Well, I made it into this month’s edition of Frederick Magazine. Better yet, I was interviewed by writer Kate Poindexter in her fine story about Barbara Fritchie entitled “Legendary Tale.” Of course, I’ve been studying the nuances of the Fritchie episode for over 25 years, as it is has certainly been one of my favorite local research topics. Those who know me also are aware that I’m always up for challenging and busting age-old myths, and new ones too. But, I will confess, I get just as much satisfaction in proving myths true as well.
As you may have seen (in the Frederick Magazine article), or already know otherwise, the Barbara Fritchie tale consists of many twists, turns and layers. It also possesses an interesting cast of supporting characters as well, featuring two other viable “flag-waving” understudies who could have easily been blessed with the lasting fame that Dame Fritchie has received. One of these ladies, Nannie (Nancy) Crouse, hailed from Middletown but eventually spent all her adult life a short distance from the cemetery as she lived in the first block of West South Street. Like Barbara, she is buried next to her husband (John Bennett) here in Frederick’s Mount Olivet Cemetery in Area B/Lot 2.
The other “flag-toting Barbara” in question has always been shrouded in mystery and controversy. She also just happens to be one of my sentimental favorite individuals from our county’s rich heritage story. Her name is Mary Quantrill.
Mary Quantrill lived a sad and desperate life after the events that played out in September of 1862 and were compounded by writers and reporters for many years to follow. Writer and humorist Mark Twain is responsible for saying: “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” This is so fitting to sum up the downfall of Mrs. Quantrill. You see, she was a victim of “cancel culture,” a century and a half before it was even a thing. This was the result of her situation not getting the press and embellishment garnered by Fritchie by a well-known poet who was deeply connected in the media of his time. However, there’s something about Mary that also “did her in” so to speak—a highly controversial surname. As rare as the last name of Quantrill still is, it had, at that time, gained an unpopular reputation thanks to a nephew living out west. Mary would never meet this individual during her lifetime.
William Clarke Quantrill
Quantrill's Raiders were the best-known of the pro-Confederate partisan guerrillas (also known as "bushwhackers") who fought in the American Civil War. Their leader was William Clarke Quantrill (1837-1865) and the gang included legendary outlaws Jesse James, brother Frank James, and Cole Younger.
Early in the war, Missouri and Kansas were nominally under Union government control and became subject to widespread violence as groups of Confederate bushwhackers and anti-slavery Jayhawkers competed for control. The town of Lawrence, Kansas, a center of anti-slavery sentiment, had outlawed Quantrill's men and jailed some of their young women. In August 1863, Quantrill led an attack on the town, killing more than 180 civilians, supposedly in retaliation for the casualties caused when the women's jail had collapsed. Many of those slaughtered in broad daylight included young boys whose ability to hold a firearm resulted in their executions by “the Raiders.”
William Clarke Quantrill was born at Canal Dover, Ohio. His father was Thomas Henry Quantrill, formerly of Hagerstown, Maryland, and his mother was Caroline Cornelia Clark, a native of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. The oldest of twelve children (four of whom died in infancy), Quantrill endured a tempestuous childhood. By the time he was sixteen, he found himself teaching school in Ohio. A year later (1854), his abusive father died of tuberculosis, leaving the family with a huge financial debt. Quantrill's mother had to turn her home into a boarding house in order to survive.
During this time, Quantrill helped support the family by continuing to work as a schoolteacher, but he left home a year later and headed to Illinois where he took up a job in the lumberyards, unloading timber from rail cars. One night while working the late shift, he killed a man. Authorities briefly arrested Quantrill even though he claimed that he had acted in self-defense. Since there were no eyewitnesses, and the victim was a stranger who didn’t know anyone in town, William was set free. Nevertheless, the police strongly urged him to leave the town of Mendota (Illinois) where he was living. William Clarke Quantrill continued his career as a teacher, moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana in February 1856. The school district was impressed with Quantrill's teaching abilities, but the wages remained meager. Quantrill journeyed back home to Canal Dover that fall, with no more money in his pockets than when he had left.
The frustrating experience seems to have struck a nerve with the young educator, as he would leave his classroom for a drastically different life—as a slave catcher. William Clarke Quantrill joined a group of bandits who roamed the Missouri and Kansas countryside and apprehended escaped slaves. Later, the group became Confederate soldiers, who were referred to as "Quantrill's Raiders.” It was a pro-Confederate partisan ranger outfit that was best known for its often brutal guerrilla tactics, which made use of effective American Indian field and combat skills.
Quantrill is often noted as influential in the minds of many bandits, outlaws and hired guns of “the Old West” as it was being settled. In May 1865, Quantrill was mortally wounded in combat by Union troops in Central Kentucky in one of the last engagements of the Civil War. He died of wounds in June. Meanwhile, the James brothers formed their own gang and conducted robberies for years as a continuing insurgency in the region.
William Clarke Quantrill’s grandfather, Captain Thomas Quantrill, spent considerable time in Frederick, primarily at the old Hessian Barracks grounds—land that once graced the fields located across from our cemetery’s front gate. A British immigrant who raised a company of soldiers in Hagerstown for the War of 1812, Captain Quantrill was described as “a brave soldier” who participated (and was injured) in the Battle of North Point in Baltimore in September, 1814. Thomas Quantrill would eventually move to Washington, DC with his family following his wife’s death. His oldest son, Thomas Henry Quantrill (William Clarke Quantrill’s father) would move to Stark Ohio to open a blacksmith business.
Meanwhile, Thomas Henry’s younger brother, named Archibald Richey Quantrill, spent the bulk of his life in Washington DC, and would eventually go into the newspaper business, serving as a printer and compositor for the National Intelligencer. Archibald would marry his second wife, Mary Ann Sands, on February 8th, 1854.
Mary Ann Sands was born in Hagerstown on January 21st, 1823. She was the oldest of three children born to George Washington and Mary Ann (Cronise) Sands who were married in Hagerstown in August of 1821. The family moved to Frederick County and resided in the northwestern part of the county first, eventually making their way to Frederick City. They would reside in a rented dwelling in the 200 block of West Patrick Street, just a short distance up the hill and west from the Barbara Fritchie household. This Sands family can be found back to the 1830 census as living in Frederick. Mary’s father was listed as a school teacher in the 1850 census and also as an esquire, serving later as a judge in the city court of Lacon, Illinois. He apparently had an interest in writing poetry too.
The Sands family consisted of three children with Mary as the oldest, followed by two brothers: George, Jr. and Louis . The older of the two, George W. Sands, Jr. (@1824-1874), would become a lawyer and politician. Louis would relocate to Suffolk County, New York (Long Island) and work for the railroad and later became a patent dealer.
Our lead subject, Mary Quantrill, married Archibald Quantrill in 1854 and can be found living in Washington DC’s 1st Ward in the 1860 census, with husband Archibald’s profession listed as that of a claims agent. The family at this time included six children, four of which from Mr. Quantrill’s first marriage to a Frederick native named Mary Westenberger.
By September of 1862, Mary would be back in Frederick and residing in her earlier home of 220 West Patrick St. in Frederick. With the serious threat to the Union’s “Capital City” during wartime, Archibald thought it best that Mary and their children reside in Frederick with Mary’s elderly mother, as Washington was thought to be a prime target for Confederate attacks. Mary's father was living in Illinois at this time. The elder Mrs. Sands is listed as blind in the 1860 census, so perhaps Mary was also involved in care-giving for her mother as well. Regardless, Archibald Quantrill remained in Washington at this time.
During the Civil War, several accounts say that Mary Quantrill operated a small private school from the home on West Patrick at this time. “Mrs. Quantrill at the time of the incident was a handsome woman,” says author William E. Connelly in his 1909 biography of William Clarke Quantrill entitled Quantrill and the Border Wars. Connelley goes on to state that Mary Quantrill was the “The True Heroine” of the day (not Barbara Fritchie), and that “Mrs. Quantrill appears to have been a woman of superior intelligence. She has for many years a teacher in Frederick, and was a frequent contributor to the “Evening Herald” of York (PA). It is said that she always felt keenly the injustice Whittier had done her.”
Archibald Quantrill was proven wrong in early September, 1862, when Frederick was the first, major Northern town Gen. Robert E. Lee would bring his Rebel Army of Northern Virginia, after crossing the Potomac River. Many are familiar with the fact that the Confederates were basically given a cold reception here at that time, save for a smattering of southern-leading residents. Not getting the assistance he had hoped for, Gen. Lee headed west toward South Mountain and Washington County, utilizing the National Pike to transport his large fighting force. West Patrick Street was part of this great road, and Mary Quantrill would have a front row seat for the Confederate parade out of town which began in the early morning hours of Wednesday, September 10th. She even had her Union flag proudly displayed from a railing on her front porch to give the Rebel horde a proper “send-off.”
Mrs. Quantrill made a lot of noise that particular day, and was certainly noticed by soldiers, officers and a number of her Patrick Street neighbors. However, she didn’t make a lasting name for herself—or should I say, she didn’t receive help from a Georgetown novelist (E.D.E.N Southworth) or Quaker poet from Massachusetts (John Greenleaf Whittier). In late summer of 1863, these literary luminaries had an Abolitionist agenda to tend to, and fast-tracked a work of prose that featured Mary’s feisty neighbor—the nonagenarian who lived a football field’s length down the street whose name rhymes with “bitchy.” Yes, the name of Barbara Fritchie (or Frietchie) would ring true as not only Frederick’s heroine, but that of a nation—or at least the part of it that was still intact as the Union at that time.
So, what exactly transpired on September 10th, 1862 in the 200 block of West Patrick Street? Well I have enclosed a vital article which appeared in the Washington Star newspaper (Washington D.C.). This particular letter to the editor was re-published in the New York Times on February 15th, 1869.
A pretty colorful scene, wouldn’t you agree? Regardless, Dame Fritchie had died in December, 1862 and never lived to enjoy (or possibly refute) her fame, as she died at age 96, eleven months before the poem was published in the Atlantic Monthly Magazine October, 1863. The above newspaper clipping from 17 years later (1869) provides incredible context to Mary’s interaction with boisterous Confederates on that “Cool September morn.” Mary’s son, Thomas C. Quantrill had been mistakenly admonished in a Washington newspaper for being associated with the infamous Missouri Raider, William Clarke Quantrill.
Thomas pointed out the error and exclaimed that he knew the man only as well as the general public knew the man. Thomas offered that he had volunteered for US Army duty in advance of the First Battle of Bull Run but was rejected due to physical limitations. In expressing his devotion to the Union, and not Confederacy, he made mention of his mother's heroics in Frederick on the morning of September 10th, 1862. He thought his mother had stood humble and tight-lipped long enough and should get at least some credit and accolades for her heroic role played in Frederick during the Civil War. This renewed interest in Barbara Fritchie came at a time when the original Fritchie house was being razed by the Frederick municipality in an effort to combat Frederick flood measures for Carroll Creek.
Mary Quantrill had moved back to the nation’s capital in either 1863 or 1864. She was unable to escape the constant adoration her former neighbor (Barbara) continued to receive posthumously. And amazingly, no one definitively saw Barbara harass the Confederates on that fateful day, including our famed diarist, Jacob Engelbrecht, who lived directly across from the Fritchie house. He would make a journal entry in October of 1863 upon reading Whittier's Barbara Frietchie poem in a newspaper, commenting that this was the first he had heard of such an event and puzzled as he had watched the Confederate Army pass his door that entire day without a monumental incident occurring across the street.
Mary Quantrill lived a lonely and broke life in her later years. In my initial research on Mary Quantrill back in 2007, I lost track of Mary save for the newspaper items I had found above. I could not find her in the 1870 US census. After countless attempts utilizing the popular internet site Ancestry.com, I finally found the family in question under the name of Archibald and Mary Richey. The infamy associated with the Quantrill family name, thanks to the exploits of William Clarke Quantrill, must have been too overwhelming for a peaceful existence free of criticism in the nation’s capital. Archibald’s middle name would serve as a less auspicious identifier.
Mary Ann (Sands) Quantrill died on August 1st, 1879, and I have surmised it was likely from depression and a broken heart. The actual cause on the death certificate is cardiac-related so I’m not entirely off in my medical assessment. Mary is not buried in Mount Olivet, but rather Glenwood Cemetery in Washington, DC. Sadly, her “Story in Stone” has never been fully told, as she is buried in an unmarked grave. As a matter of fact, most of her immediate family has the same predicament. I have often wondered if this was a result of “cancel culture” for being thought of as a “want to be” hell bent on riding on Barbara’s coattails, or worse yet trying to steal the fame belonging to the defiant and deceased 95 year-old? Or were her detractors simply upset with that pesky Quantrill name, and the familial relation to one of the baddest men in the entire country? I think it was a lethal combination of both.
One of the most gratifying finds in my “search for Mary Quantrill” came in the form of obituaries in the Frederick papers. As not to influence your judgment, I will simply present both from our two Frederick newspapers of record of that time.
By the 1880 census, the Quantrill family name would reappear in print again as Archibald and three daughters (Mary, Julia and Georgie) are found living on K Street in the Northeast part of the District of Columbia.
Mount Olivet and Mary Quantrill
What we do have here in Mount Olivet are some close connections to Mary Quantrill. One of which is her brother, George W. Sands Jr. Mr. Sands had been practicing his legal career in Howard County and would become States attorney for the county by the mid-1850s. He would be elected state delegate from that county and, unlike his midwestern cousin William Clarke Quantrill, served as an outspoken Unionist and opponent to slavery. Sands would participate as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1864 and was quite active in constructing the third state constitution of Maryland which abolished slavery, taking effect November 1st, 1864. He was also a US collector of internal revenue under President Lincoln.
George W. Sands, Jr. died on July 28th, 1874 and was buried in Mount Olivet’s Area H/Lot 156 Strangely, he too is buried in an unmarked grave. Our records show that he is definitely here in space #3, and has two unknown individuals buried to each side of him. Could one of these graves be his (and Mary’s) mother (Mary Ann Sands)? I continue to search for the answer as our cemetery records books cannot confirm Mary Sands being here, or anywhere else in Frederick. She is definitely not recorded being at Glenwood in DC with husband George, Sr. or her daughter and the rest of the Quantrill family.
Mary Sands is found in the census of that year and residing with a woman named Eliza Shaffer, perhaps a relation of some sort. Mrs. Shaffer was widowed at the time. A decade later, Mrs. Sands was living with a 70 year-old black woman named named Elizabeth Saint.
I decided to see if Mrs. Shaffer was buried in Mount Olivet and I discovered from our records that an Elizabeth Matthews Shafer was buried here in March,1867, but her gravesite is listed as unknown. So I ask the question again, could Mrs. Sands and Mrs. Shaf(f)er be buried in Area H/Lot 156 with George W. Sands, Jr.?
I found Mrs. Sands' husband was elsewhere during both these census years, but I haven't found him yet. I'm assuming he was either in Illinois, or in Ellicott City as his obituary claims he was a one-time resident of the Howard County town.
As I said earlier, the Sands home was on the south side of the 200 block of West Patrick Street, about 50 yards west of the Bentz Street intersection. I found that the family had been renting this home for years from landlord, James H. Hopwood (1811-1883). Mr. Hopwood was one of the city’s busiest construction contractors. He also was heavily connected to the flag-waving incidents at hand.
James and wife Mary Ann Hopwood lived a few doors west (234 W. Patrick St.) from Mary Quantrill and were the parents of a few of Mary Quantrill’s students. Of particular interest is Mary Hopwood (b. 1847), Mary’s oldest student and referenced by name in Mrs. Quantrill’s first person narrative of her experience on September 10th, 1862.
Shortly after Barbara Fritchie’s death in December, 1862, her heirs sold their famous relative’s house to a Mr. George Eissler for use as a dyeing and scouring business. In late July of 1868, a disastrous flood washed away part of the old Fritchie property and caused the home to be condemned by the city. Mr. Eissler moved to a new home across the street, and the Fritchie house was put up for auction. The town fathers under Barbara’s Southern leaning grandnephew, Frederick Mayor Valerius Ebert, were interested in widening Carroll Creek at this location.
The original Fritchie household was purchased from the city for $300 in early April and, upon the terms of sale, was fully dismantled and removed by May 15th of 1869 amidst the protest of the Frederick Examiner’s editor and others around the country. Jacob Engelbrecht even comments on this in his diary. It is fascinating to note that the sole bidder and eventual new owner of the property would also be the man in charge of the demolition operation of said heroine’s home. Simple “addition by subtraction” as James H. Hopwood’s wrecking ball would help initiate flood control overtures in an effort to help tame Carroll Creek.
I’m thinking that Mr. Hopwood and other leaders in town had simply heard enough about Barbara Fritchie over a seven-year span. Mr. Hopwood was awarded the 1869 bid to dismantle the original Fritchie house and, afterwards, would build a two-story brick house on the property and was responsible for building a new wooden bridge over Carroll Creek at this location.
He was surely in the Quantrill camp of loyalty as his daughter had been a hero as well, standing beside Mrs. Quantrill in her defiance of the Confederate Army earlier in the decade. The bittersweet part of the story here is that Mary died at age 17 on October 6th, 1864. She would be forgotten by the history books as well.
Some of the Ebert children (Barbara Fritchie’s grandnieces) were also students of Mrs. Quantrill and under her tutelage on that fateful day in September, 1862. T.J.C. Williams History of Frederick County, published in 1910, contains a biography that makes specific reference to Mrs. Quantrill as a teacher. This can be found in the biography of Samuel Davis, a miller and storekeeper in Fountain Mills (New Market district). It is stated that he was married to Rebecca Maria Ebert (b.1850), a former student and next-door neighbor to Mary Quantrill. At the end of his bio, the author makes a point to say:
“In the connection it might be said that Rebecca Ebert, (daughter of John Ebert and second wife Ann Fritchie), was a pupil of Mary Quantrill, who was really the woman who waved the flag which occasioned Whittier’s famous poem.”
Ironically, Mrs. Davis’ maternal grandmother was Maria Rebecca (Fritchie) Ebert, sister of John Caspar Fritchie. John Caspar Fritchie was Barbara (Hauer) Fritchie’s husband of course. You may also recall Rebecca (Ebert) Davis’ brother named William Augustus Ebert of whom I wrote a story titled “The Lost Whitesmith” back in November, 2020. William accidentally shot himself while performing a repair on a pistol. The wound proved fatal and his grave can be found in the same plot of his sister (Area G/Lot 202). I missed out on bidding successfully for his photo which was up for auction on eBay. However, another photo of a young girl was up for auction at the same time from this family. I assume that this could be Rebecca Ebert in earlier days of the 1860s, however it could have been another sister as well.
Mary’s first-hand account is corroborated by another neighbor, a man named Henry M. Nixdorff who operated a general store a half block east of Mary’s home on West Patrick Street. The location was the same as the former Jennifer’s Restaurant (owned by Jennifer Dougherty), and most recently known as Le Parc Bistro.
Mr. Nixdorff was the son of one of our War of 1812 soldiers buried in the cemetery. He was an intimate friend of Mrs. Fritchie and felt compelled to write a book in 1887 entitled Life of Whittier’s Heroine Barbara Fritchie. In this work, the author defended Ms. Fritchie’s real-life persona as a patriotic woman, kind neighbor and God-fearing Christian above all. This offering, with its personal anecdotes and colorful depictions of the aged town character, countered the more fact driven/no nonsense book written by Caroline W. H. Dall entitled Barbara Frietchie: A Study. Nixdorff’s book which underwent subsequent re-publishings, included an account of the Quantrill event that goes as follows:
“I happened to look up the street, and saw a very intelligent lady, a neighbor, standing on her front porch, with a small Union flag in her hand waving it and making apparently the most earnest remarks to a Confederate officer who had ridden his horse over on the pavement up to the porch where she was standing. I was afterward assured by those who had the pleasure of being present that such glowing words of patriotism fell from the lips of Mrs Quantrell that the officer looked on and listened with wonder and surprise, and whilst he was present would not allow his men to do her the least of harm. After his departure however, some of the soldiers belonging to the army came and knocked the flag from her hand, breaking the staff into several pieces.”
Mr. Nixdorff even went so far to have five neighbors, who had apparently witnessed the event up close and personal, sign a statement that said his account was genuine. I found all five of the signers buried here in Mount Olivet: Mrs. Matilda (Hauer) Fleming (1820-1887), Mrs. Harriet “Hallie” M. (Fleming) McDonald (1848-1906), Mrs. Kate (Hauer) Cashour (1850-1891), Nicholas Hughes Fleming (1852-1913), William W. Fleming (1854-1926).
Mr. Nixdorff is buried in Area B/Lot 1. This man was connected to all three flag-wavers as he was close friends with Barbara Fritchie as mentioned, and helped exonerate Mary Quantrill. The last connection is to Nannie (Crouse) Bennett, who just happens to be buried in the next lot over.
Another neighbor and eyewitness who kept the heroic story of Mary Quantrill alive for friends and later generations of family was a lady named Laura A. (Hiteshew) Railing (1843-1923). Mrs. Railing lived with her husband George across the street from the Sands home on West Patrick Street. She told the story to whoever would listen up to her dying days. These witnesses to history just saw Mrs. Quantrill as a mirage, a woman who displayed great bravery and then suddenly disappeared shortly thereafter, never to return. She was an enigma of sorts to those who heard the story.
One more nugget I’d like to add. In the year 1876, Mary fruitlessly tried to get aid from author John Greenleaf Whittier in the form of clearing her name and admitting that she perhaps was owed the same fame as Ms. Fritchie. Three years before her death, she was in poor health, and literally destitute as being unhire-able due to the court of public opinion and favor which had turned against her. I saw this letter with my own eyes in the collection of the Quaker Reading Library at Swarthmore College in Philadelphia. The piece was exquisitely written by this highly gifted woman. My heart sank at the very end as it seems that Whittier, himself, inscribed a solemn sobriquet beneath Mary's name on the back of the letter—“Barbara.”
As stated earlier, Mary’s final resting place is an unmarked grave in Glenwood Cemetery in Northeast Washington, DC, off Lincoln Ave. Look for the lone stone on the Quantrill lot belonging daughter Virginia (Quantrill) Browne, who participated in the underplayed flag-waving incident as well.
A few years ago someone pointed out to me that Mary’s grave had been added to the internet’s FindaGrave site within Glenwood’s interments. He said that I had a hand in this occurrence which made me quite happy. As I said, I have developed an incredible fondness for this unsung historical figure of Frederick’s past. If only she was buried in Mount Olivet, I could do more.
I’ve been to her gravesite three times down at Glenwood. The last time was back in 2015. It was a Sunday morning and I had just dropped off my stepson Jack at Reagan National as he was flying to Orlando with classmates for a marching band trip at DisneyWorld. When I drove closer to the Quantrill family plot, snow flurries began falling. I parked, and walked over to the hallowed ground of my old friend from countless hours of study and deduction. I immediately felt the pity for Mary all over again.
As I stood there, I felt inclined, however, to tell Mary a bit of good news since I had last visited her. Thanks to some grant money I had obtained, and a generous contribution from a local financial planner (Scott McCaskill) with help from the Frederick Womens Civic Club, there was now an interpretive wayside marker in front of her old house in Frederick (220 W. Patrick St). Her story could now be learned by those passing by.
As I turned to walk away, I could have sworn I heard a woman’s voice faintly say, “That’s great history boy, now work on getting me a proper tombstone.”
Almost everyday coming to (or leaving) work, I’m usually reminded of the September 11th tragedy that beset our country back in 2001. In my case, I would have to say it isn’t due to the fact that my employer is a cemetery, as I pass countless gravestones and markers on my commute through Mount Olivet and it’s eight miles of memorial drives and roadways. No, the reason for my “memory jog” can be blamed on a beautiful monument made of African Jet-Black granite and sitting on a corner lot at the entrance circle to our mausoleum chapel complex.
Under this 7300-pound memorial is the gravesite of Frederick County’s only victim of the New York portion of the infamous September 11th terrorism act that toppled both behemoth towers of the World Trade Center. I would like to add here that our county had two additional casualties on that fateful day: Chief Warrant Officer William Ruth, age 57, and Lt. Cmdr. Ronald J. Vauk, age 37. Both of these individuals were Mount Airy residents and died in Washington, DC as employees of the U.S. Pentagon.
Here in Mount Olivet, just 50 yards out my office window, is a monument to the everlasting memory of Alan Patrick Linton, Jr., a Frederick native, born April 22nd, 1975. Alan attended local public schools and was a graduate of Frederick High School. He grew up on the same grounds formerly farmed by his ancestors living along, and within the vicinity, of Ballenger’s Creek, just southwest of downtown Frederick City and near Adamstown.
Alan was a classmate of my co-worker, Sales Manager Rick Reeder here at the cemetery. Rick recently found, and lent me, his 1993 yearbook allowing me another source in which to understand and illustrate Alan in his high school days. He was a bright student and admirable member of the football and wrestling teams. He graduated from FHS in spring 1993 and next headed to Pittsburgh's Carnegie-Mellon University earning a dual degree in business and economics.
As our nation solemnly remembers the 20th anniversary of that frightening day in September, 2001, the magnitude will certainly be weighing heavier on the minds of those who were directly affected by the devastation and loss incurred. Here at home, it should be obvious that it will be a day to reflect and endure (just like the previous 18 anniversaries) for Alan’s parents, A. Patrick, Sr. and Sharon Lynn Linton, along with Alan's siblings... Laura and Scott.
Alan Patrick Linton Jr. was only 26 years old, in the prime of his life, and working in the heart of Manhattan’s Financial District as an assistant manager and fixed-income analyst for Sandler O'Neill & Partners. His condominium home was across the Hudson River in Jersey City. I’m wondering if his office window offered a view of his New Jersey domicile, as I know his legendary workplace commanded views of all the City’s iconic surrounding landmarks such as Wall Street, the Battery, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building and the legendary five boroughs.
This was one of the chief perks of employment in a high-rise building like the south tower of the World Trade Center. I recall my own visit a few years earlier in which I ventured to the “Top of the World Observatory” to take in the 360-degree view of New York City. This was on the 110th floor of Tower Number 2.
However, that blessing became a curse on that beautiful September morn as hijacked airliners were purposefully flown into each of the twin towers as the deadliest single terrorism act the world had ever witnessed. Our former Carrollton Manor resident was working on the building's 104th floor when United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into floors 75-85 of the South Tower at 9:03am. Everyone aboard the plane, and hundreds in the building, died instantly as a result.
Alan was trapped above the carnage, and those of us who witnessed this tragedy unfold before our very eyes on live television further saw the collapse of this architectural masterpiece just 56 minutes after the initial impact of the plane. The North tower would collapse at 10:28am.
I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Linton last week. I knew they would be interviewed by the local paper and other outlets as has become an annual tradition, so I wanted to ask a few different questions. What truly intrigued me was an explanation for the beautiful monument and burial in Mount Olivet.
Pat Linton said that he and his wife are very religious, as was son, Alan. As members of Frederick Church of the Brethren, Alan attended church regularly from childhood up to his death as he often came home to Frederick most weekends. Pat said that he’d come home Friday nights and leave Sunday nights, many times at the urging of his parents after dinner. He was a true homebody.
Sharon Linton spent the first seven years hoping her son was still alive somewhere, perhaps suffering from memory loss or like malady. The family received a few of Alan’s belongings that he had on him on that September day twenty years ago. One such was his Maryland driver’s license found several blocks away from the South Tower. Federal investigators also delivered to the family some of their beloved son’s mortal remains including a part of the forearm. These were buried in the Linton plot during a small, private graveside service at Mount Olivet in fall of 2005.
Even though reality of situation (regarding his ultimate survival) eventually sunk in, the Lintons relied on their Christian faith and believed their son was in a safe place, “somewhere better” as Pat, a former bank executive, would quietly exclaim. He went on to say that this led to the choice of a cross and flowers design to be etched upon the grave monument. To further the theme, two flower vases project from the gravestone’s face and are changed seasonally by the family.
Speaking of family, the Lintons have a relatively large one, and with Alan’s passing they gave serious consideration to their own burial plans. They would purchase a large corner lot for themselves positioned in Area TJ/Lot 2. This is located along the entry drive directly in front of the original chapel mausoleum building which first erected in 1997. They couldn’t tell me why they had chosen this particular granite stone hailing from southern Africa for the family monument into the future, but were extremely happy and proud of their choice. They plan to join their son in this noble location when their respective times come.
Pat told me that Mount Olivet was a natural choice, as it represented “home.” He went on to say: “My wife’s parents, Howard and Edith Moss, are buried in Mount Olivet. Alan’s other set of grandparents, my parents Jack Thomas Linton and wife Betty Mae (Thomas) Linton) are also here, along with my son’s great-grandparents (Russell Herbert “Brownie” Linton and Edith Marie Brandenburg).”
I found the Moss’ on Area SS/Lot81, only about 100 yards from Alan’s grave. The Linton relatives were roughly 200 yards away in Mount Olivet’s Area GG/Lot 254. Interestingly, many local genealogists and family historians may recall that Jack and Betty Linton maintained a room in their home dedicated to the extensive obituary collection started by Jacob M. Holdcraft, who spent decades documenting the cemeteries and graveyards of Frederick culminating in the book entitled Names in Stone. The Lintons maintained the collection from 1972-June, 2010.
About the same distance away to the north lies the final resting place of Alan’s paternal grandmother’s parents, his great-grandparents Russell Cephas Thomas and wife Bertha Mae Zimmerman. This is in Area T/Lot 119. Russell was the son of John Franklin Thomas, buried elsewhere in The Manor Cemetery (aka Church Hill Cemetery) near the family’s ancestral home at Adamstown. This is located on Ballenger Creek Pike across the street from St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.
In his 1921 work The History of Carrollton Manor, author William Jarboe Grove wrote of the family:
“The Thomas family forms so large a part of the early history of Carrollton Manor, that I am compelled, on account of space, to give only a brief account of this large family, who, by their industry and thrift, have prospered and left a splendid name and record for prosperity. These pioneers were among the very first settlers of Carrollton Manor. About 1750 three brothers emigrated here from Germany; John, Peter and Valentine. John was born in 1731 and settled on the old homestead near Adamstown. His descendants still hold the land.
John had four children among whom was Henry Thomas of J. born October 18, 1765 on the old homestead. His whole life was spent in clearing timber and cultivating the land. Mr. Thomas married November 22, 1790 Ann Margaret Ramsburg. They had five children. Their son George Thomas of H., was born May 3, 1798 and lived on the old homestead during his early life, and by his industry and frugality acquired several other farms. He was a self-made man and took up at home the study of mathematics, and was recognized as an expert surveyor, all of which he taught himself through perseverance and practice.
In 1968, the German Thomas Cemetery, originally located on a farm about a mile away, was removed to Manor Cemetery (aka Church Hill Cemetery). Many date from the late 1700s. They are arranged in a row beside the guardrail on the right edge of the cemetery. Across Ballenger Creek Pike is St. Matthew's Church Cemetery.
George Thomas married three times. With third wife Julia Ann Hargett, he had the above-mentioned John Franklin Thomas in 1843, our subject Alan Linton, Jr.’s great-great grandfather.
The old Thomas homestead of three generations starting with Alan's great-grandfather, John Franklin Thomas, still stands on Ballenger Pike. This was originally constructed by early German immigrant Christian Kemp around 1750. It eventually wound up in the Thomas family in 1910 and was passed down to son Russell C. Thomas and then to daughter Betty (Thomas) Linton and son-in-law Jack Linton. it is still owned within the family today, now by Alan’s sister, Laura.
Alan’s childhood home is immediately to the north. Across the street are former Thomas family farmlands that were developed into the community aptly named “Linton at Ballenger.” The main drive in is named Alan Linton Boulevard. There is also a Jack Linton Drive and a Betty Linton Trail.
Pat and Sharon Linton recounted that Alan said he hoped to someday earn enough money to give to philanthropic purposes which eventually became the impetus for the Linton family’s generous contribution to the Religious Coalition. Their gift in Alan’s memory helped establish the Exodus Program and the Coalition naming its emergency shelter in his honor. This is located on DeGrange Street on the west side of downtown Frederick.
The Linton family has visited the memorial at New York’s “Ground Zero” where they made rubbings of Alan's name. They still hold special birthday dinners on his birthday. "He's always with us." remarked Pat Linton at the end of our conversation.
Please keep this special family and the memory of an equally special young man in your thoughts as we experience this landmark 20-year anniversary. Alan Patrick Linton, Jr.’s grave monument will always serve as a tangible reminder of a horrific event in our history, but one in which we can learn invaluable lessons when it comes to the resolve and resiliency of a family to continue moving forward despite the hardest of losses. Alan's grave also symbolizes the resolve and resiliency of the United States of America and its people in continuing to move forward as well.
We Shall Never Forget
Let the world always remember,
That fateful day in September,
And the ones who answered duty's call,
Should be remembered by us all.
Who left the comfort of their home,
To face perils as yet unknown,
An embodiment of goodness on a day,
When men's hearts had gone astray.
Sons and daughters like me and you,
Who never questioned what they had to do,
Who by example, were a source of hope,
And strength to others who could not cope.
Heroes that would not turn their back,
With determination that would not crack,
Who bound together in their ranks,
And asking not a word of thanks.
Men who bravely gave their lives,
Whose orphaned kids and widowed wives,
Can proudly look back on their dad,
Who gave this country all they had.
Actions taken without regret,
Heroisms we shall never forget,
The ones who paid the ultimate price,
Let's never forget their sacrifice.
And never forget the ones no longer here,
Who fought for the freedoms we all hold dear,
And may their memory never wane,
Lest their sacrifices be in vain.
-Alan W. Jankowski
Special thanks to Laura (Linton) Anspach for the many family ancestor photos found on her Linton family tree on Ancestry.com.
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."
Last week I introduced readers to our new Mount Olivet Monument Hall of Fame through our “Stories in Stone” blog. One of the seven inductees (of the inaugural 2021 class of monuments) is that of the John Henry Williams family, and we refer to it as the Williams’ “Mourning Woman” Monument. This can be found in Area R/Lot 103-106, and clearly stands out because of an iconic statue.
Mr. Williams (1814-1896) was a banker and his family home is the same that today houses Federated Charities as it was bequeathed by the family for just that reason. Like the Williams "eternal home" here at the cemetery, you may better know the "mortal home" of the Williams because of another iconic statue. This would be the site where the iron dog (nicknamed “Charity”) adorns the front porch at 22 South Market Street in downtown Frederick.
John H. Williams' wife Eleanor Shriver (1814-1892) and three of his children reside in this burial plot which features a large central monument in the form of a sarcophagus. It is topped with a bowed woman caught in the act of mourning, while down on one knee. She has her head in her left hand, while her right hand is clutching a wreath. Adorned in ancient Greek attire, the female included as part of this monument is a commonly found example of cemetery iconography.
In Victorian era times, women were often portrayed as the mourners of the human race, the ones expected, and allowed, to express emotions. It is their presence in the cemetery that connotes sorrow and grief at the loss of a loved one. Meanwhile, the laurel wreath dates back to Roman times when soldiers wore them as triumphal signs of glory. The laurel was also believed to wash away the soldier’s guilt from injuring or killing any of his opponents. In funerary art, the laurel wreath is often seen as a symbol of victory over death.
According to the website Gravelyspeaking.com, a description is given for a replica of this monument design involving a mourning woman clutching a laurel wreath. Apparently the mourning figure represents Niobe, the Greek mythological Queen of Thebes. “Niobe had fourteen children (the Niobids) and taunted Leto, who only had two children, Apollo and Artemis. In his rage he sent his two children to avenge the slight done to him by Niobe striking out at what was most dear to her. Niobe, became the symbol of mourning when Apollo slaughtered her seven sons and Artemis killed her seven daughters. As one version of the story goes, upon seeing his dead fourteen children, Amphion, the King of Thebes, committed suicide. Her grief was so powerful that tears flowed ceaselessly from her forming the River Acheloos. Niobe was so stricken with grief that she fled to Mount Siplyus, near Manisa, Turkey, where she turned to stone.”
I was hoping to find a direct correlation as to the Williams choice of this funerary character, thinking perhaps the parents lost a child (or children) at a young age, or that they simply predeceased them. That wasn’t the case as son Henry died at 80 in 1918, and daughter Margaret Janet Williams died at age 77 in 1922.
I was already familiar with Margaret Janet Williams, as I had written about her a few years back in conjunction with a story written in 2018 about the founding women of the Frederick Chapter of the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution. “Jennie” Williams, as she was more commonly known, was born in 1844 and never married. She was a charter member of the Frederick DAR group begun by another, nearby Mount Olivet occupant, Betty Maulsby Ritchie in 1892, and served as the group’s first corresponding secretary. I was familiar with Jennie’s mother’s family, the Shrivers, as they have appeared in a few different writings in my past and once had a family burying ground near the southwest intersection of N. Bentz Street and Rockwell Terrace. In case you were wondering, most of these family members are a stone’s throw south of the Williams’ plot, as they were reinterred to Area MM earlier in the 20th century.
I didn’t know much about Jennie’s father and brother, except for the fact that both were successful in banking. Thanks to another man who shared the family name, T.J.C. Williams, I was able to learn a considerable amount about the family through a biography on Henry that appears in the History of Frederick County, Maryland, published in 1910. I include it here for your reading pleasure:
“Henry Williams, one of the best known and most influential citizens of Frederick County and formerly president of the Central National Bank of Frederick City, Md., was born in that city, October 26, 1837. He is a son of John H. and Eleanor (Shriver) Williams.
Henry Williams, the grandfather of Henry Williams, was a native of Pennsylvania, where he was born in 1742, and died in Frederick, Md., in 1820. He was of Scotch-Irish antecedents, and emigrated from Pennsylvania to Frederick County, Md., among the early settlers. At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War he was living near Emmitsburg, and organized and became Captain of a company from Frederick County that served throughout the struggle. He was one of the leading and most prominent citizens of the county in his day, and was held in high esteem. In politics, he was a staunch adherent and active supporter of the Federalist party. In a religious way he was connected with the Presbyterian church in which he was an active and consistent member. Mr. Williams was married to Jeannette Witherow, who was also of Scotch-Irish origin. They were the parents of only one son, John H.
John H. Williams, son of Henry and Jeanette Williams, was born near Emmitsburg, Frederick County, MD., in 1814, and died November 11, 1896. He was reared in the neighborhood of Emmitsburg, where he received his elementary education. He attended Jefferson College, Canonsburg, Pa., from which institution he was graduated in 1834. He then began the study of the law in Frederick City under William Schley, Esq., and was admitted to the Frederick County Bar. As a lawyer, Mr. Williams was entitled to high regard. He enjoyed a large and influential clientele, and represented many of the most important interests of the county. His legal ability was unquestioned, and he made his mark in the profession that he had so aptly chose as his work in life, winning for himself the regard and admiration of all who knew him. In every instance he was noted for the skillful manner in which he safeguarded the interests of his clients. Beginning in 1836, Mr. Williams was also for many years editor of the “Frederick Political Examiner,” and won high rank in the journalistic field.
For over forty years, he was connected with the Frederick County National Bank, and at the time of his death, was serving as its president. While in this position, he directed the affairs of the institution with a foresight and financial ability that stamped him as a man of high executive capacity. In politics, Mr. Williams was at first identified with the old-line Whig party, but upon the organization of the Know-Nothing party, he became an adherent and active supporter of the Democratic party, with which he remained until his death. In religion, he was for many years an active and devoted member of the Presbyterian church. In 1836, Mr. Williams was married to Eleanor Shriver, daughter of Judge Abraham Shriver, who was judge of the Circuit Court of Frederick County for forty years. John H. and Eleanor Williams were the parents of two children: Henry and Margaret Jeannette, who reside in Frederick."
The Williams family possessed two fine homes in Frederick that still stand today. John purchased a fine townhome at 22 S. Market Street in 1852. In 1881, he built a summer cottage west of town at the foot of Catoctin Mountain along the Old National Road leading up to Braddock Heights. This neighborhood is known as Fairview, and the Williams would name their cottage "Highland."
Henry Williams received his elementary education in private schools. He then attended the University of Virginia and later Yale College, New Haven, Conn. After completing his studies, he became a clerk for Alexander Murdock & Company, commission merchants, with which firm he remained for five years. In 1863, Mr. Williams enlisted in Company A, 33rd Texas Cavalry, Confederate, and served in the Valley of the Mississippi until the close of the war.
In 1865, Mr. Williams returned to Frederick, and entered the employ of the Central National Bank as a book-keeper. In 1871, he was promoted to discount clerk, and in 1876 he was made assistant cashier. Two years later, he was chosen cashier, and served in that capacity until 1897, when he was elected president of the institution. He retained the latter position until 1905, when he resigned, and has since lived in retirement. As the head of a flourishing financial institution, he won high repute for the able manner in which he directed its affairs, and became one of its best known financiers of this part of the State. His methods were always characterized by the highest principles, and he commanded the respect and confidence of business and financial circles generally. Mr. Williams is one of the best-known citizens of the county, and is held in high esteem by all who know him. He is a director of the Maryland School of the Deaf and Dumb, and a member and treasurer of the executive committee.
In politics, Mr. Williams has for the last fifteen years been a staunch adherent and supporter of the Jeffersonian Democracy, but has never aspired to public office. Fraternally, he is a member of Frederick Lodge, No. 684, Order of Elks. He is affiliated in a religious way with the Presbyterian church.
Mr. Williams was married in 1871, to Henrietta Marian Stokes, daughter of Robert Y. and Henrietta D. (Tyler) Stokes of Frederick City. Robert Y. Stokes, who died in 1874, was for many years president of the Central National Bank.”
Henry and Henrietta lived most of their adult lives in the vicinity of Court Street. In 1880, Henry lived in Carlin's City Hotel and in 1900 directly in front of the old Frederick County Courthouse (today's City Hall). In 1910, the couple resided in the Park Hotel, now the site of a parking lot at the intersection of Court and Church streets.
The Williams Family at Mount Olivet
Eleanor C. Williams died March 8th, 1892. Her obituary reports that she was originally buried in the earlier mentioned Shriver Burying Ground off N. Bentz Street. Four burial lots would eventually be purchased in Area R (Mount Olivet) on March 11th, 1894, and the body of Mrs. Williams was reinterred here on December 17th, 1894.
This is possibly the time that the monument was placed on the site, or perhaps it came with the death of husband John H. Williams on November 11th, 1896.
The children of John and Eleanor would join them here within the next three decades. Jennie (Margaret Janet) died at age 77 on April 8th, 1922. Brother Henry had died four years earlier on January 2nd, 1918. His widow, Henrietta, would join him here upon her passing in January, 1926.
More information about the Williams and the former Williams’ home at 22 S. Market Street can be found on the Federated Charities website, including a few photographs of how the home appeared in the early 1900s upon the time of Jennie’s death.
The 1919 Annual Report of Federated Charities contains the first mention of a bequest of the 22 South Market Street building from the estate of Margaret Janet Williams. Miss Williams stipulated that her home be used, “in the service of the people of Frederick.” The original structure was built in 1820 by Edward Goldsborough and it was subsequently owned by Henry Schley and John H. Williams and then his daughter, Margaret. Family photographs show a well-loved home, filled with animals, art and a late Victorian sensibility.
The building has been cited as “an extremely rare example of a 19th century urban form: a domestic complex consisting of a high-style residence connected to support structures,” by the Maryland Historic Trust. It is the only known such complex remaining in Frederick from the mid-to late 19th century, and it is also a rarity in Maryland. Federated Charities took possession of the building in 1930 along with a small endowment, and a number of antique furnishings and art pieces and began to fill its spaces with the kinds of programs that benefited a wide range of Frederick’s citizens as the city continued to expand.
As for “Charity” the dog, he was installed on the front porch of the home in 1858 by John H. Williams. Apparently he paid $45 for the statue, and an additional $5 for its marble base. Purportedly a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, “Charity” as he was named in 1989, is made of zinc and pewter and was cast during a time period where decorative statuary of this kind was a sign of influence when installed on a private home.
An apocryphal story is that Mr. Williams’ placed the dog strategically to prevent inebriated party attendees from falling off the family’s porch. I like that tale as I’m sure many have experienced a later need for the “hair of the dog” after a long night at neighboring “Wag’s” Restaurant and Bar. I certainly have myself, in younger days of course!
Over the years, both the tail and the head of the “Charity” statue have been broken off by vandals, including once in 1946 by two soldiers who were stationed at the German POW camp located west of Frederick. Each time the pieces were reinstalled and in 2005 the tail was rebuilt in a downward oriented position in order to stabilize it.
Federated Charities annual ART of the Dog event, celebrates Charity’s steady presence as a symbol of what this non-profit organization has continued to represent in the Frederick community for over a century. We can thank the Williams family and the story of their unending "charity" is a big part of this legacy.
The author would like to dedicate this week's story to Mr. Ron Harbaugh, who passed away suddenly earlier this week. Ron was a loyal reader and supporter of "Stories in Stone" since its inception in 2016. Rest in Peace my friend.
A structure housing memorials to famous or illustrious individuals usually chosen by a group of electors. This is the definition Merriam-Webster offers for a “hall of fame.” There are plenty of national “halls of fame,” the most famous perhaps being those related to professional sports and music. Cooperstown, New York is synonymous with baseball and Canton, Ohio professional football. Just up the road in Cleveland, one can find the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Fittingly, Nashville, Tennessee is home to the Country Music Hall of Fame, but did you know that a two hour ride southeast on I-24 would bring you to Chattanooga to enjoy the wonderment and majesty of the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum?—Talk about “wrecking” a vacation!
I was inspired to seek out more “Halls of Fame” across the country. I know it’s late in the summer at this point, but here’s a unique list of ten places that you may (or may not) have interest in making a pilgrimage to in the future:
*The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame (Arlington, Texas)
*National Inventors Hall of Fame (Alexandria, Virginia)
*Freshwater Fish Hall of Fame (Hayward, Wisconsin)
*Pinball Hall of Fame (Las Vegas, Nevada)
*National Mining Hall of Fame (Leadville, Colorado)
*Robot Hall of Fame (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
*The Burlesque Hall of Fame (Las Vegas, Nevada)
*National Barber Museum and Hall of Fame (Canal Winchester, Ohio)
*National Toy Hall of Fame (Rochester, New York)
No offense to the others, but I’d really consider making a trip to see the Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester. I’m suddenly reminded that I had a “poor man’s version” of this repository in my childhood home basement. It came to light back in 2004 as my brothers and I were tasked in clearing out said house after the death of our father.
The shelves of our unfinished basement were still filled with the likes of old board games (eg. Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Battleship, Candyland, Stratego), novelty lunchboxes, Matchbox and Hot Wheels Cars and track, GI Joe dolls, Fisher Price playsets, Tonka Trucks, Evel Knievel stunt sets, HO gauge trains and electric slot cars set-ups, Wacky Packages Trading Cards/stickers, Rock’em Sock’em Robots, Star Wars figures, and the first handheld electronic gadgets such as Mattel Electronic Football and early video game consoles such as Intellivision and Colecovision.
As a final note, I don’t mean to brag, but I had two vibrating, electronic football boards and all 28 NFL teams from my youth. Yes, those were the little plastic figurines that moved thanks to a vibrating tin field beneath their bases, and it was a regular occurrence to see guys going in circles or figure 8’s while the linebackers seemed to be doing more square-dancing than “tackling” ballcarriers. The most memorable part of the experience was the ear piercing buzz and hum. Hey, “It was what it was”—a far cry from the realistic quality of today’s Madden NFL video game series my boys grew up playing.
Back in 2017, we launched the Preservation and Enhancement Fund of Mount Olivet Cemetery, a 501 © (3) nonprofit entity with a goal of showcasing and securing our amazing cultural landscape which is a unique blend of nature, art, architecture and the human condition. With the assistance of cemetery staff and our Friends of Mount Olivet membership group (begun in Spring, 2020), our mission is to preserve our historic records, on premises house and chapel structures and, most noticeably, thousands of vintage gravestones and monuments.
Our hope is to educate visitors and Frederick residents alike by sharing the fascinating background of Mount Olivet and those who reside in it, numbering over 40,000. The “Friends” group is active in related activities designed to generate enthusiasm in not only history research and gravestone preservation, but continued fundraising and spreading community awareness of our special place through engaging and entertaining educational programs, special events and anniversary commemorations.
Along those lines, I thought about forming a Hall of Fame—a Mount Olivet Hall of Fame. As the definition at the onset specifically mentions that Hall of Fames consist of a collection of memorials to famous or illustrious individuals, its easy to see that we are already there “so to speak” as our grounds boast memorials to the over 40,000 already buried here. I’ve appropriately touted this place as a “museum without walls” and this definitely drives home my point.
In talking with colleagues and other members of our Friends group, we found it best to frame the new “Hall” on the monuments, themselves, and not specifically on the person (s) buried beneath. The cover photo for this story at the top is from The Hall of Fame for Great Americans, an outdoor sculpture gallery located on the grounds of Bronx Community College in the Bronx, New York City. Completed in 1900, It is the first such hall of fame in the United States and part of the University Heights campus of New York University. Designed by the famed architect Stanford White, a 630-foot stone colonnade half-encircles the university library and houses 98 bronze portrait busts of a number of prominent Americans.
Interestingly, the photo at the onset of this story captures inductee and inventor Alexander Graham Bell, he of telephone fame and fortune. Mr. Bell and his wife, Mabel (the original “Ma Bell”), actually visited Frederick in April, 1915. While here, they visited Mount Olivet and we know they specifically paid homage to Francis Scott Key and Barbara Fritchie at their respective gravesites.
So back to our, new Hall of Fame, it is the above-ground masterpiece of art and craftmanship that provides the criteria for consideration, nomination and election to the newly launched “Mount Olivet Monument Hall of Fame.” The “structure” and memorials are already in place, some have been for well over a century and a half. A new component will soon appear in the form of a virtual gallery on the MountOlivetHistory.com site.
The inaugural class of recipients was announced, by way of a walking tour, at our first annual Friends of Mount Olivet picnic held on August 21st, 2021. A nominating committee within of Friends Group will handle the honors in future years, however, we thought it would be fitting for the first group of inductees to our “Hall of Fame” be chosen by an individual who has the unique distinction of having spent more time within Mount Olivet alive than any other human being in history. This would be John Ronald “Ron” Pearcey, our Superintendent. Ron originally came to work here in 1966, and he revels in telling visitors that he prides himself on waking up in a cemetery each and every day.
So, with no further ado, I present to you, the reader, the inaugural class of 2021 for the Mount Olivet Monument Hall of Fame.
Francis Scott Key Monument
Location: Star-Spangled Plaza
Date of Placement: August, 1898
Decedents: Francis Scott Key and Mary Tayloe (Lloyd) Key
In mid-August 1898, this monument was unveiled amidst great fanfare. It took over three decades of fundraising, but the achievement would be heralded in newspapers across the country. This would serve as Francis Scott Key’s third, and (hopefully) final resting place as the “Star-Spangled Banner” author and his wife Mary are encased in a vault built underneath the monument.
The New York City studio of Alexander Doyle received the contract to create this lasting memorial to the Frederick native, and a young, Italian immigrant named Pompeo Coppini would be charged with sculpting the figures of Key, and three other allegorical figures consisting of Columbia (signifying patriotism) and two boys (representing music and war). Most interesting is the fact that the sculptor was given the job of artistically styling all four stanzas of Key’s song on a bronze tablet located at the rear of the monument. For many years, this was one of the only locations where the US flag was allowed to fly 24/7.
The granite pedestal is comprised of several pieces of granite and stands 18-foot tall. The Key statuette stands 12-foot tall and depicts Francis gesturing toward the US flag as he did at the Battle of Fort McHenry in September, 1814.
Barbara Fritchie Monument
Location: Area MM/Lot 00
Date of Placement: September, 1914
Decedents: Barbara Fritchie and John Casper Fritchie
The second most famous person in Mount Olivet was removed here just like Francis Scott Key. This, of course, is our Civil War heroine, Barbara Fritchie. It is interesting to note that both of these individuals, Frederick’s most famous, became household names because of a song/poem about the US flag under attack by an enemy during wartime.
This monument was erected in 1914, after the star of John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem and her husband (John) were relocated here the previous year from their original grave plot in Frederick’s German Reformed Graveyard, a location now known as Memorial Park. The 12-foot tall obelisk is extremely modest and scaled down in comparison to an earlier proposed memorial to be placed at the location in downtown Frederick where the fountain now stands at the intersection of Seventh and Market streets. Bronze pieces are affixed to this large granite shaft, each sculpted by Artist James E. Kelly (1833-1855). These include a profile view of Barbara in the form of a large medallion, along with Whittier’s 1863 poem in its entirety for visitors to read.
Gov. Thomas Johnson, Jr. Memorial
Location: Area MM/Lot 38
Date of Placement: 1914
Decedents: Gov. Thomas Johnson, Jr.
Most gravestones simply include a decedent’s name and vital dates separated by a dash. Unlike the bronze adorations found interspersed with granite for the Key and Fritchie graves, Governor Thomas Johnson’s white marble gravestone boasts a pretty impressive resume ranging from his participation in the Continental Congress and leading troops in the American Revolution to becoming Maryland’s first elected governor and serving as one of the country’s first supreme court justices.
Johnson was originally buried in an underground family crypt within Frederick’s All Saints graveyard, once located on the south side of Carroll Creek atop a hill that stands north of East All Saints’ Street. The church sold the graveyard property in 1913, at which time over 300 individual’s remains were removed here to Mount Olivet. Most were reinterred within church purchased lots in Area MM.
Sponsored by the Frederick Daughters of the American Revolution, an earlier marker for Thomas Johnson, Jr. accompanied his body here, and is placed in front of the larger memorial created and placed here after his re-interment.
The "First" Monument
Location: Area F/Lot 12
Date of Placement: May, 1854
Decedents: Mary Louisa and Catharine Elizabeth Norris
The history books are a commonly filled with “firsts.” Here at Mount Olivet, research back in the year 2016 helped with the discovery of the first grave monument placed on our grounds. Interestingly, this monument had no connection to our much ballyhooed, "first burial" of Mrs. Ann Crawford in late May, 1854. A beautiful, twin-columned monument of Parian marble had been erected in place earlier that month of May (1854) awaiting its recipients.
The first monument in Mount Olivet was a lasting gift from grieving parents who once operated a grocery store in the first block of West Patrick Street. Basil and Jane Norris felt that the new, garden cemetery on the southern approach of town would be a more fitting resting place for two young daughters who had died earlier in the decade. Seventeen year-old Mary Louisa Norris and sister Catherine Elizabeth Norris (aged 23) would both die in 1851, and were originally buried in Frederick’s All Saints’ graveyard. They would be re-interred in Mount Olivet’s Area F on June 21st, 1854.
The Clarke Obelisk
Location: Area H/Lot 19
Date of Placement: 1902
Decedents: Gen. James C. Clarke, Susan Clarke and sons Horace W. Clarke, Wendall B. Clarke and daughter Sarah L. Gunn
The obelisk is a famous design dating back to ancient times, and beckons many to recall their first sight of the famed Washington monument in the nation’s capital. A tall, 25-foot, four-sided narrow tapering monument of this style can be seen occupying it’s own little island (Area H/Lot 19) just outside the Key Chapel near the front of the cemetery. This marks the gravesite of Gen. James C. Clarke (1824-1902) and family.
An American transportation pioneer, Clarke headed railroad companies during the early heydays of the industry. His employers included the Baltimore & Ohio, the North Central, Erie, Illinois Central and Mobile & Ohio. He also served as president of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal from 1870 to 1872. Nearby, Clarke Place, a block north of our front gate, is named in his honor.
"Ordeman's Anchor" Monument
Location: Area A/Lot 120
Date of Placement: after 1889
Decedents: Capt. H. D. Ordeman, Catherine Ordeman, et al.
When spotting an anchor in a cemetery, don’t assume the person occupying the grave was simply a mariner, fisherman or Navy veteran. The anchor, because of the great importance in navigation, was regarded in ancient times as a symbol of safety. Christians adopted the anchor as a symbol of hope in future existence, and gave a new and higher significance to a familiar emblem. However, in this particular case, the former assumption would be correct after all because this is the final resting place of Herman Dietrich Ordeman, a sea captain from Bremen, Germany born in 1812.
Capt. Ordeman made regular trips piloting boats from his native home to United States for decades. He had made his American home in Baltimore. Upon retirement in 1856, he removed to Frederick and resided in the area of Park Mills (southeast of Frederick City). His beautiful monument is adorned with the pre-mentioned anchor, but also includes an incredible etching atop its granite face featuring a facsimile of his trusted sailing vessel, the Aleyandria. Ordeman died in 1884. and it is thought the monument was placed after the death of the seaman's wife, Catherine who died in 1889.
Williams "Mourning Woman" Monument
Location: Area R/Lot 103-106
Date of Placement: c. 1892
Decedents: John H. and Eleanor (Shriver) Williams, son Henry D. Williams and wife Henrietta (Stokes), daughter Margaret Janet Williams
Ron Pearcey says his "sentimental favorite" when it comes to Mount Olivet's monuments is located in Area R, along the central drive of the cemetery. This family plot includes a picturesque entrance with stairs and flanked by flower planters. The monument is set within the center of four burial lots (103-106) belonging to the family of John H. Williams.
Mr. Williams (1814-1896) was a banker and his family home is the same that today houses Federated Charities as it was bequeathed by the family for that purpose. You may better know the location by the iron dog named “Charity” that adorns the front porch. Mr. Williams' wife, Eleanor Shriver(1814-1892), and two of his children reside in this plot,along with a daughter-in-law.
The central monument takes the form of a sarcophagus topped with a bowed woman in mourning on one knee. She has her head in her left hand, while her right hand is clutching a wreath. Adorned in ancient Greek attire, the female included as part of this monument is a commonly found example of cemetery iconography. In Victorian era times, women were often portrayed as the mourners of the human race, the ones expected, and allowed, to express emotions. It is their presence in the cemetery that connotes sorrow and grief at the loss of a loved one. Meanwhile, the laurel wreath dates back to Roman times when soldiers wore them as triumphal signs of glory. The laurel was also believed to wash away the soldier’s guilt from injuring or killing any of his opponents. In funerary art the laurel wreath is often seen as a symbol of victory over death.
According to the website Gravelyspeaking.com, a description is given for a like version of this same monument design within a cemetery in Georgia. It too, features a mourning woman, clutching a laurel wreath. Apparently the "mourning figure" represents Niobe, the Greek mythological Queen of Thebes.
“Niobe had fourteen children (the Niobids) and taunted Leto, who only had two children, Apollo and Artemis. In his rage he sent his two children to avenge the slight done to him by Niobe striking out at what was most dear to her. Niobe, became the symbol of mourning when Apollo slaughtered her seven sons and Artemis killed her seven daughters. As one version of the story goes, upon seeing his dead fourteen children, Amphion, the King of Thebes, committed suicide. Niobe was so stricken with grief that she fled to Mount Siplyus, Manisa, Turkey, where she turned to stone. Her grief was so powerful that tears flowed ceaselessly from her forming the River Acheloos.”
I was hoping to find a direct correlation as to the Williams choice of this funerary character, thinking perhaps the parents lost a child (or children) at a young age, or that they simply predeceased them. That wasn’t the case as son Henry died at 80 in 1918, and daughter Margaret Janet Williams died at age 77 in 1922.
So there you have it, the inaugural Class of 2021 of the newly launched Mount Olivet Monument Hall of Fame. Please consider joining our Friends of Mount Olivet membership group and you too can help pick next years monument inductees, while helping to preserve and interpret these special stones into perpetuity.
The sizeable, granite grave monument of Jacob S. Perry and his wife, Martha, is sure to catch the eye of the beholder in Mount Olivet’s Area R, located not far from the graves of Barbara Fritchie and Gov. Thomas Johnson, Jr. The funerary structure is topped with a sculptured granite urn, covered by what is known as a “shroud of grief."
I have prior knowledge regarding the symbolism here, but I consulted a website entitled headstonesymbols.co.uk and found the following passage under a heading entitled Drapery and Urns within a section: Headstone Symbols and Meanings:
Drapery seen on headstones usually depicts the veil between life and death and the crossing of that plane and to others it can symbolise God’s protection until Resurrection.
Before hearses became common, during the deceased’s journey from their home to the church their coffin was draped in a black cloth, sometimes decorated with memento mori or crosses. This was the pall. It was held at each corner by a pallbearer, while the coffin itself was supported by underbearers. Drapery remained a favourite symbol of the Victorians and is often seen covering urns.
In the Victorian era the urn became a symbol of death and the return of the physical body to dust while the soul was everlasting. The urn’s history started in Pagan religions that carried out cremation. The ashes of the deceased where commonly collected and buried in an old or roughly made cooking pot. As these civilizations grew the containers became more elaborate. The urns we see today on grave monuments are often stylised on ancient Roman and Greek containers for ashes.
Early Christian funerals were seen as a symbol of the burial and resurrection of Christ and cremation was seen as a pagan practice, and this view was not changed until the late 19th century. As the population increased in major cities, cemeteries became overcrowded and unhygienic conditions arose with burials only just below the surface. A solution was needed, and with changes in attitude and advances in technology, cremation was seen as a solution to the problem. The ashes where again collected in urns and placed in a cemetery columbarium, a building containing niches in the wall to hold the urns.
The symbolism and iconography seem quite appropriate for this particular grave, as I found that the original lot owner, (the forementioned Jacob S. Perry), worked as an undertaker as his life’s profession. He was based in the area of Walkersville and Woodsboro northeast of Frederick. He would also conduct services as Thurmont as well.
Mr. Perry led a pretty straightforward life as I didn’t find a great deal about him in the history books and newspapers. He was born on May 8th, 1827 in Leitersburg, Maryland, located northeast of Hagerstown. His parents were Jacob Perry, Sr. (1802-1880) and Mary Stokes (1789-1870). He was living with a wheelright named Solomon Conaway and working as a carpenter in Woodsboro by the time of the 1850 census.
Jacob married Martha Ann Geasey five years later (1855) on Christmas Day. The Perrys would make their home in Walkersville (northeast of Frederick City) and have nine children as I could find, starting with Ida Maria Perry in 1856. A second daughter would be born in October 1858, Florentine "Flora" Amelia Perry. A son named Washington Everett was born in 1860, but sadly both daughters would die within three weeks of each other in late March-April, 1862.
I found the draft registration for our subject in connection with the American Civil War. I did not see that he actually served for either army during this turbulent period, but he did father another child as James Pleasonton Perry was born in April 1863. Residing in Walkersville, I’m sure Jacob watched along with his neighbors, the Union Army, under new general, George M. Meade as they headed north through town en-route to Gettysburg in early summer.
An old newspaper featured an annual accounting of the Frederick County Government, and Jacob S. Perry is listed as having built coffins for the town of Thurmont.
His connection to Thurmont likely stemmed from this locale serving home to his parents. To be exact, an obituary in 1872 for Jacob Perry, Sr. (our subject's father) claimed that the former Middletown native had died in Franklinville just north of Thurmont, then known as Mechanicstown. This is the area where you could find two outstanding commercial landmarks along today’s US15—Catoctin Mountain Orchard and the recently-closed Shamrock Restaurant.
Another aside involving Jacob, Jr. comes from Jacob Engelbrecht who wrote that Jacob Perry (Sr.) was appointed keeper of the Frederick Almshouse in February, 1852, but declined the position, allowing Mr. William T. Duvall to take the post. This same Mr. Duvall would leave the Almshouse two years later to become the first superintendent of Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Three more children would be born to Jacob S. Perry and Martha before the end of the decade. These included Katherine Idaho Perry (b. July, 1865), John Jacob Perry (b. September, 1867), and William KIracofe Perry (b. September, 1869).
The 1870 census shows the Perry family living in Mount Pleasant. This would be the residence in which two more children were added to the family, Matilda Lorena Perry (1872-1957) and Harry Perry. The latter died as an infant, surviving only two days, passing on May 21st, 1876.
For the next 30 years, the Perrys continued living in Walkersville and I found that they lived in a six-room, frame house on the corner of West Frederick Street and Maple Avenue. I'm sure the builder was our subject.
Jacob took part in the nearby community through his work and involvement with the United Brethren Church. I was happy to find some related clippings in the newspapers that made mention to Mr. Perry and these business and church activities. I’m sure he would consider his greatest accomplishment the fact that he and wife Martha raised six children into adulthood. A 1910 article captured the occasion of Jacob’s 83rd birthday. The paper added the superlative that Jacob and Martha were the oldest couple in town.
The twosome would celebrate a few more birthdays and anniversaries before Jacob’s death on June 21st, 1914. He died at the home of his daughter, Katherine Long, in Walkersville. He was 87 years old.
It is not known whether or not Jacob crafted his own coffin, but the undertaking was performed by Thomas P. Rice, a leading man of the trade during that time. He would be laid to rest in Mount Olivet on June 23rd, 1914. His predeceased children had been removed to Mount Olivet in April of 1908. This included Ida, Florentine and Harry.
I’d like to assume that the tradition of draping Mr. Perry’s coffin with black cloth actually happened. As he performed this practice for so many that he delivered to their final resting places, hopefully the same was done for him. His pall bearers consisted of sons and grandsons.
Just sixteen months later, Martha would join her husband in Mount Olivet.
Jacob’s son William K. Perry would be buried here in 1946, and daughter Matilda “Mattie” Gregory just over a decade later in 1957. Their spouses and a few of their children are today also part of the Perry lot in Area R.
“Westward ho—Today at 11 o’clock AM Messrs William Dean & family, Lewis Stein wife & 3 children, & also Mrs. Henry Sinn (going as far as Vincennes Indiana) left in the cars for Saint Joseph Missouri. Mr. Dean has a son there (W. H. Houston Dean) & Mr. Stein has two brothers-in-law (J. H. Dean & Philip Buddy) there already. May success attend them.”
Tuesday, April 5, 1870 111/4 o’clock AM
This colorful passage was taken from the diary of Frederick tailor Jacob Engelbrecht (1797-1878). The mention of the Dean family’s move to Missouri in 1870 is an interesting one as it would have a direct effect on Mount Olivet. Although we lost a few future inhabitants to Missouri, we gained an impressive grave monument adorned with an anchor—but not the first in this part of the cemetery. (See our earlier story on Captain Herman Ordeman from August, 2018).
I'd like to begin by sharing some backstory on the Dean family. The Deans hailed from the New Market area, and brothers William and John can be found living next to each other on neighboring farms. This is reflected in the 1850 census as they are enumerated in descending order.
The son of the above-mentioned 1870 traveling patriarch (William Dean aka William Dean 2nd) of the Dean family mentioned above was a gentleman by the name of William H. R. Dean (b. August 28th, 1838). The younger William had bought lot #74 in Area A in 1862 upon the occasion of the death of his wife, Ann Louisa (Gallion) Dean. Sadly, the newlywed Mrs. Dean was only 24 at the time of her passing.
I found Ann Louisa’s parents (John Presbury Gallion and wife Mary Elizabeth Brown Gallion) in another part of the cemetery, Area P (Lot 29) only yards from William H. R.'s uncle (John Dean Jr.) and family in Area P/Lot 74. I was curious why she was not buried in a family lot with them as usually happened in situations like this.
The 1850 census shown earlier shows William Dean’s wife, Catharine Barrick (b. 1814), and three sons on the family farm in New Market. They would relocate to Frederick by 1860 and took up residence on East Third Street near the location of Chapel Alley.
I soon became enthralled with the professional careers and achievements of all three of these Dean children. By 1860, oldest son William H. R. and his father were running a dry goods store in Frederick. Their quirky advertisements filled the local newspapers of the decade as their business had an original location at North Market and Third streets. By 1866, it had moved to the corner of East Patrick and Carroll streets.
1862 was a bittersweet year for William H. R. Dean. This is when the young man would marry Miss Gallion. Unfortunately, the couple would only have nine months of wedded bliss together.
As mentioned earlier, Ann Louisa’s body was laid to rest in the William H. R. Dean lot on the day after Christmas, 1862. It would be quite a while before another family member would join her in this once shaded parcel near the front of the cemetery.
I stumbled upon another interesting burial tidbit from our friend Jacob Engelbrecht around this same period, just a few months after the Confederate Army under Gen. Lee visited Frederick in September, 1862, followed by the nearby battles of South Mountain and Antietam that same month. Engelbrecht stated in early January, 1862 that the whole number of Civil War soldiers that had been interred since the previous August was 767, of whom 579 were Union and 188 were “captured Rebel prisoners,” his words, not mine. Interestingly, many of those Union soldiers counted by Engelbrecht in this inventory would be re-interred and buried elsewhere back in soldiers' hometowns and in Antietam National Cemetery in Sharpsburg. Ironically, the lot holder’s brother, George, narrowly escaped death during military service in the Great Rebellion, as he could have added to the tally and joined Ann Louisa Dean during those war years. It would be this gentleman George A. Dean) who would assume this burial plot after the rest of his Dean family moved west.
Thirty-nine years later, in 1901, Emma V. (Gorton) Dean would be buried in the Dean lot on Area A with Ann Louisa. These two women were sisters-in-law, albeit brief if at all. That calls for some family identification of the William Dean family. I will tell you that not all the Deans went west. The whole move was precipitated in theory by Ann Louisa’s death you could say. Her widowed husband, William H. R. Dean would move to Missouri in 1869. Of course this is who Engelbrecht referred to in his diary entry to kickoff this story.
William H. R. had married again, Miss Elizabeth C. Stein (b. November 30th, 1841) in 1864, which eventually influenced her brother (Lewis Stein) to make the trip to Missouri with his brother-in-law’s family in 1870. Emma V. Gorton was the wife of George Albert Dean (b. January 27th, 1841). William Dean Sr.'s second son. Emma's obituary says little of her life deeds, but paints quite a picture of her husband’s life’s work.
As you can see, George A. Dean stayed here in Maryland instead of moving to Missouri. Actually, truth be told, he headed east to Baltimore, but came back to live his final years here in Frederick on Rockwell Terrace. His life story is brilliantly told in TJC Williams and Folger McKinsey’s History of Frederick County, published in 1910:
"George A. Dean, a well-known resident of Frederick City, Frederick County, Md., was born on a farm in New Market District, Frederick County, January 27, 1841. He is the son of William and Catherine (Barrick) Dean.
The Dean family is of English lineage, and emigrated to the colonies prior to the American revolution. Robert Dean, the great-grandfather of George A. Dean, was married to Elizabeth Reynolds, a sister of Hugh Reynolds. They were the parents of William Dean 1st.
William Dean 1st, son of Robert and Elizabeth (Reynolds) Dean, was married to Alice Reynolds, daughter of Hugh and Alice (Flemming) Reynolds. They were the parents of William Dean 2nd. Mrs. William Dean’s father, Hugh Reynold’s, was a native of County Tyrone, Ireland. In company with his three brothers, William, James and John, he came to America about 1769. He had also two sisters one of whom, Elizabeth, married the Robert Dean mentioned above. Hugh Reynolds was married in 1780, to Alice Flemming, who was born in 1761, being seven years younger than Mr. Reynolds. They were the parents of the following children: 1. William, born in 1781; 2. Eleanor, born in 1782; 3. Margaret, born in 1784; 4. John, born in 1786; 5. Samuel, born in 1788; 6. Alice, born in 1790, married William Dean 1st; 7. Elizabeth, born in 1791; 8. Ann, born in 1792; 9. Lillie, born in 1794; 10. Jane, born in 1796; 11. Malinda, born in 1798; 12. Maria, born in 1800; 13. Sarah, born in 1802.
William Dean 2nd, son of William and Alice (Reynolds) Dean, was born near Frederick City, in 1810, and died in 1886. He was a tanner by trade, but in later life, followed agricultural pursuits. In his political views, he was, in early life, an Old-Line Whig but he afterwards adhered to the Republican party. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and filled the offices of elder and of deacon. William Dean 2nd was married to Catharine Barrick, daughter of George Barrick, of Frederick County, who served, in 1812-1814, in the second war against Great Britain. They were the parents of three children: William H. R., was born in Frederick County, MD., in 1838; left Frederick in 1869 for the then Western country. He first settled in Missouri (St. Joseph), changing to Nebraska; thence to the State of Iowa, in which he died, 1907. He was engaged in mercantile pursuits. George A., of whom presently. James H. left his native place, Frederick, Md., in 1883; serving in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, in various capacities, twenty-one years; finally resigning as President and General Manager of the Park Hotels Company, (1904), of which he was one of the organizers. He was associated with the Company about seventeen years; was born in 1843, and is now living in Southern California.
George A. Dean, son of William and Catharine (Barrick) Dean, was brought up in Frederick County and received his education in the public schools of the county, and in Frederick College. He afterwards went to Piedmont, W. Va., where he learned the trade of machinist. During the four years of the Civil War, Mr. Dean served as assistant engineer U.S. Navy on various vessels. He was wounded by a piece of shell while on board his vessel in an engagement at Plymouth, N.C., in 1864. At this time, April 16, 1864, he was made a prisoner of war and was confined in various prisons. He was at Plymouth, N.C.; Raleigh, N.C.; Columbia, S.C.; Macon, Ga.; Charleston, S.C.; and Libby prison, in Richmond, Va., from which place he was exchanged in November, 1864. He has been greatly disabled by the wound which he received in 1864, and by other infirmities caused by exposure and confinement.
After the close of the war, Mr. Dean returned to Baltimore, and within a short time became an engineer in the merchant marine service. He was first employed by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad ships, running from Baltimore, Md., to Liverpool, England. His next employers were the Charleston Steamship Company. In 1869, he entered the service of the Merchants and Miners’ Steamship Company, with which concern he remained until 1894. During the years from 1869 to 1883, he was chief engineer on various vessels of said company. From 1882 to 1894, he was superintendent of ships and machinery and, in the meantime, constructed several vessels for the company. Since 1894, Mr. Dean has been living retired in Frederick County and City. He is held in high esteem in the community in which he resides.
Mr. Dean is interested in various enterprises in Frederick County, and holds directorships in several concerns. He acts in this capacity in the Fredericktown Savings Institution; in the Frederick and Emmitsburg Turnpike Company; and in the Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Frederick County. Politically, Mr. Dean is a stanch Republican. In 1897, he was nominated and elected by his party to the office of commissioner of Frederick County. He served for a term of four years, and made a creditable record in that official position. He is a member of Columbia Lodge, No. 58, A. F. and A. Mm.; and of Enoch Royal Arch Chapter, No. 23, of Frederick City. In religion, he holds his membership in the Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, where he served as trustee.
George A. Dean was married, in 1864, to Emma V. Gorton, of Baltimore. They were the parents of five children, four of whom grew up. 1. William G., resides in Baltimore; 2. Marian (Mrs. Frank N. Mainhart) of New York City, NY; 3. Bella G., the wife of George T. Ness, of Baltimore, Md.; 4. George A., also of Baltimore. Mrs. Dean died in 1901. In 1905, Mr. Dean was married to Alice R. Dean, of Frederick County, a daughter of the late John A. and Mary A. (Mainhart) Dean. They have three children: Catharine Reynolds, James Hamner, and Margaret Barrick Dean."
George Dean was active in buying and selling real estate and moved around a bit once back in Frederick. My assistant Marilyn Veek found that George A. Dean didn't buy property in Frederick until he moved here in 1894 from Baltimore. From 1893-1898 he owned a 20 acre farm described as fronting on the turnpike road from Frederick to Ceresville Bridge, that also abutted the road leading from Frederick to the Fulling mill (not otherwise identified). From 1898-1899 he owned a 110 acre farm which was north of Richfield along Rt. 15 (this is the property that was "near Harmony Grove"), and likely the locale George's brother James came back to live temporarily. From 1900 to 1902, George owned a property at 17 E. Third St.
From 1904 to 1906 he owned property on the north side of East Second St (now part of 115 E 2nd) and across from St. John's Church on the "old Novitiate lot" as the article above mentions. In 1908, he bought a house at 121 W. Third St. that he sold in 1914 when he moved to Rockwell Terrace.
George A. Dean would live another 12 years after the William' biography was published. Alice (b. 1880) was 39 years his younger and in peak child-bearing condition. You can assume that having three child born to a man in his mid to late sixties is not just an amazing accomplishment, but also could have added a strain to a life riddled with business/civic responsibility and physical debility.
George A. Dean would pass away on September 11th, 1922. Thank goodness he didn't move west, as his impact on his home town and county was pretty impressive as can be attested to by reading his obituary.
George A Dean's monument includes an anchor which pays homage to his former naval service and career in the shipping industry. It also symbolizes hope for eternal salvation according to funerary inconography meanings associated with this symbol. I like to think that it also represents the fact that his legacy is "anchored" here in Frederick, as the rest of his family moved westward.
One interesting point to make on the monument. In our collection here at the cemetery, we have an old photograph of Mount Olivet's Area A, taken around 1909-1910. Interestingly, the large Dean monument with the anchor is visible in the shot. This means that Mr. Dean erected this monument at least 12 years before his death in 1922. I theorize that this was likely done at the time of Emma's death in 1901.
George’s second wife, Alice, would join him here upon her death in 1953. Son James Hamner Dean and his wife, Malinda Louise (Horine) Dean would buried in the lot in the early 1970s, and their son, John Horine Dean would be buried here in 1997.
William and William H. R. Dean
As for the pioneering Deans that headed west, George’s father William Dean made it to Missouri with Catharine. They appear in the 1870 census living with son William H. R. and his young family in Watson, NIshnebotna Township, Atcheson County, Missouri. The gentlemen appear to have revived their dry goods business.
The family moved to Lewis Township in Holt County, Missouri and this is where they can be found in 1880. William (2nd) died in 1886 and one can find his gravesite, along with that of wife Catharine in High Creek Cemetery, Rock Port, in Atchison County, Missouri.
As said in the George’s biography from 1910, William H. R. died in Iowa in the year 1907. His death and funeral on November 15th made front page news in his newfound home far from Frederick, Maryland. He and wife Elizabeth are buried in his father’s plot at Rock Port, Missouri.
James H. Dean
The last of this immediate family to cover is James H. Dean. This man of familiar name was not a “Rebel Without a Cause” or a country-western musician turned into a sausage salesman. James Dean was one of the early assistant superintendents of Yellowstone Park as mentioned earlier.
James H. Dean was born around 1844 in New Market. His future wife, Rebecca T. Pickings, was born in Maryland around 1845. Dean moved with his family into Frederick and went to work as a steward at the Maryland School for the Deaf. The school had just opened the previous year and served about 60 students, 25 of them that had never received any formal schooling. The school taught sign language, the finger alphabet, writing, speech, lip reading, along with vocational skills such as shoemaking, carpentry, printing, dressmaking, sewing, and housework. He held that position until 1877.
At that time, he went to work for a hotel and restaurant called the Old Dill House on the northeast corner of West Church and Court streets. I wrote extensively about this location in a former story in April 2020. By 1879 the hotel became known as the Carlin House, after proprietor Frank B. Carlin, and finally the Park Hotel. James and Rebecca can be found residing here in the 1880 US Census as he held the position of hotel manager. (As an aside, I found James' brother, George, living here in the 1900 census.)
In 1883, James H. Dean traveled to Yellowstone with Rebecca to work as an assistant superintendent. He would serve under Superintendent Patrick H. Conger in 1883 until early summer of 1885. He spent the summer of 1884 with his family at Norris in a small house built for them by the federal government. However it was unsuitable to withstand the cold, harsh winters and they moved to Mammoth to live that winter. He became clerk at the Firehole Hotel in 1885, serving there for several years.
In 1888 he was hired to manage the Cottage Hotel at Mammoth, the year before the G. L. Henderson family sold the operation to the Yellowstone Park Association. Dean managed the National Hotel in 1891 and was appointed Superintendent of YPA in 1892, having supervision of all the park hotels. His office was located in the National Hotel. He served as president of the Yellowstone National Park Association from 1896 (or 1898) until 1901, when Harry Child, Edmund Bach and Silas Huntley bought out the company.
Around 1902, he resigned from the company and came back to Frederick to live with a nephew Mr. Charles Pickings near Harmony Grove, north of town where Clemson Corner is today. By 1910, James and Rebecca had moved to California and were living in Coronado Beach, near San Diego. James died October 17th, 1919 in Coronado Beach after being in ill health and suffering a stroke the previous year. He was about 75 years of age. His mortal remains are at the Cypress Hill Mausoleum and Chapel in San Diego.
James H. Dean's address in 1910 was 942 D Street which is denoted by the arrow. Although a newly constructed villa sits here today, this must have been a beautiful retirement location in paradise for James H Dean and his wife, Rebecca which was just a few blocks from the Pacific and the famed Coronado Hotel which appears to the upper left of this photo
I was interested in finding many newspaper clippings in the early 1910s that reported George visiting his brother (James) in California and practically spending his winters there. You could say that the family member that stayed behind back in 1870, eventually did "go west," even if it was just seasonally.
George A. Dean's eye-catching monument in Mount Olivet's Area A serves not only as a testament to his life and accomplishments, but also as a lasting reminder of those immediate family members who took their dreams west to places such as Missouri, Wyoming and California.
The word “orphan” is a multi-faceted one that can be used as a noun, verb and adjective. Of course, the noun version is most common and defined in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as “a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents, a young animal that has lost its mother, or one deprived of some protection or advantage.”
When it comes to cemeteries, orphans are an obvious result of the death of both parents, being cut down in the prime of life. In some cases, the “orphaning” is the result of one parent dying, and the widowed parent not being capable to raise a child (or children) on their own. Then there are those cases that were not talked about, wherein a child may have been born out of wedlock. Although the older concept of orphans seems to be a thing of the past, thanks to advances in medicine/healthcare (keeping parents healthier), and the practice of adoption becoming more accepted over the last century.
I see this situation of “orphaned” children often in my geology and historical research endeavors. Even in my own family, I had a great-grandmother (on my father’s side) who lost both parents to illness as a young teen, thus causing her and siblings to be raised by her grandmother. On the other side of the family, my mother’s mother (grandmother) lost both parents by age six. She almost went into an orphanage, a residential institution for the care and education of orphans. Thankfully, her oldest sister turned 18 days before a court ruling which resulted in permission given to said older sister to be recognized as her legal guardian.
Many children were not as lucky as those family members I just mentioned of mine. We had orphanages here in Frederick, two of note included the Loats Orphan Asylum (1879-1956), once housed in the Baltzell home on East Church Street. This building has served as home to the Frederick Historical Society/Heritage Frederick for decades since the old orphanage was closed. Immediately next door, an earlier established orphanage once existed across the alley under the purview of the local Protestant Episcopal church here in town. Mount Olivet has a lasting reminder of that benevolent institution.
To find it, you have to make your way to a section within Area G that is enclosed with an iron fence—what I guess you could call our only “gated community” within Mount Olivet. Known commonly as the Potts lot, this is the site of the final resting places of several members of prominent past families including the namesake Potts, Murdochs, Marshalls, Ross’ and Francis Scott Key’s parents.
On the north side of this large burial lot are two additional lots enclosed by ancient iron fencing. One lot (G 59) encloses the grave of an 1812 veteran named Daniel Hughes (1774-1854) who had married into the Potts family. The other (G58), located directly behind the Hughes lot, was once owned by the Episcopal Female Orphan Asylum of Frederick. Today it is owned by the All Saints’ Protestant Episcopal Church. It was established for the burial of orphans in conjunction with the church’s former Orphan House on East Church Street.
The Orphan House and Episcopal Free School Society of All Saints’ Church
There are two prime sources for information on the All Saints' Orphanage. One was a small pamphlet written by Eleanor Murdoch Johnson (1860-1945). Miss Johnson was a devout member of All Saints' and a longtime member of the board of managers for the Episcopal Orphanage. In 1915, she published her work: A History of the Orphan House and Episcopal Free School Society of the All Saints' Church FrederickTown, Maryland 1838-1915. The daughter of John Ross Johnson and Maria Louisa Ann Hammond died at age 84 and is buried about 25 yards from the Orphanage Lot in Area E/Lot 62.
Another source of information comes from the History of All Saints Parish (Frederick County, Maryland), a book researched and written by Ernest Helfenstein with help from two of my friends among others, the Carroll H. Hendrickson and C. Lynne Price. The following passage comes from this work published in 1991.
As early as 1833 the lot on which the present orphanage stands was occupied by a small building in which was conducted the “school of Industry,” a fee school. As the attendance of this school increased from eight to thirty-two scholars the idea of an Orphan Home and School developed in the minds of the ladies of the congregation and by a series of “Fairs” a fund for the erection of a suitable building was started. In March, 1838, an Act of Incorporation was passed by the Maryland Legislature and the building was erected in 1839 by George Cole. This was made possible largely through the generosity of Mrs. Eleanor Potts who conveyed the lot upon which the Orphan House now stands to the trustees, the lot having been purchased by her for one thousand dollars from the “Vestry and Council of the Lutheran Church, Fredericktown.”
Daniel Hughes’ wife, Elizabeth (Potts) Hughes served on the first Board of Managers of the new orphanage, as was her mother (Eleanor Potts). For almost a century, this institution would serve as a haven for many orphan children and "in the world today are many useful women who can refer with pleasant memories to the time they were taught to read, write and sew at All Saints’ Orphanage and School." In 1856, Richard Potts (a trustee of the operation) wrote:
“The congregation of All Saints’ is in prosperous condition, a new and beautiful church having been built, in a short time will be ready for consecration. But whatever gratulation may be allowable upon the result, the most sparkling gem in their diadem will be this hopeful nursery and home for the little ones.”
Mount Olivet Cemetery was officially dedicated in late May, 1854. Three months later, on August 30th, 1854, the Episcopal Female Orphan Asylum of Frederick purchased Area G’s Lot 58 consisting of eight grave sites. Interesting of note, nearly 44 years would pass until a burial would be made here. The date would be June 17th, 1898 and the decedent was 12-year-old Bertha Virginia Cleary who had died the previous day, June 16th.
News of Bertha’s death made the local newspaper, and so did her funeral. The article made known the fact that this was the first death related to an inhabitant of the girls orphanage. It would continue to be so for the next 48 years.
As you could imagine, I haven’t been overly successful in attaining additional info on Miss Cleary, but we have a birthdate of December 6th, 1886 and her obit claimed she was a native of Frederick. Now the local papers have her last name spelled as Clary. However, our interment book spells the name as “Cleary,” and the stone does the same. I found no other Clearys in our cemetery, and 19 Clarys. The latter was more prevalent around here with many living in the Unionville/Mount Airy area in the eastern part of the county.
I was better prepared to simply chase after Cleary so I searched the Frederick census records for Clearys. In 1880, I found three girls with this surname as students of the Academy of the Visitation here in town, roughly two short blocks from the All Saints’ Orphanage.
The ladies can be found as natives of Howard County, living with stepfather Alexander A. Fahey and their mother Isabella Cleary. This raised a flag for me and put my focus on the three girls as longshot potential mothers of Bertha Virginia Cleary. I felt that since they were familiar with both Frederick, and likely the All Saints’ Orphanage as well, that perhaps they may place a child here—especially one holding the Cleary surname. If so, we would certainly assume the child was born out of wedlock—but absolutely no judgment here.
I also thought of the stigma assigned to Catholic girls and a potential illegitimate child. And yes, Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young” did cross my mind—and remember that our subject does have Virginia as a middle name, mind you.
I soon learned that the girl’s father, William Cleary (b. 1814) and a native of Ireland, had died in 1878. Their mother, Isabella (b. 1838), was the daughter of Baltimore merchant Edwin Bailey as I found her in the 1860 US census. Miss Bailey married William Cleary, and later would remarry Mr. Fahey as mentioned earlier. She appears to have died around 1885.
Daughter Helen Cleary (1864-1937) married Alexander Benzinger in 1885 and had four sons, the first (Fred) born in November, 1886. I found it ironic that the family also had an orphaned boy (John Keenan) living with them here in Howard County in 1900.
Laura Gertude Cleary (1866-1929) married Edward Aloysius Benzinger on October 25th, 1887 at the Baltimore Basilica of the Assumption. According to a family tree posted on Ancestry.com, she would go on to have four children. Youngest sister Mary Grace is residing with the family.
I found a few mentions in local newspapers of Wilhelmina Maud Cleary (1869-1949) making return visits to Frederick to visit old friends (teachers/classmates). She married John Daniel Simering in 1889 and went on to have six children. The family lived in downtown Baltimore and later Elkridge.
Nothing definitive at all as it was just the hunch of a curious historian trying to find the parents of an "orphaned orphan" here in Mount Olivet. Like I said, it could be a clerical error in spelling with the right name being Clary. I will leave that research rabbit hole for someone else.
In the All Saints' History book, I found mention to an oral interview conducted with parishioner Nellie Effie Wenner. She actually lived at the orphanage 15 years after the death of Bertha Cleary, having suffered almost fatal burns at the age of five. Mrs. Shaw, born in 1908, lived at the orphanage for 15 years and discussed the duties assigned to the inhabitants of the home. She said:
You are never too little to work! The usual number of 15 girls attended Sunday School, followed by the 11 o'clock service, during which they sat "way up front" near Judge (Glenn) Worthington's family. Evening prayer saw them back in church again."
Many of the girls went into parishioners' homes as domestics or as personal maids until they could be on their own. Mrs. Shaw remembered women board members who took personal interest in the girls' welfare. Birthday parties were also thrown for the orphaned girls as well. An annual picnic was held for the children at the farm of Joseph D. Baker, namesake of Baker Park. These gestures helped instill a life-long dedication to All Saints' Church, and a desire to help others more needy than herself.
Nellie Wenner married Charles Henry Shaw and worked as a seamstress as an occupation. She would pass away in 2001 and is buried in Mount Olivet's Area MM, Lot 139. Here (Area MM) is where are buried many of those re-interred from the old All Saints' Graveyard including Governor Thomas Johnson, Jr. and parish standouts like Rev. Maurice D. Ashbury (1902-1996)
As far as the legacy of the All Saints' Orphanage, I return back to Mr. Helfenstine's history:
“In the mid-1940s, changing social conditions and theories brought to an end an All Saints’ institution that had perhaps been the most important outreach program of the parish for over 100 years. In April 1946, an announcement was made by the Board of Managers that the Episcopal Orphan House and Episcopal Free School Society of All Saints’ Church would be closing. Through the years, generations of women had given themselves to help “destitute female orphans,” and many board members were descendants of the first board women. Just as the opening of public schools brought to a close the Free School, so a new method of placing children in foster homes replaced the Orphan House. Special care was given to finding homes for the only two girls left in the orphanage, and on June 14, 1946, they made their farewells. In November, the building was sold for $20,000 to Drs. Tyson and Lansdale to be converted into apartments.”
A very memorable film came out in 1985, my senior year of high school. The name, The Breakfast Club, may have seemed a bit misleading, but the theme song, by British alternative rock band, Simple Minds, was quite infectious, and still is—“Don’t You (Forget About Me).” The movie centered on a unique situation to build a motion picture around as it captured the interaction between teenagers from different high school cliques spending a Saturday morning in school detention together. This took place under an authoritarian assistant principal serving as chaperone.
Producer/director John Hughes was responsible for so many great movies during the “Big Eighties” decade, including this comedy/drama in which one will find several lines that will stand the test of time. The one that I always remember came from Vice Principal Richard Vernon in which he threatened one of the students with the immortal stern warning: “Don't mess with the bull, young man. You'll get the horns.”
I recently fondly recalled my own father using this quote often on my brothers and I after seeing the movie. It somehow popped into my head as I rounded a bend near Area K in Mount Olivet while driving back to my office in the mausoleum complex. Within this minute section of the cemetery, on the northwestern corner adjacent Carrollton Street, I saw a good-sized gravestone with the name of Van Horn upon its lower face. Fittingly, for my Breakfast Club theme above, the marble marker in question featured a visual backdrop of a public school (Lincoln Elementary). My brain works in strange ways and how Van Horn could trigger a movie, and movie line, from 36 years ago I can’t exactly explain….but I’ve learned to live with my misgivings at this point.
I wasn’t familiar with this Van Horn surname so decided to investigate then and there. I parked nearby and got out of my Jeep to investigate a bit further. I found four names carved upon the front of the stone:
Benjamin F. Van Horn (1839-1898)
Elizabeth J. His Wife (1844-1915)
John F. Van Horn (1870-1920)
Bertha His Wife (1864-1921)
When I got back to my desk, I had that stupid line (“Don't mess with the bull, young man. You'll get the horns.”) running through my mind and conjuring up the scene from the movie. The theme song followed suit, so I put in my EarPods and played the Simple Minds classic while I actually did a search for the Van Horn lot in our computerized database. I kid you not, just a typical day working at an historic cemetery, right?
Immersed in 1980s nostalgia at the moment, I began thinking of my family’s first computers which I used as a kid—the Commodore Vic 20 and its much-improved successor, the Commodore 64.
Anyway, I was suddenly drawn back to the current day and noted that there were five persons interred in Area K/Lot 30. The four individuals named on the stone included Benjamin and his son John and their respective wives as the stone clearly states. In our interment records, an additional family member is buried here but his grave is unmarked. This is Benjamin Van Horn’s son James Henry (1875-1926).
So, I thought to myself, what the hell, let’s find out more on the Van Horns and see if they would have been the type of folks who would give, or receive, the proverbial “horns,” Vice Principal Vernon had proclaimed. I would soon find out that this family seemed as colorful as some of the cast of characters featured in The Breakfast Club, and two sons definitely led lives that would warrant Saturday morning detentions had that been a thing a century earlier back in the 1880s. They were reminiscent of actor Judd Nelson’s rebel John Bender.
Meet the Van Horns
Benjamin Franklin Van Horn was born in the year 1839, this date according to his gravestone and info found in our records. This became problematic for me because census records seemed to indicate that our head of family was born a bit later in 1843. The son of Benjamin and Ann Van Horn lived in Fairfax County, Virginia, where he would remain for several decades of life. In looking back at the Van Horn lineage, the family appear to have fittingly come to New Amsterdam (New York City) in the 1650s from Holland. They lived in Bergen County, New Jersey and moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania across the Delaware River. Our subject’s grandfather seems to be the one who moved to Northern Virginia, where Benjamin (Sr.) was born around the year 1810.
Benjamin’s father (Benjamin Sr.) was employed as a farm laborer, and he, himself, would follow in this line of work.
I couldn’t find a record of Civil War participation by young Benjamin as I thought there could be a strong possibility that he may have served for his native Virginia based on his age. Regardless, he and his family would certainly feel the perils of war in this part of the state, a stone’s throw from the site of two nearby battles at Manassas and the legendary Bull Run creek. (Note: the "Bull" connection)
Benjamin would marry his wife, the former Elizabeth J. Underwood, on December 10th, 1867. She too was from Fairfax, the daughter of farmers John and Elizabeth Underwood. I would also find that the couple were commonly known by the nicknames of Frank and Bessie.
In the 1870 census, I found the couple with first child Nancy (aka Nannie) who had been born in 1868. They were living in Dranesville, Virginia in Fairfax County near present-day Herndon and not far from Sterling. Frank continued working as a farm laborer over the next decade as more children would grow the Van Horn brood. By 1880, there were four additional sons: John Franklin (b. 1870), Robert William (b. 1873), James Henry (b.1875) and Samuel Tipton (b.1878). They were now living in southwestern Loudoun County at a place called Mercer, located near Aldie and west of US15.
Sometime in the Big Eighties of the 19th century, the Van Horns (or Vanhorns) relocated north of the Potomac River and in Frederick City. I can say with authority that they were here and living on Carroll Street by 1887. This was strictly a result of my discovery of the first mention of Van Horns in the local Frederick newspaper. I have to say that people make the papers all the time, but when the Van Horns made the news, you were usually entitled to something wildly evocative.
I continued to find small bits about the family in The Frederick Daily News. Mrs. Van Horn, perhaps reeling from more tom foolery propagated by her sons, was admitted to Frederick’s Montevue Home in 1890 for an undisclosed illness.
In April, 1895, son John F. had taken a job with the famed showman Pawnee Bill of Oklahoma. Also known as Gordon William Lillie, this gentleman had become a well-known American showman and performer under the stage name Pawnee Bill. He and wife May, a female marksman in the style of Annie Oakley, specialized in Wild West shows, including a short partnership with Maj. William F. Cody—Buffalo Bill.
The American frontier would soon come to Frederick in the form of Pawnee Bill’s Historic Wild West Show. His first local appearance was here at the Great Frederick Fair in 1888, but more engagements would follow in subsequent years. Joseph Walling, a nearby cemetery decedent only a short distance from the Van Horn’s Mount Olivet Area H/Lot 220 location, also worked for Pawnee Bill.
In 1894, the western entertainment hero began using Frederick as his official “Winter Quarters” for his animals and set backdrops, etc. The exact location was the farm of Samuel Hoke, just north of Frederick City at Ceresville.
Where Walling actually went on the road with Pawnee Bill’s traveling entourage entitled "Pawnee Bill’s Historical Wild West Indian Museum and Encampment Show," John F. Van Horn seemed to have a much shorter, and less desirable, adventure with the Wild West star.
A couple years later in 1897, it appeared quite clear that John’s restlessness quite possibly could have been remedied by a tour of the country with Pawnee Bill’s traveling show.
I find it interesting that no one in John Van Horn’s family offered to pay the fine of $5.85, thus causing the defendant to spend 30 days in jail. Sounds like he deserved “detention,” not to mention his own private “Frederick Breakfast Club.”
Although John would return safe back home eventually, a mortal blow (both literally and figuratively) was about to hit the Van Horn family shortly before the end of May, 1898. Benjamin Franklin Van Horn Jr. would have a bad experience with the railroad. I should clarify that it was a very, very bad experience. Unlike John’s situation of simply quitting a job, Mr. Van Horn died suddenly at the hands of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad down near the Monocacy Junction south of town.
I still find it odd how descriptive the newspapers were back then, often painting gruesome and ultra-realistic depictions of accidents and other tragic events. There was zero degree of sugar-coating, but I assume readers knew what to expect, and were seldom surprised by these graphic reports.
I also found irony in the fact that Frank Van Horn met his death along a curve of the railroad, while today he was laid to rest along a curve in the Mount Olivet roadway a mile to the northwest of where his accident occurred. Frank would be buried on the same day of his unfortunate meeting with fate—May 28th, 1898. As said earlier, Mr. Van Horn would be placed in Area K/Lot 30 of Mount Olivet.
Following Frank’s death, I found this family somewhat mysterious, but quite entertaining and interesting at the same time. By 1900, Elizabeth Van Horn was listed on the US census of that year as head of household and had all four sons living with her. I would eventually lose track of Mrs. Van Horn and could not find her in the 1910 census, as she was not residing with any of her children from what I could see. Elizabeth “Bessie” Van Horn would die in December 3rd, 1915 at the age of 71 and her obituary says that she had been confined at Springfield Hospital, state sanatorium located in Sykesville in Carroll County.
Interestingly, I found some eerie similarities in the lives of both sons that are buried with their parents in the Van Horn family plot within Mount Olivet’s Area K. John would get in trouble again, as I found the following clipping in the paper.
I did not find both John and James “Henry” in the 1910 census at first, and then I realized it was spelled Vanehorn. Both John and Henry can be found living at 463 W. South Street in a 1915 Frederick City Directory as well as the 1910 census record and I surmise this could have been the family residence for quite some time beforehand. John was married around 1900, and his wife Bertha was living with the two Van Horn brothers.
Brother James “Henry” never married but was no stranger to the law as also had some dust-ups with Frederick’s finest.
John F. Van Horn died at the age of 50 on December 10th, 1920. His death occurred why he was working on a farm on Carrollton Manor.
John’s wife, Betha, died in 1921. As for Henry, I found another news article in stark contrast to the graphic death of the one that told of his father’s demise 25 years earlier.
Three years later on August 25th, 1926, Henry was performing yard work for a local dentist named Bernard Martin Davis (1893-1981) on North Market Street who lived near the intersection with West 9th Street. Like his brother, Henry Van Horn would also expire while on the job.
James Henry Van Horn was buried in the Van Horn plot, but his name was not placed on stone, likely because there wasn’t any room left. I don’t know why another stone was not purchased, but perhaps it's due to the fact that Henry never married or had children. and the other siblings left the area. Sister Nancy G. (Van Horn) Hartsock had married William Hartsock and died less than eight months later on April 9th, 1921. Interestingly, her grave is also unmarked. The other Van Horn brothers never returned to Frederick: Samuel and his family moved to Somerset County, PA and Robert had moved to Baltimore.
Just recently, I flashbacked to a childhood memory in which my father had me retrieve a box of belongings from his youth from our attic. Among the contents was a yellowed/tanned roll of paper about two-feet wide and held intact by two rotting rubber bands. He excitingly had me unfurl this supposed relic of family history. We laid it out on the dining room table, using random canned vegetable containers (cans) to hold taut the four corners. When revealed, I saw a depiction of my GGG grandfather's headstone from a cemetery in Delaware City, Delaware. My dad went further in explaining to me that this "depiction" was called a grave-rubbing, and that he had made this with charcoal in the late 1940s with assistance from his mother. He simply placed the paper against the stone and rubbed the charcoal against the recessed inscriptions on the stone.
This truly sparked my imagination to what the real gravestone looked like in "living color" and in context to its surrounding of other graves within a small Presbyterian churchyard. I would get my chance the following summer in 1976, as my father would bring my brothers and I to the actual gravesite while on a trip to visit my grandmother in Delaware City. I guess you could call it my very first "Find-a-Grave" experience.
Grave rubbings seem to be a thing of the past, especially when you think of the ease in effort and instant gratification brought about through smartphone photography technology. Besides, when it comes to the fragile nature and safety necessary in approaching historic stones, taking pictures is certainly a better option.
Last week, our Friends of Mount Olivet membership group hosted an interesting event, a “Find-a-Grave Day” at the cemetery. Now, that said, I know what you’re probably thinking, as this seems like we are the proverbial “Masters of the Obvious” here at Mount Olivet by seemingly putting on an activity a toddler could take part in and followed by like, nearby offerings such as Find-a-Baseball Day at neighboring Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium and Find-a-Historic-Building, Find-a-Great Restaurant, or Find-a-Lily in Carroll Creek in Downtown Frederick.
I know genealogy is not for the faint of heart, but the internet innovations of Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.com, Fold3, and Newspapers.com have been godsends, allowing ease in time and effort in finding pertinent records and information. A giant in this field, and one that continues to grow stronger every day, is FindaGrave.com. Best of all, it’s absolutely free to all web users. This cyber-portal allows one to make a "virtual" visit to specific gravesites in a cemetery, anywhere in the world, as long as said graves have previously been documented by a Find a Grave volunteer.
Once here, the user can gaze upon the final resting place memorialized with a gravestone or plaque boasting the name of a long-lost ancestor. In some cases, you may also find obituaries, photos of decedent and links to other family members such as spouse, parents, children and siblings. The most important element, however, is that gravestone. And yes, there is an option to view the gravestone in a larger fashion.
The internet’s Wikipedia.com gives some historical background and particulars about the Find a Grave website:
“The site was created in 1995 by Salt Lake City resident Jim Tipton (born in Alma, Michigan) to support his hobby of visiting the burial sites of celebrities. He later added an online forum. Find a Grave was launched as a commercial entity in 1998, first as a trade name and then incorporated in 2000. The site later expanded to include graves of non-celebrities, in order to allow online visitors to pay respect to their deceased relatives or friends.
In 2013, Tipton sold Find a Grave to Ancestry.com, stating the genealogy company had "been linking and driving traffic to the site for several years. Burial information is a wonderful source for people researching their family history." In a September 30, 2013 press release, Ancestry.com officials said they would "launch a new mobile app, improve customer support, [and] introduce an enhanced edit system for submitting updates to memorials, foreign-language support, and other site improvements."
In March 2017, a beta website for a redesigned Find a Grave was launched at gravestage.com. Public feedback was overwhelmingly negative. Sometime between May 29 and July 10 of that year, the beta website was migrated to new findagrave.com, and a new front end for it was deployed at beta.findagrave.com. In November 2017, the new site became live and the old site was deprecated. On August 20, 2018, the original Find a Grave website was officially retired. As of May 2020, Find a Grave contained over 180 million burial records and 80 million photos.”
Now to get to the website, you can go “the long way” through a search on the international website in which you will have to enter state and county information. I always choose the more direct Google search engine method in which I go to Google.com and simply type in the following key words: findagrave Mount Olivet Cemetery Frederick MD. Voila, the Frederick Mount Olivet FindaGrave page and search engine comes up immediately and you can start plugging in names and vital dates.
I recommend that you simply type in the last name of a decedent and see how many with this particular surname come up in your completed search. You can also expect different variations on certain last names and keep in mind that if you don’t get the name exact in spelling or additional vital info, the search will likely come up empty. I’d simply type in the first three letters of a last name and see what happens in trickier cases.
You will see the number of memorials that have already been produced by volunteers all over the country, just for our cemetery. This number of photographs taken is mind-blowing as 75% of these have been documented visually on FindaGrave.com.
Here at the cemetery, we solemnly assume that in special cases of interments re-buried here from another former burying ground, we have the correct decedent, along with proper name and vital information. We have our own data system of burials to compare this info to, but have found at times that a Find a Grave volunteer may have made a mistake in his/her information about the decedent. And in other cases, we actually can add to our records the information a Find a Grave volunteer has included. In these latter cases, I have been assisted on many occasions in respect to my featured subjects in these "Stories in Stone" articles.
We had our Friends of Mount Olivet event to make our members aware of the Find a Grave site for several reasons. Yes, we want our friends to prosper in their pursuit of family genealogy and this is a great tool. But outside of personal use, we want to help others around the country and world in their virtual/online visits to Mount Olivet in search of family members and other notable gravesites.
So that brings us to our FOMO event last week, with a goal of assisting those hard-working volunteers who helped create our Mount Olivet presence. We actually scoured both our lot card records along with those of Find a Grave. We found plenty of names and decided to set our primary efforts in photographing statues and other special monuments in an effort we can remove or properly. We wanted to secure photos of memorial pages for friends, family or mere acquaintances. At current, there are 8,586 pages with no stone pictured.
Now mind you, some of our graves have no stones, but the typical user of the site does not know this fact unless it is included on the memorial page. This is easy for us to doublecheck against our lot interment cards. So with this data, we decided to zero in on Area B, a section that has had particular attention of late by one of my trusted research assistants, Marilyn Veek. She found nearly 200 photos needed for this part of the cemetery so participants were given decedent info and necessary grave locations to photograph. Afterward, we had all participants label their electronic image files and send to Marilyn for uploading to the Find a Grave site as she, along with another lead assistant of mine, Sylvia Sears, have been volunteers of Find a Grave for quite some time already.
While in Area B, I noticed one sizeable obelisk-style grave that I was curious in the fact that it had never been photographed for Find a Grave. It claimed the family name of Beck, and had an entry landing stone that read Osborn Beck (spelled unfortunately as Osburn), signifying the fact that this grave plot originally contained fencing or marble curbing. As I have stated in previous articles, lot boundary ornamentation of this kind was removed from most plots back in the early 1900s by the cemetery’s third superintendent Albert Routzahn who instituted a diligent mowing procedure with improved means-lawn mowers. He needed less obstacles for efficiency purposes for the staff and budget he possessed.
I became curious of Mr. Beck’s background, but didn’t find a great deal of information on him. He was born on June 17th, 1825, in the vicinity of Woodsboro from what I gather. I found a baptismal record of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Woodsboro from October 16th of that year which listed Osborn’s parents as Adam and Elizabeth Beck. I soon found that Elizabeth Beck was the former Elizabeth Gilbert as the couple had been married on April 15th, 1812.
This parental information led me to a Frederick County Equity Court record pertaining to Adam’s estate at the time of his death in May, 1847. He died intestate, leaving his wife and eight children (William, Ann (Shank), Harriet (Baker), Henry, Osborn, Ezra, James and Agnes, the last three being minors. The record stated that Mr. Beck possessed “Land - House and Lot #52 in Woodsborough with two-story log house and shop,” a place he had lived for 9-10 years before his death.
Adam Beck worked as a carpenter and son Osborn would follow his footsteps in the trade. Osborn worked alongside his father in the latter’s final years in the trade. I assume that he took over the business at his father’s passing as well. We can first find our subject by name in the 1850 US Census. Here, he is living in the Petersville area in southwestern Frederick County as a head of household which includes his wife, Rebecca, and newborn child, Laura V. (aged two months). Two other young men, both carpenters are living with Osborn at this residence.
Osborn had married Rebecca on March 31st, 1849. Ann Rebecca Gilds was born September 5th, 1824 and was a native of Adamstown, where her father, George, was the local shoemaker.
More children would come to the union: John F. P. Beck (1852-1934), Ida Elizabeth Beck (1856-1933), Fannie Olivia. Beck (1858-1941), and Emily Gertrude Beck (1861-1937). By 1860, the family was living closer to Rebecca’s family in the Carrollton Manor area on the east side of Catoctin Mountain. The Beck family can be found in Adamstown in the 1860 census. Osborn’s mother is living with the family as well.
The early 1860s must have been an interesting time for the Becks as they would lay witness to extensive Civil war activity in the area, including generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson leading their soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia up the old Buckeystown Pike toward Frederick in September, 1862. I could find no record of Osborn serving in the war, and son John was far too young.
I was amazed, however, to find an old article from 1917 in the Baltimore Sun newspaper in which Rebecca Beck took issue with our local Civil War heroine Barbara Fritchie. (This was published the day after her death).
Osborn embarked (a fitting term) on a lifetime of working with wood. Constructing houses, barns, furniture, I’m sure he lived by the famed motto I learned from my next door neighbor, a talented carpenter as well: “Measure twice, cut once.” Osborn doesn’t have much more written about him that I could find in old newspapers.
I found a brief business listing for Osborn Beck in the 1867-68 Maryland Gazetteer and Business Directory among the professionals to be found in Buckeystown. Also on this page was Adam Kohlenberg who served as postmaster and an Express agent, making him one of the best-known residents in the area. Coincidentally, Osborn’s first-born daughter, the previously mentioned Laura V. would marry Mr. Kohlenberg’s son, George Thomas. She too can be found buried in Mount Olivet in Area B/Lot 106 with her parents.
In the 1870 and 1880 census records we see the bulk of the family still intact and living together, save for the above-mentioned Laura. They remained in the Adamstown/Buckeystown area and of note, son John F. Beck is working as a telegraph operator.
I assume that John's sister’s father-in-law, Adam Kohlenberg could have had some influence here. Regardless, John F. P. Beck, also called “Pierce,” in younger days, would eventually marry in California and live out his life in the San Diego area. A memorial stone exists for him in the Beck grave plot here in Mount Olivet, but he is nowhere in our cemetery interment records. As the stone reads, he is buried in San Diego. By help from FindaGrave.com, I found two pages for this gentleman‑one for his memorial stone, and one for his actual gravesite in San Diego’s Greenwood Memorial Park.
From some business listings in the Catoctin Clarion newspaper of Thurmont, I learned that our subject, Osborn, also was involved in opening/closing of graves to go along with the fact that he made coffins. In 1891, he was at the top of the list of vendors for this service.
Osborn Beck, lived in Adamstown until his life’s end on October 21st, 1895. His obituary appeared in the October 22nd edition of the Frederick News. He was buried in Area B/Lot 106 the following day, joining his first born daughter who had been laid to rest here five years earlier in 1890.
I don’t know when the fine obelisk monument was placed, but Mrs. Beck would live until 1917. Two maiden Beck daughters (Emily and Fannie) are buried here also, Emily in 1937 and Fannie in 1941. Osborn’s remaining child, Ida E. Beck, would marry Richard Claude Dutrow and was interred here in Mount Olivet upon her death in 1933. Ironically, Ida’s grave had not been photographed for inclusion on her FindaGrave website page. That is, until now😊
Oh, and in case you were curious, I've got some family history documented in cyberspace. A definite upgrade from that grave-rubbing I saw as a kid.
I’ve been wanting to write about Henry Dorsey Etchison since having the opportunity to introduce students to this former Fredericktonian in a class I taught for Frederick Community College’s ILR (Institute for Learning in Retirement) program. That was back in 2017, and the class was entitled “Frederick’s Ties to the Wild West.”
Mr. Etchison’s gravesite can be found in a sizeable plot on Area R/Lot 31/32/33. I have been quite familiar with the family name in Frederick history, primarily being associated with a successful furniture and undertaking business that existed for years in the county. However, my subject, although directly related, had nothing to do with this endeavor. Over his lifetime, he would become one of the leading members of the Frederick Bar. Interestingly, he had a brief, yet historic, experience on the western frontier at the onset of his successful career. This adventure was connected to one of the chapters of our country’s history as it pertains to the concept of "Manifest Destiny."
Henry Dorsey Etchison was born in Frederick City on September 19th, 1867 the son of Henry N. and Mary E. (Louthan) Etchison. Henry Nelson Etchison was a descendant of one of the old families of Frederick County, born in Jefferson (MD) on December 16th, 1825. He was a successful merchant in Frederick City for 40 years and described as “highly esteemed by the men of his generation.” I found his business location and family quarters at today's 10 S. Market Street, a unique townhome mentioned by Frederick diarist in June 1879 when Mr. Etchison had a fourth story added.
Henry N. Etchison was married three times: first to Sarah Lingan (Boteler) who can be found in the family plot in Mount Olivet, having died in 1862 at only 31 years of age. Henry’s second wife (and mother of our subject), Mary E. (1840-1873), was the daughter of John Louthan (1804-1879), a descendant of one of the old Scotch families of Virginia, a slave holder, and prominent citizen of Clarke County, VA. A third wife would come in the personage of Hepzibah “Hepsie” Davis who long outlived her husband, dying in 1942. She is buried in Kemptown Methodist Church graveyard.
Henry Dorsey Etchison had an older step-sister and two step-brothers: Mary V. Etchison (Mussetter), Marshall Lingan Etchison (1851-1919) and William Hezakiah Boteler Etchison (b.1857-1914). Like his siblings, Henry attended the public schools of Frederick, and completed his preparatory studies at the Frederick Academy. He would pursue his college degree in Carlisle, Pennsylvania at Dickinson College.
An internet blog found back in 2017 on Dickinson College’s website offered the following narrative regarding the collegiate career of our subject:
Etchison took a scholastic track including English grammar, United States and Ancient History, Ancient Geography, Arithmetic, Latin, Greek, the classical works, French, German, Natural Science, Religion, and Ethics; however, Etchison himself was far from a model student. The Dickinson faculty ranked Etchison second to last in his graduating class. The faculty also mentioned him twice in the faculty minutes for deserving reprimands. The most significant episode involved a serious case of hazing a fellow student, surname Pomele. The faculty decided to suspend others involved for a month, though Etchison received only a signed reprimand. Etchison still graduated in three years with the class of 1887 with his Bachelor of Arts degree.
After graduation, H. Dorsey began his path to become a lawyer, and apprenticed under Charles Van Swearingen Levy (1844-1895), buried here in Mount Olivet in Area Q/Lot 133 only about 40 yards from his pupil’s final resting place in neighboring Area R. Etchison would pass the Maryland bar in the fall of 1889. His natural ability and knowledge made him a successful lawyer, and was fast-rising, prominent citizen of Frederick. However, his law career would not fully blossom immediately, as it was put on hold due to a very important assignment. In 1893, Mr. Etchison was appointed to a position in the land department under Hoke Smith, Secretary of the Interior during the administration of President Grover Cleveland. At the age of 26, Etchison became the land commissioner of the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma.
H. D. Etchison was stationed in Oklahoma, where he remained until January, 1895. The Cherokee Strip was originally owned by the Cherokee Indians. Because of their support of the Confederate Army, the Indians lost these lands to the Union at the end of the American Civil War. This strip of territory at the border of Oklahoma and Kansas was one of the last open pieces of land in the west.
The territory was officially opened for settlement on September 16th, 1893. After only one day, prospective settlers had filed over 10,000 claims on the 42,000 tracts of land. The opening of the strip began the Oklahoma Land Rush and facilitated the ultimate settling and development of the state. For a year, Etchison helped to handle the numerous claims and homestead ownership disputes of the fledgling state.
Many historians agree that the U.S. government’s procurement of the Cherokee Strip, and the selling of those lands, was another event within a long history of America’s abuse toward the Indians. Though the Cherokee Indians were paid some money for the Cherokee Strip, they were still largely forced to accept the Union’s terms of purchase. The tribe continued to pursue additional payment which was to come from the land rush’s land sale profits, however, the U.S. government responded that the Cherokee Indians had already been paid justly and thus refused to agree to any additional payment.
The following letter was written to the Frederick newspaper by H. Dorsey Etchison in Oklahoma in which he describes his mission with the Cherokee Strip
T. J. C. Williams’ History of Frederick County, Maryland (published in 1910) relays some more of Mr. Etchison’s life story in the biographical volume. We pick up after his work in Oklahoma.
Returning to Frederick County, Mr. Etchison resumed the practice of his profession in Frederick, where he has a large and lucrative practice. He is one of the leading members of the bar. His legal acumen, vigorous diction, and splendid delivery give him great power in summing up evidence before a jury. He is noted for the zeal and care with which he safeguards the interests of his clients. He is well-informed on all such subjects. His private library is one of the best in Frederick.
Mr. Etchison has never held an elective office. He was a candidate for nomination to Congress from the Sixth Congressional District of Maryland in 1910. From 1889 to 1897, he served as secretary of the Supervisors of Elections of Frederick County, and was a member of the Board for the reassessment of the property in Frederick City, in 1908.
Mr. Etchison is a member of Mountain City Lodge, No. 29, Knights of Pythia, of Frederick City, and has occupied all the chairs of the Order; of Frederick City Lodge No. 100, International Order of Odd Fellows, and has filled all the chairs in the offices of this lodge; of Francis Scott Key Council, O. U. A. M., No. 48, and has held all the offices of this Order; of Camp No. 79, Patriotic Sons of America; Chippewa Tribe, No. 19, I. O. R. M.; Camp No. 7710, Modern Woodmen of America; and Braddock Lodge, No. 1834, of the Modern Brotherhood of America.
You would assume that H. Dorsey Etchison was almost too busy for a private, home life. In the 1900 US census, he can be found living as a boarder in the Park Hotel once located at the SE corner of W. Church and Court streets. He took the plunge, however, marrying Miss Elizabeth Garvin Maize, of Williamsburg, PA on December 1st, 1903.
Twin sons would be born the following year but then H. Dorsey's good-fortune changed drastically with the loss of one of the boys (Henry M.) and his wife in fall, 1904. Elizabeth died November 8th, 1904, five days after her son, leaving H. Dorsey a widower in care of surviving son, George Johnson Etchison.
Mr. Etchison would marry again in 1908. This was to Miss Mary Helen Ward. They would welcome a son, James Milton, born in January, 1909. On May 25th, 1914, the Etchisons added a daughter, Mary Marshall to the family.
Tragedy struck our subject again in 1923, as Mary died from a rare case of septicemia. I was curious to learn more so I looked up its definition according to Healthline.com:
Septicemia is a serious bloodstream infection, also known as blood poisoning and occurs when a bacterial infection (elsewhere in the body, such as the lungs or skin) enters the bloodstream. This is dangerous because the bacteria and their toxins can be carried through the bloodstream to the entire body. Septicemia can quickly become life-threatening and must be treated in a hospital. If left untreated, septicemia can progress to sepsis. Septicemia and sepsis aren’t the same. Sepsis is a serious complication of septicemia which causes inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation can cause blood clots and block oxygen from reaching vital organs, resulting in organ failure.
A visitor on one of my recent walking tours of the cemetery told me that she had learned that Mary’s illness was the result of falling into a rose bush while playing near her home on Court Street. I could not confirm this story with the articles that appeared in the newspaper at the time, but an interesting aside, nonetheless.
H. Dorsey continued practicing law and was one of the most sought out men of the profession in town, usually involved in the leading cases of the day. All the while, Etchison stayed busy in church (Methodist), fraternal and civic activities. Two local projects of note in which he participated were the dedications of Memorial Park in 1924, and Baker Park in 1927.
H. Dorsey Etchison was well-traveled and was one of the early promoters of Frederick tourism. I found an article in an edition of the Frederick News-Post of 1932 in which he talked of the importance of Frederick utilizing such assets as natural beauty and historical figures of national importance. Barbara Fritchie. He is quoted in response to the beautiful landscape and recalled a visit from a true wild west hero in 1916. In was then that he accompanied the legendary Buffalo Bill on a local visit, and hosted him atop Braddock Mountain. It made me wonder if he had met Mr. Cody while working in Oklahoma back in the early 1890s?
In 1934, he lost a bid for Democratic state senator. He immediately took a break from his practice as he was appointed Frederick County’s Deputy Register of Wills. Following his four-year term with the county, he announced that he would resume his law practice in December, 1938. The following year would be his last.
After a multi-week sickness in the fall of 1939, H. Dorsey Etchison would pass on the morning of December 1st. His funeral was very well-attended as he was laid to rest in the Etchison family lot (D32/33) alongside the graves of his parents, siblings, wife Helen and daughter, Mary.
Son James Milton Etchison would be interred here in 2005, dying at the age of 96. His other son, the surviving twin, George, died in 1955 but is buried in Geeseytown Cemetery in Frankstown, Blair County, PA near Altoona.
“Bizarre, unrestrained, or extravagant, usually used to describe a style of personal journalism.” That is what one will find when they seek the definition of the word “gonzo.” I can’t help but to have the image in mind of the famous cast member of Jim Henson’s Muppet Show—Gonzo, also known as "The Great Gonzo" or "Gonzo the Great," is known for his eccentric passion for stunt performance. Aside from his trademark enthusiasm for performance art, another defining trait of Gonzo the muppet is the ambiguity of his species, which has become a running gag in the franchise.
Back to Gonzo journalism, this is a style that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter/author as the story’s protagonist using a first-person narrative and it draws its power from a combination of social critique and self-satire. Gonzo journalism disregards the “strictly-edited” product favored by newspaper media and strives for a more personal approach commonly using sarcasm, humor, exaggeration, and profanity.
The word "gonzo" is believed to have been first used in 1970 to describe an article about the Kentucky Derby by Hunter S. Thompson, who popularized the style. Mr. Thompson, a truly unique individual not all that different than Gonzo the muppet, may never have visited Frederick, Maryland during his lifetime (1937-2005), but certainly is linked through an affiliation with Flying Dog Beer, a popular craft offering brewed right here in the town of “clustered spires” since 2006.
Author Hunter S. Thompson lived a few blocks from beer founder George Stranahan's Flying Dog Ranch in Woody Creek, Colorado. The two became good friends over common interests in drinking and firearms. In 1990, Thompson introduced Stranahan to Ralph Steadman, who went on to create original artwork for Flying Dog's beer labels in 1995. His first label artwork was for the Road Dog Porter, a beer inspired and blessed by Thompson who wrote a short essay about it titled "Ale According to Hunter.” In 2005, the brewery created a new beer in Thompson's honor, Gonzo Imperial Porter.
One of the more peculiar surnames that I have seen in my exploration of Mount Olivet is Gonso, not quite Gonzo, but about as close as you can get. This piqued my curiosity, so I decided to explore the matter to find if this family could be described (according to the above-mentioned definition) as bizarre, unrestrained or perhaps extravagant? Although a long shot, could any of these folks be connected to journalism?
I found 17 individuals holding this family surname buried here. I was most interested in exploring the earliest of these to hopefully find the origin of the name. I didn’t have to look far as I recalled a Jacob Gonso who served in the War of 1812. We had placed a special marker on this gentleman’s grave as part of our “Home of the Brave” project in which the burial sites of 108 like vets of this oft-misunderstood war were recognized with monuments, flags and a luminary ceremony that took place September 13th/14th, 2014. This was the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Fort McHenry, a momentous event that caused our most famous resident, Francis Scott Key, to write the “Star-Spangled Banner.
Jacob Gonso served under Col. John Brengle in the 1st Regiment, Maryland Militia from August 25th to September 19th, 1814. He was among the 73 men hastily recruited by Brengle and Rev. David F. Schaeffer (1787-1837), then the acting minister of the town’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.
We can get a feel for the mood of the day from an account from our esteemed resident/diarist Jacob Engelbrecht, merely a teenager at the time. Engelbrecht’s description would not be recorded until 42 years later (June of 1856), but still provides documented proof of a unique happenstance involving Rev. Schaeffer:
“War of 1812. The following is the Muster Roll (copy) of Captain John Brengle’s Company of Volunteers, which Company was raised in four hours, by marching through the streets of Frederick, August 25, 1814, (the day after the Battle of Bladensburg, on which day we received the news) headed by Captain Brengle & by the side, with them, rode the Reverend David F. Schaeffer, encouraging the men to volunteer…”
Engelbrecht proceeded to name all the men who joined up that day, including a John Gonso listed immediately before Jacob Gonso’s name. This is certainly a relation, but was John a brother, cousin or possibly a father? We will answer that in a minute.
Brengle’s Company, with Privates Jacob and John Gonso in tow, fought bravely at the entrenchments of the Battle of North Point. The Battle of North Point was fought on September 12th, 1814, between Gen. John Stricker's Maryland Militia and a British force led by Major Gen. Robert Ross. History accounts say of the battle:
Although the Americans retreated, they were able to do so in good order having inflicted significant casualties on the British, killing one of the commanders of the invading force, significantly demoralizing the troops under his command and leaving some of his units lost among woods and swampy creeks, with others in confusion. This combination prompted British colonel Arthur Brooke to delay his advance against Baltimore, buying valuable time to properly prepare for the defense of the city as Stricker retreated back to the main defenses to bolster the existing force. The engagement was a part of the larger Battle of Baltimore, an American victory in the War of 1812.
Jacob, John and colleagues would receive a hero’s welcome back in Frederick on September 21st, 1814. Two centuries later, Mount Olivet Cemetery pulled together a volunteer group of its own to conduct research on local 1812 vets in order to place the special, commemorative monuments. Biographies were researched and written by Larry Bishop and Ron Pearcey, and these appear in a book titled Frederick’s Other City: War of 1812 Veterans. On page 54, one will find the scant offering on Jacob Gonzo with information pointing to the name also appearing as Ganzau and Gonze in past written records.
Jacob Gonso/Ganzau was born February 15th, 1795 in Maryland to parents who, at the time of the book's writing, were unknown to the authors. He was married at the age of 21 by Rev. David F. Schaeffer of the Lutheran Church in Frederick Town to Margaret Keller on September 5th, 1819. According to his obituary, Jacob Gonso died in Frederick on June 22nd, 1862 at the age of 67 years, 4 months and 7 days. Margaret was born about 1800 in Maryland, and died October 17th, 1867. She was laid to rest in Mount Olivet in Lot 52 of Area B. Jacob’s remains were removed from the Lutheran graveyard and placed beside her 27 days later.
According to the 1850 Census, Jacob was a machinist with $800 in value of real estate owned. He can be found living with his wife and two children, Mary and Matilda. Research conducted shows he owned the property located between Market Street and Middle Alley at 17 East Fifth Street from 1839 until his heirs sold it in 1866.
Jacob and Margaret Gonso had six known children: Ann Sophia Gonso (1820-1904) married John David Zieler; William Henry Gonso (1822-1865) married Louisa M. Stevens; Mary Elizabeth Gonso (1827-1893) married Isaac Philip Suman; Charlotte Keller Gonso (1831-1909) never married; Charles Jacob Gonso (1835-unknown); and Catherine Matilda Gonso (1839-1920) married William Amos Scott.
Interestingly, Jacob, Margaret and some of their children ( Charlotte K. Gonso, Catherine M. (Gonso) Scott, and Charles J. Gonso (unmarked)) are buried in the Scott Family plot in Area B. Daughters Ann Sophia (Gonso) Zeiler and Mary Elizabeth (Gonso) Suman are buried nearby. A few other immediate family members can be found in Rocky Springs Graveyard, in the northern reaches of the city.
I did locate Jacob in the census records dating back to 1820. The name was transcribed and spelled various ways which helped thwart easy efforts to obtain positive results via Ancestry.com.
I didn’t find much in the local newspapers throughout his lifetime, save for a few mentions and his obituary appearing in 1862. As said earlier, Jacob Engelbrecht mentioned Jacob in his diary as being an active participant in the War of 1812.
When searching real estate, my assistant Marilyn Veek didn't find any property owned by Jacob Gonzo before 1839. However, she did find that a George Gontzo owned the east half of lot 134 located between East 3rd and East 4th streets from 1798 until his heirs sold it in 1830. This turned out to be Jacob’s father, complete with a different variation on Gonso, but incorporating the “z” as discussed earlier.
From this important find, the 1830 deed, George’s heirs are revealed as John Gontzo and Mary his wife, Eve (Gonso) Kieffer and husband Peter, Jacob Gontzo and Margaret his wife, Charlotte Keller, Mary Gontzo and Susannah Gontzo.
Back to Engelbrecht’s diary, one can find a few early references to the name Gantsau/Ganzau which is one in the same with Gontzo and Gonso. In 1823, a three-month-old child of John Ganzau would be buried in the Evangelical German Reformed graveyard—today’s Memorial Park located at the intersection of North Bentz and West Second streets.
On February 4th, 1828, Engelbrecht wrote: “Died this morning in the year of her age, Mrs. Ganzau (of East Third Street). Buried on the German Reformed graveyard.“
Mrs. Charlotte Keller, widow of Charles Keller and daughter of the late Mrs. Gantzau married Abijah Shepherd in 1835. Four years later, on February 17th, 1839, Engelbrecht penned the following:
“Died yesterday in the 51st year of his age Mr. John Gantzau near Wormans Mill. Buried on the German Reformed graveyard today.”
Using this information, I next went to Ancestry.com and began combing through user posted family trees. I eventually found that of George Gantzach (1754-unknown death after 1807), and also spelled "Gantzaug." Marilyn found his will (written in 1807) and filed under the name "George Gantzank."
George is said to have been born in Hofgeismar, Kassel, Germany and arrived in America in 1775 as a Hessian mercenary soldier fighting for the British. He was supposedly captured at the Battle of Yorktown (VA), and was sent to Frederick and imprisoned at the Hessian Barracks that stand a few blocks north of Mount Olivet’s main gate.
George Gantzach would marry a woman named Margaretha (b. 1772) and had the following children: John (1789-1839), George (1792-?); Charlotte (Gonso) Sheppard (1795-1838), Eve (Gonso) Kieffer (1795-1859), Jacob (1795-1862), Susannah/Susan (1798-1886) and Mary (1800-1860).
I was very familiar with the gravestone of youngest daughter Mary Gonso as I drive directly past her stone every workday. It’s located on the main drive through the center of the cemetery and stands nearly five-foot tall. This white, marble stone in Area D reads “In Memory of Mary Gonso—Died May 2nd, 1860 Aged 59 Years, 7 Months and 15 Days.”
I’ve often wondered about this woman as she has a substantial stone, but is the only person buried in this plot. I would soon learn that she was never married or have children of her own. I could not find her in any census records surprisingly. Once again, we had to glean info about her from land deeds of all things.
In 1846, Mary Gonso bought the property that is now 237-239 East Church Street. She would leave it to her niece, Ann Cecelia (Gonso) Carlin, wife of hotel owner Frank B. Carlin, in her will of 1860. The property was still owned by Ann Carlin when she died in 1916, and it was sold to Gilmore Flautt in 1917. The tax records estimate a construction date of 1905, so Ann probably built the double house there.
Outside of that, she remains somewhat of a mystery. She is buried in Area D/Lot 15. Mary Gonso's will includes the following language about her burial instructions:
"I will and direct that my Executor purchase a Lot in Mount Olivet Cematary (sic) Company, and inter my body therein, and enclose the same, with Substantial Iron Railing and Erect Suitable Tomb Stones, such as I have directed him, at the charge of my Estate.
I will and direct that One Hundred Dollars of my weekly deposits in the Fredericktown Savings Institution shall be reserved, and I do devise, & bequeath the dividends as they accrue, thereon, to be paid to the Mount Olivet Cematary (sic) Company, and such dividends be applied to keeping my lot which my Executor shall purchase, in good repair and properly attended to."
In Mary's will, a provision was made for her estate to pay a surviving sibling a stipend of $18/year. I found an obituary and burial for this same woman, Jacob and Mary's older sister, Susan (Susannah) Gonso (1798-March 12th, 1886). Living until 1886, Susan would be the last surviving member from George Gantzach's immediate family. I could not find her, however, in our cemetery records. No tombstone exists either as no one stepped forward to do so, she having no children of her own. Susan would most likely have been buried in either Mary or Jacob's lots.
Two other family members of note need to be brought up before we close out the article. William Henry Gonso, Jr. is buried in the Area B lot with his grandparents (Jacob and Margaret) and various aunts and uncles. He is the closest link to "Gonzo journalism" as he apparently worked for a short time at the Frederick Examiner newspaper. This is purely a stretch on my part because this man's talent was not in writing, but more blue-collar on the actual printing and fabrication side. He eventually moved to Baltimore, where he worked as a printer and also followed in the trade footsteps of his father (William Henry Gonso, Sr.) as a shoemaker.
One other persons of note was Rev. Harry Christian Gonso, DDS (1892-1984). The great-great grandson of George Gantzach, great-grandson of Jacob Gonso, grandson of William Henry Gonso, Sr., and son of John Frederick Gonso can be found in Area L, Lot 132. His father worked as a blacksmith in the Yellow Springs area and lived at High Knob, now part of Gambrill State Park. The Rev. learned his father's trade at a young age, and used the images of "fire and brimstone" for saving souls on his future path as an evangelistic minister. It sure seems like something someone with a name close to gonzo should do.
Well, one thing is for sure, the Gonsos, great or not, sure made a name for themselves in Frederick, Maryland dating back to George's incarceration here in the early 1780s. The anglicisation of names such as Gantzach is just one more thing that makes genealogy research so interesting, not to mention, bizarre, unrestrained, extravagant and just plain difficult at times.
Well, you may think an author has run out of good topics when he or she turns to one that connects his subject’s success and demise to guano—the excrement of seabirds and bats. As a manure, guano is an effective fertilizer due to its exceptionally high content of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium: all key nutrients for plant growth. My promise to you is this, please read on as this “Story in Stone” is certainly “worth a crap” as the old expression goes.
Alexander Joseph Norris’ gravestone sits in Mount Olivet’s Area H, Lot 495 not far from the cemetery’s northwest boundary and Confederate Row. It certainly stands out from the majority of other gray and white monuments in this part of the cemetery, but not due to height or exquisite design or sculpture, but rather stone composition.
The monument’s composition is known as Kershaw Pink Granite and the colorful hue gives this one away. It is one of a handful of its kind in Mount Olivet, quarried at Georgia Stone Industries at Kershaw Granite in Lancaster County, South Carolina. This is the same quarry that supplied about 50,000 tons of granite to form half the World War II Memorial in Washington DC, dedicated back in 2004.
The Norris grave monument also features the name of Alexander’s wife, Frederika Henshaw Norris. A fascinating aspect of this stone is that not only are there vital dates given for both decedents, but there are birth and death locations.
Mr. Norris was born in Veracruz, Costa Rico in 1864, or so says the tombstone. I would later see references to him being born in Veracruz, Mexico—not to mention the fact that it should be Costa Rica, not Rico if it was indeed in that location outside Mexico. The stone also says that he died in Miraflores, Peru, which is a district within Lima. With these worldly destinations, I bet you would be hard-pressed to find this combination of birth/death place for anywhere else.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Frederika Norris’ hand-carved grave information boasts locations less exotic. As a matter of fact, her birth and death occurred at the same place—her family’s country estate of Moreland, located just east of Pleasant View/Doubs and south of Adamstown, a few miles south of Frederick City.
The Maryland Trust’s architectural survey file says of this property:
Moreland is an agricultural complex centered on a two-story brick house built between about 1856 and 1861 with Renaissance Revival trim, which was substantially altered in the 1950s. The house was built possibly by Benoni Lamar between 1856 and 1858 or by John White about 1861. Lamar was killed by lightning on the farm, perhaps on the porch of the brick house, in June 1858, leaving his family in debt. John White bought the farm as the result of the Lamar heirs' default and established a large plantation with many slaves and a well-to-do domestic lifestyle.
Although a search for Mr. Lamar here in the cemetery turned up fruitless, I did find John Wailes White (b. June 5th, 1819 and d. April 4th, 1898) and wife Sarah Attillia White (b. February 7th, 1825-June 21st, 1909) are buried in Area H/Lot 497 just a few yards from their granddaughter, the fore-mentioned Frederika Norris. While I'm at it, I think this woman is possibly even named for our fair city and county as I have also seen her moniker spelled "Fredericka" in various records.
Regardless, Frederika’s parents are also here: mother Amelia Gertrude White (daughter of John and Attillia), and father Capt. Henry Clay Henshaw. Gertrude was born September 28th, 1846 at Locust Hill in Baltimore. Her husband was a Washington, DC native who served in the American Civil War as Chief Engineer of the United States Revenue Cutter Service. (Decades later this would morph into the US Coast Guard).
Captain Henshaw was born on September 25th, 1840 and died March 13th, 1903. An interesting tidbit I gleaned while stumbling over this family member is that he had a stepsister who played a prominent role in Frederick’s history. I’m talking about a lady named E.D.E.N. Southworth, the top-selling female novelist of the 19th century.
Miss Southworth lived in Georgetown and was an ardent abolitionist. In July, 1863, she wrote two known letters to a prominent, fellow abolitionist—the Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier of Amesbury, Massachusetts. In these letters, Ms. Southworth recounted a tale “meant for Whittier’s pen” about a feisty nonagenarian of Frederick, Maryland who defied Gen. Stonewall Jackson and the Confederate Army by proudly waving her flag out her second-story dormer window in September, 1862. You guessed it, Southworth was the principal source for our beloved Barbara Fritchie poem, a piece of prose that “literally” put Frederick, Maryland on the proverbial map.
Capt. Henshaw seems to have lived an adventurous life which I learned from finding his obituary which appeared in local papers in March, 1903. I was also fortunate to have found a photograph of him and his wife via the www.FindaGrave.com website.
So, by now you’re probably asking yourself, “That’s great Chris, but what’s the poop on this Alexander Norris guy.” Well, it has to do with Mr. Norris’ profession as a civil engineer, a job that took him to various places around the world. In fact, as a native of Veracruz, Mexico, he had already been well-traveled before reaching adulthood because of a transient childhood dictated by the profession of his father, Henry DeButts Norris (1831-1898), also a civil engineer, and highly respected. Henry was a Virginian of deep stock from Marshall in Fauquier County. Alexander’s mother, Edna Bach, was from New Orleans, Louisiana and became the mother of eight children, of which our subject was the third oldest.
According to Ancestry.com family tree information, Henry’s family lived in Virginia, Havana, (Cuba), Veracruz (Mexico), Costa Rica, Louisiana and wound back up in Fauquier County, VA by 1880.
In 1882, Alexander was attending the Shenandoah Valley Academy in Winchester, VA. Four years later, he would graduate from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute located in Rensselaer, New York after entering in 1884. Without aid of the 1890 census, it can be assumed that Mr. Norris could have been anywhere. I found that he was in Peru from 1890-1893. We at least know his whereabouts on November 7th, 1893, because it was on this day that he married Frederika Henshaw at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Adamstown. By the space given in the local newspaper, it appears to have been the social event of the year around these parts.
In 1897, Alexander was working in Central America, and more specifically Nicaragua, for the Nicaragua Canal Commission. The proposed canal here would never be built as plans were scrapped in favor of building a canal in Panama instead. This surely precipitated a return back home for the talented engineer and planner.
The Norris family would expand rapidly over the next few years. Three children would be born to Alexander and Frederika, the first two of which at the familial home of Moreland in Adamstown. The 1900 census shows Alexander and Frederika here with son Henry Stuart Norris, born November 21st, 1899.
Gertrude Henshaw Norris (b. May 13th, 1902) and Benjamin White Norris (b. April 15th, 1907) would follow. Gertrude was born in Adamstown, but Benjamin was born in Lima, Peru signaling that the family was living there at the time. They had indeed moved to the South American country in 1906.
This all makes complete sense to me now, especially due to what I discovered about Alexander’s employer, the Peruvian Corporation of London (England) A Wikipedia page for the firm states:
The Peruvian Corporation of London was registered under the Companies Act in London in March, 1890. The company was formed with the purpose of canceling Peru's external debt and to release its government from loans it had taken out through bondholders at three times (in 1869, 1870, 1872), in order to finance the construction of railways. The main purpose of the incorporation included acquiring the rights and undertaking the liabilities of bondholders.
After winning independence from Spain in 1826, Peru was financially strapped. Over the decades financial problems worsened, and Peru needed money. In 1865 then 1866, bonds were issued that were retired with new bonds in 1869. More bonds were issued in 1870 but the 1869 bonds were not addressed. New bonds were again issued in 1872 and again previous bonds were not addressed.
A major problem, that would take many years to resolve, was that the rich guano deposits were used as security on all the bonds. Peru struggled to make bond interest payments but on December 18th, 1875, Peru defaulted. The War of the Pacific (1879–1883) made matters far worse for the country and its creditors, and by 1889 something had to be done about the situation.
In London, a group formed the Peruvian Corporation (of London) to try to resolve the issues and recoup invested money. The objectives of the company were extensive. They included the acquisition of real or personal property in Peru or elsewhere, dealing in land, produce, and property of all kinds, constructing and managing railways, roads, and telegraphs, and carrying on the business usually carried on by railway companies, canal companies, and telegraph companies. It also was involved in constructing and managing docks and harbors, ships, mines, beds of nitrates, managing the State domains, and acting as agents of the Peruvian Government.
The Peruvian Corporation took over the depreciated bonds of the Peruvian Government on the condition that the government-owned railroads and the guano exportation be under their control for a period of years. The bonds were exchanged for stock in the Peruvian Corporation. William Davies, of Argentina and Peru, ran the Peruvian Corporation for W.R. Grace and Company. The corporation later surrendered the bonds to the Peruvian Government in exchange for the following concessions: the use for 66 years of all the railroad properties of the Peruvian Government, most important of which were the Southern Railway of Peru and the Central Railway of Peru; assignment of the guano existing in Peruvian territory, especially on certain adjacent islands, up to the amount of 2,000,000 tons; certain other claims on guano deposits, especially in the Lobos and other islands; 33 annual payments by the Peruvian Government, each of $400,000.
In 1907, this arrangement was modified by an extension of the leases of the railways from 1956 to 1973, by a reduction in the number of annual payments from 33 to 30, and by a further agreement on the part of the Peruvian Corporation to construct certain railroad extensions to Cusco and to Huancayo.
I would later learn (through Alexander's obituary) that Henry DeButts Norris worked here for W. R. Grace so why wouldn't a son of the same profession be brought into the fold? Enter our Alexander Joseph Norris of Adamstown to help engineer, design and build said new railroad extensions, in part to move more guano and people, as part of the Central Railway of Peru. He would serve as a stationary engineer and hold the title of Chief of Construction. As if this wasn't impressive work unto itself, I would learn that this railroad would hold the distinction of being one of the highest elevation rail lines in the world.
In 1910, it appears that the Norris’ traveled to London in what was likely a business meeting with his superiors. I found a record pertaining to his return trip through New York City’s Ellis Island. I found an article in the Frederick paper saying that Mrs. Norris sailed to London and met her husband there. After a brief stay, they planned to travel extensively together through Europe before making their way back home to the US.
Over the next few years, there are only brief mentions of return visits to Frederick by Norris family members.
Mr. Norris had returned to Peru in January, 1915 after spending the previous fall in Maryland in which he had the opportunity to see his family and friends and stay through the Christmas holidays.
That abruptly, and sadly, brings us to the end of our story, or should I say Alexander’s tragic end? The year was 1918. Peru's trade opportunities with the outside world were severely hampered by the constant threat of shipping risk of exports to Europe against the backdrop of World War II.
I was surprised to find government paperwork online that helped tell the story of Alexander’s demise. The guano didn't do him in, but the circumstances of building railroads in a South American country for our subjects to help transport the stuff was certainly an extenuating factor. Actually, our engineer suffered a sudden death due to Peritonitis, generalized after a perforation of the stomach. Since I’m no medical guy, I decided to learn more about this malady which is caused by the fore-mentioned perforation of the intestinal tract thanks to a variety of things including pancreatitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, a stomach ulcer, cirrhosis of the liver, or a ruptured appendix. As stated on the tombstone and death report, Alexander died in Miraflores, a district within Lima.
Mr. Norris’ body was laid to rest at Bellavista, a British Cemetery of Callao, Peru—a cemetery used exclusively for burials of members of the British community in Peru. It has since been used for other expatriate nationalities.
Due to health regulations, Alexander J. Norris’ body had to stay buried in Peru for at least two years before being exhumed and shipped back home stateside. It would eventually be brought back to Frederick and reburied in Mount Olivet’s Area H/Lot 495.
Mrs. Frederika “Freddie” Norris would die a few years later and be laid at her husband’s side. I'm not quite sure when this monument was erected over the grave, but likely not until Frederika's death, and perhaps years later.
As for the Norris’ children, Henry Stuart Norris went to Princeton and would make a career out of being an engineer of heating and boiler supplies and lived most of his working life in New York before retirement in Pennsylvania (d. 1977). Amelia Gertrude Norris Green lived most of her adult life in the vicinity of Washington, DC, dying in 1998 in Arlington, VA. Benjamin White Norris, the child born in Peru who lost his father at age eight, would die a hero’s death in World War II at the Battle of Midway. Military aviator Ben Norris was awarded a posthumous Navy Cross for his actions in the battle:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Benjamin White Norris (0-4382), Major, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession while serving as Division Commander and a Pilot in Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron TWO HUNDRED FORTY-ONE (VMSB-241), Marine Air Group TWENTY-TWO (MAG-22), Naval Air Station, Midway, during operations of the U.S. Naval and Marine Forces against the invading Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. Leading a determined attack against an enemy battleship, Major Norris, in the face of tremendous anti-aircraft fire and fierce fighter opposition, contributed to the infliction of severe damage upon the vessel. During the evening of the same day, despite exhaustive fatigue and unfavorable flying conditions, he led eleven planes from his squadron in a search-attack mission against a Japanese aircraft carrier reported burning about two hundred miles off Midway Islands. Since he failed to return with his squadron and is reported as missing in action, there can be no doubt, under conditions attendant to the Battle of Midway, that he gave up his life in the service of his country. His cool courage and inspiring devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Benjamin White Norris’ remains were never found, but he is memorialized in “the Courts of the Missing” of the Honolulu Memorial is located within the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in an extinct volcano near the center of Honolulu, Hawaii.
To read more, here is a link to Ben Norris’ Military Hall of fame webpage: https://militaryhallofhonor.com/honoree-record.php?id=98946
It’s Memorial Day once again—a very special day for Mount Olivet Cemetery not unlike national, state and private memorial grounds throughout the country and world that are the silent keepers of men and women who gave their lives in protecting us and our United States of America. The same holds true for small town graveyards and ancient rural churchyards that may hold only one, or a handful of former veterans who died as a result of warfare or military duty.
The American holiday, originally called “Decoration Day,” originated in the years following the Civil War and would not become an official federal holiday until 1971. It is observed on the last Monday of May, and its purpose is to honor the men and women who died while serving in the US military.
In the chaotic and commercial world in which we live today, many simply see Memorial Day as the unofficial kickoff to summer, paving the way for much-anticipated outdoor activities such as picnics, swimming, games, camping and beach and Disney vacations. Thankfully, commemorative activities such as flag-plantings on veteran graves, wreath-layings on war monuments, military-themed parades and veteran recognition programming keep reminding us of the real reason we have Memorial Day.
Regardless of where your mind and heart are at this Memorial Day, the adoration for those lost in past service-related situations, and the annual seasonal “rite-of-passage” both take on heightened purpose and meaning this year as we emerge from local, state and federal restrictions regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year, most related Memorial Day activities were canceled and scrapped. Among these was the annual program by our local Francis Scott Key Post 11 of the American Legion. Although the group faithfully planted flags in advance, this was the first time their service at Mount Olivet was missed since its very first held a century earlier on May 29th, 1920.
The 100th anniversary of that very event was missed of course in May, 2020, but I was fortunate to have been invited to participate as a program speaker in Post 11’s centenary ceremony held on Memorial Day, 2019. It was a beautiful day, and I had the unique opportunity to call out veterans buried here who were connected to nearly every major military conflict our country has participated in. As we see things getting “back to normal,” we can look fondly toward next Monday, May 31st at 12 noon, as the Legion will return to Mount Olivet to hold their annual observance ceremony at the base of the Francis Scott Key Monument, located just within our front gate off Frederick’s South Market Street.
I have a pretty good idea of how Memorial Day 2021 will shape up, and I must say, it doesn’t have far to go to easily out-perform last year’s Memorial Day chock-full of cancellations, safety restrictions, and social justice protests and rioting on both mainstream and social media. However, the sentiment for our fallen heroes should be the same, pandemic or not. That said, I became curious as to the mood here locally back a century ago, in 1921, for the second “official” Memorial Day observance here in Frederick in respect to a “renewed” focus on Memorial Day, mostly driven by newly-formed veterans groups such as our local Legion Post. These came about as a result of World War I which had ended on November 11th, 1918, better known as Armistice Day, and in time this date would serve as Veterans Day.
Fredericktonians and countians had recognized Decoration/Memorial Day since the 1860s in originally commemorating Civil War dead. Groups such as the Grand Army of the Republic and the United Daughters of the Confederacy kept the spirit alive. However, in the late teens and early 1920s, newspapers advocated for commemorations of those killed in The Great War (World War I). By Memorial Day 1921, the tradition was solidly on its way, and would embrace service men and women who had perished in the line of duty. I went back to the Frederick newspapers of late May, 1921, and here is what I found on the Memorial Day docket.
Memorial Day, 1921 took place on May 30th under the leadership of Post Commander William M. Storm and Adjutant Irving M. Landauer. Both these gentleman were veterans of World War I, and have Mount Olivet as their final resting place along with over 4,000 service men and women. Landauer would serve as Post Commander a decade later from 1931-1932.
We have done a great deal of research work in the last few years regarding our World War I veterans buried in the cemetery, numbering over 600. If you haven’t done so already, please check out the memorial pages for these men and women on www.MountOlivetVets.com . As said earlier, the veneration paid to the WWI vets back in the years immediately following “the Great War” would continue to swell. It grew exponentially with the occurrence of World War II and 20th century conflicts thereafter.
Speaking of World War II, I’ve written several articles on some of the fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen that can be found buried beneath our World War II monument in Area EE. This lasting tribute was dedicated on Memorial Day 1948. Instead of rehashing that history lesson, I thought I would briefly talk about three other individuals who lost their lives in active duty during World War II, but were laid to rest in other areas of Mount Olivet.
Charles D. Kemp
Private Charles Daniel Kemp was born in New Midway in northeastern Frederick County on April 28th, 1922. He is buried on Area MM/Lot 119. Our records show that he served with Company A of the 5307th Composite Regiment of the US Infantry and was the first Frederick resident to be reported killed in the Burma Theater of World War II. The son of Charles Franklin Washington Kemp and Lucy Alice Barrett (Hildebrand) was known also by the name of “Buttercup.”
I wasn’t familiar with this part of the war, so I consulted some online resources to learn more.
The Burma campaign was a series of battles fought in the British colony of Burma. It was part of the South-East Asian theatre of World War II and primarily involved forces of the Allies; the British Empire and the Republic of China, with support from the United States. They faced against the invading forces of Imperial Japan, who were supported by the Thai Phayap Army, as well as two collaborationist independence movements and armies, the first being the Burma Independence Army, which spearheaded the initial attacks against the country. Puppet states were established in the conquered areas and territories were annexed, while the international Allied force in British India launched several failed offensives.
During the later 1944 offensive into India and subsequent Allied recapture of Burma, the Indian National Army, led by revolutionary Subhas C. Bose and his "Free India", were also fighting together with Japan. British Empire forces peaked at around 1,000,000 land and air forces, and were drawn primarily from British India, with British Army forces (equivalent to eight regular infantry divisions and six tank regiments), 100,000 East and West African colonial troops, and smaller numbers of land and air forces from several other Dominions and Colonies.
The campaign had a number of notable features. The geographical characteristics of the region meant that weather, disease and terrain had a major effect on operations. The lack of transport infrastructure placed an emphasis on military engineering and air transport to move and supply troops, and evacuate wounded. The campaign was also politically complex, with the British, the United States and the Chinese all having different strategic priorities.
Charles was a member of the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional Army), also known as Merrill's Marauders. Merrill’s Marauders (named after Frank Merrill) or Unit Galahad was a United States Army long range penetration special operations jungle warfare unit, which fought in the South-East Asian Theater of World War II, or China-Burma-India Theater. The unit became famous for its deep-penetration missions behind Japanese lines, often engaging Japanese forces superior in number.
Private Kemp lost his life on July 30th, 1944. He was only 22. His obituary soon appeared in the local newspaper.
Moore and Nogle
We have two other veterans who perished in the European Theater of war in the same town of Saint-Lô, France. I am familiar with this town as I had visited back in 2001 as part of a World War II Battlefield tour of Normandy with my father. (My grandfather was in the war and we went with many members of his division). The action in Saint-Lô between Allied forces and the Germans occurred in July (1944), roughly a month after D-Day, June 6th.
The Battle of Saint-Lô is one of the three conflicts in "the battle of the hedgerows," which took place between July 7th and 19th, 1944, just before Operation Cobra. Saint-Lô had fallen to Germany in 1940, and, after the Invasion of Normandy, the Americans targeted the city, as it served as a strategic crossroads. American bombardments caused heavy damage (up to 95% of the city was destroyed) and a high number of casualties.
The first of these two casualties of Saint-Lô is buried in Mount Olivet's Area Q/Lot 246, only steps from two immortal Frederick patriots in Civil War heroine Barbara Fritchie and Revolutionary War hero, Gov. Thomas Johnson, Jr. His name is Ira Leslie Moore.
Moore was born on January 22nd, 1918, in Frederick, the son of Ira Vernal Moore and Pansy Cecelia Carlin, Mr. Moore’s second wife. He lived on East South Street, only a few blocks from Charles Daniel Kemp. He worked for the Frederick News-Post as a printer at the time of his enlistment.
Ira eventually held the rank of T/5 in the Army and was part of a medical detachment. For a little background on this curious designation, I did a some additional research:
Technician fifth grade (abbreviated as T/5, TEC5 or TEC-5) was a United States Army technician rank during World War II. The grades of Technician in the third, fourth and fifth grades were added by War Department on the 8th of January 1942 per Army Regulation 600-35. An update issued on the 4th September 1942, added a letter "T" to the rank insignia.
Those who held this rank were addressed as corporal, though were often called a "tech corporal". Technicians possessed specialized skills that were rewarded with a higher pay grade, but had no command authority. The pay grade number corresponded with the technician's rank. T/5 was under the pay grade 5, along with corporal. Technicians were easily distinguished by the "T" imprinted on the standard chevron design for that pay grade.
The technician ranks were removed from the U.S. Army rank system in 1948, though the concept was brought back with the specialist ranks in 1955.
T/5 was as high as our subject would rise by early summer 1944. Ira Leslie Moore would first be reported missing in action. A week later, newspaper reports confirmed that he had died on July 11th, 1944.
A second victim of the action at Saint-Lô, France was Staff Sergeant Harry Arthur Nogle, son of William Arthur Nogle and Pauline Elizabeth Kline. Nogle was born on June 26th, 1915. I could not find him living with his parents in the 1920, 1930 or 1940 US Census records. Harry was instead living with an uncle and aunt and I'm guessing that they actually raised him into adulthood.
In the years leading up to the war, Harry was employed by his uncle, Edward Bentz, as a clerk in Mr. Bentz's rug store. This was located on E. Patrick Street in downtown Frederick. Nogle would become a member of one of the war's most celebrated units, the 29th Division.
The 29th Infantry Division, also known as the "Blue and Gray Division," is an infantry division of the United States Army based in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. It is currently a formation of the US Army National Guard and contains units from Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia.
Formed in 1917, the division deployed to France as a part of the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. Called up for service again in World War II, the division's 116th Regiment, attached to the First Infantry Division, was in the first wave of troops ashore during Operation Neptune, the landings in Normandy, France. It supported a special Ranger unit tasked with clearing strong points at Omaha Beach. The rest of the 29th Infantry Division came ashore later, then advanced to Saint-Lô, and eventually through France and into Germany.
S/Sgt Nogle would make it as far as Saint-Lô, but thus ended his war experience and life.
As I have said again and again with these “Stories in Stone” articles, the typical visitors to Frederick’s Mount Olivet Cemetery are awestruck to see the vast sea of grave monuments present here on our 90-acre footprint. This collection of former Frederick Countians and others is comprised of over 40,000 interments joined by eight miles of roadway.
One generally sees nothing but names, numbers and dashes carved into the faces of granite and marble. The first two elements (names and dates) are pretty straight-forward. However, the dashes represent what is most important, yet are usually often shrouded in mystery unless you make the effort to “dig deeper.” It’s probably not the best expression to use when talking about a cemetery, but think about all the stones that fail to get recognized by the visitor on a typical sojourn?
On days like Memorial Day, Veterans Day and now, Wreaths Across America Day in mid-December, one just needs to look for the flaglets marking the graves of over 4,000 service men and women buried within our special “museum without walls” to garner a small part of “the dash.”
If you have the interest and time, please go further in discovering more of the dash. Find out who these individuals were, where they lived, what their occupation was, and what constituted their military experience. If you are a relative or family friend and already know the answers to these questions, please make the effort to reach out to me and the staff of Mount Olivet, because we want to learn more about those we are tasked to keep care over. Our goal is to have this important vital information as part of our cemetery’s archival repository. The same goes for photographs as well, as it is always great to “put a face with a name,” and more so, “to put a face with a monument.”
So with Memorial Day, 2021, let’s appreciate the opportunity to experience it fully once again, and keep sacred the thoughts of those who made the greatest sacrifice to preserve our freedoms. The three servicemen highlighted here in this story may have participated in those early Frederick Memorial Day exercises of the Roaring 20s, and “Great Depression” years of the 1930s. They had the opportunity to think about the concept and construct of Memorial Day up through its occurrence in late May 1944. However, all three would die two months later, thus ending their ability to do so ever again. We must carry the torch for them, as we have the chance to do so, one that was abruptly taken from them as they became part of the greater Memorial of "Memorial Day," themselves.
Many thanks to groups such as the Legion, VFW, Amvets, Daughters of the American Revolution and others for their continued commemorative efforts.
From my time here at Mount Olivet, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of the loyal "Stories in Stone" readers through the Friends of Mount Olivet membership group or from interactions in the office. For those of you who have not met me yet, my name is Katelyn Klukosky, and I am currently a senior studying History and Nonprofit and Civic Engagement at Hood College. For my major, I decided to fulfill the internship requirement by spending my time here at Mount Olivet Cemetery this semester, and I have enjoyed every part of it. Fortunately, I will be continuing my learning experience at Mount Olivet next fall semester. What a great way to complete my undergraduate degree!
If you are a Frederick native, or have heard of Hood College, there is a good chance that you know a thing or two about Margaret Scholl Hood. A couple years ago, Chris (Haugh) wrote about this woman in one of these “Stories in Stone,” so we thought that it would be interesting to find out more about her immediate family, specifically her husband and who provided her with the money (and a four-letter surname) to fuel her philanthropic ventures. We thought that this would be a great story for me write as a guest writer since I am connected to the college as well as Mount Olivet at this time.
In most history books and articles referring to Margaret, James Mifflin Hood is primarily mentioned as her husband and nothing more. This is truly ironic because, at the time of their lives and decades afterwards, it was more common for women to be defined by their husbands. From the 17th through 19th centuries, many cemeteries exhibit this standard through gravestones in which wives were commonly labeled as either a “consort” or “relict” to their husbands. A consort refers to a spouse that dies before the other. Although a man could be labeled a consort as well, a woman was more likely to receive such a label due to cultural norms assigning a lesser status to females in respect to males. According to Webster’s Dictionary, a relict refers to "a widow or a spouse that outlives the other and does not remarry." In this case, Margaret would be the relict of James after his death. Regardless of the term, women were often defined by their marital status instead of individual identities.
In the case of Margaret S. Hood, she was able to turn this "patriarchal standard" of spouses on its head—so fitting for the namesake of one of the country’s first institutions for higher learning/education for women. Margaret was a successful and prominent woman who, instead, posthumously defines her husband’s legacy. That being said, I hope to bring to light the life of James Mifflin Hood, and to redefine his label as “consort” to his wife.
Since Margaret Hood is more well-known than James Hood, there are relatively very few accounts that go into vast detail about this individual's life. Fortunately for us, and him, Margaret had a hand in adding her husband's life story to the local biographical record as she paid to have James Mifflin Hood included with the areas other leading “men of mark” in T.J.C. Williams’ History of Frederick County, published in 1910.
The following is basically what we know of him due to that publication, specifically pages 1400-1401:
"James Mifflin Hood, deceased, for many years one of the most enterprising and progressive businessmen of Frederick County, was a native of Baltimore, Md., where he was born March 22, 1821, and died April 3, 1894. He was a son of James and Elizabeth (Mifflin) Hood. James Hood was a native of England, and after coming to this country resided in Baltimore, Md. He was married to Elizabeth Mifflin, a descendant of General Thomas Mifflin, president of the Supreme Executive Council and Governor of Pennsylvania.
James Mifflin Hood spent his boyhood on the shores of Chesapeake Bay. He received his education in the public schools, and was an apt scholar, his taste for literature becoming even more pronounced in after life. Early in life he removed to Frederick, where he became interested in the manufacture of vehicles, and was for many years the head of the firm of Hane & Hood, located in South Market street. This firm met with success and won a foremost position in its own special branch of trade, ranking for years as one of the leading houses of its kind in the East. Mr. Hood during the time that he was at the head of this enterprise directed its affairs with an ability, foresight and sagacity that stamped him as a man of huge executive capacity. To his forceful personality was due much of the prosperity and prestige attained by his firm, and he became widely prominent in manufacturing circles as one of the ablest and most representative men identified with that branch of industry. Honorable in all his dealings and a man whose business methods were characterized by the highest principles, he commanded the respect and confidence of business and financial circles generally.
Mr. Hood, however, did not confine his energies to the vehicle trade, but was always ready to render whatever assistance he could in promoting any new industry or enterprise that would be of good to the community. The firm of Hane & Hood employed a large number of men and possessed an excellent trade.
In 1885, Mr. Hood retired from active business life. He was the owner of a fine farm, situated one and a half miles from Frederick City, where he was accustomed to spend the summer months. In the winter he and his family resided in Frederick.”
“Mr. Hood in politics was a supporter of Democratic principles. Although often urged by his friends to allow his name to be used for some candidacy, he steadfastly refused, as he was never desirous of holding public office. During the Civil War he was in sympathy with the Union. He was devoted to his home, never cared to belong to secret societies, and found his chief happiness with his family and books. He was allied in a religious way with the Reformed Church of Frederick, and he was liberal in his charities, doing whatever he could for every one and aiding every worthy purpose that appealed to his sympathies. He was a gentleman of high mental qualities of charming personality, endowed with moral worth of an unusual order, his life proving one of untarnished honor and his memory remaining fragrant in the minds and hearts of those who knew him best.”
When one thinks about James’ married life, they visualize Margaret as his sole wife. However, this is not the case. Chances are that a good number of people had no prior knowledge of a former marriage involving Mr. Hood. We learn more as T.J.C. Williams’ biography continues:
“In early manhood, Mr. Hood was married first to Sarah Ann Boggs, of Philadelphia [on April 7, 1846]. She was a Quaker lady, and the daughter of a wealthy and prominent merchant, who was the owner of several ships. He was also an importer of china and kindred wares, and was the possessor of a large and remunerative trade.”
The only other information that I could find from Miss Bogg’s “early” life is that she was born on 1824 and living with James on West Patrick Street in Frederick in the 1860 census.
In 1869 at the young age of 41, Sarah Boggs unexpectedly died from unknown causes.
"After the death of his first wife, Mr. Hood was married second, October 21, 1873, to Margaret Elizabeth Scholl, daughter of Daniel and Maria Susan (Thomas) Scholl. Mrs. James Mifflin Hood was born on July 7,1833 and grew to womanhood in Frederick County. She received many educational advantages, and attended the Frederick Female Seminary, now known as the Women's College. She is a lady of thorough education and culture. She has traveled extensively, both in this and various countries of Europe.
She is a liberal benefactor to all benevolent and charitable organizations and a liberal but unostentatious helper of many deserving persons. In honor of her revered father, Mrs. Hood endowed an observatory for Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa., at a cost of $10,000. In 1897, she gave to the Women's College, her alma mater, the sum of $20,000 as an endowment fund in memory of her husband, James Mifflin Hood, and in addition to the above generous gift has contributed in various ways for the benefit of the college $5,000 since. Recently she has contributed liberally to the Frederick City Hospital, and erected both wings of the institution.
In all of the above bodies, Mrs. Hood exercises a potent influence and is a predominating spirit. From the number and size of her contributions, it is easily seen that she is a sincere friend of education and the needy and unfortunate. Mrs. Hood is an active and consistent member of the Reformed Church, to which she is also a liberal contributor.”
It is clear to see that Mrs. Hood took the opportunity here to "toot her own horn" in this biography attempting to memorialize her consort.
James life story ends in 1894, a victim of paralysis, but this is where his connection with Mount Olivet begins, although it seems to have happened earlier with the burial of first wife, Sarah, here at the time of her death. The biography in Williams' history concludes as follows:
“His useful and active life was brought to a close, April 3, 1894, his demise evoking genuine regret among all who knew and admired him. He was laid to rest in beautiful Mount Olivet Cemetery.“
Margaret became James' relict and widower. She inherited her late husband's assets which fueled her philanthropic mission to give back to the city she knew and loved all her life. A year after Margaret’s passing on January 12th, 1913, the Women’s College changed their official name to Hood College to celebrate her contributions to the college.
Located in Area E/Lots 144 & 155, the Scholl-Hood family plot is one of the many grand masterpieces here at Mount Olivet Cemetery. Just in passing, one can tell of the prominence held by this family here in Frederick.
The original owner of this plot was Margaret’s father, Daniel Scholl. Beside him is buried his wife Maria, and behind lies James and wives Sarah and Margaret. These are modest, individual stones, however there is also a large memorial monument to James and Margaret styled in the fashion of an ancient sarcophagus.
It is very interesting that the Scholl family decided to bury Sarah right next to James in this grave plot. Sarah had died in 1869, three years before James had married Margaret (in 1872). Typically, first wives and second wives are not found in the same grave plot—particularly one owned by the second wife’s family. According to the cemetery lot card, this was not the case as James was buried in proximity to both women. Interestingly, Margaret’s father, Daniel, also played a pivotal role. Mr. Scholl arranged for Sarah to be buried at Mount Olivet with the Scholl family. There must have been a prior connection between the Scholls and Hoods (James and Sarah) before the death of Sarah. One possible explanation is that they were related, or somehow knew each other due to their status or business dealings in Frederick. Unfortunately, Chris and I were not able to find concrete evidence of their interactions.
It is unfortunate that Sarah’s life is defined solely as being James Hood’s first wife, which made her fall under the purest definition of a consort. She was quickly overshadowed by James’ second marriage to the seemingly more prominent Margaret Scholl. This may be a mere case of "chicken or the egg" because Sarah's family seems to have been as successful or more so than the Scholls.
Interestingly, Margaret developed a special relationship with the children of James' brother, John Hood, living in Baltimore. These were John, James, Thomas, William, Harry and Sallie Hood. The latter, Sallie would appear to be the daughter that Margaret never had. The college benefactress is mentioned in Sallies' wedding announcement in the local papers and years later, it would be Sallie who would be Margaret's caretaker in her final days. Her five Hood nephews would serve as pallbearers at Mrs. Hood's funeral in Mount Olivet on January 15, 1913.
And then there is James. Although not as well-known as Margaret today, he did live a significant life, one that impacted the city of Frederick and the people around him. From the “tongue in cheek” words of Chris Haugh, "Isn't it interesting to keep in mind that it is actually James’ family name that honors the college? If not for him, we’d have no Hood College." If so, would my diploma read Scholl College at the top, instead of Hood? It's a great school regardless, thanks to both of you, James and Margaret!
(Author's Note: the earlier referenced "Story in Stone" about Margaret S. Hood can be found by clicking the link below:
Three years ago this week, we (unknowingly) hosted a very interesting visitor here at Mount Olivet Cemetery. It led to arguably my favorite FaceBook post yet on our company site—one which garnered well over 300 likes!
I was lucky to have been tipped off by a friend with news of “the burly intruder” on that particular night of May 1st (2018). She sent me a few photos (above and below) that had been posted by one of her friends on an Instagram account. Apparently, this "Instagrammer" had simply come to the cemetery earlier that night to make a casual visit to her father’s grave here. To her great surprise, she spotted our four-legged “tombstone-tourist” not far from the graves of Frederick luminaries Thomas Johnson and Barbara Fritchie.
I, myself, had just missed seeing the bear as I had left work for the evening and passed by this very spot about 20 minutes earlier. Looking back, I marvel at the fact that more folks didn’t encounter “said bear” considering all the walkers, runners and cyclists we have in here each evening. Regardless the story of our special friend did not end here. For those who remember this episode, the baby black bear captivated both mainstream and social media, not to mention the hearts and minds of Fredericktonians.
Facebook included constant reports of appearances our fugitive was making throughout Downtown Frederick, eventually winding up near the West 7th Street ramps to US15, then over to Selwyn Farms apartments near Fairview Avenue and N. 9th Street. This is the vicinity of North Frederick Elementary School, where the building would be actually placed on Lockdown Mode because of a bear.
Back to my Facebook post for a second, I quipped about there being others with the name Bear, Bare and Baer being buried here. Most common is the name Baer, of which I reported that we have 96 interments with this certain moniker here in Mount Olivet. Of these 96, a very impressive monument belongs to Jacob Shellman Baer in Area G/Lot 40. Here in this plot atop Cemetery Hill, one can find 16 Baers.
Jacob Shellman Baer was born on May 22nd, 1783 in Frederick County, a son of Dr. Henry David Baer (1758-1848) and wife Elizabeth Shellman (1759-1829). His great-grandfather (Heinrich Baer) came to this country from Hausen near Zurich, Switzerland and settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Jacob’s grandfather (George) came to Maryland and settled in the Middletown area shortly before Jacob’s birth.
Jacob followed in the footsteps of his father, a physician, who is buried down the hill from his grave in Area H/Lot 5. Jacob’s mother is also buried here as both were buried elsewhere and re-interred here in Mount Olivet in 1877.
Our subject attended the University of Pennsylvania where he received his medical degree in 1808. He became a surgeon’s mate to the 16th Regiment of Western Maryland Troops at the Battle of North Point in September of 1814.
I was disappointed to find that we overlooked him in honoring our collective group of over 100 veterans of the War of 1812 found here in Mount Olivet, and among those that gave inspiration to Francis Scott Key in their brave defense of Baltimore in September, 1814. He appears to have been active in veteran affairs throughout his life.
That said, we do have a special 1812 veteran marker on the grave of Jacob’s brother, Professor William Baer (1788-1866), who is also buried in Area H down the hill from his brother. This gentleman has an interesting story as he was a noted chemist and lecturer, who was declared in his obituary in 1866 as having been “one of the best practical chemists in the country. In Agricultural Chemistry he was, perhaps, the most intelligent man in the United States.”
I was able to find newspaper advertisements for Dr. Baer offering his services to the Frederick community as early as 1811 at in the first block of W. Patrick street in Frederick Town as it was still known back then. This would be a time of great time of personal strife for the young physician as he would lose his young bride, Charlotte Elizabeth Chenowith, not even having the opportunity to celebrate his first wedding anniversary. She and the couple's infant died in childbirth. Charlotte was only 19.
Dr. Baer would marry again in early January 1813. This was Elizabeth Worthington (1787-1865), the daughter of Caleb Dorsey, Esq. of Anne Arundel County. Two years later, the couple would name their first daughter Charlotte in honor of his first wife.
For more than 57 years, Dr. Jacob Baer practiced medicine in the city of Frederick and in his hometown of Middletown. Dr. Baer was a vice president of the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland from 1848 to 1851. He served as president of this organization from 1855 to 1856.
The Medical Annals of Maryland 1799-1899 includes a biography on Dr. Jacob Baer. The entire work was prepared for the centennial of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty by a gentleman named Eugene Fauntleroy Cordell, M.D. (Baltimore, 1903). A passage found on page 132 states:
“Dr. Jacob S. Baer, of Frederick (on whose motion the semi-annual meeting at Easton in November, 1853, had been held, in order to rouse the profession of the State to stand up for its rights), again came forward as the champion of justice by moving that the committee be instructed to proceed to institute such proceedings to recover the chartered rights of the Faculty as should be deemed necessary and that an assessment should be made for the necessary expenses. This motion was carried on a division vote, showing that there was strong opposition. The election of Dr. Baer a day or two later, however, indicates that the part he took in the matter had not estranged from him a majority of the Society.”
Jacob’s younger brother, Michael Shellman Baer, also practiced medicine and rose to great heights in his profession as well. Born in 1795, Michael graduated from the University of Maryland in 1818. He was an “Attending Physician of the Baltimore General Dispensary,” 1822-1826, and also was a “Vaccine Physician” in 1824 and a member of the Baltimore City Council from 1830-31.
Michael would also serve as President of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland from 1852-53. He died in Baltimore on June 8th, 1854, and I assume is buried there as well, because he is not here in Mount Olivet.
A Divided Den
Back in 1994, I was working for Frederick Cablevision/GS Communications and busily writing and producing a documentary on Frederick City’s history in advance of the town’s 250th anniversary celebration. This project would eventually air on our local Cable Channel 10 in September of 1995. In my endeavors, I was fortunate to make the friendship of a charming lady of “the old school of manner and grace.” Her name was Elizabeth Tyson Musser (1911-2000), or “Libby” as most knew her.
Mrs. Musser was kind enough to share many stories of her life and friends in Frederick, and that of her ancestors as she lived in the historic home of her great grandparents, Jacob Baer Tyson (1842-1926) and wife Amelia Mann (1846-1913). This Jacob (1842-1926) was named for our subject as his mother, Elizabeth Worthington Dorsey Baer (1814-1886), was the daughter of our Dr. Jacob Baer. He was a successful fertilizer merchant in a firm founded by his father Jonathan Tyson back in 1842, with headquarters on S. Carroll Street. Jacob Tyson also served as a member of Mount Olivet’s Board of Directors.
The Tysons lasting legacy is the iconic, Italianate-style house that can be found at 101 E. Church Street just beyond Maxwell Alley. It was built in 1854 and shares many design qualities with its twin directly across the street which was built for Col. Charles E. Trail (now home to Keeney and Basford Funeral Home.)
Mrs. Musser shared with me some amazing family letters that were in her possession that pertained to Dr. Jacob Baer. She introduced me to this family of doctors, saying that all three shared a joint practice at one point in town, and I believe this to have been near the bend in W. Patrick Street.
I first learned about the Baers in connection with an interesting episode pertaining to Civil War history from a pair of my history mentors, Paul and Rita Gordon, who helped me incredibly with my Frederick Town documentary project. It involved a prime example of the pitting of “brother vs. brother” during the four-year conflict which almost tore our country apart. The Gordons would write about this in their 1994 book entitled Frederick County Maryland Playground of the Civil War. In the chapter A House Divided, (pgs. 206-208), one will find the following story:
The father (Jacob) and his son, Caleb, disagreed over the right of states to withdraw from the Union and form a confederacy. Politics sharply divided the family with a third son, Charles Jacob, siding with his father. When duty called, (father) Jacob became a surgeon in the Potomac Home Brigade, USA, while Caleb became a surgeon in the 4th Brigade of Forrest’s Division, CSA.
Dr. Jacob Baer was influential in the local war effort as he achieved leadership positions for conventions representing his cohorts in Frederick city and county. As mentioned earlier, Jacob was made surgeon of the Brengle Home Guards, which melded into the Potomac Home Brigade.
Caleb helped to establish a number of military hospitals, including Polk Hospital, near Helena, Arkansas. On July 28, 1863, he wrote his wife Priscilla, about a battle that had occurred, and described his unit’s casualties: 150 killed and 400 wounded. He wrote about the withering rifle shot and artillery shells “cutting off trees and limbs, tearing holes in the ground large enough to bury a horse.” He wrote about the wounded he treated: “what stoicism, the men saw the knife pass through their flesh or stood the wrench and forces of the bullet forceps.”
Caleb had written to a sister living in Baltimore, three weeks previously, that he lamented the division between himself and his father. He noted that he had received only two letters from his family in two years. He wrote:
“…but the differences between my father and myself prevented correspondence before hostilities commenced…father would never blush for his son as a surgeon tho’ he may for his rebel proclivities…Truly I am tired of blood, for two years, my knife has scarcely been idle and altho’ when I took pleasure in surgery, I have had my fill.”
Caleb told his sister to thank his mother for sending clothing and other items to his wife, noting she was badly in need of the items. He indicated his wife “struggles on against poverty and privation with the spirit of a woman of whom I am, proud.”
A letter dated August 31, 1863, from Dr. Andrew N. Kincannon, who served with Caleb, was addressed to Priscilla. It informed her of the death of her husband on August 30th at 4 PM, after a painful illness of two weeks. His death was due to the illness and “a disease of the heart.” Apparently, Dr. Baer had known about his heart condition.
Kincannon, who also operated on Baer at the end, wrote: “He had many warm and true friends in the army who will very much regret his loss.” At the bottom of the letter was penned a note that a lock of Caleb’s hair was enclosed.
His body would not be returned home and buried until 1866. Our cemetery records shed light on the reason:
Caleb Dorsey Worthington Baer: Confederate soldier with Field & Staff of 2nd Missouri Inf., 8th Div. Died at Polk Hospital, Helena, Arkansas, while serving as senior surgeon in the 4th Brig Forrest Div. He was originally buried in Missouri, and according to the Frederick paper dated Feb. 6, 1866, he was reinterred here early Feb. 1866. While his Soldier History states he enlisted as a surgeon and served in Field & Staff of the 2nd Missouri Infantry. His Detailed Soldier History states he enlisted as a surgeon, served in 2nd Reg't. Inf., 8th Division, Missouri State Guard.
The chasm between father and son existed unto the grave. Yet Jacob Baer and his two sons are buried in the same plot in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick. Furthermore, Priscilla must have been taken into the family’s fold. The tea set was not sold and remains in Mrs. Musser’s possession.
As for Caleb’s father, Dr. Jacob Baer, he would die a year after the war’s end on April 10th, 1866. He would join his wife and son, along with other children who had not reached maturity up on Cemetery Hill.
As for Dr. Baer's other son, Charles Jacob Baer, he was a native of Frederick City, born on August 8th, 1823. He received his education at the Frederick Academy and followed this with studies at Baltimore City College and St. John’s College. He received his medical doctorate from the University of Maryland in 1845 and served as a Vaccine Physician at Middletown.
During the Civil War, Charles served as the Examining Surgeon of his Congressional District. In fact, he participated in action at the nearby Battle of South Mountain and attended to a downed colonel from Ohio who had been shot just south of Fox’s Gap on September 14th, 1862. He saved this man’s life, allowing the lucky patient to reach greater heights after a lengthy recovery begun in Middletown. This was none other than future US President, Rutherford B. Hayes.
Dr. Charles J. Baer continued to practice for 27 years and later spent his retirement in agriculture in Roanoake County, VA, where he eventually died of spine paralysis on April 30th, 1888. He was buried here in Mount Olivet on May 2nd.
It is certainly worth noting that the earlier mentioned daughter Charlotte, along with Dr. Jacob Baer's second daughter, Sallie Ann, are buried in this plot along with two other children who died in infancy. Our records state that Sallie Ann Baer was unmarried at the time of her death in 1879, and had amassed a great estate estimated between $50-$60,000.
Well that's enough for now, as their are still other family members of note that I will tell you about on another day. Thanks for sticking with me to the end, as I know this particular story was a lot to bare, after I lured you into my history trap with a few alluring photos at the onset!
Back in 2007, I made the acquaintance of a historical writer and genealogist named Alice L. Luckhardt of Stuart, Florida. I met Alice via the internet as I was conducting research for a presentation that I was invited to give for the Frederick Master Docent Series (sponsored by the Frederick County Historic Sites Consortium). My topic was “Myth-busting and Frederick History,” and I had a variety of Frederick stories in mind such as John Hanson as first POTUS, George Washington’s alleged headquarters on W. All Saints’ Street and the legendary Snallygaster of the Middletown Valley. Above all these, however, my headliner would be exploration into the famed Barbara Fritchie-Stonewall Jackson incident on W. Patrick Street during the American Civil War.
The Ballad of Barbara Frietchie, a poem, written by a Quaker poet from Massachusetts (and published a year later in October of 1863) would give posthumous fame to the former Frederick resident. However, with all the success this work would garner, including a great shot in the arm for Frederick tourism, more questions than answers would come due to the fact that this monumental event had no legitimate eye-witnesses. That’s right, no one could vouch for “Ms. F.” actually waving a flag out of her second-story dormer window at the Confederate Army on September 10th, 1862. Many saw her wave a flag at the Union soldiers marching by her house the following day, but that was not nearly as daring a deed as the one John Greenleaf Whittier recorded for posterity with his poem.
Through my intensive research of the event between 2007-2012, I carefully explored other “Barbara Fritchies” in our midst—patriotic women here in Frederick (city and county) during that turbulent test to our union of states. I found other former female residents who should hold like-fame to that of Barbara’s through their displays of bravery in exhibiting Yankee pride. These included Mary Quantrill, a woman who lived less than two blocks west of Barbara Fritchie and Carroll Creek on W. Patrick Street; Nannie (Nancy Crouse) Bennett, the famed “Valley Maid” of Middletown and star of a poem written by Thomas Chalmers Harbaugh; and another whose moniker has never graced local history books as a legitimate heroine for the Northern cause—Susan (Smith) Groff.
Perhaps the reason why I had never heard of this Woodsboro native is that she was clearly overshadowed by her husband, Captain Joseph Groff, who was larger than life, and a true character in the sense of the word. Mr. Groff was a local businessman and Union officer assigned to the 1st Maryland Infantry Regiment, Potomac Home Brigade. During the Civil War, Mrs. Groff ran the couple’s hotel located in the 400 block of N. Market Street in Frederick City. Known as the Groff Hotel, it would take the name of the Arlington House in the early 1900s, and later the Hotel Frederick.
I was first introduced to the Groffs by pure accident in 2007 through an eBay auction of all things. While searching for collectibles pertaining to Frederick history, I saw an item advertised as a Civil War era newspaper featuring an account of a patriotic lady from Frederick, Maryland. It was dated October 22nd, 1862 and reported a noteworthy event during the recent Maryland campaign. I immediately clicked to view this vintage paper item, thinking that it had a connection to Barbara Fritchie, or perhaps Mary Quantrill, the 38-year-old schoolteacher and fellow flag-waver, who lived up the street from the feisty nonagenarian. This edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer would not have the mention of either woman’s name, and one more, Nancy Crouse for that matter.
To my surprise, I quickly learned that the lady being heralded by this Philadelphia newspaper account was Susan (Smith) Groff (not Groffy as the paper inadvertently reads). She acted in a patriotic fashion by hiding rifles in a well on her property, as not to allow them to fall into the hands of the invading Rebel army under Gen. Robert E. Lee. This contingent of the Army of Northern Virginia would spend nearly a week in town in early September before moving westward and engaging Union troops in heated battle at South Mountain (September 14th, 1862) and Antietam (September 17th, 1862).
This was the only newspaper article that appeared during the fall of 1862 pertaining to any of the four patriotic women of note (including Dame Fritchie). The Groffs are best remembered for the large Victorian guest house/hotel built on the northwest corner of N. Market and Seventh Street in 1884. This building would become the first home of WFMD in the next century and was later razed in March, 1973 to make way for a parking lot.
Susan Groff was born Susan Christina Smith on March 11th, 1828 in nearby Woodsboro. She was the daughter of John Smith and Susan Ebert and married Joseph Groff on January 1st, 1852. The couple took up residence in Walkersville for a short time afterwards.
This is where the fore-mentioned Alice Luckhardt comes into the story as she aided me greatly with the backstory on Susan’s husband, Captain Joseph Groff. I learned that Mr. Groff was born in New London near Lancaster (PA) in 1822, and came to Frederick as a young man, perhaps attracted by shipping opportunities with the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. He had married Rebecca Beichtel on October 28th, 1842 in Hollidaysburg, Blair County, Pennsylvania. They moved to Harper's Ferry, (VA) in 1844 and had two children, William Shelton and Rebecca. Joseph’s wife died August 1850, precipitating him to relocate to Frederick County's Woodsboro where he would meet his second wife.
Joseph and Susan were the parents of several children including David, Jennie, John, Fannie, Ida, Minnie, Nannie, Josie and Charles. David and John are buried here in Mount Olivet and were the focus of two of my earlier “Stories in Stone” articles.
By 1858, the Groffs were living in Philadelphia where they ran a hotel and kept a stockyard, and another stock room of Groffs was apparently located in western Virginia at Parkersburg.
The spring of 1861 saw the Groff family back in Frederick, primarily because Virginia had seceded from the Union. The Groffs opened a store here which sold various goods at public auction. They later turned this venture into a hotel located on the west side of Market Street between 3rd and 4th streets known later as the Arlington Hotel and Hotel Frederick (today the site of another parking lot and formerly that of Carmack-Jays grocery store).
The Groffs are said to have been ardent Unionists and Mr. Groff and his sons participated in the famed “war between the states.“ The previously mentioned Alice L. Luckhardt wrote a story about her great, great grandfather (Joseph) for the June/July 2007 edition of History Magazine. The article was entitled “The Defiant Flag Waver,” and depicts Captain Groff involved in Frederick City’s first recorded flag-related incident of the four-year conflict. In the Spring of 1861, Joseph Groff reportedly placed his 20-ft long Union flag over N. Market Street for all to see, attaching one end to his business establishment on one side of the street and the other to an adjacent building across the street. Joseph Groff explains the situation in a memoir written later for the Grand Army of the Republic:
“When I came to Frederick from Philadelphia in 1861, I brought with me a large U.S. flag which I strung across the street from my storeroom, which was at what is now the Groff House. It caused much excitement and the secessionists secured a Mr. Poffinberger to come to town to take it down, and to thrash me also. When I heard of it, I stopped upon the pavement and said that if any man took that flag he would have me to whip first, and if that man came in to do it, I would meet him –he never came.”
Joseph Groff must have made a good impression on his fellow residents, as he would soon be showcasing his love of flag and country through military service. Home Guard units had been in place in Washington, Frederick and Carroll counties throughout the summer of 1861. Union Maryland regimental units were authorized and men began volunteering.
The best-known local unit was the 1st Regiment Infantry, Potomac Home Brigade, Maryland Volunteers. This group would serve with distinction under the command of Col. William P. Maulsby, a Frederick attorney. Joseph Groff would enlist at Frederick’s old Market House, and took his 17-year-old son, William Shelton, with him.
Since the previous spring, both father and son had served in a state militia company known as Sander’s Independent Rifle Company. Their assignments had included guard duty of the Monocacy Junction railroad bridge for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and keeping watch over Kemp Hall during the Special Session of the Legislature. During the latter duty, the elder Groff was stationed in the Senate room, and both men were given orders to arrest the secession element of the Legislature.
Joseph Groff helped raise the Potomac Home Brigade’s Company B, and was immediately made First Lieutenant. He raised 62 men for his company. They were mustered into service on August 20th, 1861 and would soon be quartered at the Old Hessian Barracks. For good luck, Groff supposedly took his supersized flag with him into military service. By the end of the Civil War, Groff would rise to the rank of captain.
During the winter of December 1861-April 1862, the regiment was led by General Nathaniel P. Banks. They trained and were quartered on Barracks Hill near Frederick (Maryland School for the Deaf). In the winter of 1861, they left the barracks and wintered at Camp Worman, north of Frederick (today’s site of the Wormans Mill neighborhood). All of the 1st Potomac Home Brigade were quartered there for the winter. By the springtime of 1862, the forces marched up (which actually in a southerly fashion in this case) the Shenandoah Valley as far as Winchester. From here, the 1st PHB (Potomac Home Brigade) was assigned to guarding the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad line. Gen. Banks and his troops were eventually driven out of the Shenandoah Valley and stayed in the Harper's Ferry area. Joseph Groff knew the area quite well since he had lived here earlier for a decade from 1840-1850.
After the second battle of Bull Run, Gen. Lee would bring his Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River to northern soil. The first major Union city he would come was Frederick. While her husband and son were "off at war," Susan ran the affairs of the family's Frederick hotel. This first week of September (1862) was the time of General Lee’s invasion of Maryland, and more importantly for us with this biographical exploration of the Groffs, the time Susan found herself busily hiding those guns in a nearby water well.
After five days, the main column of the Rebel army would head westward past Barbara Fritchie’s house on the National Pike to points west and the battles of South Mountain (September 14th, 1862) and Antietam (September 17th, 1862).
As for the Groffs, their regiment guarded the passages along the Potomac River near the mouth of the Monocacy, and later concentrated its efforts at Harper's Ferry. The Potomac Home Brigade’s Company B would participate at the siege of Harper's Ferry and Battle of Maryland Heights (across the Potomac River) from September, 12-15th.
“On Thursday, September 10th, we were ordered to Solomon Heights where we found the enemy in ambush. My First Corporal, Charles Oursler, was killed there by the enemy. We fell back to Maryland Heights. On Friday the fight on Loudoun took place. On Saturday after spiking the siege guns on Maryland Heights we were ordered to the Ferry, Colonel Ford was in command at the Heights. On Sunday the Garibaldi Rifles returned to the Heights, securing the brass guns and brought them to the Ferry. We were fired upon all day Sunday.”
-Lt. Joseph Groff
It was here that the regiment was surrendered on September 15th, 1862 after being surrounded by the Confederate forces. Both father and son would be captured and eventually “paroled” in, of all places, Parole, Maryland (Anne Arundel County). While I’m at it, I should note that this cleverly named suburb of Annapolis continues to be a location where several major roads intersect at the western edge of the state capital. The neighborhood is so named because it was a parole camp, where Union and Confederate prisoners of war were brought for mutual exchange and eventual return to their respective homes. Today this area boasts the Annapolis Mall, and a number of other large shopping centers, and the Anne Arundel Medical Center.
After Groff was paroled, he saw duty at Point Lookout in St. Mary’s County, and later saw action at Gettysburg in July, 1863. Alice shared a family story that Capt. Groff stopped in Woodsboro on his way to Gettysburg to kiss his daughter (Rebecca) good-bye. At the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), the regiment was part of Gen. Lockwood's brigade. On July 2nd the regiment fought on Culp's Hill and worked with Sickles Corps to repulse the Confederates under Gen. Longstreet.
Capt. Joseph Groff fought at Spangler's Spring in command of his company against Maryland-born Confederates. In the early hours of July 3rd, 1863, he was wounded by a bullet lodged just above his foot. Not trusting the battlefield surgeons at hand, the captain received special permission to go to his home in Frederick to have his personal doctor care for his wound. After being given time by the Army to mend his wound, he returned to his company and active duty in early September 1863.
Capt. Groff’s military career would soon be coming to an end because over the next several months, the effect of explosives had caused deafness in Joseph's ears. He was also unable to do physical labor after a year. This is the reason that the captain would not participate in the Battle of Monocacy in early June, 1864. However, Joseph's son, William Shelton, who had been promoted to corporal, did take part in “the Battle that Saved Washington” on July 9th, and came out of it unscathed in the defeat of Lew Wallace’s grossly outnumbered soldiers.
By September 6th, 1864 (even while the war still raged on), Joseph was released from his three-year military service and then honorably discharged in Washington, DC in December, 1864. His son, William, was mustered out of his company at Harper's Ferry on the same September day as his father.
Immediately after the war, Joseph Groff continued supervision of the hotel with Susan for a few years before hiring managers to run the operation at different times. Additional time and assistance was required for launching a newly opened brickyard business (Eighth and Market streets) and a social club named Groff Hall (W. Fourth Street) which also catered to the town's Black population. Joseph and Susan's family situation was just as busy as they were in the midst of raising eight children into adulthood. The entire Groff clan resided in the hotel and can be found here the 1870 and 1880 censuses.
Through her research, family historian Alice Luckhardt compiled a list of activities involving the Groffs and taken from the pages of local newspapers, court documents and Jacob Engelbrecht’s diary:
*Thursday - Feb. 21, 1867 --- At a public sale Capt. Groff offered his tavern stand for rent at a public sale. It went for $1,285 rent a year.
*Friday - Jan. 27, 1871 and Sat. - Feb. 4, 1871 - the Union or Republican Party made nomination for councilmen, Mayor and Alderman at "Groff Hall" located on West 4th Street.
*1878 - Frederick had a population of about 10,000. Joseph Groff ran one of the city's hotel and William (his son) made mattresses and upholstered furniture.
*In December 1883, the Groff Hotel was enlarged by 20 feet in front. On the property was also a livery stable, which Joseph Groff rented out to individuals over the years. By 1886, a small barbershop was set up by John F. Yingling on the first floor with an entrance onto North Market Street.
*By the mid-1880s, Joseph had built a grand new home for his family at 7th and North Market streets, a few blocks north of the hotel.
*Between 1889 and 1895, Groff had a couple of his daughters along with a son-in-law, Richard C. Dudrear manage the hotel. Room rates were generally $1.50 a day.
*During the 1880s, the hotel was always decorated for various holidays. Celebrations during the 4th of July were always special with U. S. flags on display everywhere. Also during the latter part of the 19th century, the Groff Hotel was the scene for many weddings. Included was the April 1885 wedding of Capt Groff's daughter, Jennie Groff and William E. Ranels and in June 1890, the wedding of Capt. Groff’s youngest daughter, Josie Groff to Charles Everhart.
*Over the years and into the 20th century the hotel was the gathering place for many civic and community organizations to meet.
Before the Civil War, Joseph Groff was a prominent member of the Deutsches Schuetzen Gesellschaft Park, a social and stock endeavor formulated by leading German descended residents. Present day Brodbeck Hall (on the campus of Hood College) served as the clubhouse for the group, which came complete with an old-fashioned beer garden to accommodate stockholders. The war and lean times caused financial woes that the club could not rebound from, and apparently Capt. Groff purchased the locale.
The property was renamed Groff Park. The Groff family would split time living here and used the vicinity to grow gardens of produce that would be used to feed guests staying in their hotel. The couple's oldest son, David, would grow flowers here for his successful career as a local florist. Eventually, Groff Park would be sold to Margaret Scholl Hood in the 1890s. Mrs. Hood would later deed the former Groff Park to Dr. Joseph Henry Apple and the Frederick Women's College and in 1915, this would comprise the newly named seat of higher education for women named Hood College
*1879 - Joseph Groff applied in Nov. 24, 1879 and received a veteran’s pension (#180772 - 281584) of $15 a month.
*1880 census - had Nicholas H. Groff living with his family. Nicholas - age 13, born about 1867 in MD as were his parents. Listed on the census was that he could not read or write but had attended school in the last year.
*Feb. 2, 1881 -- Capt Groff purchased two large Poland China hogs from Mr. Joseph Harp. The hogs weighed 2,350 pounds.
*Early 1885 - partners in a "Frederick Colored Rink" - skating rink on 4th St. Groff Hall for the 'colored' population (blacks). Had his future son-in-law, Charles Everhart as ticket taker.
*April 1885 - very successful rink - Capt. Groff very strict in running it. Sept. 12, 1885 - Sole ownership of the skating rink with a big grand opening.
*1886 - owned a bull dog.
*Nov. 1886 - David Cronin worked for Capt. Groff at the Hotel. On Oct. 1886 - Cronin shot his wife after a disagreement. They had married about 1863 in Frederick.
Cronin then joined the Union Army and to war. He remained away from Frederick until about 1885 and then came back to his wife (lived on West 4th St.)
*May 1887 - Mr. P. E. Long Baltimore, MD - rented the Groff Hotel from Capt. Groff, the captain and family moved to Groff Park at the north end of the city.
*Oct. 10, 1887 - in newspaper - Levi L. Groff (brother of Capt. Joseph Groff) - his ex-wife (Nancy S. Waltz - 'Nannie') remarried to Capt. Alfred Schley. Levi may have tried to stop the wedding.
*Aug. 1889 - Capt Groff was in West Virginia, (Jefferson County) to supervise the construction of the Shepherd Turnpike.
*June 5, 1890 - 8:30 pm - the wedding of Josie Groff and Charles Everhart in the Groff Hotel.
*March 1890 - David Groff took over ownership of the Groff brickyard.
*April 1890 -- An advertisement appeared in the Frederick newspaper - about Groff Hotel, owned by Misses Groff (Joseph's daughters) and managed by Dudrear. Cost $1.50 per day for a room (1st class).
*May 1890 - John Groff has ownership of North End Livery and Sales Stables.
*Sept. 28, 1890 - a floor put in the bar room of the Groff Hotel.
*1891 - Morse Fountain built by M. P. Morse at North Market St. across from Groff home--a large iron four-tier fountain
*April 30, 1891 - quote in News by Capt. Groff - "I have lived in Frederick a long time and have seen many changes wrought, but the bustle and activity here this spring are greater than I ever saw before. The old town is certainly waking up at last."
*June 1891 - selling large lots of property at Groff Park - 30 acres (west of Frederick). Possibly big sale to a gentleman from Washington, DC. No sale then. Groff Park also known as Scheutzen Park. Placed many newspaper ads for sale of Park, Hotel and Hall in late 1891.
*Nov. 1892 - Capt Groff owned North End Livery Stables, his son, John Groff previously.
*June 1896 - home robbery at night while family slept. Only money taken. His sister, Elizabeth was visiting at the time.
*Sept. 19, 1899 - Capt. Joseph Groff's first son, William Shelton Groff - died of TB at his home in PA.
*Oct. 2, 1899 - Frederick, MD - Capt. Groff was selected President of the Rossbourg Club - for Maryland Agricultural College.
Captain Joseph Groff died on February 12th, 1903 at the age of 81. His death notice would appear here, Baltimore and his hometown of Lancaster, PA. Captain Joseph Groff would be laid to rest in a lot located in Area L/Lot 247.
Susan Groff died on March 11th, 1911 and is interred with her husband. Her obituary included an impressive list of pallbearers from the Potomac Home Brigade’s top leadership including Major Edward Y. Goldsborough, Col. William P. Maulsby and Capt. Eli Frost among others. Her patriotism was remembered until the very end.
What became of the Groff properties? By 1910, the Groff family has leased the operation of the Groff Hotel to Joseph F. Beacht, who was a former grocer in town. In 1906, Beacht was manager of the City Opera House and in 1907, manager of the Frederick Baseball Club before taking over the Groff Hotel.
Things changed for Beacht in July 1913 when the Groff family, (with a deal completed by David and Charles Groff), sold the hotel for $20,000. Beacht’s lease on the hotel expired April 1st, 1914. He had about ten months before the new owner would take over operation.
The Groff Hotel was next purchased by William H. Ramsburg, a wholesale grocer here in town. He would rename it the Arlington Hotel. By March 1st, 1914, Ramsburg was able to take full charge of Groff Hotel. He wanted to increase the number of rooms from 30 to about 50 rooms. Also added were the sale of special amenities such as cigars and railroad tickets.
In 1920, Michael Joseph Croghan became the new owner of the hotel, leasing it first and then to purchasing it from William Ramsburg. Croghan was born in April 21st, 1889 in Ireland, coming to the U.S. in 1908. He worked at the Stewart Hotel in Frederick on East Patrick St. and the New City Hotel in Frederick.
Croghan had many plans for changes and improvement to the old hotel, including making it more modern, enlarging the dining room and adding 25 additional rooms. The Café on the left side (facing the Hotel) would become a cafeteria. The building was to be painted inside and out with new lighting installed. He also added a new restaurant to the Hotel. The biggest change would be the name changed from ‘Arlington Hotel’ to ‘Hotel Frederick’. The hotel was closed during its remodeling. To help clear out some of the older items, he held an auction in May 1920 of many of the furnishings; including doors, bedding, wash basins, electric fixtures, glassware and china. Most of the changes were completed by the Spring of 1920. The new restaurant at the hotel charged 40 to 60 cents for lunches and 75 cents to $1.00 for dinners.
During the 1920s, Mr. Croghan also managed (held leases) on the Hotel Braddock, in the summer months. By July 5th, 1923, Croghan made the final purchase of Arlington Hotel / Hotel Frederick. Into the 1930s and 1940s, Michael Croghan continued running the Hotel Frederick and managing the Hilltop Hotel in Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia.
By the 1950s, his son, Michael J. Croghan Jr. was assisting the Hotel Frederick operation. Croghan Sr. died October 1960. Mike, Jr., who I had the pleasure of knowing myself, continued ownership and operation of the Hotel Frederick and its catering services until 1972.
In early 1972, the Croghan family decided to sell the old hotel (building and property) to the City of Frederick. In June of that same year, an auction was held to sell off items from the hotel. One year later, June 1973, the City had the fine, old hotel torn down and sold the land to Carmack Jays Supermarket to construct a parking lot.
Since the deaths of Captain Joseph and Susan Groff, some of the couple's children are buried here with them in Area L/ Lot 247: John (d. 1921), David (d. 1937), and Fannie G. (d. 1953). Here are links to stories involving John (an early secret service agent), and David (a local florist).
As a final aside, I looked intently for the site of Mrs. Groff’s daring deed. Unfortunately, there is no specific location given for the Frederick "well" in which Mrs. Groff hid the Union firearms for safekeeping. Perhaps the original site could have been on the hotel property or maybe somewhere in Groff Park. Or, just maybe, the said well morphed into the famous fountain at the head of N. Market Street, situated in front of the later built Groff House? That would have been a good three block hike for Mrs. Groff, but could serve as a romantic ending and commemoration spot for an untold act of bravery connected to the Rebel invasion/occupation of Frederick in September 1862.
Making comparisons, we do it all the time. Being employed in the field of research, public history, and memorialization, I often find myself measuring persons’ lives according to the times in which they lived, and the things in which they experienced and accomplished. In many situations, I encounter what I believe to be unfair analogies of persons who cannot be fairly be matched to one other, life stories that are completely different yet sharing like things such as generation, education, profession, and military experience. And the greatest likenesses of all, especially in our specific context here, are the givens of once having lived in Frederick and afterwards being laid to rest here in Mount Olivet. Many know that I’m an idiot for idioms, and I can’t help using the old fruit-themed adage of “apples to oranges.”
Maybe you’ve heard of this expression before, maybe you haven’t. In doing a little research on the saying’s origin, I found that the idiom “apples to oranges” was first known as “apples to oysters” in John Ray’s proverb collection of 1670. The original expression referred to oysters on behalf of oranges as something which can never be compared with the apples. This seems a little random and blunt, but does express the definition at hand of items possessing non-identical attributes.
Leave it to the purveyors of Romance languages to “class-up” the old idiom as the French are credited with using the expression “apples to oranges” dating back to 1889. Meanwhile, the Spanish used another member of the fruit group, with their variation “apples to pears.”
While on a sojourn in the cemetery a few weeks back, my attention was drawn to a large, granite stone in Mount Olivet’s Area A, the oldest known section of the cemetery. This locale naturally hosted the cemetery’s first burial in late May, 1854, that of a woman named Ann Crawford. Only 15 yards away, I was intrigued by the decedent whose name was etched on this large block of stone.
That’s right, Mr. Orange Scott Firmin, now that is a unique first name if ever there was one. I also liked the middle name of Scott, having a fitting, patriotic ring to it for some unknown reason. I immediately took a few pictures and thought this worthy of further exploration.
I did have to laugh to myself as I had written a former “Story in Stone,” on a gentleman buried in Area CC who also boasted a “fruity” name if you will, Dr. Joseph Henry Apple, whose name is “immortal” and can be found easily within the annals of Frederick’s rich history. The first president of the Frederick Woman’s College and builder of its successor, Hood College, Dr. Apple also has a street named for him on Frederick’s west side. (Dr. Apple's Story in Stone from January, 2018)
Sadly, I would safely bet that no one has ever heard of our new person of interest O. S. Firmin, save a handful of family historians perhaps. Regardless, he will serve as our subject du jour.
The cemetery is filled with tens of thousands of monuments, markers and plaques at the very least keeping the names of their decedents above ground while their mortal remains remain below, or a crypt and urn does the same behind a plaque or nameplate in a mausoleum or columbarium. I’ve shared the adage in which it has been said that we all experience two deaths. The first is when we encounter physical death and thus require the services of places like Mount Olivet. The second, and final death, is when no one ever says our name, or remembers our face. Our time and accomplishments (big or small) on earth are forgotten. The markers and monuments can lead us to these “lost souls” if we take the time to notice.
Well I would certainly hate to compare “Apples and Oranges,” because Mr. Firmin seems to be in clear need of “resuscitation” with a brief life history lesson. I find myself once again having the responsibility to operate the proverbial “defibrillator,” but it definitely falls on you readers to assist me in this biographical séance.
I must say though, that I was selfishly hoping to find that a contributing factor to Mr. Firmin’s death was scurvy, but I couldn’t have been that lucky! Here goes anyway.
iOrange Scott Firmin
Orange Scott Firmin was born on March 28th, 1841, in Richfield, Summit County, Ohio. I went to a website called behindthename.com and found the following about the moniker “Orange”:
First found as a girl's name in medieval times, in the forms Orenge and Orengia. The etymology is uncertain, and may be after the place in France named Orange. This is a corruption of Arausio, the name of a Celtic water god whose name meant "temple (of the forehead)." Later it was conflated with the name of the fruit, which comes from the Sanskrit for "orange tree," naranga. The word was used to describe the fruit's color in the 16th century.
Orange can be used as a surname, which may be derived from the medieval female name, or directly from the French place name. First used with the modern spelling in the 17th century, apparently due to William, Prince of Orange, who later became William III. His title is from the French place name.
Orange Firmin was the second oldest of seven children born to Frances Bugbee Firmin (1809-1881) and wife Mary Colby Chapin (1817-1903). He lived the majority of his youth and teenage years in Wilbraham, Hampden County, Massachusetts, today an eastern suburb of Springfield. The Bay State had served home for previous generations of his Firmin relatives dating back to the early 1600s. Orange’s 5th great-grandfather (John Firmin 1588-1642) had come to Massachusetts with his parents from Nayland, Sussex, England. As one can imagine, he possessed a number of direct ancestors from Massachusetts who participated in the American Revolution.
Mr. Firmin would serve in the American Civil War with his native Union. He was a Private in Company B., 7th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, from Aug. 19th, 1861 to September 7th, 1864. Immediately following his military service, he was given employment by the War Department where he served as a clerk and auditor.
Orange married Amanda Susan Ada Clingan (b. August 7, 1844) on October 24th, 1882, in Washington, DC. Amanda worked in the US Treasury Office in DC, but was born in Frederick back in 1844. She is our portal to Mount Olivet as the Firmins are buried in a lot owned by her parents. As early as the 1870 census, Amanda can be found boarding at the house of William Farrow, a clerk at the US Treasury in Washington, DC, and husband of her sister Ann.
Both members of this couple, Orange and Amanda, had great jobs with the US Government and appear to have been paid handsomely. They resided in northwest DC and in late October, 1886, became the proud parents of John Clingan Firmin.
Mr. Firmin was quite active in the Sons of the American Revolution and Freemasonry. He remained quite active in his working career, celebrated for his above-average dedication to the US Government, his employer. An article in a Washington newspaper in 1905 recognized Mr. Firmin on the occasion of his 40th anniversary with the War Department.
Amanda died on August 27th, 1909. She would be buried in her parents' burial plot, not far from the noted monument dedicated to the memory of Francis Scott Key just 11 years prior. As for Orange, he would never re-marry as he seemed to keep himself more than ever with his dedicated service to the US Government.
In 1919, ten years later, another article would appear in a December issue of the Washington Evening Times. A few more details were brought forward on our subject.
Orange Scott Firmin died of pneumonia on December 28th, 1933. The previous year, I found a small mention in the Frederick News that Mr. Firmin had traveled to Orlando, Florida to spend some time. I assume this visit was recreational in nature and likely more so taken for health reasons. I just find it interesting since Orlando is the county seat of Orange County, so named because of the prized fruit industry that took hold there long before a guy named Disney showed up with a mouse in tow from California.
Although Frederick, Maryland was never his home in life, it would serve as Orange's home in death as he has been here for over 87 years now.
Orange and Amanda's only child John would die in June of 1942. He enjoyed an early career as a draftsman, and finished his working days as a trademark examiner for the federal government. John would not be buried in Mount Olivet, being laid to rest in Fort Lincoln Cemetery located in Brentwood in Prince Georges County, Maryland.
Mount Olivet has decedents who worked as lawyers and doctors, served as politicians and captains of industry, ran businesses, won awards and accolades, served in the military and acted on stage and played sports. There should be no need to compare apples or oranges here, as we should be judged the same in the end, simply as humans who lived a life the best they could. A higher power will take care of the rest. As long as you lived a life, you should take solace in knowing when it comes to cemeteries, you will be memorialized for that "body of work" that comprises the dash between your birth and death years on a gravestone's face. And, suffice it to say, Mr. Firmin did just fine.
It’s baseball season and I was desperately searching for the end of what I thought was a quote commonly heard for years starting with: “Hear the crack of the bat and the smell of the __________________!” I could not exactly fill in the blank, thinking it was possibly grass, but doubting my own thought process.
I did a Google search thinking I would find an exact quote and author for this “baseball-themed invitation” by plugging in the front end of the quote in the popular internet search engine. Soon, a myriad of word options filled my page, thus allowing me to complete the phrase—all courtesy of previously published articles and other content copy. These “olfactory offerings” ranged from grass, leather, pine tar, peanuts and crackerjacks, dirt, grilled hot dogs, and I even found “a freshly-poured beer.”
Here in Frederick, our local team, the Keys, did not take the field in 2020 at neighboring Harry Grove Stadium at Nymeo Field due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been a long, strange year for everything, but it was extremely odd to have more noise coming from the cemetery, on evenings last spring and summer, than hearing upcoming batter announcements, walk up music and the roar of the crowd after a hit or good play from our next-door neighbor.
I am being a bit sarcastic as baseball returned to the location in the form of youth baseball late last summer and fall. Among these players, were two teenage kids of my own. I had the opportunity to see my sons Eddie and Vinnie play at Grove Stadium, and more regularly on their home diamond of Loats Field, as part of a team belonging to the Frederick City Babe Ruth Baseball league. This baseball field, along with a smaller little league field, are beyond Grove Stadium’s left field wall, and all three baseball venues are part of the City’s Parks & Rec Department Loat's complex located off Stadium Drive. They sit on the footprint of an old farm estate that once belonged to a gentleman named John Loats, buried here in Mount Olivet’s Area E. This former farmer-businessman's gravesite offers a commanding view of his former property.
Another fitting family plot within eye and ear shot of these fields is that of James Henry “Harry” Grove. The stadium’s namesake helped originally bring professional baseball to town a century ago, and his son later donated money towards the building of the Key’s stadium which opened in 1990. Mr. Grove is among those family members buried in a lot on the southeast corner of Area LL/Lot 210, and was the focus of one of these “Stories in Stone” back in 2018.
When it comes to baseball history of our Frederick professional and semi—pro teams, I truly revere the work of longtime FNP sports editor/reporter Stan Goldberg, statistics and local athlete guru Sheldon Shealer, historian-author Bob Savitt of Middletown (who wrote The Blue Ridge League), and Mark Ziegler, a diligent student of baseball history and former Keys employee at the time our former Carolina League, Single A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles came to town over three decades ago in the spring of 1989. All these guys have researched, written and spoken on Frederick’s baseball history dating back to the 19th century. Ziegler even created a website BlueRidgeLeague.org that I invite you to check out.
Interestingly, Mark would go on to later work in the marketing department with the Great Frederick Fair. The fairgrounds located off East Patrick Street on the outskirts of town, was the site of Frederick’s first reputable baseball stadium, fittingly known as Agricultural Field—so-named due to its connection to the agricultural fair of course. Here is where the Frederick Hustlers played many a fabled game going back to their semi-professional days with the Sunset League and culminating with their introduction into the Blue Ridge League back in 1915.
In reference to baseball and this unique site, Mark found that the planning for the first organized baseball field here started in 1903, and by 1908, a wood stadium with a grandstand was built at the site for the semi-pro Sunset League. Trees were planted along East Patrick Street, in front of the Fairground property, and to the rear corner, surrounding the back of the grandstand area. There were organized leagues that played here with the Sunset League from 1908 to 1911, the semi-pro Tri-City League in 1914, and the Class D, Blue Ridge League from 1915 to 1923.
We’ve had three professional/semi-professional teams in our history: the Keys (1989-present), the Warriors (1929-30) and the HustIers (1915-1928). One field, and one field alone, hosted games featuring all three of these teams—and the ballpark’s namesake as laid to rest here in Mount Olivet like the early mentioned Mr. Grove. Of course, I’m talking about McCurdy Field located on the southwest side of town, at the intersection of Jefferson Street and the newly named Scottys Bus Lane. (AUTHOR’S NOTE: And for those that experienced Raymond Scott and his magical, brown, culinary bus, this was certainly a place where one could "Hear the crack of the bat, and the smell of Scotty Dogs,” with the latter lingering in the air whether there was a game going on at the stadium or not!)
In early 1924, a fund-raising committee was formed with the mission to build a modern baseball park in Frederick as a significant upgrade from the existing Agricultural Field. The ”modern and up-to-date” facility, known then as Frederick County Athletic Field, opened just months later after a cost of $15,000. It boasted 1,300 grandstand seats and 1,200 bleacher seats, along with a ten-foot high fence running around a massive playing field. This spectacle of the time would eventually take the name of McCurdy Field.
In 1937, the NFL's Washington Redskins (just having relocated from Boston) needed a place to play their first exhibition, and played here. The Hustlers and Warriors professional team came and went, leaving a semi-professional version of the Frederick Hustlers.
In 1943 and 1944, the American League’s Philadelphia Athletics, under the immortal Connie Mack, held spring training here (due to the limits on travel during World War II).
Lights were installed in 1947, and in 1968, the old wooden grandstand was condemned and torn down in 1971, leaving just the field, and a sub-par home for Frederick youth and amateur baseball. Deciding that this was now a poor site for baseball, local businessman Bob Marendt headed a campaign to renovate this park. He raised $50,000 in donations, and federal and state government kicked in the rest. A renovated concrete and steel park opened in 1974 with metal bleachers that sat 1,500 and clubhouse facilities. The park was the home of Frederick City Babe Ruth Baseball and was even reputable enough to host the Babe Ruth national organization’s World Series tournaments back in the early-mid1980s. Some of the best young baseball talent in the country came to Frederick in August, 1982 and played at McCurdy Field as part of the 13-year-old Babe Ruth World Series, hosted by the Frederick Babe Ruth League.
There were nine teams in the tournament including Frederick, which as the host city got an automatic bid. Teams came from as far away as California, Idaho and Arkansas. The tournament began on August 14th and ended a week later with Nashville, Tennessee, beating Brooklyn, NY, 6-1 for the national title. The tournament was a big success with a total of 42,290 fans attending the games.
This was one of three Babe Ruth World Series held here as the 13-15 championship tournament took place the following year with the host Frederick team reaching the semifinals. In 1984, the 16-18 tier World Series was played here at McCurdy Field.
Less than five years later, the stage had been set for McCurdy to host an electric night in April, 1989 in which the Frederick Keys would play their very first home game here in Frederick. Fittingly it was against a minor league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, from Kinston, North Carolina. The City of Frederick had successfully lured the Orioles Class A affiliate, the Hagerstown Suns, with the promise of a new stadium, but they would have to play one season here while Harry Grove Stadium was under construction.
In studying the McCurdy Field of 1924, and the same of 1989, the place was in desperate need of “doctoring” or medical attention, so to speak. In ’24, this “doctoring” came in the literal form of a well-respected physician who headed up the drive for the stadium. His tenacity and ultimate success brought him the distinct honor of having his surname grace the stadium to this day, nearly a century later. As for the figurative meaning (of doctoring) in respect to McCurdy Field, Mark Ziegler and others can attest to the fact that it was a poor facility for minor league baseball nearly 70 years later (in 1989). There had to be a trailer brought in for the teams to dress, and folding chairs doubled for box seats. Regardless, the Keys drew well in their inaugural season, and that opening night was sold out. Currently this facility is used for American Legion and assorted other youth baseball.
So just who was this Dr. McCurdy, namesake of the stadium that has seen nearly a century of baseball here in Frederick? His name was Dr. Ira Jay McCurdy, born on New Years Day, 1869.
Dr. Ira Jay McCurdy
I will submit one of the obituaries that ran in local papers at the time of this man’s death in 1942, seven months before the Philadelphia Athletics would train/play here in March, 1943. This obit comes from the Frederick Post’s August 4th, 1942 edition:
On Saturday night death claimed Dr. IRA J. McCURDY, one of Frederick's leading physicians, who has practiced here for about half a century. He was a skilled general practitioner and an excellent diagnostician. Hundreds of patients can testify to his ability and recall the valuable professional services he rendered throughout the years. His distinguished figure and serious manner inspired confidence in the sickroom. And he had a remarkable insight into human ailments and realized the scope of his medical aids and treatment. He was quick to recognize when specialized service, beyond his field, was necessary. This community can ill afford to lose a family doctor of his experience and ability, especially at a time when physicians due to war requirements are so greatly in demand.
Dr. McCurdy was a most useful citizen, beyond the realm of his medical practice. He was a man of strong convictions and great determination. Through his leadership, Frederick secured a modern milk ordinance, requiring pasteurization and supervision of this important product. He stood firmly for other important health measures for the city, and his strong influence was always for the protection of the health of the community.
He took an interest in other civic affairs and was prominent in the movement to place the city police force on high standards. He was the first liquor license commissioner for Frederick County and fearlessly blazed the path for rigid supervision of the sale of intoxicants.
For his diversion, Dr. McCurdy found pleasure and relaxation in sports. He was an ardent supporter of baseball for many years, and it is an appropriate tribute to his memory that the city's athletic park, in which he was so greatly interested, bears his name.
There you have it, the simple story of how a stadium and Frederick landmark got its name. But let’s find out a little more about this well-revered citizen whose gravesite is adorned with a tall obelisk and located in Area E only yards from that of John Loats (mentioned earlier). It, too, also affords a press-box level view of “the new stadium” that would supplant McCurdy Field as Frederick City’s top baseball venue.
I submit to you a biography of our subject, published in 1910 as part of T.J.C. Williams’ History of Frederick County (Volume II).
Ira Jay McCurdy, M.D., one of the well-known and leading practitioners of Frederick City, is a native of York, Pa. He is a son of James Crawford and Jennie (Eyler) McCurdy. The McCurdy family is one of the oldest in Western Pennsylvania. The first of the name in this country were three brothers, James, John and Charles McCurdy, who were Scotch Covenanters.
George McCurdy, the grandfather of Dr. Ira J. McCurdy, was a native of Westmoreland County, Pa., in 1837, and died there in 1871. He was a farmer and was also engaged in the coal mining business. He was principal of a high school at Ligonier, in Westmoreland County, Pa. He served for the cause of the Union during the Civil war and made a very credible record. He was Captain of Company E, of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and was in active service for three years and three months. He was in the various campaigns in Virginia and participated in the many hard-fought battles. He took part in the battle of Fredericksburg, Va., where he was stricken with rheumatism, and was soon afterwards mustered out of service. After the expiration of his duties as a soldier, Captain McCurdy engaged in commercial pursuits, which he followed until his death. He was married to Jennie Eyler. They were the parents of one son, Ira J.
Ira J. McCurdy, son of Captain James Crawford and Jennie (Eyler) McCurdy, spent his childhood with his mother at Woodsboro, Md. He later entered New Windsor College, of Carroll County, Md., from which he graduated in 1889. He then went to New York, where he became a student in the Bellevue Hospital Medical College, from which institution he was graduated in the spring of 1892. Dr. McCurdy next took a special course in the New York Eye and Ear Hospital.
In the fall of 1892, he located in Frederick City, where he has since remained in active practice of his profession. Dr. McCurdy is well known and has acquired a large clientele. He has been very successful in the exacting field to which he was devoted himself. He is well liked by all who have come into contact with him.
Dr. McCurdy is surgeon for the Pennsylvania Railroad; for the Frederick Railroad, and the United Fire Engine Company of Frederick. In 1907, he was appointed city health officer of Frederick for a term of three years and reappointed in 1910. He was commissioned by Governor Crothers in July, 1910, as First Lieutenant Medical Corps, M.N.G., and was assigned to First Regiment Infantry, M.N.G.
Dr. McCurdy is a member of the Frederick County Medical Society, of which he is the First Vice-President; was Secretary for ten years; a member and on the Legislative Committee of the American Medical Association; and a member of the Medico Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland. Fraternally, Dr. McCurdy is a well-known Mason, being a member of Columbia Lodge, No. 58, A. F. and A. M., Enoch Royal Arch Chapter, No. 23, and Jacques de Molay Commandery, No. 4, Knights Templar, of Frederick, and holds position as Generalissimo. He also holds membership in the Buomi Temple of the Ancient Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, of Baltimore City; in Frederick Lodge, No. 684, B.P.O.E., and Mountain City Lodge, No. 29, Knights of Pythias. Dr. McCurdy is also connected with the Frederick City Country Club and “Camp Le-Mid” Association, of Ontario, Can., a camping and fishing association. Politically, he is a Democrat. Dr. McCurdy has never married.
As I stated, this biography dates to 1910. A little more information can be gleaned from an obituary found in the Carroll County Times (May 10th, 1946) of Dr. McCurdy’s mother, Jennie (Eyler) McCurdy Devilbiss who would remarry after the death of her first husband, James.
Mrs. Jennie McCurdy Devilbiss, widow of George Devilbiss, died at her home in Woodsboro on Sunday, May 5th, 1946. She was 97 years of age and had been stricken with paralysis. She was the daughter of the late Peter and Mary Engle Eyler of Frederick County and is survived by nieces and nephews, one of whom, Melvin J. Anders, made his home with her. Dr. Ira J. McCurdy, her son by her first marriage to Captain James McCurdy, predeceased his mother by four years.
Dr. McCurdy was a popular student and athlete at New Windsor College class 1889. He enjoyed a busy and successful life in Frederick as a physician. Mrs. Devilbiss had been a life-long member of the Woodsboro Lutheran church and was also active in the Missionary Society of that church. The funeral was held from the late home in Woodsboro on Wednesday at 1:30 p. m. Rev. Herbert H. Schmidt officiated, assisted by Rev. R. S. Poffenberger. Interment was in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Frederick. Powell and Martzler, funeral directors.
After reading this, I immediately wondered if Dr. McCurdy was an accomplished ballplayer, himself—hence explaining a lifelong love of baseball? He played in his youth and made a fine showing in his New Windsor days as the school’s first baseman.
I also found an article stating that Ira McCurdy stayed near the game in the capacity of umpiring.
I also searched local newspapers of the late 1800s and first decade of the 1900s to learn a little more of the education and early career of Doc McCurdy.
I found Ira J. McCurdy living in a hotel on Frederick’s West Patrick Street in the 1910 US Census. I strongly feel that this was the Park Hotel, which formerly went by the name of the Carlin House, and Dill House earlier yet in the early 19th century. It should come as no surprise that a bachelor professional of the period would keep permanent residence in a hotel as large apartment complexes and luxury condos were not even dreamed about at that time.
Dr. McCurdy was a member of the Maryland National Guard. Countless newspaper mentions at the time speak to the respect his community had for him. One of the most insightful articles I read was a 1914 piece in which he gave tips to the citizenry on how to stay cool in summer.
Dr. McCurdy joined with associates Guy Motter and Frank Schmidt in starting the Frederick Baseball Association which gave Frederick its first professional team, the Hustlers in 1915. As mentioned earlier, they played at Agricultural Field against other clubs from Hagerstown, Martinsburg, Gettysburg, Chambersburg and Hanover.
Well, the good doctor wouldn’t stay a bachelor into the next decade, marrying a Frederick native living in Baltimore at the time, but engaged in the medical profession, nonetheless. This occurred in the fall of 1918.
I marvel at the timing of this wedding, as the date was October 26th, 1918. For the previous year, Dr. McCurdy was a member of the local draft board evaluating local men for service in a World War. As for the wedding date of October 26th, it is quite significant as being in the middle of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (Sept 28-Nov 11), the major, and final, part of the Allied offensive of World War I. But that isn’t what really surprised me. This date was at the height of the Spanish Flu pandemic that ravaged the country and county that particular fall. Dr. McCurdy’s profession as a physician was put to the test, now seeing something in a deadly flu virus that our doctors had never seen before. More than that, McCurdy held the pivotal role as Frederick City’s Health Inspector at the time—our local Dr. Fauci if you will.
Well throughout this war-time period, you can imagine the impact on professional baseball and its players. Life eventually returned to normal the following year as the war was over, and the flu was gone. Sadly, many Frederick County lives were lost but McCurdy did his best to comfort loved ones of both war casualties and flu victims.
In the 1920 census, the McCurdys can be found living on West Church Street. They would have no children, Dr. McCurdy was 51 at this juncture and put energy into civic affairs and his professional endeavors instead of child rearing. Perhaps his fix was watching youth play baseball? Whatever the case, he was a leading force in elevating Frederick's first professional team in the Hustlers.
With the success of the stadium effort, many wanted to honor the local physician in some way. The local newspaper helped lead the way in promoting that the new baseball park should take Dr. McCurdy's name. This would become a reality for the 1925 season.
Dr. McCurdy was also a key player in forging a relationship with the Cleveland Indians of the Major League of baseball. Earlier in 1929, the Cleveland Indians purchased the Frederick Hustlers, and the new “farm” team changed its name to the Warriors to connect more with its parent team. On July 24th, 1929, a special exhibition game was played at McCurdy Field featuring the Warriors versus the Indians. The Indians won 11-5, but it marked a great day in which a big-time team came to town—one on which a local boy named Ray Gardner played. Imagine that happening today?
Dr. Ira McCurdy continued practicing medicine here, and stayed very active in both social and civic affairs. He took a special interest in the local police force based on some of the articles I read. He was still practicing at age 60 with an office at 32 North Court Street in town. This would place his office in the vicinity of the parking lot next to the present day M&T Bank location. However, back then this would have been a perfect location for a physician as it was the site of Frederick's original YMCA of which Dr. McCurdy was an avid supporter and proponent. He and Lucy lived a few blocks away at 5 S. Market. This was an apartment over the old F&M Bank (today's Colonial Jewelers on the Square Corner).
Our subject would continue on practicing through the Great Depression Era, and would live long enough to see the beginning of the Second World War, but not its conclusion. Sadly, his physical demise occurred as a result of complications a month after breaking his leg during a freak accident while walking down West Church Street. Ira J. McCurdy spent his final weeks in Frederick City Hospital, somewhat fitting for a man with such a rich medical background.
Dr. Ira Jay McCurdy never fully recovered from this accident. He died on August 2nd (1942) and was laid to rest on Area E/Lot 52. His funeral on August 4th was well attended as one would imagine. His faithful mother would join him here in 1946, and wife Lucy as well in 1958. The fine monument certainly marks the final resting place of one of Frederick’s men of mark.
In a quieter Frederick, at the time of his death and for a few decades after, I bet you could hear “the crack of the bat, and the pop of the ball” in the distance coming from his namesake field. It still may be possible today, but there are more competing sounds. Regardless, it’s not even a question that these sounds are once again heard now as the “boys of spring and summer” have again taken up residence on the fields to the immediate east of Mount Olivet.
As for McCurdy Field, it’s "still in play" and under the City of Frederick’s purview. I experienced a historical rush when our kids’ Frederick City Babe Ruth team played here last August against a Frederick Legion squad. That particular evening, I saw my boys hit, field and pitch on the same diamond used by former members of the Hustlers, Warriors and Keys, including visiting legends of the Blue Ridge League who went on to the big leagues like local product Ray Gardner and Hall of Famers Lefty Grove (Martinsburg), Hack Wilson (Martinsburg), and Eddie Plank (Gettysburg). Others such as Walter Johnson played in exhibition games here, while the immortal Connie Mack coached and managed here. Half a decade later, the Baltimore Orioles top draft pick in 1989, pitcher Ben MacDonald, made his professional debut here with the Keys. Mix in the fact that high schools, colleges and travel teams have played here too.
That's just McCurdy's baseball legacy, as there’s been plenty of football played here too. I said earlier that the Washington Redskins played their first exhibition game here. This was followed by a myriad of games ranging from youth football to high school, and who can forget this venue as the home to the semi-pro Frederick Falcons?
We can thank old Doc McCurdy for "prescribing" the perfect medicine in the form of this athletic park for Frederick players and sport enthusiasts to enjoy over the last century. McCurdy Field is more than simply a "Field of Dreams," it's a place of rich memories and Frederick history.
Happy Easter 2021! It’s so amazing how fast time passes as it just seems like yesterday that I was acknowledging 2020’s Easter weekend. We were a few weeks into the initial Covid-19 virus quarantine, and under the impression that we would be attempting to help “flatten the curve” for two weeks. Oh my, if we only knew then what we know now. As the mandated quarantines were extended in most places, there still existed a hope that we would be able to attend Easter Sunday services in person. Now, most churches can’t congregate for the holiday serve a full year later!
I kid you not when I say that I have had the Rolling Stones song “Time Waits for No One” in my head for the last few weeks, a song recorded 47 years ago in April of 1974—the same month my family moved to Frederick from Delaware. I’m not a big Stones fan, but this song has captivated me for a variety of reasons of late. A key one comes with reflecting back on the past year and all that should have been experienced, but wasn’t because of Covid-19—be them in-person church services, school graduation ceremonies, sporting events, weddings, concerts, annual events and in some cases, vacation trips and even family holiday get-togethers.
Another attraction to this song came as a result of me finding myself killing off quarantine time for half of March, 2021 after being diagnosed positive for the coronavirus. Luckily, my symptoms were mild, but the time warp was very strange as I had to stay in the basement away from the rest of my family. Fourteen days went slow as a whole as I was disappointed about missing things in the outside world. Oddly, the days seemed like the movie “Groundhog Day”—monotonous, but seemingly fast moving. It was one of the strangest, paradoxical situations I’ve ever experienced. All in all, I was blessed to make it through unscathed and fully recovered, as compared to many others who have not had as easy a road over the last year, including an old friend of mine from high school (Mike Hernick) who passed a few nights ago as a complete and utter surprise.
You could say that we had a year of lent, sacrificing and giving up things much more critical than the candy and soda I recall bypassing for 40 days in my youth. This current culmination of the Lenten season has been a time to reflect on loss and resurrection, not only as it pertains to Christian religion and Biblical history, but on the time of Covid-19, and hopefully soon, a time without.
When leaving the cemetery on Good Friday last year, I distinctly took notice of a monument I passed every workday, but had never investigated and taken in fully. This same monument is the one you see above as the header of this week’s “Story in Stone.” On that evening of April 10th (2020), I was compelled to stop and take a picture with my I-phone, one that would fittingly, featuring a cross-bearer. As I took my shot while looking in a westerly direction, the clouds had parted in the distance, showing a burst of sunshine. This was around dusk.
I was suddenly reminded of the beautiful oil painting of Calvary behind the alter in St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church here in Frederick—the congregation of my youth. Calvary is the hill outside Jerusalem which is traditionally held to be the location of the crucifixion of Jesus.
I would use this particular photo for a FaceBook post on that Easter Sunday morning two days later.
De Witt C. Keller
We are compelled to believe that the owner of this outstanding monument in Area G/Lot 31 was a person of faith. I found him to be Dr. De Witt C. Keller, a druggist by trade, who once ran what we would call pharmacies in southwestern Indiana in the mid nineteenth-century.
De Witt Clinton Keller was born April 28th, 1828 in Frederick. He was the son of Frederick Keller (1790-1832) and Catherine Hughes (1799-1835), and named for De Witt Clinton (1769-1828), an American politician and naturalist who served as a United States Senator, Mayor of New York City, and as the sixth Governor of New York. Our “Frederick County De Witt Clinton” grew up near the old Jug Bridge over the Monocacy. His father (Frederick Keller) built the house that we referred to as the Bremerman/Waters house in our former story on Civil War general (and inspiration for the movie Glory) Robert Gould Shaw. Shaw actually spent time in this exact house, at one time located on the eastern approach to Jug Bridge. This was in winter of 1862 as the Union soldier from Massachusetts had drawn the assignment of guard duty here at the very strategic water crossing.
DeWitt’s mother, Catherine, apparently operated a tavern, either here or across the river on her father’s property, after her husband’s death in 1832. Frederick Keller also owned a larger piece of property on the west side of Linganore Road, midway between Linganore Creek and Gas House Pike, one that likely belonged to his parents originally. DeWitt grew up in a time that would see transportation explode as the National Pike passed by his front door, and the railroad and canal would reach Frederick County in the early 1830s.
Sadly, De Witt’s mother passed away on Sept. 25th, 1835. She died intestate and Chancery court proceedings followed in which her land would be sold off. At that time, the four children of Mrs. Keller were still minors, and Mathias Bartgis of Frederick was appointed their guardian. De Witt was just seven years old at the time and I assume he attended local schools. I found that he lived in the vicinity of Court House Square with the Bartgis family, so I assume he attended the Frederick Academy. He would work as a tobacconist and later a druggist, but I'm not sure when or where he received his training.
The first newspaper reference to Mr. Keller comes in the form of a newspaper article from 1848 in the Baltimore Sun recounting a recent parade held in Frederick by representatives of the Whig political party. De Witt C. Keller, only 20 years-old at the time, was mentioned as an assistant marshal in this event that celebrated the recent presidential victory run of Zachary Taylor and his vice presidential running mate, Millard Fillmore.
Frederick diarist Jacob Engelbrecht mentioned DeWitt C. Keller a number of times in his fabled work, however the journal entry of most interest to me occurred on May 2nd, 1850:
“Mssrs. Doctor Charles Boyd, Doctor Fairfax Schley & John R. Baltzell, Esquire leave our town this forenoon in the western cars, the former to locate in Texas and the 2 latter to seek a location in one of the western states. Dewitt Clinton Keller left town yesterday and will join them at Cumberland & proceed with them for Iowa or Minnesota. Success attend them.”
In early 1851, De Witt C. Keller is found partnering with a gentleman named Farnsley and operating a wholesale drugstore which also sold an array of items that CVS and Walgreen stores are not known for today.
Mr. Keller was becoming active in Evansville’s civic and business affairs as well.
Keller’s sojourn west paid off personally as much as it did professionally. De Witt married Marcia Ellen Carpenter, a native of Indiana on December 10th, 1857. Ms. Carpenter’s father was a highly successful man in Evansville, (Vanderburgh County). Willard Carpenter was one of Evansville's leading citizens and greatest entrepreneurs. He made his fortune in real estate, was a member of the city council, and built one of the town's first railroads. And speaking of railroads, Mr. Carpenter was an abolitionist and participant on the Underground Railroad by using his home to harbor slaves escaping to their freedom. He would build Willard Library which is still in operation today. The Carpenter family home also still exists and is used by WNIN, the local PBS station.
As you can see, De Witt married into money. Based on census records and some other news clippings, it seems that the couple lived between Frederick and Evansville for the majority of their marriage, one in which they would raise the following children: Elizabeth Carpenter Keller (1858-1915), Willard Clinton Keller (1861-1903) and Mary Louise Keller (1863-1944).
I found a couple references on Ancestry.com that said that Mr. Keller served in the American Civil War. I don’t believe this to be true as there was another gentleman here in town by the name of Clinton Keller who served in Company E of the 7th Regiment of Maryland Volunteers under Col. Edwin H. Webster. This group of soldiers was mustered into service on August 26th, 1862. Now I’m not ruling this out completely as here is a bit about that military outfit.
A history of the 7th Maryland reports the following of the regiment’s activity:
After serving guard duty in the defenses of Washington, the regiment was sent to the Shenandoah Valley for operations. Their first combat came on March 13, 1863, when they repulsed a charge by the 5th Virginia Infantry regiment. They were sent to V Corps, Army of the Potomac. At the Battle of Gettysburg, they were forced to withdraw from the Peach Orchard early on the second day. They were among the units who repelled Pickett's charge. The unit was stationed for garrison duty in southern Pennsylvania and was involved in skirmishes against some of Jubal Early's infantry units. Because of heavy losses at the Battle of Cold Harbor, they were sent as replacements to IV corps, Army of the Potomac. They suffered heavy casualties during the Siege of Petersburg, having to repel six charges by counterattacking units of the 15th Georgia Volunteer Infantry. They marched in the Grand review and were mustered out of service on June 3, 1865.
This unit suffered the loss of 389 men, who were 23 officers and 366 enlisted men, and 65 of those men died of disease. 13 men were captured at Gettysburg, 5 of which perished at Libby Prison. Unit was noted by President Lincoln for being "very effective in combat and showing utmost loyalty to the cause of the great republic."
One of the reasons why I dispute this theory is the fact that De Witt seemed to be quite busy in Evansville, having had a change of partners from Mr. Farnsley a decade earlier. It also would make sense to get his family out of Frederick, a place whose residents certainly saw more than their share of rival armies traveling and battling through the county, not to mention viewing the carnage of war as we became a hospital center.
Post war, more articles are found within Indiana newspapers of Mr. Keller’s land and real estate transactions.
A city directory for Evansville from 1876 states that Dr. Keller’s residence was outside Frederick, MD, however he was continuing to partner in business with Isaac T. White in the firm located in Evansville and called Keller & White. The directory lists this operation as “Wholesale Druggists and dealers in Paints, Varnishes, Dye Stuffs, &c.” It was located on Main Street. I began wondering what the real reason behind the move back to Maryland was after I found an article involving a lawsuit between Dr. Keller and his father-in-law from fall of 1872.
According to later obituaries, Dr. Keller apparently relocated back to Frederick primarily due to poor health. Marcia Keller, however, predeceased him, dying in 1879 and was buried here in Mount Olivet. He had apparently made his fortune, of course aided by his wife’s father and an inheritance to boot, in Indiana, as his estate was reportedly worth $200,000.
Interestingly, the widowed pharmacist can be found as head of household living in Frederick in a rented home, as he would not buy property on his return to Frederick. Based on the 1880 census and who his neighbors were, he is believed to have lived on that block of West Patrick Street where the courthouse stands now. My assistant Marilyn Veek found that Mr. Keller’s daughter, Mary Louise (1863-1944), apparently married the “boy next door,” a gentleman named Francis/Frank Markell (1863-1944). Mary’s older sister, Lizzie, would marry local lawyer William W. Wilcoxon.
Marcia would be buried in Mount Olivet in a family plot that Dr. Keller had purchased six years earlier in 1873 as he would arrange to have his parents buried here. His father, Frederick, died in 1832 and was buried in the town’s Baptist graveyard which no longer exists today. It was located on West All Saints Street, on the north side of the thoroughfare, and adjacent Carroll Creek. Frederick’s wife, Catherine died in 1835 and was buried in the All Saints Graveyard, located a few blocks to the east on East All Saints Street. As a side note, the former Ms. Hughes was a daughter of Levi Hughes of whom Hughes Ford was named who once owned considerable real estate west of the Monocacy River stretching from the airport to MD route 144 as I-70 bisects it.
While De Witt was engaged in moving his parents, he would have his paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Stallings Keller (1772-1831) and later, grandfather Conrad Keller (1765-1821) also brought from the ancient Baptist burying ground. The 4 transplanted bodies are buried in a row with a fine ledger/tablet style stone laid atop their final resting places.
Dr. Keller had cheated death a few years before his wife. Marilyn Veek found that in the category of "all these Frederick “Stories in Stone” seemed at times to be linked somehow" comes the fact that Dr. Keller was on the train involved in the terrible Point of Rocks crash in 1877, which took the lives of five local residents. You can read this one later, but here is a link to my earlier story written in June, 2018.
The following newspaper account features a statement from our subject.
De Witt would eventually meet his maker on October 24th, 1882.
I don’t know exactly the date of this fine marker but it was either erected by Dr. Keller or son Willard who is also buried here with his wife, Nettie Gambrill and a two year-old son, Willard, Jr. (1895-1897). Willard had made a career out of building things, and had his own cement paving business.
Willard Keller was one of the partners in the South Park Villa Company, which developed Clarke Place located a block from our front gate. It was also Willard who purchased the Loats Female Asylum property for the development. He was the secretary and general manager of the company, while Dr. Joseph Williamson was president and Harry Bowers was VP/treasurer.
Marilyn learned that although the property was outside the Frederick city limits at the time, the company signed an agreement with the mayor and Alderman in which they would be exempt from city/municipal taxes for 10 years if the property was annexed (an annexation would benefit the city in terms of revenue and taxes) and that the city would pay for/buy the private street the company planned to build (which became Clarke Place). This agreement was later sanctioned by the state legislature. Willard's home was at what is now 16 Clarke Place. He did not own property in Frederick prior to that.
Nettie Keller was the daughter of miller James H. Gambrill, (builder of the Delaplaine Center) and brother of park namesake James H. Gambrill, Jr. She grew up in her parent's mansion home within the confines of today's Monocacy Battlefield property on the east side of the namesake river.
It appears that Nettie was somehow incapacitated late in life, as when Willard sold the house in 1903 she was identified as "temporarily in Baltimore", and in an equity case in 1905, when certain of the lots were sold by the company to Harry Bowers to settle Willard's estate, the grantors were a "committee" consisting of Mary Markell trustee for the benefit of Nettie G. Keller, Mary and Francis Markell, and James Gambrill. In the 1910 census, Nettie was enumerated at Relay Sanitarium/St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore county.
De Witt C. Keller’s two daughters married and lived out their lives here in Frederick and both are buried here at Mount Olivet. Elizabeth Carpenter (Keller) Wilcoxon passed in 1915 and is buried nearby her parents in Area G. Mary Louise (Keller) Markell lived up through 1944 and her gravesite can be found in Area R.
I found a few newspaper articles which say that Mrs. Markell sent portraits of her parents and maternal grandparents to the Willard Library back in Evanston in 1944.
One final soul rests here in Area G/Lot 31. This is Margaret Doyle, who we found to be a domestic servant of the family. She hailed from Ireland and lived with the family in Indiana, before coming to Frederick.
Better known as Maggie, her grave monument fits perfectly with our Easter theme. With all the research performed for this story, I never did find the exact religious denomination of Dr. De Witt Clinton Keller.
Special thanks to our Hood College intern Katelyn Klukosky who did a great job gathering resources for me to put this story together in short order.
As some of our readers of this blog know, I’ve been known to switch gears abruptly with these historical forays into those buried here in Mount Olivet. In this “Story in Stone,” I’m prepared to connect the dots between one of our country’s first presidents, a handful of his descendants and a very unique, first-generation immigrant laid to rest here in our fair “garden cemetery.” On this latter point, I can attest that we have immigrants galore buried here, but this particular individual really made an impression on me as I just “discovered” her here this past week after receiving a lead from my friend Theresa “Treta” Mathias Michel.
Many are able to rattle off the names of our first three presidents in Washington, Adams and Jefferson—two having known relatives and/or “in-laws” here, and in one case, the other has a potential (and extremely interesting descendant) buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery. I haven’t made a direct connection to fourth president James Madison quite yet, but have documented a handful of descendants of James Monroe, our fifth president and veteran of the Revolutionary War.
As for Mr. Monroe, many confuse him with James Madison because of the same first name and a last name starting with “M.” There’s also, of course, that Virginia connection. In fact, Monroe served as President Madison’s Secretary of War during the War of 1812, the conflict that helped Francis Scott Key’s resume exponentially.
James Monroe left college in 1776 to participate in the American Revolution. In late December, 1776, Monroe crossed the Delaware River with Gen. George Washington and took part in a surprise attack on a Hessian encampment at the Battle of Trenton (New Jersey). Though the attack was successful, Monroe suffered a severed artery in the battle and nearly died. In the aftermath, Washington cited Monroe for his bravery, and promoted him to captain.
On February 16th, 1786, Monroe married a woman he had first met while serving in the Continental Congress, Elizabeth Kortright (1768–1830) of New York City. They moved to Virginia, eventually settling in Charlottesville in 1789, after buying an estate known as Ash Lawn–Highland. The Monroes had three children, the first of whom was Eliza Monroe Hay (1786-1840). In 1808, she married George Hay, a prominent Virginia attorney who had served as prosecutor in the trial of Aaron Burr and later as a US District judge.
The second Monroe child, James Spence Monroe, was born in 1799 and died sixteen months later in 1800. The third product of this union was Maria Hester Monroe (1804–1850) and she is of particular interest to our story. Maria married her first-cousin, Samuel Laurence Gouverneur, on March 8th, 1820, in the East Room of the White House, the first president's child to marry here.
Gouverneur served as a member of the New York State Legislature and also as a private secretary to his uncle/father-in-law President James Monroe who would serve two consecutive terms as president from March 4th, 1817 until March 4th, 1825. The Gouverneurs eventually moved from Washington, DC back to New York, specifically Manhattan. Together, Samuel and Maria were the parents of three children: James Monroe Gouverneur (1822–1885), a deaf-mute who died at the Spring Grove Asylum in Baltimore, Maryland; Elizabeth Kortright Gouverneur (1824–1868), who married three times (Dr. Henry Lee Heishell, James M. Bibby, and Colonel G. D. Sparrier); and Samuel Laurence Gouverneur, Jr. (1826–1880)—more on him in a moment.
President Monroe’s wife (Elizabeth) died in 1830 at Monroe’s plantation called Oak Hill, located roughly nine miles south of Leesburg, VA near present-day Aldie. James Monroe would then head to New York and live with the Gouverneurs until his own death in 1831 a year later.
Both Samuel L. Gouverneur, Sr. and Samuel, Jr. would move to Frederick County, where they lived out their lives and are buried here. On June 20th, 1850, Monroe’s daughter Maria Gouverneur died at the same Oak Hill estate where her mother had passed two decades earlier. In September, 1851, widower Samuel Gouverneur, Sr. married Mary Digges Lee (1810–1898), a granddaughter of former Maryland governor Thomas Sim Lee (1745–1819). They retired to the Lee estate called "Needwood Forrest", located just south of Burkittsville. Mr. Gouverneur died in 1865 and is buried in Petersville's St. Mark's Episcopal Cemetery
President Monroe’s grandson, Samuel Jr., would eventually move to Frederick where he lived in a recognizable former estate west of town in the early 1860s. The property has operated as a modern-day apartment complex for nearly 40 years now. As for Mr. Gouverneur, Jr., he is buried here in Mount Olivet in Area G/Lot 118.
Samuel Gouverneur, Jr. was born in New York City and eventually served as a Lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Artillery Regiment during the Mexican War and was present at the capture of Mexico City and the National Palace. In 1847, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant for his bravery at the battles of Contreras and Churubusco.
After the war, Gouverneur married Miss Marian Campbell of New York in 1855, and fathered three daughters. His first two children, Maud (b. 1857) and Ruth (b. 1858), were born in Washington, DC. Mr. Gouverneur soon became the first United States consul in Fuzhou (pronounced and once spelled as Foo Chow), China, during the administration of President Franklin Buchanan.
While abroad, a third daughter, named Rose de Chine Gouverneur, was born in 1860. Her name would forever bear witness to her foreign birthplace. The family would be here until 1863, at which point Mr. Gouverneur requested a return to the US because the semi-tropical climate of Fuzhou did not agree with his health. He supposedly was in a weakened state as a result of time spent during the Mexican War. Mrs. Gouverneur and her daughters returned to the United States first, and Samuel came a few months later. Special care had to be taken because the American Civil War was in full tilt, and the family had to return on ships sailing under British flags so as not to be harassed by Confederate ships.
The family would reside back in Washington, DC, but the story goes that the couple became particularly impressed with Frederick County while visiting Phillip F. Thomas, a friend of Mr. Gouverneur who lived about two miles west of Frederick City. This was late 1863, and the family soon took up residence at a plantation named Waverley, featuring a spacious Georgian manor house that had been constructed in 1776. Of course, you may know this structure now as the community center and namesake of the development known as “The Residences at the Manor,” located at the intersection of today’s Key Parkway and Willowdale Drive. The former outlying grounds to the west of the house comprise Waverley Gardens, developed in the 1970s.
Marian Gouverneur published a book in 1911, and wrote of her time at “the Manor,” especially interesting during the Civil War. I found a clipping in the Frederick Post written by social column author Elsie Haines White (also a Mount Olivet resident) from February 7th, 1964 which adds a bit of color to the habitation of the Gouverneurs here at that time.
I found Mrs. Gouverneur’s chapter on China very interesting as well in which she talks about the Chinese culture and, in addition, the opium and slave trades, religious missionary work and typhoons including one that destroyed a portion of the consulate. Here is a link to Marian Gouverneur’s book (entitled As I Remember) found on the Library of Congress’s website: https://www.loc.gov/resource/lhbcb.24385/?sp=1
As I said, of particular interest are chapters on the family’s time in China (pg. 314-338) and in Frederick (pg. 339-362).
The Gouverneurs perhaps may have wished at times that they had stayed in China a little longer as Frederick was not the best place to be in 1864. That summer, Gen. Jubal Early and his rebels would ransom Frederick for $200,000, and the Battle of Monocacy would be fought just south of town and within earshot of the Gouverneur’s farm. Closer to home for the family and their Po-ne-sang plantation at this time (July, 1864), the Union Army camped nearby and made visits before retreating as the larger Confederate Army passed right by the Gouverneur’s place, with various visits from officers. The concern over looting and absconding with either farm servants or horses or both was a chief threat, and a documented skirmish was fought a short distance away near Linden Hills. The family made a hasty retreat to their basement after hiding said servants and horses in advance of the Confederate Army’s arrival in early July, leaving the plantation dependent upon the services of one, lone, Chinese maid.
I had heard a bit about this family servant, but had no name. Mrs. Treta Michel said that there was an interesting story pertaining to this young woman brought back to the United States by the Gouverneur family. Mrs. Michel went on to tell me that she recalled someone telling her that this Chinese domestic was buried in Mount Olivet. This truly piqued my interest, but I had no name. I checked the Gouverneur family lot in Area G within our computer records, but she wasn’t there.
To my amazement, luck was soon on my side, as I truly found this proverbial “needle in the haystack” while on a walk in the cemetery last week. In Area T, my eye miraculously caught a prominent gravestone with the name Sara Leleng on its face. The verbiage carved along with a death date of October 18th, 1917 said that the decedent was a native of Amoy, China. Once back in the office, I found census records with Miss Leleng living with the family.
More on Sarah Leleng in a moment as I want to wrap up the Gouverneur family here in Frederick. After the war, a decision was made to simply use "Po-ne-sang” as a summer residence to escape the oppressive heat of Washington, DC. This lasted one year before the family decided to move into Frederick City because in Mrs. Gouverneur’s words: “He (her husband) knew nothing of farming, and I knew nothing of cooking.” She proclaimed her desire to live in a more civil and social setting for her talents, and was glad to have the assistance of her Chinese maid to assist with cooking and caring for her daughters. The society life better fit the Gouverneurs, and believe it or not, Frederick had a definitive social scene at that time.
Apparently, the Gouverneur children attended the Frederick Female Seminary, site of Winchester Hall, today’s seat of county government. In 1870, Samuel Gouverneur, Jr. decided to publish his own newspaper, having been inspired by the presidential campaign of Horace Greeley, who would visit him here in town in October of 1871. Mr. Greeley had been invited to give the agricultural address at the annual Frederick Fair that year. The Maryland Herald newspaper had been started as an independent offering with the catchphrase: ”Independent in all things-neutral in nothing.” Gouverneur’s paper endorsed the Liberal Republican movement in 1872 and supported Mr. Greeley in his bid for the presidency. After Greeley’s defeat to incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, Mr. Gouverneur ceased publishing his paper.
The following year, the family returned to Washington, DC permanently, taking up residence on Corcoran Street near 14th Street.
Mr. Gouverneur does not appear in the 1880 census as he died on April 5th, 1880 in Washington. His body would be brought to his former adopted home of Frederick, and laid to rest in Mount Olivet not far from soldiers lost during the late war.
Mrs. Gouverneur played a role in Washington Society with her daughters. She also lived with Maud and Rose up through her death.
The New York native and author would die on March 12th, 1914 and was brought back to Frederick to be buried next to her husband in Area G.
Rose Gouverneur Hoes is worthy of a separate article which I have planned to write. She died on May 26th, 1933 and is buried here with her parents and her son, Roswell Randall Hoes, Jr. (1891-1901), who died in childhood.
Maud Campbell Gouverneur never married and lived to the ripe old age of 90, passing on March 29th, 1947.
The final daughter of Samuel and Marian Gouverneur, Ruth Monroe, married a local Frederick gentleman with deep roots here, Dr. Thomas Crawford Johnson (1856-1943). Dr. Johnson served as a physician to the School for the Deaf, the Home for the Aged and the All Saints’ Orphanage. The family lived at 111 Record Street, the former home of Dr. William Tyler. Ruth was a founding member of the Frederick Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution in September, 1892. She died here in this house on February 28th, 1949.
Of all these individuals, I am uniquely interested in the earlier mentioned Sarah Leleng, I told you about. Sarah was a domestic servant brought back to the United States by the Gouverneurs. Her name is somewhat of a mystery as she is referred to as Le Leng in the 1880 census and Sarah Gouverneur a decade earlier. I could not find her in the 1900 and 1910 census records, but I did find a laundress named Lee Leng in 1900 in Washington, however the record says this is a male. I wonder about this as the profession of laundress denotes a female and the date of birth seems reasonable at 1849? Regardless, I wish I had been able to find Sarah in the 1910 census, but she appears not to be living with any Gouverneur family members.
As I said earlier, I found Sarah’s gravesite and date of death of October 18th, 1917. She is buried here in Area T/Lot 44. Our records confirmed that she was unmarried and passed at age 73, making her birthday around 1844 showing that some of the census records have her age incorrect, a common mistake of the time.
Sarah Leleng died of carcinoma and our records show that she was working as a domestic at the time of death. Her gravesite was purchased by her estate at the time of death. Most interesting are the obituaries that appeared in the Washington and Frederick papers. Of special note, she is proclaimed as being the first Chinese woman to come to the US. Secondly, she had amassed a good fortune over her lifetime.
In her will, Sarah had made provisions to send most of her fortune back to her hometown in China in order to construct a mission chapel under the auspices of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Of greater connection to Frederick is the fact that Sarah wanted this to be done to honor former Frederick native James Addison Ingle.
Rev. Ingle was a friend of the family, the son of the beloved Osborn Ingle (1837-1909), longtime minister of Frederick’s All Saints’ Protestant Episcopal Church. I wrote a piece a few years back chronicling the tragedy the reverend suffered as he would lose his wife and seven children between 1881-1883. His residence at the time was the All Saints Rectory located at 113 Record Street and next door to Dr. William Crawford Johnson and wife Ruth Gouverneur Johnson. The reverend would live here for more than four decades.
Sadly, Rev. Ingle died less than a year later on December 7th, 1903, and was buried in the Old International Cemetery in Hankow. This was the original foreign cemetery used by the cities of Hankow (west bank of Yangtze north of Hanshui River), Wuchang (east bank), and Hanyang (south of Hanshui River). The three cities were later merged and renamed Wuhan. The cemetery was removed in the early 20th century but the whereabouts of Rev. Ingle's remains are unknown.
Rt. Rev. Logan Herbert Roots succeeded Ingle as bishop of Hankow. A memorial service was held in his honor at Emmanuel Church, Baltimore, during which Rev. Arthur M. Sherman mentioned Rev. Ingles' dedication to building a native church, and his efforts after the Boxer Rebellion. His Frederick, Maryland parish donated funds to establish a scholarship at the Boone Divinity School in China in his memory, which was mentioned at the All Saints’ Day services in both his parishes.
Did Miss Sarah Leleng’s gift make possible a new chapel which stands today? Or did it go towards something at Boone College as did the contribution from All Saints' Church here in Frederick? I have searched quite a bit but can't find anything definitive. However, an Episcopal mission church was erected in Wuhan in 1918 and named St. Michael's. Could Miss Leleng's money gone toward this project?
I found this reference online within a volume of reports pertaining to the Board of Missions.
Whatever the case, I have another interesting piece of Mount Olivet trivia in the fact that we are the final resting place of the first Chinese woman to be admitted to the United States. I am also very confident in theorizing that she is also the first Asian-American buried in Frederick, definitively Mount Olivet. Who would have known— thanks for the tip Ms. Michel.
Well, it’s just one of those stories that you have to try figuring out by working backwards in time. The decedent is one, Frank Brunner Rhodes, buried in Mount Olivet’s Area H/Lot 217 on October 10th, 1941.
I quickly learned that the funeral occurred nearly seven weeks after Mr. Rhodes death on August 22nd. At the time he was 75 years old, and living in Providence, Rhode Island, his home for a number of years. I still don’t understand the cause of delay for his burial here in Frederick months later, as I saw stated that funeral services were held in Rhode Island a few days after his death. Regardless, there was no sense of urgency to bury the body as I found Mr. Rhodes to be an early example of a cremains burial here at Mount Olivet.
Frank’s obituary appeared in the local Frederick paper that August, and sheds light on a man who had quite a theatrical life as a successful star of vaudeville.
Because I like to go the extra yard for educational purposes with this blog, namingly educating myself just as much as the reader, I wanted to understand better the calling that characterized Frank B. Rhodes’ life—that of vaudeville.
Vaudeville is a theatrical genre of variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 19th century. A “vaudeville” was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a dramatic composition or light poetry, interspersed with songs or ballets. It became popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s, but the idea of vaudeville's theatre changed radically from its French antecedent.
In some ways analogous to music hall from Victorian Britain, a typical American vaudeville performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts have included popular and classical musicians, singers, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, ventriloquists, strongmen, female and male impersonators, acrobats, clowns, illustrated songs, jugglers, one-act plays or scenes from plays, athletes, lecturing celebrities, minstrels, and movies. Called "the heart of American show business", vaudeville was one of the most popular types of entertainment in North America for several decades.
Frank Brunner Rhodes was born January 17th, 1867, the son of Francis Thomas Rhodes (1835-1906) and Eliza Jane Mantz (1835-1913). Our subject is buried under a family monument that also marks the final resting place of his parents and sister Ada (1859-1938).
I figured I’d include the obituaries of Frank’s parents as they shed some important light on his upbringing.
So this is going to be one of those biographies which I am making from scratch, having found nothing substantial online or in history books. It’s funny, as it seems that Frank B. Rhodes’ life was extraordinary and we should know more considering the reality stars of today are heralded as “larger than life” by today’s media outlets. Mr. Rhodes frequently made the Frederick newspapers, so the following is a chronological compilation of his life doings in an effort to piece him together after 1880.
Frank Brunner Rhodes
Thanks to a few articles found in local newspapers, I gleaned a bit about our subject at the time of his 21st year. Frank and his father (referred to as “the Governor”) were noted musicians with the highly-acclaimed Frederick Cornet Band, and made a good showing in Martinsburg, WV in 1884. Frank also worked for his father at the family-run soda fountain and confectionary. Apparently, he had to come to the rescue of his brother who experienced an unfortunate accident in 1885.
Frank was more than a gifted musician, apparently he possessed special talent as an actor. In 1886, he would leave home to work with a noted theatrical group based in the Philadelphia area. Frank B. Rhodes would travel with this group over the next few years, and I’ve enclosed a letter written home and printed in the local paper in which he describes (in great detail) a visit to a coal mine in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. A year and a half earlier in December, 1885, 26 men perished as a flood occurred in this mine and all were killed by a deadly flow of quicksand.
In 1890, a local newspaper referred to Frank B. Rhodes as “Frederick’s rising young comedian.” His involvement with the Frederick Cornet Band continued, as he served in capacity of Drum Major. The group, under his leadership, was heralded for their participation in the 1890 unveiling of a large memorial to Robert E. Lee in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
Rhodes would excel with a caricature of himself as “the lightning drum major of the world.” I found a picture on eBay through my research and this was a photograph of an award presented to Rhodes stating the fact that he was seen as the world’s top drum major. Just another example of how you can find almost anything on eBay I guess.
While conducting random Google searches online, I also stumbled across an unidentified photo of a vaudeville performer of this era, and wonder if it could possibly be our subject?
Frank was hired to participate in vaudeville and minstrel shows that traveled the country, most notably W. S. Cleveland’s Consolidated Minstrels, and Joseph Gorton’s Minstrels. He would spend 1891 and 1892 on the road with a stage production called “Uncle Hiram,” in which audiences delighted in seeing him perform his drum major shtick.
Frank B. Rhodes came back to his hometown as an entertainment star. It seemed that celebrity hadn’t changed him that much as he could be found doing his own stunts as evidenced by his killing of a rattlesnake on a local excursion to nearby White Rock, north of town.
Frank was still being recruited for work by theatrical groups around the country, however he seems to have settled into life in his hometown. He married a local girl and actress, Ida Wilmoth Adams, in 1893. She was the granddaughter of former Frederick mayor Lewis Brunner who served from 1890-1892. This fact may have played a hand in Frank gaining local employment at the Frederick Opera House.
His knowledge of show business likely landed him the job of theater manager of the City Opera House. Known today as Brewers Alley Restaurant, the Opera House shared its commodious quarters with Frederick’s Market House and Town Hall, both located on the first floor. The current edifice was built in 1873 and was quite impressive as a premiere show venue.
The second floor included a large auditorium that would one day accommodate 1,100 seats. In 1900, under the leadership of Mr. Rhodes, the building was renovated to include an auditorium on its first floor with balconies. Its stage presented shows by touring companies and local theater groups, symphonies and dances, and lectures and special services. Mr. Rhodes deserves a great deal of this credit and was responsible for bringing top national acts and performers to Frederick throughout the next two decades.
In 1895, Frank helped create Frederick’s Orchestra, managed a large Flower Show, brought a premiere touring show of Romeo and Juliet, and helped establish local, home-grown theater. As a matter of fact, in that same year, he helped stage a local production of “Princess Phosa” that would raise money for the Francis Scott Key Monument Association attempting to garner funds for a memorial to be placed at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
A local theater group was another creation of Mr. Rhodes and given the name, “The Merrymakers.”
In the 1900 census, Frank Rhodes is listed as a renter in the Market Space, which made for a very short commute to the Opera House located next door. He and Ida were parents to two children, Frank Jr. (b. 1894) and Winifred (b. 1898). Frank seems to have done a lot of work “behind the scenes” when it came to the theater world. This is as much a figurative statement as it is literal, because Frank B. Rhodes had a strong reputation for being one of the country’s best scenery creators. Many articles herald his work which was in demand by theater companies and venues throughout the country. Articles regularly announced his sojourns to other cities to consult and install stage backdrops.
In 1903-1904, Frank took a show on the road, entitled “Uncle Hez.” He actually purchased a custom train car in which to transport his production staff to cities around the country. He also was given the job to create a top-notch entertainment venue at the Frederick Agricultural Fairgrounds.
Once back home in Frederick, he devoted more time to serving as lessee of the Frederick Opera House, while also running his own restaurant on West 2nd Street called the Wedgewood Café. This eatery was opened in early 1907 and heralded as “the little restaurant that sets the pace,” and was located at the former site of his father’s soda fountain. In a few years’ time, Frank would convert the café into the larger Wedgewood Inn, a hotel. Unfortunately, the venture, although very popular with the citizenry, would close in early 1909 and became home to a green grocer under Mr. C. M. Dixon.
Frank and Ida Rhodes continued with Vaudeville engagements. They are found living at #3 West Second Street in the 1910 census, however their time in Frederick was coming to an end. They would move to New York shortly thereafter.
Frank’s heralded return to Frederick was highly anticipated as he would not come in person, but instead by way of a film reel. Frederick’s vaudevillian would appear in a movie entitled “Oh the Relations” which played at the Marvel Theater in summer 1912.
Made by Solax Studios of New Jersey, I found a synopsis online of this film:
“The son of a poor widow leaves his mother, and goes out into the "world" to "make his mark." The boy succeeds rapidly. Before long he marries into a family of wealth. The boy in the meanwhile forgets all about the narrow straits in which he has left his mother. He also forgets that she needs money regularly with which to live. Only periodically does he send her a measly $5. To his new friends and his wife he poses as an orphan without friends or relations. His mother suffers keenly her son's neglect. At last, when her son had neglected to send her a remittance for a good many months, the mother decides to go to the city and look him up. Worn out with privation and hunger this poor widow reaches the city. Having no place to go, she wends her way to a house of God. Here she sinks into a faint, while the services are in progress. A wealthy woman and her little daughter have compassion on the poor woman. Answering the pleadings of her little girl and her own humane instincts, she orders that the widow be taken to her home. The wealthy woman's husband turns out to be the widow's son. Fate brought together mother and son. The son, seeing his mother's condition, soon realizes how snobbish, how undutiable and how mean he has been. And while with bowed head and shamed face he asks her forgiveness, his wife and child clasp their new-found relation to their hearts. The mother forgives her erring son and takes him to her heaving breast.”
The more fascinating aspect of this experience for Frank B. Rhodes is that he actually worked for the first woman to direct films. Solax Studios was an American motion picture studio founded in 1910 by executives from the Gaumont Film Company of France. Alice Guy-Blaché, her husband Herbert, and a third partner, George A. Magie established the Solax Company. Alice Guy-Blaché was artistic director and the director for many of its films, while her husband Herbert Blaché managed production for the new company. They built the first studio in Flushing, New York but, as Solax prospered they invested more than $100,000 in a modern production plant in 1912 in Fort Lee, New Jersey, a place that was quickly becoming the film capital of America and home to many major film studios.
Although Frank B. Rhodes’ movie career was not stellar, he was proactive in entering the new entertainment medium that was slowly killing vaudeville and stage productions. More vaudeville performers were pulled into cinema, and the line between live and recorded performance became blurred in the eyes of the masses.
By 1914, Frank and family were living in Huntington, WV. Apparently they were making ends meet as a traveling team calling themselves “the Four Palettes.”
The Rhodes appear back in New York, living in the city and what is today known as the Chelsea neighborhood. An article in the Frederick newspaper in 1916, claims that the family were recent victims of a robbery.
Frank B. Rhodes and family would soon be out of the city, and living in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
A local newspaper article claims the Rhodes moved to Kentucky in 1923, but they would be back in Rhode Island by 1925. It seems that Frank Rhodes would settle into retirement in the vicinity of Cranston, a suburb of Providence, Rhode Island. Information from here on out on Frank is scarce.
The Rhodes can be found living with their daughter and family in the 1940 US Census. Frank, Jr. lived in the area and was a lieutenant colonel and commander of Fort Wetherill, a coast artillery fortress, at this time.
Frank B. Rhodes took his final curtain call in August of 1941. A few months later, the country would be at war with Japan. Frank Jr. died in 1950 and Winifred in 1959. Ida Rhodes lived out her life in Duval, Florida, dying in 1965.
What a storied career for Frank T. Rhodes. Much like Robert Downing, another theatrical legend found buried roughly 100 yards away, we’d never know about these past lives lived if we didn’t look into them deeper.
Cemeteries are special places and incredible theaters unto themselves, keepers of actors of all sorts whose “Stories in Stone" just need a stage to bring back their memory.
Not knowing what story to embark on for this week, I turned to the internet for guidance. Although I have tens of thousands of subjects at my ready disposal, I searched to see what “national day holiday” it happened to be. You know what I’m talking about here, as it seems there is a day for everything: National Garlic Day, National Bike to Work Day, National Bathtub Racing Day, National Milk Day, and even one that hits so close to home, National Anthem Day on March 3rd. (If you’re curious to learn more check out the website: https://nationaldaycalendar.com/ ). Well, on the particular day I performed this task, March 1st, I was surprised to learn that it was National Pig Day.
When it comes to pigs, Mount Olivet has a bit of history along these lines. First off, William T. Duvall (1813-1886), Mount Olivet’s first superintendent, actually raised hogs in a pen on the premises. I also stumbled across a few old prominent Frederick families having names that could be stretched to relate to swine terms, but certainly that is where these connections end. Mount Olivet has three graves associated with the Pigman family who were originally buried in the All Saints’ Church burying ground (once located downtown off E. All Saints Street). Meanwhile, the cemetery boasts ten members of a family having the last name of Hogg. Last year, I even wrote about a few members of the Bacon family interred here.
Well, when I started thinking about pigs on the property, I wondered about their role here, but found it was nothing more than a notch in the food chain, especially prevalent in the annals of breakfast side items ranging from bacon to sausage to scrapple. My family is originally from Delaware, so I prefer to use the term scrapple instead of the Pennsylvania Dutch names of Pannhaas, Pon haus, Krepples or “pan rabbit.”
My Dad always took great pride in pointing out the RAPA Scrapple plant on trips to and from the beach (via DE 404) when I was a kid, as it is located (and still operating) in Bridgeville, Delaware— and since 1926. An additional tip if traveling through this Sussex County crossroads, the town’s slogan is “Bridgeville, Delaware: If you lived here, you’d be home now.” Let’s just call that food for thought.
My brothers and I always delighted in asking my Dad what actually went into making scrapple (as in, what part of the pig)? His patented answer: “Everything but the squeal.” For those not familiar with this delicacy, it’s considered a mush, and when I looked to find the true ingredients to relay here for you, I became slightly lightheaded. Like they say, “Some things are better left unsaid.” Hey, I read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle back in high school, and decided that the meat processing business was not a career for me. However, I am so thankful that others have pursued it, typified by the time-honored profession of butcher. One such here in Frederick's past was George Washington Abrecht, who is buried in Area G/Lot 212)
Here in Frederick, we have had many talented butchers since our town’s founding in 1745. I’m sure we’ve also had some average, and not so talented meat cutters as well. Many of these folks are buried here in our cemetery. So, in honor of National Pig Day, I’d like to dedicate this story to one of this profession who rests in peace, not pig, in Area U/Lot 10. His name was Harry Diehl Baumgardner, Sr. and he possessed great talents in readying meat for public consumption, both locally and regionally.
After gaining a reputation as one of the leading butchers of Frederick City, Mr. Baumgardner is credited for his business acumen in helping Frederick gain its first large “abattoir.” In case you haven’t heard this term before, it sounds delightfully exotic and appealing, right? Well, that is until you find out that this word, derived from French, is another moniker for "slaughterhouse," and first used around 1809. I certainly wasn't going to title this article, “The Slaughterhouse’s Founder” as I would have scared half of you away!
Harry Diehl Baumgardner
Harry Diehl Baumgardner was born in Frederick on August 31st, 1868, the son of John F., and Fannie E. (Sinn) Baumgardner, of Frederick. His father came with his parents from Germany, arriving in Frederick in 1843. John Baumgardner was a self-made man, who served as a role model to Harry and his six siblings. He demonstrated how hard work and perseverance could lead to great things in his adopted new home of Frederick. This gentleman became one of the county’s most prominent citizens, operating a highly-successful junk operation in town, and later serving as superintendent and general manager of the Frederick Brick Works, a business he helped organize and incorporate in 1891. You will see that “the (proverbial) apple, didn’t fall far from the tree.
I regularly reference T.J.C. William’s History of Frederick County in this Stories in Stone blog series. Originally published in 1910, this is a two-volume set, the latter of which includes biographies of hundreds of county residents. On page 1492, the reader will learn the following about our subject Harry Diehl Baumgardner:
Mr. Baumgardner secured his elementary education in the Frederick College. He finished his studies at Eaton & Burnett’s Business College of Baltimore, Md.
Upon the completion of his education, he returned to Frederick and became general manger of the junk business of his father, who is the largest dealer of this kind in Western Maryland. Mr. Baumgardner, by his excellent conduct, has aided much in the success of the undertaking. Since 1888, he has been engaged in the wholesale and retail oyster business as a side line, and has acquired a large trade. In 1905, he embarked in the butchering business. He purchased a house and shop between Fifth and Sixth streets from his uncle. At a cost of $4,000, he erected an up-to-date and modern slaughter shop, which is the finest place of its kind in Frederick. His meat market is located on North Market Street and he has also met with success in this line of trade.
Mr. Baumgardner is a progressive man and has been one of the foremost workers to organize a stock company to erect an abattoir on a site about a half mile east of Frederick. Here, all the butchers of Frederick would have their stock killed and the slaughtering would be done outside the town limits. Mr. Baumgardner is as versatile as he is successful in business affairs. He also deals in real estate and his operations have brought him substantial returns. He is the owner of several fine houses in Frederick.
In politics, Mr. Baumgardner votes for the candidates of the Democratic party. He is a member of Mountain City Lodge, No. 29, Knights of Pythias, and the Improved Order of Red Man, both of Frederick. He is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Frederick.
Mr. Baumgardner was married to Margaret L. Whisner, daughter of Michael and Margaret Whisner, of Frederick City. Six children have been born of this union, namely: Ralph A., Fannie E., Harry D. Jr., Margaret L., Carlton A., and Catherine E.
Harry Diehl Baumgardner would have three additional daughters: Edith V., Lucille D., and Daisy Mae. He lost his wife in 1927 but still remained active in community business and civic affairs until his death on November 20th, 1944.
Harry Diehl Baumgardner was buried in Mount Olivet’s Area U/Lot 10, adjacent to the Babyland section, and next to wife, Margaret who had died back in 1927. Son Harry Diehl Baumgardner, Jr. (1898-1976) can also be found buried in this lot. For many years he served as manager of the Sanitary Grocery Company's store located at 242 N. Market Street.
Back to the crowning achievement of Mr. Baumgardner. The Frederick Abattoir joined the agricultural industries of Frederick in 1910. Touted as a centralized facility for stock butchering, the large complex was constructed outside the city limits, segregating its odorous and potentially unhealthful business from the commercial and residential city center. The location once stood within the 800 block of East South Street between intersections with Franklin Street and today’s Monocacy Boulevard.
A Maryland Historical Trust survey found online for this property (F-3-222 Frederick City Abbatoir Company) added that Baumgardner's plan for the abattoir appears to have begun in 1907 with his purchase of a 22-acre site on East South Street from the M.J. Grove Lime Company. In December 1910,
Baumgardner sold the property to the Frederick City Abattoir Company for $5,000, indicating
the facility may have been under construction.
In 1917, the property was sold to a Virginia corporation known as the Old Dutch Market, which owned a chain of grocery stores in Washington DC and Richmond. Included in the sale of 22 acres was the "Abattoir plant, machinery, fittings and equipment thereon," as well as "all its brands, copy rights and trademarks, and all its rights to use the same, of and concerning all the brands and grades of goods manufactured or sold by it."
The Old Dutch Market company became the Old Dutch Realty Development Company in 1920, and apparently developed their industrial property in Frederick. In 1927, the property was sold to Frederick County Products Incorporated for a whopping $72,500.90. The Frederick County Products Company apparently purchased livestock from local farmers, then slaughtered and packaged their product for sale in urban markets. Many Frederick memorabilia collectors around town, including myself, own packaging from the signature “Blue Ridge” trademarked brand produced by the company.
The business continued operating into the 1970s, and was commonly known as the livestock auction. In 1979 the property was sold to P. Eugene and Mildred Romsburg, who owned it for 20 years. Most recently the buildings, and approximately three acres, were sold to Wolfe Family LLLP, who operated a Flea Market in the building and leased other sections to local companies.
The structure at 809 East South St was demolished a few years back. It's likely that many readers drove by it regularly, never having a clue to it's meaty history. Now you know the rest of the story.
I figured I'd end with a few porcine-related quotes:
"Well-being and happiness never appeared to me as an absolute aim. I am even inclined to compare such moral aims to the ambitions of the pig."
"A pig resembles a saint in that he is more honored after death than during his lifetime."
-Irma S. Rombauer
"Today's pig is tomorrow's bacon!"
Hunter S. Thompson
Special thanks to my talented assistant Sylvia Sears for bringing this story to my attention and conducting research to boot! Below is an additional newspaper article describing the building of the Frederick City Abattoir. Warning, read at your own ri