Cemetery as they, and their wives, are resting in peace at St. John’s Catholic Cemetery in downtown (Frederick between E. Third and E. Fourth streets).
Two of Gen. Baughman’s sons (Edwin Austin and Louis Victor) are also interred at St. John’s, but a daughter, Helen Abell (Baughman) Conley (1884-1964), is buried here at Mount Olivet. She married Dr. Charles Henry Conley (1876-1956). Five (of six) of the Conley’s children are also interred here in our historic garden cemetery on the southside of downtown Frederick. One of these, Charles, Jr., would inherit his grandfather Col. Louis Victor Baughman’s fine home of “Poplar Terrace” and surrounding grounds. He would also concoct the new name of Belle Aire Farm.
Before I give you some backstory on these folks, let me start by telling you just a bit more on the mansion and farm residence that made Baughmans Lane a reality. Hold on tight, as I’m going to throw plenty of names at you.
As part of Benjamin Tasker’s 7,000 acre tract, aptly named “Tasker’s Chance” in 1725, it is interesting to note that the Belle Aire Farm is actually surrounded by a housing community of the same name—Tasker’s Chance as I mentioned earlier. It was built by the Kettler Brothers Corporation just a few decades ago. Going back to Frederick’s start, the Dulany family owned this property (as part of a much larger tract that included the land comprising Prospect Hall to the south. Eventually this fell into the hands of the Johnsons (of Gov. Thomas Johnson fame), and then in 1799 went to Col. John McPherson (1760-1829) who has been mentioned in this blog on numerous occasions as he is buried in Mount Olivet's Area E.
Col. McPherson’s heirs then sold the property to Edward N. Trail (1798-1876), father of Col. Charles Edward Trail, one of the founders of Mount Olivet back in 1852. Still with me so far?
Note that a J. H. Bruner (John H. Brunner) seems to be residing at the site of the Mill House adjacent Baughman's Lane and to Rock Creek (which flows under Baughmans Lane). This structure should be familiar to those who travel this road regularly as it practically adjoins the roadbed. I’ve read that this old building is planned to be salvaged and relocated from its original spot which is positive news, but also a necessity for the old lane to carry increased traffic in the future.
After Edward Trail died in 1876, his wife, Lydia (Ramsburg) Trail (1802-1884), left the land to son Charles E. Trail (1825-1909). Col. Trail was a prominent businessman and known for his own, impressive mansion built in downtown Frederick on East Church Street (today the site of the Keeney-Basford Funeral Home). Trail didn’t keep the former “McPherson property" long, selling the 250-acre estate in 1882 to his brother in-law, Cyrus G. Helfenstein (1828-1895). It was Mr. Helfenstein who built the "Poplar Terrace" mansion that Louis Victor Baughman would inherit and eventually hand down to Louis Victor Baughman and last resident, Dr. Charles H. Conley, Jr.
Louis Victor Baughman
According to the Baltimore Sun Almanac of 1907, Louis Victor Baughman was one of the most popular men in Maryland of his time, and was known as the “Little General,” or “Colonel Vic.” He was called the "little Napoleon of Western Maryland." Born in 1845, he attended public and private schools in Frederick, followed by Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg. From 1857 to 1861 he was an appraiser of the port of Baltimore. During the Civil War, he served in Company D, First Regiment of Maryland Confederate Cavalry, attaining the rank of colonel. Years later, the governor of Maryland would give him a political promotion to the rank of general.
After the war, Baughman practiced law in Brooklyn, NY for a time with former Maryland governor (and Frederick resident) Enoch Louis Lowe. Beginning in 1872, he became managing editor of the Frederick Citizen, a democratic paper founded by his father. Baughman was a leader for the Democratic Party in the state, serving at different times as a member of the Democratic county committee of Frederick County, the State Democratic Committee, and the National Democratic Committee. He served as state comptroller for four years and president of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and was president of the Frederick, Northern & Gettysburg Electric Railway Company after 1898.
As busy as he kept himself professionally, it comes as no surprise that Col. Baughman would marry later in life. His bride was Helen Abell whom he tied the knot in 1881. The former Miss Abell was the daughter of Arunah S. Abell, founder of the Baltimore Sun newspaper. Of particular interest to many blog readers will be the fact that Gen. Baughman was a noted horseman. During his tenure of ownership of “Poplar Terrace,” he transformed the old McPherson property into a country manor with a well-known and respected horse and cattle operation consisting of agricultural buildings that were constructed by Baughman for that very purpose.
He also had constructed an elaborate half-mile racing track here and a casino. “Poplar Terrace” was quite a showplace. I wrote an earlier blog back in 2015 which chronicled early cycling here in Frederick County. An interesting event occurred over the July 4th weekend of 1897 in which Frederick City hosted several bicycling contests at different locations within town, most at the Athletic Park.
That Saturday afternoon of the long weekend, cyclists found themselves feted and treated to entertainment at the estate of Gen. Baughman. Additional races, tandem and of the single wheel variety took place on Baughman’s horse track. He personally awarded nice silver trophies to the victors.
Two years later, national military hero and Frederick native, Admiral Winfield Scott Schley returned home to receive an incredible welcome. While here, he attended the annual Great Frederick Fair, was given a special excursion run on the new Frederick electric trolley system and was thrown an incredible luncheon party at Gen. Baughman’s residence on Rock Creek.
Although business and politics often took him away from Frederick, Baughman was said to have been the happiest at home at "Poplar Terrace." At his farm, Baughman also is said to have entertained such notables as James Cardinal Gibbons, archbishop of Baltimore, and national politician William Jennings Bryan who passed through Maryland on his first presidential campaign tour.
Louis Victor Baughman passed in 1906 after a two-month illness at the age of 61. Son Edwin Austin Baughman (1882-1946), inherited the property from his father and through his last will and testament would later donate land at the corner of Baughman’s Lane and US40 for the old state police barracks (previously mentioned). This is only fitting because "Austin" Baughman served as commissioner of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Commission during its formative years after being appointed to the post by the state governor in 1916. He became the first commissioner of the new State Police which originated within the Motor Vehicle Commission. Austin served until 1935, never married and had no direct heirs.
Following his death in 1946, "Poplar Terrace" and remaining land went to Austin's nephew, Charles H. Conley Jr. (1908-1993).
Charles Henry Conley, Jr.
Charles grew up on his parent’s fine manor estate of Guilford, located off another recognizable thoroughfare which began as a simple farm lane connecting to the Old Georgetown Pike (MD355). Of course, I’m talking about today’s Guilford Drive, gateway to Frederick’s first Wal-Mart, Frederick Commons Shopping Center (Kohl’s Best Buy, etc) and further west, the Conley Corporate Center. I will save the story of Charles’ father (Charles Henry Conley, Sr.) for another day, but feel compelled to make "able" mention of Charles, Jr’s. mother, Helen Abell (Baughman) Conley, born December 4th, 1884 and died October 21st, 1964. She grew up at “Poplar Terrace” and regularly traversed Baughmans Lane throughout her lifetime. She would marry her husband in December, 1905.
Charles Jr. was Helen’s second born and only son out of six children. He would attend St. Johns School in Frederick for high school and went to the University of Virginia to get his degree in medicine. He began practicing medicine in Buckeystown soon after.
Dr. Conley Jr. went on to become a prominent doctor in the area, who worked on behalf of the Frederick County Health Department, Federated Charities, the Record Street Home and the Maryland School for the Deaf. He married Alice Patton Walker, a native of Nebraska, in January, 1939.
The couple lived first in Buckeystown, then moved to downtown Frederick. During World War II, Dr. Conley enlisted in the US Naval Reserve and his father had to come out of retirement to take charge of his patients. The younger Dr. Conley served as assistant division surgeon.
Charles, Jr. returned from the war unscathed, but opted to take a medical refresher course at Duke University. He and the family would eventually move to the "Poplar Terrace" estate west of town.
It doesn’t appear that Dr. Conley had the same passion and drive for the "Poplar Terrace" property as his grandfather (Victor Louis Baughman). However, that may not be completely true—as no one ever demonstrated a like zeal for this slice of Frederick than did Gen. Baughman.
It was during the Conley family habitation, that the stately manor house was destroyed by fire in late August. 1982. This prompted the couple to move into the tenant house built by the McPhersons. As a young teenager, I recall my father driving me by the property and seeing the smoke still smoldering the day after the fire.
The good doctor died on November 6th, 1993. His death made front page news and he was remembered fondly with a well-attended funeral, and the respect of countless peers and residents. His wife Alice Patton (Walker) Conley (b. 1916) passed in 2011.
The vacant property fell into disrepair over the years, but I've always tried sneaking a peak up the gated entry lane off of Baughmans Lane when passing by. Development planning and demolition requests have appeared in the local newspaper and internet over the last decade. I can thank these, along with genealogy blogs for many of the fine visuals and photographs used to illustrate this story here. It was inevitable, and I'm just glad we had this scenic portion of the old and original, tree-lined Baughmans Lane for as long as we did.
Dr. Conley’s grandfather, Louis Victor Baughman" gave this parcel a lasting reputation which seems to now be in its final chapter. However, although commonly mispronounced by newcomers and lifelong residents alike, the old lane will always succeed in keeping the Baughman name alive regardless of the new neighborhood development that will take over what was left of a once-grand estate.
Meanwhile, our connection at Mount Olivet comes with having practically everyone who resided on the site of Poplar Terrace/Belle Aire Farm, with the exception of namesake Louis Victor Baughman and wife Helen. Their daughter is here though (Helen Abell (Baughman) Conley) and so are others from McPhersons to Trails, Helfensteins to the next generation of Conleys. The latter of which, Charles Henry Jr., and wife Alice, quietly repose next to Charles Jr's. parents and a sibling in a fine corner lot on the northwest section of Mount Olivet’s Area DD within Lot #1. I'm tempted to lobby to name the roadway in front of the family lot "Conway's Lane."