Happy President’s Day! .... once again.
In commemoration, a year ago, I wrote a piece about Joshua Johnson (1742-1802), younger brother of Gov. Thomas Johnson, Jr. This Johnson brother was a London shipping merchant, US Consul to London (1790-1797), and US Collector of Stamps for Washington, DC. His greatest claim to fame, at least as it pertains to the history books, lies in the fact that his daughter, Louisa Catharine Johnson (1775-1852) would become a presidential First Lady when she married John Quincy Adams in July, 1797.
This isn’t the only connection Frederick’s Mount Olivet Cemetery has to the US presidency, as we have a few other folks (interred here) that are blood-related to past “commanders in chief.” Just the other day, I came across an extended ”Johnson family” relative named William Monroe Johnson, Sr. (1895-1991), a World War I veteran. He was a great, great-grandson of President James Monroe, hence the catchy middle name. His mother, Ruth Monroe Gouverneur married Dr. William Crawford Johnson. All three individuals are buried here in the cemetery’s Area E. Ruth (Mrs. Johnson) was a founding member of Frederick’s Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter, and rightfully so.
Nearby Ruth Gouverneur’s grave is that of another of Frederick DAR’s founding ladies—Millissent Washington (1824-1893). This Kentucky native was a daughter of William Temple Washington, a grandson of Samuel Washington, younger brother of George Washington—making Millissent the great-grandniece of our first US president. She married Robert G. McPherson of Frederick and took up residence here. In addition, Millissent McPherson was also a grandniece of Dolly Payne Todd Madison, wife of former president James Madison.
I’m sure this is the tip of the iceberg as plenty more persons buried here in Mount Olivet could be linked genetically to US presidents and First Ladies. I kindly invite readers to add any special connections (that they may know about) to the Comments section immediately after this story.
"It's a Small World After All"
My son Eddie and I traveled to Orlando, Florida in late January for a mini-vacation spent visiting my brother Tim and his family. It really is a luxury having a family member living in Orlando, as there is always a free place to stay, and no shortage of great things to do. Atop that list is the varied experiences related to the Wonderful World of Disney, of course. Eddie, now 11, hadn’t visited the Magic Kingdom since age 3, and vaguely remembered any of the signature attractions. So it seemed like a good choice to have him experience Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, and Big Thunder Mountain this time around with the benefit of lasting cognitive abilities. Saying this, I spared him the “It’s a Small World” ride experience, for the same reason.
I did, however, pull him into the renown Hall of Presidents in Disney’s Liberty Square, built to resemble Philadelphia in 1776. The Hall of Presidents sometimes get passed by for rides and other more thrilling attractions, but not by a bona-fide “history-geek” Dad like me— Eddie Haugh is no stranger to US history. I have brought him to the real Philadelphia on several occasions, successfully slipping in visits to places like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Betsy Ross House, as preludes to seeing his favorite sports teams in the form of the Phillies and Eagles.
For those of you who have not been to the Hall of Presidents before, this attraction is a multi-media presentation and stage show featuring Audio-Animatronic figures of all 44 individual United States Presidents, adorned in period attire of their respective era in the White House. The entire concept is based on Walt Disney’s Animatron of Abraham Lincoln, featured in an exhibit that first appeared at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. The experience opened on October 1st, 1971, along with the rest of the Magic Kingdom and resort.
Housed in a building resembling Philadelphia's Independence Hall, the current attraction features a short film depicting a historical account of several American presidencies, notably George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. The film is followed by a stage presentation of all the presidents in Audio-Animatronic form and features speeches by Lincoln, Washington, and the most current incumbent President, Donald Trump.
As you are waiting to go into the theater for the 25-minute show, an ample-spaced indoor lobby serves home to a gallery of president-related portraits, murals and display cases holding historic artifacts and memorabilia. I spent our ten-minute wait engrossed with John Quincy Adams’ microscope, Gerald Ford’s tennis racquet, George Washington's beer stein, John Adams’ pocket watch and cowboy boots worn by George W. Bush at his inauguration. I also saw a plaster sculpture of Fala, the beloved Scottish Terrier of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This item was made for the president, and kept atop his desk.
I took particular interest in this because of a story involving Fala told to me by the late historian George W. Wireman of Thurmont. One day during World War II, FDR and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill were en-route to the presidential retreat at Shangri-La. The presidential motorcade made a stop for Thurmont’s only red light, located in the center of town. Apparently, Fala jumped out of the car and headed to the nearest fireplug to relieve himself. This public urination took place to the great chagrin of the world leaders in the car, and the secret service detail who tried to corral the presidential canine.
Back at the Hall of Presidents, it was now our chance to go into the theater for the show. There was still time for me to see one last display case as we were being “herded-in” to our seats.
I have to admit that I was so excited to see someone from Frederick represented in the Hall of Presidents that I jokingly thought the attraction could be renamed “the Haugh of Presidents.” I could have easily overlooked the whole thing. Once back home, I set out to learn more about the former clerk of the court. Little did I know, that the day we visited Disney and saw this artifact, was actually Mr. Haugh’s birthday! Coincidence, or divine intervention?
Eli G. Haugh
Eli Grant Haugh was born on January 25th, 1866 to parents William Haugh, Jr. and wife Elizabeth Cramer. His middle name represents another connection to the presidency, but at the time of Eli’s birth, Ulysses S. Grant was better known for his keen leadership in the American Civil War, accepting Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, VA just seven months earlier.
The Haugh family lived near Ladiesburg in the Johnsville District of northeastern Frederick County. This vicinity is located off MD194, near Little Pipe Creek and Carroll County line. Lasting reminders of the once prominent family include Mount Zion/Haugh’s Church, Haugh's Cemetery and the aptly named rural road that goes by them up to Detour. In fact, on the 1873 Titus Atlas, one can see a plethora of Haugh properties in the area and an area between MD194 (Woodsboro/YorkPike) and the Frederick & Pennsylvania Railroad here is labeled as Haughville, also referred to occasionally as Haughsville. Again I claim no relation to this line, although I wish I did. And, I have been told that the family actually pronounced their name “Hawk” as in the flying bird of prey.
Eli’s great-grandfather, Paul Haugh (sometimes referred to as Powell), is said to have emigrated from Germany or Switzerland and settled here in late 1700’s, building a valuable farmstead at the location of Haugh’s Church. Paul Haugh gave the ground for the church, the first house of worship in the vicinity. A graveyard is associated with the church and holds the grave of this gentleman and generations of Haughs to follow. Eli’s grandfather, William Haugh, Sr., took up the occupation of village blacksmith. This gentleman’s son, William, Jr. (Eli’s father), grew up on the homestead, and received education in local public schools. He married and began farming, himself, quite successfully. Eli Haugh eventually accepted a position as superintendent of hauling teams with Peregrine Fitzhugh, owner/operator of Catoctin Furnace from 1843-1858.
Interestingly, President Herbert Hoover would be linked to Catoctin Furnace and the Catoctin Manor, one-time home of Peregrine Fitzhugh. Hoover’s personal secretary, Lawrence Richey, would purchase the property in March, 1929, primarily to have a place at which the president could escape the White House and enjoy his favorite pastime of fishing in Little Hunting Creek (at Catoctin Furnace). The property was commonly referred to as Hoover’s Camp. And this, in turn, explains the fishing license issued by Clerk Eli Haugh to the president in April, 1929.
Eli received his education in the public schools of the Johnsville District and remained at home until 15 years of age. He spent his youth working on his father’s farm and grew up in the German Reformed faith (practiced at Haugh’s Church). He soon went to work as a clerk in several stores in nearby Johnsville, eventually forming a partnership with a gentleman named Samuel Garber. The firm of Haugh & Garber lasted for four years, having bought the stock and trade of one Charles E. Saylor. The partnership would eventually dissolve, but Haugh would stay on as a clerk for new owner Samuel Furry for the next seven years. Haugh’s clerking skills also came into play as he served as Johnsville’s Postmaster in the early 1890’s.
Along the way, Eli would marry a local girl from the Johnsville area named Annie M. “Mollie” Strasburg. This was in 1887. They would have two daughters: Hilda (b. 1889) and Nellie (b. 1891). Due to a career change, the family would soon take root in Frederick City, first living on E. Church Street.
The year 1897 brought the opportunity of public civil service for the 31-year-old Haugh within Frederick County’s government sector. Eli’s hard work and determination as a clerk paid off, as he would be appointed deputy Register of Wills under his former business mentor Charles E. Saylor. He remained in this position for six years, at which time he was appointed Deputy Clerk of the County Court for Frederick County (1903). He served a full term in this role, and was reappointed in 1909 by newly-elected Clerk of the Court, Harry W. Bowers. T.J.C. Williams’ “History of Frederick County” reports: “During all these years he discharged the arduous duties of the office punctually and creditably giving entire satisfaction to his employer. Mr. Haugh is one of the leading citizens of Frederick, and is highly esteemed in the community”
Eli Haugh was involved in several aspects of his community. He was a director of the Commercial Bank, served as secretary of the Frederick City Draft Board during World War I, and was a devoted member and steward of Calvary Methodist Church. I even found an article from 1906 where Eli was among a group of gentlemen who purchased "White Rock," in hopes of building a resort hotel. This never materialized to my knowledge.
Haugh's involvement in fraternal organizations included the Masons, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Independent Order of Redmen, and Independent Order of Heptasophs.
In the fall of 1936, Mr. Haugh, at the age of 70, had spent the majority of his life in the employ of Frederick County and her citizens. The community was stunned as he passed suddenly one week before Thanksgiving in the confines of his home located at 309 Dill Avenue. He had been engaged in his life’s work until his waning hours. Frederick historian John Ashbury, in his 1997 book entitled “And All our Yesterdays” chronicles the last hours of Eli G. Haugh’s life on November 19th, 1936:
“After completing his day’s work at the courthouse on November 19, 1936, Mr. Haugh went home for supper. Shortly after he ate, he was called to the courthouse to issue a marriage license. When he returned home. He complained to his wife, Mollie, that he had indigestion. His daughter, Mrs. Edward M. Mantz, who was visiting, gave him his usual medication but to no avail. Mr. Haugh suddenly slumped in his chair, and a physician was called. He was pronounced dead of apoplexy.”
Mr. Haugh’s death was front page news in the November 20th edition of the Frederick Post. Amongst the multi-column obituary provided, the paper said of the distinguished gentleman:
“Among the law profession and others who came in constant contact with the clerk of the court’s office, Mr. Haugh was one of the most efficient public officials the county has had. His devotion to duty was reflected in his deputies and the office was conducted in an efficient manner. Lawyers relied upon him time and time again. The Circuit Court, itself had confidence in his judgment. He personally handled the ever-increasing business of the civil and criminal dockets of the court.”
Eli Grant Haugh’s funeral in Mount Olivet occurred on November 22nd. It was performed by Dr. Benjamin Meeks under the charge of the deceased’s Masonic Lodge and before a large throng of onlookers and admirers. Mr. Haugh was laid to rest in Area S, Lot 130. Wife Mollie would soon be by his side, dying less than two months later on January 16th, 1937.
Eli Haugh’s successor as Clerk of the Court for Frederick County was a man named Ellis G. Wachter, who would break his predecessor’s record of service—38 years. Ironically, Mr. Wachter’s replacement would be Charles E. Keller, born the same year that Eli G. Haugh passed away. Keller would serve 24 years until current Clerk of the Frederick Court (and fan of our blog) Sandra K. Dalton took office in 1998.
One final point of interest to me was that my father (Edwin A. Haugh) was born in the fall of 1936, and my great-grandfather Albert A. Haugh died at that time—just two days after Eli Haugh on November 21st, 1936 in Camden, NJ.
As for the actual Hall of Presidents’ show, my son Eddie enjoyed it, especially seeing his favorite president, Harry S. Truman. He certainly liked the cavalcade of presidents more than hearing me blab on about seeing Eli G. Haugh’s signature on a fishing license for Herbert Hoover—my greatest takeaway from the exhibit.
If you are heading to the Magic Kingdom anytime soon, please take note of this unique artifact as it truly is representative of Frederick’s Haugh of Presidents.
In honor of President's Day, here are a few bonus articles pertaining to President Hoover and visits to our area.
One hundred years ago this week, our country, state and county was in the throes of a first-ever “world war.” This year is marked with special commemorations and programming aimed at remembering “The Great War,” and those who served their country “to make the world safe for democracy.”
Here at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Maryland, we are currently researching local men and women who participated in the conflict and were subsequently interred here. Our historic, garden cemetery serves home to nearly 500 veterans of World War I. We have created a website entitled MountOlivetVets.com in which we are building online memorials for each of those veterans. Each page includes pictures of the gravesite, an obituary, vital and service-related information, draft registration documents and a few other facts such as name of parents and spouse, occupation and home address. In rare cases we have found photos of decedents. We are inviting help from users to supply us with (electronic) copies of photos or other documents of interest in an effort to preserve the history and memory of these important Americans.
As we have been compiling research, an interesting name came up in our cemetery database inventory. It was that of Harry C. Burke (1894-1918). I took particular interest in this 24-year old gentleman who died during the war. He is listed among 14 interments here at the cemetery constituting a “service connected” death. Upon further inspection, I ventured out to the grounds and found Burke’s gravestone but learned from our records that he is only here in name alone, his mortal remains repose in a military cemetery in eastern France. This inspired me to learn more.
Area U, Lot 12 was purchased on September 6th, 1922 by Luther Columbus Burke, father of our subject Harry C. Burke. No one would be buried here until the elder Mr. Burke’s passing in late September, 1930.
However, the cemetery lot had been adorned with a memorial monument dating back to at least November of 1923 as I uncovered an article in a local newspaper saying that this grave was among those decorated by a local contingent on Armistice Day (November 12, 1923). I’m assuming that the Burke family placed the existing granite monument here between the fall of 1922 and the fall of 1923. "Pansies and a new flag" would be placed on his grave on April 10th, 1925 by the American Legion Auxiliary.
Harry C. Burke
Harry C. Burke was born on July 7th, 1894 in Frederick. He grew up on his family’s farm, located in Pearl, a small hamlet east of the Monocacy River along the National Road (MD144). Today this general vicinity is better known as the southern part of the Spring Ridge community (around Avery's Maryland Grille/former site of Jug Bridge Seafood). In the days before the war, I gleaned little about Harry Burke. He attended Frederick High School and graduated @1912. Burke was mentioned from time to time as an attendee of a birthday party or family reunion. In 1915, he sang a duet for his church pageant (Mount Carmel Reformed Church), and in January 1916, Harry helped celebrate the marriage of his sister Margaret to Jesse E. Sponseller. Sadly Sponseller would die just three years later and is buried here in Mount Olivet—a story for another day.
The national call was made for young men between the ages of 21 and 31 to register for the military draft. Maryland had a state quota of 15,000—7,500 from Baltimore City and 7,500 from Maryland’s counties. Harry C. Burke would register for the draft on June 5th, 1917 at the local county draft board’s first precinct here in Frederick . He would be the 1,095 man to do so in Maryland.
On Friday, July 20th, 1917, young Harry Burke’s fate would be cast. His draft number, 1095, was chosen at random by the Frederick County Draft Board. He would be the 9th Frederick County man picked for military service for “the Great War.”
The exemption board was said to have sent Harry C. Burke to Camp Meade in Anne Arundel County on November 6th, 1917. November 11th is given as the date Burke was inducted into military service. He initially served with the rank of Private in Company L of the 313th Infantry Regiment. The 313th would fall under the 157th Infantry Brigade of the 79th Division.
The division was first activated at Camp Meade in August 1917, composed primarily of draftees from Maryland and Pennsylvania. The 313th Regiment was known as "Baltimore's Own" due to the large number of men from the city and was headed by Col. Claude B. Sweezey, a West Point graduate.
After eight months of training, Harry C. Burke found himself on a transport ship on July 6th, 1918 preparing to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The next day he would celebrate his 24th birthday at sea, it would be his last. The 313th Regiment and its 3,667 men sailed to France to join the active front near Verdun, a scene of heavy fighting throughout 1916. Shortly after landing in Europe, Harry was given a promotion to Private First Class.
Harry Burke would participate in early tough fights of the unit. Action for the Frederick boy over his first month in Europe was light, consisting mostly of travel (marching/train transport) to the Avocourt Sector of northeast France. He wrote the following letter “back home” at the end of August (1918). It would be published in the pages of the Frederick Post (nearly six weeks after its writing):
The optimism shown by PFC Burke would certainly play out for the American allies, but not for the Frederick resident himself. He would lose his life, likely before his parents read his charming letter of August 31st. At this time, the 313th was engaged in the principal engagement of the war—the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest of its kind in United States military history, involving 1.2 million American soldiers. Under the command of John J. Pershing, this was also the bloodiest operation of World War I for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). The event was one of a series of Allied attacks known as “The Hundred Days Offensive,” which brought the war to an end. It would also serve as the second-deadliest battle in American history, behind World War II’s Battle of Normandy. American losses were heightened by the inexperience of many of the troops, and tactics used during the early phases of the operation. The battle cost 28,000 German lives, 26,277 American lives and an unknown number of French lives. Harry C. Burke was one of the casualties.
The Frederick native participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive’s “First phase” which took place from September 26th to October 3rd, 1918. The 79th Division was assigned the deepest, first-day objective of any division of the Army even though it was facing some of the most difficult terrain in the Meuse-Argonne region.
On September 25th, the 79th occupied Sector 304, which it had taken over from the 157th French Division on September 16th. With the 37th Division on its left flank and the 4th Division on its right, the 79th’s mission was to seize, in succession, Malancourt, Montfaucon, and Nantillois, which was some 5.5 miles beyond the German lines. Weeks spent confined in the Allied trenches would give rise to a foray into the famed “No Man’s Land” to the east.
To give a glimpse of what PFC Burke experienced, I include this overview of the battle’s first phase, including information drawn from the Combat Studies Institute’s (Fort Leavenworth, KS) dissertation on the Battle of Montfaucon:
By 4:30 a.m. on the morning of September 26th, 1918, the untested 79th Division’s 313th Infantry Regiment anxiously waited in trenches south of the ruined town of Avocourt. In one hour’s time, they would join 220,000 other American soldiers spread across a 26-mile line in the launch of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Harry C. Burke and the soldiers of the 313th Regiment marched all night through heavy rain and darkness to reach this point.
Traveling light, with only the necessities of war, they traversed thick brush, endless fields of barbed wire and terrain scarred with deep, mud-filled shell craters. As they moved forward, friendly artillery screamed overhead, climaxing in an intense barrage twenty minutes prior to their attack. An interesting footnote here resides in the fact that the Allies expended more ammunition than both sides managed to fire throughout the four years of the American Civil War. The cost was later calculated to have been $180 million, or $1 million per minute.
Burke and his comrades hoped that each shell might help weaken the German forces soon to be encountered. The soldiers of the 313th Regiment were attached with a heavy burden on their shoulders. Their objective was the honor position of offensive’s first phase. By days’ end, they were expected to clear 4.3 miles of enemy territory and take the formidable heights of Montfaucon, on which the Germans observed the entire American sector from four to five positions.
This same terrain claimed over 300,000 French casualties in 1916. The success of the entire campaign hinged on control of Montfaucon. It took the 79th Division only two days to capture Montfaucon, however, the cost to the 313th was high. The regiment lost 45 officers and 1,200 enlisted men. One soldier described the experience as a “hellish ordeal” in a letter home:
“I’ve been on the firing line a week, and it was like a lifetime in hell. It was one of the worst and bloodiest battles of the war. Any why, or how, I came through it is more than I can tell.”
In the days following Montfaucon, the 313th advanced little more than a mile and was halted. On September 29th, six additional German divisions were deployed to oppose the American attack. In the shadow of Montfaucon, and on this day, Harry C. Burke would lose his life—but it would be several months until his body was discovered. Over a month would pass until Burke’s family in Frederick would learn of his disappearance. A local newspaper shared the unfortunate news with the community.
This chilling article appeared on November 11th, the day of the armistice which officially ended the war. A month later, the parents of Clarke Eugene Stull, a friend and fellow soldier of Burke’s, received a letter from their son giving brief hope to the Burke family. Stull was a former bunkmate of Burke, and was injured on September 29th. He claims that he saw Harry in “good health” earlier on the ill-fated day of September 29th, but had not heard from him up through the date of writing his letter (late November).
By the end of what must have been an excruciating holiday season, the Burke family and friends must have been losing hope while others around them were rejoicing in the fact that their loved ones would soon be returning from Europe. The Frederick News began running large advertisements commemorating the efforts of Frederick County’s brave Doughboys, and entitled "Our Roll of Honor." Through the winter months, Burke’s name continued to run under a column headed “Soldiers Missing in Action.”
On March 25th, 1919, The Baltimore Sun ran a story from the 313th Infantry Regimental Headquarters located in Conde, France. Sixty men of the regiment were listed, whose whereabouts were still unknown. The article stated that they could be buried in unmarked graves or graves marked simply as “unknown.” The piece also ventured to give optimism in saying that some of these men could be “lost in a hospital in France and may turn up later.” Throughout its entire World War I campaign, the 79th Division suffered 6,874 casualties with 1,151 killed and 5,723 wounded. Interestingly, a Maryland resident from east Baltimore, named Private Henry Gunther, was the last American soldier to be killed in action during World War I. Like Harry C. Burke, he served with the 313th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Division.
I don’t know exactly when or where, but PFC Burke’s body was eventually discovered. His death was known at the time of Frederick's large Homecoming Parade and celebration which occurred on July 4th, 1919. Harry C. Burke would be given a proper burial in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery located in Romagne, France, not far from where the Frederick soldier breathed his last breath. His gravesite is marked with a military-issue marble cross, sitting atop soil designated as Plot F/Row 39/Grave 24.
I had the humbling experience of visiting this same cemetery while on a battlefield tour with my father back in 2001. Unfortunately at that time, I knew nothing of Harry C. Burke and his connection to Frederick. If I had, I certainly would have sought it out. I hope Harry’s parents had the opportunity to visit his actual European gravesite in an attempt to gain some semblance of closure.
Whatever the case, the Burke family memorialized their son here at Mount Olivet with a fine monument, affording friends, family and others to pay tribute to a brave young man who “gave the last full measure of devotion.”
Let’s be frank, this week’s story is a bittersweet tale and barker for further knowledge through the documentary film medium. (Trust me, as I know a little bit about the process.) We feature two interesting figures in American history, both named Frank, and both buried within Mount Olivet. Interestingly, this cemetery was not either man's original burying place.
There are plenty of similarities between both of these “gentle” men. Each rose to the heights of their professions, but are said to have had doubts about their work on the eves of “life-changing” events. Frank and Frank also had affinities for their families, one boasting eleven children, the other three. Each loved his wife, wholeheartedly, but died many miles away from their loving arms. Lastly, each of these fellows had intricate ties to the federal government, and their fame can be traced to secret missions during wartime—and each involving a place named after our county's third secretary of war, James McHenry (1753-1816). Each suddenly found themselves as captives. In one case, an individual was freed, and soon triumphed through this experience. In the other, a man was lost, creating an intricate mystery related to national security that still exists to this day.
To the victor, go the spoils. The “Frank” that starred in the success story has been remembered fondly by history as a patriot of the highest order—a fact put into motion by a song that still serves as his legacy today. His overnight stardom led to good things for his family, and advancement in his career. He was a lawyer who came to advise the US president and other national leaders. He eventually became the District Attorney for Washington DC, a post that had him arguing cases before the Supreme Court. His final resting spot here in Mount Olivet is adorned by a fine monument standing 24’ tall at the entrance of the cemetery—you can’t miss it. Much has been written and produced on his life and times, including a recent miniseries on public television. His reputation and that of his legendary song have taken a few hits, or should I say “kneels,” of late, but both are still held as treasures by his hometown of Frederick, the State of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution.
On the other hand, the second “Frank” was a renowned scientist, brought to Frederick from his native Wisconsin to work at Fort Detrick on biological warfare and weapons research. His journey would be ill-fated, with a rise to notoriety based principally on a fall, or a jump—one that would extinguish his life, and alter that of his family, forever. Memory of this man and his work appear to have been erased, or covered-up following his death. He is buried towards the back of the cemetery, close to the mausoleum complex. His gravesite is simple, marked by a bronze plaque that bearing his name and vital dates. The marker has oxidized and turned greened over the six decades since his death. Although this has tarnished, the mark and reputation of this man continues to do the opposite thanks to has continued to the research work performed of his son Eric, countless reporters, and most recently by an Academy-award winning documentarian.
My job here is merely to give introductions to the fact that the mortal remains of these notable figures lie here in Mount Olivet, hopefully both in peace. At the end of the story, I invite you to watch, and learn more about these gentleman and their lives, times and deaths. From there, you are warmly welcome to visit their gravesites and pay respects.
Without a doubt, the most well-known, and most-written about, person in Mount Olivet Cemetery is Francis Scott Key. As a 33-year-old lawyer, he found himself on a special mission and unfortunately, in the wrong place, at the wrong time on the day of September 13th, 1814. The Frederick native had studied law, making it his life-long profession. He was top use his skills and work experience to rescue a friend and fellow American who had been captured during the British invasion of the nation’s capital during the War of 1812.
Frank Key, as he was known to friends and family, also took great pride in being an amateur poet. His skill as a lawyer is what brought him to Baltimore just days before, as he and a government agent successfully gained the release of a US prisoner captured by the British military. However, it would be his penchant for prose that would take precedence as he departed Maryland’s principal city on September 15th.
If you know your history, Key and Col. John Skinner, an American agent for prisoner exchange, had convinced British high command to free Dr. William Beanes to their custody. However, the British were readying to wage an assault on Baltimore which would result in a 25-hour bombardment on Fort McHenry. The three Americans, (Skinner, Frank and Beanes) had front row seats of the bombardment as they would be detained aboard a British sloop until the battle was over. The Maryland Defenders held the fort, and thus Baltimore, throughout the day of September 13th and the night of the 14th amid deplorable conditions of wind and rain.
A few years ago, filmmaker Phillip J. Marshall zeroed in on the life and times of Frank Key with a multipart series he was producing for Maryland Public Television (MPT). He employed a method called participatory documentary, which features the filmmaker interacting with his or her social actors, participating in shaping what happens before the camera. Marshall took this to a new level as he speaks to re-enactors as if they are the actual historical figures he is chronicling. He includes some dry humor in his approach as well. It’s a bit different and quirky, but truly a novel way to bring history alive for the viewer.
Produced by Kismetic Productions, funders of this project include some folks associated with Key’s hometown of Frederick—the Delaplaine Foundation, George and (the late) Bettie Delaplaine and Mike and Marlene Young. I can proudly say that this is the same group of local individuals who also helped me make my mark as a history documentarian. The program is really a collection of two documentaries hosted by filmmaker Marshall: F. S. Key and the Song that built America and the 3-part F.S. Key: After the Song. Phillip Marshall travels in Keys’ footsteps around the state and beyond, visiting many of the places where Key would have actually stood, some drastically changed by time. The documentary also includes interesting reenactments, historian commentators and interviews with prominent people in Key’s life, such as his wife Mary Tayloe Lloyd Key, his wife. Frank called her "Polly," and she is also buried here by his side in Mount Olivet.
Here is a link to the film’s trailer: Logo with link to trailer promo
Operation Artichoke was a CIA project that researched interrogation methods during the Cold War period following World War II. This entity arose in August 20th, 1951 out of another operation entitled Project Bluebird, which was being run by the CIA’s Office of Scientific Intelligence. A memorandum by Richard Helms to CIA director Allen Dulles indicated that Operation Artichoke became Project MK-Ultra on April 13th, 1953. Frederick’s Fort Detrick played a role, as did several scientists and researchers who worked on the base. One of these was Dr. Frank Rudolph Olson, born July 17th, 1910 in a small town named Hurley located in Iron County, Wisconsin.
Seven months into Project MK-Ultra, a group of men from the CIA held a retreat of sorts at Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland’s Garrett County. Ironically, this occurred at the small hamlet of McHenry. Dubbed by the official CIA papers as the “Deep Creek Rendezvous,” this trip would turn out to be the central turning point in a major government scandal after Dr. Olson would plunge to his death from a window on the 13th floor of New York City’s Hotel Statler.
The entertainment company Netflix recently released a 6-part documentary hybrid series, named Wormwood, on Frank Olson’s mysterious and untimely death following his visit to Deep Creek Lake in November, 1953. Olson’s passing was determined a suicide, and his wife Alice, and three children were left with broken hearts, and more questions than answers in the death of their loved one. The family remained in Frederick, living in Braddock Heights.
Dr. Frank Olson was originally buried in Frederick Memorial Park, located high atop Linden Hills west of downtown Frederick. Here his body would remain until 2002.
I recall first hearing about the whole Frank Olson tragedy as a young boy in the mid-seventies. My family had come to Frederick (from Delaware) in 1974, after my father began a job at Fort Detrick with the National Cancer Institute as a journal editor. He was interested in the case as it resurfaced in 1975, and I recall him trying to explain Dr. Olson’s mysterious death to me as a 9 year-old.
I also remember marveling at an edition of Nightline with Ted Koppel that chronicled the case and showed scenes of Fort Detrick and surrounding Frederick, while interviews were conducted with Olson family members. It all came together in my 8th grade-year as a student at Gov. Thomas Johnson Junior High school in 1981 when Mrs. Olson, herself, spoke to our Health Class about the dangers of alcohol and drug addiction. I can still see the pain in this amazingly strong woman’s face as she recounted the deaths of her husband, daughter and young grandson.
Alice Olson died in 1993 of pancreatic cancer. She would be laid to rest in Mount Olivet, in a lot she had purchased back in 1978 to place the bodies of Lisa, Greg and Jonathan Hayward. When researching this piece, I found that Alice’s obituary was carried in the country’s leading papers including the Washington Post and New York Times. I was fascinated to learn from these accounts that after Frank’s death, Mrs. Olson counseled alcoholics and drug addicts in our community. The Alice Olson House, a center for women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction was named in her honor. Today the family name still exists for this cause with the Olson House for Men.
Closure has still never come to son Eric Olson, a man who has dedicated his life in pursuit of the truth of what really happened in the early morning hours of November 23rd, 1953. His persistence is remarkable, as he continues to search for new clues to prove that his father's death was no accident. He has written extensively on the subject, resulting in a a very informative website (www.FrankOlsonProject.org), along with being the premise for a documentary produced by the BBC in 2002 and aptly titled Code Name Artichoke.
On June 2, 1994, Eric and brother Nils had their father’s body disinterred in order to conduct further autopsy research at a forensic research laboratory under the direction of James E. Starrs (George Washington University's Law Center). The study answered some questions, but certainly not all. After completion, Dr. Olson’s body was brought here to Mount Olivet to be buried by Alice’s side in Area RR, Lot 37. This event, like that of the disinterment, brought media coverage to the cemetery on August 9th, 2002. Ironically, this was 104 years to the exact day of the unveiling of the Francis Scott Key Monument—August 9th, 1898.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Frank Olson case, or even if you’ve heard it all before, Wormwood is something to behold. The 6-part miniseries was directed by Academy-award winner, Errol Morris, a master in the investigative documentary field. His claim to fame is the critically acclaimed The Thin Blue Line, produced in 1988. Morris uses dramatic reenactments, with stars like Peter Sarsgaard as Frank Olson, interviews from Eric Olson and others who have been involved, footage from government forums, and uncovered government documents to give the viewers perhaps the most complete version of possible events and evidence.
Here’s the official Trailer for Netflix’ Wormwood, but you will need a subscription to watch the 6-part mini-series:
Deep Creek Lake
Before I send you off into cyberspace with links to the fine documentaries on Frank Key and Frank Olson, I want to leave you with one additional connection between these two men. It has to do with the vicinity of Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County.
Deep Creek was the place where Frank Olson’s demise began. It has represented a profound mystery and sadness for the Olson clan. In stark contrast, this would be a locale emitting much joy, peace solitude and remembrance for family members of Francis Scott Key. Apparently "Polly" Key and daughter Elizabeth (Howard) (whom Francis was visiting when he died in 1843) ventured here by train over a decade following FSK's death. Like Mrs Olson, Polly Key's life a mother was without incident as she too had lost three sons to tragedy: Edward to an accidental drowning (1822), Daniel to a duel(1836) and Phillip Barton Key was gunned down in broad daylight near the White House by US Sen. Daniel Sickles (1859).
The Keys/Howards stayed at resorts located near the fore-mentioned McHenry-Oakland until granddaughter Alice McHenry Key purchased a residence here in 1870. This lodge would become home to the Star-Spangled Banner author’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The family’s residence had a tremendous impact on making the area a fashionable resort throughout the late 19th and early 20th century.
A story written by another Key granddaughter, Julia McHenry Howard, tells of the impetus of the Key family coming to the area:
"In 1857, Mrs. Charles Howard (Elizabeth Phoebe Key) and her children and her mother, the widow of Francis Scott Key, were spending a very hot summer in the hotel at the Relay. The B. & O. had not been running through to the Ohio River, and to see the late afternoon train come through from the west was quite an event. One afternoon, a steward, formerly a butler in Mrs. Howard's home, stepped off the coach for a minute, and recognizing Mrs. Howard, told her that they had, that morning, come through a place where the ladies were walking up and down the platform wearing blankets, shawls, and the station railing was hung with rattlesnake skins. Next morning Mrs. Howard and Mrs. F. S. Key boarded the train for Oakland. They stayed for some weeks at the old Glades Hotel.
In 1858, they went again, doubtless taking other members of the family with them. This time they stayed on a farm, known as Bitzer's near where the road to Monte Vista leaves the old West Union road. Mrs. Francis Scott Key died early in 1859, but Mrs. Charles Howard and various members of her family returned. They were already taking root in Oakland."
In 1893, Elizabeth Phoebe Key Howard (Key’s daughter) celebrated her 90th birthday in Oakland. All day a stream of visitors poured in, people from Oakland and Deer Park. A large dinner party was given that night. We have a debt of thanks to give Mrs. Howard, as she was person said to have given the family’s consent for her father’s body to be moved from the Howard family vault at Old St. Paul’s Cemetery to Mount Olivet some 27 years earlier.
In 1897, Elizabeth Howard died in Garrett County. Her body was sent back to Baltimore by train, where her coffin was covered by an American Flag made of red, white and blue flowers. She would be laid to rest in that same Howard Family vault that once held the remains of her father and mother.
Link to streaming video:
F.S. Key and the Song that built America
Website to purchase FS Key: After the Song mini-series: www.fskusa.org
Netflix official website for Wormwood:
Eric Olson’s website:
Link to streaming video of the BBC’s 2002 documentary: Codename Artichoke
I was talking to an elderly gentleman in his nineties the other day, and I had to smile when he referred to some local youths responsible for vandalism to his car as “a few bad apples." I had not heard this throwback expression in a while, one comparable to the legendary “good-for-nothings” and “ne’er do wells.” I still revel when seeing any of these in print while conducting research work in old newspaper stacks and microfilm.
The collective moniker (“A few bad apples") usually comes about when mayhem and misconduct rears its ugly head, and one chooses not to blame the larger group for the ill-intensions of a subset of said group or organization. The saying is rooted in ancient times, and its comparison between humans and apples is a welcomed break from the overused comparison apples to oranges.
The literal meaning of the proverb comes from the message that one shouldn’t throw out a basket, bushel or barrel of apples, just because a few appear to be bad or rotten. Benjamin Franklin, however, muddied the waters with his charge of “guilt by association” as he popularized the expression "the rotten apple spoils his companion," a line credited to William Shakespeare where he used the expression “rotten apples” to signify “bad companions” (“Taming of the Shrew”). And then there are the Osmonds with their 1970 apple-oriented hit, but I don’t think we need to go there.
On the other hand, we also have another popular saying that puts emphasis on the good apples, not the bad. The old Welsh proverb reads: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Its message provides the sage advice that eating fresh fruits and vegetable will provide one a healthier life. The expression dates to the 1860’s where it was originally spoken as “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” Apparently the shortened version arose in print in the early 20th century, 1913 to be exact, based on the first published findings of this phrase.
It’s only fitting that here in Frederick, in that same year of 1913, one could find in print a nice “conjugation” of the featured fruit and professional calling found in the fore-mentioned proverb. Yes, indeed, we had our own “Dr. Apple,” and he was creating something extremely special on the northwest side of town. He, my friends, was a very good apple.
Dr. Joseph Henry Apple first came to our fair town in 1893. His sole purpose—employment. A few weeks back, we featured a story on Professor William Von Steinman, a beloved former music teacher at the Frederick Female Seminary, one of the foremost and progressive education facilities for women in the country during the 19th century. The school was located within Winchester Hall, our seat of county government today, taking its name from the school’s original founder, Hiram Winchester.
Winchester served as principal here from 1843-1863, at which time the school closed due to the American Civil War. The seminary re-opened in 1865 under a new leader, Thomas McMullen Cann, who remained here until 1873. In my Von Steinman piece, I made mention of the school’s next two principals, the husband and wife team of James H. Hackleton (principal from 1873-1877) and his wife Maria Hackleton (serving from 1877-1885). Mrs. Hackleton eventually moved to South Carolina to be closer to her daughters, opening the door for the last individual to hold the title of principal of the Frederick Female Seminary. This was Dr. William Purnell who served in this capacity until 1893.
A “healthy” change came with Dr. Apple in the summer of 1893. It was at this time that the Potomac Synod of the Reformed Church of the United States was looking for a girls’ school in the local area to end the co-educational status of its Mercersburg College in Pennsylvania. The Synod had already received four other proposals for a women’s college located south of the Mason-Dixon Line when the board of trustees of the Frederick Female Seminary offered up the facilities at Winchester Hall to the religious group.
An arrangement was made with the Potomac Synod to lease the school’s property here in Frederick, which now ceased to operate as a separate school. The Reformed Church Synod appointed a board of directors which, in turn, created the Woman’s College of Frederick. The first term of the exciting venture commenced with 112 students in September 1893 under the leadership of Dr. Apple’s administrative staff of fourteen. The new educator from Pennsylvania would be at the helm for the following 40 September academic year launches.
Midway through Dr. Apple’s epic tenure, the Woman’s College would expand greatly, gaining a spacious new location to call home and a name change to Hood College. These results should be credited to Dr. Apple as much as they are to namesake benefactress Margaret Elizabeth Scholl Hood.
Joseph Henry Apple
Many others have written fine pieces on the tremendous achievements and life contributions of Dr. Joseph H. Apple. I, however, will shed some light on his death and burial here in Mount Olivet. But first, here’s the happy stuff in the form of a biography taken from Hood College’s website:
Joseph Henry Apple was born in Rimersburg, Pennsylvania, in 1865, the youngest son of Elizabeth Geiger and Joseph Henry Apple, a teacher and minister. An 1885 graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, he was called to be the President of the Woman’s College of Frederick in May of 1893 from Pittsburgh Central High School where he was enjoying a successful teaching career. Encouraged by his first wife, Mary Rankin Apple, to heed the call, Dr. Apple was to stay in Frederick and serve as president of the College for the ensuing 41 years. Upon his retirement in 1934, he was the oldest living college president in continuous active service at a single institution in the United States.
Dr. Apple dedicated his life to the work of establishing the campus at its current location, constructing fourteen buildings and setting the high standards for academic excellence that continue to this day. A man of great vision and high purpose, he was noted for his persistence, dauntless determination and natural leadership ability. During his tenure, Hood grew from a small female seminary with an uncertain future to a campus of 125 acres, 14 buildings, 27 administrative staff, 57 faculty, and 500 students. He awarded diplomas to 1,591 students during his presidency.
Not only did Dr. Apple give his life to Hood College, but so did the members of his family. Miriam Rankin Apple, the daughter of Dr. Apple and his first wife, graduated from Hood in 1914. She served as librarian in the library that bears her father’s name from 1914 to 1950, with the exception of a two-year leave of absence. Born in 1893, her life span coincided with the early life span of the College. She was noted in her grace, charm, and friendly disposition. The Miriam Apple Memorial Room in the library is dedicated to her memory and houses the archival treasures of the College. A second daughter, Charlotte, died as a child. Mary Rankin Apple died in 1896.
In 1898 Dr. Apple married his second wife, Gertrude Harner Apple, who was employed by the College as an English instructor and is credited with establishing Hood’s literary magazine, The Herald. Additionally, Mrs. Apple was responsible for supervising the planting of many of the original trees, shrubs, and flowers which contribute to the extraordinary beauty of Hood’s campus. Gertrude and Joseph Henry Apple had three children. Two daughters: Elizabeth Apple McCain ’23 and Emily Apple Payne ’24, and a son, Joseph Henry Apple, Jr.
The dedication of the Apple family to the life and work of the College is unparalleled. We owe much to this family. Their courage, vision, leadership, dedication, and commitment have resulted in a lasting legacy.
In his first year on the job, Dr. Apple properly, and professionally, built a relationship of trust with Margaret Elizabeth Scholl Hood, a former student of the Frederick Female Seminary (1847-1849). It was in 1893 that Mrs. Hood would put her faith (and money) in Dr. Apple’s leadership abilities by creating a $25,000 endowment in the name of her late husband, James Mifflin Hood.
Years later, she would be invited by Dr. Apple to live at the school. He certainly made Mrs. Hood feel at home, becoming more than just an alumnus, but actually part of the institution itself. So much so, she would return the favor. In her will, she made arrangements to donate property (formerly known as Groff Park) and give an additional $30,000, which would be the impetus for President Joseph Henry Apple to begin building Shriner Hall and Alumnae Hall.
In light of her many contributions, Dr. Apple led the charge to have the school’s charter amended to change the name of the Woman’s College of Frederick to Hood College. This occurred in October, 1912. Mrs. Hood would pass a few short months later on January 13th, 1913. As it was Mrs. Hood who gave her money and name to the institution for higher learning, it was Joseph Henry Apple who actually built it. The new campus opened in 1915, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Dr. Apple was likely keenly aware of the 35th anniversary of his dear friend Mrs. Hood’s death on January 13th, 1948. At this time, he had been ill for a number of months.
His own final bell would toll just four days later on Saturday, January 17th, 1948. Dr. Apple died at home, across the street from Hood's main entrance off Rosemont Avenue. The college and Frederick had lost Joseph Henry Apple at the age of 82.
The local papers carried Dr. Apple’s obituary, along with several glowing tributes from community leaders and former students (I've included his obit at end of the story). The longtime educator had requested to be buried in his academic robe. January 20th was the day of the funeral. After a service at Brodbeck Hall, the original building of Hood’s new campus, the good doctor’s body would be laid to rest in Mount Olivet's Area CC, Lot 27.
The family burial lot had been purchased two years earlier, and the remains of daughter Charlotte Apple had been relocated here from her original burial spot in Area L, found in the older section of the cemetery. I found that Charlotte had died in 1902 of diphtheria at the tender age of seven.
Sadly, over the next decade, Dr. Apple would be joined by his daughter Miriam (1950), wife Gertrude (1953) and son Joseph, Jr. the latter dying as a result of a heart attack at age 48. Another one of Dr. Apple’s would be buried in the family plot in 1996, Emily Apple Payne. This one, good apple certainly made Frederick a healthier and better place, and Mount Olivet is proud to have people of his magnitude within its gates. Hood College is equally proud, celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2018.
In my research, I found yet another ironic and mystical connection. Dr. Apple’s remaining daughter, Elizabeth Apple, would marry Pittsburgh native Russell H. McCain in 1926. Russell was raised by his uncle, Elmer D. McCain, and the family came from western Pennsylvania in that pivotal year of 1913, the year Dr. Apple began Hood College. The McCains located west of Frederick along the National Pike (US 40) and started a farm operation that would take their name—McCain Orchards. And their specialty product was....you guessed it, apples!
Later the name was changed to Hillcrest Orchards. The fruit trees are gone today, but one can still enjoy a tasty slice of pie or apple cheesecake at the Mountain View Diner or an apple-crisp sundae at Roy Rogers located adjacent McCain Drive—once serving as the farm lane that bisected the property .
People often ask me what is the oldest burial stone marker in Mount Olivet Cemetery? It’s a great question, but one whose answer is not rooted in the cemetery’s first interment of 1854, or the cemetery's first monument. Ironically, it has a direct connection with the word stone, itself, not to mention being that of the builder of Frederick’s oldest known house. If you guessed the Brunner family (Schifferstadt built ca. 1758), you’d be wrong. It’s the gravestone, or grabstein, of Jacob Steiner (1713-1748). And in case you didn’t take German in high school, “stein” is the German word for stone.
To understand the significance of this unique cemetery marker, one can also look at the significance of the house Jacob Steiner left behind, the archaic centerpiece of one of Frederick’s prime residential developments. Both are true stories left in stone.
Master of Mill Pond
I was intrigued to see a recent story in the Frederick News announcing the formation of the Mill Pond House Ruins Committee, a group taking aim to further preserve and interpret the “mortal remains” of what most likely represents Frederick’s oldest known house. The article states that City of Frederick planning officials are aiming to take the ruins over as part of a parkland dedication agreement with the developers of Worman’s Mill, located in the northeast portion of the city, just off MD route 26 and Monocacy Boulevard.
Thankfully the remnants were not bulldozed with the creation of the Worman’s Mill community a few decades back. You can find them safely secured behind a chain link fence, located off a bicycle/walking trail that traverses the Worman’s Mill Conservancy property. This locale is bounded by Tuscarora Creek and Mill Race Road, and is also in close proximity to the Monocacy River to the northeast.
Unfortunately, all that exists of the original Mill Pond House are the chimney and a few of the structure’s stone walls. The current location of the remains of the Mill Pond House can be found on the Worman’s Mill Conservancy property (abutting the fore mentioned Mill Race Road and the Tuscarora Creek). We are lucky that multiple residents, past and present, have taken a great interest in the architectural importance of the house, and the life of its original builder.
Neighboring Worman’s Mill resident Dedra Salitrik, a master gardener, became enamored with the Mill Pond House when she and husband, John, bought their home on Mill Race Road. The Salitrik residence actually backs to the ruins, and gave inspiration for their purchase at this location. The couple immediately started doing detective work on the structure, eventually receiving permission from the Wormald Development Company to go inside the chain-link fence and build a pollinator garden to attract birds and bees. They went on to enhance the ruins with plantings of elderberries, winterberry holly, milkweed and turtlehead.
As for context on this old house, Worman’s Mill resident and historian Heidi Sproat wrote the following introductory piece on the Worman Mill Conservancy’s website:
Jacob Stoner, a German settler to Frederick, MD built the Mill Pond House around 1746, before the Revolutionary War, on a site along the Old Annapolis Road. It was a prime example of half-timber and wattle-and-daub construction typical of late medieval dwellings in the valley of the Upper Rhine in Germany. In fact, it was the only known house in the East German or Palatine style ever built in Maryland. The house was constructed entirely of peg and rail construction; there were no nails used. The house was built forty feet wide and thirty feet deep and had two stories. While the original house was constructed using a technique known as "waddle and daubing," the ground floor was made of both sandstone and limestone. Incredibly, there was a vaulted cellar and spiral stairs. The house resembled what we refer to today as English Tudor.
After Jacob Steiner’s (Stoner’s) death in 1748, the Mill Pond House, and surrounding property, was held by the Frederick County court and eventually transferred to his children in 1767. His wife had died the same year, leaving minor aged children. Jacob’s eldest son, John, inherited the Mill Pond parcel and continued to operate his father’s mill. Mill Pond was sold out of the family in 1798 (the time of John’s death) to William Potts, who would eventually convey the property to namesake Moses Worman on April 3, 1811.
I have had the pleasure of knowing two of the leading contemporary authorities on Jacob Stoner and his Mill Pond House. One is my friend Patricia “Pat” Ogden, a historian, genealogist and master docent at Schifferstadt Architectural Museum. Pat has researched and presented on the Mill Pond House and Jacob Steiner in recent years, and serves as a key member of the Mill Pond House Ruins Committee. The other individual of note is no longer with us, however my work office is within 100 yards of his gravesite. His name was Claggett Jones (1924-2004).
Claggett Jones, a Washington DC native and World War II veteran, took a great interest in the Mill Pond House and its history. After his retirement from the Department of Commerce, Mr. Jones moved to Frederick with his wife Jean, taking up residence in the Worman’s Mill community. Back in 1995, he was kind enough to provide me with a copy of an old article from 1951 which included photographs of the ancient structure for use in my documentary film series Frederick Town. A few years later, we invited Claggett to be a guest for a special feature on Young at Heart, one of our GS Communication’s Cable 10 television programs. He spoke on the Mill Pond House and shared a spectacular two-foot square model of the structure which he and lifelong friend and neighbor Wes Stewart had meticulously crafted in his basement.
Jacob Steiner (Stoner)
One of the area’s earliest settlers, Jacob Steiner (Stoner), was one of six men who tried to buy Tasker’s Chance in the late 1730’s. Tasker’s Chance was a parcel of 7,000 acres patented to Annapolis businessman and politician Benjamin Tasker in June 1727. It was eventually conveyed to Frederick Town’s founder, Daniel Dulany, and would constitute the bulk of the land that the City of Frederick sits on today. Of the 19 individuals in 1746 who initially received deeds from Dulany, only Steiner received more than one parcel. He held three lots, all located northeast of the newly laid-out town.
Steiner operated a grain mill near the mouth of the Tuscarora Creek and named his lands Bear Den, The Barrens, and Mill Pond. It was on this latter tract that Jacob Steiner erected a late medieval-style stone and timber dwelling in 1746.
Not much more is documented about Jacob Steiner’s arrival to this country from Germany, or his early years here. He was born in 1713 and married Magdalena Glattacker (1715-1748) in 1733. It is likely that Jacob arrived in Philadelphia and settled west of the city like many of his German brethren of the era. He would eventually come to Maryland and the Monocacy River Valley in the late 1730’s. In the year 1740, Jacob Steiner was naturalized with sons John and Jacob (Jr).
Jacob Steiner would not see the growth of Frederick, dying in 1748 at the age of 35. He would be laid to rest in the first graveyard associated with the German Reformed Church. This was located behind the site of the congregation’s first church structure in the first block of West Church Street. The place of worship would eventually be enhanced in the form of Trinity Chapel which still exists today. The burying ground stretched from behind the church, southward to West Patrick Street. The former McCrory's Store, today’s Maryland Ensemble Theater building (31 W. Patrick St.), occupies the footprint today. The congregation eventually built a second graveyard at the corner of Bentz and West Second streets, the site of Memorial Park.
With the opening of Mount Olivet in 1854, many churches were relieved of the burden of not having adequate burial space. In some cases, folks bought lots in Mount Olivet and decided to move their ancestors into newly purchased lots from other cemeteries. Sometimes this was by choice, and other times by necessity as various congregations were making decisions to expand church structures, build support buildings or simply sell off downtown graveyard properties for lucrative offers made for residential and commercial purposes. This was the situation with for the German Reformed Church’s first cemetery. Coincidentally, the church’s second cemetery, original resting place of the famed Barbara Fritchie, was condemned by the City of Frederick in the 1920’s, and repurposed as Memorial Park in which soon became home to a fine World War I monument, erected in 1924.
Our cemetery records do not show the removal or reburial of Jacob Stoner in Mount Olivet. Based on the time of his death, one of the earliest in Frederick Town’s history, his mortal remains are likely one with the earth that comprises the original German Reformed burying ground. Steiner's beautifully crafted tombstone was moved to Mount Olivet, likely in 1923 with the other family stones.
Back in 2014, Jacob's grave stone was moved to the basement of the Key Memorial Chapel for safekeeping after descendant Roland Steiner and family of Howard County had new memorial stones crafted for Jacob Steiner and others whose stones had been disintegrating. The intent of Mr. Steiner was to preserve what is likely the oldest surviving tombstone in Frederick. With our new Preservation and Enhancement Fund, we hope to make a thorough restoration for the future and have the stone available for public display.
Jacob Steiner is one with Frederick, and his original grave stone and some of the stone work associated with his magnificent home at Mill Pond have survived the test of time.